Monday Open Thread

“The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche


The Get More Smarter Show: April 14, 2019

Today on the Get More Smarter Show: host Jason Bane sits down with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to talk about the 2018 elections, Weiser’s agenda and accomplishments in just a few short months in office, and the greatest video game ever.

Catch up on previous Get More Smarter Show episodes here, and thanks for watching!


Meet The Next Republican Who Wants To Run CU

Former Rep. Mark Kennedy (R).

The campuses–Rush Limbaugh likes to call them “campii”–of the University of Colorado are alight with controversy this weekend over the selection by the Board of Regents of a ready-made controversy–in the form of a “sole finalist” to succeed retiring CU President and Republican kingpin Bruce Benson, who looks to be at least the polarizing figure that Benson represented if not much, much more. CU Independent:

The University of Colorado Board of Regents have selected Mark Kennedy as the finalist to replace Bruce Benson as CU president, citing his commitment to bipartisanship and diversity. But since the announcement, community members have raised concerns about Kennedy’s civil rights record as a politician…

Late-breaking news Thursday night from The Denver Post revealed that a Tuesday article from the Grand Forks Herald rumoring Kennedy’s move caused the board to push up the date of their announcement.

Regent Linda Shoemaker (D-Boulder) told the Post that because of this, Kennedy was not fully vetted before being announced as a finalist to the public.

“We need the press and the public to do the job in vetting him,” Shoemaker told the Post.

More from the Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez:

After the announcement, public backlash from CU students, parents, alumni, faculty and the local community surfaced surrounding Kennedy’s voting record during his time representing Minnesota in Congress from 2001 to 2007, and other past actions.

Kennedy voted in favor of restrictions on abortion and against gay marriage. He was one of 236 members of the House to vote for the Marriage Protection Amendment in July 2006, which would have amended the Constitution to say that marriage consists only of one man and one woman. The vote fell short of the 290 votes required for passage in the House.

The CU Independent’s story goes deeper into ex-GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy’s voting record in the U.S. House, with a voluminous record of votes against LGBT and abortion rights. In addition the American Civil Liberties Union rated Rep. Kennedy at a dismal 7% against their scorecard.

While in Congress, Kennedy voted in support of several anti-civil rights bills, demonstrating an anti-LGBT and pro-life life stance. Kennedy also voted against support for college programs geared towards minorities and bears an unfavorable track record when it comes to higher education…

Representatives for Governor Jared Polis, Colorado’s first openly LGBT governor, declined to comment on Kennedy’s selection. Kennedy has said that his first phone call as CU president would be to Polis.

During Bruce Benson’s decade-long term as President of the University of Colorado, the institution has steadily pushed its public-facing brand toward the political right. Benson was personally consumed with the idea of “ideological balance” in the University’s faculty and curriculum, and did everything he could to promote this idea without setting off outright rebellion. The position of “visiting professor of conservative thought” was created so conservative think-piecers like Stephen Hayward could offend the student body from a position of scholarly authority. Meanwhile CU’s Leeds School of Business morphed into a white paper mill for Republican talking points on a range of economic issues.

Kennedy responded to the growing anger over his hastily announced selection as sole finalist with an open letter to the CU community, insisting that personal his views on issues like abortion and LGBT rights have changed along with the evolving “societal consensus” on these issues–consensus that’s hard to see in Mark Kennedy’s Republican colleagues today. That dryly-worded letter has by most accounts done little or nothing to ease concerns about his selection. Kennedy’s opponents on the Boulder CU campus are organizing a major protest for Monday at noon expected to be attended by hundreds if not thousands of students and faculty.

For a proud institution that has suffered from decades of fiscal neglect, followed by a period of improved solvency in exchange for corporate dependency and dubious politics under Benson, the choice of the next President is extremely important with profound implications for the future of the state’s flagship “public” university.

At first glance–which is all anybody has had–this choice doesn’t look good.


Weekend Open Thread

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

–Mahatma Gandhi


Popular, Misunderstood “Red Flag” Bill Signed Into Law

UPDATE: Denver7’s Blair Miller:

The Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act will officially go into law on Jan. 1, 2020, which is also the deadline law enforcement agencies statewide will have to adopt either model policies and procedures that are in the works or their own…

[Douglas County Sheriff Tony] Spurlock discussed how supportive Parrish’s parents were of the measure, which Spurlock began pushing for last year after Parrish was shot and killed on New Year’s Eve 2017 by a man who the department knew had a history of mental health issues and several weapons.

“For a father who lost his son and see it that way is inspiring to me and should be for to everyone in the state of Colorado. Because his concern is for other people,” Spurlock said of Parrish’s father. “And when I had that conversation with him … I knew then that I was doing the right thing to stand for this. … As the governor said, we can save lives. We can save lives today, tomorrow and the next day. And, most importantly, if we save one life, we create history for that family.”


Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports:

Beginning in January, Colorado judges will have the power to temporarily remove firearms from people believed to be at high risk of harming themselves or others, joining more than a dozen other states that have put into law some type of red-flag bill.

Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1177 on Friday at the state Capitol, after nearly two months of contentious legislative hearings marked by a familiar partisan divide over the issue of gun control.

Proponents of the extreme risk protection order bill say it could be instrumental in reducing the likelihood of another mass shooting while at the same time cutting down on the number of suicides in Colorado. Second Amendment backers say the law runs the risk of depriving Coloradans of their constitutional right to bear arms when it takes effect Jan. 1.

The signing of House Bill 19-1177 into law today brings to a close another ugly debate over gun policy in Colorado, riddled with misinformation intended to incite anger among gun owners and provoke political retaliation against majority Democrats. The legislation, which allows family members or law enforcement to go before a judge and prove to an evidentiary standard that a person represents a significant risk to themselves or others and temporarily remove firearms from that person’s custody, already exists in over a dozen other states where its judicious use has saved lives.

The reality of this legislation and expected very limited utilization–170 cases per year as estimated in the bill’s fiscal note–has very little relationship to the wild arguments that have been made against the bill by gun lobby opponents. Much like the far-out claims in 2013 that guns laws passed that year would result in “gun confiscation” and that “no one in Colorado can ever get a magazine again,” the gun lobby terrorized their grassroots base this year with baseless warnings of vengeful spying neighbors and bumper-sticker raids by police–none of which are rational outcomes of the bill.

The truth is that over 80% of Colorado voters support a “red flag” law, and none of the changes from 2018’s version justify the partisan closing of ranks we saw over the bill this year. The political reality is that Republicans who supported the legislation in 2018 peeled off under intense pressure from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, who helped Democrats take down Rep. Cole Wist and Attorney General candidate George Brauchler as punishment for supporting the bill last year. And make no mistake: Brauchler started backing away from the bill even before he lost the election last fall, having nothing to do with changes in the bill’s language. RMGO’s willingness to tear down fellow Republicans rather than compromise, even at the expense of their own agenda in helping replace Wist with an ardent supporter of gun control, was enough to chill further dissent.

Now, Democrats have the job of cutting through that misinformation. After 2013 we expect they get the urgency.


Get More Smarter on Friday (April 12)

The Denver Nuggets start their playoff run on Saturday at home against the San Antonio Spurs. It’s time “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.


President Trump is affirming threats to release immigrant detainees into the home districts of prominent Democrats as punishment for not letting him build his big border wall. As the Washington Post reports:

Trump said Friday that his administration is giving “strong considerations” to a plan to release immigrant detainees into “sanctuary cities,” blaming Democrats for what he characterized as an unwillingness to change immigration laws.

His comments on Twitter followed a Washington Post report that the administration had been eyeing districts of political adversaries, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to release detainees.

“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!” Trump wrote.

His tweets suggested that the plan, which immigration officials had rejected in November and February, was again viable.

Never underestimate the ability of President Trump to sink lower than you ever thought possible. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

The fact that this would even be considered speaks volumes about how Trump (and Miller) view not only the ongoing crisis at the border, but human beings more generally. [Pols emphasis]

Because this is, at heart, a story about people. People who tried to enter the country illegally, yes. But people nonetheless. And what the President of the United States wanted to do to these human beings was turn them, literally speaking, into political pawns. Ship them somewhere so that they could, maybe, accomplish a political goal of his — and, if not that, then just make things more uncomfortable for his political opponents…

…Only by seeing certain people as lesser or a threat can you treat them like political pawns on your broader chessboard.

And when you see people as something less than, well, people you can rationalize treating them in ways that no person should be treated. That’s where we are with President Trump on immigration. There is no bottom. He just keeps going lower and lower. [Pols emphasis]


► The Denver Post endorses Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for re-election:

Ballots for the city’s spring election will arrive in mailboxes next week, and we hope voters consider how very much is on the horizon in Denver to be excited about….

…Hancock’s administration and City Council have stood up to developers, even if at times we wish they had reacted more quickly: rejecting slot-home developments; closing a loophole that allowed developers of multi-family houses on small lots to not provide off-street parking; setting an ambitious goal for affordable housing, meeting it early and then creating a multi-million dollar fund to keep the progress going. We see the mayor’s leadership in creating Denver Day Works, a program that sets aside city work for day laborers, and in his commitment to creating new shelter beds, improving existing shelter spaces and building a daytime facility with showers and other resources.

More needs to be done, but Hancock is ready and willing to meet the challenges of a booming city and he is the only candidate ready to meet the challenges if this nation faces an economic downturn.


► What are Republican recall attempts in Colorado really about? Making money, of course.
Get even more smarter after the jump…



Cory Gardner’s Curiously Unremarkable Fundraising Numbers

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

As Justin Wingerter reports this afternoon for the Denver Post, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2019 that are curiously unremarkable:

Gardner raised $2 million in the first three months of 2019 and has more than $3.4 million on hand, his campaign said Thursday…

…“Senator Gardner’s strong fundraising quarter is another indicator of the wide range of support and confidence in the job he’s doing and the belief in his work to get things done for the state in a bipartisan manner,” said Casey Contres, the senator’s campaign manager.

“Strong fundraising,” “wide range of support,” “bipartisan,” blah, blah, blah…

These are things that your campaign spokesperson says after any fundraising period, but a $2 million quarter is milquetoast for the most endangered Republican incumbent Senator in 2020. Gardner raised $1.4 million in about a month when he first entered the race for U.S. Senate in Spring 2014. By comparison, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Boulderish) raised a little more than $2 million in the first quarter of 2014. That was 5 years ago.

Gardner is not just the most endangered Senate incumbent this cycle — he’s also coming off a two-year run as Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The whole point of being Chair of the NRSC is to strengthen your fundraising connections; instead, Gardner barely outraised Democratic challenger Mike Johnston ($1.8 million).

Note that Gardner is the only Republican candidate for Senate in Colorado, while Johnston has a half-dozen Primary opponents. Candidates who don’t have to worry about a Primary normally do better in fundraising; Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, for example, pulled down more than $4 million after announcing his Senate campaign on Feb. 14. Gardner’s fundraising quarter is also remarkably dull considering that he already has a number of big-name surrogates working on his behalf.

Gardner has strung together some terrible weeks into a pretty bad run, lowlighted by the Denver Post’s jaw-dropping UN-dorsement in March. In the midst of so many troubles, a $2 million fundraising quarter is…fine.

The problem for Gardner is that “fine” isn’t going to get him re-elected.


Rifle’s David Bernhardt Bellyflops Into The Swamp

David Bernhardt (left).

As the New York Times reports–not that there was ever much doubt, but another Colorado Republican oil and gas attorney has won the job of Secretary of the Interior after David Bernhardt of Rifle was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a mostly party-line vote:

The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for the oil and agribusiness industries, as secretary of the interior. The confirmation of Mr. Bernhardt to his new post coincided with calls from more than a dozen Democrats and government watchdogs for formal investigations into his past conduct.

Senators voted 56-41, largely along party lines, in favor of Mr. Bernhardt’s confirmation. Two Democrats, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, and Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, crossed party lines to vote in favor of Mr. Bernhardt.

As interior secretary, Mr. Bernhardt, who has already played a central role in designing many of Mr. Trump’s policies for expanding drilling and mining, will now serve as the nation’s senior steward of its 500 million acres of public land and vast coastal waters.

Colorado’s U.S. Senate split on the confirmation of Bernhardt, with Sen. Cory Gardner voting as pledged for Bernhardt’s confirmation and Michael Bennet voting against. Conservation Colorado’s Kelly Nordini issued this response to the vote:

“Being a Colorado native does not give David Bernhardt special qualifications for running the Department of the Interior, and shame on Senator Gardner for letting the fox guard the henhouse simply because he’s from the same neighborhood. Senator Gardner made a huge mistake with his vote today, given Bernhardt’s troubling record and spiraling conflicts of interest. Westerners love their public lands and the environment and Bernhardt cannot be entrusted to protect them on our behalf.

“Senator Gardner likes to talk about protecting public lands for future generations, but today’s vote to confirm a former oil lobbyist puts the public lands we love at risk. [Pols emphasis] This is yet another instance of Senator Gardner telling Coloradans one thing and then doing the opposite.”

Confirmation of Bernhardt by the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate will not end questions about his ethical record both at the Interior Department going back to the bad old Jack Abramoff days, as well as his private practice as an attorney representing big energy producers and other polluters creating major conflicts of interest. Colorado has been fortunate to have more than our share of locally grown Secretaries of the Interior in the last two decades, but we’re obliged to note that the last Republican Interior Secretary from our state Gale Norton left office under a cloud–soon after her departure waltzing through the revolving door to work for Royal Dutch Shell.

Bernhardt will take office under a cloud, so at least the worst case scenario won’t come as a surprise.


The First Amendment and the Right to be an Idiot

Like the Bible, gluten, and “Game of Thrones,” the First Amendment is often invoked but not always understood.

On Wednesday, Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) demonstrated a common First Amendment misperception with a ridiculous rant on the House floor:


During a debate about expanding a program to provide driver’s licenses for immigrants (SB19-139), several Colorado Democrats took umbrage with repeated Republican usage of the term “illegals” to describe undocumented immigrants. At one point during the discussion, Rep. Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams County) asked House members to “use the terms that are in the bill” rather than invoke inflammatory labels. This did not sit well with Rep. Saine, who stomped to the microphone to exclaim:

Thank you, Chair, and thank you Representative Benavidez. I really appreciate you very much on a lot of your work down here, but, um…[pause]…I feel that you are impugning us. We are not children. Not lawfully present also means illegal. Let’s not play around with that. Not lawfully present equals illegal.

So, telling us we can’t use certain words at this well is an abridgment of the First Amendment. [Pols emphasis]

And with that, Saine huffed off. State Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver) immediately responded with this:

The term “illegal” is very offensive to people. It’s like calling someone “colored” or “the N word.” [Pols emphasis] That is how it feels to people…it is extremely offensive. So now that we know, maybe we could stick to the merits of the bill and temper our language just a bit because of how it makes people feel. That’s all I’m asking. I wouldn’t expect anybody to call me words that I would tell you are offensive, and now that you know, maybe we can try to change our language to be respectful of people who are truly offended when this term is used to describe them.

We’d love to tell you that this exchange put an end to using the term “illegals,” but you know that it won’t. What the discussion did illuminate, however, was an oft-forgotten point: The First Amendment does not protect you from making a complete fool of yourself.

Representative Saine is certainly not the first politician to misunderstand the First Amendment. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin loved to assert that she had a First Amendment right to not be criticized. Palin was, and is, incorrect. The First Amendment does not prohibit people from saying mean things to Palin or to California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes — or to anyone else, for that matter (we’re also looking at you, Sen. Ted Cruz).

The First Amendment grants all Americans the right to speak freely and assemble peaceably. The First Amendment also establishes freedom of the press and the right to petition the government so that your grievances may be redressed. The First Amendment even protects your right to shoot a gun at a specific page in a newspaper (so long as you are taking the appropriate safety precautions).

State Rep. Lori Saine and State Sen. Vicki Marble

The First Amendment is not a license to say anything, anytime, to anyone. You cannot yell “fire!” in a crowded theater in order to cause panic and then hide behind a “free speech” defense. You also cannot libel or defame someone with knowingly-false information (although if that person is a “public figure,” you’re probably fine from a legal perspective).

The First Amendment also does not override guidelines that are clearly stated by private organizations. You can tell us to “f*** off” in the comment section below; we probably won’t remove the comment in part because it just makes you look like a dumbass. On the other hand, we might remove certain disparaging remarks and known falsehoods made by readers if they violate our Terms of Service and because we’re not interested in providing an open forum for irresponsible assholes of any political affiliation.

Words are not just a bunch of letters and sounds, no matter how much Sen. Cory Gardner wishes otherwise. On the other hand, as politicians such as Rep. Saine and State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Broomfield) have long demonstrated, words don’t necessarily have to form coherent sentences. Democrats on Wednesday weren’t telling Republican lawmakers that they didn’t have the legal authority to use the term “illegals”; they were merely asking that Republicans make an effort to be less offensive to a specific group of people.

So rest assured, Rep. Saine, that you have every legal right to knowingly use offensive terms in a public forum. Just know that those words say more about you than they do others.


Polis Recall: Never Mind The Details, The Grift Is On

UPDATE: A reader astutely points out that Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute has been using his Denver Post column as a vehicle for enthusiastically promoting recalls of late:

We’d say the opportunity for a “dollar sign” (see below) conflict of interest is rather large. Wouldn’t you?


In the last 24 hours, the “campaign” to recall Gov. Jared Polis, which kicked off with a spate of nasty revelations about the anti-Semitic and otherwise unpalatably extreme views of its organizers, has shifted gears–into a new operation run by familiar faces in Colorado politics, and with a new sense of purpose.

What’s the purpose? We’ll let 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark explain:

“Dollar signs.” Lots of them. Here’s a TL;DR version:

Yesterday, it was announced that former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been “retained” as counsel for the Recall Polis organization, presumably to help the group navigate an unprecedented path to collecting over 600,000 valid Colorado voter signatures–many times the amount ever collected in a petition drive before. And that’s not all:

In a move just as noteworthy, fundraising for the Recall Polis campaign is being taken over by the Independence Institute , run by longtime local political walking clown show operative Jon Caldara, and their recently-deployed “Freedomfy” crowdfunding online platform. And with that bit of news, there’s something every person considering a donation to the Recall Polis campaign on “Freedomfy” needs to know:

Compared to every major crowdsource fundraising platform with the apparent exception of Indiegogo, “Freedomfy” is ripping you off. The Independence Institute charges an exorbitant fee of 6%, plus 30 cents for every individual transaction. That’s more than double the fees charged by GoFundMe, the platform the Recall Polis organization from is migrating away from. What’s more, GoFundMe has an active pool of over 50 million donors. We don’t know how many members “Freedomfy” has, but it’s not anywhere near 50 million.

With that said, there’s one thing GoFundMe hasn’t got–a percentage flowing to Jon Caldara.

We’ve already discussed at length how attempting to recall Gov. Jared Polis, a campaign that can’t even under the state constitution begin until he’s been in office six months, is a fool’s errand logistically. The massive signature requirement to place the question on the ballot would require a multimillion dollar petition gathering operation of unprecedented scale–to say nothing of what the actual recall election would cost proponents if it made the ballot. But that hasn’t dissuaded a strident segment of the Republican base in Colorado from raving.

And where there’s passion, especially poorly thought-out passion, there’s money! Caldara sets up a fundraising stream that he nets the skim from, and Gessler submits billable hours that there is now a stream of money to cover. That’s what they call a sustainable business model. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if there’s ever a recall of Gov. Polis–in fact that could be considered a less desirable outcome.

Just like when Ted Harvey discovered he could cash in by sending out fundraising letters with Hillary Clinton’s face on them, turning recalls into cash machines is an end unto itself.


Thursday Open Thread

“For the grifter, ripping people off is seldom the point. The grifter is an artiste who invests in the long con.”

–Jacob Weisberg


Gardner Down on Herman Cain–But Not Because He’s a Lech!

Herman Cain.

CNN reports on the latest Donald Trump-engineered minefield for Republicans up for election in 2020 to navigate, the forthcoming nomination of two controversial figures to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve: conservative columnist Stephen Moore formerly of the Wall Street Journal, and more controversially Herman Cain, the 2012 presidential candidate whose campaign collapsed under the dual revelations of Cain’s gross incompetence and extensive womanizing.

The concern over Cain in particular has grown so great that it appears Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking the rare step of allowing Republican Senators to publicly grouse:

During Tuesday afternoon’s Senate Republican lunch, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advised senators concerned about Trump’s selection of former presidential candidate and pizza executive Herman Cain and conservative economic commentator Stephen Moore to share their views with the White House now, before Trump officially moves forward with the nominations, a source familiar with the remarks told CNN…

Aiming to avoid a public fight over the confirmation, some Republicans hope to persuade Trump to reconsider ahead of Cain’s official nomination.

The problem, as Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado discovered shortly afterward, is that the “fight” is already public:

“No,” Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado quickly responded when asked if he would support Cain.

But, says Sen. Gardner, and this is a key point:

“It’s not about his past. [Pols emphasis] It’s about who I think should be on the board,” the senator explained. “So that’s that.”

Unfortunately “that’s that” isn’t a satisfactory explanation in the least for why Sen. Gardner would oppose Cain’s nomination, yet specifically exclude Cain’s “past” from his reasoning. But there is an explanation for Gardner being cagey: in October of 2016, after the tape of now-President Trump bragging about his ability as a television star to sexually assault women surfaced to bipartisan condemnation, Sen. Gardner called on Trump to pull out of the race, saying “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.” In January, Gardner endorsed Trump’s re-election in 2020, saying he “likes” the President and thinks Colorado should get the chance to like him too. Gardner has yet to offer an explanation for this, uh change of heart that would reassure women voters who took him at his word the first time.

But once Gardner let Trump off the hook he can’t really condemn Herman Cain, can he? Or anybody else.

It’s kind of a problem.


Crow Posts Blinking “Do Not Enter” Sign with Q1 Fundraising

Potential Republican challengers in CO-6.

Freshman Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) pulled off one of the more astonishing victories of the 2018 election when he unseated longtime Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in CO-6. Crow’s victory came in a very good year for Democrats, sure, but five months later it’s still hard to fathom that he ultimately won this race by 11 points.

Earlier this year, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) added Crow to its list of top pickup opportunities for 2020. Nevertheless, we haven’t heard much discussion among Republicans about potential challengers, and that isn’t likely to change now that Crow’s Q1 fundraising numbers have been revealed.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Crow ain’t messing around:

Crow, who isn’t accepting contributions from corporate political action committees, plans to report taking in $490,000, with $473,000 cash on hand, for the three-month period ending March 31. His campaign said two-thirds of the donations are from Colorado residents, with 74 percent under $100…

Crow’s fundraising total nearly matches the record haul for a Colorado congressional candidate during the first quarter of an off-year. [Pols emphasis] It falls short of the $519,000 Coffman raised during the first three months of 2013 and the $514,000 brought in for the same period by Coffman’s 2013 Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff.

You read that correctly. Jason Crow raised nearly a half-million dollars in the first three months of his first term in office…in an off-year…without a dime of corporate PAC money.

Fundraising isn’t the only criteria that potential opponents will use to gauge their chances in 2020, but Crow’s Q1 numbers are a massive warning sign that this seat may soon be out of reach for the GOP.


Ken Buck Keeps Making a Jackass of Himself on Race

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Yesterday in Washington, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the increase in white nationalism and hate crimes in the last few years, with prominent examples like the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and the mass murder of Jewish congregants at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October of 2018 serving as a backdrop to the reported three years of consecutive increases in such crimes. USA TODAY:

Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray called white supremacist violence “a persistent, pervasive threat” during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.

In November, the FBI released a report that showed a 17% increase in hate crimes from 2016 to 2017, although the bureau pointed out the number of law enforcement agencies reporting the data had also increased.

While majority Democrats in the Judiciary Committee wanted to talk yesterday about the statistically undeniable increase in hate crimes in the United States since Donald Trump became President, undeniable even factoring better reporting of hate crimes or any other kind of excuse one could make to explain the increase away…Republicans on the committee had other ideas. Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt:

Conservatives on the House Judiciary Committee, of which notably few were even in attendance, made it clear today that they are not equipped or willing to engage in a meaningful conversation about understanding and solving white supremacy and hate crime in America.

A panel of experts and people with lived experience who study and feel the effects of violent extremism in this country sat under the lights in the Rayburn House Office Building this morning–next to right-wing activists Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Point USA, and Zionist Organization of America’s Mort Klein. The esteemed experts attempted to share factual information and proposed solutions, but their messages were frequently derailed by the conservative duo’s efforts to change the topic of discussion and wield the hearing as a bludgeon against Democrats. Republican members of the Judiciary Committee in attendance, including Reps. Louie Gohmert and Ken Buck, egged them on and, at one point, Rep. Greg Steube yielded his time to Owens to make whatever comments she wanted to. Buck asked Owens if her status as a “pro-life” conservative “triggers” liberals. [Pols emphasis]

Owens testified that she was participating in the hearing because she had been the victim of a hate crime in high school, which is true. But Owens spoke only briefly about that incident and then pivoted to make accusatory and incorrect claims, such as that the GOP’s Southern strategy was a myth, ignoring the fact that RNC chairman Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern strategy’s existence in 2005.

Candace Owens.

Candace Owens of the hard-right college organizing group Turning Point USA recently caused a stir in Colorado when she spoke before Boulder County Republicans shortly after recorded comments of her saying Adolf Hitler “just wanted to make Germany great” in a way that could be interpreted as an excuse for Naziism if it only happened inside one country. Boulder Republicans gave Owens a pass, but the Turning Point USA chapter at CU Boulder later called for her to step down. But at yesterday’s hearing Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, fresh off his most recent lowlight last week comparing gay people to Nazis, had Owens’ back:

Buck, who was a longtime Weld County district attorney and is now the new chair of Colorado’s GOP party, was among the Republicans who defended Owens during the testy hearing.

“I think you’ve caused my friends on the left to go to their safe spaces,” said the 4th District Colorado Republican. [Pols emphasis]

As for Owens’ blanket denial that Republicans intentionally courted whites in Southern states with coded racist campaign messages, initiating the great Southern realignment from the Democratic Party to the GOP by the early 1980s? There’s simply no historical basis for this contention. The strategy was publicly avowed by its principal architect Lee Atwater, and it is an historical fact that the Republican Party apologized for it back in 2005:

Mehlman, speaking before the NAACP, said Republicans had been wrong to try to make use of racially divisive issues.

“Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” Mehlman said, according to his prepared remarks. “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.” [Pols emphasis]

While the “Southern strategy” helped Nixon win the White House in 1968, Democrats went on in the ensuing decades to solidify their support among black voters, as Mehlman acknowledged.

What changed between 2005 and today to make Republicans deny this dark but important period of their own history? That’s simple. The strategy became popular again–and not just in the South. The low-information apologetics of Candace Owens, backstopped by members of Congress like Ken Buck who are seemingly out to prove Owens wrong, is a bizarre spectacle that says a great deal about today’s GOP politics.

And nothing good.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 10)

Snowmageddon! It’s time “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.


► Attorney General William Barr continues to toss his credibility out the window. As CNN reports:

Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers Wednesday that he will be looking to the “genesis” of the the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government began in 2016, saying, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal” — echoing some of the more inflammatory claims lobbed by President Donald Trump for months, but declining to elaborate on his concerns [Pols emphasis]

…”For the same reason we’re worried about foreign influence in elections, I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr said. I’m not suggesting those rules were violated but I think it’s important to look at. . . . I think it’s my obligation.” [Pols emphasis]

He added that he’s not launching a full blown investigation to the FBI, and does not view it as a problem that is “endemic” to the FBI, but has in mind some colleagues to help him “pull all this information together, and letting me know if there are some areas that should be looked at.”

Barr isn’t saying that it happened, but it could have happened, and maybe it did happen. But then again, maybe it didn’t…

As Paul Waldman writes for the Washington Post, Barr is very much the good clapping monkey that Trump was searching for when he hired a new Attorney General.


► The Denver Post reports on the advancement of paid family leave legislation in Colorado:

The proposed insurance program, five years in the making, cleared a key Senate committee on a party-line vote Tuesday afternoon after the sponsors amended the bill to allow businesses that already offer identical benefits and local governments to opt out, increase the share employees must contribute, and push back the rollout of the program to 2023.

The committee also reduced the amount of available time off to 12 weeks. The previous version allowed up to 16 weeks in some instances.

The bill still provides wage-replacement benefits and job protections for all employees who work at least 680 hours during a year and contribute to the state fund. Seasonal workers are not covered.


Get even more smarter after the jump…



#LOL: Senate Republicans Yuck It Up Over Obstruction

As posted to Facebook by Colorado Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert:

Colorado Senate GOP communications director Sage Naumann.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Sage Naumann is the communications director for the Colorado Senate GOP Minority Office–having succeeded the notably nasty former Colorado Springs City Councilman Sean Paige in the role following the loss of the majority in the 2018 elections. Naumann himself is no stranger to controversy, after a school-age bout of Nazi cosplay got him into trouble when he ran for the school board in ritzy Carlsbad, California:

He says he now regrets the Halloween costume and his Facebook comments, such as, “Sad Natsi mourns the loss of ze Fuhrer” and “Angry German waiting for candy.”

Of course, we’re as relieved as Mr. Naumann’s high school counselor to see that this youthful indiscretion wasn’t the end of his career in politics! Your mileage may vary if you prefer your communications people to not dress like Nazis. On the upside, he’s almost certainly learned his lesson and is unlikely to dress up like a Nazi, you know, going forward.

We digress.

What you have here, of course, is Senate Republicans making light of obstructive tactics that a few short weeks ago were high drama–taken out on bystanders like Senate staffer Andrew Carpenter who was tasked with reading legislation at length, before Democrats remembered that Google can do the hard labor for them. Senate Republicans prevailed in court on a challenge to reading bills at lightning speed, but then had another Friday night obstruction attempt go hilariously awry. Since then, Democrats have gotten a large portion of their 2019 agenda through despite several lengthy episodes of what’s known as “Bobbing”–Sen. Bob Gardner droning on for what feels every time like hours of your life you’ll never get back.

If bumper stickers no one outside the Dome will ever understand help console Colorado’s historically small and historically bitter GOP minority, we fully support them. We’d even buy a few so we can explain the “joke” to people. It’s sure to go over well.


Money Race For Denver Mayor Is Not Close

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports on the state of play in the Denver mayoral race with mail ballots set to go out next week–a contest high on rhetoric,

But when it comes to raising money, the contest to date is a runaway.

According to statistics through March 31 assembled by Denver-based CleanSlateNow Action, whose goal is to fight “the corrupting influence of big money in politics,” current Mayor Michael Hancock has raised around twice as many dollars as the other five hopefuls on the ballot combined, and more than triple the amount collected by his next closest fiscal competitor… [Pols emphasis]

Of course, having a fatter wallet than any of his challengers doesn’t guarantee Hancock a victory in anything other than yard signs and prime TV time — a point [opponent Lisa] Calderón underscores in a comment shared with Westword about Referred Measure 2E, which was approved by voters in 2018 but doesn’t go into effect until next year (and will impact the mayor’s face for the first time in 2023). The so-called “Democracy for the People” measure will limit mayoral-contest donations to $1,000, ban corporate donations, and enable a public-financing program.

It’s tough to get a read right now on the field of five candidates vying to oust Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, like which if any is consolidating enough support to prevent the most likely outcome: the fragmented “Anybody But Hancock” opposition splitting between the alternatives and handing Hancock another term. There’s a possibility of a runoff election if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, but historically incumbent Denver mayors win by a much greater majority–like John Hickenlooper’s 86% margin in 2007. For all of the discontent with Denver city government over infrastructure, housing costs, police misconduct, the treatment of the poor and homeless, and a laundry list of other issues, we haven’t seen anyone emerge in this race with a winning coalition–though we’re watching to be proven wrong.

With that in mind, nothing says fait accompli like doubling up the rest of the pack combined.


In Politics, Presidential or Otherwise, Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

Politico’s David Siders has an interesting take on the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, in particular how many of the candidates running are more popular outside their home states than within them, that we think bears repeating in this space:

Sen. Kamala Harris has been elected three times to statewide office, and she’s one of the most popular politicians in California. Yet according to the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll, just 38 percent of likely state voters say she should be running for president.

In New Jersey, only 37 percent of Sen. Cory Booker’s constituents think he would make a good president. In Massachusetts, two-thirds of likely voters told a Suffolk University Political Research Center/Boston Globe poll last fall that Sen. Elizabeth Warren shouldn’t run for the White House…

Indeed, for much of the Democratic field, there’s little home advantage to be found. Some contenders would have a tough time winning their own states in the general election. A few seem likely to lose their states even in the Democratic primary. Never before has the designation of a favorite daughter or favorite son candidate appeared so meaningless.

The story doesn’t specifically mention Colorado’s two Democratic presidential entrants, one official and one presumed pending resolution of a health concern, but based on our experience with attitudes among local base Democrats regarding Colorado’s elected Democratic leaders–and plenty of snarky comments from our readers–it’s reasonable to suggest that local Democrats don’t as a general rule consider either Gov. John Hickenlooper or Sen. Michael Bennet to be especially competitive candidates.

But while everyone loves to pick at the flaws in our local elected leaders, and we do, we should keep in mind how base Democratic voters in California similarly aren’t very keen on Kamala Harris running for President–or Elizabeth Warren with Massachusetts Democrats, or Cory Booker with New Jersey Democrats, and so on. The polls seem to indicate we all have a tendency to be less forgiving of our own representatives, perhaps more of a reflection of frustration with American politics as a whole than anything these individuals have actually done or failed to do.

We’re just saying! Bookmark this post in the event either of our boys breaks out of the single digits…

In the meantime, click below to vote on which candidate you think is most likely to win the Democratic Presidential nomination. “Neither” is not an option, because we want to know who you think has the better chance of the two Colorado politicians.

Who Is More Likely to Win the Democratic Presidential Nomination?
John Hickenlooper
Michael Bennet
View Result

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 9)

Temperatures in Colorado could reach a high near 80 degrees; tomorrow it might snow as much as 7 inches. Please note that this does not give you the right to say things like, “That’s Colorado weather for ya!” It’s time “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.


► It seems clear that the Trump administration is in the midst of a calculated leadership purge within the Department of Homeland Security. As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump continued to dismantle the leadership of the nation’s top domestic security agency Monday, as the White House announced the imminent removal of U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph D. “Tex” Alles, the latest in a series of head-spinning departures from the Department of Homeland Security.

A day after Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to step aside following a White House meeting with Trump, senior DHS officials remained in a fog about the fate of their agency’s leaders, expecting more firings as part of a widening purge.

“They are decapitating the entire department,” said one DHS official, noting that the White House had given no cause for Alles’s removal.

As Politico reports, Congressional Republicans are at a loss for words in trying to understand what the White House is doing:

President Donald Trump’s congressional allies are alarmed by his purge at the Department of Homeland Security — urging him not to fire more top officials and warning him how hard it will be to solve twin crises at the border and the federal agencies overseeing immigration policy.

The president’s frantic four days of bloodletting at DHS and other agencies blindsided senior Republicans who are already fretting about difficult confirmation battles ahead. Some are worried about the rising influence of top White House aide Stephen Miller. And after November elections in which suburban voters rejected Trump’s hard-line immigration agenda, the president is once again making it the centerpiece of the GOP’s platform.

“It’s a mess,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, summing up the dynamic on the border and in Washington.

Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at the list of administration officials who said “No” to the big orange guy and subsequently lost their jobs.


► Attorney General William Barr said today that a redacted Mueller report will be delivered to Congress and the American public “within a week.” The New York Times has more details, including news that special counsel Robert Mueller did not review a four-page summary of the report that Barr announced last week. Elie Honig of CNN wonders how much of the report will end up blacked-out:

In the interest of transparency and public confidence in the Department of Justice, Barr should put away his redaction pen and disclose as much of Muller’s report as possible. Anything less will raise one big question: What is Barr trying to hide?


► These three sentences from Tyler Silvy of the Greeley Tribune tell you everything you need to know about the recall effort to oust Rep. Rochelle Galindo:

Former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard, who is leading the recall effort, in a phone interview Sunday went further when it comes to oil and gas — and the potential negative economic impact of SB 181 — being the reason for the recall.

“That’s our big thing; that’s our only thing,” Kjeldgaard said.

But then there’s this: When asked whether she would be working to recall Galindo if she had voted “no” on SB 181, Kjeldgaard said, “Absolutely.” [Pols emphasis]

Recalling a freshman Democratic Representative is about a lot of things — Galindo’s sexuality, Republican anger at getting drubbed in the 2018 election, and the enormous grift opportunity it presents for numerous right-wing political operatives, to name a few — but it ain’t about how Galindo voted on SB-181.


Get even more smarter after the jump…



The Colorado Springs Gazette is Very Silly

Last September, we took note in this space of a rather absurd editorial from the Colorado Springs Gazette which lambasted Colorado media outlets for not doing more to run with a story that very clearly was not a story unless you were a Republican political operative desperate for something to use to attack Democrat Jared Polis. The Springs Gazette editorial also took particular pains to bash 9News reporter/anchor Kyle Clark as a “liberal political activist” on account of the fact that Clark refused to report more on obviously-misleading claims against Polis; you’ll see why this is again relevant in a moment.

On Monday, the Gazette took another step toward firmly establishing itself as the Weekly World News of Colorado media outlets when it appropriated a landmark editorial from the Denver Post and applied it to State Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs). About one month ago, the Post ran a stunning editorial retracting its 2014 endorsement of Republican Cory Gardner for U.S. Senate after Gardner’s indefensible flip-flop in support of President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for wall-building money. The Gazette took that idea from the Post and used it to form a poorly-worded retraction of its own endorsement of Lee last October. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Gazette is apoplectic about Lee’s votes on a whole host of issues, from National Popular Vote legislation to Senate Bill 181, which it breathlessly proclaims will shuttle in the end of times in Colorado:

The measure threatens hundreds of thousands of good jobs and will almost certainly cause a long-term statewide recession.

“Almost certainly cause a long-term statewide recession.” That’s a bit much.

The Gazette also joins conservative Republicans who have completely lost their minds over a bill about sex education in Colorado:

Lee voted for a comprehensive statewide sex education bill that removes local control from decisions about sex education curricula. According to Lee, localities should hobble oil and gas production but have no say over their children’s education.

Um, yeah…that’s not what the sex ed bill does, but that was a neat segue!

The Gazette is predictably irritated about the passage of so-called “red flag” legislation, which generated this paragraph about how the newspaper can prove it is nevertheless not supportive of a recall election for Lee because another lawmaker read its editorial this one time:

One of our editorials against the bill reminded readers how District 11 voters recalled former Senate President John Morse for supporting unpopular gun laws. Lee responded by deliberately misrepresenting our editorial in a speech on the Senate floor. Though we have publicly — in writing — opposed recalls built on mere policy conflicts, Lee falsely accused us of “threatening” him with a recall. The written record shows we did no such thing. State Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, proved Lee’s misrepresentation by reading our editorial into the record.

The Gazette is here attempting to defend its March 19 editorial opposing the “red flag” legislation, which included this ominous language:

Today, Democratic Sen. Pete Lee represents District 11. The Gazette’s editorial board endorsed him, respecting his wisdom. We suspect he will use that wisdom to oppose Senate Bill 1177, avoiding a recall, [Pols emphasis] protecting his political future, and keeping District 11 a Democratic seat.

You really don’t need to read between the lines here.

In its un-endorsement of Lee on Monday, the Gazette also made sure to inexplicably attack media partner 9News once again. In discussing Lee’s initial support for House Bill 1030, the newspaper writes:

Democrat-friendly Channel 9 news anchor Kyle Clark texted confusion and surprise.

Even faux Democrat journalist Kyle Clark was baffled; that’s how you know it’s bad!

Let’s wrap this up and get to the Gazette’s conclusion, which is of course gramatically incorrect.

We cannot take it any more. The Gazette takes endorsements seriously, spending countless hours assessing the qualities of candidates, trying to make useful and informed recommendations. A large and growing body of evidence tells us we were wrong about Pete Lee.

“We cannot take it anymore.” One word, not two. The correct way to write this would be as follows:

We cannot take the Gazette editorial board seriously anymore. And neither should you.


“America Is Full”–Where Have We Heard That Before?

Tom Tancredo.

AP via Time, in case you missed the considerable hubbub this weekend:

Declaring “our country is full,” President Donald Trump on Friday insisted the U.S. immigration system was overburdened and illegal crossings must be stopped as he inspected a refurbished section of fencing at the Mexican border.

Trump, making a renewed push for border security as a central campaign issue for his 2020 re-election, participated in a briefing on immigration and border security in Calexico before viewing a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) see-through steel-slat barrier that was a long-planned replacement for an older barrier — and not new wall.

“There is indeed an emergency on our southern border,” Trump said at the briefing, adding that there has been a sharp uptick in illegal crossings. “It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen. … We can’t take you anymore. We can’t take you. Our country is full.”

Back in 2015, former Congressman Tom Tancredo was interviewed by the Denver Post for his thoughts about Donald Trump–at a time when Trump was still considered a sideshow instead of a credible campaign for the presidency and his thoughts about the ‘rapists and some good people’ coming into the country were freshly offending the nation’s sensibilities. Tancredo responded that he most certainly supported Trump’s sentiments on immigration, but suggested Trump be “a little more artful” about how he says things:

“He should take lessons from me on how to talk to the press. For a small fee — no, actually for a very large fee — I will help him out. You’ve got to learn how to talk about it, which takes years of practice, which God knows I’ve had,” Tancredo said, cracking himself up.

For most of his long career in politics, Tancredo’s hard line on immigration has been so politically toxic that even most fellow Republicans kept him at arm’s length. During the last Republican administration under George W. Bush, Tancredo’s headline-making invective against immigrants and Muslims, once suggesting the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina be “taken out” and that Miami is a “third world country,” was harshly condemned by fellow conservatives who went to great lengths to marginalize Tancredo within the Republican coalition:

“What a nut,” [Florida Gov. Jeb] Bush told reporters. “I’m just disappointed. He’s from my own my party. He’s a Republican. He doesn’t represent my views.” [Pols emphasis]

Today the Republican President of the United States makes the kind of unhinged rhetoric that Tom Tancredo employed to infamy look tame by comparison on a daily basis. And when Donald Trump declares “our country is full,” he’s elevating the slogan of a man who was too far out on the fringe to be governor of Colorado barely a year ago. Because Tom Tancredo was around long before Trump legitimized Tancredo’s style of bitter anti-immigrant demagoguery, Tancredo serves as an excellent yardstick with which to measure how far the national discourse has fallen under Trump.

The answer: very, very far.