Witness The Depth Of Republican Depravity

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik.

Today, the U.S. House select committee investigating the deadly pro-Trump assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th is holding its first hearings, taking witness testimony from U.S. Capitol Police officers who defended the building and helped lawmakers flee to secure areas as insurrectionists stormed through smashed windows and doors.

Outside the hearing, as Fox News reports, Republicans who tried desperately to stop this investigation from taking place at all offered their latest spin on the events of January 6th. We had to read this twice to make sure it wasn’t a parody:

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and other House GOP leaders blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Tuesday morning, accusing her of being ultimately responsible for security failures at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6…

“Dec. 14, the leadership knew there was a problem,” McCarthy said. “Even prior to that, an Inspector General report told us there was failed leadership at the top of the police for the training.” The minority leader noted that no hearing was held to address that report.

House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., echoed this, claiming that in December 2020 Pelosi “was made aware of potential security threats to the Capitol and she failed to act.”

Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, January 6th 2021.

The New York Daily News has the quote from Rep. Elise Stefanik today that has jaws agape from coast to coast:

“The truth (is) that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the No. 3 House Republican. [Pols emphasis]

On January 13th, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated unequivocally that “the president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” The insurrectionists who smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol on January 6th were not random tourists, they were there with the expressed purpose of disrupting the certification of the 2020 presidential election in hope that might somehow help defeated Republican President Donald Trump cling to power.

You know that. We know that. Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik know it too.

So what’s going on here? It’s simple, really: the GOP is a party completely given over to post-truth reinvention of history, so turning the story of January 6th on its head to recast the victims as guilty for the attack is as natural for them as it is outrageous to everyone else. By giving voice to the utterly outlandish idea that Democrats somehow brought this violence on themselves, Republican leaders have given Republican voters desperate to reconcile these events with their own values will something–anything–to cling to. And that’s all it takes.

In the end, what “post-truth” Republicans say doesn’t have to make sense. If you’re outraged, you’re just not the target audience for it. Republicans who know what their leaders are saying is preposterous fiction, and they most certainly do exist, cannot say anything for fear of ending up the next Liz Cheney.

Whatever happens next, today marks another low moment: for Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik, for the GOP, and for American democracy as a whole. Unless American voters stop rewarding Republicans’ increasingly diabolical behavior in the era of Trump, we are all debased with them.

Boebert Hates Bicycles, But CD-3 Sure Doesn’t

At first glance, it just seems like another serving of talk-radio red meat from Colorado’s favorite Republican train wreck Rep. Lauren “Q*bert” Boebert–a presumably dead-on-arrival appropriations amendment striking a blow against that most un-Godly of communist contraptions, the bicycle:

Communists, obviously.

On the one hand, it’s easy to understand: Boebert is a big fan of oil and gas, the kind of devoted fan you can really only be if you don’t think about it too much “Drill Baby Drill” style. Naturally, ICE-loving (internal combustion engine, though we assume either works) red-blooded Americans like Boebert don’t ride stinking bicycles.

The thing is, though, a lot of people in Boebert’s district do ride bicycles. In fact, the Colorado Tourism Office says some of the greatest cycling destinations are in Boebert’s own Western Slope district:

Colorado has more gold- or platinum-rated bicycle communities than any other state, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Boulder and Fort Collins are ranked platinum, while Breckenridge, Durango, Crested Butte and Steamboat Springs are gold. Silver status goes to Aspen, Colorado Springs, Denver, Gunnison and Longmont, while Arvada, Carbondale, Castle Rock, Golden, Greeley, Lakewood, Summit County and Vail make the podium with bronze.

Boebert may not value bicycling as a means of getting around, but a whole bunch of tourism-reliant communities in her district value the hell out of bicycles and the visitors Colorado’s magnificent bike trails bring. That’s in addition to the fact that people who ride bicycles are statistically much healthier, and bicycles and emit neither carbon nor coal-roll soot.

In short, Boebert just insulted a big economic stakeholder in her district for the shallow gratification of another.

We can’t see how that makes Boebert, you know, any new friends.

More Things That Won’t Happen on August 13

Pillow enthusiast and amateur political scientist Mike Lindell

The “MyPillow Guy,” company CEO Mike Lindell, has been one of the most outspoken of the Donald Trump supporters in terms of his belief that Trump will yet be “reinstated” as President, or something. Lindell has spent millions of dollars of his own money to create a complicated Excel spreadsheet that “proves” widespread voter fraud stole the 2020 Presidential election for Joe Biden. Lindell will reportedly make that data public at some sort of event in mid-August.

Lindell has claimed for months that Trump would be back in the White House in August 2021 (of course, Lindell has also said that Trump “won” the 2020 election, so it’s unclear why Trump would need to be reinstated as President if he was already President). Earlier this month, Lindell even put a date on it; he said that The United States Supreme Court would reinstate Trump as President on Friday, August 13 (yes, Friday the 13th). Nevermind that the U.S. Supreme Court does not have this authority.

But as Raw Story reports, Lindell has a new, updated theory that still involves August 13:

Lindell speculated this week that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will resign on the morning of August 13. [Pols emphasis]

Lindell told Real America’s Voice host Steve Bannon that he came to this conclusion after speaking with three Democrats who regretted voting for Biden. The MyPillow CEO claimed that he had convinced the Biden voters that the 2020 election had been stolen from former President Donald Trump…

…”There’s three of them that voted [for Biden] that feel terrible about it,” he continued. “I said you know what? I said you didn’t know about this but you thought you were voting for something. I said you didn’t get to vote. I said China did our vote.”

According to the “MyPillow Guy,” Biden and Harris will resign for the good of the country on Friday the 13th after seeing all of the data that he has accumulated proving that their administration is illegitimate. Don’t tell Lindell, but if this were to happen, the person who would become President is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and not The Big Orange Guy in Mar-a-lago.

Lindell is quite obviously a few sheets short of a made bed, but we’re telling you this so that there can be no confusion that August 13 is THE DAY that the Biden Presidency comes to an end. When that does not happen, and August 13 is just like any other day, then Lindell will probably shift to a new deadline — which is what people who predict the end of the world tend to do on a regular basis.

If you are one of the people who still believe that the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent and that Trump is — or should still be — President of the United States…well, just understand that you and the “MyPillow Guy” are essentially on the same team. And then maybe reconsider your position.

Get More Smarter on Monday (July 26)

Japan has a slight lead over the United States in the Olympic medal count after the first couple of days of competition. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Last week, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey made it clear that she was sick of unvaccinated Americans preventing the rest of the country from ending the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks…it’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

As Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning, new restrictions may be just around the corner BECAUSE so many people are unvaccinated. From The Washington Post:

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said Sunday that the United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” at this point in the pandemic.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The latest surge in infections is driven by the highly virulent delta variant, which continues to spread rapidly around the country. Although official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not changed, Fauci hinted that a return to indoor mask mandates for vaccinated people and booster shots may be necessary to once again curb the spread of the virus.

Doctors, nurses, and other health groups are now calling for vaccine mandates for all health care workers. New York City will require all city workers to either receive COVID-19 vaccinations or take weekly COVID-19 tests. But as The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Republican leaders around the country are actively working against public health guidelines:

GOP lawmakers are rallying around the cause of individual freedom to counter community-based disease mitigation methods, moves experts say leave the country ill-equipped to counter the resurgent coronavirus and a future, unknown outbreak.

In some states, anger at perceived overreach by health officials has prompted legislative attempts to limit their authority, including new state laws that prevent the closure of businesses or allow lawmakers to rescind mask mandates. Some state courts have reined in the emergency and regulatory powers governors have wielded against the virus. And in its recent rulings and analysis, the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled its willingness to limit disease mitigation in the name of religious freedom…

…At least 15 state legislatures have passed or are considering measures to limit the legal authority of public health agencies, according to the Network for Public Health Law, which partnered with the National Association of County and City Health Officials to document the legislative counterpunches. Lawmakers in at least 46 states have introduced hundreds of bills relating to legislative oversight of gubernatorial or executive actions during coronavirus or other emergencies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The answer, friends, is remarkably simple: Vax, That. Thang. Up.

 

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock delivers his “State of the City” address today.

 

Colorado Newsline reports on Friday’s meeting in Grand Junction with BLM officials and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland:

During her first official visit to Grand Junction, the nation’s first Native American secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland, wouldn’t say whether the Bureau of Land Management headquarters will remain in the city or return to Washington, D.C.

“It’s an open question, but needs to be known soon,” she said.

Haaland was joined on Friday by Gov. Jared Polis, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Reps. Joe Neguse and Lauren Boebert, who represents the district that encompasses Grand Junction. The Colorado delegation hopes to persuade Haaland to keep the BLM headquarters in Grand Junction, where, in a controversial move, the Trump administration relocated the federal agency from Washington, D.C., in 2019…

…Haaland said she will consider the impact on BLM employees when making her decision whether to keep the headquarters on the Western Slope. Employees were significantly impacted the way the move was implemented, she said. And institutional knowledge was lost after nearly 300 BLM employees left their jobs rather than leave their homes in Washington to come to Colorado.

Colorado Public Radio has more on Haaland’s visit.

If you didn’t yet get a chance, take a moment to caption this photo of Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert flanked by other Colorado Members of Congress during a press conference in Grand Junction.

 

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Lake Powell has reached its lowest water level IN RECORDED HISTORY:

Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the U.S., has dropped to its lowest level on record. The water and power produced by the system supplies millions of people in the West.

On July 23, the reservoir’s level fell to 3,555.09 feet. The previous record low was set in April 2005.

A 20-year megadrought and hotter temperatures with climate change have contributed to shrinking water supplies in the Colorado River.

The Bureau of Reclamation had announced last week that it was likely this weekend that the reservoir would hit its lowest level since first being filled in the 1960s with water from the Colorado River.

The low water levels on Lake Powell are a big issue for Colorado because of a century-long water-sharing agreement.

 

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So Many Captions For One Awkward Photo

Committed to the public domain by Rep. Lauren Boebert’s official Twitter account, from yesterday’s visit by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (center) to Grand Junction accompanied by (from left) Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Joe Neguse, Gov. Jared Polis, and Sen. John Hickenlooper:

There’s a lot going on here, and 90% of it doesn’t need to be said.

Take care of the other 10%, gentle readers.

Hurting The Unemployed: How About No?

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

CBS4 Denver reports on yet another request this week by business interests asking Gov. Jared Polis to cut off the expanded unemployment benefits being paid to workers by the federal government through the first week of September prematurely, in hopes that doing so will “motivate” those workers to return to their pre-pandemic stations:

A group of more than 100 business owners in northern Colorado sent a letter to Gov. Polis, saying the extra weekly payments are disincentivizing people to go back to work, and causing a shortage of workers.

The expanded unemployment benefits that have been flowing to workers for over a year now, already cut in half from the original $600 per week, are set to end in about six weeks. As we’ve explained each time Republicans and business lobbyists have called for the money to be cut off over the last few months, there’s scant evidence that expanded unemployment benefits are slowing workers return to the workforce. This is especially true in Colorado where the minimum wage is well above the federal $7.25 an hour, and is off-base in all cases since workers in every state are required to look for new jobs while they receive unemployment benefits.

In his response to this latest request, Gov. Polis makes the argument even simpler: he would be a fool to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into Colorado’s economy.

“I wish that we could use the money for something else, but this is $600 to $800 million that the federal government is pumping into Colorado,” Gov. Polis said.

Polis said the weekly payments are temporary and helping businesses in Colorado.

“This current money is only here for another month, but if we cut it off, it would be less money for our retail businesses, for our stores,” Polis said Wednesday.

Once you realize that expanded unemployment benefits are not the reason employers can’t fill many entry-level low paying positions, any rational basis for cutting the benefits off disappears. No one who wants Colorado to recover as quickly as possible from the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic should support a single dime of available money to not be flowing into the state–especially money going directly into the hands of working class people who are most likely to plug it right back into the economy.

It seems like an eternity ago, but the reality is that Colorado’s “labor shortage” was in the headlines long before the pandemic. Rather than meanspirited, shortsighted attempts to punitively motivate workers into accepting the status quo ante, maybe it’s time for businesses to make better job offers.

After all, an employee’s job market is a free market too.

Get More Smarter on Friday (July 23)

The 2020 2021 Tokyo Olympics are officially underway. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

More and more Republicans are speaking out about the importance of receiving your COVID-19 vaccinations. One such Republican, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, is even starting to get a little salty about it. From CNN:

Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday called out “the unvaccinated folks” for the rise in Covid-19 cases in her state, a remarkable plea at a time when many GOP leaders are refusing to urge people to get vaccinated even as Covid-19 cases surge in many parts of the country.

“Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,” Ivey told reporters in Birmingham. [Pols emphasis]

Alabama is the least vaccinated state in the country, with roughly 33.9% of residents fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Average daily Covid-19 cases in Alabama are nearly double what they were a week ago, and more than four times higher than they were two weeks ago…

…The unvaccinated, Ivey said, are “choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.”

“We’ve got to get folks to take the shot,” she continued, calling the vaccine “the greatest weapon we have to fight Covid.”

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post has a similar response for the anti-vaxxer Republican crowd: He calls it “Snowflake Syndrome.” Texas Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson appears to have a bad case of “Snowflake Syndrome.”

Vax that thang up, people!

 

The Denver Post reports on the Front Range stop for Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who will be in Grand Junction today for discussions about the future of the HQ of the Bureau of Land Management:

The federal government intends to provide immediate assistance to water users impacted by the West’s historic drought and develop longer-term strategies to respond to climate change, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland pledged Thursday during a visit to Denver.

Haaland — flanked by Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead — spoke to the press after meeting with state and local officials at the Denver Water Administration building to discuss collaborating on addressing climate change and water-related issues in the West.

Haaland said the Bureau of Reclamation is working to identify and disperse “immediate financial and technical assistance for impacted irrigators and Indian tribes” while also tackling longer-term climate change responses, including building more resilient communities and protecting the natural environment.

“Being from New Mexico, I know how much climate change impacts our communities, from extended fire seasons to intense drought and water shortages, and I know how important the Colorado River Basin is to these discussions,” Haaland said.

 

The House of Representatives approved a measure — by wide margins — sponsored by Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) that seeks to help Afghan interpreters who assisted U.S. forces in Afghanistan in obtaining visas to come to the United States; the Taliban has pledged to hunt down and kill interpreters who remain in that country.

Crow’s legislation passed the House by a vote of 407-16. Colorado Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert was the ONLY member of Colorado’s delegation to vote “NO.”

 

Colorado Newsline reports on passage of legislation in the House of Representatives that would regulate “forever chemicals” also known as PFAS, which can cause serious health problems when circulating through water supplies.

 

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Sympathy For The “QAnon Shaman?”

Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman” (center).

One of the more recognizable figures among the 550+ suspects arrested for alleged crimes committed during the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol attempt to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election is the man who’s become known as the “QAnon Shaman” for his bizarre buffalo headdress costume and Mel Gibson-style cries of “freeeeedooooom” that echoed through the halls of the Capitol that day. Two weeks ago, Jacob Chansley was transferred to the FCI Englewood federal prison in Denver’s southwest suburbs for a psychological evaluation in order to determine his fitness for trial after months of pre-trial detention since his arrest in January.

As Reuters reports today, the “Qanon Shaman” is a deeply disturbed individual:

The participant in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots nicknamed the “QAnon Shaman” is negotiating a possible plea deal with prosecutors, after prison psychologists found he suffers from a variety of mental illnesses, his attorney said.

In an interview, defense lawyer Albert Watkins said that officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, have diagnosed his client Jacob Chansley with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.

The BOP’s findings, which have not yet been made public, suggest Chansley’s mental condition deteriorated due to the stress of being held in solitary confinement at a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, Watkins said.

“As he spent more time in solitary confinement … the decline in his acuity was noticeable, even to an untrained eye,” Watkins said in an interview on Thursday.

First and foremost: confirmation that this individual suspect in an insurrection thousands of people participated in urged on by then-President Donald Trump is seriously mentally ill does not excuse the actions of anyone else. The thorough and unsparing investigation to hold everyone who broke the law on January 6th accountable reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed that day, and is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans.

The presence of a person suffering from severe mental illness in this crowd of agitated criminal extremists cannot be considered unexpected. Furthermore, the psychological harm done by solitary confinement is very well known here in Colorado, where corrections officials in recent years have eliminated long-term solitary confinement entirely.

Even in a case of insurrection, what makes America great is how we treat even the least deserving of sympathy fairly. The “QAnon Shaman” should be punished, and it does appear that he has been. What he may need more at the end of the day, though, is treatment.

“QAnon Shaman” himself may go down in history as more of a sad mascot than a bonafide threat, but that doesn’t mean we should get complacent about the very real and enduring threat of more violence from Trump dead-enders. It’s the sound of mind who smashed their way into the Capitol, and the man who incited them to violence in the first place, who should not walk free.

Boebert Votes To Let Afghan Allies Die For The Lulz

Rep. Jason Crow (D).

Stars and Stripes’ Sarah Cammarata reports on the passage in the U.S. House today of the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs Act, also known as the ALLIES Act, a major legislative priority for Colorado’s Rep. Jason Crow to help get interpreters who served with American forces during the two-decade war in Afghanistan out of the country before the final withdrawal of American troops:

The House on Thursday approved legislation that would increase the number of visas for Afghan interpreters who worked with U.S. personnel, a potential lifeline for thousands waiting for application approvals as Taliban fighters continue to seize more territory in Afghanistan.

The bill from Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., would streamline the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program by boosting the number of visa slots by an additional 8,000. It would also speed up the process by removing the requirement that applicants must prove they are under threat as a result of their work with the U.S. government during the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan.

The measure passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 407-16.

“The phrase life and death gets tossed around a lot in this chamber. But this bill is truly that for thousands of our Afghan friends. The Taliban is intent on hunting down and killing Afghans who have served alongside Americans the past 20 years,” Crow said on the House floor ahead of the vote.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

However you feel about the war in Afghanistan, there’s no question that Afghan citizens who assisted American forces in battling Al-Qaeda and the Taliban deserve to be protected from almost certain death at the hands of the resurgent Taliban after Americans troops are gone. To fail to honor this basic obligation would put all future attempts to obtain cooperation from local populations in a military action in jeopardy.

That’s the polite way of saying it would make us look like complete assholes in the eyes of the entire world.

And yes, you guessed it–that’s Rep. Lauren Boebert’s cue:

Why was Lauren Boebert one of only 16 votes in Congress to let Afghan interpreters die at the hands of the Taliban? We haven’t seen a statement yet. But much like voting against preventing senior scams, carbon monoxide prevention, and bone marrow transplants, this is Boebert at her inexplicable worst. We honestly have no idea who this vote is supposed to appeal to–voters who want America to not be trusted by allies who risk their lives to help us? Even Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn agree we’re better than that.

How many bipartisanly indefensible votes does Boebert get before even her beet-red district has had enough?

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 22)

Happy Pi Approximation Day; please celebrate approximately. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

As The New York Times reports, the head of the CDC is warning that America is at a “pivotal point” in the battle to end the COVID-19 pandemic:

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention struck a new tone of urgency on Thursday about the coronavirus pandemic, warning that the United States is “not out of the woods yet” and is once again at a “another pivotal point in this pandemic” as the highly infectious Delta variant rips through communities with low rates of vaccination.

The warning from the director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, during a briefing by members of the White House Covid-19 response team, was a marked shift from just weeks ago, when President Biden threw a big Fourth of July party on the South Lawn of the White House to declare independence from the virus.

It reflects a growing concern among administration officials that the gains they appeared to have made are being erased — and that the current surge in cases will overwhelm health systems in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low and hospitalizations are high. Still, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain at a fraction of their previous devastating peaks. Vaccines remain effective against the worst outcomes of Covid-19, including from the Delta variant.

Vaxx that thang up, people!

 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland is in Denver today ahead of a visit to Grand Junction on Friday in which the future of the headquarters location for the Bureau of Land Management will be discussed.

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is part of a MASSIVE settlement agreement with several major drug companies regarding their role in the opioid epidemic:

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on Wednesday unveiled a historic $26 billion multistate settlement with the nation’s three largest drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson designed to address the nationwide opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Weiser said during a virtual news conference Wednesday afternoon. “We need to make the most of it.”

The settlement between more than 40 states, thousands of municipalities and AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson and Johnson & Johnson would bring $300 million to Colorado, the attorney general said.

That, combined with a previous settlement with Purdue Pharma, would total $400 million in funding to address what Weiser called an “American tragedy.”

 

Remember when several big corporations spoke out against new restrictive voter laws passed in Georgia this Spring? The Washington Post has an unfortunate update:

Three months ago, Comcast responded to the passage of Georgia’s sweeping voting law by saying, “Efforts to limit or impede access to this vital constitutional right for any citizen are not consistent with our values.”

That was then.

On June 30, the telecommunications giant contributed $2,500 to Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr, who has vigorously defended the law, which critics say will curtail voting access, including by limiting use of drop boxes for absentee ballots and making it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line…

…Comcast was one of several companies that raised alarm about the voting restrictions but then contributed more than $20,000 collectively between April and June of this year to Georgia politicians who voted for or publicly defended the legislation, according to an examination by Advance Democracy, a nonprofit research group headed by Daniel J. Jones, a former FBI analyst who led the Senate investigation into the CIA’s use of torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

If only Comcast’s customer service was this reliable. Amirite?

 

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Thursday Open Thread

“Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them.”

–T. S. Eliot

Lauren Boebert, Call The Mesa County Health Department

An email went out yesterday notifying Mesa County residents of their chance to win big bucks with the only requirement being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, something as we’ve unfortunately been witnessing recently is not happening in great enough numbers to ward off spread of the deadly Delta variant:

In conjunction with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) announces a community vaccination effort in the form of a cash incentive campaign. Cash prizes, including (2) $500 weekly prizes and a grand prize that could build up to $90,000, are up for grabs!

Here’s how it works–as the percentage of Mesa County residents gets vaccinated (currently at a problematically low 42%), a jackpot that could reach $90,000 by the July 31 deadline grows. As of today, the “Big Shot” jackpot is sitting at $56,264. This is in addition to weekly $500 cash prizes given to two lucky vaccinated Mesa County residents:

All entries will be eligible for the Grand Prize, which starts at $45,000, and builds based on the number of vaccinated residents…

Grand Prize will be determined based on the total number of fully vaccinated Mesa County Residents according to Colorado Immunization Information System data on July 31, 2021. One dollar ($1) will be awarded for each Mesa County Resident the system reflects as fully vaccinated (defined as receiving a second dose in a two-dose series or single dose vaccine) against COVID-19. For example, if the records indicate 85,242 people are fully vaccinated, the Grand Prize would be $85,242.

It’s necessary for vaccinated Mesa County residents to register for the prize and also provide proof of vaccination if they’re selected as a winner. The requirement to register to win cuts down on the pool of entrants enough provide much better odds of winning than the now-concluded statewide vaccine lottery, and growing the jackpot based on the county’s vaccine percentage is a clever incentive. Whether or not this contest persuades excitable Mesa County residents who haven’t taken advantage of widely available free vaccines for months now to get their shots is anybody’s guess, but credit to Mesa County should be awarded for doing something to improve their dangerously poor vaccination rate.

Based on her response to the statewide vaccine lottery in June, though, Mesa County’s representative in Congress Rep. Lauren Boebert is not going to approve:

What a golden opportunity this would be for Mesa County’s GOP commissioners to finally stand up to Boebert’s relentless onslaught of deadly COVID-19 misinformation–at a moment when doing so could literally save the lives of their mutual constituents. That’s not going to happen, of course, and cowardice before the 800-pound gorilla in the room more than subtracts any points awarded for a clever promotional gimmick.

It’s all pretty sad, really.

Westminster Recall Crashes And Burns, Gessler Still Makes Bank

Scott Gessler.

As Liam Adams of the Colorado Community Newspapers affiliate Westminster Window reports–the latest thinly-veiled partisan power play by Republicans hoping to rebuild their bench and base in municipal races, an attempted recall of a single Westminster city councilman nominally over water rates, failed yesterday by a lopsided margin:

Jon Voelz will keep his seat on Westminster City Council after unofficial results in Tuesday’s contentious, expensive election showed him with 62% of total votes.

“I’m glad the common sense of our residents prevailed,” Voelz said in a phone call Tuesday night. “This misleading, and wasteful and shameful recall is coming to an end. I look forward to continuing my work on city council.”

As we noted earlier this month, this recall election was (regardless of the outcome) one of the most egregious wastes of time and taxpayer dollars in Westminster’s history, since Jon Voelz is coming right back up for his regular re-election this fall:

Voelz’s seat is only safe until November when he must run for reelection. The recall election cost the city up to $250,000 to run because it was not part of a coordinated county election.

In addition to failing dismally in their campaign to recall Jon Voelz from office, the so-called “Westminster Water Warriors” wasted a quarter million taxpayer dollars by forcing a special election less than four months before the regular municipal elections in November. Unlike in the case of a frivolous lawsuit, there’s no provision by which the city can recover their expenses for a frivolous and needless recall election, but the timing and outcome of this effort make it one of the most brazen and ultimately self-immolating abuses of recall power we’ve ever seen.

But as the story continues, there is one winner. It’s the guy who, as Republican recall, coup attempts, and other assorted shenanigans come and go, always seems to come out the winner:

As of July 16, the Water Warriors fundraised a total of $19,606 and spent $21,383, most of which went to [Scott] Gessler in attorneys fees. As of July 7, the group still owed Gessler about $20,000.

Former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who scooped up thousands in attorney’s fees from the failed 2019 recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis and billed top dollar to the Trump campaign for his “expert testimony” on how the 2020 presidential election might have been stolen in Nevada (it wasn’t), is now $40,000 richer from the recall that cost Westminster taxpayers $250,000–assuming he collects the remaining $20,000 he’s owed, of course. It’s possible that the cost of Gessler’s treachery to society has never been more arithmetically quantifiable.

Just like the third certain to fail recall attempt against Gov. Polis now maybe getting underway, as long as there’s a single dollar to grift from these half-baked operations there will be folks with more time than credibility ready to undertake them. At some point, though, even the most fact-impervious rabblerouser on the right has got to realize that they are all being, at the end of the day, fleeced by usual suspects up the food chain who have no interest whatsoever in their success.

“Honey Badger,” well and truly, doesn’t give a shit.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 21)

A new study says that Denver is the fourth-fittest city in America. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

As The Washington Post reports, more Republican officials are starting to promote the COVID-19 vaccination before the virus kills off their entire voting base:

A growing number of top Republicans are urging GOP supporters to get vaccinated as the delta coronavirus variant surges across the United States, marking a notable shift away from the anti-vaccine conspiracy theorizing that has gripped much of the party in opposition to the Biden administration’s efforts to combat the virus.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was part of the rising chorus on Tuesday, stressing the need for unvaccinated Americans to receive coronavirus shots and warning that the country could reverse its progress in moving on from the pandemic.

“These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible, or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for, that we went through last year,” McConnell said during his weekly news conference. “I want to encourage everybody to do that and to ignore all of these other voices that are giving demonstrably bad advice.” [Pols emphasis]

Republicans such as Rep. Steve Scalise, the #2 person in the GOP House leadership, are now encouraging vaccinations. Even Fox News talking monkey Sean Hannity is now talking up the vaccine…and he once called the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax.

There’s one prominent Republican who is still NOT encouraging Americans to get vaccinated: Former President Donald Trump.

 

Colorado Democrats such as Gov. Jared Polis ran for office in 2018 promising to reduce health care costs for Coloradans. New data shows that these efforts have paid off BIGLY, resulting in significant reductions in health care premiums across the state.

 

As POLITICO reports, “centrist” Republican Senators are trying to lock down support for their watered-down version of a new infrastructure plan as the GOP stymies an effort by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold a discussion on the issue today.

 

A right-wing lunatic attacked a couple of reporters at the State Capitol on Tuesday, as Westword explains:

On July 20, a woman who identified herself as homeless physically attacked Colorado Politics reporter Pat Poblete in the press room of the Colorado State Capitol simply because he is a journalist. And while Poblete wasn’t injured and ultimately declined to ask that the woman be charged with assault — or for stealing items belonging to one of his reporting colleagues, Marianne Goodland — he’s troubled that she appears to have acted out because she believes the terrible things said about the media by ex-President Donald Trump, whose rhetoric she spouted during her violent outburst.

“This wasn’t the sort of hyper-online, hyper-partisan, QAnon, deep-dive type of person who’s ingrained in this stuff,” Poblete says. “This was just a woman who’d heard what the former president said about journalists and took that to heart. Even at that level of information and intake, it’s still penetrating the public psyche.”

Poblete, who publicly revealed the attack in a thread on his Twitter account, is the legislative reporter for Colorado Politics, and even though the Colorado Legislature isn’t currently in session, he was at the Capitol to cover an event celebrating a statue of World War II hero General Maurice Rose that will be placed in nearby Lincoln Veterans’ Memorial Park (click to see his article on the topic).

Words matter, people.

 

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Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 Deep-Sixed By The Zuckster?

Checking in on the website for what would be the third attempt since 2019 to recall Gov. Jared Polis with Secretary of State Jena Griswold thrown in this time because it’s all fantasy and why the hell not, we see that the countdown clock for starting their 60-day petition circulation campaign has ticked down to zero:

We should be on the edge of our seats!

Now, as was the case with Polis Recall 2019 and 2020’s “Polis Recall 2.0,” this is the golden period of opportunity for the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign to be furiously drumming up whatever buzz and earned media they can, in order to maximize any chance at achieving the goal the two prior campaigns couldn’t even get halfway to reaching: over 630,000 valid Colorado voter signatures needed to qualify a recall question for a future statewide election.

Instead, it looks like the Polis Recall campaign has a more basic problem on their hands:

It would appear that somebody in the private Facebook group where recall organizing was to be taking place posted something stupid–we’re guessing they posted a lot of stupid things–about the COVID-19 pandemic that eventually brought the dreaded ball gag of Mark Zuckerberg down around the piehole of the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign on that platform. You would think by now most of these very fine people would have moved to Parler or Gab or whichever alternative network it is these days that allows people to lie about stuff without any consequences. That’s not Facebook anymore, and most people we know not named Ken Buck are pretty happy about that.

But to the extent the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign was relying on Facebook to organize, it’s back to square one! Perhaps they’ll see reason and just start getting ready for the next regular election in 2022, but we have no reason to expect rational behavior at this point. There’s neither fun nor grift in that.

Thanks, Democrats: Health Care Costs Declining in Colorado

Reinsurance Savings 2021

Legit BFD

In 2019, Governor Jared Polis and legislative Democrats passed a reinsurance program that almost immediately created significant cost savings on health insurance for many Coloradans. According to a new press release from Polis’ office, those savings are getting bigger:

Governor Polis and the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), released preliminary information about the health insurance plans and premiums for 2022, for the individual market (meaning health insurance plans for people who don’t get their insurance from an employer) and the small group market (for small businesses with 2-100 employees).

“We need to do more, but our effort to save people money on healthcare is working. Saving people money on health care continues to be a top priority for our administration especially as we build back stronger and the bipartisan reinsurance program is delivering real results. Keeping premiums down an average of 24.1% in the individual market through the reinsurance program means hardworking families will have more money for things like after-school activities, a summer vacation or help with housing,” said Governor Jared Polis.

The savings from the reinsurance program have increased this year. The Colorado Option which Governor Polis signed this year and its standard benefit plan will give Coloradans another tool to save money on health care starting in 2023.

In addition, insurance companies continue to expand where they are offering plans across the state, in both the individual and small group markets. In the individual market, the companies’ proposed expansions for 2022 will leave only one county with a single on-exchange insurance company available – down from 10 counties in 2021, and 22 counties in 2020.

To quote former Vice President Joe Biden from the ACA signing in 2010, this is a “big f***ing deal” that proves out campaign promises from Polis and other Democrats that they would reduce health care costs in Colorado if elected by voters. Average health care premiums in the individual market are now 24% lower than they were before Polis took office.

That’s…huge.

These numbers are likely to decrease even more once The Artist Formerly Known as The Colorado Option — a bill approved in the 2021 legislative session — is fully implemented in 2023. These are significant policy changes that will benefit people across the state, and the narrative poses a very difficult political problem for Colorado Republicans. Democrats told voters that they would save them money on health care…and they’re doing it. How do you downplay this in 2022 if you are a Republican candidate in Colorado? (SPOILER ALERT: You can’t).

If there is a logical campaign slogan that the Colorado GOP can use to counteract this Democratic message, we’re anxious to see what it looks like. Good luck with THAT, Republicans.

Fauci!

Dr. Anthony Fauci.

We interrupt our local political scuttlebutt to bring you this exchange today courtesy CNBC between GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and White House COVID-19 medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, in which Fauci finally unloads on Sen. Paul after many such confrontations in what should go down in history as legendary fashion:

Paul grilled Fauci about an NIH funded study that he says qualifies as gain-of-function research, the process of altering a pathogen to make it more transmissible in order to better predict emerging diseases. Fauci previously denied in previous Senate testimony that the NIH has directly funded the research at a lab in Wuhan, China that has come under intense scrutiny as a possible source of the virus.

Paul, R-Ky., asked Fauci if he would like to retract that statement from the May 11 testimony, “Fauci, as you are aware it is a crime to lie to Congress.”

Sen. Rand Paul, as readers should know, is an ophthalmologist, and on the strength of his degree in eye doctoring has become one of the leading quacks in the ill-informed second-guessing campaign against Dr. Fauci and other qualified epidemiologists who have tried desperately to reduce the death toll from COVID-19 in the United States over the past 16 months. If we were in the position of Dr. Fauci, with a lifetime of experience fighting the world’s deadliest diseases, we would have…much less patience for persons like Sen. Rand Paul than Dr. Fauci has been obligated to show in these hearings.

But not today, folks! With Rand Paul disparaging not just Dr. Fauci’s professional judgment but his personal integrity, the gloves finally came off:

Fauci, who oversees several NIH research programs as director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he wouldn’t retract his previous statement. “I have not lied before Congress. I have never lied. Certainly not before Congress. Case closed,” Fauci said.

He said the study Paul was referring to does not constitute gain-of-function research. “Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I would like to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about,” Fauci said. [Pols emphasis]

Pushed a little further. Dr. Fauci added for good measure:

“You are implying that what we did resulted in the deaths of individuals,” Fauci responded as he pointed his finger at Paul. “I totally resent that, and if anyone is lying here, senator, it is you.”

It’s a relief to see Fauci has finally had enough of Rand Paul’s inane badgering after 620,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. A more aggressive response to misinformation early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, which to be fair was harder for Dr. Fauci under the previous administration, might have saved lives. Pivoting to the origin of the virus after spending the last year downplaying its severity just underscores Rand Paul’s bad faith.

Belated though it may be, more like this please.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 20)

Bucks in six? 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Holy fucking shit, Texas! As The Huffington Post reports:

In a new political low in Texas, the Republican-dominated state Senate has passed a bill to eliminate a requirement that public schools teach that the Ku Klux Klan and its white supremacist campaign of terror are “morally wrong.”

The cut is among some two dozen curriculum requirements dropped in the measure, along with studying Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the works of United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez, Susan B. Anthony’s writings about the women’s suffragist movement, and Native American history…

…Senate Bill 3 — passed last Friday 18-4 — drops most mentions of people of color and women from the state’s required curriculum.

That includes eliminating a requirement that students be taught the “history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.”

Honestly…we don’t even know what to say anymore.

 

A federal judge on Monday issued an 8-month jail sentence for Paul Hodgkins, the first person to be sentenced for a felony conviction for his part in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

 

 As Saja Hindi reports for The Denver Post, confusion over DACA is causing very real problems for many people in Colorado:

After a Texas federal judge’s decision late last week, thousands of Coloradans in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are facing uncertainty — again — about their legal status in the United States.

The Biden administration said it plans to appeal Friday’s ruling that requires the federal government to stop processing new applications for the DACA program, which helps immigrants whose families brought them into the U.S. as young children temporarily avoid deportation and become eligible for work permits and Social Security numbers.

The latest court ruling leaves immigration attorneys scrambling to figure out how best to help clients who planned to apply for DACA. Current DACA recipients — people like 25-year-old Estéfani Peña Figueroa, who says she feels like she’s been on a “roller coaster” since 2017 — worry what this could mean for the program long-term. And advocates say it’s past time for a permanent solution.

Peña Figueroa says that, “I don’t feel like I can plan for my future.”

 

 Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper announced that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has accepted their invitation to visit the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction on Friday. The BLM is reviewing a decision from 2019 to move the agency’s HQ to Western Colorado. Colorado Public Radio has more on Friday’s visit.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: All-Star Alternate Universes

This week on Episode #81 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii introduce our new intern, Taleen Sample, with a new segment answering her questions about politics.

But first, we dive into the very nature of reality itself…sort of. Mostly it’s just us talking about how the Republican Party is setting up the 2022 election cycle to be a battle over conflicting versions of truth. Get ready for another 18 months of “alternate facts.”

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

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

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

Ick Factor 10: Boebert Bringing “Gym” Jordan To Grand Junction

Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Jim Jordan.

While Republicans in El Paso County reckon with the upcoming keynote speaker for their county party’s annual Lincoln Day fundraising dinner, the Q-believing, mass-shooting denying, Jewish space laser early warning system Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, over in Colorado’s other conservative stronghold of Mesa County, freshman Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert is doing her level best as usual to keep things just as exciting. In addition to bringing her always-colorful “carnival barker” self, Boebert found a second special guest for the Mesa County Lincoln Day dinner–and folks, you’re going to want to keep the kids close for this one!

Western Slope blogger Anne Landman reports, and we mean it. Don’t let the kids out of your sight:

The Mesa County Republican Party is hosting an event this coming Saturday, July 24, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. the Grand Junction Convention Center that features House Reps. Lauren Boebert and Jim Jordan (Ohio). The event starts at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $125-$225.

Several groups, including the Mesa County Democrats, are asking people to turn out to protest the event.

Rep. Jordan is a former wrestling coach at Ohio State University (OSU) who former university students accuse of helping cover up sexual abuse by the team doctor, Richard Strauss. A multi-million dollar investigation by OSU revealed Strauss had molested “at least 177 males students” between 1979 and 1996. Jordan worked at the university during that time, from 1987-1995. Six former wrestlers say Jordan knew about the molestation and didn’t do anything. A wrestling referee said he reported the abuse to Jordan but Jordan didn’t do anything to help the victims. Some students report that Jordan asked them to help cover up the abuse. The whistleblower who first exposed the abuse said he got a phone call from Jordan “begging” and “crying” to him not to corroborate accounts of the abuse.

Jordan is also a staunch ally of former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election…

For believers (and “familiars” like Boebert) in the “QAnon” conspiracy theory, which to refresh everyone’s memory alleges that global pedophile elites are trafficking babies to harvest youth elixir from their blood, Reps. Jim Jordan and ally of both MTG and Boebert Matt Gaetz present the complication of being actually accused of either sex crimes involving kids or complicity in covering such crimes up. It’s always been curious to us how believers in a global pedophile conspiracy overlook this stuff where it concerns the political leaders most closely aligned with their movement.

And yes, it’s curious that it doesn’t faze Rep. Lauren Boebert now that she is one of those leaders.

If you’ve got $125, or a protest sign for outside, maybe you’ll get to pose the question.