House Committee Passes COVID Relief, Boebert Calls Bullcrap

UPDATE: CD-3 Democratic candidate Kerry Donovan returns service:

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Rep. Lauren Boebert calling bullcrap on your relief check.

The Hill:

The House Budget Committee on Monday advanced President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on a 19-16 party line vote.

The bill must still be marked up by the Rules Committee before consideration on the House floor, likely on Friday or Saturday. The legislation will then have to be taken up in the Senate, where it is expected to face considerable procedural and political challenges…

Republicans on the panel…slammed Democrats for advancing the bill through budget reconciliation, a process that will allow them to pass it without GOP support in the Senate, saying the legislation amounted to a “liberal wish list” and arguing that many of its provisions have nothing to do with the pandemic.

“This is the wrong plan at the wrong time, and for all the wrong reasons,” said ranking member Jason Smith (R-Mo.), pointing to $350 billion in state and local aid that he said would encourage lockdowns. [Pols emphasis]

Republican objectors on the House Budget Committee included Colorado’s own Rep. Lauren Boebert, who for reasons we have not been able to precisely determine was appointed by Republican House leadership to the House Budget Committee. Holding forth eloquently, Rep. Boebert fired off her now-signature line:

In our experience Rep. Boebert generally cuts and pastes the talking points given to her verbatim, but the suggestion that the aid to state and local governments in the relief legislation is “bailing out the blue states” who have “mismanaged their budgets” is particularly galling coming from a representative of Colorado. Colorado, as everyone who is familiar with our state’s fiscal situation knows, runs one of the tightest budgetary ships in America under the draconian constitutional chokeholds on both taxing and spending imposed over the years. Colorado has no means of backfilling the massive revenue shortfalls brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and absolutely no “mismanagement” in Colorado is to blame for an economic crisis that has literally swept the globe.

Whether Boebert doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the needs of the state she was elected to represent in Congress, at a certain level, is irrelevant. The reality is that Colorado desperately needs the fiscal aid Democrats are trying to provide over Republican objections, for which the only alternative is devastating cuts to essential services Boebert’s constituents rely on. Boebert’s casual disregard for the needs of her district, from individuals hanging on for that $1,400 direct payment to the local governments across CD-3 for whom this relief is an essential lifeline, is insult piled on the injury of the long delay.

And it is “bullcrap,” just not the way Boebert thinks.

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Colorado Is The Wrong Battlefield For Fake Election Integrity

Sen. Paul Lundeen (R).

As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, tomorrow will mark the birth and in all likelihood death of Senate Bill 21-007, “concerning measures to promote public confidence in the validity of elections.” This is a bill we discussed last week from GOP Sen. Paul Lundeen to significantly restrict mail-in voting in Colorado, one of several Republican bills this year intended to monkeywrench Colorado’s highly successful and proven-secure election system:

Lundeen is sponsoring the election validity bill, which would repeal automatic mail ballots and not count ballots received after Election Day (such as absentee ballots from overseas). He recognizes that it could have many revisions, saying, sometimes, “you have to be clever to get a conversation started.”

“Good should never be the enemy of great, and I think we’ve got people that have settled into this spot where they were pretty doggone good — a lot of people look to Colorado,” he said. “I agree, a lot of people do. Does that mean we should be resting on our laurels? No.”

ACLU Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes said the GOP bill sponsors are playing to a base that “wants to pretend that our election was somehow fraudulent.” [Pols emphasis]

The Colorado Sun tried to get an explanation for why this bill was necessary, or even in any way beneficial to voters, clerks, or other election stakeholders from Sen. Lundeen, but Lundeen is playing coy:

Lundeen declined to discuss specifics of the proposal or explain why his bill seeks to limit a mail voting system that has been in place for several years. Instead, he said the purpose of his bill was “to start a conversation.”

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat who has long worked on election and voter-access issues, called the slate of legislation a political move by Republicans.

“My sense is, they know it’s bad policy, and they know it’s not going to pass, but it’s a statement,” Fenberg said, adding that the conversation that Lundeen wants to initiate is “perpetuating a lie.” [Pols emphasis]

Westword’s Casey Van Divier adds some important context to this GOP solution in search of a problem: a nationwide push for election law reforms good and bad–and on balance, as it turns out mostly good–in state legislatures across the nation in response to problems identified in the 2020 elections:

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Monday Open Thread

“The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

–Isaac Asimov

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Drillers, Enviros Hail Methane-Cutting Agreement

The Colorado Sun’s Mark Jaffe reports on a landmark agreement finalized last week that shows how the game has changed for the betterment of the environment and public health under Gov. Jared Polis and the ambitious reforms of oil and gas drilling policy in 2019:

A rule clamping down on air pollution from key devices used by the oil and gas industry – which drew support from environmental groups and industry – was unanimously adopted by Colorado air quality regulators Thursday.

The first-in-the-nation rule requires the installation of non-emitting controllers on all new oil and gas operations and the retrofitting of existing controllers – a major source of emissions in the industry…

The state Air Pollution Control Division had initially proposed a rule to the AQCC that would have required non-emitting controllers only at new facilities, but over the past few months negotiations among industry representatives, environmental groups and local governments broadened the rule to encompass existing operations.

Environmental groups are very pleased to have gotten an even more comprehensive agreement than the state had original sought, crucially including the retrofitting of existing wells with non-methane emitting pneumatic controllers:

“Colorado is once again leading the nation in addressing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry,” said Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director for Environmental Defense Fund. “With broad support from industry and the environmental and public health community, the Commission is setting the standard for other states and the U.S. EPA to follow in addressing pollution from new and existing sites using pneumatic devices.”

“With the impacts of climate change hitting closer to home than ever before, we’re so excited to see Colorado once again set national leadership with precedent-setting, commonsense rules that reduce methane pollution in our communities,” said Sara Rose Tannenbaum, Climate Advocate, Conservation Colorado.

More from Earthjustice and the Colorado Sierra Club:

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Boebert Ridicule Intensifies After Especially Stupid Tweet

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

The Hill reports on a Tweet yesterday morning, part of Rep. Lauren Boebert’s daily Twitter maelstrom in the image of Boebert’s Eternal President Donald Trump, that went viral on account of being so fundamentally clueless about the most basic constitutional principles taught in civics classes across the nation, that even by the highly relaxed factual standards of the Trump era, it’s honestly quite disturbing:

Twitter users mocked first-term Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on Friday over a tweet in which she argued that defending the U.S. Constitution “doesn’t mean trying to rewrite the parts you don’t like.”

Users on Twitter were quick to point out to the gun rights advocate the many changes that have been ratified to the Constitution since it became the country’s official legal framework in 1788… [Pols emphasis]

Jezebel’s Ashley Reese:

On Friday, Boebert tweeted, “Protecting and defending the Constitution doesn’t mean trying to rewrite the parts you don’t like.” Okay, except, that’s literally what Constitutional amendments do.

I’m sure there are quite a few of those amendments that Boebert enjoys quite a bit, like the 19th amendment, which grants her the right to vote, or the first amendment, which allows her to say all the dumb shit she wants without the government throwing her into prison.

As Raw Story reports, Boebert doesn’t seem to understand that she herself is co-sponsoring legislation to (wait for it) amend the U.S. Constitution:

The newly elected Colorado Republican insisted the Constitution shouldn’t be revised, which, of course, Congress has done 27 times in a process laid out by the founding document — and Boebert herself has co-sponsored an amendment that would subject lawmakers to term limits. [Pols emphasis]

As Huffington Post’s David Moye reports, the judgment of the Twitters was swift and unsparing:

If you’re a politician who has promised to uphold the Constitution, it might help if you’re actually familiar with what that document includes…

Boebert’s tweet was sadly misinformed ― the Constitution was designed to change with changing times, hence the rules for adding amendments.

So after Boebert suggested that “protecting and defending the Constitution doesn’t mean trying to rewrite the parts you don’t like,” many Twitter users decided to give her the civics lesson she apparently missed in high school.

It’s a situation in which Boebert’s defenders–here’s looking at you, Dick Wadhams–might look for an alternative interpretation, maybe an acknowledgement that the point was made clumsily but “what she really meant is…” Except you can’t do that in this case. There’s just no way to make what Boebert said even remotely make sense.

The depth of ignorance suggested by this Tweet from Rep. Boebert obviously invites the massive outpouring of social media ridicule she received in response to it yesterday. Here also once again Boebert’s critics risk in the intensity of their ridicule defensive pushback over what’s been described as “elitist prejudice” against Boebert. While it’s true that people from all walks of life have contributions to offer to the civic life of the nation, that does not spare anyone from being corrected, even lampooned, when they say something that reveals they don’t understand a subject central to their job on a fundamental level.

Who knows? Next time Boebert hears the words “Second Amendment,” the light may go on.

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Clone Ferrets Misinformation Thread

Life is short, but as AP reports via the Colorado Sun from Fort Collins, clones live forever:

Scientists have cloned the first U.S. endangered species, a black-footed ferret duplicated from the genes of an animal that died over 30 years ago…

Elizabeth Ann was born and is being raised at a Fish and Wildlife Service black-footed ferret breeding facility in Fort Collins. She’s a genetic copy of a ferret named Willa who died in 1988 and whose remains were frozen in the early days of DNA technology.

We ourselves welcome our new black-footed ferret clone overlords. It’s the least we can do after nearly driving these indescribably cute little guys to extinction! We’re going to keep on saying nice things about black-footed ferrets for the foreseeable future. We love them, and in the unlikely event they take over the planet we hope they remember our loyalty.

You should love them too if you know what’s good for you.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (February 19)

Congratulations to Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets on being selected as an All-Star Game Starter. 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 

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado hit a big COVID-19 vaccination milestone:

More than 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to Coloradans to date as public health officials are nearing their goal of inoculating 70% of all people 70 and older, state representatives said Thursday.

So far, 748,151 people have received their first vaccine dose and 333,859 people have received their second shot, Kate McIntire, deputy director of the state’s Vaccine Task Force, said during a news briefing. And 337,124 people 70 and up have received at least one vaccine shot — 56,276 vaccinations short of meeting the goal Gov. Jared Polis set for the end of February.

In a separate story for The Denver Post, Bruce Finley explains new research indicating a direct correlation between poor air quality and an increase in infections and deaths from COVID-19.

 

President Biden said in a speech to the G-7 Munich Security Conference that “the trans-Atlantic alliance is back” and the “America first” policies of former President Trump are no longer in effect.

 

► Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is back in the United States after an incredibly bad decision to fly with his family to Cancun, Mexico while his fellow Texans are freezing at home. Cruz’s latest explanation for why he jetted to another country in the midst of a massive crisis is…not good.

The editorial board of The Houston Chronicle is among many voices calling on Cruz to resign from the Senate.

 

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who also moonlights as the State Republican Party Chair (or vice-versa) has a lot of opinions about natural gas and the relation to electric grid problems in Texas. Unfortunately, Buck has NO FRIGGIN’ IDEA what he is talking about.

 

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

 

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GOP Lawmaker to Shooting Victim’s Father: Just Get Over It

State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Assholeville)

Maybe — and we’re just spitballing here — but maybe Colorado Republicans would be more successful at winning elections and advancing policy goals if they didn’t spend so much time being complete assholes.

Take State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron), for example. This morning in the House Chambers, State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) came to the microphone during the “Announcements and Introductions” period to talk about his continued commitment to gun safety and the success of the Red Flag legislation in Colorado in preventing deaths from firearms.

I’m here to remind you daily what gun violence looks like,” said Sullivan. “Whether you listen or not, I will continue to come to this microphone and tell you about its impact.” Sullivan’s son was among 12 people killed in the 2012 Aurora Theater Shooting, and he has since devoted much of his time to the pursuit of stronger gun safety measures.  

After Sullivan stepped down from the podium, House Speaker Alec Garnett (D-Denver) politely reminded colleagues that the “Announcements and Introductions” period should not be used as a platform to promote individual policies or beliefs. Holtorf promptly ignored this reminder and marched up to the microphone to talk about how Sullivan really just needs to put his son’s violent death behind him.

We are not making this up:

 

Here’s what Holtorf said, and how his disgusting diatribe came to an end:

REP. HOLTORF: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Thank you fellow colleagues. I will tell you that all of us have suffered loss in our lives — either at the hand of violence, or at the hand of what we see as this virus. But here’s the most important thing we must remember: Scripture tells us that when something is taken away from us, we must understand that maybe there is a time when God needs the spirit of those children to do something in heaven.

Now I have suffered loss in my life, but I have learned not to hold bitterly onto that loss and never let go. I would ask all of us to consider, that as we hold onto, for whatever reason, that loss, let us not be vengeful. Let us not be mean-spirited. Let us not be callous, coarse, or divisive. Unfortunately I continue to see this. [Pols emphasis]

If I took with me what I saw when I went and deployed to defend the Constitution of the United States, and I did…and many of us that have served come home and we are bitter. We are angry. We are vile, and we seek to destroy what we saw destroy our brothers and sisters.

But let me tell you, the most important lesson I learned, and I offer this to my fellow colleagues, particularly the one who just spoke, that you have to let go…[Pols emphasis]

SPEAKER GARNETT: Representative Holtorf…

HOLTORF: [turns] Yes, sir.

GARNETT: Let’s just…again…

HOLTORF: Thank you, sir. I will yield to the Speaker. Thank you for your leadership, sir.

 

It takes a special kind of guttersnipe to publicly admonish a colleague for not “letting go” of the fact that his son was murdered in a movie theater by a deranged man who was armed to the teeth.

This is certainly not the first time that the supremely-weird Holtorf has taken to the microphone to spout verbal diarrhea; indeed, it is something he has done with regularity since being appointed to fill a vacancy ahead of the 2020 legislative session. Just last May, Holtorf suggested that lawmakers worried about COVID-19 were sissies, and objected to mask-wearing requirements and remote participation availability in the House of Representatives by saying that these measures would make it difficult to discern if he himself were drunk.

We had wondered if new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean (R-Loveland) might be able to do a better job than previous leader Patrick Neville at getting control of the lunatic fringe of his caucus. We are no longer pondering that question.

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Rep. Ken Buck Doesn’t Know How Anything Works

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

CBS4 Denver reports that Rep. Ken Buck, outgoing chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, is calling for Gov. Jared Polis to “boost” natural gas production in Colorado–after the state of Texas temporarily shut off exports of natural gas in order to restore stable electricity service to what’s become derisively known in recent days as the “Freedom Grid.”

Colorado has the second largest natural gas reserve in the county but production has dropped over the last couple of years. Rep. Buck said Gov. Polis should take action now to increase production.

“I understand the governor has a goal for renewable in a certain time period and if that’s the way the people of Colorado want to go, that’s great. But to cut back on natural gas production right now when Texas is cutting back on its export of natural gas is a serious mistake,” Buck said.

So, there are a lot of problems with this, the biggest of which is that Gov. Jared Polis has absolutely no power to simply snap his fingers and increase natural gas production in Colorado. In a statement responding to Buck, Polis’ office said as much:

Colorado’s natural gas market is a responsibly regulated system of wells and pipelines that is geared towards supplying natural gas according to market forces, individual company capital investment decisions, [Pols emphasis] and pipeline capacity and is not something that can be turned off and on like a spigot.

We have to think that at some level Rep. Buck is aware of this, just like he should know that the price of natural gas in Colorado peaked in 2006 and has been in decline ever since–and that is the biggest reason by far why Colorado is not “drill baby drilling” for oil and gas all over the state. If for argument’s sake Polis were able to defy market economics and compel with dictatorial power an increase in natural gas production, by the time that increase came on line the temporary ban on exports from Texas would be long over.

And you know what that means? An even bigger glut of natural gas.

It’s just another situation in which Ken Buck fired off a bunch of words that appeared relevant to the issue at hand, but under scrutiny are revealed to be almost comically ignorant of what is actually taking place. Colorado gains nothing from a knee-jerk boost in natural gas production, any more than Texas benefitted from being overdependent on natural gas electrical production which failed en masse during this historic cold snap. After the attempt to blame renewable energy sources outright for the power failures in Texas fell flat with a little fact checking this is an interesting pro-fossil fuel pivot, but it’s no less factually off base than Lauren Boebert was when she blamed the suffering in the Lone Star State on “frozen windmills.”

As Ludwig Wittgenstein famously observed, “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”  In plain Weld County English this means if you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t talk.

Neither Buck nor Boebert seem to get this.

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Lauren Boebert’s Gun Fetish Derails Committee Meeting

UPDATE: Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) responds:

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The House Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives met today for its first “organizing meeting” of the 117th Congress. Little in the way of Natural Resources business was discussed during the video conference, however, because Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) initiated a stunt about allowing guns in the committee hearing room that ended up dominating much of the conversation.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) participates in Thursday’s House Natural Resources Committee hearing.

 

Boebert used her full speaking time during the meeting to display her comical home office background as part of a long tirade in opposition to a proposed organizing rule that would prohibit the carrying of firearms in the committee room. Boebert’s rant was an obvious publicity stunt; she was clearly reading her words from a screen and a clip of her rambling speech was quickly posted online.

As Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman explained via Twitter:

Here’s Huffman’s full quote on the subject:

If somebody wants to have a shrine to their gun fetish as a Zoom backdrop in their private life, they can do that. But this is our hearing room. And at some point, we will get past the COVID epidemic and we’ll all start showing up in person, and our safety, and our ability to conduct business civilly, without feeling threatened, is a relevant consideration, unfortunately. So, I think it’s necessary — not only appropriate, but necessary — that we lay down these ground rules that whatever your fetishes or feelings are about guns, you’re not going to bring them into our committee room. You don’t need them there for your own safety. Many of us feel like it threatens our safety. And that’s just not going to be allowed, and that’s entirely appropriate, and unfortunately, necessary, Mr. Chairman.

A full vote on adopting new committee rules was later postponed.

You can watch the full committee hearing on YouTube. We also transcribed Boebert’s rant, which you can read after the jump below, in which she asks if women will still be allowed to vote in the committee and requests a personal security detail to be personally funded by Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Feb. 18)

There are 309 more shopping days until Christmas. Now, let’s get even more smarterer. 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 

 

► Governor Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) delivered his State of the State speech on Wednesday. From The Denver Post:

Polis alternated between two themes during Wednesday’s annual State of the State speech, mourning for what the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought in Colorado and expressing optimism not just for the end of the virus, but for “the boldness to imagine a better future … and bring it to life.”

His priorities for 2021 are pretty well-known, given all of the news conferences he’s had since the start of the pandemic: Get vaccines into arms, help the economy heal and, eventually, hold a big bonfire party to burn our masks.

But he broadened his agenda during his address at the Capitol, speaking of equitable education and health care, better roads and highways, rural broadband, and investments in the economy in the forms of tax breaks and small business loans, especially in tourism and renewable energy sectors.

Colorado Public Radio has more on Polis’ speech, as well as a video and transcript.

 

Texas Democrats are calling on Sen. Ted Cruz to resign after the Republican Senator decided to take a trip to Cancun while his constituents are freezing their butts off.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz heads for some fun and sun while his home state freezes.

As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN, you’d think Cruz would know better:

In politics, there are a few unwritten rules that every good politician adheres to. Don’t compare any situation to Nazi Germany. Don’t get out of step with your party base. And perhaps most importantly, when things go sideways for your constituents, don’t go on vacation.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz broke that rule this week when he and his family were spotted hopping on a plane to the resort town of Cancun, Mexico, amid a devastating winter storm and subsequent power grid failure in his home state that has left millions in dire straits.

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but: if you’re an American pol whose state is enduring a crisis of Katrina-like proportions and instead of going to help your constituents in even a basic, performative sort of way you FLY TO ANOTHER COUNTRY’S BEACH TOWN, you’re doing it wrong,” tweeted Sonny Bunch, a conservative commentator living in Texas.

That is, of course, exactly right.

 

Colorado lawmakers working to cap rising health care costs have an easy foil, as The Colorado Sun reports:

Colorado hospitals charge more, have higher costs and still report higher profit margins than any other state, according to a financial analysis of federal data presented Wednesday to the Colorado Business Group on Health.

Both for-profit and nonprofit hospitals in Colorado have made “strategic decisions to maximize revenue and profit,” in large part by consolidating into a handful of powerful networks, said Thomas Nash, a health care financial consultant and former vice president of financial policy for the Colorado Hospital Association. The report employed analytical tools developed at the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

When non-patient revenues such as investment income are figured in, Nash said, Colorado hospitals as a group reported a 15.6% profit margin, edging out Utah and California for the highest margins in the nation.

 

 Colorado is inching closer toward its goal of providing COVID-19 vaccines to a majority of residents over the age of 70 by early March.

 

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

 

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Ted Cruz’s Name Is Mud

You will never see this shirt again.

AP reports on the scandal gripping the nation this morning as residents of the state of Texas grapple with another disastrous day of freezing temperatures and widespread power outages:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has traveled to Mexico for a family vacation as his home state struggles with a powerful winter storm that left many residents without power or safe drinking water.

The high-profile Republican lawmaker went with his family for a long-planned trip to Cancun and was expected to return immediately, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations…

The revelation opens Cruz to significant criticism in Texas and beyond as he contemplates the possibility of a second presidential run in 2024. [Pols emphasis]

That’s…an understatement:

Although beloved by a segment of the far right who supported Sen. Ted Cruz through his years of antics that have sometimes made him a pariah in his own party, Cruz’s presidential aspirations were effectively dashed when he failed as the last line of defense against Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party in 2016 despite the defiant “Never Trump” backing of Colorado Republicans. Cruz’s transformation from Trump critic to obsequious Trump toady followed a similar arc to that of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner–but after Cruz led the dead-ender drive to undo the results of the 2020 elections culminating in the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the last little shred of Cruz’s credibility outside his diehard base evaporated.

And now? Cruz is reportedly scurrying back today from Mexico, having realized too late the mistake he made leaving his constituents to freeze in the dark while he played on the beach. All things considered he might as well stay put, because it’s tough to imagine how Cruz can ever show his face in the Lone Star State again.

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Thursday Open Thread

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

–Maya Angelou

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Not Even Playing GOP Pet Trick Vote Suppression Games

Sen. Paul Lundeen (R).

Pat Poblete at the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports on a Republican bill introduced in the Colorado Senate, Senate Bill 21-007, to crack down on the “problem” of millions of Coloradans voting by mail with no good reason other than it’s, you know, convenient–a.k.a the law of the land in Colorado since 2013, resulting in some of the highest voter participation rates in the country with none of the bad scary stuff Republicans warned consistently would result by making voting easier on purpose instead of harder:

[Sen. Paul] Lundeen’s bill would require voters to cast ballots in person either on election day or in the six-day period leading up to election day. It would still allow voters to cast ballots by mail, but would require voters to opt in to receive a mail-in ballot. Colorado’s current system sends all registered voters a mail ballot.

In an interview with Colorado Politics, Lundeen said the proposal was “drafted as a placeholder” and intended to kickstart the legislative process. He noted that while former Secretaries of State Wayne Williams and Scott Gessler testified at a contentious December Legislative Audit Committee hearing on election integrity called by Republicans, Griswold did not.

Lundeen is referring to the “hearing” convened by Republicans on the Legislative Audit Committee on December 15th, which featured anticlimactically tame testimony from thoroughly discredited Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, former Colorado Secretary of State and for-hire “election truther” Scott Gessler, himself a known purveyor of unfounded election conspiracy theories in his official capacity, and other similarly credibility-free conspiracy types.

But those Republican witnesses, who couldn’t come up with even credible allegations of fraud in Colorado’s election let alone evidence, were opposed by just enough fact-based witnesses and Democratic lawmakers to re-establish conclusively for the record that Colorado elections are accurate and secure. Of course, that didn’t slow down the Trump train headed for its final wreck in Washington, D.C. on January 6th. But along with Rep. Ken Buck’s unexpected efforts to instill confidence in Colorado’s election results with base Republicans, the momentum for continuing to question the results of the 2020 elections definitely slowed locally after these events.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold was under no obligation to provide any statement to a meaningless hearing convened in the only venue Republicans had even the power to call one. Her office did so anyway by way of a written statement, and combined with the conclusion by all parties at this hearing including Jenna Ellis that there was nothing identifiably problematic about Colorado elections, that should have been the end of it.

“When the Secretary of State did not come interact with the legislature when it convened a hearing to say, ‘How can we improve?’ It causes us to start wherever we can start,” he said. “And so this is the beginning of a conversation…” [Pols emphasis]

Full stop. A “conversation” about what? How does getting rid of the all-mail ballot system that made Colorado a national leader in voter participation “improve” anything? Why would we make this dramatic change, or for that matter any major change, to an election system that works better than basically anywhere else in America? Where is the problem crying out for a solution, other than hopefully more states following Colorado’s example?

We hope it’s a brief “conversation” in the committee the bill dies in, because this is a waste of everyone’s time.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 17)

Today is Ash Wednesday; that person in your Zoom meeting didn’t just forget to wash their face. Now, let’s get even more smarterer. 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 

 

► Governor Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) will deliver the annual State of the State speech today at the State Capitol. 9News is among the outlets live-streaming the speech, scheduled for an 11:00 am start.

Tuesday’s opening day of the legislative session was a time for speechifying from leaders such as House Speaker Alec Garnett and Senate President Leroy Garcia. The Associated Press helps kick things off:

Colorado’s Legislature reconvened its 2021 session on Tuesday facing an ambitious agenda: Short and long-term economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, restoring drastic cuts to K-12 and higher education, creating jobs by investing in transportation infrastructure, and curbing health care costs — including pursuing a state-run public option for health insurance.

 

► Cold temperatures are maintaining a grip across the country. In Texas, 3.4 million people are still without power. As The Washington Post explains, the problems with the power grid in Texas are a uniquely Texas mistake:

When it gets really cold, it can be hard to produce electricity, as customers in Texas and neighboring states are finding out. But it’s not impossible. Operators in Alaska, Canada, Maine, Norway and Siberia do it all the time.

What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans. It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.

It’s a “Wild West market design based only on short-run prices,” said Matt Breidert, a portfolio manager at a firm called TortoiseEcofin.

And yet the temporary train wreck of that market Monday and Tuesday has seen the wholesale price of electricity in Houston go from $22 a megawatt-hour to about $9,000. Meanwhile, 4 million Texas households have been without power.

You should probably familiarize yourself with the acronym “ERCOT.”

As The New York Times reports, another brutal cold front is on the way:

Here’s some good news for storm-battered communities across the United States: The brutal weather that has killed at least 30 people, disrupted vaccine distribution and left millions without power has moved on.

Now for more bad news: Frigid air may persist in the Great Plains and Mississippi Valley through midweek, and a new winter storm is expected to sweep across the South and East over the next two days. More than 100 million Americans are under some type of winter weather-related warning, the National Weather Service said…

…The South is already reeling from a rare cold snap. The temperature in Houston on Monday night — 13 degrees — was lower than that in Houston, Alaska. And Oklahoma’s capital on Tuesday experienced its coldest morning since 1899.

That will continue for at least another few days. High temperatures this week will likely be 25 to 40 degrees below average across a swath of the Central and Southern United States, the Weather Service said.

 

Colorado’s weekly COVID-19 vaccine shipment is being delayed by bad weather.

 

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

 

(more…)

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2021 State of the State Open Thread

 

UPDATE: Via Colorado Newsline:

[Gov. Jared] Polis acknowledged the extraordinary challenges and events Coloradans have experienced in the last year, including those related to the pandemic, systemic racial discrimination, unprecedented wildfires and watching “in shock and horror as the foundation of our democracy itself came under attack by a violent mob intent on overturning the results of a free and fair election.”

“In short, this has been one of the most challenging years of our lifetimes,” Polis said.

Senate Democratic Majority leadership checks in for mutual affection:

“I feel incredibly encouraged that the Governor’s priorities are aligned with our own. From urgent pandemic relief to long-awaited economic fairness and environmental reforms, it is clear that the democratic leaders in this state are intent on not only recovering from this pandemic but building back a stronger Colorado,” said President Garcia, D-Pueblo. “I look forward to working collaboratively with Gov. Polis’s administration to deliver meaningful results for our residents this legislative session.”

“I applaud Governor Polis for his leadership over the last year. He has continually put Coloradans first – mitigating the effects of the pandemic and setting us on a path of recovery. This legislative session is not only about getting Colorado back on its feet, it’s about setting our state up for even greater success going forward,” said Majority Leader Fenberg, D-Boulder. “I am confident that with the partnership of the Governor’s office, we will be able to accomplish great things for Colorado this session.”

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“Insurrectionist Man Of Mystery” Back Like Nothing Happened

Rep. Ron Hanks (R).

As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, freshman Rep. Ron Hanks of Penrose, who skipped out on the initial part of this year’s legislative session after showing up on January 13th to be sworn in a week after traveling to Washington, D.C. for the now-infamous January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally, came to work at the Colorado state capitol yesterday to take his lumps. And take lumps he did, a bit more than Democratic leaders in the Colorado House had anticipated:

A Colorado House Democrat called on Tuesday for the state legislature to consider stripping Republican Rep. Ron Hanks of his committees or even expelling him for attending the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C.

The move by La Jara Rep. Donald Valdez on the day the legislative session restarted shows the ripples of last month’s insurrection across the country. It also came as a surprise to fellow Democrats as well as the House speaker, who admonished Valdez for using his moment of personal privilege to condemn anyone’s motives outside the Colorado Capitol.

As for Rep. Hanks himself, “unapologetic” is the word of the day:

In an interview with The Denver Post on Tuesday, Hanks said he stands “by everything I did on the sixth of January.” [Pols emphasis]

“As we stood between the Washington Monument and the White House, outstanding people. Those are Americans. If he wants to castigate them, that’s on him,” Hanks said of Valdez…

Hanks wrote a letter about his experience at Trump’s rally, suggesting that those who breached the White House were Antifa, not the same people from the rally. There has been no evidence that is true.

The GOOD rally on January 6th. Not to be confused with that other thing that happened on January 6th down the street.

In addition to factlessly trying to blame “Antifa” for the riot at the U.S. Capitol carried out by fellow supporters of now ex-President Donald Trump, Rep. Hanks wrote a letter to his supporters just a few days before President Joe Biden was sworn into office (and after Rep. Hanks’ own swearing in) suggesting that “foreign intelligence” may yet reveal evidence of election fraud to stop Biden’s inauguration–and that “there is a nuclear and national security aspect to this election that must not fall into the hands of foreign enemies or their domestic agents.”

That is, Joe Biden.

Clearly, with the benefit of hindsight Rep. Hanks’ trip to D.C. to protest an election that was long over, and Hanks’ hope against hope right up until Biden’s inauguration on January 20th that some kind of “QAnon”-style deus ex machina would swoop in to award Trump another four years on the basis of their amazing new evidence, looks really stupid today. With respect to criminal liability Hanks may have for his participation in what became an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, however, it’s true that nothing has come out as of this writing to suggest Hanks violated the Capitol Police perimeter or entered the Capitol building.

Assuming Hanks is not charged and no further evidence emerges that he went farther on January 6th than he claims, it’s probably right that he hasn’t committed an offense worthy of being expelled from the Colorado House. If anything, Hanks’ lack of clear communication about his health issues after disappearing from the legislature in January is the more immediately troubling question. Hanks claims now that he was tested for COVID after falling ill and the test was negative, but his trip to D.C. to protest in the middle of the pandemic was itself extremely risky, warranting a quarantine period Hanks never underwent–and the lack of an honest explanation for his illness from Republican leadership was very concerning to others in the building who had shared airspace with him.

With all of this in mind, while we don’t expect expulsion is forthcoming, it’s clear that Rep. Hanks is going to be an interesting addition to the “House Crazy” caucus–a term originally coined by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar back in his state legislature days to describe the rotating pack of hard-right Republican ideologues more interested in wacky grandstands than governing.

No matter how small the GOP House minority becomes, there’s always room for another “House Crazy.”

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Deep Thoughts By Lauren Boebert: “Frozen Windmills”

The arctic blast of cold air that dunked temperatures along the Front Range below well zero has caused big problems down in Texas where this kind of cold is decades-apart infrequent. Learning of major power shortages that have become prolonged power outages in Texas yesterday, Colorado’s Rep. Lauren Boebert did what she does best–swung into half-cocked action on Twitter.

But is it true? As Bloomberg News reports, not so much:

While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, that’s been the least significant factor in the blackouts, according to Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

The main factors: Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas, he said. “Natural gas pressure” in particular is one reason power is coming back slower than expected Tuesday, added Woodfin. [Pols emphasis]

“We’ve had some issues with pretty much every kind of generating capacity in the course of this multi-day event,” he said.

As anyone who knows about oil and gas production in cold regions of the country can tell you, temperatures below the design rating of gas wellheads can cause them to freeze precisely when consumers need BTUs most. When a warm climate like Texas is flash-frozen by an arctic cold front, all kinds of things that are supposed to work stop working, including energy infrastructure both clean and dirty. As it turns out, when “the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow,” sometimes the gas doesn’t flow either.

In the case of wind turbines, it’s a question of what they’re engineered to withstand. Wind turbines designed for use in Antarctica, for example, naturally have more protection against ice and extreme cold than wind turbines in Texas.

Wind shutdowns accounted for 3.6 to 4.5 gigawatts — or less than 13% — of the 30 to 35 gigawatts of total outages, according to Woodfin. That’s in part because wind only comprises 25% of the state’s energy mix this time of year.

Again, this is the information you look for if your goal is to actually understand what is happening. That is simply not Rep. Boebert’s priority in these situations. Hearing that windmills were icing up in Texas provided the launching point for misinformation Boebert already had ready to go, and the facts of the matter are only there to get in the way.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 16)

There is an expected high temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver today; compared to the last few days, that’s practically beach weather. Now, let’s get even more smarterer. 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 

 

► The Colorado legislature is back in session today after postponing action for more than a month out of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Saja Hindi previews the session for The Denver Post with a list of some of the more notable bills on the agenda.

Alex Burness of The Denver Post is covering opening day speeches from the likes of Senate President Leroy Garcia, while Hindi is tracking the speechifying of Speaker Alec Garnett and other House leaders. Colorado Public Radio has more on Garnett as he takes control of the gavel as the new House Speaker.

 

► As had been expected, on Saturday Senate Republicans voted to acquit former President Trump on the impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection. Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper both voted “YES” on impeachment.

The Denver Post has more on how the impeachment trial raised the political profiles of two Colorado Members of Congress:

For 138 minutes this week, two Coloradans stood on the floor of the United States Senate and claimed that, for the first and only time in American history, a president incited an insurrection against his own country.

Their arguments earned pundits’ praise and handed them a national audience. They fueled talk of future political ascensions and sent search engines looking for more.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) served as an impeachment manager and has voted on three of the four impeachment cases in U.S. history. Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) served as the youngest impeachment manager in American history and earned high praise for his performance.

 
As The Washington Post reports, it’s colder than Santa’s reindeer in much of the United States:

At least 12 people are dead in four states from the effects of a record-shattering cold snap and series of winter storms. In Texas, as the electricity grid struggles to keep pace with record high demand amid a historic cold outbreak, people are turning to unsafe means to heat their homes. A woman and a girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Houston after a car was left running in a garage to keep them warm, according to police.

The Arctic air has also claimed the life of at least one homeless person in Houston, and a 10-year-old boy died after he fell through ice near Millington, Tenn. A tornado associated with the storm system that helped draw Arctic air to the south struck in North Carolina overnight, killing at least three and injuring 10.

For the first time in history, the entire state of Texas is under a weather-related State of Emergency, where some 4.4 million people are still without power.

 

 Congresswoman Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) may soon have a credible 2022 Republican opponent: Retiring President of Colorado Mesa University Tim Foster.

 

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 continue to decline in Colorado, though there is still much concern about new variants of the virus.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Colorado “Patriot Party” All Done With Your Wussy GOP

Freelance writer Daniel Newhauser reports for Colorado Newsline, echoing anecdotes we’ve seen including the photo above taken in Colorado Springs over the weekend:

Former President Donald Trump may have stepped back for now from the idea of creating a new political party, but that hasn’t stopped diehard Trump fans disillusioned with the Republican Party from creating Patriot Parties of their own all across the country.

Onetime Trump voters in Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and other states have all made attempts at forming their own iterations of a Patriot Party in recent weeks…

The group’s statement of organization filed with federal campaign finance regulators lists it as the brainchild of St. Petersburg health insurance broker Brian Dow, Denver-area information technology worker Joe Faletra and Larry Glenn of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, who has a background as a treasurer.

With equal measures of secretory contempt for Democrats, Joe Biden, and former Republican Vice President Mike Pence, this “Patriot Party” early adopter photographed in Colorado Springs this weekend may just be a confused short-lived byproduct of the 2020 elections. Or, he could be a harbinger of a major division about to open within the Republican political coalition between those who accept that ex-President Donald Trump lost the election, and “Republicans” who are more personally devoted to Trump than any party–or for that matter, the rule of law itself.

The polls say a majority of Republicans are on the cult of personality side of this emerging divide. If you’re a Republican who just wants to return to the days before Trump took over their party and ran it into the ground, that’s bad news. And if you’re a “Never Trump” Republican who predicted Trump would mean the end of the Republican Party’s majority power, events may be about to fulfill your worst fears.

On the upside, here may be a political platform truly made for the post-Trump era. Piss on everybody.

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Lauren Boebert May Have Herself a Primary Fight

Tim Foster

Earlier this month, State Sen. Kerry Donovan announced that she had filed paperwork to run for Congress in CO-03, seeking the Democratic nomination for the right to challenge Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) in November 2022. As the first serious challenger to Boebert, Donovan raised more than $100,000 in a matter of days, indicating that there is serious interest both in Colorado and nationwide about getting rid of Q*Bert ASAP.

From what we hear, at least one potential Republican opponent to Boebert is inching closer to taking the plunge. Tim Foster, the longtime President of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, announced last month that he plans to retire from CMU in June 2021. Rumor has it that Foster is getting very serious about running for Congress in CO-03, which would give Boebert a well-known and extremely well-connected Republican Primary challenger.

Boebert has endeared herself to a certain group of Republicans in CO-03 who still love them some Donald Trump and who wait expectantly everyday to see what Q*Bert will Tweet out that will “own the libs.” But there is a separate and not insignificant group of Republicans in the district who have long grown tired of Boebert’s one-note antics and are interested in finding someone to represent CO-03 who is more interested in what Colorado needs than what Fox News and OANN want to hear.

Boebert’s antics have generated plenty of social media attention, though her attempts at being a real Member of Congress haven’t gone quite so well. She has clearly made little effort to be better informed about basic issues facing her district, which is something that virtually every media outlet in the state warned about last fall, and there is growing concern among more moderate folks in CO-03 that Boebert won’t be an effective Member of Congress as long as she focuses her time and energy on being talked about.

We’ve heard mention of a few potential Republican challengers in CO-03, though Foster appears to be the furthest along in making the actual decision to run. It’s also worth noting that Foster has a long relationship with former State Senator and current GOP consultant Josh Penry, so there’s plenty of smoke to accompany this potential fire.

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