Mayor Mike Coffman’s Interesting COVID Advice: Dine Out!

As government entities large and small across the globe respond to the widening COVID-19 outbreak, urging and in many cases forcing public gatherings to a halt in an effort to “flatten the curve” of disease transmission beneath the capacity of public health systems to cope at any one time, former GOP Congressman and Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman has a rather different bit of advice for his constituents: get out there and enjoy some local dining!

This advice appears to run diametrically counter to the agreed upon best practices for preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Governors in other states including Illinois and Ohio are reportedly considering an order to close bars and restaurants. Yesterday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered ski resorts in Colorado closed for one week. Currently the state is asking all gatherings over 250 people be cancelled–a figure admittedly larger than the capacity of small restaurants Coffman wants to “help.”

Were it not for the fact that small businesses including restaurants really are suffering right now, and face an unpredictable future as the pandemic continues to grow, our condemnation of what looks like cavalier disregard for public health by the Mayor of Aurora would have no caveats whatsoever. All things considered, well-intentioned but seriously misguided is how this recommendation from “Mayor Mike” to get out there and dine local is most likely to be judged–and that’s presuming the best.

At worst, Mike Coffman just prioritized making money over public health. And that’s…well, it’s Trumpian.

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Colorado General Assembly Adjourns Until March 30

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Alex Burness:

Lawmakers tentatively plan to return to work March 30, but they acknowledge there’s a high chance they’ll have to extend the recess beyond that date.

This step seemed unthinkable to many lawmakers as recently as late last week, when the state’s first known coronavirus case was announced. By early this week, well before the first Coloradan died of coronavirus, it had begun to feel inevitable.

“COVID-19 has gone from a concern to an urgent, pervasive and incredibly important issue for all of us in the legislature to address quickly,” House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, told the chamber Saturday morning.

House Majority Leader Alec Garnett:

After a very hard week, leadership in the legislature has decided to temporarily suspend the General Assembly. We made this decision to protect the public, our state employees and our colleagues. The work we do in this building matters deeply to the people of our state, and this decision was made with the recognition that there is a moral high ground that we must always consider when we are faced with unprecedented situations and decisions like this. We knew that the Legislature needed to set an example for the rest of the state in the face of this public health situation.

Experts have clearly expressed that social distancing is the most important tool we have to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19. To protect vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immuno-compromised, we must lead by example.

When it is appropriate, we will come back and continue the important work that we were elected to do. We are all closely monitoring the situation and leadership is in close contact with state agencies and the governor’s office. We will continue to be informed by expert opinions and science. We are also closely watching the actions and recommendations of other states and the federal government.

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And with that, unfortunate history is made. To be updated.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Caucuses and Coronavirus

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, House Majority Leader Alec Garnett takes us through the process for a legislative recess due to Coronavirus and talks about the biggest bills on the docket — including a discussion about whether or not host Jason Bane can take his pet kangaroo to a restaurant patio. Later, Jason and Alan Franklin also discuss Colorado’s caucus results; Bernie vs. Biden; the utter lunacy of Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley); and we find Sen. Cory Gardner hiding out at a bougie billionaire’s champagne party.

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

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

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Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

While President Trump made it very clear that he is abdicating responsibility for the fact that the United States was ill-prepared to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was doing work to make things better. From The Washington Post:

The White House and House Democrats reached agreement Friday on a coronavirus relief package to spend tens of billions of dollars on sick leave, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other measures to address the unfolding crisis.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the agreement in a letter to fellow House Democrats. “We are proud to have reached an agreement with the Administration to resolve outstanding challenges, and now will soon pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”

A vote to pass the legislation was expected later Friday in the House, and in the Senate next week…

…behind the scenes, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued negotiations that began earlier this week, By early Friday evening they had spoken by phone 13 times that day alone.

Pelosi praised the legislation in a televised address Friday afternoon. “Put families first — today, we are passing a bill that does just that,” she said, laying out provisions of the legislation such as free coronavirus testing, paid sick and family leave, and food assistance for poor families.

And what about the Senate? From a separate story via The Washington Post:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was absent from negotiations over a coronavirus relief package [Pols emphasis], spending Friday in Kentucky at a judicial event with Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

As a pandemic sweeps the globe, creating economic and health care panic, McConnell shuttered the Senate for the weekend on Thursday, leaving it to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to work on legislation on how to respond to the crisis.

And there you have it: The 2020 election in a nutshell.

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“I Don’t Take Responsibility At All”

UPDATE: Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown kept the receipts:

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President Trump spoke to reporters in the Rose Garden at the White House today. #IDon’tTakeResponsibilityAtAll is now trending on Twitter.

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Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th

We’ve added a new “Coronavirus” section to our news roundup to keep that news quarantined. 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.

BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS RIGHT NOW…

Both Democrats and Republicans have been pleading with President Trump to declare a national emergency regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. Today he finally relented, as NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump plans to declare a national emergency Friday to allow more direct relief to Americans affected by the coronavirus, two administration officials told NBC News.

The move could help open up tens of billions of dollars to help fight the rapidly spreading pandemic.

Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference at 3:00 pm EST.

 

Health experts are begging the Trump administration to stop blaming China for Coronavirus. As Politico explains:

The Trump team’s escalating drumbeat against China is worrying some public health experts, who say the attempts to blame Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak could harm efforts to combat the spreading contagion, while winning praise from others.

And it’s come amid conspiracy theories and counteraccusations from Chinese officials, some of whom are alleging the virus’s true origins lie outside China, in what U.S. officials say is a malicious effort to shift blame.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has accused China of covering up the health crisis. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly labeled the illness the “Wuhan coronavirus” — a reference to the Chinese city that is the epicenter of the disease.

 

Thank God there are still some officials in the federal government willing to tell the truth. As The Washington Post reports:

With the country desperate for answers and leadership, all Trump can do is spread his magical lying and chaos pixie dust everywhere, all to fog over his own naked-emperor inability to supply either amid a public emergency happening in the immediate here and now.

Into this vacuum stepped Dr. Fauci on “Morning Joe,” to try to create an impression of calm leadership where there isn’t any…

…Officials like Dr. Fauci are in an admittedly difficult spot. As he himself has also acknowledged, telling the country the truth while keeping the principal happy is a difficult balancing act.

This particular principal — that is, Trump — has turned that balancing act into a monumentally more difficult task, one akin to tightrope-walking in a hurricane. And we have no idea how bad the consequences could get.

 

 The Denver Post updates state-level efforts to deal with the outbreak. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discusses how the legislature is preparing for Coronavirus in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

 The Trump administration is partnering with private businesses to implement drive-thru Coronavirus testing. Colorado was ahead of the curve on this; here’s the latest on COVID-19 testing at the Lowry facility in Denver.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Update on COVID-19 Testing in Lowry

UPDATE: Sit tight until tomorrow, updates the CDPHE:

There’s nothing to be done about it, folks. Go home and vampire cough.

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Via press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) drive-up COVID-19 testing site in Lowry has collected tests for more than 650 Coloradans since Tuesday, March 11. The results of these test results will give the state much needed epidemiological intelligence that is critical for policy decisions.

Due to the overwhelming response in the first two days, we will be operating with limited capacity on Friday, March 13. This will ensure the safety of our lab and health care workers and minimize unnecessary wait times. Because Colorado now has capacity for private labs to conduct testing, CDPHE encourages anyone who is symptomatic or who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to call or email your physician first for guidance, obtain a doctor’s order for testing, and request information about private providers where you can get tested. Always call first before reporting to a health care facility for testing.

Any medical provider with a relationship with Labcorp or Qwest can send out the test, but be sure to contact your provider ahead of time because many providers have centralized sites for collection due to safety precautions.

CDPHE has determined that traffic patterns, on-site staffing, and lab testing capabilities can handle a maximum of 100-150 vehicles in the drive-up queue.

♦ Testing at the drive-up site will take place from noon-2 p.m. on Friday, March 13.

♦ The first 100-150 vehicles in the queue will have access to the drive-up testing; all other vehicles that arrive after that will be encouraged to seek testing from a private provider. Always call ahead and speak with the health care facility in advance before going there for testing or treatment.

♦ If you have a medical emergency, call 911- do not report to the testing site, as it is not a diagnostic facility not a care facility. If you have severe respiratory symptoms, especially shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tell the dispatcher about your symptoms. Do not wait for a COVID-19 test to call 911.

♦ If you are ill or suspect that you were exposed, but are not able to be immediately tested, please stay home, self-isolate, and contact your physician.

♦ For the safety of drive-up lab workers, hours of operation will be contingent upon safe weather. We will announce if we need to close the site due to unsafe conditions.

♦ Unsafe conditions include any weather that can make personal protection equipment ineffective, such as any precipitation, wind, or colder temperatures.

♦ While waiting for their test results, individuals should stay at home. Those who receive positive test results may be issued isolation orders. Depending on test volume, we aim to contact individuals directly with their results within 72 hours.

Gov. Polis has deployed the Colorado National Guard to help manage logistics, traffic, and other assistance with capacity for the site.

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President Trump Keeps Lying About Coronavirus

UPDATE: Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times (and formerly Fox 31 News in Colorado) summarizes Trump’s truth troubles:

One of the areas on which Trump has most conspicuously made statements that don’t square with reality involves testing for the virus.

“We’ve done a good job on testing,” he insisted Thursday.

Almost simultaneously, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the dearth of available tests in the U.S. as the outbreak spreads amounts to “a failing.”

“The system is not really geared to what we need right now,” Fauci said in testimony to the House Oversight Committee. “That is a failing. It is a failing. Let’s admit it.”

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President Trump addressed the nation on Wednesday night from the Oval Office, rattling off a bunch of information about the U.S. response to the Coronavirus pandemic that turned out to be absolutely wrong. As Dan Balz writes for The Washington Post:

In times of national crisis, people look to the president for direction, reassurance and confidence. President Trump’s Oval Office speech on Wednesday night provided precisely the opposite.

Trump’s Wednesday night bullshitting continued today during a press conference at the White House. Chris Cillizza of CNN points out the many, many, many falsehoods uttered by the actual President of the United States of America. You should really read Cillizza’s entire recount of this morning’s press event, but here’s a sampling of some of the most ridiculous of those quotes:

“You know, you see what’s going on. And so I just wanted that to stop as it pertains to the United States. And that’s what we’ve done. We’ve stopped it.”

We stopped the Coronavirus? No.

“And what is the number as of this morning? Is it 32? You could tell me. Is it 32 deaths, Steve, around that?”

We can’t add anything to Cillizza’s response here: The President of the United States is unaware of how many Americans have died as a result of coronavirus. Indefensible. At the time Trump said this, there were 38 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the United States.

“We’re doing it the opposite, we’re very much ahead of everything.”

Nope.

For factual information about Coronavirus, here are some links:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

♦ World Health Organization

NBC News

♦ The New York Times

 

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COVID-19 Testing Facility Closed for Today

Via press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

Due to an extremely high volume of people seeking COVID-19 tests at the drive-up testing site in Lowry, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is working to establish and communicate a cut-off point for the line. CDPHE is currently determining, based on resources and staff capacity, which vehicle will be the last vehicle whose occupants can be served today. Those who are already in line behind that cut off-point will receive a note that allows them priority for testing in line tomorrow.

Colorado now has capacity for private labs to complete testing. In order to minimize wait times,anyone who is symptomatic or who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should call or email your physician first for guidance, a doctor’s order for testing, and information about private providers where you can get tested. Always call first before reporting to a healthcare facility for testing.

We will have an update on statewide testing later this afternoon.

As of 11 a.m., there was an approximate 3-hour wait in the drive-thru car line. No more vehicles will be accommodated in the line at this time. If you are ill or suspect that you were exposed, please stay home, self-isolate, and contact your physician.

The mobile testing center in Lowry opened yesterday and serviced 160 people. People waited on average about 84 minutes. Once they got to the testing point, the collection took about 10 minutes.

CDPHE plans to keep the lab open tomorrow and open again Monday. We may keep it open through the weekend depending on supplies and demand.

While waiting for their test results, individuals should stay at home. Those who receive positive test results may be issued isolation orders. Depending on test volume, we aim to contact individuals directly with their results within 72 hours.

 

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Frank McNulty: So Damn Ethical You’ll Throw Up A Little

Former Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty (R).

As readers know, there is an ongoing complaint before the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission targeting former Gov. John Hickenlooper over travel expenses incurred in the course of his duties as well as certain private events which are subject to the state’s ethics laws passed by voters overwhelmingly in 2006. As we wrote a few weeks ago, the overwhelming majority–95 out of 100, in fact–of the allegations in the complaint from the so-called Public Trust Institute have already been dismissed. As the Colorado Sun reported in their Unaffiliated newsletter on Valentine’s Day:

The original complaint listed upward of 100 possible violations, according to the Hickenlooper campaign, but now only five remain in consideration and key elements are no longer in contention.

As the Public Trust Institute’s complaint against Hickenlooper has been steadily revealed as a nothingburger fishing expedition, questions are rightfully turning to the origins and motives of this relatively new organization responsible for filing the complaint. PTI was founded in 2018 as a “nonpartisan ethics watchdog” by former Republican Speaker of the House Frank McNulty. This alone makes any presumption of nonpartisanship kind of silly.

The director of PTI is Suzanne Staiert, the former Deputy Secretary of State for Scott Gessler and a Republican state senate candidate. Staiert’s role in this organization and the complaint against Hickenlooper is particularly just-wow hypocritical, since her old boss Gessler was found guilty by the same IEC of violating the public trust for private gain–and spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on his unsuccessful legal defense, something Hickenlooper has been dubiously attacked for despite only spending a tiny fraction of what Gessler spent.

If all of this isn’t enough to convince you that McNulty’s so-called “Public Trust Institute” is nothing more than a poorly-disguised Republican hit group, here’s even more evidence that Frank McNulty’s sense of “ethics” is either skewed or nonexistent. Last week, as the Boulder Daily Camera reports, a judge ruled that the search for the new President of the University of Colorado, in which McNulty played a key role, violated the state’s open records law:

University of Colorado’s Board of Regents violated the Colorado Open Records Act when they refused to release a list of candidates for system president to the Daily Camera, according to a ruling issued today by Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones…

The ruling comes nearly a year after the Board of Regents’ controversial presidential search process and hiring of President Mark Kennedy and nine months after the university system denied a records request from the Camera for the names and applications materials of the final six candidates interviewed for the job.

The secrecy surrounding the controversial search and “sole finalist” announcement of former GOP congressman Mark Kennedy was an enormous controversy that nearly sank Kennedy’s appointment. Public officials at all levels in Colorado demanded that the search process be re-opened after Kennedy’s unsavory right-wing record became broadly understood by the CU community. And as the Colorado Independent reported back in December, McNulty’s fingerprints are all over the scandal:

[Applicant Darrell] Kirch said Republican community appointees controlled his interview with the selection committee while members representing the university stayed mostly quiet. [Pols emphasis]

As he and three others interviewed by the committee told it, McNulty — who did not return inquiries for this story — and other politically active Republicans among the community appointees grilled them on how, if hired as president, they would handle ideological differences that could arise with or between regents. Kirch took “ideological differences” to mean “political differences,” and said he hesitated to answer. He said McNulty and others pressed him, and Republican and Democratic committee members debated in front of him about whether those differences matter in choosing a president.

But when it came time to respond to the revelations that the search process was politically skewed, McNulty said the real problem is that the information was leaked at all! Which makes sense since it was apparently McNulty’s job to make sure the search was politically skewed. McNulty’s contention that the leak was the problem and not the withholding of information is exactly what was rejected in Denver District Court last week.

And folks, is that a good look for the founder of an “ethics in government” watchdog group?

Far from it. For Frank McNulty, the rule is “ethics for thee, but not for me.”

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Wait, What? Trump Holding Event for Gardner at White House?

UPDATE #6: The Colorado Times Recorder has the latest damage control report.

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UPDATE #5: And now they’re blaming reporters. The ONLY event that had been publicly announced for Friday was a fundraiser in Colorado for Cory Gardner. Why would a reporter assume there was something different?


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UPDATE #4: Cory Gardner’s campaign spokesperson is spinning furiously on Twitter:

What LWCF event? This has never been announced before. And why is Cory Gardner’s Senate campaign announcing an official White House event?

 

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UPDATE #3: Here’s Larry Ryckman, editor of The Colorado Sun:

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UPDATE #2: Here’s Denver Post reporter Justin Wingerter:

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UPDATE: More White House reporters scratching their heads:

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The White House announced on Wednesday that President Trump was cancelling a planned trip to Colorado for a Friday fundraiser to benefit the re-election campaign of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

But as journalist Suzanne Lynch Tweeted out today:

First of all, Trump can’t host a fundraiser for a political campaign at the White House, so it’s not clear what this event might actually entail. Then again, we’re saying this under the assumption that President Trump pays any attention whatsoever to The Hatch Act.

We’re also a bit perplexed that anybody would want to go to the White House at the moment, given that President Trump has been exposed to the Coronavirus (or, potentially, has exposed others):

So many questions. We’ll update with answers when they become available.

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Thursday Open Thread

“The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

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Is Trump Seriously Still Coming To Colorado?

UPDATE (7:50 pm): Guess not:

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Revisiting the Denver Post’s report from last week, which seems like ages ago:

President Donald Trump will take part in a high-dollar Denver fundraiser with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner next Friday, according to an invitation for the event.

A donation of $100,000 to Colorado Trump Victory — a joint fundraising committee for Trump, Gardner and the Republican National Committee — buys a table for two at the luncheon fundraiser, along with a photo opportunity. The location of the Denver event has not been made public.

A spokesperson for the Yuma Republican, who spoke at a rally with Trump in Colorado Springs last month, confirmed an invitation obtained by The Denver Post is for the event. The president’s campaign and a Republican National Committee spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Hosted by Colorado Republican demi-megadonor Larry Mizel, who apparently still doesn’t want to talk about how President Donald Trump’s presidency has correlated with a dramatic spike in the anti-Semitic hate crimes Mizel claims to revile, this high-dollar insider luncheon was supposed to be another celebration of the close relationship Trump has forged with Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner in recent months. No matter how unpopular Trump may be in Colorado, Gardner has decided that standing by his man will serve him better than going his own way.

Instead, it could be an example of Trump’s limitless hubris–the kind that keeps him gladhanding with the public when we’re all supposed to be learning the fine art of “social distancing.” Events are being called off and postponed right and left as the coronavirus crisis grips the nation–so we’ll watch and see if this fundraising visit goes forward or turns into a nice, sanitary conference call.

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Ken Buck Gun Stunt Backfires Big Time

We took note last Friday of a bizarre out-of-the-blue Tweet from Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, seemingly threatening violence against Sen. Joe Biden and former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke with an AR-15 style rifle Buck keeps in his Washington office.

Although we’re sure Buck got plenty of favorable attention from the far right for this spontaneous bit of pro-gun bluster, the reaction from others has been considerably less favorable. Sandy Phillips, mother of an Aurora theater shooting victim, clapped back graphically (trigger warning):

Phillips is referring to the .223 Remington rifle cartridge, used by Buck’s rifle as well as the weapon responsible for most of the killing in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting. As KDVR’s Eric Ruble reports, yesterday Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial had his own response:

The representative posted his response to Buck on his Twitter page Tuesday afternoon. In a video, Sullivan is holding a photo of the gun used to kill his son and the cross that memorialized Alex at the site of the [Aurora theater] shooting.

In the video, Sullivan said, “Congressman Buck, hi. This is Tom Sullivan, state representative House District 37 in your home state of Colorado. This is what’s in my office. This is one of the 12 crosses that they set out by the movie theater the night after my son Alex was murdered in the Aurora theater massacre. This here is the Smith and Wesson MP-15 that murdered my son and 11 others. If you ever feel the need and want to come down and see my office, I suggest you bring Sen. Gardner along with you. This is what it looks like. Feel free to stop by any time.”

Even for a representative who has repeatedly embarrassed himself in the last year making things worse for President Donald Trump while trying his earnest best to defend him, last week was a very tough week reputation-wise for Rep. Ken Buck. Buck was one of only two votes against the bipartisan coronavirus response legislation signed into law by President Trump last week, a half-baked move that left Buck looking deplorably out of touch during an emergency.

It’s possible this unbidden bravado with the assault rifle Buck quite controversially keeps in his Capitol Hill office was meant to distract from Buck’s political self-immolating vote against coronavirus relief. Unfortunately, however, Buck appears to have simply traded one villainous countenance for another. It’s like telling a second tasteless joke because nobody laughed at the first one.

We understand that gun nuts live to wave their guns around, but the state’s highest Republican officials should know they’re not saying these things in a vacuum. Ken Buck makes himself look bad, but as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and a high-profile GOP member of Congress the damage doesn’t stop with him.

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Bernie Not Dropping Out…Yet

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke briefly at a press conference today to announce that he was not withdrawing from the Democratic Presidential race…but it’s hard to conclude that Sanders is not laying the groundwork for an exit sometime soon.

As The New York Times reports:

Senator Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday that he was continuing his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination despite suffering big primary losses this week, and that he planned to attend the scheduled debate on Sunday against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Sanders, appearing at an afternoon news conference in Burlington, Vermont, said he was not quitting the race and wanted to debate Mr. Biden, who handily defeated Mr. Sanders in four states on Tuesday.

Listing a number of the issues on his progressive agenda, he addressed Mr. Biden directly and asked “Joe, what are you going to do?” about issues like health care, income inequality, mass incarceration and the criminal justice system…

“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability,’’ he said, adding that many people had told him they liked his agenda but were not convinced he could prevail in the general election. [Pols emphasis]

Sanders did not take questions from reporters following his statement, which seemed like it was designed mostly to encourage continued discussion of his top policy ideas.

Former Vice President Joe Biden prevailed over Sanders in four states on Tuesday, with the biggest blow coming in Michigan, a state that Sanders won in 2016 against Hillary Clinton.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 11)

The World Health Organization has officially classified the Coronavirus as a “pandemic.” 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The race for the Democratic Presidential nomination appears to be nearing its end after another big night for Joe Biden on Better Than Average Tuesday. As The Washington Post reports:

The campaign for the Democratic nomination has moved at warp speed over the past 10 days, and on Tuesday night it reached a decisive turning point. Barring something unforeseen, Democrats now know that former vice president Joe Biden will be the party’s nominee to challenge President Trump in November.

Biden scored a group of victories over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday, adding to the overwhelming — and unexpected — successes of a week ago on Super Tuesday. He romped in Mississippi, where he was expected to romp. He won handily in Missouri, where Sanders came agonizingly close four years ago. Most important, Biden won where Sanders could not afford to lose, in the general election battleground state of Michigan.

Biden remains well short of the 1,991 pledged delegates needed for a first-ballot victory at the national convention in Milwaukee in July. But with Tuesday’s results, he has solidified his lead in the delegate battle and, with the states that will hold their primaries in the next two weeks, that advantage inevitably will grow. Sanders has little time and few delegates remaining to be selected to have much chance of changing the trajectory.

Here’s more from The Washington Post on Biden’s biggest Tuesday victory in Michigan. Four more states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio — will cast ballots next Tuesday. Sanders lost all four states in 2016 to Hillary Clinton.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, the big question now is about how long Sanders will remain in the race:

The Joe Biden who took the stage in Philadelphia on Tuesday night to celebrate a series of victories including in the critical state of Michigan was a far cry from the exuberant comeback kid who had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat a week earlier on Super Tuesday.

This Biden was more measured, more magnanimous and more conciliatory. There was no gloating or boasting. And everything — from Biden’s tone to the speech he delivered — was all aimed at convincing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that the time had come to end his primary challenge.

“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and passion,” Biden said. “We share a common goal. Together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together. We’ll bring this nation together.”

Biden and Bernie Sanders are still scheduled to debate on Sunday in Arizona.

 

► President Trump is getting hammered politically for his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Even the conservative publication National Review is calling out Trump:

So far in this crisis, Donald Trump himself has obviously failed to rise to the challenge of leadership, and it does no one any favors to pretend otherwise…

…The failures of leadership at the top, however, show no sign of being corrected. In a serious public-health crisis, the public has the right to expect the government’s chief executive to lead in a number of crucial ways: by prioritizing the problem properly, by deferring to subject-matter experts when appropriate while making key decisions in informed and sensible ways, by providing honest and careful information to the country, by calming fears and setting expectations, and by addressing mistakes and setbacks.

Trump so far hasn’t passed muster on any of these metrics. He resisted making the response to the epidemic a priority for as long as he could — refusing briefings, downplaying the problem, and wasting precious time. He has failed to properly empower his subordinates and refused to trust the information they provided him — often offering up unsubstantiated claims and figures from cable television instead. He has spoken about the crisis in crude political and personal terms. He has stood in the way of public understanding of the plausible course of the epidemic, trafficking instead in dismissive clichés. He has denied his administration’s missteps, making it more difficult to address them.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has now surpassed 1,000.

Trump is still scheduled to be in Colorado on Friday for a fundraiser to benefit Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

 

Columbus Day in Colorado will be replaced with Frances Xavier Cabrini Day, barring an unexpected veto from Gov. Jared Polis. As The Denver Post reports:

The state legislature gave final passage Tuesday to a bill that would replace Columbus Day with a new state holiday, on the first Monday of October, in honor of Frances Xavier Cabrini.

It is believed that the proposed Cabrini Day would be the first paid state holiday recognizing a woman anywhere in this country…

…Lead bill sponsor Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, has been trying for years to abolish Columbus Day, which she calls “a festering sore.” Previous failed bills proposed to replace with the day with Colorado Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day or an Election Day holiday, but those and other concepts were met with bipartisan resistance and with outrage from some in Italian Americans who take pride in Columbus Day.

Honoring Cabrini — an Italian American and the patron saint of immigrants — was a compromise palatable to Benavidez, her fellow Democrats and to many of those who’ve opposed previous bills.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Better Than Average Tuesday Election Night Thread

UPDATE 10:30PM: Bernie Sanders battles for liberal Washington state after another big night for Joe Biden.

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UPDATE 6:45PM: Michigan, the night’s big prize, looks good for former Vice President Joe Biden:

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Get off America’s lawn.

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Who Needs SB-181? Trump Cheers Plunging Oil Prices

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

As the Denver Post’s Judith Kohler reports:

Oil prices plunged after Russia rejected Saudi Arabia’s plan for steeper cuts in production. Saudi Arabia proposed cutting production another 1.5 million barrels on top of existing cuts of 2.1 million barrels agreed to by the so-called Opec+ alliance to stabilize prices.

But when Russia balked, Saudi Arabia said it would increase its production. That sent prices plunging to about $28 per barrel over the weekend, said Bernadette Johnson, vice president of strategic analytics with Enverus, which provides data and intelligence to energy companies…

Companies in Colorado felt the blows. Occidental Petroleum, the dominant producer on Colorado’s Front Range, saw its stock closed at $12.51 a share, a 52% drop from Friday’s close of $26.86. Noble Energy, another major Colorado producer, saw its stock drop 29.8% Monday and Denver-based PDC Energy’s stock fell 48.2%.

In 2019, the Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly passed a landmark reform of the state’s oversight of oil and gas drilling, Senate Bill 19-181. The passage of Senate Bill 181 resulted in what can best be described in hindsight as a wildly inaccurate campaign of misinformation about the supposed “shut down” of the fossil fuel industry sought by Democrats and Gov. Jared Polis, and forecasts of economic devastation to oil and gas producing regions of the state that soon afterward responsible industry shills were forced to concede had no factual basis.

The much greater threat to the oil and gas industry’s profitable operation in Colorado, as we’ve been obliged to point out a number of times before and since the passage of Senate Bill 181, is the volatile and generally declining price of oil at global market rates. In the simplest possible terms, there is a minimum price of crude oil necessary for profitable extraction in Colorado. When oil prices were much higher over the past decade, drilling in Colorado dramatically increased. At $50 a barrel, where oil prices have been trading for the last couple of years, it’s much less so, and the pace of drilling has slowed.

At $30 a barrel, Colorado oil production isn’t worth it. Period.

With all of this in mind, the relatively modest reforms of SB-181 to prioritize public health and safety by oil and gas drilling regulators are at most a small incremental sliver of the total cost of producing oil in Colorado, and well worth the investment–over an industry whose success or failure is determined by global market factors beyond any one state’s control.

Also, President Donald Trump just said it’s all MAGA! Have fun blaming Jared Polis now.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 10)

Happy “Mario Day.” Please don’t celebrate by jumping on innocent turtles. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Today is Better Than Average Tuesday, with voters in 6 states casting ballots to help determine the Democratic Presidential nominee. The big prize is Michigan and its 125 delegates; Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton here in 2016, but a loss to Joe Biden tonight could be a fatal blow to his nomination hopes. Sanders probably needs to put up fairly big numbers in Michigan — winning the state in a squeaker won’t be enough — because Biden is likely to get the lion’s share of delegates in Mississippi and Missouri. As The Associated Press explains:

Sanders has scoffed at suggestions he could drop out if he doesn’t win Michigan, but his travel schedule underscores its importance. He canceled a trip to Mississippi and instead made five campaign stops across Michigan since Friday…

…Sanders is optimistic about Washington state on Tuesday, and Idaho and North Dakota, both states Sanders won in 2016, go to the polls Tuesday as well, though the lack of polling in both states has made them difficult to predict.

But the senator’s team acknowledges he will struggle in next week’s Florida primary, where the senator’s past defense of Fidel Castro looms large. He also could face long odds in Ohio and Illinois — especially if he underperforms in Michigan. Both of those states also vote March 17.

Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington will also cast ballots today. Based on limited polling, the former Vice President seems to have momentum in Idaho and in North Dakota, though Sanders won both states in 2016. As of now, Washington looks like it could be a nail-biter. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown from Reuters.

Chris Cillizza of CNN runs through three potential scenarios on Better Than Average Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two recent national polls show Biden surging ahead of Sanders. A CNN poll of Democratic voters nationwide found that respondents prefer Biden to Sanders 52-36. Polling from Quinnipiac University found similar numbers, with Biden leading Sanders 54-35.

 

Governor Jared Polis officially declared a “state of emergency” in Colorado because of the Coronavirus outbreak. There are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, with another 14 cases pending test results. Polis is earning strong marks for his calm response to the coronavirus outbreak.

 

While Gov. Polis is doing a good job managing the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump continues to struggle. As The Washington Post explains:

President Trump confronted one of the most perilous days of his presidency Monday by first erupting in a barrage of commentary that failed to calm the cratering financial markets, struggling to inspire confidence that his administration could stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But by the time the sun set in Washington, Trump sounded momentarily chastened by the turbulence and previewed a raft of emergency measures to shore up the economy…

…Trump’s overall handling of the converging crises — while spreading misinformation and blaming others — has unsettled many of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill and even inside the White House, where some aides acknowledged that the president is compounding problems with his grievances and conspiratorial mind-set.

The coronavirus and the market meltdown present Trump with a challenge unlike any he has faced as president, and one for which he has no ready solution. At a moment when anxious citizens are turning to the government for facts and assurance, Trump is playing down risks and immersing himself in feuds with Democrats, the media and other perceived enemies.

Trump spent much of the day Monday in Florida — where he was golfing over the weekend — and shook hands/bumped fists at a fundraiser for his re-election campaign. Don’t worry about Trump’s health, however; the White House Press Secretary has been boasting that Trump works 15-16 hour days and never sleeps.

Trump is hearing from advisers about a host of potential actions that the federal government might take, including promoting paid sick leave.

Also, President Trump’s new Chief of Staff might have the coronavirus. Does President Trump have COVID-19? It’s not clear that he’s even been tested.

 

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

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State of Emergency: Not Just Mashing The Panic Button

UPDATE: 12:10PM: Denver’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is cancelled, reports the Denver Post.

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UPDATE: As seen in the Colorado Senate today: the lobbyists are reeling!

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Colorado Public Radio reports on the announcement today by Gov. Jared Polis declaring a state of emergency in response to growing numbers of coronavirus cases confirmed throughout the state:

By Tuesday morning, health officials had identified 15 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, and no deaths so far. But the respiratory illness has shown a remarkable ability to spread…

State law gives Polis extraordinary powers to deal with disasters, but rarely has a disaster declaration been used for a pandemic. More often, disaster declarations are called for wildfires, floods and even snow.

The disaster declaration goes into effect for 30 days, and the governor can renew it until the threat is gone. He can restrict the sale of alcohol and guns. He can close public buildings and shut down public events. He can seize medicines from retail and hospital pharmacies. And he can quarantine people or buildings.

The broad powers granted to the governor under a state of emergency declaration are of course not all expected to be implemented, and we’re a long way from any rational basis from restricting alcohol or gun sales. If either of those provisions become necessary, we expect everyone will know why. In the meantime, the ability to manage distribution of necessary medicines, enforce quarantines, and cancel public events are straightforward steps we’re glad the governor is taking proactively as the COVID-19 epidemic spreads.

Next, and we admit it’s a lower priority, we’d be delighted if the governor addressed the toilet paper shortage.

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