Editorial Pages Agree: Impeach Trump

UPDATE (December 20, 2019): The influential evangelical publication Christianity Today supports impeachment and slams Trump in the process:

Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character…

Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments. [Pols emphasis]

To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency.


The New York Times keeps it simple.

UPDATE (December 16, 2019): In addition to the news outlets listed below, pro-impeachment editorials have been published in the Tampa Bay Times, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Daily News, USA Today, and locally, the Aurora Sentinel. Here’s the latest sampling:

The New York Times:

In the end, the story told by the two articles of impeachment approved on Friday morning by the House Judiciary Committee is short, simple and damning [Pols emphasis]: President Donald Trump abused the power of his office by strong-arming Ukraine, a vulnerable ally, holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid until it agreed to help him influence the 2020 election by digging up dirt on a political rival.

When caught in the act, he rejected the very idea that a president could be required by Congress to explain and justify his actions, showing “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” in the face of multiple subpoenas. He made it impossible for Congress to carry out fully its constitutionally mandated oversight role, and, in doing so, he violated the separation of powers, a safeguard of the American republic.

To quote from the articles, “President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”



“The Happy Warrior Has Become a Car Salesman”

One owner. Low miles.

The latest U.S. Senate prognostication from the Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy declares the Senate majority very much in play as 2019 comes to a close, which most readers already know–and that Colorado’s incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner is one of several must-win swing races expected to decide the majority in the 2020 elections.

The Senate math hasn’t changed. If Democrats want to win the majority, they need a net gain of three seats if they win the White House or four if they don’t. There are only two Democratic-held seats in jeopardy: U.S. Sens. Doug Jones in Alabama and Gary Peters in Michigan. It is hard to see how Republicans expand the playing field beyond these two races…

Republicans have three seats in Toss Up: U.S. Sens. Martha McSally in Arizona, Cory Gardner in Colorado, and Susan Collins in Maine. Of the three, many Democratic strategists believe that Colorado is more vulnerable than the other two. It certainly leans more Democratic. Presumptive nominee, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, hasn’t had an easy time. He is getting challenged from the left, has committed a couple of gaffes, and is the subject of an ethics investigation that will be the subject of a March hearing. Still, Democrats say that voters understand that Hickenlooper is quirky, while they believe that Gardner isn’t the Senator they elected in 2014. To paraphrase one strategist, the Happy Warrior has become a car salesman. [Pols emphasis]

In fairness, Duffy then claims that “Gardner has a record of legislative accomplishments on which to run, which GOP strategists contend will carry more weight with voters.” But her description of how Colorado voters have become disenchanted with Cory Gardner’s relentless affected positivity, while delivering the same tired Republican talking points they hear everywhere else, sums up well the dilemma for Gardner the polls also show. Any complacency among local Democrats that may have existed in 2014 is long gone, and five years of Gardner fronting unpopular Republican policy goals–and now Donald Trump himself–have stranded Gardner on the wrong side of an alienated electorate.

That is why Democrats’ road to the Senate majority next year runs through–arguably starts in–Colorado.


Friday Open Thread

“Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.”

–Charlie Chaplin


KNUS a National Disgrace: But What About The Nazi?

Columbine High School, April 20, 1999.

Yesterday’s jaw-dropping story of remarks by now-former 710 KNUS conservative talk radio host Chuck Bonniwell on Tuesday afternoon, suggesting that “a nice school shooting” would be a welcome distraction from the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, has exploded in only 24 hours from the local progressive news site Colorado Times Recorder to more or less every mainstream news outlet in America. The Washington Post reports:

“Given the history of school violence that has plagued our community, 710 KNUS confirms that an inappropriate comment was made on the ‘Chuck & Julie’ show by co-host Chuck Bonniwell,” the station said in a statement Wednesday evening. “A programming decision was made to end the program immediately.”

…The radio station said the “Chuck & Julie” show would be replaced by former White House aide Sebastian Gorka’s “America First” program starting Thursday.

New York Times:

The conservative married couple’s afternoon talk show on KNUS in Denver had been going for a half-hour on Tuesday when the husband made a remark that alarmed his wife, stunned their listeners — and soon cost them their jobs…

Mr. Bonniwell then tried to soften his remark by adding, “In which no one would be hurt,” and the couple turned to the phone lines.

But the damage was done. The comment quickly attracted a storm of outrage in Denver, and on Wednesday, the radio station canceled the couple’s show, which ran from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. A statement released by KNUS cited “the history of school violence that has plagued our community.”


According to CNN affiliate KDVR, Bonniwell initially issued a statement saying the comment was meant as a joke. “I’m sorry it was not received in that light,” he added.

In another statement posted to their Facebook page Thursday morning, Hayden and Bonniwell said he would “un-say” the inappropriate comment if he could. As parents of a child in elementary school, they worry about school shootings and his safety, they said.

“Violence causes too much hurt for victims and their families and we truly did not intend to add to that pain,” the statement said.

The nationwide condemnation of Bonniwell’s extremely objectionable remarks about a “nice school shooting” serving as a distraction from the impeachment of Trump is on the one hand very simple, being such an objectively outrageous and infuriating statement to anyone affected or even a little worried about gun violence in schools that it’s straightforwardly amazing it was said on the air by any human being. But it’s not just that: by even jokingly suggesting that a school shooting would be a preferable distraction to news of Trump’s impeachment, Bonniwell betrays the fanatical, denial-ridden mental state of Trump’s most loyal supporters today.

And it is a fearful sight to behold.

Hold that thought while we revisit the Washington Post’s story:

KNUS is no stranger to controversy brought on by its programs. Another host denied allegations last week that he had posted white-supremacist memes online after he made comments on-air that mirrored an anti-Semitic post by someone using his name on a Russian social media platform frequented by extremists. [Pols emphasis] That host told 9News the post was part of an elaborate plot by a local anti-fascist group to defame him. The station defended him.

The relatively swift demise of the Chuck and Julie Show on KNUS takes place against the backdrop of a growing body of evidence that suggests KNUS radio producer and host of the eponymous Keep America Great With Kirk Widlund podcast on the station maintained a not-so-secret alternate social media profile under his own name, chock full of unapologetic neo-Nazi content, and numerous instances since established by local media of real-life Kirk Widlund and online neo-Nazi Kirk Widlund saying the same things at the same time and discussing contemporaneous local news events with known local racists.

KNUS management made the decision after an alleged “internal investigation” to keep Widlund on the job, and KNUS afternoon host Steffan Tubbs has brusquely defended Widlund even as the corroborating evidence has piled up. We’re not sure what happens next with this separate yet very much related storyline, but despite the national bad press raining down over Bonniwell–or more likely because of it–we’re confident it’s not over.

The lights are on, and the roaches are scurrying.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 19)

If you’re counting today, there are six shopping days left until Christmas. It’s time to 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 on Facebook and Twitter.


► “Trump Impeached.” If you picked up a newspaper anywhere in the United States today, there is a good chance this was the headline at the top of the page.

Collage via The Guardian newspaper

As The Washington Post explains, the impeachment spotlight now turns to the U.S. Senate:

The day after Trump was impeached by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, questions continued to swirl about the timing and scope of an anticipated Senate trial regarding his conduct toward Ukraine.

House leaders suggested a possible delay until they can get a guarantee of a fair trial in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, in a floor speech, sharply criticized the House process as rushed and unfair and suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is “too afraid” to transmit “their shoddy work product.”

Meanwhile, Trump, who is just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, praised Republican unity Thursday in opposing the move, claiming that is “what people are talking about.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is apparently waiting to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate until she has some assurances that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to some basic parameters about how a Senate trial might proceed.

Colorado’s Congressional delegation split along party lines on both impeachment questions. Via The Denver Post:

“Unfortunately, President Trump has left us no choice,” Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, said on the House floor Wednesday. “The fact of the matter is, the president abused the power of his office and invited a foreign country to interfere in our elections. In so doing, he undermined the sanctity of the free and fair elections upon which our republic rests.”

Meanwhile, Greeley Republican Rep. Ken Buck — who also serves as the State Republican Party Chairman — continues to promote his strange argument that virtually every other President in American history could have been impeached based on the same standards as those used in allegations against President Trump.


► President Trump spent Wednesday evening at a campaign rally in Michigan, where he inexplicably suggested that the late Rep. John Dingell of Detroit was “looking up” from Hell.


 Late in the day on Wednesday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Politico explains the court’s decision to punt on the broader question of whether the ACA can remain in place:

…the appeals court ruling largely ducked the central question of whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act remained valid after Congress removed the penalty for not having health insurance. The three-judge panel instead sent the case back to a Texas federal judge, who previously threw out the entire law, to reconsider how much of Obamacare could survive.

The high-stakes ruling keeps the legal threat to Obamacare alive while reducing the likelihood the Supreme Court could render a final verdict on the law before the next elections. Still, the appeals court’s decision could renew pressure on President Donald Trump and Republicans to explain how they will preserve insurance protections for preexisting conditions after failing to agree on an Obamacare replacement for years.


Don’t miss this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an exclusive interview with Governor Jared Polis.


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


Trump Goes Even Lower

President Donald Trump.

NBC News:

Republicans are calling on President Donald Trump to apologize for a macabre quip about the late Democratic Rep. John Dingell at his rally in Michigan on Wednesday night, suggesting that Dingell was “looking up” from hell.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top Trump ally, and two House Republicans from Michigan called for the never-penitent president to say he’s sorry. “If he said that I think he should apologize,” Graham told reporters Thursday morning. He said he hadn’t seen the remarks, but “that would be a bad thing to say.” “John Dingell is a fine, fine man,” Graham said.

Dingell’s widow, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., responded on Twitter, saying: “I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine.”

When President Donald Trump said the words “maybe he’s looking up” instead of looking down in reference to the late Rep. John Dingell’s final spiritual destination, there was a momentary pause followed by a mix of cheering and what seemed to be at least some amount of astonished gasping–and as always, in our continuing presumption of some measure of decency in even the most polarized Americans, we’d like to believe that the shocked reaction from conscientious attendees was authentic and not momentary.

As for outrage, yes. Of course it is. Perhaps even Cory Gardner will work up the nerve to say so.


Court Ruling on Affordable Care Act Released

UPDATE #2: It ain’t over until it’s over, and it may never be over.


UPDATE: University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley tries to sort out the news:



We finally have a ruling from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Well, part of a ruling, anyway.

As CNBC explains:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate provision was unconstitutional but punted on deciding whether the rest of the landmark health-care law should be tossed out.

The court is ordering a lower court judge to reconsider whether ACA, more commonly known as Obamacare, should remain intact.

“The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power,” the ruling stated. “On the severability question, we remand to the district court to provide additional analysis of the provisions of the ACA as they currently exist.”

Texas and other Republican-led states brought the suit, which was defended by Democratic-led states and the House of Representatives. The court heard arguments in July.

The suit alleged that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was unlawful under the federal government’s taxing powers after Congress reduced the penalty for not having insurance to $0 in 2017. Texas argued that therefore the ACA, more commonly known as Obamacare, must be scrapped.

We’re still waiting for more analysis on this mixed bag of a ruling, but at first glance it seems accurate to call the decision a “punt” by the 5th circuit. This certainly isn’t a positive decision for supporters of the ACA, but it’s far from the catastrophic ruling that some had feared; there was plenty of speculation that the ACA could be ruled unconstitutional altogether.

Today’s ruling likely means that a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the ACA won’t arrive before the 2020 election. In the meantime, you’ll have to busy yourself with Googling the definition of “severability.”


Denver Post: Impeach Trump and Remove Him From Office

“We urge all seven members of Colorado’s congressional delegation to support the two articles of impeachment that have been approved by the House Judiciary Committee.”

— Denver Post Editorial (12/17/19)

We’ve been tracking the increasing number of editorials from newspapers around the country endorsing the impeachment (and often the removal from office) of President Trump.

Late Tuesday, The Denver Post added its voice to the mix:

It is with a solemn sense of responsibility to the U.S. Constitution and a deep love of this country that we call for Congress to exercise its power of impeachment…

…we have determined — based on hours of sworn testimony, text messages, emails and the president’s own words — that Trump has so abused the power of his office that for him to remain in the White House is a threat to our democracy.

All Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, should be deeply troubled by Trump’s actions. Standing up now as a nation and declaring that this U.S. president and future presidents cannot behave with such blatant disregard for honesty and integrity is essential. We cannot tolerate this behavior. [Pols emphasis]

The Post later quotes Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County), who walked the Editorial Board through his own thought process on impeachment:

Trump’s actions, if they go unpunished, will pave the way for foreign prosecution powers to become proxy tools of aggrieved presidents seeking to secure a political victory at any cost. “This is precisely the thing that the founders feared — foreign interference in our elections. (George) Washington was strong about it in his farewell address,” Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, told The Post editorial board last week as we considered an editorial on impeachment. “I hesitated and I’ve been reluctant … but this goes to the heart of freedom, and independence, and fair elections.” [Pols emphasis]

The House of Representatives — by a largely party-line vote — is expected to approve the impeachment of President Trump in a formal vote later today.


Dean of Colorado’s Delegation Presides Over Historic Vote

UPDATE: And then there’s Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), the dope of the Colorado delegation:


Rep. Diana DeGette (D).

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

When the speaker’s gavel bangs in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday morning to debate the impeachment of President Donald Trump, that gavel will be held by a Denver Democrat.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette will preside over the House’s third impeachment debate and vote in American history, granting her a front-row seat to a chapter of that history. The Democrat-held House is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment Wednesday: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Rep. Diana DeGette’s statement on this solemn occasion:

I am honored that the speaker has asked me to serve as speaker pro tempore of the House and to preside over most of the impeachment debate. None of us came to Congress to impeach a president, but every one of us – when we assumed office – took an oath to uphold the constitution. This is a sad and somber moment in our nation’s history and the responsibility to preside over this important debate is something I will not take lightly.

It’s certainly not the first time in Rep. DeGette’s over two decades of service in Congress that she’s held the gavel, but presiding over the expected vote today to impeach President Donald Trump is an act that all by itself adds a bullet point to DeGette’s entry in the annals of American history. It’s an undeniable honor, and politically it’s good for DeGette in Colorado’s true-blue First Congressional District.

At the same time, nobody’s happy to be part of an impeachment process–or at least they shouldn’t be. However necessary this process may be, it’s not a cheerful one. The basis for these impeachment proceedings are actions committed by the President that have endangered our democratic process, and validated the worst fears of those who warned back in 2016–correctly–that Trump welcomed foreign manipulation of American elections on his behalf.

With that said, it’s always good to see one of our own making history.


Trump So Mad At Pelosi He Could Just Scream–So He Does

Donald Trump.

The Hill reports that the President of the United States may be in the process of, in the vernacular, losing his shit:

President Trump sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday urging her to halt impeachment proceedings one day before the House is set to vote to impeach him, accusing Democrats of an “unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power.”

The lengthy missive contained many of the same arguments and featured the same heated rhetoric Trump has deployed over the last two months via Twitter and public appearances. He complains about former special counsel Robert Mueller, lists off his own achievements, bashes “ranting and raving” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and denies any wrongdoing.

“This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth. You are not just after me, as President, you are after the entire Republican Party,” Trump wrote in the letter, which marked his first personal correspondence with Pelosi on impeachment. “History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade.”


The fiery missive, frequently punctuated with exclamation points, came loaded with hyperbolic assertions — including the president’s claim that “more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials” and his accusation that Pelosi and House Democrats “view democracy as your enemy!”

Trump charged that the current impeachment drive “represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power” by Democratic lawmakers that he argued has been “unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history.”

“By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American democracy,” he wrote.

Here’s the full text of President Donald Trump’s letter today to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  It doesn’t look like this letter was subject to much in the way of editing from what we assume was Trump’s original dictation, complete with strange capitalizations and neurotic overuse of exclamation points. At a moment in history when the media regularly struggles to capture the full unhinged extent of the presidential crisis the nation finds ourselves in, this stands out of one of the most bitterly vitriolic and just plain bizarre missives ever written under an American presidential letterhead.

Even for Trump’s most diehard supporters, this rambling screed in response to the articles of impeachment facing President Trump is very difficult to defend, and certainly won’t win over any unpersuaded voters. We assume the reason the letter wasn’t properly edited is that Trump wouldn’t allow it, since that might shield Democrats from his unbridled wrath.

The only thing we can say is, this was never going to be fun to watch.

And Sen. Cory Gardner could speak up any time if he wanted to.


Zoinks! Gardner (Again) Flees from Questions on Impeachment

UPDATE: Gardner is apparently not going to follow Mitch McConnell’s lead and flat-out declare that he is in the tank for President Trump, which McConnell revealed in astonishing fashion on Tuesday. As NPR reports:

“I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There’s not anything judicial about it,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. “The House made a partisan political decision to impeach. I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I’m not impartial about this at all.”


Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) decided long ago that he would tie his political fortunes to President Trump. As such, Gardner really, really, really doesn’t want to talk about impeachment proceedings against The Big Orange Guy.

Gardner has been playing hide-and-seek with media outlets for the better part of five months now. The one time that reporters finally cornered Gardner on Trump and his dealings with Ukraine — at a Chamber of Commerce event in Denver in October — the Yuma Republican melted down like a nazi at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

The House of Representatives is finalizing its part in the impeachment process this week, which means that all eyes are moving to the U.S. Senate as it prepares for an impeachment trial in early January. Naturally, reporters on Capitol Hill are poking around for information about how the Senate might proceed, all of which makes Gardner extremely nervous. Here’s Bloomberg News reporter Laura Litvan trying to get some sort of comment from Colorado’s Junior Senator:

“We’ll have a trial!” Run!!!

We can only assume that Gardner is totally cool with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s incredible decision to coordinate strategy on an impeachment trial with White House attorneys. If Gardner has a different opinion, he’s keeping it to himself. As Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times Recorder noted on Monday, Gardner is keeping quiet so that he can pretend to be an impartial juror in the Senate:

On conservative KNUS last week, host Steffan Tubbs asked U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) why Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner wasn’t speaking out more on impeachment.

Buck replied with, “I think Cory is absolutely right. Cory will be part of the jury in the near future, and I think Cory is demonstrating that he is entering this with an open mind, that he wants to see the evidence. But Cory is a thoughtful and he is a senator that is well-respected because he holds his cards close to his vest. And I think that that Cory Gardner, when he speaks and when he says, ‘I’ve listened to the evidence and this is my vote,’ it’s much more convincing than if he was a partisan all the way along.” [Pols emphasis]

But while Gardner might not say it directly, he has already betrayed any pretense of impartiality. As Kyle Clark of 9News noted last week:

Gardner’s persistent obfuscation would almost be funny if we weren’t talking about an issue as serious as the impeachment of the President of the United States. Don’t be shocked if he tries to call in sick for the first three months of 2020.


Even More Evidence of 710 KNUS Producer’s Nazi Alter Ego

KNUS host Steffan Tubbs, KNUS producer Kirk Widlund.

The ongoing scrutiny by local media continues of 710 KNUS producer Kirk Widlund, who remains in his job almost two weeks after an expose by the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists of a not-so-hidden social media profile on the Russian VK network attributed to Widlund that, if authentic as a growing body of evidence suggests, pegs Widlund as an overt and unapologetic neo-Nazi who idolizes Adolf Hitler and believes America was on the wrong side of World War II. Widlund has denied that the VK social media profile in question belongs to him, but each look at the voluminous archive provided by Colorado Springs Antifa turns up more damning corroboration between posts to VK and Widlund’s in-real-life statements as well as local news events.

Today, Westword’s Conor McCormick-Cavanagh identifies yet another one:

…[A] review by Westword of one of the VK accounts linked to the Widlund profile corroborates that some of the posts included in the antifa blog were authentic.

The Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists blog post included screenshots of the LinkedIn profiles of both Widlund and a man named Lucas Martin. They were employed by King Soopers around the same time and also attended the Colorado Media School during the same period, according to the screenshots…

Martin’s account also provides evidence that the Kirk Widlund on VK lives in the Denver metro area.

“I encourage every single one of you to get out publicly and stand against degeneracy. Playing larper on the internet only does so much. Get out there and give jews a hard time. Let them know we’re not just going to sit on our hands,” Martin wrote on his VK profile on July 8.

The Kirk Widlund of VK commented, “Would be a shame if we crashed a drag queen story time event.” [Pols emphasis]

That’s a clear reference to a monthly all-ages drag show hosted by Mile High Comics in Denver which has been the scene of ugly protests by conservative activists, including the very same Lucas Martin discovered interacting with the “Kirk Widlund” profile on VK. Westword reports that Martin is a “regular” at these protests, and mentions the possibility of carpooling with Widlund to the next one.

With each corroborating piece of evidence that clearly shows the Kirk Widlund on VK discussing contemporaneous news events and incidents also described by Widlund’s known social media accounts on other platforms, it becomes harder to believe that this, as Widlund insists, is some kind of elaborate hoax. There’s just too much detail, including information that Colorado Springs Antifa would not be able to fake with such precision–and even if they could, they would almost certainly have found a higher-value target to expend the effort required. It’s worth noting, as Westword reports separately today, that the group’s last exposed racist, Air Force Sergeant Cory Reeves, is now facing expulsion from the service as a result of their work.

It’s time to ask the question: is polite society in Denver really going to allow Nazis on the radio to be our new normal? How can “mainstream” Republicans like Cory Gardner and Ken Buck ever appear on KNUS again?

Not so long ago, it would not even have been a question. That it is in this case is…remarkable.


The Get More Smarter Podcast: Governor Jared Polis

Jason Bane (left) and Gov. Jared Polis

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii sit down with Gov. Jared Polis to talk about how state government can be more nimble than its federal counterpart; the upcoming legislative battle over a health care public option; and why Colorado can win the great green chile battle. 

Later in the show, Jason and Ian discuss next steps on impeachment; Rep. Ken Buck’s congressional truancy; and President Trump’s claim that he’ll be visiting Colorado “a lot” in the near future.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify,
and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter (@MoreSmarterShow) and Facebook. For questions or comments, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.


Republicans Flummoxed on Prescription Drug Pricing

Image via AARP

While you were reading about impeachment news last week, you may have missed a significant vote in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives addressing an issue that is of utmost concern to American voters in 2020: Reducing the outrageous costs of prescription drugs.

The “Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act” (HR-3) passed out of the House on Thursday on a largely party line vote (Colorado’s four Democratic House Members voted “YES,” while all three Republicans voted “NO”) and will now head to the place where all good pieces of legislation go to die: The desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As CBS News explains:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would cap Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines at $2,000 a year. It would use about $360 billion of its projected 10-year savings from lower drug costs to establish Medicare coverage for dental care, hearing, and vision, filling major gaps for seniors.

But the legislation has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, and the White House has issued a veto threat. Still, Democrats saw a victory in the message their bill sends to voters…[Pols emphasis]

…Pelosi is claiming bragging rights because her bill would deliver on the promise that President Trump made as a candidate in 2016, when he said he would “negotiate like crazy” to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. It’s a pledge that Mr. Trump has backed away from as president.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner don’t know where to go from here.

Polling data continually shows that health care and prescription drugs top the list of voter concerns in 2020…much like they did in the Democratic wave year of 2018. A recent survey from Healthier Colorado found that 82% of Colorado voters believe that prescription drugs are too costly; nearly half of voters say that health care in general is unaffordable. The bill passed last week in the House of Representatives has the support of groups such as AARP, but McConnell won’t touch it in part because it is fiercely opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. As Politico reports today, the issue has put Republicans in a bind:

Yet with an election year cresting and massive divisions among his members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is staying put. Associates say the Kentucky Republican is not eager to make a move that splits his caucus and could incur the wrath of the well-financed pharmaceutical industry.

A final decision will wait until after the Senate’s impeachment trial. Many Senate Republicans, however, know they need to do something to satisfy Trump and avoid the awful optics of doing nothing at all.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this summer advanced a bill that would fine drugmakers that hike prices above inflation rates, but from the start it had more Democratic support than Republican backing. Even though a significant number of GOP members say it’s a bold stroke with crucial presidential support, many Republicans liken the move to price controls that would kill innovation.

This quote from Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy sums up the absurdity of the GOP’s position: “Thank goodness Republicans control the Senate. That said, we still need something to make medicines affordable.” Ya think?

Republicans have lambasted impeachment investigations against President Trump as a distraction from the key issues facing average Americans, but Democrats snatched that stool right out from under them last week by multitasking on important topics. As The Hill explains:

Vulnerable Democrats in swing districts can point to the legislation as keeping a long-held promise to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. Members can show they are focused on kitchen table issues despite the chaos over impeachment.

The bill also gives moderate Democrats in Congress a chance to tout a health care issue that’s separate from the “Medicare for All” debate consuming the Democratic presidential primary.

“If a Democrat wins the White House and the party takes control of the Senate, a bill to allow the government to negotiate drug prices seems much more likely to pass than Medicare for All or even a public option,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health care policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Congressional Republicans are now in the unenviable position of arguing against the substance of legislation that would reduce health care costs for millions of Americans. Republican leaders can shake their fists at the idea of “price controls” for prescription drugs, but that language only makes a dent with pharmaceutical lobbyists; controlling prices is exactly what average voters want to see from Congress on the issue of prescription drug costs.


Gardner On Trial: “Total Coordination,” Et Tu?

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s interview last Thursday in the friendly confines of the Sean Hannity Show offered a definitive preview of what we can expect in the in-all-probability imminent trial of President Donald Trump on articles of impeachment making their way through the U.S. House now–and surprising nobody except for with his frankness, as USA TODAY reports, there will not even be any pretense of impartiality in this proceeding:

Democratic lawmakers slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s intention to be in “total coordination” with the White House on impeachment strategy as Congress prepares for a historic vote to impeach President Donald Trump next week.

In a Thursday evening interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, described his planning with the White House.

“We’ll be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president as well as the Senate,” McConnell said. [Pols emphasis]

Speaking in Qatar this past weekend, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina went even further, saying flat-out that no trial is even needed:

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Saturday that he’s made up his mind that President Trump should be acquitted, dismissed the notion that he has to be a “fair juror” and said he doesn’t see the need for a formal trial in the Senate.

Under the rules of the Senate governing impeachment as specified in 1868 for the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, Senators are required to recite an oath before the beginning of the trial to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.” In the case of Richard Nixon faced with impeachment in 1974, it was the intervention of his fellow Republicans to make it clear Nixon’s position was no longer tenable that left him with no choice but to resign. Based on everything we’re seeing only two days before the House likely passes articles of impeachment, there will be no moment of conscience for Republicans this time around.

Politically, short-circuiting the Senate impeachment trial will have varied effects on responsible Senators based on the politics of the state they represent. Lindsey Graham represents a state that may tolerate a wholesale disregard of such a solemn responsibility, but the vulnerable incumbent Republicans who will also be sworn in to “do impartial justice”–Martha McSally in Arizona, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Susan Collins in Maine, and especially Cory Gardner in Trump-hostile Colorado–could do real harm to themselves depending on how they proceed. That’s why Rep. Ken Buck is lauding Gardner for holding on to the pretense of impartiality while assuring the GOP base on talk radio that Gardner is in lockstep, or if you will, “total coordination” with Trump.

For Cory Gardner, representing a state that has soured dramatically on the Republican brand since his own and then Trump’s election, the all-but-decided outcome of the Senate impeachment trial is arguably not what matters most. The voters of Colorado are watching to see what Gardner does, no less than the President himself–and that means Cory Gardner is also on trial.


Michelle Malkin Slips Down The Racist Rabbit Hole

Michelle Malkin at a recent pro-ICE rally in Aurora attended by GOP lawmakers.

Our friends at Right Wing Watch took note of an appearance last week by Colorado Springs-based national columnist and hard-right conservative agitator Michelle Malkin on the Youtube program hosted by Vincent James–a guy apparently unhappy with the “white nationalist” label he’s been saddled with, though it’s hard to see how he’s not exactly as advertised:

Michelle Malkin appeared on the YouTube channel of prominent white nationalist content creator Vincent James on Tuesday, where she applauded young alt-right supporters for having “come to the epiphanies that for me took a long time in the making.”

It appears that Malkin, after becoming a pariah among mainstream conservatives, has decided to lean into her support among the far-right.

Writers and members of the mainstream GOP began distancing themselves from Malkin after she explicitly endorsed anti-Semitic and white nationalist YouTube political personality Nicholas Fuentes in a speech at UCLA in November. Subsequently, Young America’s Foundation cut ties with Malkin. Washington Examiner’s Tiana Lowe chided Malkin for affiliating with racists “because [Malkin] sees them as the most potent allies available to back a militantly xenophobic agenda.” Jonathan S. Tobin wrote in the New York Post that Malkin “thinks these haters are allies in a crusade to halt all non-European immigration (ironic, since Malkin’s parents were Filipino immigrants).”

Here’s a little more about Vincent James a.k.a. Vincent James Foxx, from the OC Weekly:

With more than 170,000 followers on Facebook, videos (hosted by founder Vincent James Foxx, who always wears a “Make America Great Again” hat and uses as a backdrop a pistachio-green wall) sometimes reaching millions of views, and reporters spread across the country, the Red Elephants continues to spread. Alt-right figures such as Kyle Chapman (a.k.a. “Based Stickman”) and Tim Gionet (a.k.a. Tim Treadstone or “Baked Alaska”) regularly share Red Elephants coverage, and 43rd Congressional District candidate Omar Navarro regularly uses it as a platform. The collective’s main claim to fame is livestreams of events that are transformed into glitch-heavy videos that depict the Left as the sole aggressors in political clashes, which, for Red Elephants, justifies the violent reactions of the alt-right…

Being mere Trumpbros wasn’t enough, though. They took the conspiracy theories of Infowars, the fake news of Breitbart, added a bit of Holocaust denial (Foxx once said on a livestream that “no residue of cyanide was found on ANY of the walls of any of the ALLEGED gas chambers” [Pols emphasis]) and anti-semitism (people the reporters don’t like get the “(((echoes)))” motif used by neo-Nazis to identify Jewish journalists). There are also puff pieces about the likes of white nationalists Nathan Damigo and Jason Kessler. When a Facebook user commented earlier this year that there were “white supremacists in your movement,” an admin responded, “The Left has communists in theirs. Do they kick them out? Nope.”

If it seems like Vincent James would be right at home with alleged Nazi radio producer Kirk Widlund at 710 KNUS talk radio, you’re probably on to something.

Malkin may be losing credibility with “mainstream” conservatives nationally, as RWW suggests, but we’ve seen nothing to suggest any daylight between Malkin and the highest ranks of the Colorado Republican Party. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville was excited to attend September’s “stop open borders” rally (photo top right) with Malkin at the ICE detention center in Aurora along with Colorado GOP vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown. Since moving to Colorado Springs over a decade ago, Malkin has become one of the more popular conservative luminaries in the state, a regular speaker at GOP events and the Western Conservative Summit.

Whether Malkin is a trendsetter or just a symptom of the GOP’s slide toward the darkest corners of the fringe in recent years, it’s getting harder to deny such a slide is happening.


Tory Triumph: A Warning To America’s Left?

UK PM Boris Johnson.

Yesterday, an historic election across the pond in the United Kingdom delivered Conservative bad-hair Prime Minister Boris Johnson a resounding victory over a wilted rose of a Labour Party, paving the way for Johnson to keep his promise to “get Brexit done” and maybe, or maybe not, having some portent in the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election. CNN’s Chris Cillizza opens the stateside speculation thusly:

Within 12 hours of the confirmation of the Conservative victory, the result was already being analyzed in the United States for signals of what it all might mean for the coming 2020 presidential election. President Donald Trump, in a press availability Friday afternoon, suggested Johnson’s victory over the liberal Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn was a telling signal of his own future political prospects…

The parallels between Cornyn’s proposed policy solutions and those offered by liberals like Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) — most notably in their firm backing of “Medicare for All” are clear. Which is a point that the more moderate –they would say “pragmatic” — candidates in the 2020 race sought to make in the way of the UK results.

At a fundraiser on Thursday night, former Vice President Joe Biden took note of Johnson’s victory and predicted headlines that said: “Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left. It comes up with ideas that are not able to be contained within a rational basis quickly.”

As a referendum on Brexit, the U.K.’s halting but still pending separation from the European Union driven by conservative worries about immigration and revenue liabilities to poorer countries, yesterday’s elections don’t have a clear axis of comparison to American politics, where the last election in 2018 dealt Republicans major defeats and the party is broadly perceived to be saddled with the baggage of an unpopular President.

Despite this, moderate Democrats will undoubtedly see in these results apprehension to an ambitious liberal agenda as championed by socialist Bernie Sanders and to a more measured extent by Elizabeth Warren. By all accounts the Labour Party ran on a public investment platform as much or more than providing an alternative to Brexit, and British voters either weren’t moved by that platform or too preoccupied with Brexit to care.

If the results of the U.K.’s election spook Democratic primary voters into moderating their selection, Joe Biden is the clear beneficiary. After three years of reactionary chaos under Donald Trump, under this line of thinking, what American voters want is stability more than countervailing leftward stridency.

You have the floor, readers. What lessons, if any, are to be learned from Boris Johnson’s big win?


More Damning Evidence Against KNUS Closet Nazi Producer

We’ve been following for a week now the story of a producer at local conservative talk radio station 710 KNUS accused by the Colorado Springs Anti Fascists, better known as “Antifa,” of living a not-so-secret double life on a Russian social media site in which said producer lets his inner Nazi out to play–and we’re not talking Nazi curious here, but full-blown Hitler-idolizing Jewish-hating unapologetic Nazism that would delight the unapologetic Nazi recently uncovered living in Denver public housing.

Colorado Springs Antifa has to overcome a credibility barrier with some audiences, but this particular group has a history of accurately identifying local white supremacists, including an Air Force master sergeant at Schreiver AFB who was demoted after the Antifa kids caught him organizing with the Identity Evropa white nationalist group. The post identifying Kirk Widlund of 710 KNUS as the owner of the Kirk Widlund profile on the Russian VK social network cites dialogue between the owner of that profile and another known local racist among other details that, despite Widlund’s fierce denials, make a strong case that it’s the same Kirk Widlund.

Last night, 9NEWS’ Jeremy Jojola made the case against Widlund a whole lot stronger:

A review of the social media profile and 710KNUS audio found the neo-Nazi profile and Widlund both described being removed from Twitter on April 14, using very similar language. [Pols emphasis] The social media profile blamed the Twitter ban on Zionist-Occupied Government and a dispute with a “Jewess.”

KNUS management declined to comment on the allegations. Widlund denied any connection to the account but would not discuss why his language on 710KNUS mirrored the social media account in April…

When asked again to answer to the VK posting [closely] matching what he said on the radio, Widlund ended the conversation with, “Uh..no comment to that.”

Matching a post on Widlund’s alleged VK profile to the conversation Widlund had on the air discussing his ban from Twitter is a crucial piece of evidence that, along with the voluminous original post from Colorado Springs Antifa makes it very difficult to believe this profile is a fake. It seemed impossible from the outset that this Colorado Springs-based group would care enough about an obscure radio producer in Denver to fabricate such a lengthy social media archive. Now that Nazi Kirk Widlund and KNUS Kirk Widlund have been linked via a single event, Widlund’s ban from Twitter from April 14 with discussion in both settings, we’d say the game is up.

Now it’s just left to be seen whether KNUS, from Widlund to the “Proud Boys” allegedly set to host a show on the station, considers their “Nazi problem” to be a problem…or a new strategic direction? Needless to say, we hope for the former.