Two Americas, Two Colorados–But One Majority

President Joe Biden.

A new poll of Colorado voters from Keating Research on behalf of Onsight Public Affairs shows President Joe Biden enjoying comfortable majority approval in our state, in line with national polling showing Americans are happier with the Biden than they ever were with the previous administration:

Having reached the 100-days-in-office mark, President Joe Biden continues to be viewed favorably by a majority of Coloradans — who also give high marks to the president’s proposed $2 trillion American Jobs Plan — according to the latest Keating–OnSight–Melanson (KOM) Colorado Poll™ released today…

Biden’s +14 on favorability (56% favorable, 42% unfavorable) is even higher than in our October KOM Colorado Poll (+7: 53% favorable, 46% unfavorable). His favorable standing is driven by Democrats (89% favorable, 10% unfavorable) and unaffiliated voters (57% favorable, 41% unfavorable).

“Biden continues to find strong support with the voters that propelled him to a convincing, 13-point win against Trump in Colorado in November,” said Curtis Hubbard, principal at OnSight Public Affairs. “Whether it’s his disciplined, thoughtful response to the COVID-19 pandemic or his plans to create jobs and spur economic growth via making long-overdue investments in infrastructure, voters clearly feel like Biden is delivering.”

But on the other side of the starkest political divide of our lifetimes so far, a very different view prevails:

While 61% of voters said “Joe Biden legitimately won the election” the 28% who said it was “stolen from Donald Trump” was driven largely by Republicans (with 67% of all Republicans saying it was stolen).

“Most Coloradans believe that President Biden won fair and square,” said pollster Chris Keating. “However, as we see in this poll and recently when the Republican chair of Colorado’s Congressional Redistricting Commission was removed from that post, election conspiracies are not a fringe view among Republicans in Colorado — and frankly that’s dangerous for our democracy.”

In short, you have a united political bloc of Colorado Democrats who are delighted with Biden’s early bold action on long-sought policy goals, and the state’s plurality of unaffiliated voters who also strongly approve of Biden’s performance so far. In opposition to this reality-based majority coalition you have a large majority of Colorado Republicans who, not surprisingly, don’t support Biden’s agenda–but more importantly, by a 67% supermajority, do not even believe that the current President holds power legitimately.

There’s no analogue on the left to this phenomenon. It is not a dispute over, say, the Electoral College as an anti-democratic historical anachronism. This is a supermajority of Colorado Republicans who simply have decided without any factual basis that an election they didn’t like the result of was stolen. Especially in the likely event that Colorado Republicans continue to lose elections as the state continues its demographic march leftward, it’s is a disturbing portent. A democracy in which only one side respects the results is, needless to say, in serious trouble.

The one saving grace, at least for today, is that GOP supermajority view only adds up to 28% of everybody.

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At Least He’s Not Your Psycho State Legislator

Kansas State Rep. Mark Samsel

In another edition of our long-running series, “At Least They’re Not Your Legislator,” we take you to Kansas, where inappropriate and illegal behavior seems to be the preferred out-of-session behavior for Republican lawmakers. This particular story apparently caught a number of eyes; several different people emailed the link in the past couple of days.

As The Kansas City Star reports, Republican State Rep. Mark Samsel is in a heap of trouble after acting like a complete psycho while working as a substitute teacher at a Kansas high school:

Samsel was arrested on charges of misdemeanor battery on Thursday after getting into a physical altercation with a student while substitute teaching in Wellsville…

…On Wednesday, Samsel, R-Wellsville, was substitute teaching at the Wellsville school district’s secondary school. Throughout the day, high school students began recording videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible.

In one video shared with The Star, Samsel tells students about “a sophomore who’s tried killing himself three times,” adding that it was because “he has two parents and they’re both females.”

If only that were the end of this story. At some point, Samsel started to focus his anger on one particular student:

Videos shared with The Star — by parents of students in the class — show Samsel focusing most of his attention on one male student. Both Samsel and the student paced around the classroom, talking back and forth. Samsel is shown following the student around and grabbing him. In one video, he puts his arms around the student and says that he was being hard on him.

At one point, Samsel tells the student, “You’re about ready to anger me and get the wrath of God. Do you believe me when I tell you that God has been speaking to me?” He then pushes him, and the student runs to the other side of the classroom.

“You should run and scream.”

Samsel later wrote on Snapchat that his, uh, performance had given one student “hope”

Samsel eventually kneed the student in the groin while encouraging other students to do the same.

Samsel was later arrested (he was released on bond) but has been banned from ever teaching in the school district again. Kansas Republicans are still discussing whether or not to punish Samsel at the state legislature.

Naturally, he has a bananas explanation for his behavior. From NBC News:

“The kids and I planned ALL this to SEND A MESSAGE about art, mental health, teenage suicide, how we treat our educators and one another. To who? Parents. And grandparents. And all of Wellsville,” he wrote on Snapchat, according to the Star.

In an interview with NBC Topeka affiliate KSNT, Samsel repeated this sentiment and questioned whether he even scared the students.“Nobody was ever in danger,” he said. “Did we make it look like…we were hurting kids? Yeah we did.”

Samsel is the second Kansas Republican lawmaker facing criminal charges in the last couple of weeks. In early April, Senate Republicans ousted their own Senate Majority Leader after Sen. Gene Suellentrop was arrested for a DUI and trying to drive the wrong way on I-70; Suellentrop had called the arresting officer “donut boy” and tried to fight the person who was trying to administer a blood alcohol test.

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Monday Open Thread

“A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.'”

–Barack Obama

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Ghosted (Feat. Charles Ashby)

Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

This week on Episode #73 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the pending birth of our newest Congressional district. We also learn that people kinda like having a functioning government; that Republicans like pretending that there is a “War on Meat;” and that a certain State Representative was once a Congressional candidate in California.

But those are just appetizers for the main event: Our discussion with Charles Ashby, political reporter for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the dean (probably) of the State Capitol Press Corps. Ashby catches us up on a ton of political news and tells us what happens every time he contacts the press office of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle).

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

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

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

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“Bombshell” Drops On Boebert Bestie Matt Gaetz

UPDATE: For posterity, here’s Reps. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert yucking it up on Steve Bannon’s War Room in mid-March:

Friendly enough then. How are things now?

—–

Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert in happier times.

As CNN reports, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida’s no-good very bad April got a hell of a lot worse yesterday, after the Daily Beast released new information in the sex trafficking investigation you could have guessed Gaetz was a target of just by looking at him (seriously, just look at him). If the “confession letter” from Gaetz’s similarly icky sexcapade buddy Joel Greenberg to GOP kingpin Roger Stone while seeking a pardon from President Donald Trump is accurate, Gaetz’s goose sure appears to be cooked:

Joel Greenberg, a central figure in the ongoing investigation into Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, wrote in a letter obtained by The Daily Beast that he and Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, including a minor who was 17 at the time…

“On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg wrote in the letter in reference to the minor, according to The Daily Beast.

“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”

Undeterred, Rep. Gaetz is gearing up for a nationwide “America First” speaking tour with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene herself, who is curiously untroubled by allegations of child sex trafficking that we assume if made against a Democrat would be extremely important to her–Washington Examiner:

Firebrand Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia are teaming up to start an “America First Tour” of rallies around the country.

The premiere event will be next week, on May 7 in Florida at The Villages, the world’s largest retiree playground with a reliably Republican base.

“There are millions of Americans who need to know they still have advocates in Washington D.C., and the America First movement is consistently growing and fighting,” Gaetz said in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner Thursday. “The issues that motivate us include ending America’s forever-wars, fixing the border Joe Biden broke on day one, prioritizing Americans not illegal migrants, reshoring industries sold to foreign adversaries, ensuring real election integrity, and taking on the threat of the Chinese Communist Party. These issues are bigger than any one election and we remain ready to take our party and our country back.”

Much like Gaetz’s friend and mentor Donald Trump, the strategy appears to be to shovel so much red meat at the base that they forget all about the child sex trafficking stuff. Now, you might think that getting the far-right “QAnon” Republican base to ignore child sex trafficking, an issue they are ostensibly very concerned about, is a lot to ask. But the sad truth is that the child sex trafficking Gaetz is under investigation for is downright pedestrian compared to a global conspiracy theory connecting the world’s secret pedophile elite to a pizza joint in Washington, D.C. It’s just not going to faze them.

With all of this in mind, there’s just one question left to ask: where is Rep. Lauren Boebert in all this? Boebert came into Congress as a ready-made ally for Gaetz, appearing jointly on cable news to decry Democratic “cancel culture” back in January. But as Gaetz’s scandals began to dominate headlines in the last few weeks, Boebert and Gaetz’s fast friendship seems to have cooled considerably–with Boebert declining to even acknowledge her and Gaetz’s home state of Florida are in the same country as Colorado. Will Boebert appear at Gaetz “America First” tour stops out West? If not, why not?

There’s more story here, and we’ll be watching for it.

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Dems Introduce New Post-Boulder Gun Safety Bills

FOX 31 reports on three new pieces of legislation introduced yesterday in response to the shooting in March at a Boulder King Soopers supermarket that claimed the lives on ten people:

“Between the gun violence prevention bills we’ve already passed this session, and the three bold measures we are outlining today, this legislative session may end up being the most transformative legislature Colorado has ever seen as it relates to gun violence,” said Aurora Representative Tom Sullivan. Sullivan lost his son, Alex, in the Aurora theater shooting…

“The first of these bills, of which I am one of the sponsors, repeals the state preemption which bars local governments from enacting any of their own gun laws. Just 10 days before the Boulder shooting, courts blocked Boulder’s citywide assault weapons ban,” said Boulder Senator Steve Fenberg.

In addition to restoring the ability of cities like Boulder to impose their own local gun control measures, another bill will establish a statewide office of gun violence prevention to study and coordinate remedies to the problem. But arguably the most consequential of the three bills introduced yesterday concerns pre-sale background checks: banning gun purchases for five years after a violent misdemeanor conviction, which might have prevented the Boulder shooter from buying the weapon he used, as well as closing the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allows a gun sale to proceed if a background check isn’t completed within a specified period.

None of these limited common-sense measures should meet partisan resistance. They all will. For the present, even the least we can do on this issue seems to require the mandate of fresh tragedy.

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Don’t Panic Over Half-Made Climate Sausage

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As our literate readers are no doubt already aware, there is some controversy brewing under the Gold Dome between the Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly and Gov. Jared Polis over Senate Bill 21-200: legislation to implement and accelerate  greenhouse gas reduction goals signed into law by Gov. Polis in 2019. Colorado Public Radio reports:

In a conversation with the Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board earlier this week, Polis said he could not support SB21-200, a climate bill designed to empower air regulators to enforce the state’s greenhouse gas emission-reduction goals. Polis signed those goals into law in 2019. The plan commits Colorado to cut climate-warming emissions 26 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050 below 2005 emissions levels.

Democratic state lawmakers have since grown frustrated with his administration’s strategy to enforce the action plan, which favors incentives and voluntary collaboration with the private sector over mandatory, enforceable regulations.

The legislation would force the executive branch to switch gears quickly. If passed, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission would be required to write rules to meet the targets by March 2022. The bill also defines the total emissions from different sectors of Colorado’s economy, such as the transportation and the oil and gas industry.

Speaking to the conservative Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board, Polis assailed the bill for giving too much power to the state’s unelected (and, we’re obliged to add, not without its own troubles) Air Quality Control Commission:

“We feel that if Colorado is going to meet these carbon goals and air quality goals, it should be in the light of day, with legislative debate … and not through a top-down mandate through an unelected board.”

Asked if he would veto the bill if it cleared the legislature and landed on his desk, Polis said, “Yeah, I mean, we’re not willing to give dictatorial authority over our economy to one unelected board that lacks the broader mandate and expertise.”

Although this constitutes a pretty fundamental objection to the mechanism of Senate Bill 200, which is empowering the AQCC to lead and track the progress of the emissions targets that are already signed into law, it’s definitely not the end of negotiations between a legislature and executive who share the common goal of meeting the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

There’s always a temptation to let tempers flare in these moments of uncertainty in the sausage-making process, but the smart response is to follow the lead of discussions taking placing between these good-faith actors. Politically, neither Gov. Polis nor Democrats in the legislature have anything to gain from not reaching a deal, so we fully expect one to emerge.

This is not a disagreement about whether, but how. If that premise changes it will be big news.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 29)

International Dance Day? We can get down with that. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

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

 

Here’s something that you have never seen before in American history: Two women (Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) seated behind the President of the United States during a Presidential address to a joint session of Congress.

The Washington Post has more on President Biden’s first big speech to Congress:

President Biden on Wednesday night used his first speech to a joint session of Congress to argue for a dramatic expansion of government services, making a plea for sweeping plans to provide universal preschool, free community college and expanded health care and new tax breaks for families — much of it funded by higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

While he also renewed calls for an array of priorities — including immigration changes, gun control and police reform — Biden more broadly portrayed a country that is rapidly emerging from the depths of a global pandemic and has survived events that, in his view, tested American democracy as rarely before.

“We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and ‘we the people’ did not flinch,” he said toward the end of a 65-minute speech.

In addition to the historic picture above, Biden’s speech was unique in another way. Instead of a packed House of Representatives chamber, Biden spoke to a much smaller group that was socially-distanced for health and safety reasons.

Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) was among the Representatives from Colorado in attendance on Wednesday evening. Boebert stuck to her default “look angry about everything Biden says” position, even shaking her head in disgust when Biden discussed a proposal to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans.

Elsewhere, The Hill notes that Biden called on Congress to quickly pass sweeping new election reform legislation.

 

As Meg Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, some COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado are approaching levels not seen since December:

Colorado is one COVID-19 outbreak short of the point where many K-12 schools moved to remote learning in December, with more students infected than at the previous peak.

As of Wednesday, the state reported 210 active outbreaks in schools, the highest number since Dec. 2, when there were 211. Outbreaks had fallen from December through mid-January, fluctuated through March, then began growing in earnest, increasing by 80 in April.

Outbreaks also continued to grow in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and child care centers, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The state defines an outbreak as two or more cases connected to the same location or event. An outbreak is considered over when four weeks have passed with no new cases.

 

The Colorado legislature’s big health care bill, HB21-1232, should be celebrated for what it WILL do, not what it won’t do:

 

Here’s more news from the state legislature…

A big climate change bill aimed at boosting the ability to regulate air emissions in Colorado is moving along through the legislature despite a veto threat from Gov. Jared Polis.

Governor Polis will sign the following bills today: HB21-1131 (Cooperative Electric Associations Governance Requirements);  SB21-066 (Juvenile Diversion Programs); SB21-130 (Local Authority for Business Personal Property Tax Exemption); and  SB21-079 (Deregulate Meat Sales Direct To Consumers).

Alex Burness of The Denver Post updates on the status of SB-62, which seeks to reduce the population of Colorado’s prisons.

Meghan Lopez of Denver7 reports on legislation that would boost training for Colorado police officers.

Efforts to create a Front Range rail system are moving along.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Lauren Boebert Has One Speed: Petulant

Here’s an interesting scene from last night’s address by President Biden to a joint session of Congress:

 

Perhaps Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) was so focused on her anti-Biden schtick that she wasn’t even listening to what the President was saying. That’s the best we can do for why you would frown at the idea of LOWERING THE COST OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.

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Here’s the Deal with Colorado’s Big Health Care Bill

The bill formerly known as the “Colorado Option” passed out of the House Health and Insurance Committee on a party-line vote on Tuesday. House Bill 1232 now heads to the House Appropriations Committee; it is expected to move along with little trouble to a floor vote and then to the State Senate.  

There has been a bit of confusion about what the current format of the bill does and does not accomplish, due in part to complicated policy, protracted negotiations, and multiple versions of bills over several legislative sessions. Here are some questions and answers to help in that regard:

 

Q: So, what does this bill actually do and why should I care?

A: This is a big deal. While a lot has been written and said about HB21-1232, the impact on Coloradans is fairly straightforward: Health care costs for individuals and small groups will fall by 18% over the next three years. This is a significant savings for Coloradans and should make it easier for more people to get health care coverage. 

 

Q: Did Democrats cave into demands to drop a public option?

A: Sort of…

Creating a quasi-governmental nonprofit entity to oversee a competitive health care plan was one of the “sticks” outlined by lawmakers to hold the healthcare industry to its promise to reduce the cost of premiums by 20% (now 18%). The “public option” dropped in and out of the conversation between last year and the introduction of HB21-1232, and while it got a lot of attention, our understanding is that this was never the end goal here; the point was always to cut the cost of health care for Coloradans, and that will still happen under the current version of the legislation with a “standardized plan” option.

You could perhaps make an argument that Democrats could have pushed the bill through both legislative chambers as it was originally written, but sponsors ultimately felt that they could achieve their overall goal with a revised version. 

 

Q: Why was this bill being marketed as the “Colorado Option”?

A: Presenting this bill as a “Colorado Option” might not have been the best idea because it raised expectations for many supporters on the left that the end goal was a “public option” of some sort. On the other hand, the threat of a “public option” probably did play a significant role in convincing the healthcare industry to seek out a deal.   

 

Q: Without the threat of a “public option,” what will prevent the healthcare industry from reneging on promises to cut the costs of premiums?

A: The bill instead creates an insurance consumer ombudsman office that requires public hearings on health care access and affordability and puts the regulation of the state’s standardized insurance plan under the insurance commissioner. Companies that fail to meet the required 18% reductions would likely face significant fines from the state. 

Colorado Newsline explains more of the details here:

The amended bill, like the original bill, will require private insurers to offer three tiers of a standardized individual plan and small-group plan on Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health exchange. Such plans make it easier for consumers to compare provider networks, premiums, copays and deductibles when choosing an insurance plan to purchase. Under HB-1232, the standardized plans would all have to include certain mandatory health care services.

 

Q: Are Republican lawmakers on board with this deal? What did Democrats get out of the discussion?

A: Most of the opposition from the healthcare industry has been removed. Republicans who oppose HB21-1232 are still going to shake their fists, but they’re now isolated on their own little island. 

As part of the deal, most industry groups — representing hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, etc. — shifted their position on the legislation from “Opposed” to “Neutral.” House Minority Leader Hugh McKean said a few weeks ago that this would be the “hill we die on,” and there’s no indication that the GOP has changed its mind. This will be a fairly pointless death, however, since negotiations between Democrats and industry groups made Republican opposition largely irrelevant. 

 

Q: How does this bill compare with the health care overhaul initially planned for the 2020 legislative session?

A: There’s no “public option” here, but the outcome is undeniably better. The 2020 version of this legislation would have cut premiums by 10% over two years and applied only to the individual market. The version likely to become law this year will have dramatic effects on how people and businesses can afford health care, which will make a big difference in a lot of lives. 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 28)

WTF is Clean Comedy Day? Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

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

 

President Joe Biden has seen his approval ratings surpass 60% in his first 100 days in office, which is a mark that his predecessor, Donald Trump, never even sniffed. Tonight, Biden will give his first speech as President to a joint session of Congress, where he’ll make a pitch for another big spending package. From The Washington Post:

The White House on Wednesday unveiled a $1.8 trillion spending and tax plan aimed at dramatically expanding access to education and safety-net programs for families, the latest effort by President Biden to try to turn some of his campaign promises into new policy.

The package cannot be implemented without congressional approval, and many Republicans have offered a cool reception to the scope of tax increases and spending that Biden has tried to advance. But the White House’s new “American Families Plan” provides Congress with details of the president’s domestic agenda, setting down markers for negotiations later this year.

Biden’s plan proposes a suite of domestic policies that would collectively represent a marked change in how Americans interact with the federal government.

The White House says its proposal would provide every American with two years of tuition-free community college; prekindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds; and paid family and medical leave for American workers. Among its sweeping agenda items, the plan also calls for devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to fighting child poverty and ensuring affordable child care nationwide. [Pols emphasis]

Biden wants to strengthen IRS enforcement efforts — which could bring in billions in unpaid taxes — as part of a solution for paying for this proposal.

Congressional Republicans will oppose Biden’s plan, because that’s just what they do, but the Biden administration is advancing proposals that reflect a new attitude from Americans who have decided they kinda like having a functional federal government.

The Associated Press has more on what to expect from Biden’s speech tonight.

 

The CDC issued new mask-wearing guidance on Tuesday. Fully vaccinated Americans can now safely go without a mask while walking and exercising outside or while eating at outdoor restaurants.

Meanwhile, 9News reports on the latest good and bad news in Colorado’s battle with the COVID-19 pandemic:

While cases are increasing at a slower rate compared to previous weeks, Gov. Jared Polis expressed concern over the continued upward trajectory of cases and hospitalization rates as the state had over 600 COVID patients in the hospital for the first time in months…

…Polis said that while school-associated outbreaks are a factor, he believes a much bigger factor is vaccinated parents resuming social activities with their unvaccinated children.

Roughly 37% of Colorado residents are considered to be fully vaccinated. The two counties with the highest current infection rates — Pueblo and El Paso — also have the lowest vaccination rates.

It’s not rocket surgery, friends. Get your vaccines.

 

The Colorado Sun has more on an ongoing saga of whistleblower complaints regarding how Colorado regulates air pollution.

 

Colorado Newsline explains the changes made to a big health care bill in the Colorado legislature.

Here’s more news from the state legislature…

Colorado Public Radio looks at concerns over the potency of legal marijuana.

Lawmakers want to speed up bond hearings for people arrested in Colorado.

Composting grandma gets closer to reality.

Colorado Newsline examines why widening highways is the wrong remedy for Colorado’s transportation problems.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Joe Biden Hits 60% Approval

President Joe Biden (D).

Politico reports, and it’s a milestone the previous administration never reached:

Joe Biden earned relatively high marks from both independents and members of his own party through 100 days in office, a new poll conducted by POLITICO and Morning Consult shows, but the president has yet to impress Republicans despite his promises of bipartisanship on the campaign trail and in office.

Eighty-five percent of Democrats polled gave Biden an “A” or “B” grade for his first 100 days in office, while 44 percent of independents surveyed gave Biden the same marks. That’s more independent and intraparty support for Biden than former President Donald Trump got in his first 100 days, when just 32 percent of independents surveyed and 72 percent of Republicans polled gave Trump either an “A” or a “B”.

But Trump and Biden got identical cross-party grading, with 14 percent of Republicans giving Biden an “A” or “B” grade, the same marks Trump got from Democrats four years ago ahead of his 100th day. Biden’s overall approval rate was 60 percent, well above Trump’s 48 percent ahead of his 100th day in April 2017, according to the new poll.

Not only did ex-President Donald Trump never win over the approval of 60% of Americans, he never even got to 50%–the first President in modern American history to ever win and serve his whole term without any measurable majority support either in opinion polling or ballots cast. What Republicans lacked in majority strength they of course made up for in fervency, which in the wake of not particularly narrow defeat (and a little well-meaning insurrection) fueled their newfound interest in vote suppression and…well, there you go! You have arrived at the present day.

Where 60% of Americans, the most in a long, long time, feel okay about a Democrat in charge.

It’s a bigger deal than it appears in the moment, because it lacks the drama we’ve become accustomed to. But it’s these less noisy parts of history with competent people in charge when good things happen. Enjoy the good night’s sleep this affords while it lasts.

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Get Vaccinated and You Get to Play Outside

As The Washington Post reports:

Federal health officials said Tuesday that fully vaccinated people can go without masks outdoors when walking, jogging or biking, or dining with friends at outdoor restaurants — a milestone development for tens of millions of pandemic-weary Americans after more than a year of masking up and locking down.

President Biden touted the relaxation of restrictions as another reason for people to get vaccinated, urging them to move forward not just to protect themselves and those around them, but so they can live more normally, by “getting together with friends, going to the park for a picnic without needing a mask.”

Biden had set July 4 as a target for when people could get together for backyard picnics with a sense of normalcy, and both the new mask guidance and his remarks were geared to encouraging people to continue getting the shots.

Yes, we realize that there are plenty of people who will say that they can go outside or anywhere else they damn well please because the gubmint can’t tell them what to do…and to those people we say, “We are very impressed.”

For everyone else, get your vaccinations so that you can go outside and play with your friends.

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Fighting For White People With Lauren Boebert

As readers know, Rep. Lauren Boebert fires off enough objectionable statements in the average day that if we wanted to, we could spend all our time every day doing nothing but writing blog posts where we perform the prosaic equivalent of picking our jaws up off the floor. Rather than get caught up in this Donald Trump-inspired vicious cycle in which bad behavior is rewarded with constant attention, we ignore a lot of stuff from Boebert that would under most other circumstances warrant outrage.

Lauren Boebert with a group of white people.

The story of this particular Tweet from last weekend is worth making an exception to the rule. This is Rep. Boebert asserting that “denying vaccine access to White people doesn’t make you woke, it makes you racist.” Boebert doesn’t supply any context for this statement to her 600,000 Twitter followers, which as Raw Story reports led to some confusion:

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) kicked off her morning by claiming that “White people” are being denied access to the COVID-19 vaccine that had critics of the controversial lawmaker scratching their heads wondering what she was tweeting about…

With reports coming in that vaccine providers are not seeing as many people coming in for their shots as was hoped as it becomes readily available, commenters on Twitter accused Boebert of trying to create a racial controversy where none exists.

As it turns out, and you could have predicted, there is a story circulating on right-wing media that Boebert appears to be basing this on, including in the Phil Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner, about a clinic in Seattle Washington called the African American Reach and Teach Health Ministry (AARTH):

The African American Reach and Teach Health Ministry is a vaccine provider that allows users to sign up for the shot through a digital scheduler. People who use the site for appointments at the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center on May 1 are prompted to answer whether they are a person of color or white.

Minority users can sign up for an appointment if there’s an available slot. White users are placed on a standby list, and AARTH says it will contact them if a spot becomes available.

What this is, of course, is a nonprofit specifically devoted to serving the African-American community–whose vaccination rates for COVID-19 are dramatically lower than the white population. They are operating under the (correct) assumption that white people with privilege and mobility and time for “vaccine hunting” can get vaccinated everywhere, but disadvantaged communities need outreach campaigns targeted directly at them.

In short, this is a completely fake controversy engineered to foment baseless race resentment. In Washington state just like here in Colorado, the question increasingly is not the availability of vaccines but hesitancy to take them. White political conservatives are some of the most reluctant despite no physical barriers to access. And we’ll say it: white people trying to get a vaccine appointment from the African American Reach and Teach Health Ministry have enough alternative options that they are almost certainly trolling for publicity.

In Rep. Boebert’s case, it’s even worse since she has said she has no need to personally get vaccinated–meaning her interest is just about carrying the torch for the supposedly downtrodden white race. Along with Boebert unapologetically pushing “white replacement” conspiracy theories regarding immigration policy, it’s another disturbing indicator of what’s really going on inside her head.

Racist stuff.

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Colorado Gets an Eighth Congressional District

As expected, Colorado will have a new congressional district in 2022. From The Denver Post:

Colorado will gain a seat in Congress starting in 2023, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday — a widely expected change that will reshape the state’s congressional districts and give Coloradans a stronger voice in Washington, D.C.

The creation of an 8th Congressional District follows a decade of population gains along the Front Range. It marks the first time in 20 years — since the 7th District’s creation north and west of Denver in 2001 — that Colorado will gain representation.

While it will be up to Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission to draw the lines for Colorado’s new 8th seat, the state’s leftward shift over the past couple of election cycles means that the new seat is likely to lean toward Democrats.

Here’s more from National Public Radio on the changes around the country, including which states gained/lost seats for 2022.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 26)

Happy Alien Day. Please celebrate responsibly. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

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

 

The United States is sending aid to India as the country battles a massive COVID-19 outbreak that has seen in the neighborhood of 350,000 new infections per day in the past week. As The New York Times reports:

The Biden administration, under increasing pressure to address a devastating surge of the coronavirus in India, said on Sunday that it had removed impediments to the export of raw materials for vaccines and would also supply India with therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective gear…

…The announcement, an abrupt shift for the administration, came after Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, held a call earlier in the day with Ajit Doval, his counterpart in India, and as the Indian government reported more than 349,000 new infections, a world record for a single day. Ms. Horne said the United States had “identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine,” the Indian-produced version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The situation in India is dire. The country is witnessing perhaps the worst crisis any nation has suffered since the pandemic began, with hospitals overflowing and desperate people dying in line waiting to see doctors — and mounting evidence that the actual death toll is far higher than officially reported. Officials say they are running desperately low on supplies, including oxygen and protective gear, as a deadly new variant is thought to be behind a rise in cases. [Pols emphasis]

Do your part to turn back the coronavirus by getting vaccinated ASAP. Remember, friends: Employers are REQUIRED to provide paid leave for employees who need time off work to get vaccinated.

In related news, the CDC and FDA lifted temporary restrictions on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend.

 

Colorado is expected to get the official word today that the state’s population growth in the last decade is enough to qualify us for an 8th Congressional District. The Census Bureau will announce updated state population numbers this afternoon.

 

Nobody is coming for your meat. Sorry.

 

► Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun updates on the status of the “Colorado Option”:

Democratic state lawmakers aiming to drive down health care costs are planning to move forward this week with legislation to potentially create a public health insurance option after roughly a month of still-unresolved negotiations with hospitals, doctors and others in the medical sector.

But they’re still not sure exactly what their policy will look like.

Two paths forward have surfaced. The first is to continue on with the current version of House Bill 1232, which would give the health care industry a chance to bring down costs and avoid the state offering its own insurance plan. The second path is to swap the original version for legislation akin to what was pursued last year, where instead of the state offering a health insurance option private insurers would be required to offer a highly regulated, standardized plan.

“I think (either) could happen when we go to committee on Tuesday,” said state Rep. Dylan Roberts, an Avon Democrat who is leading the push for House BIll 1232.

Paul’s story in the Sun does not contain any comments — much less policy arguments — from legislative Republicans.

Here’s more news from the state legislature…

Governor Jared Polis will sign several new bills today, including SB21-123 (Expand Canadian Rx Import Program);  SB21-124 (Changes To Felony Murder); and SB21-040 (Driver’s History Profession Or Occupation Decision).

The Denver Post reports on efforts to improve working conditions for Colorado farm workers.

Colorado Public Radio reports on increases in funding for higher education.

Mike Littwin of The Colorado Sun previews expected new legislation dealing with gun violence.

 

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

 

(more…)

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“Meat Out” Madness Goes National, Flops Big Time

Meat.

While Coloradans experience deja vu, the Washington Post debunks the latest silly-season attack on President Joe Biden making its way around the more excitable conservative intertubes:

This past weekend, a cadre of Republican critics raised the alarm that President Biden would take hamburgers and steaks off the menu as part of his new plan to combat climate change.

“To meet the Biden Green New Deal targets, America has to, get this, America has to stop eating meat,” Larry Kudlow, a former White House economic adviser to Donald Trump, said on Fox Business on Friday. “No burger on July 4. No steaks on the barbecue.”

But Biden’s plan doesn’t include any call to limit meat-eating. Instead, conservative ire was sparked by a Daily Mail article that baselessly speculated about measures that could accomplish Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030…

Unsurprisingly, Colorado’s most stridently fact-averse member of Congress Rep. Lauren Boebert doesn’t want to hear your reality-based protestations:

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

Being sufficiently ridiculous as to not be taken all that seriously by national media covering the oleaginous back and forth, Democrats turned this story back on Republicans pretty quickly on account of it being very, very stupid:

Some Democrats struck back at the Republicans by pointing out that their claims have no basis.

Others joined in with their own jokes — particularly mocking another part of Kudlow’s interview on Friday when he claimed the deal would force Americans to “throw back a plant-based beer with your grilled Brussels sprouts.”

Your mileage may vary, but we don’t want to live in a world with meat-based beer.

The only other point to Coloradans to take away from this failed attempt to turn Joe Biden into some kind of tofu-eating nanny state tyrant forcing lefty lifestyle choices on red-meat America is this: while it was laughed off overwhelmingly by the major national media, Colorado press spent weeks taking a similarly false attack on Gov. Jared Polis seriously. Polis’ declaration of “MeatOut Day” in March calling on residents to eat less meat on one day out of the year, one of hundreds signed by the governor every year, was hyped out of all earthly recognition by downtrodden Colorado Republicans–and the local press obligingly helped process their nothingburger into a full-on political sausagefest.

We’ll say it one more time for both audiences: no one is coming for your meat.

Here’s hoping we never have an occasion to write those words again.

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Everything is Going Great in Douglas County!

Douglas County Board of Commissioners George Teal, Lora Thomas, and Abe Laydon

At the end of last week, we noted in this space that the Douglas County Commissioners were uniformly declaring that the COVID-19 pandemic had ended, despite, you know, facts and evidence and stuff. Commissioner Abe Laydon was particularly tone-deaf in comparing the COVID-19 pandemic to The Emperor’s New Clothes.

This week, The Denver Post reported that Douglas County Commissioners had fired a representative of the Tri-County Board of Health for “creating distrust” in the county. Marsha Jaroch was canned because she disagrees with the DougCo Commissioners’ weird obsession with getting rid of the Tri-County Board of Health because they are mad that the organization wanted people wear masks so as not to spread COVID-19 (and before you ask…yes, that does seem like a prudent thing for a BOARD OF HEALTH to recommend).

But as The Douglas County News-Press reports, this is just the tip of the rapidly-melting iceberg in this cesspool of local Republican politics:

Infighting has broken out among Douglas County commissioners after the board chair was stripped of that title and the members began lobbing accusations at each other.

The conflict began after Commissioner Lora Thomas posted to her personal website that she was removed from her position as the board’s chair by her fellow two commissioners.

In the April 21 post, Thomas said Commissioners Abe Laydon and George Teal voted during a Monday, April 19 work session meeting to remove her as chair.

The county’s board chair serves as the public representative and leader of the board, according to the county’s policy for commissioners. They preside over meetings and decide agendas. Normally, the chair and vice chair are selected on a rotating basis based on district, according to the policy.

In many counties, the position of “board chair” is a largely ceremonial role that transfers from one elected official to the next every year or two. The role of “board chair” might be more significant in Douglas County, although that probably depends on who you ask.

Commissioner Lora Thomas, who has been openly discussing a 2022 bid for Congress in CO-6, told Colorado Community Media that she was being targeted because of her gender, before breathlessly claiming that she is “trying to save the future of Douglas County.” Almost as an afterthought, Thomas makes vague accusations that Laydon and fellow Commissioner George Teal are pursuing “big government plans” that will harm the County’s finances.

Here’s what Laydon told The News-Press in response:

Unfortunately, Lora Thomas’ egregious abuse of power and willful deceit to advance her political self-interests over the interests of the county represents an ongoing and well-documented pattern of behavior over several years that cannot be further tolerated by the citizens we serve.

Things came to a head last week after Thomas tried to pick fights with another local municipality in a fairly obvious effort to build her Twitter “brand” and raise her own name ID. While it’s tough to choose a side in this spat without having more information, it’s worth noting that Thomas has a history of not getting along with other public officials in Douglas County.

To be fair, Douglas County Republicans aren’t normally known to be dealing from a full deck, but this is silly even by their standards. Maybe there’s a new ingredient in Coors beer or something, because it sure seems that right-wing politicians are melting down in Colorado everywhere you look.

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