This is Getting Ridiculous, Cory Gardner

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is going to extreme lengths to both hide from constituents and reporters and then later pretend that he held a public event. This morning, Gardner’s official Twitter account was back at it…and once again Gardner got called out for his bullshit.

You can see Gardner’s initial Tweet below, including a response from the Twitter account of “Mister V,” an editorial cartoonist based in Granby, Colorado:

Don’t be ashamed if you weren’t aware that the Grand Gazette was an actual news outlet; we admit that we’d never heard of it until today, either.

Aside from the obvious lesson here, it looks like we’re just a few months away from Gardner literally inventing new publications in order to show how accessible he really isn’t. We look forward to the inaugural issue of the Yuma Daily Gardner-Picayune.

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CU’s “Conservative Affirmative Action” Department Strikes Again


Readers will recall a particularly memorable speech made by Republican Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction in the Colorado Senate this year during a debate over a bill requiring the state’s Air Quality Control Commission to collect additional data pertinent to climate change. Sen. Scott, speaking in opposition to the bill, had some truly fascinating insights to share about…well, the climate…and how it’s…changing…for the better:

Climate change has led to “massive improvements” and “the planet is a thing that heals itself,” state Sen. Ray Scott argued Thursday morning.

Scott, a Republican from Grand Junction, was speaking against Senate Bill 96, which would require the state to collect greenhouse gas emissions data from oil and gas wells, coal mines and other sources of planet-warming gases. Reports on emissions would be released annually, which supporters hope would help guide climate change policy.

“I will argue that climate change is occurring, but in the reverse order,” Scott told his colleagues on the Senate floor. “Anybody in this room and I can have a discussion about what was our climate like 100 years ago or 80 years ago or 50 years ago or 20 years ago. We have made massive improvements in our climate. Massive improvements.” [Pols emphasis]

Click the video above, and you can watch Sen. Scott’s painful mistaking of solid particle and other visible forms of air pollution–which have indeed been reduced over the years by clean air laws opposed at every step by Republicans–with the only peripherally related subject of greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. It’s a level of demonstrated ignorance about the issue the legislation Sen. Scott opposed addressed that should be disqualifying from voting on it, but of course that’s not how representative government has ever worked.

We were taken aback, though, when we saw this announcement from the University of Colorado’s Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, the “conservative affirmative action” department set up by now-ex President and longtime Colorado Republican kingpin Bruce Ben$on to create a “safe space” on the campus of the state’s flagship university for what they call “conservative thought.”

It’s not a joke–next Wednesday, the very same Sen. Scott who celebrated the “massive improvements in our climate” in the Colorado Senate this year is the choice of the conservative-run Benson Center to speak for Republicans at a public discussion of “Policies on Climate and Environment!” Now in all fairness, the following week they’ll have Democratic Sen. Steve Fenberg along with Sen. Kerry Donovan later in the month to speak on the same issue–all under the auspices of the “conservative affirmative action” department.

The difference, of course, is that Sens. Fenberg and Donovan know enough about climate change to speak intelligently about it! On the other hand, Sen. Scott has no business even representing the GOP in a discussion about climate change, for the straightforward reason that Sen. Scott doesn’t know what climate change means. It would be far preferable to at least have a climate change denier who understands the subject enough to argue the point effectively.

The conservative students at CU–and yes, there are a few–deserve better, not to mention everyone else.

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Blame Trump, But Don’t Forget His Republican Enablers

Republicans don’t seem to sweat President Trump’s dangerous behavior.

According to the website VeryWell Family, these are the top warning signs for children with a “serious behavior problem”: 1) Difficulty managing emotional outbursts, 2) Difficulty managing impulses, and 3) Behavior that does not respond to discipline.

You don’t need to be an expert or a parent to recognize reckless behavior in children. We’ve all seen out-of-control children at grocery stores, shopping malls, and airplanes. Our first reaction in this situation is usually to glance around in search of a parent or guardian, shaking our head in bewilderment that such behavior could go unchecked. We might be dismayed at the child’s actions, but our ire is generally reserved for the oblivious or indifferent parent nearby.

President Trump is the man-child in this analogy, and the Republican Party — particularly top GOP elected officials such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — are the parental guardians. While the world collectively shakes its head at Trump’s ridiculous behavior, it is Trump’s Republican enablers who deserve an equal amount of scorn. When Trump throws a tantrum, he doesn’t get rebuked by fellow Republicans; instead, he gets a cookie. Trump can all but beg to be impeached, as he did on Thursday, and Republicans like Gardner will still headline a big fundraiser for him days later.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has a great outline today of this phenomenon, which he calls “the real issue” regarding President Trump’s scandalous behavior:

And yet, even as his actions in office grow more and more erratic and without historical precedent, the party stays united behind him.

Why? Simple! Fear.

“What is surprising, or shocking might be the better word for it, is the fact that Republican elected officials seem willing to not just condone this sort of behavior but even defend it.”

Every GOP elected official lives in fear of becoming the next Jeff Flake or Justin Amash — conservative Republicans in good standing with the party until they decided to publicly criticize Trump for something or other. The President pounced, his base attacked and both men found themselves in deeply precarious political predicaments.

Fear of being “Flaked” explains, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) absolute and total about-face on Trump. Ditto Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. And dozens and dozens of other Republican elected officials who voiced deep concern about the idea of Trump even being their party’s nominee in 2016 — much less the President of the United States.

If political survival is your only goal, then what Republicans are doing vis a vis Trump is not only fine, but right. Of course, leadership is a very different thing than what we are seeing out of Republican elected officials at the moment.

And there is the very real possibility that the damage Trump is doing to the party (let alone the country) will have impacts that last well after he is gone from office — and come back to haunt those Republicans who stood silently by. [Pols emphasis]

Republicans like Gardner have always valued political survival above the interests of anything else, but it’s still hard to fathom the idea that there is no line Trump can cross that will be a line too far for the GOP.

Sen. Cory Gardner always stands behind President Trump

Gardner has made it abundantly clear, in fact, that he won’t be backing away from Trump for any reason. As Ian Silverii writes today in the Denver Post:

That Gardner would participate in this fundraiser with the full knowledge of the whistleblower scandal probably tells us that he understands that there will be no political exit for him. If new facts emerge from the impeachment inquiry or if public opinion continues to move against him, calling for Trump’s resignation will also be an indictment against Gardner for supporting him this far. Afterward, if Gardner tries to pull the ripcord, Trump-brand forks and knives will come out of the bag instead of his parachute.

The 2020 election will be a referendum on President Trump. It should also be a referendum on his Republican enablers. History will not be kind to the likes of Gardner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Americans won’t have to wait for those books to be written in order to take action.

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Trump Basically Begging To Get Impeached Now

Does not know when to stop talking.

The Hill, just wow:

President Trump on Thursday publicly encouraged both China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son amid growing concerns over how Trump has used his position to pressure foreign governments to look into his political rivals.

“I would think that if they were honest about it they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked what he wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to do about the Bidens following the July 25 call between the two leaders…

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said before departing for an executive order signing in Florida.

The president, whose administration is negotiating with China to resolve a trade dispute, said he had not explicitly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to open an investigation, but that it’s “certainly something we can start thinking about.”

The intent here is obviously to normalize the idea that a sitting President can ask foreign governments to attack his political rivals in the middle of high-stakes negotiations (or in the case of Ukraine, freezing millions in foreign aid), and even though that is a crime under federal law if Trump just up and does it in front of news cameras it is somehow acceptable. And just in case you were wondering whether China is even a little bit interested in taking Donald Trump up on his request:

A Chinese diplomat suggested that China is not likely to be interested in investigating Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, as President Trump suggested today.

“We do not want to get in the middle of the US politics,” the diplomat said. [Pols emphasis]

Before this is over, President Trump may wish he’d said the same. In 2015.

As Sen. Cory Gardner has said, “I think the President is going to continue to do what the President is going to continue to do.”

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 3)

It’s finally time to celebrate Fullmetal Alchemist day. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is now publicly calling on China to investigate various Bidens for some sort of invented transgression. As NBC News reports:

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

While Trump said he hasn’t requested Chinese President Xi Jinping investigate the Bidens, the public call mirrors the private behavior on which Democrats are partially basing their impeachment inquiry— using the office of the presidency to press a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

It is “certainly something we can start thinking about, because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being on that kind of scrutiny, where billions of dollars is taken out of his country by a guy that just got kicked out of the Navy,” Trump said Thursday of asking China to probe the Bidens. “He got kicked out of the Navy, all of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

Now it’s “billions” of dollars. By this time next week, Trump will be alleging that the Bidens pocketed trillions.

In a related story, CNN’s Chris Cillizza takes us through the transcript of Trump’s bananas press conference on Wednesday alongside the President of Finland.

 

► Welcome to the shitshow, Vice President Mike Pence. From the Washington Post:

President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — at a time when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said.]]
Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Pence is trying to claim ignorance about the whole Ukraine scandal, but as the Post reports, officials say that “one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call and the vice president should have had access to the transcript within hours.”

Have fun with this one, Mr. Vice President.

 

 The battle has been joined! The “YES” on Proposition CC campaign kicked off on Wednesday with the support of Gov. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish).

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols.

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Ken Buck Keeps On Squashing Republican Dreams

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck will seek reelection to his congressional seat next year, the Windsor Republican said Wednesday, dispelling any speculation that he was planning to give up the seat.

“I have been running for this position and I will continue to,” Buck, who is in his third term, told The Colorado Sun.

The confirmation comes as several high-profile members of the Republican Party were considering campaigns for Buck’s 4th Congressional District seat if he decided not to run for another term. The potential contenders included 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who fell short in his 2018 bid to become Colorado attorney general, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and state House GOP leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock.

Speculation about Rep. Ken Buck’s next move exploded over the summer, as national conservative “news” sources like Newsmax confirmed rumors we had been hearing that Buck was moving toward retirement from his ultra-safe CD-4 congressional seat–and prospective successors jockeying for pre-position like repeat GOP loser George Brauchler and embattled House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

Rep. Buck’s “moonlighting” as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, a job he narrowly won last spring and then immediately raised eyebrows by appointing former party chair Steve House as “CEO” to run day-to-day while Buck continues to serve in Washington–a job House has now ditched to run for CD-6–is creating significant discord among the party’s involved membership and (more importantly) donor base. A petition campaign of state party central committee members is underway to oust Buck from his party position, and confirmation that Buck intends to continue splitting his attention between these two demanding jobs may only increase calls for him to pick one.

Since Buck took over the state party promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” all Republicans in Colorado have managed is a series of failed recall attempts that have devastated the morale of the rank-and-file. Buck’s failure to prevent the vice chair of the party Kristi Burton Brown from “personally” filing the ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan indelibly linked the official state party apparatus to the recalls.

With all of this in mind, if Buck decides that he wants another term as CD-4’s representative in Congress, there’s little we can see standing in his way as of this writing. As for the mess Buck has made of the Colorado Republican Party trying to do two jobs?

Somebody’s going to have to clean it up.

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No Comment Cory: Dodgy As Ever

Invisible Cory GardnerCory Gardner is a United States Senator. This is a full-time job that fundamentally requires Gardner to take a position on important issues of the day. We assume that Gardner has opinions on things, but it is hard to know for sure because the Yuma Republican goes to such great efforts to avoid discussing…well, anything.

In early August we published a roundup of Gardner’s powers of invisibility that we titled, “No Comment Cory.” Over a period of about one month, we found more than 12 examples of Gardner or his office flat-out refusing to offer comment on a variety of topics. Two months later, we took a look to see if anything had changed.

It hadn’t.

 

August 9, 2019

The Denver Post wondered what Gardner thinks about a new television ad critical of his refusal to take any sort of meaningful action to curb gun violence in the United States:

Gardner’s campaign had no comment on the ad.

August 21, 2019

Proving that no subject is too inane to be dodged, Gardner was asked by the Washington Post about visiting the Colorado offices of Amazon.com:

Gardner stayed mum on Twitter about his Amazon tour, even though he tweeted about visits to Maxar Technologies in Westminster, Colo., and Swisslog Healthcare in Broomfield, Colo., the same day. Gardner spokeswoman Annalyse Keller declined to comment.

August 26, 2019

The Huffington Post wondered what Gardner thought about the rising popularity of Cardboard Cory:

Gardner’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.

September 4, 2019

The Colorado Sun came this close to getting a comment from Gardner’s office about his decision to again support President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money:

Gardner’s office did not respond to a request for comment until midday Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after the story of the Peterson impact first broke. In it, the Republican blamed Democrats for the situation leading to the reallocated funds.

 

September 8, 2019

How about CNN? Would Gardner respond for a story about gun violence prevention measures? You already know the answer to this:

The Gardner campaign did not make the senator available for an interview with CNN for this story and did not respond to questions about whether the senator would support or oppose expanded background check or federal red flag legislation if either came up for a vote in the Senate.

September 11, 2019

Politico wondered about Gardner’s second vote in support of President Trump’s “emergency declaration,” which stalled an $8 million project at Peterson Air Force base:

When asked Wednesday if he’d support the national emergency declaration, Gardner responded: “I haven’t seen the resolution of disapproval, but I mean, the Democrats refuse to fund the border.”

 

September 19, 2019

The Colorado Sun reported on a story about federal leadership PACs. They tried and failed to get a response:

Gardner’s campaign declined to comment about Project West PAC.

 

September 24, 2019

What say Gardner about impeachment proceedings against President Trump? As Politico found, not much:

Gardner said Trump’s conversations with the president of Ukraine about Joe Biden and his family as well as a whistleblower complaint about the president’s conversations with a world leader are a “serious issue.” Asked if he still supported Trump’s reelection, Gardner declined to address the question: “Let’s find out what’s happening. Let’s get to the bottom of this.”

 

September 26, 2019

It’s your turn, Wall Street Journal:

September 26, 2019

As The Hill found, Gardner will go to great lengths to explain why he won’t explain:

Gardner was on his phone and unavailable to comment at a vote shortly before lunchtime. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

 

September 26, 2019

9News reporter/anchor Kyle Clark had some questions about Gardner concerning his continued support for President Trump’s “emergency declaration”:

For weeks now we’ve been asking Senator Gardner’s staff whether the Senator knew that Colorado could lose money when he was out there publicly promising that Colorado would be spared cuts. We’ve been trying to figure out, did the Trump administration pull a fast one on Gardner, or did Gardner know that we could lose a military project when he seemed to indicate otherwise. Once again today, Sen. Gardner’s spokeswoman would not answer that question.

September 27, 2019

The Denver Post got bupkus when they tried to ask Gardner about impeachment proceedings:

Ditto RealVail.com on a question about Gardner’s thoughts on the Ukraine whistleblower:

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner called the whistleblower allegations a “serious issue” but would not comment further until more facts are available.

 

We don’t pretend to understand the political or strategic calculations behind Gardner’s consistent dodginess, but there’s simply no denying that inaccessibility is the Gardner brand.

 

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SB-181 Madness: Apology Time Yet?

As Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus reports:

Six months after shouting that new legislative drilling regulations were an existential threat to their industry in Colorado, the state’s oil and gas producers are now whispering a different message to Wall Street:

No big deal.

The law was billed by both supporters and opponents as a sea change in how the industry is policed, giving local governments and state agencies greater authority to decide where and how drilling can occur. But in filings with the federal Security and Exchange Commission, some of Colorado’s largest drillers now express confidence that they can easily navigate the regulations spinning out of Senate Bill 19-181.

“We do not foresee significant changes to our development plans, as we have all necessary approvals of more than 550 permits to drill wells over the next several years,” Noble Energy representatives wrote to investors.

During the long debate in the Colorado General Assembly this year over Senate Bill 19-181, the landmark reform bill changing the relationship between state oil and gas regulators in the industry from “promotion” of more drilling to the protection of public health and safety first and foremost, the oil and gas industry’s PR armies warned of historic doom and gloom for Colorado’s economy. It would be nearly impossible, and we surely don’t have time to do it ourselves, to list out every time a Republican lawmaker or oil and gas industry press flack claimed with absolutely zero factual basis that SB-181 would “shut down oil and gas production in Colorado.”

The gospel-truth assumption that SB-181 was intended to and would speedily bring about the shutdown of oil and gas drilling in Colorado helped fuel the wave of irrational anger that Republicans deliberately sought to inflame during and after the 2019 legislative session, for the purpose of justifying recall attempts against opportune state legislative targets as well as Gov. Jared Polis. In Greeley, a town heavily dominated by oil and gas-friendly politics and politicians, the supposed threat of SB-181 ripping the local oil and gas industry apart provided cover to the attempt to recall now ex-Rep. Rochelle Galindo via a far nastier anti-LGBT “whisper campaign.”

But then a funny thing happened. Word started to leak out that despite all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over SB-181’s impending destruction, SB-181 wasn’t going to destroy the oil and gas industry at all. Energy producers started quietly telling their investors that they had all the permits they need for years of unhindered operations and were prepared to work with the new law’s additional protections. The gap between dire forecast and reality with regard to SB-181 isn’t the only reason the “summer of recalls” have sputtered out one after another in recent weeks, but it’s just not possible to maintain the level of public backlash required to pull off a recall without something to substantiate the allegations.

So the next time–and you can be assured there will be a next time–somebody tells you SB-181 is destroying/has destroyed past-tense the oil and gas industry in Colorado, here’s your rejoinder! And if you really want to irritate your conservative friends, follow that up with a brief lesson on the global energy economy, which as you and Gov. Polis already know dictates the fate of Colorado’s oil and gas industry far more than SB-181 ever could.

And yes, hopefully next time…nobody believes the hype to begin with.

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Best Wishes To Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders.

CNN reports that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is off the trail “until further notice” following apparent heart trouble at a rally last night:

Sen. Bernie Sanders experienced “chest discomfort” on Tuesday night and will suspend campaigning “until further notice” after doctors treated a blockage in an artery, senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement Wednesday morning.

“Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted,” Weaver said. “Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days. We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.”

Weaver delivered the news about the senator’s health during a conference call around 10:30 a.m. ET, an aide told CNN. He read the statement that was later released and did not elaborate.

Coronary artery stents save lots of lives every year, and have helped steadily reduce the fatality rate from heart attacks and get patients back up to full steam quickly since their introduction in the U.S. in 1993. Barring any complication, there’s no reason to expect this will keep Sanders off the campaign trail for more than a short period, and he’ll be “full Bernie” once he’s back.

We join supporters and opponents alike in wishing Sen. Sanders a speedy and full recovery.

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Alligator Moats, Electrified Walls, and Migrant Snipers

If you were still one of the holdouts who didn’t believe that President Trump is completely out of his goddamn mind, new reports about Trump’s ideas for tightening border security should be enough to convince you otherwise.

As the New York Times reports:

The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him. [Pols emphasis]

Read that last paragraph again, and remember that these are serious proposals from the actual President of the United States of America.

In typical Trump fashion, the President expressed frustration to his advisors that more wasn’t being done to stop the flow of immigrants along the Mexico border. “You are making me look like an idiot!” he shouted during a March meeting in the Oval Office, completely oblivious to the absurdity of his own ideas. It’s worth noting that White House aides reportedly did look into cost estimates for an alligator moat.

Trump is not the first President to think of an alligator moat, though he is most certainly the first to have suggested it as a serious proposal. President Barack Obama once mentioned the idea of an alligator moat for border security — as a joke. As CBS News reported in May 2011:

“We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement,” Obama said. “But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I gotta say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.”

“Maybe they’ll need a moat,” Obama said mockingly to laughter from the crowd. “Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.” [Pols emphasis]

As far back as 2007, The Onion was laughing at the idea of an alligator moat as a border security option.

We’ll take this opportunity to remind you that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is one of the headliners at a Trump 2020 fundraiser this weekend in New York City. One day Gardner will tell his grandkids about the years in which he pandered to a lunatic.

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Wait, BLM Chief Won’t Be Moving to Colorado?

William Perry Pendley, acting director of the BLM and totally not a villain from an old cartoon.

Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reports today on a long list of ethical red flags related to William Perry Pendley, the acting director for the Bureau of Land Management whose job was just extended by a few more months despite objections from the likes of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver).

The acting head of the federal agency overseeing 8.3 million acres of public land in Colorado has included 57 people and organizations — including many in Colorado — on a “recusal” list of potential ethical conflicts…

…Pendley is a longtime Colorado lawyer whose name has popped up for decades as a property-rights attorney for those who fight against local and state governments and the federal government on a long list of issues. That’s included lawsuits over guns, plastic bags in grocery stores and eminent domain, and even lawsuits naming BLM and other agencies of the U.S. Department of the Interior as defendants.

Last Wednesday, Pendley distributed a list of recusals that included 57 people and entities, including former clients, employers and business associates, as well as financial interests including stock holdings.

The last paragraph of Goodland’s story includes a pretty remarkable admission from Pendley regarding the BLM’s much-publicized decision to move its headquarters from Washington D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado:

Pendley has said he does not intend to make the move to Grand Junction, where the BLM is expected to relocate about two dozen senior level managers. [Pols emphasis]

Whaaaa???

Critics of the BLM move have alleged that Republicans are essentially trying to destroy the agency altogether — something that White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has directly admitted. But as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has repeated ad nauseam, the entire supposed point of moving the BLM to Grand Junction was to move the “decision makers” closer to the public lands that they are intended to oversee. This particular narrative falls apart when you learn that the acting director of the agency — a pretty key decision maker — HAS NO PLANS to move back to Colorado.

As E&E News reported last month, none of the 200 BLM employees currently working in Washington D.C. have expressed enthusiasm about the headquarters move. We missed the initial reporting about Pendley not moving with the rest of the HQ to Colorado, but this seems like a point worth repeating.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Episode 11

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii interview Eli Stokols, White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, for more perspective on President Trump’s impeachment troubles.

Last week, Stokols broke the story of President Trump suggesting that the whistleblower in the UkraineGate case was “almost a spy” and could be executed for treason. Stokols discusses his big scoop and his thoughts on how the case for impeachment will proceed.

Later in the show, Bane and Silverii talk about impeachment implications in Colorado, more trouble with recall grifting, and Ken Buck’s potentially precarious hold on the Chairmanship of the Colorado Republican Party.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

Click after the jump to read a few selected quotes from the Stokols interview…

 

(more…)

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Gardner Straps In For More “Maximum Pressure”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNN, here we go again:

“I can confirm that US and (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) officials plan to meet within the next week. I do not have further details to share on the meeting,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Tuesday.

The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will lead the US side of the working-level talks with North Korea, according to a State Department official.

Negotiations on denuclearization have stalled since February, when President Donald Trump cut short his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. Trump left the meeting with no joint agreement after Kim insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country.

The last time the two leaders met was in June in the Korean Demilitarized Zone where they agreed to revive staff-level talks.

North Korea, like American relations with Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, and any number of other flashpoints around the world, is a subject on which Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has been obliged to tread very carefully since Donald Trump took office. Coming from a hayseed congressional district and the state legislature of a landlocked state, Gardner has worked hard to upgrade his international diplomacy credentials serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Gardner repeatedly chastised Trump’s Democratic predecessor for perceived weakness in relations with traditional American adversaries Russia and North Korea in particular.

Trump’s erratic on-again-off-again engagement with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, as well as the interference by Russia in the 2016 elections to help Trump win, has left Gardner’s hawkishness toward both countries in a very awkward position. Gardner denounces “Russian meddling” when he’s forced to, but without admitting on whose behalf the Russians meddled and why–obvious realities Gardner is politically unable to acknowledge. On North Korea, Gardner has been left to spin events he has no influence over after the fact as best he can, without breaking the cardinal rule of never saying anything on the record that could make Trump mad. Because the moment Trump’s Tweets of love for Gardner turn into nastygrams, Gardner loses his Republican base.

With all of this in mind, stay tuned for the results of this latest round of bilateral negotiations elevating the “Hermit Kingdom” to parity with the world’s greatest superpower! Gardner will be tuned in, too–and with former National Security Adviser John Bolton freshly trashing Trump on North Korea while boosting Gardner’s re-election campaign, we’ll be watching to see how Gardner manages to thread this rhetorical needle.

You know, along with all the others.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 1)

They say “spooky season” starts today; it kinds feels like that’s already been happening. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Department of State apparently plans to ignore Congressional subpoenas related to impeachment proceedings against President Trump. As the Washington Post explains:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fired a broadside at House Democrats on Tuesday, saying State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not be made available until “we obtain further clarity on these matters.”

The refusal, in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”…

…The statements came as Pompeo’s role in the Ukraine investigation broadened with reports that he was a participant in the July 25 call by President Trump to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to the impeachment investigation.

Before that report, first published by The Wall Street Journal, Pompeo had brushed off questions about the incident, saying last week that he had not yet read the transcript of the telephone call released by the White House, or the whistleblower complaint that it sparked.

It was widely reported on Monday that Pompeo was indeed a participant on the infamous July 25 call with Ukraine. Now Pompeo is accusing Democrats of “bullying.”

The Trump administration appears to be digging in on impeachment at the same time that public opinion is drastically shifting in favor of ousting Trump. As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN, Trump’s impeachment defense strategy has more holes than the Denver Broncos’ roster:

The President seems to be reeling, waiting for the next blow to fall, defended only by his increasingly unhinged tirades, his tweets quoting supporters on cable news and confrontational and conspiracy-laden appearances by aides on TV.

The President’s unaccustomed struggle to control the narrative and to get his opponents to respond to his moves bodes ill for any hopes he has of avoiding a full House impeachment vote.

There is no sign of the organized, disciplined political and legal strategy that for instance helped Bill Clinton emerge from his impeachment trial as a viable President.

 

 As the New York Times reports, President Trump recently pressured Australia to get involved in helping to discredit the Mueller investigation.

 

 Democratic Presidential candidates are starting to reveal third quarter fundraising numbers. As CBS News reports Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $25 million in the last three months and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled down $19 million.

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Next Question: Is Cory Still Heading To NYC This Weekend?

TUESDAY UPDATE: Via FOX 31’s Joe St. George, here’s your answer:

Duly noted for posterity. Filed under “fateful decisions.”

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Back in late August, we learned of a major Trump campaign fundraising “retreat” scheduled for the first week of October in New York City–the presumption is that it’s being held at Trump Tower though that has yet to be confirmed. Headlining this weekend’s retreat are former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who are both actually listed ahead of Donald Trump, Jr. in formation on the invite you can see above.

As our readers know, the month of September has been very bad for the Trump administration, starting the month having gummed the Mueller investigation to death but ending today with Democrats moving to impeach the President over a scandal the public wasn’t even aware of when September began. All eyes are now on vulnerable Republicans in general and Cory Gardner in particular for signs of a split from the President to save their own hides. The latest word we have on this front comes from National Journal Friday:

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado called the transcript between Trump and the Ukrainian president “a serious issue” and declined to commit support for Trump’s reelection. (A spokesman for Gardner’s campaign called National Journal — after this column was published — to clarify that Gardner still supports the president’s re-election.)

Add this weekend’s Trump retreat to your list of bellwethers to watch in the impeachment crisis. If Gardner shows, it’s a sign that he’s standing by Trump no matter what happens. But if Gardner suddenly realizes he has a junket to the Philippines or a surprise swing through the Eastern Plains of Colorado on his schedule this weekend…

You’ll know what’s really going on. Stay tuned.

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Impeachment Rapidly Gaining in Popularity

Wayyy up.

As The Hill reports, Americans are growing increasingly more supportive of the idea of impeaching President Trump:

A survey from Quinnipiac University Poll released Monday found respondents evenly split, 47 percent to 47 percent, on whether they support impeaching President Trump and removing him from office, a 10-point swing in favor of impeachment over a five-day period. [Pols emphasis]

The polling firm previously found voters opposed to impeachment and removal, 57 percent to 37 percent, in a poll released Sept. 25. The shift is largely driven by increased support of impeachment among Democrats, who support it 90 percent to 5 percent in the newest poll, up from 73 percent to 21 percent last week…

…A majority of voters, 52 percent, said they specifically support the impeachment inquiry announced last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), with independents supporting it 50 percent to 45 percent.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they think Trump believes he is above the law, compared to 42 percent who do not, while 54 percent agreed that Trump abuses the powers of his office versus 43 percent who disagreed.

Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) justified his opposition to an impeachment investigation in part by suggesting that public opinion was against the idea. It appears that Gardner is going to need a new argument.

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Now Jon Caldara’s Ripping Off A 17-Year-Old Kid

During this year’s controversy in Colorado politics over the failed recall attempts by Republicans against various state legislators as well as Gov. Jared Polis, a recurring theme has involved local political usual suspects lining up at the trough to make money off of recall committees they in most cases knew would never be successful. In particular, the right-wing Independence Institute operated a “crowdfunding” website known as Freedomfy that brought in over $20,000 for the now-defunct (and thoroughly scandalized) “Official” Recall Polis committee, as well as a fundraising page for the abortive recall attempt against former Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley.

“Freedomfy” eventually fell out of favor with the Polis recall committee, reportedly due to the substantially above-market “processing fees” charged by the Independence Institute for every donation made through the platform, and they wound up moving to other fundraising sites that (presumably) skimmed less off the top. The executive director of the Independence Institute Jon Caldara later piled insult on injury by admitting to the press that the Polis recall his organization had raised tens of thousands of dollars for (and pocket a couple grand along the way) was a fool’s errand the whole time.

In the aftermath of all that #fail, you might have thought that Freedomfy would quietly dry up and blow away with so many other fly-by-night political fundraising schemes. But as PT Barnum is alleged to have observed, “there’s a sucker born every minute!”

Literally:

(more…)

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No Escape For Gardner As Impeachment Crisis Consumes D.C.

UPDATE: Well, that escalated quickly:

You’ll want to ask Sen. Cory Gardner, but we’re pretty sure no one in the White House “gets a merit badge” for threatening civil war. It’s tough to imagine this getting much worse, unless of course said civil war were to actually, you know, begin.

If you consider prayer for the nation to be a worthwhile endeavor, now would be a good time.

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President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

CBS News reports on another grim milestone reached by the Trump administration today, less then two weeks since the present full-stop crisis over President Donald Trump’s manipulation of the Ukrainian government to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden began:

More than half of Americans — and an overwhelming number of Democrats — say they approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. But as the inquiry begins, there is no national consensus on how to assess the president’s actions…

Almost nine in 10 Democrats approve of the inquiry, and two-thirds strongly approve. Prior to the inquiry, some had wondered if taking up impeachment proceedings might divide a Democratic rank-and-file that has been long concerned with other policies like health care and guns. However, these findings suggest that it this is not the case: most moderate Democrats side with liberal Democrats in supporting impeachment proceedings. Of those who say they voted for a Democratic House candidate in 2018, nine in 10 feel this inquiry is necessary.

Characterizing the president’s actions in particular, just under one-third of Americans say the president’s handling of matters with Ukraine may have been improper but were nonetheless still legal. Just over a quarter, including most Republicans, says the president acted properly. Another four in 10, including most Democrats, feel he has acted illegally.

Despite the fact that a solid majority of Republicans believe President Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son were proper–or at least not impeachment-level offenses–the rapid shift in overall public opinion toward support for impeachment in only ten days underscores the straightforwardness of the case against Trump this time, compared to so many other scandals in Trump’s three years in office that arguably would have consumed less politically traumatic presidencies.

This rapid deterioration in Trump’s political outlook in the last ten days must be viewed in the context of the continuous rain of scandal that even preceded Trump’s election, with many Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado abandoning Trump in October of 2016 over the Access Hollywood rapey-tape–only to come crawling back after Trump’s unexpected minority-vote Electoral College victory. From the beginning of Trump’s presidency, fears that he would be in continuous violation of the constitutional Emoluments Clause as his properties raked in cash from foreign sources of influence have been proven right beyond the worst imaginations of his critics, and a lawsuit led by 200 Democrats in Congress is moving forward while Trump’s GOP defenders dismiss the suit as “presidential harassment.”

But as a freshman Senator trying to carve out a permanent place for himself in America’s
“august body” by serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arguably no Senator up for re-election in 2020 has been derailed by Trump’s chaos presidency more than Sen. Cory Gardner. In three short years, Trump has made a joke of basically every foreign policy priority Gardner has laid claim to in office–and Gardner was been unwilling or unable to challenge Trump over any of it. Gardner calls for “maximum pressure” on North Korea, Trump gives Kim Jong Un concession-free binational summits. In a conversation hidden away on the same highly classified server as the conversation with the president of Ukraine, Trump reportedly told the Russians he “didn’t mind” their help winning the 2016 elections. But last April when the Mueller report came out, Gardner was determined to defend Trump at all costs:

“Look, it’s clear there were no merit badges earned at the White House for behavior,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) [Pols emphasis] in an interview downtown here. “You have to focus on the heart of this conclusion, which is there is no collusion, no cooperation. That’s where the focus ought to be and how we prepare for the next elections to protect us from Russian intrusion and interference.”

At this point, if Cory Gardner ever wants to claim he cares about protecting America “from Russian intrusion and interference” again, he has to take back three years of covering for Trump while pretending to show concern about Russian influence on American elections. It’s not possible without straining the bounds of credulity past their breaking point. With the current crisis over Ukraine, Gardner is even more exposed now as a politician who has regularly paid lip service to defending Ukrainian interests. How can Gardner possibly reconcile his support for Ukraine with Trump using hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as a bargaining chip for personal political gain?

The answer is simple: Gardner can’t. Gardner’s credibility with all but Trump’s most blindly loyal defenders is hopelessly shot, and the Trump loyalists are already wary of Gardner’s doublespeak. And if Gardner tries to jettison Trump now to save his skin, he’ll alienate the Republican base and seal his political doom.

All of the credibility expended by Gardner in covering for Trump and his innumerable misdeeds, from “petty” offenses like targeting women of color in Congress for openly racist vilification to by-the-book high crimes and misdemeanors, has robbed him of the trustworthiness he needs now that this worst-yet and easily understood crisis of leadership has manifested. This is a moment that for three years, Democrats have eagerly anticipated and Republicans have dreaded.

If it was our job to plot a way out of this for Cory Gardner, we’d resign.

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Thank God Ken Buck is No Longer a Prosecutor

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Surveying the responses from Colorado politicos to the rapidly-deepening impeachment crisis threatening to end Donald Trump’s presidency, we were struck in particular by Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley’s defense of Trump in an interview with the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter. Buck as readers know was formerly the district attorney of Weld County, and never misses a chance to remind audiences of his steel-trap prosecutorial mind:

“The chief of law enforcement in the United States asked the chief of law enforcement in a foreign country to assist on an ongoing investigation,” Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican who sees no reason for an impeachment inquiry, told The Post in an interview. “He didn’t suggest what the outcome was. He asked for cooperation from the new government because of election interference in the 2016 election, as well as alleged crimes (involving) the former vice president in the country.”

Buck said Democrats and the press have attacked Trump constantly, fostering cynicism among the public that amplifies otherwise minor revelations, such as those unveiled this week.

“I don’t think this rises to an impeachable offense,” said the congressman, who is chair of the Colorado Republican Party. “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong. [Pols emphasis] Could it have been handled better? Sure. But it is not something that, I think, is suggesting this president was trying to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation or trying to affect the outcome of an election in 2020.

In order for Rep. Buck to suggest that this wasn’t “necessarily even wrong,” he has to ignore all of the context of this story in addition to the phone call in question–the freezing of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid just before the call and un-freezing of the aid in its aftermath, Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani who Trump told the Ukrainian president would “be in touch” along with Attorney General William Barr, the resignation of the special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Friday…the list goes on and on. It’s true that Republicans are being asked to swallow a lot here in order to stay loyal, but for Ken Buck apparently no encouragement is needed to put his own credibility on the line in defense of Trump. To the point of absurdity:

“Vice President Biden is not going to be the Democratic nominee,” Buck added. [Pols emphasis] “I think that is more than just conventional wisdom at this point. And what the president was doing involved a matter within the scope of the executive branch.”

Whether or not Democratic primary voters ultimately agree, it’s widely known that Trump considers Joe Biden to be his most dangerous potential Democratic adversary. Biden may be in a tight three-way race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but to assert flat-out that Biden is “not going to be the nominee” is a ridiculous attempt at clairvoyance. It’s a useful thing to say if the goal is to minimize Trump’s actions, but as a prediction it simply it has no factual basis.

In recent months Ken Buck’s reputation has been under heavy assault, as his early support for recalling Colorado Democrats collapsed in a heap along with those efforts and his absentee management of the Colorado Republican Party has allowed the conservative backlash coming out of the 2019 legislative session to dissipate in confusion. But it should be noted that Buck’s questionable judgment goes back to his days as a deputy U.S. Attorney where he was reprimanded for damaging the case against a politically-connected gun dealer and then as Weld County DA, when a sexual assault case Buck dismissed as “buyer’s remorse” helped seal his narrow defeat in the 2010 U.S. Senate race.

As rumors of Buck’s retirement continue to swirl, nobody’s quite sure what his next move will be.

But we sincerely hope he’ll never be asked to prosecute another case.

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