Sen. Vicki Marble Recycles The Honey Badger

Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a.k.a. the “Honey Badger.”

Today, the Colorado Senate passed an important piece of legislation that will ensure Colorado’s Electoral College votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the nationwide popular vote–a controversial subject in smaller states including Colorado, but after the last two Republican presidents won office despite losing the popular vote, in President Donald Trump’s case by almost three million votes nationwide, a matter of increasing urgency.

Senate Bill 19-042 seems headed into law with the House likely to pass it and Gov. Jared Polis already indicating he will sign it. But Republicans in the Senate have bitterly sounded the alarm over this bill, declaring it a usurpation of Colorado’s sacred right to individual votes in presidential elections that count for more than individual votes in California and New York.

And in the case of Republican Sen. Vicki Marble, one of the fieriest of the Republican firebrands left in the Senate GOP minority, the arguments against this bill quickly veered into the twilight zone:

Transcribed:

MARBLE: Thank you Mr. Chair, I did vote against this in committee, and I am against this today. We’re talking about “every vote counts.” And I’m going to come around to this a little bit different way than anybody else has spoke on it this, this morning and afternoon and in committee. In Colorado, we are so fortunate because we have the most secure voting system in the United States. It’s really sad that all Secretary of States aren’t created equal and neither are their systems. My vote does count in Colorado, I am assured of that. But on the national level, I have a question that I want to pose to you.

When you look at Texas, 95,000 people identified by the Department of Public Safety were non-US citizens, and 58,000 of those voted in one or more Texas elections. But voter fraud isn’t just in Texas. [Pols emphasis] It’s in voting districts nationwide. Eight Virginia counties had 1,046 noncitizen registered to vote. In Pennsylvania, they sent out 100,000 voter registration cards. And they weren’t sent to people who were registered voters, they were just sent to people who had driver’s licenses.

My vote and your vote should not be cancelled out by the national popular vote of those who may not even be citizens and we know a lot of them aren’t. Until we get equal, equal safety precautions across our nation, in the Secretary of States to be able to ensure that our voters are having their voice heard. But my vote and your vote should not be cancelled out by another state who is registering people who have no legal authority to vote. The national popular vote for U.S. citizens or the national vote for just anybody who cares to cast their vote on that day, this is exactly what this bill does. The Boston Herald is the one who came out with all of these numbers, and I’m glad that did. It was updated today. Perfect timing for second reading.

But honestly, when you look at Colorado and how lucky we are, how can we give our votes to the national popular vote when we don’t even know if these people are U.S. citizens. So I am a no, a very very huge no, on 42.

So, there’s a lot of crazy to unpack. It’s very interesting to see Sen. Marble laud Colorado’s mail ballot election system as the “most secure in the United States,” since the overwhelming consensus among the vote-fraud conspiracy theory crowd is that Colorado’s elections are wildly insecure.

But the really interesting part here is Marble’s claim that 58,000 “noncitizens” voted in Texas elections. Politifact just addressed this false claim after President Donald Trump himself Tweeted about it, and their debunking will ring quite familiar to followers of Colorado politics:

State officials looked at two sets of data for their current investigation: the names of people who provided documents indicating they were not citizens when they obtained a driver’s license or a state ID, and the names of people who registered to vote.

That resulted in a list of 95,000 people with a current driver’s license or state ID who also had a voter registration record in Texas. Of those, 58,000 people voted in elections back to 1996, said Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the secretary of State…

“Indeed, between 52,000-63,000 are naturalized every year in Texas,” Texas Civil Rights Project spokesman Zenén Jaimes Pérez told PolitiFact. [Pols emphasis]

Back in 2011, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler performed a very similar “analysis” of Colorado records to produce a list of thousands of supposed “noncitizen voters.” In truth Gessler’s wild claims of thousands of illegal voters resulted in a ridiculously tiny number of actual prosecutions for vote fraud–literally less than a dozen. The reason was simple: although some voters had obtained driver’s licenses as noncitizens, during the period in question tens of thousands of Colorado residents became U.S. citizens–more than enough to account for any supposed discrepancy. Similarly in Texas, enough people are naturalized every year to account for the 58,000 alleged to have voted since 1996.

It’s remarkable to us that four years after Gessler left office, the false claims he made that were debunked all those years ago–and even the same flawed methodology that produced them–are being repeated in Texas, reported uncritically by Texas media, and then regurgitated back here in Colorado where everyone should know better.

Anyway, now you do. Please tell your friends.

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So, About That GOP Tax Cut Bill…

TUESDAY UPDATE: Apropos from the Colorado Sun’s Brian Eason:

President Donald Trump’s $400 billion federal tax cut for pass-through businesses has emerged as a top target of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis as he looks to eliminate corporate tax breaks to pay for a statewide income tax cut.

The Democratic governor’s goal: A permanent cut to the state income tax rate that would lower the tax bills of most Colorado households and many businesses. But to pay for it, some wealthy households and businesses — namely large retailers and a wide category of companies that includes law firms and much of the financial industry — would see their taxes go up…

Polis wants to eliminate an unspecified amount of corporate income tax breaks to pay for a cut to the state’s income tax rate. In the campaign Polis said he hoped to reduce income taxes by 3 to 5 percent — or up to $450 million. But administration officials now are cautioning that the number will depend on the value of the tax breaks they’re able to eliminate. [Pols emphasis]

—–

Just over a week ago, the Colorado Fiscal Institute put out their detailed analysis of a Republican tax cut bill introduced this session–Senate Bill 19-055, which would cut the state’s income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.49%, would cost the state an estimated $280 million while reducing taxes by a whopping $59 on a resident earning $60,000 per year.

The net effect (or lack thereof) was best illustrated by this table from the CFI:

The politics of this bill, which is likely to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate Finance Committee tomorrow afternoon, were briefly scrambled after Gov. Jared Polis Tweeted in apparent support shortly after it was announced by the Senate GOP minority. One of Gov. Polis’ platform planks as he took office, after all, was a shake-up of the tax system, with the goal of relief for individuals and more skin in the game for wealthy corporate interests.

Under the hood, as CFI explained well in their analysis, this legislation doesn’t do anything to accomplish Polis’ goal of changing the tax system in a “revenue neutral” manner. It simply cuts taxes, and regressively at that–providing almost no relief to the residents who everyone likes to say need tax relief the most. If we really want to give meaningful tax relief to working families, programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit are a far better way to direct it.

Because this particular bill never really had a chance in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, most observers we’ve talked to think that Gov. Polis was more interested in showing good faith on one component of his agenda, with the party who wants to hear about that part the most. In reality, a reduction in any particular tax rate will have to be part of a larger conversation–one that takes into account the state’s long-term fiscal shortfall, and a realistic appraisal of the backlog in funding priorities of every kind.

Suffice to say that we’re in the very earliest stages of that discussion.

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The Damage: Trump’s Ego Costs America $3 Billion

With a ‘B,’ as The Hill reports:

The economy lost $11 billion during the course of the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, but some $8 billion of that will be recovered as the government reopens and workers receive back pay.

“Although most of the real [gross domestic product] lost during the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 will eventually be recovered, CBO estimates that about $3 billion will not be,” CBO Director Keith Hall said Monday in a prepared statement.

All in all, that amounts to a 0.2 percentage point drop in economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2018, followed by a 0.4 percentage point decline in growth during the first quarter of 2019.

Locally the harm done can be quantified all kinds of ways, from almost half a million in unemployment compensation paid out by the state that now needs to be accounted for some way now that all those workers are back on the job and about to receive back pay to recovery from five weeks of free-for-all conditions in the state’s national parks. Federal workers who took out loans to bridge the gap are out the interest expense at least, and the ripple effects from all these unplanned and adverse financial decisions from the micro to macro level will be felt for months and even years.

For Trump, putting the nation through the pain of this historic government shutdown without achieving his stated goal in initiating the shutdown–or even a compromise he could defend–is a Waterloo moment. Whether Trump is able to maneuver his way to the wall funds through an alternative like declaring a legally dubious national emergency is irrelevant. Congressional Republicans are extremely unlikely to stand with Trump for another prolonged impasse, and Democrats now know that Trump, at long last, can be compelled to blink.

History may well record that the 2018-19 shutdown marked “Peak Trump.”

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Presidential Ponderation: Who Challenges Trump in 2020?

Who fills this spot in 2020?

It’s almost easier to make a list of Democrats who are not interested in running for President in 2020, but we’re going to give it a shot now that more candidates are starting to make their intentions (officially) known.

When we asked you this question last July, former Vice President Joe Biden and “Someone Else” were the top vote-getters. The field of potential candidates has since expanded significantly, and several have now formally announced their 2020 bids (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, some dude who is the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, etc.) Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is definitely running, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is getting more buzz after his passionate speech on the Senate floor last week.

Pols readers are generally pretty good about predicting Colorado outcomes, so let’s see if you can keep it going in a national race.

As always, we want to know what you think will happen — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to make a choice today, which is basically what we’re asking you to do, who would you predict will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020?

Cast your vote after the jump…

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Monday Open Thread

“The fine line between roaring with laughter and crying because it’s a disaster is a very, very fine line.”

–Roald Dahl

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Greeley Trib To Lori Saine: “Stop Digging”

Rep. Lori Saine (R), center, receiving an award from ALEC in 2017.

Last week’s most-discussed lowlight in Colorado politics, Rep. Lori Saine’s disastrous attempt to appropriate the occasion of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by asserting that blacks and whites were lynched “in almost equal numbers” for “the crime of being Republican,” could have been a one or two-day news incident with limited collateral damage for the GOP brand. The reason it didn’t stop is simple: Rep. Saine steadfastly refused to apologize, and in fact doubled down in subsequent days to inquiring press and various talk-radio audiences.

At this point, the Greeley Tribune’s editorial on the matter for today’s edition sums up the view of any smart Republican:

Shh …. Shh ….

That’s our advice to Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, who kicked over a hornets nest this past week at the Colorado Capitol when she claimed in a speech on the House floor that blacks and whites had been “lynched in nearly equal numbers” for the crime of being Republican in the aftermath of the Civil War…

We don’t see what Saine hoped to accomplish by making her remarks. Republicans in the Legislature will have their work cut out for them this session to advance their agenda as a minority party. Saine’s comments won’t make that easier. At best, they’re a needless distraction from the work lawmakers of both parties must accomplish during this year’s legislative session. At worst, they’re ignorant and distasteful.

Rep. Saine may be doing splash damage to Republicans well above and outside her stomping ground of the Colorado General Assembly, but it’s unlikely that any of this will result in a even a private reprimand from House GOP leaders. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville does not have a record of enforcing discipline on his members, since he possesses irresponsible blowhard qualities himself–not to mention a recently-demonstrated moral blind spot.

Most likely, the only way the “digging will stop” is via Rep. Saine’s impending term limit.

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Weekend Open Thread

“Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”

–Mark Twain

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BREAKING: Trump Caves, Government To Re-Open

UPDATE #2: Sen. Michael Bennet turns to the next order of business, getting all these federal workers paid:

Along with this statement:

“For 35 days, more than 800,000 public servants bared the brunt of this reckless government shutdown. The next three weeks provide an opportunity for bipartisan and constructive conversations on how to secure our border in a way that reflects our values as Americans.

“Now that President Trump has come to his senses, we must ensure his administration immediately restores back pay to federal workers and gives these families a chance to get back on their feet.”

Rep. Jason Crow:

Over 20,000 Colorado workers and their families have spent the past four weeks dealing with pain and chaos. Our top priority as a country now must be getting our federal workers paid and back to work as quickly as possible. As this senseless shutdown ends, we must restore servant leadership to Washington and make sure we never use people and their paychecks as political pawns in policy discussions again.

—–

UPDATE: Statement from Rep. Diana DeGette:

“This government shutdown should never have happened, and we need to make sure it never happens again. I met with a group of federal workers at home today who have been forced to bear the brunt of the president’s misguided actions, and the harm that it has caused them will be felt for a very long time. The president’s announcement today was a total capitulation to the House and I hope we can take him at his word that he will continue to negotiate in good faith on a border security bill. In the meantime, it’s important that we work quickly to get the government reopened as soon as possible, and ensure that every federal worker is paid the money they are due.”

—–

Big Macs for everybody!

That’s the word from CNN with President Donald Trump speaking moments ago–the federal government will re-open later today, and Trump does not get the wall money he just dragged the nation through over a month of uncertainty and financial peril for hundreds of thousands of federal employees in order to win:

President Donald Trump said Friday he’s reached a deal to reopen the federal government after a month-long shutdown.

“I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said in remarks from the Rose Garden…

The path included signing a stopgap funding measure that would fund the government through February 15. But sources said it would not include any new funding for Trump’s promised border wall, once an ironclad demand that led to the shuttering of government agencies over the past month.

Instead, lawmakers would return to negotiations over the money while federal workers return to their jobs.

Needless to say this is a huge defeat for the President, one that cuts to the bone of his demagogic agenda and is costing him support across the country. We’ll update with local reactions–likely to range from elation for the majority of Coloradans who wanted nothing to do with Trump’s wall crusade, to the bitter weeping and gnashing of teeth of Trump’s diehard faithful whose hopes after a make-or-break gamble have been dashed.

It’s all part of history now, like the debacle of the shutdown will be shortly.

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Time To Hang Up And Drive, Colorado?

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd reports on a perennial bill introduced in the Colorado legislature that, while it hasn’t passed in previous sessions, might see a different outcome this year in under unified Democratic control–legislation to expand on the state’s existing ban on texting while driving to requiring drivers to be fully hands-free if the call truly can’t wait:

A state lawmaker says it’s not enough to ban texting while driving, the current law in Colorado. Sen. Lois Court, a Democrat representing Denver, wants to ban drivers from using hand-held phones altogether.

“This is designed to stop dangerous behavior,” said Court…

Opponents, including the ACLU and Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, say the bill goes too far, equating holding a phone while driving with reckless driving.

“Bills like this become symbolism, they don’t give you results,” Denise Maes with the ACLU told lawmakers.

A vote on Sen. Lois Court’s bill was delayed following testimony yesterday to give proponents a chance to make changes suggested during the hearing. Banning holding a phone while driving isn’t a proposal that necessarily has clean partisan cleavage, and there are legitimate countervailing public safety and personal freedom arguments to consider. Much the same way they say “a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged,” it’s possible that your view of this bill will depend on how close you’ve personally come to being in a space-time conflict with a driver distracted by their phone.

A poll follows–good idea, or trampling your sacred right to screen addiction?

Should Colorado ban the use of hand-held phones while driving?
Yes
No
Not sure/other
RECALL
View Result
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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 25)

Roger Stone channels Richard Nixon. Let’s “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Longtime Trump advisor Roger Stone has been arrested by the FBI after being indicted as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion and obstruction of justice. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains, this is a YUGE deal:

The indictment and arrest of longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone Friday morning in Florida fills in a big missing piece of the emerging picture that special counsel Robert Mueller is painting: The Trump campaign actively sought to communicate and coordinate with WikiLeaks in regard to stolen emails aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Here’s more from the Washington Post, including Stone’s reference to the “Godfather” movies:

The most politically explosive allegation in special counsel Bob Mueller’s seven-count indictment of Roger Stone — who was arrested early Friday morning during an FBI raid of his home in Florida — is that he lied to Congress when he denied discussing his advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ email dumps with anyone involved in Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign…

…Prosecutors say Stone made repeated references to “The Godfather: Part II” in December 2017 as he pushed an unnamed “Person 2” to not tell the truth to the House Intelligence Committee so he could cover up his role. “People close to the case said Person 2 is New York comedian Randy Credico,” per Rosalind Helderman, Devlin Barrett and John Wagner.

 

On Day 35 of the federal government shutdown, the airports began to buckle. As the New York Times reports:

Significant flight delays were rippling across the Northeast on Friday because of a shortage of air traffic controllers as a result of the government shutdown, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The delays were cascading along the Eastern Seaboard, reaching as far north as Boston. But La Guardia was the only airport that had been closed off to departing flights from other cities because it was so crowded with planes taking off and landing on a weekday morning. Delays on flights into La Guardia were averaging almost an hour and a half, the F.A.A. said.

 

► The Senate held votes on two bills Thursday aimed at (theoretically) ending the government shutdown, but both pieces of legislation were DOA. From the Washington Post:

Senate leaders scrambled Friday in search of a deal that would satisfy President Trump on border security and end the partial government shutdown as major delays at airports around the country produced a heightened sense of urgency.

“We’re still working on it,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in an interview outside his office when asked if an agreement might emerge Friday with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did a very Gardner-esque thing by voting YES on both failed bills. As Westword notes:

Gardner issued a statement praising President Trump’s weekend proposal to end the government shutdown, which asks for Democrats to give him $5.7 billion for his Mexico border wall/collection of steel slats in exchange for a three-year reprieve involving participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Gardner voted for it and the rival Democratic measure that would have ended the ongoing partial federal shutdown without funding the wall.

Talk about trying to have it both ways. [Pols emphasis]

Some 800,000 federal workers will miss another paycheck today.

 

► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is making national headlines after going OFF on the Senate floor Thursday in response to a nonsense speech from Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. As The Denver Post explains:

“I seldom, as you know, rise on this floor to contradict somebody on the other side,” Bennet said during a floor speech. “I have worked very hard over the years to work in a bipartisan way with the presiding officer, with my Republican colleagues, but these crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take.”

Cruz took the floor ahead of Thursday’s failed votes on two different bills to reopen the government and urged Democrats to vote for a bill to appropriate the money needed to pay federal workers during the shutdown.

That bothered Bennet because the Texas Republican led a charge to shut down the federal government in 2013 over funding for the Affordable Care Act. That 16-day shutdown coincided with the aftermath of a deadly flood that killed eight people in Colorado, and Bennet said the government’s closure delayed relief efforts.

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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DPS Management Strike PR Off To Really Horrible Start

Are you SURE you want to strike?

Denver7’s Oscar Contreras reports on a nasty little “misunderstanding” this week between Denver Public Schools officials and Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) teachers who voted overwhelmingly this week to strike for better pay:

Denver Public School officials are apologizing after a notice went out to teachers warning those on working visas that they would be reported to immigration officials should they participate in a district-wide strike voted on earlier this week .

The letter, obtained by Denver7, states the district needs to be informed of the decision of teachers on H or J visas to go on strike “as soon as possible as we are required to report that to immigration and the US Department of State.”

That letter, however, was the result of “misrepresentation” of information received by the district’s immigration firm and an incorrect communication, according to DPS spokesman Will Jones.

“The communication was in no way intended to cause fear for our educators on visas,” Jones said in the prepared statement sent to Denver7 Thursday evening.

First of all, and this needs to be bold faced in every single story about this incident, we are not talking about undocumented immigrants. Teachers from abroad in Denver Public Schools have work visas and fully legal status to do their jobs. According to DPS officials doing damage control after reporters contacted them about these letters sent to teachers, the individual names of noncitizen teachers would not be reported to ICE–just the fact that a strike is taking place, and presumably ICE can…take it from there?

On second thought, that’s not very comforting either, is it?

It should go without saying that DPS management should be extremely careful and diplomatic with their communications with teachers ahead of a strike, and in this case their comms carelessness just happened to come down on the side of intimidating legal immigrant teachers with the specter of Donald Trump’s immigration enforcers–who we’re going to go out on a limb and suggest don’t like strikes much either.

Whether an accident or, you know, not so much, we can all agree this is not the way to win hearts and minds.

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Trump Stumped on Shutdown

The Negotiator

As Politico reports, President Trump is looking for a ripcord to pull in the shutdown fight:

Now that the Senate has shot down President Donald Trump’s compromise offer to end the month-long government shutdown, White House officials aren’t sure of their next move.

But they do know one thing: they’re losing, and they want to cut a deal. [Pols emphasis]…

…Trump’s next move remained a mystery to many West Wing aides even as the White House considered Graham’s proposal Thursday. But with Trump’s approval rating dropping to its lowest point in a year and advisers warning of a rising economic toll from the enduring stalemate, the president and his team are more eager than ever to strike a deal, according to a half dozen sources familiar with the situation.

While the president has previously dangled the threat of a national emergency declaration, he now considers the move a “last resort,” according to a source familiar with his thinking.

As CNN reports, somebody is clearly floating the idea of an emergency declaration:

The White House is preparing a draft proclamation for President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency along the southern border and has identified more than $7 billion in potential funds for his signature border wall should he go that route, according to internal documents reviewed by CNN…

…According to options being considered, the administration could pull: $681 million from Treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds, the official said.

As lawmakers discussed a short-term measure to fund the government Thursday, Trump again raised the prospect of other ways to fund a border wall without congressional approval.

“I have other alternatives if I have to and I’ll use those alternatives if I have to,” he told reporters.

“A lot of people who wants this to happen. The military wants this to happen. This is a virtual invasion of our country,” Trump said. [Pols emphasis]

“A virtual invasion of our country.”

Think, for a moment, about the sheer absurdity of that quote and the desperation it represents. President Trump and the GOP misplayed their hand so terribly in the last six weeks that they may soon pretend that the United States is being invaded in order to re-open the federal government.

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Bennet Barbeques Cruz


The Hill reports–Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, who has a reputation for being polite and soft-spoken, rained uncharacteristic fire today after a floor speech by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz overtopped Bennet’s BS threshold:

Bennet, a typically subdued and moderate senator, unloaded on Cruz after the Texas Republican joined other GOP lawmakers to introduce a bill to pay members of the Coast Guard during the partial shutdown but not reopen the government.

“I seldom rise on this floor to contradict somebody on the other side,” Bennet said during his speech. “I have worked very hard over the years to work in a bipartisan way with the presiding officer with my Republican colleagues, but these crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take.”

“When the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. It was under water. People were killed. People’s houses were destroyed. Their small businesses were ruined forever. And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down for politics,” Bennet shouted, referring to a series of floods that hit killed eight Coloradans.

The historic flooding that impacted Colorado in September of 2013 has been a flashpoint involving Colorado politicians several times since the event, including a round of absolutely toxic press that only New York-area news outlets could deliver directed at Colorado Republicans who voted against disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims after the nation rallied to our aid. But it’s also true that immediate relief for Colorado’s flood victims in 2013 was hampered by a government shutdown forced by Republicans including Sen. Ted Cruz over funding for the Affordable Care Act.

Although more Americans oppose the GOP on the shutdown than support them, the opposition is not yet lopsided enough to compel Republicans to back down on poll numbers alone–at least not yet. Cruz’s attempt to carve out a safe haven for a favored interest, in this case the Coast Guard, is just one among innumerable little hypocrisies that have kept the present historically long shutdown grinding on without a total collapse in public support for Republicans.

But it was enough to get Michael Bennet to flash some genuine anger, which itself is no small thing.

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“Dr. Chaps” Rallies To Rep. Steve King’s Defense

ex-Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

As the pressure on Iowa Rep. Steve King to resign from Congress following his controversial remarks in apparent explicit support of white supremacy goes on, Right Wing Watch reported last week on a movement among religious conservative activists to rally support for King–with a familiar face among the faithful:

Religious Right leaders and right-wing activists are rallying in support of embattled Rep. Steve King, who has been under fire since a New York Times story quoted him wondering when terms like “white nationalist,” “white supremacist,” and “Western civilization” became offensive. His comment served to highlight his long history of unabashed racism and has resulted in King being stripped of his committee assignments, as well as a wave of calls for his resignation.

Amid this controversy, Religious Right leaders are voicing their support for King, thanks to an effort organized by radical right-wing activist Janet Porter. King is a close ally of Porter’s and even introduced a federal version of her “Heartbeat Bill” in Congress in 2017 that aimed to outlaw abortion, in Porter’s words, “before the mother even knows she’s pregnant.”

Porter is currently gathering signatures for a letter in support of King that will be sent to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, urging him to issue an apology to King and reinstate his committee assignments. King and right-wing activist Ed Martin, one of the signers, slammed McCarthy earlier this week for not defending King.

And which local religious leader with one foot perennially in the door of Republican politics signed on? Why, former Rep.-turned Colorado Springs City Council candidate Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, who else!

Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, PhD
Pray in Jesus Name Ministries
Nationally Syndicated PIJN NEWS
(in 54 million homes)

Gordon Klingenschmitt’s “nationally syndicated” video ministry audience wasn’t enough to keep him afloat in Colorado politics, where he traded his hard-won House District 15 seat for a failed run for the state senate and now is hoping to get back in the game with a seat on the Colorado Springs City Council. But maybe “Dr. Chaps” has enough juice to persuade Republican leaders in Congress to go easy on America’s most famous racist not named Roseanne Barr? 

Hope springs eternal, especially on the fringe of the fringe.

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Another Gold Star for Cory Gardner!

Cory Gardner is the best at attendance.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the politician equivalent of a toddler in potty training. Sure, he still craps in his pants, but as long as he tries to make it to a toilet first, then confetti falls from the sky in celebration.

Can we raise the bar a little here?

Earlier this month, the editorial board of The Denver Post gave Gardner a great big huzzah because…wait for it…he publicly called on his colleagues to end the federal government shutdown. Of course, this accomplished absolutely nothing, and Gardner spent the next week telling right-wing audiences that he was actually firmly behind President Trump’s border wall shakedown.

On Wednesday, Gardner revealed that he was ready to cast his vote to re-open the government without funding for Trump’s great big border wall. From The Denver Post:

Gardner’s spokesman told us Wednesday he intends to vote for a clean funding bill that would open the government with no increased border-security funding attached.

It’s the right thing to do…

Yes, it is the right thing to do. But Gardner’s declaration is also meaningless because it was announced only after it became clear that Senate legislation to end the shutdown had no chance of passage anyway.

Gardner’s spokesman said Wednesday night that the senator has long opposed shutdowns, including the 2013 shutdown. He said Gardner will also vote for the second measure to open the government.

Neat.

Gardner likes to say that he is opposed to government shutdowns, as though this is somehow meaningful in preventing or ending legislative stalemates. Saying that you are opposed to a shutdown is like an anti-vaxxer saying that they are opposed to the measles. Nobody is “pro-measles,” but not everybody is going to vaccinate their children to prevent the spread of measles. The important question isn’t, “Do you support measles?,” but, “What are you going to do to prevent the spread of measles?”

If you asked every U.S. Senator if they thought that Congress should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open, every single one of them would agree. Every. Single. One. Everybody thinks we should end the government shutdown, but Republicans still aren’t willing to put pressure on their President to make it stop.

Cory Gardner is not just some rogue Senator

This is the same basic strategy Gardner employed in 2013 when he regularly claimed that he never voted to support a shutdown. Of course, nobody voted in favor of a shutdown — nobody voted against it, either — because that’s not how a shutdown works. Gardner’s words then were as pointless as saying, I never agreed to be allergic to peanuts! 

How does Gardner keep getting away with this? Let’s go back to today’s Post editorial once more:

This shutdown has gone on far too long, and there’s no one to blame but Trump. We hope he comes to his senses and agrees to open the government and then consider an immigration reform package that includes money for border security.

President Trump owns this shutdown — as he said he would — and Americans overwhelmingly agree that Trump and Republicans deserve most of the blame here. But TRUMP IS NOT THE ONLY ONE TO BLAME. As Politico reports:

The Senate will take its first votes in more than a month on reopening government. [Pols emphasis] But both a clean spending bill and President Donald Trump’s proposal appear on course to fail.

Though a short-term spending bill giving the president no new border funding bill passed the Senate with no dissent in December, it’s poised to fail on the Senate floor on Thursday. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the Nos. 3 and 4 GOP leaders, both said Wednesday that the “continuing resolution” cannot pass the Senate.

The House of Representatives has voted numerous times this month in favor of legislation to end the shutdown and re-open various branches of government. Today the Senate is holding its first vote in more than a month on the shutdown, and Republicans don’t have enough support from their own caucus to get anything passed that would end the shutdown. Gardner was recently named a Deputy Whip for Senate Republicans — it’s part of his job to get other Republican Senators to fall in line, and he’s failing at it. So why are we talking about how Gardner plans to vote on a bill that is already dead?

When Gardner says stuff like, “I think we should pass a continuing resolution,” he’s really talking about an imaginary bill that already has the approval of President Trump. He might as well just say, “I think we should fix all of America’s problems.”

What we actually need to know from Gardner and other Senate Republicans is simple: Can you get your colleagues to support overriding a veto of a continuing resolution with no border wall funding? Everything else is irrelevant.

If Cory Gardner can “whip” his Republican colleagues into supporting legislation to end the shutdown and hold firm against President Trump’s veto threats, then we’ll be the first ones in line to pat him on the back. But you don’t get a gold star just for showing up.

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DPS Teachers Vote To Strike, Polis Wades Into The Fray

AP via Colorado Public Radio reports on a situation we’re monitoring closely in Denver, after teachers represented by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) voted overwhelmingly to strike for better across-the-board pay and other unresolved disagreements with the school board.

Into this widening divide steps Colorado’s new Gov. Jared Polis, hoping to bridge the impasse before the potentially disruptive strike is set to begin next Monday:

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday he is seeking to prevent Denver teachers from walking off the job next week after they overwhelmingly voted to strike over pay.

Polis, who took office this month, said he would meet with representatives of the school district and teachers’ union to see if he could “play a role in bringing them together.” But the Democrat who has vowed to increase school funding declined to elaborate…

The earliest teachers could legally walk off the job is Monday. However, the state labor department could also intervene and put the strike on hold for up to 180 days. It would be the first teacher walkout in 25 years.

Can Gov. Polis bring the sides together in a fight dripping with subtext over major philosophical differences in public education? Will the state flex its controversial muscle and impose a cooling-off period? Whatever happens next, this is the first big labor fight of a new era of full Democratic control in Colorado. The outcome here is going to, as they say, set a tone.

We’ll update with developments, and we don’t expect to wait long. Stay tuned.

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Pelosi to Trump: No House Chambers for You!

As the Washington Post reports, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has responded to President Trump’s insistence that he be allowed to deliver his State of the Union speech in the traditional setting of the House Chambers.:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rescinded her invitation to President Trump to deliver the State of the Union address in the House next week, in an escalating standoff between two of the most powerful people in the nation.

Weeks into the longest government shutdown in history, Trump ignored Pelosi’s suggestion that he reschedule the speech due to security concerns and vowed to show up Tuesday night.

But within hours, Pelosi effectively canceled the prime-time speech, saying it wouldn’t happen until Trump reopened the government. Trump, faced with that reality, said he would be doing “something in the alternative.”

“We’re supposed to be doing it, and now Nancy Pelosi — or ‘Nancy,’ as I call her — she doesn’t want to hear the truth. And she doesn’t want, more importantly, the American people to hear the truth,” Trump said at a meeting with conservative leaders at the White House.

Trump’s new “nickname” for Nancy Pelosi is “Nancy”? Really?

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 23)

Happy “Bounty Day,” everyone; be sure to celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Here’s the latest news on the government shutdown, now in its 33rd day. From the Washington Post:

House Democrats are prepared to support new levels of border security funding, but not a wall, if President Trump agrees to reopen the government first, lawmakers and aides said Wednesday.

The proposal, which Democrats plan to put into a formal letter to Trump, will include border security improvements such as retrofitting ports of entry, new sensors and drones, more immigration judges and border patrol agents, and additional technology, among other measures.

The letter was not final and the exact figure Democrats will suggest was not yet determined, but aides said it would be higher than the levels Democrats have supported in the past, which have ranged from $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion.

Some Democrats suggested they would even be willing to meet Trump’s request for $5.7 billion — as long as it goes for technology and other improvements, not the physical wall the president is seeking.

Democrats remain opposed to offering any funding for Trump’s great big wall, and new polling data shows that they are on the right side of the American public. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump’s disapproval rating is at an all-time high amid a historically long partial government shutdown and concerns about the president’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Nearly 6-in-10 voters — 57 percent — disapprove of Trump’s job performance, compared to the 40 percent that approve. In addition, 54 percent of voters blame Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill for the government shutdown. Only 35 percent blame congressional Democrats…

…While 43 percent support the construction of a border wall — compared to 49 percent who oppose construction — only 7 percent of voters said that they support dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way to end the government shutdown. [Pols emphasis]

That’s compared to 72 percent who oppose dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way.

In local shutdown news, CBS4 Denver reports on local “Dreamers” who see President Trump’s offer of temporary protections for immigrants as a “bargaining chip for our lives.”

 

President Trump is insisting that he be allowed to deliver his State of the Union Speech in the House chambers. As CNN reports:

President Donald Trump insisted in a letter Wednesday he would deliver his annual State of the Union address from the chamber of the US House next week as planned, telling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi her concerns about security during a partial government shutdown were unfounded…

…He said the speech would occur on January 29 from the House chamber.

“It would be so very sad for our country, if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!” he wrote. [Pols emphasis]

As speaker, it is Pelosi’s prerogative to invite the President to deliver the annual address. Both the House and the Senate would need to pass resolutions convening a Joint Session of Congress before the President’s appearance. And it’s not yet clear — despite Trump’s insistence he would be appearing in the Capitol next Tuesday — whether Pelosi would take the required steps.

In times like these — with a record government shutdown and an administration under investigation for federal crimes — it’s important that we focus on the things that are most important. You know, like making sure that the State of the Union speech is delivered at its traditional location.

 

► Republican State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Weld County) is still getting whacked over comments she made suggesting that white and black people were lynched in equal numbers after Reconstruction (comments first reported here at Colorado Pols).

Saine’s ridiculous antics — this is a pattern of behavior, remember — has earned her a new title from Westword: “Colorado’s Nastiest, Most Clueless Politician.”

This week, Colorado Representative Lori Saine stirred controversy (again) with a “tribute” to Martin Luther King Jr. in which she argued that blacks and whites were once lynched in “almost equal numbers.” She also struck back against naysayers by claiming that a fellow white Republican was a victim of reverse racism.

This combination of idiocy and vindictiveness is Saine’s brand, as Westword has documented over the past decade.

Even the Russians think Saine is a bit nutty. Colorado Republicans, meanwhile, remain silent about Saine.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Who’s “Overreaching” On Guns Again?

Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Denver7’s Russell Haythorn reports on the debate over gun legislation at the Colorado Capitol this year, which primarily centers on a bill allowing a court to temporarily order the removal of firearms from persons in a mental health crisis–legislation which passed last year in the House with bipartisan support only to die in the then-GOP held Senate, but is greased to pass this year:

With the balance of power now squarely in the hands of Democrats at the Colorado statehouse, there’s a new push for stronger gun control.

The so-called “red flag” bill would allow judge’s in Colorado to seize firearms from gun owners who are deemed mentally unstable.

Gun-rights advocates call that measure a shameless ploy.

“Make no mistake about it, this bill is designed to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens,” said Dudley Brown, spokesman for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

A poll released last May by Keating Research shows that in Colorado, 81% of the public supports a “red flag” law of the kind that died last year at the hands of the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate. It’s a similar situation to the gun safety laws that were passed in 2013, which similarly enjoyed majority public support even as they were savaged by the extremely vocal gun lobby. “Red flag” bills have passed in a total of 13 states, including states with Republican governors and legislatures like Indiana and Florida.

On any other issue, it would be a considerable stretch to call legislation with 81% public support an example of “legislative overreach,” but as Haythorn reports, it was gun legislation that drove the 2013 recalls against state senate Democrats–recalls that have served as a catch-all boogeyman invoked by Republicans against Democrats ever since.

Outside the angry bubble of the gun lobby, however, the gun issue has politically evolved since 2013. Continuing mass shooting tragedies with record-setting body counts like the October 2017 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip have shifted public opinion, and made the no-compromise stonewall from Republicans under the influence of the gun lobby politically unsustainable. That’s one reason why in 2018, you saw a number of high-profile Colorado Republicans like attorney general candidate George Brauchler and Rep. Cole Wist come out in support of a red flag bill. RMGO responded by targeting both Brauchler and Wist with negative messages to the Republican base in 2018–and they both lost, satisfying Dudley Brown but only making passage of this bill more likely.

“Gun owners across this state are worried that the legislature is going to do again – what it did in 2013,” Brown said. “And that is take big leaps to turn us into California.”

Colorado’s 2013 legislature banned high capacity magazines and private gun sales.

The move backfired on some Democrats. Some lawmakers were recalled, and the party lost control of the state legislature in 2014.

With all of this in mind, to accuse Democrats of “overreach” for passing a red flag law supported by over 80% of the public, just like in 2013 when Democrats passed a universal background check law supported by a similar overwhelming majority, is spin to the point of absurdity. That this is not immediately apparent in every relevant local news story reflects the way the fringe of the gun debate–in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners–has dictated the terms of this debate for years.

At some point, maybe the local press will realize the guy on the 19% side of the equation doesn’t deserve “equal time.”

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Lori Saine Becomes Colorado GOP Shame Nexus (Again)

PM UPDATE: The Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy updates, as the story of Rep. Lori Saine’s whitewash-y revisionist history goes to hell with a disturbing quickness:

Following media reports from across the state and beyond which focused largely on Saine’s lynching comments, Saine argued with constituents on Facebook and Tuesday morning appeared on right-wing radio host Jimmy Lackey’s show.

Lackey introduced the topic by saying reaction to Saine’s comments represent revisionist history, that kids were being taught about Martin Luther King Jr. by “union hacks” and that Colorado is now a segregated state. Lackey also referred, multiple times, to Gov. Jared Polis as “our gay, Jewish governor.” [Pols emphasis]

For the record his name is properly spelled Jimmy Lakey, morning conservative radio host of the relatively obscure AM600 KCOL radio, who we didn’t realize was such an unapologetic…well, you know! But we most certainly know now, and that ought to make the Republican officeholders who regularly appear on his show think twice–at least the ones smarter about managing their public image than Lori Saine.

In any event, if the intent here was to make Rep. Saine or any Republican look better, that was not the outcome.

—–

Rep. Lori Saine (R), in custody after being caught with a loaded gun at DIA in December of 2017.

Less than 24 hours after you read it here first, the story of GOP Rep. Lori Saine’s wildly exaggerated estimate of white Republicans lynched following the American Civil War, made during a speech purportedly in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., has gone national–starting with the Greeley Tribune story we updated yesterday’s post with, then the Denver Post’s Anna Staver:

A Colorado representative from Weld County claimed blacks and white Republicans were lynched in “nearly equal” numbers following Reconstruction and chastised the main sponsors of a resolution honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day during a speech on the House floor Friday…

Saine, Buck and dozens of other House members sponsored House Joint Resolution 19-1006, which commemorated King’s birthday. It was introduced in the House by Reps. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, and Leslie Herod, D-Denver…[Rep. Herod] went on to characterize Buck’s brief floor speech on the resolution as both eloquent and in keeping with the spirit of MLK, but Herod said Saine’s remarks were “completely off base.”

Colorado Public Radio:

“The lynching comment is extremely problematic, in the sense that it really does kind of take away and hide some of the dark past that this country has faced,” Herod said Monday. “And if we’re not honest about our history, if we don’t face our past, then we’ll never be able to move forward as nation and a country. And so her comments really sought, I think, to water down the realities of the march for justice and for civil rights.”

Saine said she delivered the comments with little preparation, based on things she’d read. She clarified that she meant only the earliest days of post-Civil War Reconstruction. However, the article Saine said she referenced is an amateur statistical analysis that looks at data from a later period and makes no reference to party affiliation.

From there…Newsweek:

Saine, a Republican representative, backed up her remarks on Monday, all in support of a white state representative who was shunned from introducing a resolution to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In her statement that was televised, Saine said whites were lynched more often than blacks “in the beginning,” and also acknowledged that blacks were collectively lynched at a far-higher pace over the next seven or eight decades.

Saine claimed whites and blacks were all lynched for the simple fact of being a Republican, which caught one college professor in the state off guard.

The Hill:

While lynchings of white, Hispanic and Native American people have taken place in the United States and Republicans were targeted during Reconstruction, evidence points to African-Americans being by far the greatest number of victims of lynchings, which were used as a tool for racial suppression.

And this morning, even FOX News is obliged to report:

According to the NAACP, nearly 73 percent of people who were lynched from 1882 to 1968 were black. Many of the white people who were lynched were being punished for helping black people, the NAACP said. It noted that many lynchings were not recorded.

The political affiliation of those who suffered this punishment was not recorded in the NAACP’s statistics. University of Northern Colorado professor Fritz Fischer said Saine’s assertion was incorrect.

“Blacks were lynched for the ‘crime of being black’ which obviously isn’t a crime – and not even close to equal numbers,” Fischer told The Greeley Tribune. “I suppose there were a certain number of blacks who were lynched who were Republican. But that was coincidental.”

With more stories going to print as we write, it won’t be long before everyone with even late-night talk show familiarity with current events hears about the Republican from Colorado who said white people were lynched as often as black people. The added insult of claiming lynchings of African Americans were for “the crime of being Republican” is not just inaccurate but a complete whitewash of the ensuing century of history, in which the Republican Party willingly morphed into the party of holdout Southern racism.

As for Rep. Lori Saine? This is hardly the first time she has shoveled shame on Colorado Republicans, having made national headlines for getting caught with a loaded handgun at a DIA security checkpoint in 2017, then introducing bills to weaken Colorado’s gun laws–not to mention underscoring Sen. Vicki Marble’s nationally infamous monologue about “problems in the black race” with heart disease by bringing fried chicken to the next hearing.

We’ve said it before: Lori Saine is a walking, talking disaster for the Republican brand.

So naturally, ALEC should give her another award.

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Thanks For Clearing That Up, Todd Brophy

There’s been a great deal of debate in the last couple of days over an incident Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., caught on video from a number of angles, of a confrontation between a Native American veteran and a group of high school students wearing red “MAGA” hats. The Trump supporter teens were at the tail end of the anti-abortion March for Life, Native American drummer Nathan Phillips had participated in the simultaneous Indigenous People’s March, and still another group of unrelated protesters was on the scene resulting in a toxic brew of mutual antagonism that as of this writing has still not been conclusively sorted out.

Unless you’re Todd Brophy, cousin of longtime state Sen. Greg Brophy and himself the losing 2016 GOP candidate for Aurora’s House District 40, who posted this straightforward interpretation of events to the Facebook page of the Arapahoe County Republicans yesterday:

For anyone hoping to see tensions reduced after another racially divisive national news incident, this won’t help.

But unlike at least some of the participants, Todd Brophy isn’t bullshitting you about his reaction.

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