“Goddamn Right I’m Sabotaging The Postal Service,” Says Trump

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

National Public Radio reports on an admission so jaw-dropping it could only be…an average Thursday in Donald Trump’s train wreck presidency:

While President Trump has long railed against mail-in voting, falsely claiming it leads to rampant fraud, he appeared to confirm Thursday morning that he opposes Democrats’ proposed boost in funding for the U.S. Postal Service because he wants to make it harder to expand voting by mail…

“They [the Democrats] want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent — that’s election money basically,” Trump said.

Continued the president: “They want $25 billion for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.” [Pols emphasis]

First of all, there is no proposal for “universal mail-in voting” at the federal level. For all the discussion about migrating to a mail ballot system during the COVID-19 pandemic, only two additional states have switched to primarily mail ballots in addition to the six states including Colorado that already conduct mail ballot elections.

Trump’s characteristically frank admission that he opposes more money for the U.S. Postal Service because he doesn’t want USPS to be able to handle mail ballots is fully consistent with the reports of new policies within the Postal Service that are slowing down the delivery of mail across the country–policies put in place by Trump’s newly appointed postmaster general Louis DeJoy, a campaign donor and supporter. Taken together, these clearly point to an agenda by the Trump administration to deliberately harm the USPS–and blame any resultant election chaos on the mail ballots Trump is determined without evidence to vilify in advance for his expected defeat at the polls in November.

As you can imagine, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is pretty upset.

Donald Trump, more or less daily.

Ballots go out in enough time in Colorado to account for any reasonable delay that might occur in delivery to voters. Like we noted yesterday, a very high percentage of Colorado voters use secure drop boxes provided by counties to return their mail ballots–which could work in our favor to the extent that Trump succeeds in disrupting mail service in the weeks before the election. Above all Colorado voters know that mail ballots work, or at least have worked, year after year, without any significant trouble while driving Colorado’s rate of voter participation to historic heights.

What we have today is a President actively working to sabotage one of the nation’s oldest and most trusted institutions for personal political advantage. Trump’s eagerness to admit to the moral worst-case scenario in any situation–like asking his “people” to “slow the testing down, please”–has robbed his apologists of their excuses. It surely ranks among the worst known misdeeds of any modern American President, Watergate included, and it is only Trump’s unprecedented disregard for any moral or legal constraint that prevents the public from catching its breath and realizing how bad this really is.

When Trump floated postponing the election over his fictitious concerns about mail ballots, Sen. Cory Gardner spoke up to condemn the idea–but not to defend the mail ballots Colorado used to elect Gardner in 2014. Gardner’s evasions when asked to reconcile his support for Colorado’s mail ballots with Trump’s disparagement of them are not going to work forever, especially if Trump’s subversion of the Postal Service to sabotage mail ballots continues.

For every Colorado voter who knows better, and that’s every Colorado Republican, a fateful moment is approaching.

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Even for Cory Gardner, This is Despicable

You actually thought I couldn’t go lower?

Politicians can do craven, gutless, despicable things when they are worried about their own re-election. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is on another level entirely.

Today marks the one-week anniversary of the introduction of legislation that Gardner has not talked about other than issuing a brief press release late on Friday. In fact, we didn’t even realize that this had happened until we accidentally stumbled upon a press release from Gardner’s Senate office.

At some point last Thursday, Gardner introduced a bill title — we say “title” because there is no actual bill language to accompany the headline — that was formally read aloud in the U.S. Senate that he calls the “Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act.”

Really. Let that sink in for a moment.

Gardner has based his entire political career in Congress on his unapologetic opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which as you probably know, PROHIBITS INSURANCE COMPANIES FROM DENYING SOMEONE COVERAGE BECAUSE OF A PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION.

As a candidate for the House of Representatives in 2010, Gardner unequivocally stated his opposition to any sort of legislation that would protect people with pre-existing medical conditions (video below). Gardner has spent his entire career in Congress trying to dismantle the ACA. He has voted dozens of times to destroy former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, and he acknowledged just a few months ago that he still supports a lawsuit pending with the U.S. Supreme Court that would effectively eliminate pre-existing medical coverage protections for 2.4 million Coloradans. Eliminating the ACA will also end the very protection that Gardner is now claiming to champion.

 

 

So, what changed? Two things: 1) Voters overwhelmingly support policies that protect people with pre-existing medical conditions, and 2) Cory Gardner is in serious trouble of losing his Senate seat in 2020. So Gardner decided to pretend to champion an issue that he has opposed for a decade…but he did it in such a half-assed manner that he couldn’t even be bothered to write a damn bill.

Here’s Gardner’s quote from last week’s press release:

“My bill is simple – it guarantees coverage for people who have pre-existing medical conditions and ensures that people cannot be charged more because of a pre-existing condition. I will continue to fight for pre-existing condition protections as well as measures to lower health care costs, strengthen innovation, and expand access for all Coloradans, including those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

Gardner’s bill is so damn simple, in fact, that it doesn’t even exist. Here’s the current summary available at Congress.gov:

Via Congress.gov

 

Gardner isn’t just completely lying about some longstanding commitment to protecting pre-existing medical conditions — he’s even pretending to have drafted legislation to deal with the issue despite the fact that somebody else beat him to it: North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis introduced the “Protect Act” back in April 2019, though unlike Gardner he actually took the time to write a damn bill and collect co-sponsors. It is telling that Gardner is not among the 27 co-sponsors — ALL of whom are Senate Republicans — on the Tillis bill. Apparently, Gardner was not as worried about his re-election chances 18 months ago.

The Washington Post awarded Gardner “Four Pinocchios” for pretending to support protections for pre-existing medical conditions.

Gardner has recently tried to convince Coloradans that he has always been a huge supporter of protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, despite his many votes to kill Obamacare (and its associated protections for pre-existing conditions). Last month, The Washington Post featured Gardner in a Fact-Checker analysis about his claims to have long supported coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions. The Post determined, as any functioning human being would conclude, that Gardner is completely full of crap:

Voters deserve straight answers when their health care is on the line, especially in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Daines, Gardner and McSally have voted to end the Affordable Care Act. People with preexisting conditions would have been left exposed because of those votes; insurers could have denied coverage or jacked up prices for sick patients.

The three senators’ comments about the GOP lawsuit are woefully vague, but they can all be interpreted as tacit support. Asked about the case, a Daines spokesperson said “whatever mechanism” to get rid of the ACA would do. McSally’s campaign “didn’t specifically answer, but pointed to her general disapproval of the ACA.” Gardner avoided the question six times in one interview, but in another, he said: “That’s the court’s decision. If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.”

If this all sounds familiar, it should. President Trump made headlines this week for suggesting that he will sign some sort of executive order to super-duper preserve protections for pre-existing medical conditions. Or as this headline from Axios summed up:

Via Axios (8/8/20)

 

As POLITICO reported:

President Donald Trump on Monday acknowledged a prospective executive order he’s considering to make insurers cover pre-existing conditions amounted to political messaging — and that Obamacare already offered such protections.

“It’s a signal to people … it’s a second platform,” Trump said at a White House briefing. “Pre-existing conditions will be taken care of 100 percent by Republicans and the Republican party. I actually think it’s a very important statement.”…

…Trump’s tacit acknowledgment the prospective executive order was little more than messaging could intensify Democratic efforts to portray the president and GOP as not being serious about having a fallback to the 2010 health law.

In this case, the difference between President Trump and Senator Gardner is that Trump is actually willing to acknowledge that his pre-existing conditions proposal is a nonsense political stunt.

That Gardner is attempting to sell such a ridiculous lie is not a surprise in itself. During his 2014 U.S. Senate campaign, Gardner was widely lampooned for his insistence that “there is no federal personhood bill,” despite the fact that he was a co-sponsor of the legislation. Gardner was trying to convince Colorado voters that he was not an anti-abortion extremist, but the only way to do so was to flat-out lie every time he was asked about it.

 

During a U.S. Senate candidate debate in October 2014, 9News reporter Kyle Clark famously pushed back on Gardner’s baloney. As The Denver Post reported at the time:

Gardner has been repeatedly been asked on the campaign trail about his sponsorship of the federal Life Begins at Conception Act, which, as Clark pointed out, nearly everyone but Gardner agrees would outlaw abortion.

“We are not going to debate that here tonight because it’s fact,” Clark said. “It would seem that a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong and a less charitable interpretation is that you’re not telling us the truth.

“Which is it?” [Pols emphasis]

Gardner said the bill is “simply a statement that I support life.”

“The personhood bill, congressman, is a bill. It’s not a statement,” Senator Mark Udall countered. “If it became law, it would ban all abortions and it would ban most common forms of contraceptives. Coloradans deserve the truth from you. You have to really give a straight answer.”

“Straight answer” is not in Cory Gardner’s vocabulary.

Gardner has voted dozens of times on proposals to weaken the ACA, including at least 13 individual votes to repeal or defund the program (click here for the complete list), but he’s hoping that Colorado voters will forget about this because he had someone read the title of a nonexistent bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate last week.

What Gardner is trying to do here is disgusting. Full stop.

Gardner lied to Coloradans in 2014 on the issue of abortion, and he’s lying to Coloradans today — about health insurance, in the middle of a global pandemic.

This man wants your vote for another term in the U.S. Senate. In less than two months, you’ll get a ballot in the mail, and you can tell him exactly what you think.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Deja Vu All Over Again and Again

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast

Americans are still struggling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has surpassed 5 million cases in the U.S. alone and claimed the lives of 162,000 Americans. The economic impact from the pandemic continues to grow amid Senate Republican inaction; President Trump signs executive orders that are probably illegal and definitely inadequate…but apparently no one is listening to Donald Trump anyway;, our 2nd favorite U.S. Senator from Colorado tells people to Take a Hike; and self-proclaimed pro-police demonstrators physically assault Black Lives Matter counter-protesters and film it all themselves!

If you missed our last episode, click here to catch up or scroll through all of our past episodes at GetMoreSmarter.com.

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

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

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It’s Official: CD-3 Is Slipping Away From The GOP

Lauren Boebert (R-ifle).

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports on a new poll that, if accurate, shows Republicans in deep trouble in a congressional district that was held easily by ousted incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton for a decade:

The survey of 400 likely voters in the 3rd Congressional District found Diane Mitsch Bush, a Democrat, with 43% support and Lauren Boebert, a Republican, with 42%. Four percent of voters were undecided and three other candidates split the remaining 11%.

The massive 3rd District, which spans all of the Western Slope, along with southern Colorado and Pueblo, hasn’t elected a Democrat in a dozen years. Mitsch Bush lost by eight points there to Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, in 2018.

But Boebert’s shocking primary win over Tipton on June 30 has placed the race in the crosshairs of national Democratic groups, which see an opportunity to flip the seat, and has Republicans on the defensive. A poll showing a tied race is certain to jolt national onlookers and could lead to an increase in outside spending.

All of the usual early polling caveats apply: it takes two methodologically consistent polls to establish a trend, and GQR Research is considered slightly Democratic leaning by leading aggregator and critic of pollsters FiveThirtyEight. CD-3 in 2017 was rated R+6 on the Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI), but Rep. Tipton consistently defeated his Democratic opponents by wider margins regardless of the national political climate.

If these numbers prove accurate, CD-3 has truly been reshuffled by Lauren Boebert’s surprise GOP primary victory: from the GOP’s congressional firewall in this state after Rep. Mike Coffman was taken out in CD-6 two years ago, into a investment-grade opportunity for Democrats to increase their congressional delegation from Colorado to an historic 5-2 majority. Boebert defeated her complacent incumbent in the GOP primary, but is now failing to succeed Tipton as a viable general election candidate. Boebert’s sophomoric quips that debase her campaign, low-information policy agenda, and at this point indelible branding as a “Q-Anon” curious nutjob have put this seat in play–where Tipton simply, for all his warts, would not have.

For Democrats, the opportunity here is electrifying. But this remains a Republican-leaning district, and even against an unqualified fringe opponent a full-scale effort will be necessary to prevail.

But the game is on. CD-3 is a top 2020 battleground now.

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SoS Griswold Goes To Bat For Ballot Boxes

Denver ballot box.

NPR reported yesterday that mail ballot collection boxes, which have proven highly popular among Colorado voters–and that’s before President Donald Trump started monkey-wrenching the U.S. Postal Service coincidentally just a few months before an election he insists without factual basis will be defraudulated by mail ballots:

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett…told the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration recently that his state doesn’t allow drop boxes for fear voters might be pressured to vote a certain way.

“If someone knows you’ve got an absentee ballot, they can say, ‘Hey I’ll be glad to take that for you and drop that off for you.’ They can ask to watch you fill that ballot out or they cannot turn it in at all for you,” Hargett said. “We believe it’s a great security measure to have someone returning their own ballot by the United States Postal Service.”

The Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have even gone to court to try to block Pennsylvania from using such boxes in November, arguing they could increase the chances for fraud.

CNN:

[Drop boxes] been pretty much uncontroversial, said Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill.

“They are strongly in favor, strongly in favor, because it gives them more options,” she said.

But in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Republicans are already challenging the state’s use of drop boxes, arguing in a lawsuit that allowing ballots to be collected in the boxes “allows illegal absent and mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, and other fraud to occur and/or go undetected, and will result in dilution of validly cast ballots.”

Responding to this latest angle on the same old low-information fight over the logistics of mail ballots, which have been in uncontroversial and highly successful use in Colorado since 2013, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold tore into the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign today for asserting without evidence what Colorado’s experience has already wrong:

“Colorado’s election model is the nation’s gold standard, and we use both mail ballots and ballot drop boxes,” said Secretary Griswold. “Mail ballot drop boxes are safe, secure, and add great access to voting. In fact, about 75% of mail ballot voters return their ballots to a drop box. Our use of drop boxes is even more crucial as the U.S. Postal Service is under attack.” [Pols emphasis]

…Colorado drop boxes are safe and secure. Drop boxes are sturdy, metallic, weather-resistant, and are bolted to the ground. Colorado law also requires that all drop boxes be kept under 24-hour video surveillance with adequate lighting in order to be able to easily detect potential tampering. When drop boxes are emptied, they are done so at least every 24 hours by a team of bipartisan election judges who must maintain a detailed chain of custody log when transporting ballots between drop boxes and the central counting facility to ensure no ballots are removed or added.

With budget cuts and other attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, [Pols emphasis] Colorado’s election model is uniquely insulated to withstand any service disruptions. Ballots are sent to voters starting 25 days before Election Day and voters are reminded that they must return their ballot via drop box instead of the mail within eight days of the election. In addition, during the 2020 legislative session, Secretary Griswold led the Colorado legislature to pass a law requiring replacement ballots be sent via first-class mail starting 11 days before Election Day.

With uncertainty growing about the reliability of a politicized U.S. Postal Service to support mail ballot elections that have gone off without a hitch year after year in Colorado, our state’s already very high utilization of ballot drop boxes at libraries, municipal offices, and other public locations could be an important countermeasure against shenanigans. Because there is no rational justification for the alarm that Trump and his surrogates are now raising about mail ballots, especially in Colorado where in our state’s successful history with mail ballots makes all of this talk look ridiculous, if there’s going to be a problem it’s increasingly clear that Trump is going to have to manufacture it.

In that event, Coloradans on both sides of the aisle will have an outsize role in stopping the madness.

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GOP State House Candidate All In For Quackery Over Microchips

Samantha Koch, the Republican nominated to unseat Rep. Sue Lontine in southwest Denver’s House District 1, wants you to know that she has got this whole coronavirus thing figured out:

Once again, the rule of “we’d ignore it if they weren’t a Republican candidate for the legislature” applies! There’s a lot to unpack here, more than we or the voters of HD-1 will most likely have time for. But please, begs the Food and Drug Administration and every other responsible public health authority in the world, do not take hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 no matter how many Republicans tell you you should. And if Bill Gates’ philanthropy ends up contributing to a coronavirus vaccine, your first instinct as a reasonable person should not be to assume it contains a mind control microchip.

These people have always been with us, of course. 2020 is merely bringing them out of the woodwork, and Donald Trump’s Republican Party has given them a home.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 12)

The Glorious Twelfth! 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.

 

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

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

 

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he has selected California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate. As The Washington Post reports, Republicans are a bit confused about how to attack Harris:

At 4:45 p.m., Trump campaign aide Brad Parscale tweeted that the pick meant that the “Bernie Bros get burned,” pointing to a story about liberal resistance to her candidacy.

Around exactly the same time, though, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said something quite different. “Kamala Harris’ extreme positions … show that the left-wing mob is controlling Biden’s candidacy, just like they would control him as president,” McDaniel said in a statement.

But by late that evening, the RNC was back to making a very different case. “Liberals revolt against Biden, Harris ticket,” an RNC news release said. It pointed to Bernie Sanders supporters and others who attacked Harris as insufficiently progressive. “Even if Joe Biden’s campaign handlers gave their base the same notes they gave Biden for his video chat with Kamala D. Harris, it’s highly unlikely the left’s reception of Kamala would have gone any better,” it said. “Talk about embarrassing.”

Trump backers’ response to Harris’s selection has been somewhat dizzying. They have mostly painted her as the kind of radical that McDaniel did, even labeling her a socialist. But as with the man whose ticket Harris is joining, they have offered mixed messages by also suggesting she is a disappointment to Sanders supporters and even a tool of Wall Street.

As Annie Linskey and Vanessa Williams write in a separate story for The Washington Post, the selection of Harris was an emotional moment for many Black women in America. POLITICO takes a look at the history of selecting female running mates and why 2020 might turn out different than in the past:

Female vice presidential candidates appeared on major party tickets in 1984 and 2008, and in 2016, a woman headed the ticket. Each time, headlines heralded the historic choice; each time, for any number of reasons, the ticket lost. Those races also gave us a window into how women running for executive office are treated in the U.S.: The candidates were more likely than men to be questioned about their spouses; their attire and looks often became a part of the story; they had to make extra effort to show they were “tough” enough to serve.

Now that Senator Kamala Harris has become the third female VP candidate on a major-party ticket in history, POLITICO Magazine asked some smart female political observers to tell us: How will things be different for this VP choice, for this woman, and for this race? Or has nothing changed at all?

 

There were several interesting Primary outcomes in a couple of states on Tuesday, but the biggest story is in Georgia. As POLITICO explains:

Marjorie Taylor Greene has won the GOP nomination for a deep red congressional seat in Georgia despite widespread condemnation from party leaders over her videos where she expressed racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views.

Greene, who is also a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, defeated neurosurgeon John Cowan in a primary runoff election on Tuesday for the deep-red Northwest Georgia district, where the GOP nomination is tantamount to a seat in the House.

A businesswoman who self-funded much of her campaign, Greene won the first round of the primary by a 19-point margin. But a week after, GOP leaders including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who chairs the House Republican campaign arm, took the rare step of disavowing her candidacy after POLITICO uncovered hours of videos where she demeans blacks, Muslims and Jews.

Greene, who has said that Black people are slaves to the Democratic Party, has been likened to longtime Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who lost his own GOP Primary race this year in part because of his racist past (President Trump naturally Tweeted a congratulatory message, calling Greene “a future star.”) Greene also embraces QAnon conspiracies, which will bring more attention to Colorado’s own conspiracist Congressional candidate, Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert. This whole mess should be a concern for all Republicans, writes Chris Cillizza of CNN.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar held off a well-funded Primary challenger in Minnesota. For a look at other notable outcomes, check this page from The New York Times.

 

The New York Times looks at a school re-opening in Georgia, where the early COVID-19 results are not good:

Altogether, more than 900 students and staff members in the district have already been ordered to quarantine. On Tuesday, one high school closed its doors until at least Aug. 31.

While many of the nation’s largest school systems have opted in recent weeks to start the academic year online, other districts have forged ahead with reopening. In Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana and elsewhere, some schools, mainly in suburban and rural areas, have been open for almost two weeks.

Their experience reveals the perils of returning to classrooms in places where the coronavirus has hardly been tamed. Students and teachers have immediately tested positive, sending others into two-week quarantines and creating whiplash for schools that were eager to open, only to consider closing again right away.

CNN has more on the problems in Georgia following its effort to reopen schools.

 

 There’s still no news on progress regarding a potential stimulus bill. The House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion measure in May, but Senate Republicans haven’t been able to even come up with a plausible bill of their own. As CNN reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday that she doesn’t want stalled negotiations for another round of coronavirus relief to drag until the end of September, when government funds are set to expire.

“I hope not. People will die,” she said…

…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, blamed Democrats for the stalled talks.

This is the part where we remind you, again, that McConnell ISN’T EVEN IN THE ROOM FOR NEGOTIATIONS ANYMORE. The Senate is the only Congressional chamber that has not moved forward on another relief bill; the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the loss of extended unemployment benefits is about to hit Colorado HARD:

An emergency federal program had been paying $600 a week to unemployed people, but it expired late last month. With the change, state economists expect that Coloradans will reduce their purchases by 6 percent —  which could knock $20 million a month from the state’s tax revenues, state budget director Lauren Larson told top state lawmakers at a meeting on Tuesday.

“We’re very concerned that we need Congress to act and act quickly,” Larson said.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Kanye, Kushner, Ivanka Glampout In Colorado (Yup)

UPDATE: ABC News thickens the reality TV plot, and not in a good way:

—–

Kanye West, Donald Trump.

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter directs us to a report in the New York Times today that will either shock the hell out of you or (more likely) not:

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, met privately last weekend with Kanye West, the rapper who has filed petitions to get on the November ballots for president in several states.

The meeting took place in Colorado, where Mr. Kushner was traveling with his wife, Ivanka Trump, those familiar with the meeting said. Mr. West had been camping in Colorado with his family, and afterward flew to Telluride to meet with Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, but was not accompanied by his wife, Kim Kardashian West, those with knowledge of the meeting said.

Last week, rapper Kanye West filed to appear on the ballot in Colorado as a presidential candidate with the help of former Cory Gardner spox Rachel George–who recruited a small group of mostly fellow Republican political operatives to sign on as qualified Colorado electors to qualify West for the ballot. One of those operatives actually pretended to support West on the merits, which is in every objective sense ridiculous, but most of them have kept quiet so as not to embarrass themselves.

It’s reasonable to speculate now that we know West himself was in Colorado last week that he met personally with local Republicans involved in getting him on the ballot in our state. To be clear, Kanye already admitted he’s doing this in order to pull votes from Joe Biden–“the joke” Rachel George asked co-conspirators to be “in on.” Meeting with “Javanka” in Telluride after “glamping” at some exclusive resort we may or may not have heard of closes the loop on the week’s Kanye news so perfectly…

It’s like TV.

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Joe Biden’s Running Mate Is…Kamala Harris

UPDATE #2: It’s California Sen. Kamala Harris! Don’t ever doubt Colorado Pols readers.

 

——-

UPDATE: Per CNN, California Rep. Karen Bass has been informed that she is NOT the choice. According to The New York Times, it’s also NOT Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

——-
Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has apparently selected his running mate and soon-to-be nominee for Vice President. He just hasn’t told us who it is.

As CNN reports, Biden has informed senior staff members on his campaign about his selection, with an announcement to come as soon as today. Earlier today, Biden’s campaign unveiled the top staffers for the VP-to-be. Whomever Biden selects, there’s no arguing that his campaign played up the suspense and expectations brilliantly.

Readers of Colorado Pols have consistently expressed the belief that California Sen. Kamala Harris will be the pick. We’ll find out soon if those predictions hold true.

Obviously we’ll update this post appropriately as news breaks.

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Cory Gardner’s JBS Testing Fiasco Isn’t Going Away

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As the Denver Post’s Shelly Bradbury reports:

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet on Monday called for an investigation into the federal government’s response to the spread of the novel coronavirus in meatpacking plants across the country.

In a Monday letter to the inspector generals at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Labor, Bennet asks the agencies to investigate whether the outbreaks — like one at the JBS USA Greeley beef plant where nearly 300 people were sickened and six died — were made worse by federal actions…

Nationwide, at least 16,200 workers in meat and poultry processing plants in 23 states contracted the novel coronavirus by the end of May, and 86 died, according to a July report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Colorado, at least seven meat processing plants have reported outbreaks infecting about 450 workers. The outbreak at the JBS Greeley beef plant is one of the largest in the state.

The COVID-19 outbreak at the JBS beef packing plant in Greeley that killed 6 and sickened hundreds of workers in April was a major failed test of the Trump administration’s pandemic crisis management, as it became obvious that the virus would not simply “go away” as President Donald Trump had predicted. While plant workers in unsafe conditions feared becoming infected, Trump was worried that the supply of meat could be interrupted. Trump eventually invoked the Defense Production Act to declare meat plants essential infrastructure that could not close–but before that, Sen. Cory Gardner and Vice President Mike Pence made promises to rigorously test JBS plant workers in Greeley and keep the meat flowing.

In a blistering press release yesterday, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 asks the question they’ve been asking since April: “Cory, where are the tests?”

Since April, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner has continued to brag to the media that he secured 5,000 COVID-19 tests for meat-processing plant workers at JBS Greeley in Greeley, Colorado. The problem? The tests were never made available to workers. The JBS Greeley plant became one of the first outbreak sites in Colorado and continues to lead the nation in meatprocessing plant worker deaths. Now, JBS USA has notified the Union it will increase JBS workers health care premiums by more than 30 percent—as much as $800 more a year per family member.

UFCW Local 7 is calling on Sen. Cory Gardner to explain where the 5,000 tests have gone after specifically claiming he leveraged his relationship with Vice President Mike Pence to acquire them in order to keep the plant running.

At this point it’s more a question of accountability, since eventually the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stepped in to test JBS workers. With that said, with COVID-19 testing (not to mention timely results) still in short supply, we suspect the promise Gardner made to JBS workers for 5,000 tests would nonetheless be gladly accepted, and useful since testing negative once doesn’t mean anyone is safe.

The unfortunate reality is that among a veritable ocean of broken promises from Trump and Republicans during the nation’s historic failure to effectively confront the COVID-19 emergency, a few dead meatpacking workers in Greeley are easy to forget about. Far more Americans, either consciously or not, cared about the free flow of meat at market prices than the frequently immigrant and otherwise disadvantaged populations who find work in American meatpacking plants.

But the fact remains: these workers got screwed, and Cory Gardner played a central role in screwing them. The promises made to Greeley JBS meatpacking workers weren’t about helping those workers at all, but rather assuring the American consumer. And as soon as Trump declared the meatpacking industry “essential infrastructure,” forcing the plants to stay open, Cory Gardner stopped caring about the workers.

And that should trouble meat-eaters’ conscience at least as much as an extra portion.

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Club 20 Lashes Out Like Jilted Lover

We are SO over…unless you want to try again.

It’s been almost two weeks since the campaign for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper made it clear that it would not be participating in the annual “Club 20” debate on the Western Slope of Colorado. Club 20 is apparently having trouble moving on.

On Monday, Club 20 did the political equivalent of posting a sad breakup video to its Instagram page. Six whole people — all of whom are Republicans — from the Western Slope political/business/civic group stood on the steps of a courthouse building in Grand Junction to lament that Hickenlooper was no longer returning any of their calls or text messages.

As Joey Bunch reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Western Slope business and community leaders reminded former Gov. John Hickenlooper of his work to bridge the rural-urban divide Monday as they urged him to reconsider his decision to snub the Club 20 debate in Grand Junction next month.

The executive director of the business and civic coalition, Christian Reece, said organizers were “astonished” that he would bypass the Western Slope event that traditionally signals the homestretch of campaign season. Moreover, the event is online this year, Sept. 18-19.

Club 20 officials noted they have gone to “great lengths” to accommodate health concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak by moving the political debates online and offering them free through streaming produced by Colorado Mesa University.

Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush (left) and Republican Rep. Scott Tipton debate issues at the 2018 Club 20 forum underneath a gigantic Chevron banner.

That’s very nice that Club 20 has gone to “great lengths” to accommodate COVID-19 health concerns, but this is sort of like responding to your spouse’s complaints about your behavior by getting a haircut. As we wrote last month, Club 20 marginalized itself by always using a stick and never a carrot in its political dealings with Democrats, and over the years its annual election year gathering became more of a gripe session for oil and gas interests than anything else. In 2018, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis became the first major statewide candidate to skip the Club 20 debate; despite predictions of electoral doom from Club 20 supporters, Polis went on to win the race for Governor by 11 points. Polis even did pretty well in Western Colorado.

As Eric Washburn, a fifth-generation Coloradan who lives in Steamboat Springs, told Joey Bunch in an interview:

“I don’t think this reflects an animosity toward Club 20,” he said. “It’s a sense that Democratic politicians have that they certainly want to plug in to the West Slope and attract West Slope voters.

“I don’t think they’re convinced Club 20 is the way to do that.” [Pols emphasis]

Club 20 is trying hard to convince folks that dissing its membership is the same thing as ignoring the Western Slope, but it’s not working. Club 20 doesn’t represent the Western Slope any more than your dog represents all canines in Colorado, so perhaps they should look inward instead. Alas, self-reflection is not a strength for this group. Club 20 is still in that post-breakup stage of blaming all of its problems on the other person (or party, in this case).

 

 

As Charles Ashby reports today for the Grand Junction Daily-Sentinel, this breakup with Club 20 was a long time coming:

…state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat whose district includes Delta County, said it’s because Club 20 isn’t what it used to be.

The group that touts itself as the “Voice of the Western Slope” has increasingly become less of a general voice for people on this side of the Continental Divide, and more concerned about conservative ideals, including not addressing such things as climate change, she said…

…Rick Ridder, a Denver-based political consultant who solely works for Democrats but isn’t on anyone’s payroll at the moment, said not only has the group’s debates become one-sided to favor Republicans, but the group itself no longer seems to speak for the Western Slope.

“Democrats have increasingly shied away because it’s become a gotcha forum, and the issues that are directed are not the ones that they’re hearing on the streets of the growing areas of the Western Slope,” said Ridder, who has attended Club 20 events for more than 30 years. “It’s a very different environment now. There are very different agendas from a political standpoint from the old Club 20. It’s become a little bit of a hostile environment when those who seek questions on their issues are not necessarily reflective of the issues that candidates are hearing in other situations.” [Pols emphasis]

Hickenlooper’s 2020 opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, is trying to make it look like he is the true debate warrior and that Hickenlooper is ducking him…which conveniently ignores the fact that Gardner has thus far only agreed to attend one debate at the same time and location as Hickenlooper (in Pueblo in October).

As for Club 20, they can make an effort to be more inclusive and see where that leads them in the future…or they can just keep writing mean things in all capital letters in their diary. The latter may make them feel better, but it’s not going to change anything.

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Polis Keeps Eviction Balls Juggling While DC Dawdles

President Trump and Gov. Jared Polis.

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports, Gov. Jared Polis took action yesterday to extend the limited protections that have been in place giving renters in Colorado more notice of impending eviction proceedings–short of the full eviction moratorium affordable housing and civil rights advocates are calling for, and as a result not pacifying the growing discontent on Polis’ left over the issue:

Gov. Jared Polis has extended an executive order that requires that Colorado landlords must, for at least one more month, give tenants 30 days’ notice before pursuing evictions.

The normal rule requires only 10 days’ notice. Vulnerable tenants deserve a little extra wiggle room now, Polis wrote in his extension, because, “many Coloradans continue to experience substantial loss of income as a result of business closures and layoffs, hindering their ability to keep up with their rent payments through no fault of their own.”

…The order does not prevent evictions. They have restarted in most of the state, though eviction defense advocates and some Democratic lawmakers continue to push Polis to temporarily ban them. He’s resisted those calls because, he told reporters recently, he believes people should generally be back at work and thus able to cover rent.

So far, the large wave of evictions that experts do expect will inevitably result from the economic disruption of the spring and summer has not materialized. A major factor in this delayed pain is the extended unemployment benefits unemployed workers have received since the passage of the CARES Act in March, which expired at the end of July and are set to be cut by at least one-third after Donald Trump’s actions this weekend–along with the $1,200 per person stimulus checks most taxpayers have by now received and long spent.

Gov. Polis’ management of the crisis faced by renters in this state reflects an attempt to hit a “moving target” of minimal disruption–meaning property owners can still control their properties–while trying to slow down evictions for nonpayment of rent for as long as needed to allow renters to recover and meet their obligations. This strategy depends, among other variables, on the federal government continuing to provide the economic stimulus that has kept American households going since March–and for the economy to recover rapidly enough for paycheck-to-paycheck workers to get their already-behind balance sheets current. Nuanced management of the problem and taking sweeping action only when necessary has characterized Polis’ leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic–and while it’s not as satisfying as headline-making executive orders, the outcome so far suggests that it has worked.

But as we’re seeing today in D.C.’s chaos over the next round of stimulus, this calculation is not without risk. If the wave of evictions that everyone agrees is looming can be staved off long enough, in theory the net effects can be mitigated by recovery and aggressive assistance. In the end, however, success depends in part on factors that Gov. Polis doesn’t control.

We hope enough things go right that Polis’ “just in time” strategy doesn’t go wrong.

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Forget Muslim Ban; Trump Considering American Ban

Coronavirus metaphor

As The New York Times reports:

President Trump is considering new immigration regulations that would allow border officials to temporarily block American citizens and legal permanent residents from returning to the United States from abroad if authorities believe they may be infected with the coronavirus.

In recent months, Mr. Trump has imposed sweeping rules that ban entry by foreigners into the United States, citing the risk of allowing the virus to spread from hot spots abroad. But those rules have exempted two categories of people attempting to return: American citizens and non-citizens who have already established legal residence.

Now, a draft regulation would expand the government’s power to prevent entry by citizens and legal residents in individual, limited circumstances. Federal agencies have been asked to submit feedback on the proposal to the White House by Tuesday, though it is unclear when it might be approved or announced…

…The documents appear not to spell out how long a citizen or legal resident would be required to remain outside of the United States. [Pols emphasis]

With more than 5 million coronavirus cases and 163,000 deaths, no country on the planet has done a worse job of containing COVID-19 than the good old U-S-of-A. If Trump goes ahead with this cockamamie idea, you can probably guess what happens next…other countries are going to stop allowing Americans across their borders altogether.

There are 84 days left until Election Day.

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Fort Collins Police Disown “Back The Blue” Thugs

Video of a violent assault against a group of Black Lives Matter counter-protesters who showed up at a large “Back The Blue” rally outside Fort Collins, Colorado police headquarters on Saturday is making national headlines today, with media outlets left and right rushing to impart their desired spin on what appears from a straight examination of the video evidence to be one-sided violence overwhelmingly perpetrated by the “Back The Blue” pro-police rallygoers. The New York Daily News:

In video of the incident, recorded on Saturday in Fort Collins, the protesters, who were vastly outnumbered by the pro-police group, are quickly surrounded and pushed toward an open, grassy area before they are attacked with punches and hit with various objects as the groups fall over each other on a ditch. At one point a man stabs at a man in all black with an American flag on a pole and another man strikes a man who is on the ground with what looks like a baton…

“I was at the Pro Police FCPD rally today,” Ciara Wilson wrote on Instagram along with video of the violence. “Counter protestors were violently beaten and had no signs of aggression or hostility. Pro Police protestors forced them to the end of the block and then savagely assaulted them. Afterwards the COUNTER PROTESTORS WERE DETAINED. The officers did not tell them why they were being detained. The pro police protestors who literally assaulted these people for no f—ing reason other than being PSYCHOPATHS got away with it. I am so sick and tired of this.”

But as you can expect, Fox News Channel viewers are getting…a very different view of events:

Counterprotesters got involved in a violent confrontation with pro-police supporters at a Back the Blue rally in Fort Collins, Colo. Saturday, which ended with the arrests of three people.

The pro-police attendees said two different groups of counterprotesters — consisting of Black Lives Matter supporters and what appeared to be members of Antifa — joined the event. They also claimed a faction from one of those two groups attacked a veteran who was in a wheelchair…

At first, it seemed to be a peaceful conversation between members of the two groups. Once the second group of anti-racism demonstrators — dressed all in black and thought to be Antifa– showed up, things escalated and turned violent.

In the video we posted yesterday showing counter-protesters arrested by police immediately after being beaten in a ditch, there’s a reference made to an incident involving a person in a wheelchair that supposedly justified the assault on counter-protesters as they were attempting to leave the area. We have not seen any actual evidence of this having occurred, and given the amount of video footage recorded at this incident it’s questionable that evidence for this allegation has not been presented publicly. Either way, such a pretext doesn’t legally or morally justify pummeling a whole group of people indiscriminately in a ditch.

If this isn’t patently obvious to you, we can only hope your job is not law enforcement.

It appears that Fort Collins police made a significant error by arresting the victims of this beating at the scene instead of the perpetrators. At least two of the three mugshots released by FCPD appear to show individuals who were themselves assaulted by pro-police rallygoers in the video clips we posted yesterday. With that said, the investigation continues using the wealth of available footage–and we are obliged to cite in fairness, as CBS4 reports, that FCPD Chief Jeff Swoboda has some choice words for the perpetrators these attacks carried out in the name of “supporting the police.”

“You see some of the images — somebody with an American flag poking at somebody else who’s in a fight with somebody,” said Chief Jeff Swoboda. “What kind of cowardly act is that?”

Anyone with more information or video is asked to contact Detective CJ O’Loughlin at 970-416-2571.

“If there are people out there claiming to support the police but go out there in a manner that’s not consistent with our values — our values of respect and integrity and service — that T-shirt doesn’t buy you the respect of police departments. We don’t want your support if that’s the way you act out there,” Swobota said. [Pols emphasis]

Comparing this incident with a disturbingly similar assault on a “car caravan” of protesters in Teller County, where it appears that local law enforcement stood by during the attack and still have not as of this writing made any arrests, we’re relieved to see Fort Collins police clearly stating that they don’t condone violence committed by their “supporters.” With that said, they have a lot to do to make this right. Arresting the victims of this assault at the scene instead of the perpetrators was a deeply regrettable validation of the worst fears of police critics.

For Fort Collins police, regaining the public trust after this troubling incident starts with more mugshots.

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Trump’s Executive Order/Memo “Band-Aid” Won’t Stick

UPDATE #2: Gov. Jared Polis says there’s no way Colorado can sustain the additional burden imposed by Trump’s unemployment executive order, which results in a one-third cut to the benefit even if we do:

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UPDATE: Former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill nails it:

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Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado Newsline reports on the executive order issued by President Donald Trump over the weekend after negotiations stalled out Friday between Republicans insisting on a smaller economic relief package and Democrats holding (mostly) firm behind the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed by the U.S. House:

He signed three presidential memoranda and an executive order, at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Trump would provide $300 per week in federal unemployment assistance with another $100 a week kicked in by states, consider temporarily stopping residential evictions, pause federal student loan payments and defer payroll taxes.

Trump said the actions would “take care of pretty much this entire situation, as we know it.” But Democrats in Congress are likely to continue pushing for a broader legislative package similar to the $3 trillion relief bill the House passed in May…

“Trump is trying to put a bandaid on the economic crisis with unconstitutional, illegal, logistically unworkable executive orders that contain bad policy,” Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia tweeted. “This isn’t a solution, it is a con.”

As Politico reports, a look at the actual effect of Trump’s actions makes it painfully clear Trump has not “taken care of” much of anything–and in fact left states, renters, and the American people who desperately need another stimulus check in the lurch:

Pelosi called the actions “illusions,” arguing that the eviction moratorium only asks leaders in charge to study whether a moratorium on evictions is feasible and that the payroll tax cut would undermine Social Security and Medicare.

“When you look at those executive orders, either the kindest thing I could say is he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or something’s wrong there — something’s very, very wrong there,” Pelosi said. “So to characterize them as even accomplishing what they set out to do, as something that would take the place of an agreement, is just not so.”

Schumer said the actions were “put together in a crazy way” that would take weeks or months to go into effect in most places and insisted that the $400 unemployment benefit is unworkable because states don’t have the money to pay $100 of it. Plus, he added, it depletes the hurricane trust fund at the height of hurricane season.

We’re watching for a response from Colorado officials to what amounts to a 50% cut in the extended unemployment benefit hundreds of thousands of Coloradans received before they expired on July 31st, unless the states kick in an additional $100 a week to cushion the reduction to one-third. Speaking for Colorado, we can say pretty confidently that we don’t have the money, at least not without inflicting significant hardship in some other respect. And even the best-case one-third cut to the benefit is going to put thousands of Coloradans currently on the edge of economic catastrophe over the edge.

For Sen. Cory Gardner, this means he is in no way off the hook politically for the failure to reach a legislative agreement. Gardner claimed last week that he supports renewal of the full $600 a week extended unemployment benefit, after he disparaged the idea in a friendly conservative podcast interview–but Gardner’s party and now Trump have exposed Gardner’s political impotence once again in the clutch. Nobody’s listening to him.

Whatever happens next, the economic pain Americans face in their immediate future because Republicans think we’re getting “too much” help is not going away with a stroke of Trump’s pen. Gardner’s lip service to supporting the unemployed and supporting cash-starved local governments, of which Colorado is a nationally prominent example, is completely undone by the unwillingness of Republican leadership to back up Gardner’s promises in their negotiations.

The worse it gets economically for Coloradans, the worse it gets for Gardner politically.

But no one should welcome the very real hardship coming because of Gardner’s failure.

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“Back The Blue” Attacks Black Lives Matter In Fort Collins

Trigger warning: this video depicts another violent attack in Colorado on Black Lives Matter protesters.

UPDATE #2: The Denver Post’s Shelly Bradbury confirms three arrests and one citation issued by police:

A video livestreamed on the Facebook page for a far-right Colorado podcast shows members of the pro-law enforcement crowd walking toward counter protesters in a neighborhood a few blocks away from the main rally at the police station.

The man who livestreamed the video described the police supporters’ actions as “marching” the counter-protesters out of the area. The pro-police demonstrators outnumbered the counter-protesters…

In the video, Fort Collins police officers arrive after about two minutes, when the majority of the violence has ended. The officers are seen putting at least one person in handcuffs.

[FCPD Detective Erin] Feit said the people arrested and cited were aligned with both the pro-police group and the counter-protesters. [Pols emphasis] She did not have the names of those arrested or their charges available but said that information should be released Sunday afternoon.

It’s reassuring to hear that some of the people administering the beatings may be prosecuted in addition to, you know, the victims. We’ll continue to update as more information is released.

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UPDATE: Video from the immediate aftermath of the violence appears to show Fort Collins Police arresting some of the Black Lives Matter protesters–right after those protesters were assaulted in a ditch by a large contingent of white men participating in a “Back The Blue” rally outside FCPD headquarters:

Watch the video of the attack below, then watch this clip of the same protesters you just watched being savagely beaten in a ditch get arrested while the men who administered the beating taunt them.

And then ask yourself how the hell this is happening in our state.

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This is video we were forwarded from several social media sources of an attack yesterday afternoon on a group of protesters in Fort Collins, as competing Black Lives Matter and “Back The Blue” rallies took place at different locations in the city. The violent assault on a group of protesters you can see in the video above reportedly took place just a few blocks from Fort Collins Police Department headquarters, after the BLM protesters were forced back into what looks like an area of open space, pushed down into a ditch of some kind, and beaten by a crew of very large white men–the ones wearing shirts sporting pro-Donald Trump and pro-police attire.

About 20 seconds into the video, just before the assault, local fascist “Proud Boy” leader Louie Huey tells the camera that he is there to “march these commie Antifa bastards out of the neighborhood.” It’s the first we’ve seen of Louie Huey since he showed off his rubber bullet wounds after a night of provocateur violence he participated in early in the George Floyd protests.

There has been very little press coverage of this incident so far, but we expect that to change once this horrific video gets out into the wild. The violence in this clip is much more severe and more prolonged than similarly shocking video out of rural Teller County a few weeks ago showing right-wing protesters attacking a “car caravan” protest. There can be no question from what we’ve seen of who the aggressors were. Despite this, the unconfirmed report we have from yesterday is that just like in Teller County, none of the pro-police protesters you can see assaulting people in this video were arrested.

It’s another outburst of violence for which we’ll be watching to see justice, but not holding our breath. In the meantime, next time somebody tells you how appalled they are by broken windows and graffiti at the Capitol, you have something they need to see.

It’s getting ugly out there, folks.

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Ted Harvey’s “ScamPAC” Booted Off Facebook

Ex-Sen. Ted Harvey (R).

CNN reports on a relatively rare act of accountability from social media megaplatform Facebook, after the site finally deleted a post from President Donald Trump containing misinformation (polite for “lies”) about the COVID-19 pandemic–the so-called “Committee to Defend the President,” run by former Colorado state Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch, has had its paid advertising campaign shut down:

Facebook announced Thursday it was banning ads from The Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump super PAC. Facebook did not say how long the ban would last.

“As a result of the Committee to Defend the President’s repeated sharing of content determined by third-party fact-checkers to be false, they will not be permitted to advertise for a period of time on our platform,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said. Stone declined to say what specifically led to Thursday’s action…

We have not seen the specific ad that led to this suspension, but back in February Harvey got into similar hot water over a dreadfully inaccurate ad attacking Joe Biden in the South Carolina Democratic primary–which Biden went on to win in a blowout. In a post to Facebook today, Harvey essentially says neener neener, we’ll advertise on platforms that don’t care what’s true:

Anyone who remembers Harvey’s time in the Colorado General Assembly already knows that he has a troubled relationship with facts in general, and this statement confirms another ad from Harvey’s PAC was forced by Facebook to be corrected prior to earning this suspension. Facebook has drawn considerable criticism in recent months for failing to crack down on the distribution of egregiously false information on their platform, so most people who like their social media free of pay-to-play falsehoods will call this a positive step.

It’s also worth remembering that the previous incarnation of the “Committee to Defend the President,” the Stop Hillary PAC run by the same duo of former Sen. Harvey and lawyer Dan Backer, made a dubious list of so-called “ScamPACs”–groups more about raising money to cover their own overhead than advertising or any other activity in support of their stated objective.

“Reallocating” their Facebook budget to platforms that allow lying is sure to take a lot of staff time.

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Senate Republicans Fail Americans (Again, and Again…)

Senate Majority “Leader” Mitch McConnell

For the third consecutive week, we have a Friday story with the same headline…because it’s the same story.

The U.S. Senate has left town — again — despite not coming anywhere close to figuring out a plausible path forward on a new coronavirus relief/stimulus bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday that the Senate would recess for the time being — though not for its previously-scheduled August recess — and told CNBC that he believed that there would be a deal “at some point in the near future.” McConnell said this despite the fact that he’s not even involved in the discussions anymore; he continues to blame Democrats for the fact that a Republican-controlled Senate can’t come up with a relief package, even though the House of Representatives passed one in May.

In the meantime, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are still negotiating a legislative proposal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As POLITICO reports:

At a news conference Friday, Pelosi and Schumer said that Democrats offered to reduce their ask by $1 trillion if the White House went up $1 trillion, only to have the administration reject it. They added that any deal below $2 trillion would not get Democratic support.

“We are trying to compromise,” Schumer said. “Basically what’s happening is Mr. Meadows is from the Tea Party, you have 20 Republicans in the Senate greatly influenced by them and they don’t want to spend the necessary dollars to help get America out of this mess.”

In a series of closed-door meetings over the last two weeks, Mnuchin, Meadows, Schumer and Pelosi have made progress on narrowing their differences on unemployment insurance but remain far apart on state and local aid, election security funding and help for renters, among a host of other issues.

“The situation has also left Senate Republicans up for re-election…with the unappealing prospect of facing voters in less than three months without having acted to address their most pressing economic and public health needs.”

   — The New York Times (8/5/20)

Earlier this week, Carl Hulse of The New York Times tried to explain how it is that McConnell and Senate Republicans have punted on the only issue that really matters to most Americans right now:

Mr. McConnell has only himself to thank for his predicament.

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through a sweeping, $3 trillion recovery measure in May and Democrats demanded for months that Republicans join them in mapping out a next phase of federal pandemic relief, Mr. McConnell instead hit the pause button, which he and his fellow Republicans said was necessary to assess how the nearly $3 trillion in aid already approved was working…

…But the delay meant that Republicans did not even present their aid proposals until days before expanded unemployment benefits that were cushioning millions of Americans from the worst of the recession were to expire. They lapsed last week with no ready replacement, and a small-business program considered crucial to preventing a total economic collapse is set to expire on Friday, leading Democrats to accuse Mr. McConnell of acting irresponsibly.

“He’s not even sitting in the room,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said on Tuesday, suggesting that Mr. McConnell was unaware of the substance of the talks. [Pols emphasis]

This is bad news for all Americans. Politically-speaking, it’s also terrible for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). According to a new Public Policy Poll released this week, the majority of Coloradans surveyed believe that Congress should either renew or increase the $600 extended unemployment (UI) benefit; additionally, 36% of respondents said they would look at Gardner “much less favorably” if he voted against a proposal to extend the extended benefits. Gardner is surely aware of this predicament, which is why he doesn’t say much of anything publicly but makes sure that his Senate office continues to convey the idea that he is all things to all people.

Will we be writing this same story again one week from today? We sure hope not…but we can’t pretend to have any confidence otherwise.

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Kanye Already Said The Quiet Part Out Loud

Kanye West, Donald Trump.

With rapper Kanye West now officially on the ballot in Colorado as an independent presidential candidate, Randall Lane at Forbes reports that despite what some people responsible for putting Kanye on the ballot are saying (more on that in a moment), at least in Colorado, West has already all but admitted that this really is just a cheap trick intended to peel some number of votes away from Democratic presumed nominee Joe Biden to benefit President Donald Trump:

When it was pointed out that he actually can’t win in 2020—that he won’t be on enough ballots to yield 270 electoral votes, and that a write-in campaign isn’t feasible—and thus was serving as a spoiler, West replied: “I’m not going to argue with you. Jesus is King.”

…In a wide-ranging interview with Forbes last month about his political aspirations, West, who has never voted before, laid out a platform for his “Birthday Party” that included a pro-life plank that alleged that Planned Parenthood was placed in cities by white supremacists, a management style patterned on the fictional country of Wakanda in Black Panther and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. In that interview, West also claimed that he was dumping Trump. “I am taking the red hat off, with this interview.” His reason: “It looks like one big mess to me. I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker.”

However, he was reticent to criticize Trump besides that. “Trump is the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation,” he said.

And West was eager to criticize Biden, and expressed comfort with the idea of doing damage to the former vice president’s White House chances. “I’m not denying it; I just told you.” [Pols emphasis]

Kanye West’s recent behavior has been erratic enough that his wife Kim Kardashian publicly spoke out about West’s ongoing battle with mental illness, and no one should seriously expect West to attract more than the most casual of support, from voters with little or no political acumen. Despite this, we were treated to an unusually ridiculous story from Colorado Public Radio yesterday evening–featuring one of the Republican insiders who signed the form actually pretending that he supports West on the merits:

“The reason I signed was because I think that both major parties have let a lot of Coloradans down,” said elector Seth Jacobson. He’s registered as unaffiliated but worked for former Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn and now works for the conservative social media site, CaucusRoom.

Jacobson said he had already decided he wasn’t going to vote for President Trump or Joe Biden. “Kanye has all the requirements to be on the ballot and I did a fair amount of research before I agreed to do this. He’s talking about issues that no else is talking about. I’m very serious about voting for him.”

The moral of the story? There are people in this world who honestly do think you’re stupid.

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At Least They’re Not Your Elected Officials

Does Tom Eckerle look racist to you? Okay, maybe don’t answer that.

Today we continue our long-running series, At Least They’re Not Your Legislator, with two tales of troubled elected officials around the country.

We’ll start in Leelanau County, Michigan, where Road Commissioner Tom Eckerle is absolutely not apologizing for being a racist kook. As Interlochen Public Radio reports:

Eckerle is facing backlash after saying the racial epithet in what he thought was a private conversation before the regular road commission meeting began on Tuesday.

The commissioners met in person at the county government building, while the public listened to the meeting remotely over the phone.

In a call with IPR News, Eckerle said his comments were not meant to be heard by those outside the room.

But, he did not back down from his words. He said he reacted out of frustration with the racial unrest and violence in American cities, which he said was caused by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Asked if he regretted saying the N-word, he doubled down.

“No, I don’t regret calling it an n—-r,” Eckerle said. “A n—-r is a n—-r is a n—-r. That’s not a person whatsoever.” [Pols emphasis]

He went on to say it was the same as saying he was German, or “Polack.”

“No, it is not racism,” Eckerle said.

Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes is not pretending he isn’t racist, so there’s that.

You might have noticed, as we did, that Eckerle says he doesn’t regret calling “it” a “n—-r.” Eckerle’s totally-not-racism has become a national story, no doubt because of his defiant stance and refusal to step down from his post as Road Commissioner, not to mention his ridiculous assertion that this was somehow innocuous because nobody else was supposed to hear his (not) racist comments.

But before you start thinking Eckerle might be the most despicable public official you’ve heard about this week, let’s make a stop in Alabama. As the Alabama Political Reporter explains, a state legislator is in trouble for being a racist and a thief:

An arrest warrant has been issued for Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, for felony theft from a business where he worked, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said Thursday.

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018, Bailey said during a press conference.

Bailey said the charge is a Class B felony and levied when a person steals in excess of $2,500 and that “I will tell you that the alleged amount is a lot more than that.”…

While the charge stems from a complaint filed months ago, Dismukes been in the headlines recently and faced a torrent of calls for his resignation in recent weeks after posting to Facebook an image of himself attending a birthday celebration for the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest. [Pols emphasis]

Dismukes faced calls to resign after attending the KKK birthday party [that’s a sentence we’ve never written before], but like Eckerle, he refused (though Dismukes did resign as pastor of a local Baptist church).

Anyhoo, if you’re feeling dismayed about the actions of any particular Colorado elected officials, you can take some solace in the fact that at least neither of these guys represent anyone in our state.

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