Risky Business: Throwing Trump Under The Bus To Save Gardner?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

From time to time over the years, we’ve had occasion to sit back and marvel that the outlandish editorial pronouncements of the devoutly conservative Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette. From accusing Gov. Jared Polis of “ties to the Ku Klux Klan” for misplaced dramatic effect to their comically absurd hagiographical write-ups about 2018 GOP gubernatorial capital-L Loser Walker Stapleton, we’ve found pretty reliably that editor Wayne Laugesen’s reality-starved opinion pieces are best read with a laugh track playing in the background.

But in today’s Gazette, Laugesen looks to have outdone himself in the over-the-top propaganda department–and that, based on his long record of relentless Pravda-style pro-GOP hype, is no small statement. Had it come five days ago, we might honestly have dismissed this as an April Fool’s Day joke:

Long before Americans knew a global pandemic would disrupt and threaten their lives, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner tried to warn Congress. Few cared to listen, distracted by shinier Washington drama… [Pols emphasis]

“The rapid spread of a respiratory pathogen is a serious concern given our global economy and citizenry, as well as our role as both travel destination and transit hub for the world,” Gardner wrote. He never heard back from Pompeo or Redfield.

Gardner’s warning came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the CDC’s Redfield downplayed the coronavirus threat. The two highly competent men of science relied in good faith on bad information given to them by the Chinese government and the World Health Organization.

Phil Anschutz, owner of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

It’s true that Sen. Gardner, in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee On East Asia, The Pacific, And International Cybersecurity Policy, held a hearing back in January on the COVID-19 outbreak. But what’s missing from this narrative is even a peep of criticism from Gardner for these high-level Trump administration officials the Gazette would have us believe blew off Gardner’s supposed alarm bells stretching back to January. If Sen. Gardner was “prophetic” as we’re asked to believe in this editorial about the impending pandemic, why did Gardner host a rally with President Donald Trump attended by thousands of socially undistanced Republicans in Colorado Springs almost a month later?

And where has Gardner been all these months while Trump was telling people COVID-19 would “disappear?”

The whole premise of this editorial defense of Gardner is ridiculous enough that it collapses entirely after one or two basic questions. But for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose staff is eagerly distributing this editorial today via social media, the political danger here could be more significant than being made to look silly. Because in order to credibly give Gardner the kind of lavish praise the Gazette gives him for “warning the Washington establishment, even as the CDC director continued telling us not to worry,” it is necessary to acknowledge the Trump administration’s catastrophic failure to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s simply not possible to have this both ways.

Folks, President Trump doesn’t like it when his “loyal” Republicans go there.

This editorial might play in Colorado Springs, but Gardner had better hope Trump never sees it.

15 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: COVID Conspiracies

We’re a little late this week with a new episode. But then again, days of the week have lost all meaning anyway.

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett about everything the state legislature is not doing at the moment; we discuss the many ways in which local Republicans are digging coronavirus holes for themselves; we try to make rational arguments for two coronavirus conspiracy theories; and we find Sen. Cory Gardner unfamiliar with the man in the mirror.

Look out next week for some bonus content, featuring an exclusive new interview.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

0 Shares

Gardner, Kushner To Maybe Have Words At Next Fundraiser

Tsarevitch Jared Kushner.

As Politico’s Burgess Everett reports, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is asking the Department of Health and Human Services for an investigation into the management of the Strategic National Stockpile as a shortage of crucial medical equipment like ventilators looms:

Sen. Cory Gardner is pushing for an investigation into possible mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile of ventilators needed to treat coronavirus patients — though the Colorado Republican is by no means going to war with the Trump administration over the matter. [Pols emphasis]

The GOP senator wrote a letter to the Health and Human Services inspector general on Thursday requesting a probe into reports of maintenance issues and delays regarding the distribution of ventilators from the national stockpile to states. And in an interview on Friday, Gardner said that “any kind of mismanagement or abuse needs to be rooted out and those responsible held accountable.”

President Trump and Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs (2/20/20)

Gardner’s request for a second look here is timely, after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner made some controversial statements about the stockpile’s purpose, in response to angry governors including Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado who are begging for these supplies in their states:

Responding to criticism of the federal government from some governors, Jared Kushner, a senior White House aide and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, said on Thursday that the federal stockpile of supplies is “supposed to be our stockpile” and that it’s “not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

Gardner said his letter is not a response to that comment, [Pols emphasis] which he learned of late Thursday, but he pointedly questioned Kushner’s statement in the interview.

“I don’t know what Kushner was talking about, what he meant. But the stockpile is for the country. And the country is made up of states in the federal government,” Gardner said.

No reasonable person is going to object to Sen. Gardner sending a letter about the Strategic National Stockpile, or complain when Gardner is able to prevail on his relationship with officials in Taiwan to arrange a shipment of personal protective equipment–a couple of days’ worth of which is reportedly headed to Colorado. But Gardner’s continuing refusal to hold the Trump administration responsible for the failure of the U.S. government to confront the pandemic over the course of months speaks louder than any of these belated gestures.

Once again, Gardner is–at best–trying to clean up a catastrophic mess while ignoring who made it.

54 Shares

BREAKING: Classrooms Closing for Rest of School Year

After the jump you can read a copy of the letter sent out at noon today to parents of students in school districts including some of the biggest districts in the state: Adams, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson.

The key phrase: “there does not appear to be a viable way for us to convene traditional in-person learning this school year.”

To be clear, today’s announcement is only from 14 of Colorado’s school districts, but it’s probably a good bet that the rest of the state will soon follow this example.

(more…)

4 Shares

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

Hey, you made it through another week of this — that’s not nothing. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The Trump administration is struggling to actually implement many of the economic relief measures contained in last month’s $2.2 Trillion spending bill. First, here’s CNN on those stimulus checks that were supposed to be coming right away:

Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.

The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also confounding the banks, as The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed from the White House podium yesterday that small businesses battered by the coronavirus epidemic could access $350 billion in taxpayer-backed cash quickly starting on Friday. But as the rescue effort debuts, banks are concerned in part about how to assess the risks of small businesses applying for assistance directly to them, even as the federal government is guaranteeing those loans.

JPMorgan Chase, for instance, posted a notice online that it won’t be accepting applications from prospective borrowers. “Financial institutions like ours are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury,” it said.

Banks are asking questions about the length of the loans, the interest rates they can charge, and how much due diligence financial institutions are responsible for performing on borrowers

Take the politicians out of Washington D.C.! Put businesspeople in charge! This is working out great!

 

Is the White House overestimating or underestimating the potential death toll from COVID-19? Nobody knows, because it’s unclear how the White House came up with its projections. From The Washington Post:

Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people will die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.

The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.

Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.

There is a non-zero chance that President Trump literally picked these numbers out of a hat.

 

As CNN reports, two top Trump administration officials were publicly voicing concerns about U.S. readiness in the face of a pandemic LAST APRIL:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council, made the comments at the BioDefense Summit in April 2019.

“Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

The Trump administration is facing scrutiny over its preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and its slow response to provide states and cities assistance in testing kits and personal protective equipment. The 2019 summit, hosted by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Department of Health and Human Services to “discuss and solicit input on implementing the National Biodefense Strategy,” offers insights into early awareness of the potential for a pandemic threat.

Transcripts of Azar’s and Morrison’s comments at the summit, which have not been previously reported on, are available on the HHS website.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one predicted a pandemic crisis like the one caused by coronavirus. [Pols emphasis]

 

Here’s the latest fact-checking from CNN of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► Weld County has surged to the top of the list in Colorado for the largest number of coronavirus deaths. Weld County is represented in Congress by social distancing skeptic Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Sure, maybe it’s a coincidence.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

0 Shares

COVID-19 Tragically Zeroes In On Rep. Ken Buck’s Weld County

Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

9NEWS reported last night that Weld County is being hit very hard by the expanding COVID-19 pandemic, now tied for the most number of deaths in the state so far–a tragic distinction disproportionate to the county’s population:

Weld County is tied for the highest number of deaths in the state related to COVID-19. 16 people have died in the area. The county also has one of the largest number of cases, even though the number of people who live there is far less than other counties.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says there are 329 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Weld County, roughly the same number as El Paso County. The population of Weld County is nearly 400,000 less… [Pols emphasis]

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms now crowd the emergency rooms. Steven Loecke is the Chief Medical Officer for several Banner Health hospitals in Northern Colorado. He says the hospital in Greeley is seeing the most action.

Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessarily has enormous political implications, and the response to the outbreak by government authorities from the President of the United States to the smallest municipalities is a principal factor now in every voter’s decisionmaking, even the most partisan political diehards can agree that significant components of the response to the pandemic have been carried out with overwhelming bipartisan agreement–most recently the massive $2.2 trillion stimulus bill to blunt the effects of shutting down large parts of the economy to contain the disease.

With that said, the “resistance” to public health measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmingly come from one political party, Republicans–including President Donald Trump himself until he was belatedly convinced to take the crisis seriously. In Colorado, Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, has enthusiastically led the opposition to the statewide stay-at-home order by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. In Congress, Buck’s repeated votes against the successive coronavirus relief packages–in one case one of only two votes against in the entire chamber–have significantly raised Buck’s national profile, earning him cable news appearances and adulation on the far right.

As readers know, Rep. Ken Buck served as the District Attorney of Weld County before his election to Congress, and Weld County is one of the two population centers of his district along with similarly conservative but more affluent Douglas County.

Folks, we don’t want to spell this out. If we do, some in the chattering class will say it’s “too soon.”

But how can you not connect these dots? And how can the resulting outrage not transcend politics?

These are hard words to write. But to not write them would be the greater disservice to our readers.

643 Shares

Social Distancing Is Working

Like this, but on purpose.

Good news from California, as The Washington Post reports:

Two weeks ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the first statewide stay-at-home order in the United States, reshaping daily life for 40 million Americans and warning that the health-care system could be overwhelmed without swift action.

On Thursday, Newsom said social distancing has worked and that California is on track to meet patient needs, a contrast with the dire predictions still coming from some other states. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s the individual acts of tens of millions of Californians that allow me to say the following … the [intensive-care unit] numbers and the hospitalization numbers, while they’re growing, are not growing as significantly as you’re seeing in other parts of the country,” Newsom said at his Thursday news conference.

Keep it up, everyone!

0 Shares

Colorado GOP Delegation Backs COVID Blame Projection Bill

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Michael Karlik at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn have co-sponsored a House resolution that condemns the Chinese government’s response to COVID-19 and asks the country to take responsibility for originating the novel coronavirus…

Tipton blamed the severity of the global pandemic on the Chinese government’s failure to act quickly and be “immediately forthcoming” about what it knew. “This recklessness by the Chinese government cannot be tolerated, and they should face severe consequences including sanctions and reparations to nations they have impacted,” he said.

Colorado’s three Republican members of Congress, Reps. Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton are all on board, with Lamborn earning a name-check from leading congressional Trump apologist Rep. Elise Stefanik:

Here’s the intro to House Resolution 907:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of the People’s Republic of China made multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages of the COVID–19 outbreak that heightened the severity and spread of the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic, which include the Chinese Government’s intentional spread of misinformation to downplay the risks of the virus, a refusal to cooperate with international health authorities, internal censorship of doctors and journalists, and malicious disregard for the health of ethnic minorities.

In psychology, the term “projection” refers to ascribing one’s own flaws and insecurities to another party in order to assuage one’s own guilt. The accusation that the People’s Republic of China made “multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages of the COVID–19 outbreak” may have basis in fact, but this allegation applies every bit as well to the early response by the United States government to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That should be the priority of the U.S. House of Representatives, not China.

President Donald Trump’s weeks of denial of the severity of the pandemic, insisting that the virus would “go away” and that the number of cases was declining, perfectly fit the accusation in this resolution of “intentional spread of misinformation to downplay the risks of the virus.” Trump called the World Health Organization coronavirus test used to good effect in other countries “a bad test,” which could fairly be called “a refusal to cooperate with international health authorities.” While we wouldn’t say that scientists in the United States have been “censored,” watching Dr. Anthony Fauci facepalm while Trump fictionalizes the latest pandemic updates seems close enough. Finally, there’s the “malicious disregard for the health of ethnic minorities.” Check.

We all accuse the other side of being crazy, but in this case we think a clinical explanation might honestly be right. We’ll leave it to qualified psychologists to make the diagnosis, but we will say that rarely does the projection so perfectly characterize the original sin.

608 Shares

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 2)

On this day in 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León first caught sight of land in what is now Florida; nobody was around to tell his cruise ship to go somewhere else. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

As The Associated Press reports, jobless claims in the United States are skyrocketing to literally unprecedented levels:

More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — doubling a record high set just one week earlier — a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Combined with last week’s report that 3.3 million people sought unemployment aid two weeks ago, the U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past few weeks — far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record.

 

► It is not hyperbole to say that states with Democratic Governors have generally responded better to the coronavirus outbreak than states with Republicans in charge. There are two stark examples of this in the southeastern United States, where Republican Governors in Florida and Georgia are reacting at the speed of molasses.

As The Washington Post reports, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday…much too late:

DeSantis took heavy criticism from state lawmakers for refusing to enact such an order until this week, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have nearly surpassed 7,000 in the state, including at least 85 deaths as of Tuesday.

The daily reports from the Florida Department of Health drive the fact home: The number of people testing positive for covid-19 has accelerated rapidly, nearly doubling in the past four days, with 3,274 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 6,741 as of Tuesday evening.

The state reported 857 people hospitalized and 85 deaths as of Tuesday, with the heaviest concentration of infection in Broward and Miami-Dade counties along the southeast coast and pockets in other areas like Tampa and Orange County, home of Walt Disney World. On Tuesday alone, 14 deaths were reported in the state, according to the Miami Herald.

But DeSantis looks like a damn rocket surgeon compared to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Again, from The Washington Post:

After resisting a statewide stay-at-home order for days, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) succumbed to the pressure and issued one on Wednesday. Part of the reason, he said, was that he had just learned some new information.

Kemp said he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.” 

It may have been a game-changer, but it was a game-changer weeks or even months ago. [Pols emphasis] That’s when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus. The idea that Kemp didn’t know this is striking. But he’s merely the latest top politician to indicate that he’s unfamiliar with the science even as he’s making life-or-death decisions for his constituents.

Really? Really? Kemp just learned that asymptomatic people are transmitting COVID-19??? Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the bumbling coronavirus responses of DeSantis and Kemp.

States with Democrats in charge, like California and Washington, are seeing a flattening curve of coronavirus infections thanks to their swift actions.

Governor Jared Polis — who has notably not had the same trouble as DeSantis and Kemp — is asking the federal government for more assistance in procuring personal protective equipment (PPE). From a press release:

On March 28, Governor Polis sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting additional PPE and ventilators to address the severe shortage Colorado is facing.

“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders. Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state,” Governor Polis wrote.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is working quickly to secure its own medical supplies because the federal government has not been able to answer the call quickly enough. The Department of Homeland Security says national stockpiles of PPE are essentially depleted.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Polis announced that Colorado schools would remain closed for in-person learning through at least April 30.

 

► Kudos for CNN for its daily fact-checking of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► The State Supreme Court has ruled that the Colorado legislature can pick up where it left off when work was suspended last month because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Lawmakers had asked the court to rule on whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

0 Shares

Sorry Republicans, COVID-19 Won’t Break The Legislature

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker).

As Denver7’s Robert Garrison reports, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled yesterday on an important constitutional question regarding the Colorado General Assembly’s 120-day legislative session–after being forced to adjourn for public health reasons as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, can the legislature get back to work seamlessly once it’s safe, or does a narrow interpretation of the law require the further disruption of normal life in a public health emergency?

The ruling, fortunately, came down on the side of not making it harder for government to do its job:

The Colorado legislature can pause and pick up where it left off when it was adjourned on March 14 due to coronavirus concerns, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Under Colorado state law, the legislative session is limited to 120 days unless the governor calls a special session. But in a 4-3 decision, the state’s high court agreed that the days do not have to be counted consecutively during a state of an emergency, meaning the clock on the legislative session has essentially been paused…

With this ruling, the General Assembly will be able to count only “working calendar days” toward the 120-day limit, in the context of this public health disaster emergency.

As Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reported a week ago when opposing briefs were submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court, this is not the ruling Republicans in the General Assembly wanted:

A brief filed on behalf of all 40 Republican lawmakers from the General Assembly was submitted Tuesday by former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, a former cabinet official in the Owens administration.

In that brief, Eid argues that the plain language of the state Constitution, as amended by voters in 1988, says the regular legislative session is 120 consecutive days. He also claims Joint Rule 44(g) which lawmakers adopted in 2009 as a way of dealing with a public health crisis, is unconstitutional because it attempts to amend the Constitution. He also maintains that there are already alternative ways to deal with an emergency, such as a special session called by the governor or the General Assembly…

Eid cited a Colorado Springs Gazette editorial on Nov. 5, 1988, that said “at the very least, if you believe the adage that one’s life, liberty or property are safe when the Legislatures is in session, then Amendment 3 would keep us safe for two-thirds of the year.”

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

GOP leadership in the House and Senate were in unanimous in saying nay to allowing the session to resume without counting the days missed due to the pandemic–which would just happen to have had the effect of derailing most of the legislative agenda of the Democratic majority ahead of a major election, the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reported late last week:

“In November 1988, the People of Colorado overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to limit their state legislature to no more than 120 general session days each year, with each session ending on a date certain,” [Senate Minority Leader Chris] Holbert said in a statement. “That literally means that legislative days must be counted consecutively.”

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, said extending the session would set a dangerous precedent.

After losing their case yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville put out considerably more restrained statements, with Holbert actually claiming to be “grateful” that the Court provided guidance on how to proceed–just the opposite of what he asked for.

Former state Sen. Greg Brophy, however, was not exactly what you’d call restrained. The word is unhinged.

In the end, what we have here is another striking example of the two very different approaches Republicans and Democrats take to governing, in Colorado and elsewhere. Republicans rely philosophically and in practice on often absurdly rigid interpretations of the law to demand outcomes which are plainly at odds with what should be everyone’s goal: government that functions effectively to meet the needs of the governed.

For everyone who doesn’t want to see government “drowned in the bathtub,” this decision is a big win.

35 Shares

Nunes, Johnson Keep Touting GOP Coronanonsense

Thumbs up for terrible advice!

We’ve written a few times in this space about the asinine responses from local Colorado Republicans regarding efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is worth noting that this is not a problem restricted to Colorado Republican elected officials.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, California Republican Rep. Devin Nunesthe ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee — should stop talking for awhile:

On the same day that President Donald Trump acknowledged that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans were likely to die because of the coronavirus, California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes went on Fox News to offer a very, uh, different perspective.

“Let’s stop looking at the death counters and let’s talk about how we can keep as many people employed as possible,” Nunes told Fox anchor Laura Ingraham. “That’s the key right now, Laura, because if you don’t, what you said earlier is correct. When you have people staying at home, not taking care of themselves, you will end up with a hell of a lot more people dying by other causes than you will by the coronavirus.”…

…It’s as though Nunes is living in some alternate universe here. In Nunes’ world, kids need to be going back to school. More people will die from staying home than returning to normal and spreading (or catching) the coronavirus! The economy will fail unless we start sending people back to work in two weeks!

Nunes is not — and this fact may surprise you — a doctor. Or an infectious disease expert. All of whom have pushed Trump to extend the social distancing guidelines in place for another month. And who have forced Trump to publicly admit that, even if we follow those guidelines to a T, we could well lose hundreds of thousands of Americans to the virus.

As Cillizza notes in a separate story, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is carrying a similar tune. Check out this Op-Ed penned by Sen. Johnson that appeared recently in USA Today:

Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life. More than 2.8 million die each year — nearly 7,700 a day. The 2017-18 flu season was exceptionally bad, with 61,000 deaths attributed to it. Can you imagine the panic if those mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop?

This is another example of the “let old people die” argument that has been espoused by right-wing talk show hosts and even the Lieutenant Governor of Texas. It’s a false moral choice, of course, but that isn’t preventing these meatheads from making the same arguments over and over again.

Being unemployed is bad; being dead is definitely worse. We’ll leave it to others to debate how much it matters if you are employed when you die.

0 Shares

Brief Outage Coming Today

We’ve been notified by our hosting provider that our dedicated server will be moving from one Denver-area location to another this morning around 10:00AM. This will result in a couple of hours of unavoidable downtime, which we apologize for in advance.

We just wanted to let you know, lest someone mistake it for the Russians or the world ending. This is also not an April Fool’s joke. Outages are not funny.

0 Shares

Wednesday Open Thread

“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm…in the real world all rests on perseverance.”

–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

0 Shares

Gardner Cheers Stimulus Funding He Once Admonished

Via The Denver Post (March 31, 2020)

Ten years ago, Cory Gardner was a state lawmaker challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey in CO-4. Gardner’s first campaign for federal office was pretty simple: Bash Markey for supporting a nearly-$800 billion stimulus plan and for backing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

One decade later, Gardner isn’t saying much about the ACA and has become a vocal cheerleader for a $2.2 TRILLION economic stimulus package — the largest spending bill in Congressional history.

As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, Gardner is running for re-election and hoping Colorado voters will overlook his glaring hypocrisy on these topics:

“We need to get this country moving again,” Gardner said.

That was the argument in 2008 and 2009, too. But economic stimulus bills were not bipartisan then, as they were this month. Instead, they gave rise to the Tea Party movement, its adherents convinced that government spending could soon send the nation over a fiscal cliff. Gardner was concerned about that, too.

“From town hall meetings to coffee shops to neighborhoods, all I hear are worries about too much spending and the growth of government,” he told The Denver Post in the fall of 2010.

Whoa! You actually listened to the words that came out of my mouth?

It’s hard to overstate how much Gardner relied on this anti-spending argument in his first congressional campaign in 2010. If Gardner were a toy doll with a pull-cord in his back, his catch phrase would have been obvious:

Jason Bane, a Democratic consultant, played Gardner in mock debates to help Markey prepare for the Yuma Republican, who at the time was a state legislator.

“If the question was, ‘What’s your favorite color?’ I’d say, ‘Well, look, Betsy Markey voted for the stimulus bill and you can’t spend your way out of a recession.’ That’s all he did. So that, in effect, is what I would do,” Bane recalls of the debate prep.

[Pols note: This is the same Jason Bane who founded ColoradoPols.com and continues to write words here].

Gardner argues now that a coronavirus recession is different than the 2008 recession, but his 2010 rhetoric doesn’t agree with his 2020 messaging.

“You can’t spend your way out of a recession” was among Gardner’s favorite lines in 2010. Does he now contend that you can spend your way out of a recession, or was that old phrase just a bunch of baloney? There may not be an actual answer to this question.

Cory Gardner says a lot of words about a lot of things, and none of them have any real meaning — which is exactly why his poll numbers are in the toilet among Democrats and Republicans alike.

8 Shares

Let The Colorado GOP COVID Backpedal Begin

Rep. Mark Baisley (R).

When considering last week’s round of angry protestations from local Republicans, first vilifying the Tri County Health Department for their enforceable stay-at-home order covering Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties, then Gov. Jared Polis for his statewide stay-at-home order which superseded Tri County Health’s order, the question has not been whether these GOP protests would age poorly–it was a question of how long it would take for Republicans who took part in second-guessing measures to reduce the impact of a deadly global pandemic to realize they have made a terrible mistake, with potentially the worst possible consequence in the form of the deaths of those who listen to them.

Well folks, here’s GOP Rep. Mark Baisley, who joined the misguided call for Douglas County to pull out of the Tri County Health Department in protest, making his attempt to walk things back shortly after the news broke:

Regarding our letter to the Douglas County Commissioners, please understand; the intent of our request is for Douglas County to dissociate from Tri-County Health as the health agency for Douglas County. We have NOT suggested that people ignore the practices recommended by the order. [Pols emphasis]

It makes sense to a civil society that we need to maintain distance in order to slow this new virus that will eventually make its way into our general immune systems. That is why people already voluntarily participate by staying at home as much as possible.

Tri-County Health is under contract with Douglas County to fulfill the county’s statutory requirement to maintain a health agency. They overstepped their role when they included a threat to imprison and fine Douglas County citizens whom they deem to be noncompliant. This threatening order places the government in an adversarial position with the people. We believe that it is wholly inappropriate to entrust an unelected, contracted agency that is headquartered in another county with the power to imprison Douglas County residents…

Rep. Baisley even professes some embarrassment that the public knows about what he did:

As we discussed last week, the power vested in public health departments to enact mandatory orders to protect the public in an emergency were granted to them by the Colorado General Assembly–the body Baisley as a member of which would participate in changing the law if anyone seriously desired to do it. But that apparently doesn’t matter, because Baisley thinks everybody should be doing what Tri County and by extension Gov. Polis have ordered–it just, you know, shouldn’t be “an order.”

We of course have no reason to believe that any sane person wants to see the pandemic fulfill worst-case scenarios, and the view expressed by some conservative media figures that an uncontrolled pandemic would be preferable to the disruption of “freedom” caused by measures to contain is not shared by a majority of the American public.

What we can say with confidence is that the worse this pandemic gets, the worse it will get politically for Republicans who protested and even encouraged resistance to common-sense measures overwhelmingly supported by the public to slow it down. More than any event in our lifetimes so far, this is not a game–and political games at this dire moment will not be rewarded at the polls.

Any political pleasure from this development is undone, however, by the fact that Coloradans are going to die first.

0 Shares

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 31)

Happy April Fool’s Day Eve; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

More people have now died in the United States from coronavirus than in the 9/11 attacks. With numbers of infections and deaths on the rise in the U.S., Dana Milbank of The Washington Post asks a very simple question about President Trump:

How does a human being use the phrase “a very good job” in contemplation of the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 souls?

Worldwide, the number of coronavirus infections has surpassed 800,000.

 

► President Trump can’t change history no matter how much he tries, as CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

What Trump is doing now is what he always does about everything: Attempting to rewrite history so that it looks like he was always the smartest guy in the room, the one person who saw this all coming from a mile away.

“I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic,” he said on March 17. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

That statement is, of course, demonstrably untrue. But Trump doesn’t care. Because his political career has proven to him that if he simply repeats the history he wants to be true, plenty of people will follow his lead. He’ll blame Democrats or the media (or both) for twisting his words or making thing up. Remember that this is a man who said this out loud: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

But the truth still matters. And the truth is that Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat coronavirus posed to the country, providing Americans with false hope when they needed candor and transparency most of all.

 

Doctors in Colorado are bracing for a surge of coronavirus patients as the outbreak moves inland from the East and West coasts of the United States. Meanwhile, as CNN reports, your odds of surviving the coronavirus outbreak are probably better if you live in a state with a Democratic governor.

 

Governor Jared Polis reiterated on Monday that students in Colorado will likely finish out the school year without stepping foot back inside a classroom. From The Denver Post:

“It is very likely that you won’t be able to resume normal classroom activities this school year,” Polis said during a news conference updating the public on efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. “The school year hasn’t been called off yet statewide; we’re always hopeful. But districts have been preparing for that. That’s the likelihood.”

Students from many of Colorado’s largest school districts “returned” from Spring Break this week with extensive remote/online learning plans.

 

► Colorado lawmakers expect to get a ruling this week from the State Supreme Court regarding whether or not they can legally extend the legislative session beyond the traditional early May deadline. From CBS4 Denver:

The state legislature reconvened Monday just long enough to go into recess again. Lawmakers adjourned two weeks ago due to concerns about COVID-19. In order to recess again, without calling lawmakers back into session, they purposefully met without a quorum, or a minimum of 33 representatives and 18 senators.

If they don’t have a quorum, they can adjourn for up to three days. Lawmakers are hoping to buy time until the State Supreme Court rules on whether the 120-day session is consecutive, meaning it ends May 6, or whether they can resume at a later date when its safer.

The big question waiting to be answered revolves around whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

0 Shares

Yikes: EPA Blanket Okays Coronavirus-Related Pollution

Fox 31 Denver reports, how convenient:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will not punish companies for violating some pollution standards because of the new coronavirus…

“We think it’s incredibly foolish,” Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, said.

O’Mara says if air pollution increases, Americans with lung illnesses will be in even greater danger.

…In a memo, the EPA says polluters will get a break if they can show how the coronavirus outbreak made it difficult to meet pollution standards.

While experts do say that some case-by-case exemptions may be needed to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, giving industry such broad license to judge whether they “have” to pollute because of COVID-19 could lead to widespread disregard for air and water pollution regulations, hazardous waste protections, and…well, all kinds of other protections you as an air-breathing water-drinking consumer do not want disregarded.

It appears the Trump administration doesn’t “let a crisis go to waste” either.

0 Shares

Get More Smarter on Monday (March 30)

Did you know that it is still March? Anyway, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► President Trump is backtracking from a proposal to quarantine New York, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut. On Sunday, he also backed off of his plan to “re-open” the country by Easter (thanks in part to experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci). As Philip Rucker writes for The Washington Post:

Trump beat a hasty retreat on Sunday, announcing from the Rose Garden just before dusk that the federal government’s stringent social distancing guidelines, set to expire on Monday, would be extended through April 30.

More still — as the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 2,400, nearly 1,000 of them in New York alone — the president acknowledged that the silent enemy was gaining ground.

Trump said his decision was driven by the science, but he may have been moved more by the personal — seeing body bags carried out of the hospital near his Queens boyhood home and learning that a friend was now in a coma — judging by the emotion with which he spoke about both.

Trump said he was convinced by data modeling presented to him by two physicians advising him on the pandemic — Anthony S. Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator — that the death rate in this country probably will not peak for another two weeks.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Trump’s Sunday Rose Garden press conference:

As the number of those sickened and killed by the virus has soared, Trump has increasingly used these press briefings as a chance to vent his frustrations — at governors, the media and anyone else he can think of.

What he did on Sunday night was, somehow, worse — coarser, more detached from reality — than what he has done before. I went through the transcript of the briefing and pulled out the lines you need to see.

As CNN reports in a separate story, Trump said a number of untrue things on Sunday:

On two occasions during Sunday’s coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump falsely denied he had said words he had said publicly last week.

When PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor noted that the President had said he did not believe that governors actually need all the equipment they claimed they did, Trump said, “I didn’t say that” — even though he said precisely that on Fox News on Thursday.

Later, when CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond noted that Trump had said he wanted governors to be “appreciative” of him, and that “if they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said, “But I didn’t say that” — even though he said precisely that at the Friday briefing.

President Trump says that coronavirus cases will peak in the United States in mid-April…though he has provided no information or data to support that claim.

 

Colorado has secured major disaster relief status from the federal government. Here’s more from a press release via the office of Gov. Jared Polis; here’s a rundown from The Denver Post.

 

► Dirt ≠ people. Despite what Colorado Republican lawmakers would have you believe, representing large parcels of land is not the same as representing large numbers of people. These same Colorado Republican lawmakers are shaking their fists at Gov. Jared Polis and other public health officials for ordering people in non-essential industries to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. The average person does not agree with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and friends.

As Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry writes:

There’s no arguing the point that this is going to be bad — really, really bad. But Neville, Sonnenberg and others simply can’t grasp the difference between really, really bad and much, much worse.

Having to keep businesses shuttered for months rather than weeks is  worse. Having to watch people die in their cars outside hospitals because no one can treat them is far, far worse.

It’s not debatable. It’s common sense.

Common sense did not prevail in Colorado Springs this weekend as Republicans held a drive-thru county convention. On Sunday, TABOR Daddy Doug Bruce held a “You’re Not the Boss of Me” Picnic in Colorado Springs that was attended by a whole half-dozen people.

 

► The Colorado legislature did not reconvene today as lawmakers had initially hoped when the session was suspended two weeks ago. There’s still no good answer on whether the legislature can reconvene and hold a session beyond the 120-mark in early May.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

7 Shares

Doug Bruce’s Pathetic “Protest Picnic” Fizzles, Fortunately

TABOR author Doug Bruce.

Westword’s Chase Woodruff warned us this was coming Friday–legendary anti-tax crusader, author of the 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment, and convicted felon tax cheat Doug Bruce’s plan to strike a blow for liberty yesterday in Colorado Springs’ Memorial Park:

Notorious conservative activist Douglas Bruce, architect of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and a former state lawmaker himself, has even announced that he will hold a “protest picnic” at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Colorado Springs on Sunday, March 29, issuing an “open invitation for Mayor [John] Suthers to come arrest me for peaceably assembling with my fellow Americans.” [Pols emphasis]

That’s right, freedom fighters, the author of Colorado Republicans’ most cherished law–so awesome that no other state in America has been dumb visionary enough to implement it–risked arrest yesterday by daring to hold a (potentially) illegal gathering, in order to show Gov. Jared Polis and the entire world that freedom matters more than some silly pandemic disease that [insert COVID-19 misinformation here].

But as Pam Zubeck of the Colorado Springs Independent informs us via the Twitters, arrests weren’t necessary:

Because Bruce’s “protest picnic” for God, country and coronavirus freedom drew a half-dozen people. Keeping their distance as you can see, despite their God-given right to swap droplets.

And that, on balance, has us feeling much better about our fellow Coloradans. Thank all but a very few of you.

848 Shares

One More Time: Dirt ≠ People

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R).

On Friday, the 14 out of 16 of Colorado state senators in the GOP Senate Minority sent a letter complaining to Gov. Jared Polis about the statewide stay-at-home order currently in effect to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Two Republican Senators who have broken moderate on a range of issues in the past year, Sens. Kevin Priola and Jack Tate, did not sign. Denver7’s Ryan Osborne:

The senators’ letter to Polis on Friday described a “disconnect” between the social distancing needs in larger areas that have seen more cases, such as the Denver metro, and smaller rural communities, where the overall number of confirmed cases has been low but where testing has not been prevalent thus far. [Pols emphasis]

“With the Denver metro area already under a ‘stay at home order,’ what is accomplished by closing down the business activity and daily routines of Coloradans living in a county that has fewer than five cases of COVID-19 after weeks of dealing with this crisis?” the letter said.

Polis on Wednesday said the stay-at-home order — which calls on Coloradans to stay inside their homes, except for essential activities — was necessary to “save thousands of lives” as hospitals prepare for an expected surge of coronavirus patients. Health officials from the state and various counties had called for a statewide order in the days ahead of Polis’ decision, as Denver, several other Front Range counties, and some mountain communities had already implemented similar orders of their own.

It’s just another in a growing string of disgraceful political attacks on the party in power for exercising out of necessity powers that admittedly have resulted in considerable hardship–the goal being to prevent the vastly greater harm of allowing the pandemic to spread unchecked. As the pandemic rapidly worsens throughout the United States and cases in Colorado continue to grow, the political wisdom of being the party against stopping this pandemic seems, to say the least, extremely dubious.

But there’s one particular “point” made by Senate Republicans in their letter to Gov. Polis that is sufficiently absurd it deserves its own mention:

In our caucus, four of our State Senators represent 78% of Colorado’s land mass [Pols emphasis] – and none of those four were consulted on how an order such as this would affect their rural communities…

So first of all, a pandemic disease does not respect county or any other boundaries–and it also spreads in assemblies of people, which can occur in big towns and small. That’s why a statewide order was necessary, and the “land mass” represented by four Senators is totally irrelevant.

And that, gentle readers, is where their contention takes a turn for the absurd:

Because although four Republican Senators may represent 78% of Colorado’s “land mass,” meaning Colorado’s vast expanses of dirt, they represent (in 2011 numbers, anyway) the same number of people as every other Senator–about 150,000 each, or all four together about 12% of the state’s population. We rounded up just to be nice.

From the National Popular Vote debate to public health measures to slow a global pandemic, if we never, ever hear the preposterous “dirt=people” argument again we’ll consider that a major breakthrough for reality-based discussions of all these issues.

Fat chance, we know. But it is awfully damned absurd.

0 Shares