Swallowing Camels, Straining Gnats: Jesus Is In The Tank

Jeff Hunt of the Centennial Institute.

Last night, CBS4 political reporter Shaun Boyd interviewed one of the leading figures in the Republican/Evangelical Christian alliance that has dominated Colorado Republican politics for decades with even more tenacity than the all-powerful gun lobby–Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute, the political machination arm of the extremely well-funded Colorado Christian University. If you didn’t know, CCU is also a recipient of taxpayer dollars under Colorado’s controversial higher ed funding system known as the College Opportunity Fund.

The subject? How the faithful will vote in 2020, and as you can imagine, Jeff Hunt was wearing his well-worn MAGA hat! The story’s headline, Colorado Conservative Leader Expects MORE Evangelicals To Vote For Trump And Pence In 2020, says it all:

Jeff Hunt is a leader in the social conservative movement in Colorado, the so-called “values voters” you might expect to reject a materialistic, three-times divorced president who is prone to profanity.

Hunt said many are willing to overlook the president’s “moral failings” to advance policies that protect the sanctity of life…

Eighty percent of Evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016. Recent polls show his approval rating with them has slipped some, but remains high. [Pols emphasis]

Hunt is hoping a ballot measure barring late term abortions in Colorado will help turn out Trump voters here. It could also help Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who has very strong support among Christian conservatives.

One of the principal struggles for politically conservative Christians since 2016 has been supporting a President who, although he has undeniably advanced political causes they hold dear, has proven himself at tortuous length to be a completely amoral person whose religious convictions are an insulting grade of token at best. None of which troubles Jeff Hunt, who happily explains to Shaun Boyd that he’ll overlook all that stuff as long as Trump keeps delivering tax cuts and right-wing judges.

Boyd has emerged as a go-to for Republicans in Colorado looking for favorable spin and damage control, lately with respect to Sen. Cory Gardner’s flagging re-election campaign in much the same way as she ran at times obvious cover for Rep. Mike Coffman on his way out the door in 2018. In this case, however, Boyd is pretty blunt about the President’s moral failings–and Hunt is equally blunt about how none of that matters to him. That bluntness is quite informative, especially when Hunt turns to this year’s abortion ban measure as a turnout driver for Republican candidates first and desired policy second. Based on how previous anti-abortion measures have fared at the polls in Colorado, Hunt’s judgment on this point is questionable. But Hunt has no qualms about admitting to the real game, which is to turn out religious right voters.

The moral of the story…well actually, there isn’t one. Morals have, at best, a casual relationship.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 27)

Happy Banana Lovers Day. Please keep that celebration to yourself, whatever it is. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

► President Trump will accept the Republican nomination for President tonight in an address from (gag) the South Lawn of the White House. As POLITICO reports, Trump plans to blame Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden for pretty much anything that went wrong in the last 50 years:

“We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years. At the Democrat convention, you barely heard a word about their agenda. But that’s not because they don’t have one. It’s because their agenda is the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee.”

While Republicans have spent this week going after Biden, the president’s aides contend that the media has filtered the convention and hasn’t adequately highlighted criticisms of Biden’s policies. Over the course of this week, additional policy attacks have been added to Trump’s speech.

This is the part where we remind you that the Republican Party quite literally DOES NOT HAVE A PLATFORM FOR 2020.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke on Wednesday evening and assured convention-watchers that everything is totally cool with the coronavirus.

 

As The New York Times reports, the director of the CDC is (sorta) backing off of controversial new coronavirus testing guidelines issued this week:

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has scaled back the agency’s recommendation advising some people not to get tested after exposure to the novel coronavirus, now saying “testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable Covid-19 patients.”

The statement by Dr. Robert R. Redfield was issued to some news outlets late Wednesday, and more broadly Thursday morning, after a storm of criticism over the new C.D.C. guidelines — involving potentially asymptomatic people — which were the product of the White House Coronavirus task force and not the C.D.C.’s own scientists. Dr. Redfield made the statement in an effort to clarify the new policy, an official said. However, the guidelines issued earlier this week remained on the C.D.C.’s website as of Thursday morning, and it appears unlikely that the agency will change them…

…The clarification is unusual. Public health experts say clear, consistent communications are essential to fighting an infectious disease outbreak, and Dr. Redfield’s comments may further confuse things.

 

Dear Leader Trump is fleecing American taxpayers, as The Washington Post reports:

Via The Washington Post (8/27/20)

 

Trump has now visited his own properties 270 times as president, according to a Washington Post tally — with another visit planned for Thursday, when he is scheduled to meet GOP donors at his Washington hotel.

Through these trips, Trump has brought the Trump Organization a stream of private revenue from federal agencies and GOP campaign groups. Federal spending records show that taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of the president’s travel, according to a Post analysis.

Now, new federal spending documents obtained by The Post via a public-records lawsuit give more detail about how the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service — a kind of captive customer, required to follow Trump everywhere. In addition to the rentals at Mar-a-Lago, the documents show that the Trump Organization charged daily “resort fees” to Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Pence in Las Vegas and in another instance asked agents to pay a $1,300 “furniture removal charge” during a presidential visit to a Trump resort in Scotland.

 

Hurricane Laura came ashore in Louisiana on Wednesday as one of the strongest storms to hit the United States in recorded history. Fortunately, the storm is slowing significantly as it moves northward.

 

 It’s long past time to do something about army-playing militia members bringing assault rifles to protests in hopes of picking a fight.

 

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

 

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Big Press Day For Pat Neville’s Mask Lawsuit Cash Cow

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, columnist Michelle Malkin.

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville announced his intention to file a lawsuit against Gov. Jared Polis’ statewide mask order over a month ago, and as the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, Neville intends to file this week after a month of we have no reason to assume was not very successful fundraising:

Colorado House GOP Minority Leader Patrick Neville and conservative activist Michelle Malkin are suing Gov. Jared Polis over the statewide mask order…

“Governor Polis’ Executive Orders have been devastating to the people of Colorado,” Neville said in a statement. “People have been ordered to stay at home; their right to travel has been trampled; their right to worship has been taken away; businesses have been shut down; and countless jobs have been lost. The Governor has overstepped his Constitutional powers. We have checks and balances and Governor Polis needs to follow them.”

KDVR:

“Let’s have a thorough, full debate through all the different people,” Neville said. “Let’s get citizen input. Let’s have that process go through. Right now it’s – Polis says so. King Polis says so.”

The governor issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“We are free to be on the side of a deadly virus that has taken the lives of too many friends, parents, and loved ones, or on the side of Coloradans. I’m on the side of Coloradans.”

After the initial announcement from Neville back in July soon after the mask order was issued, we didn’t hear much about this until yesterday–not that anyone expected he wouldn’t follow through. We don’t how much money Neville raised over the last month to finance this lawsuit, but given the degree of generalized agitation on the far right for which masks have become a focal point, we’re not going to underestimate the possibility that it could be a lot. Since the funds appear to have been raised through Neville’s independent expenditure committee Take Back Colorado, we should find out eventually how much was raised during the period.

The announcement that nationally prominent right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin is joining the lawsuit as a co-plaintiff is sure to attract a lot more fringe attention to the effort. Malkin’s increasingly close association with the GOP House Minority Leader, even after Malkin was cancelled by mainstream conservatives once she became an unapologetic defender of Holocaust denial and openly white supremacist alt-right leaders, is of course not a good look for any Colorado Republican hoping to appeal to non-racist, mask mandate-supporting voters–who despite the disproportionate noise made by the COVIDiot fringe are in every poll the overwhelming majority. Also, the governor very clearly has the power to enact a mask order under Colorado law.

But again, in discussing the actual issue here, we’re missing the point. For the sputtering Neville political machine, it’s not even about Republicans winning anymore–2018 and the 2020 Republican primaries settled that question.

It’s about faking relevance, and keeping the funds rolling in.

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Doug Lamborn Sees the Future and Is Sad

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) posing with a big orange guy.

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is finishing up his seventh term in the House of Representatives. He will almost certainly be re-elected for an eighth term in November. Because CO-5 has long been centered in the conservative city of Colorado Springs, winning a Republican Primary is pretty much the whole enchilada (just like winning a Democratic Primary in Denver virtually guarantees a General Election victory).

Lamborn earned his ticket to Washington D.C. with a narrow win in a 6-way Republican Primary in 2006. Because 15,126 Republican voters checked Lamborn’s box in August of that year, he gained the power of incumbency in a heavily-partisan district that won’t likely be rid of him until he decides to do something else (Lamborn’s predecessor, Joel Hefley, is the only other person to have held this seat in its history; he served 20 years in Congress before retiring).

The point of this history lesson is to explain the very low bar that Lamborn must clear every two years in order to remain in office, and to help you understand how a sitting Member of Congress could be responsible for authoring something as spectacularly stupid as the Op-Ed you’re about to see. If you were ever able to hold a contest to identify the dimmest bulb in Congress, Lamborn would be a strong betting favorite; just a few months ago, for example, Lamborn declared that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was pushing for another coronavirus stimulus package because she secretly wanted to secure the release from prison of the infamous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Now that you’re all caught up with that bit of history, we can comfortably look ahead to the future. According to Lamborn (or, more likely, someone on Lamborn’s staff who can spell big words), the United States of America will be a smoldering ruin if Democrat Joe Biden is elected President in November. The ultra right-wing newspaper The Washington Examiner published a very gloomy Op-Ed signed by Lamborn that predicts all of the terrible things that will happen in the first year of a Biden administration.

As a public service, we decided to break down Lamborn’s argument point-by-point so that Colorado Pols readers can fully understand the dark ages ahead. If you’ve been anxious to read an unabashedly racist, sexist, factually-inaccurate and fear-mongering editorial from a sitting Member of Congress, then (WHOO, BOY!) you came to the right place!

Let’s get to it…

 

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Sen. Michael Bennet: William Perry Pendley’s Gotta Go

Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley.

Chase Woodruff reports for Colorado Newsline, who we hope you’ve included in your daily news browsing:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and all 47 of his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate are urging the removal of William Perry Pendley from his leadership post at the Bureau of Land Management, following the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the conservative firebrand’s formal nomination to lead the public-lands agency.

A former head of the Lakewood-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, Pendley has led the BLM since being tapped by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a Colorado native and former oil lobbyist, to a senior role at the agency in July 2019. Pendley remains in charge despite the withdrawal of his nomination; while he has not been officially designated as the BLM’s acting director, he has been assigned leadership powers in his role as its deputy director of policy and programs — a tactic that has drawn criticism from congressional Democrats and lawsuits from environmental groups.

In an Aug. 20 letter to Bernhardt, Bennet and his fellow Senate Democrats called on the Interior Secretary to remove Pendley, who has come under fire for a range of controversial views, including his past support for the privatization of public lands, climate change denial and comments comparing undocumented immigrants to cancer.

The withdrawal of acting Bureau of Land Management director William Perry Pendley’s nomination to be confirmed formally by the U.S. Senate, in any rational universe, should have meant the immediate end of Pendley’s acting directorship. That Pendley continues to serve after his nomination was pulled is not a victory for Senate oversight–the Senate’s oversight is being thwarted every day he continues to serve.

Even Sen. Cory Gardner claimed he would have “tough questions” for Pendley in the confirmation hearings about Pendley’s career-long support for liquidating public lands–just the tip of the iceberg of Pendley’s unpalatable record on a wide range of issues. Shouldn’t Gardner be just as angry as Sen. Michael Bennet, now that he doesn’t get to ask those questions but Pendley continues to direct policy at the BLM?

Per usual, Cory Gardner’s inaction speaks louder than his words.

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Cory Gardner Has Nothing Left to Say

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is up with a new re-election ad today that probably won’t do much to alter his seemingly-inevitable path to defeat at the hands of former Gov. John Hickenloooper.

Gardner’s latest TV spot, which you can view below, continues on his 2020 theme of commercials that are, frankly, pretty dumb. In this ad, Gardner reminds voters (for some inexplicable reason) that Hickenlooper is a former brew pub owner. The implication is that Hickenlooper is the kind of candidate that you could “have a beer with,” which is not usually something that you want to say about your opponent. But Gardner also makes sure to tell voters that he, too, enjoys beer. Neat!

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would be proud.

 

We’re not exaggerating — this is really how Gardner’s new ad begins.

“Let’s get down to some real differences between me, and John Hickenlooper,” says Gardner. “First, Hickenlooper owns a brewery. And me? I just like beer.”

Uh, okay.

Cory Gardner with his true beverage of choice.

At least Gardner doesn’t go so far as to point out how Hickenlooper’s brew-pub developments have been a big success in cites like Colorado Springs (Gardner’s ad was shot at Bourbon Brothers Tavern in Colorado Springs).

After Gardner reaches for his glass of beer, the ad then cuts to a few shots of Hickenlooper previously claiming that he wouldn’t really like to be a U.S. Senator. Gardner’s campaign is convinced that this is a winning message, nevermind that IT DIDN’T WORK when they tried it back in June. But that was, like, two whole months ago, amiright?

This vapid advertisement might also be an effort to get ahead of negative ads that are surely coming to a television near you at some point: Highlighting Gardner’s attendance at a $1,000-per-bottle Krug champagne soiree in Palm Beach, Florida back in February.

But, but, Cory likes (light) beer!

Whatever the reasons behind this ad, history suggests that Gardner is now firmly on the road to defeat in November. We’re reminded of this (RIP) Rocky Mountain News column from Mike Littwin during the final days of the 2003 Denver Mayoral race:

You can see Don Mares’ problem.

You can see it, in fact, all weekend if you turn on your TV and watch Mares’ belated entry into the world of political humor.

In Mares’ final campaign ad, he’s the one sliding the mug of badly drawn beer across the bar. “I don’t know much about beer,” he is saying, as the mug crashes, off camera, to the floor…

…And yet, in the end, what the ad mainly accomplishes is to reinforce the Hickenlooper phenomenon.

It’s a pretty solid rule of thumb that if you are talking about one of your opponent’s strengths — in this case, Hickenlooper’s long-spun tale as a brewmaster — then you are most definitely not winning.

This is the sort of ad that you make when you are teetering on the edges of a double-digit loss and you simply have nothing left to say to argue your case for re-election.

This is quintessentially Cory Gardner.

 

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Hickenlooper: 51%, Gardner: 42%

As Jon Murray reports for The Denver Post:

These are pretty consistent numbers for Hickenlooper that track with what we’ve been hearing on the race. A previous poll announced just after the Primary Election on July 1 showed Hickenlooper with a 51-40 margin over Gardner. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Gardner’s campaign have been on a heavy anti-Hickenlooper ad blitz ever since, and it appears they have barely been able to dent Hickenlooper’s previous lead.

If the PPP/GiffordsCourage poll cited above is accurate, that 7% undecided number should be freaking out Team Gardner; it essentially means that Gardner would need to run the table with undecided voters in order to even get close to Hickenlooper by November 3. The NRSC no doubt sees similar internal numbers, which would logically mean that Gardner will continue to be left off the list of endangered Senate Republicans getting big help from national Republican groups.

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Ammon Bundy And COVIDiot Friends Mob Idaho Legislature

Maskless protesters pack Idaho House gallery after smashing a door to get in.

AP reporting from oh-boisterous Boise!

Angry, maskless spectators forced themselves into the Idaho House special session on the coronavirus pandemic Monday, shattering a glass door, rushing into the gallery that had limited seating because of the virus and forcing lawmakers to ask for calm in a crowd that included a man carrying an assault-style weapon…

People not let into the House gallery over social distancing requirements began chanting and banging on the glass doors. Witnesses said the crowd appeared to surge forward and the glass broke, and some people rushed in to fill the gallery.

“This is our house,” said Allen Clark of Meridian, who was among those who got in. “We own this house. We pay taxes. We’re citizens of Idaho. Why can’t we be allowed in a public meeting?”

Ammon Bundy (center).

As the Idaho Press reports, none other than Ammon Bundy, made famous during the armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge in January, 2016, showed up for the door-smashing gun-toting jamboree. Who the hell needs Antifa?

Ammon Bundy accused lawmakers of “the mindset of a nanny state, where the people are considered incapable … without government institutions or their agencies.” He called that “offending and demeaning to all Idahoans, saying, “The Idaho people are more than capable of keeping themselves safe. They are more than capable of driving the greatest economy that any state has enjoyed. … We the people are tired. We are tired of government force, and we will only take it for so long. I recommend you act wisely, because we will not live in fear. Thank you.”

Susan Proster of Boise said, “I strongly urge you to listen and take heed to what we the people are trying to express to you. We are your voices. We need to you to represent us. I urge you to vote ‘no’ on these bills. … The only immunity we are interested in is herd immunity. Stop the madness, it’s the flu. Thank you.” [Pols emphasis]

Thus proving a rule we’ve found credible: anything bad happening in the world…is worse in Idaho.

It’s true. And it’s a shame, because Idaho is pretty in spots.

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The Western Slope Isn’t Irrelevant–Club 20 Is

Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush (left) and Republican Rep. Scott Tipton debate issues at the 2018 Club 20 forum underneath a gigantic Chevron banner.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the continuing decline of Club 20–a Western Slope county-based boosterism group whose annual conference was once a regular stop for candidates in election years, but lost relevance as the group’s internal politics skewed right:

The Democrat in the race for the 3rd Congressional District, Diane Mitsch Bush, is the latest to announce that she’s not planning to attend the Sept. 19 candidate debates during the Western Slope advocacy group’s annual fall conference…

Mitsch Bush is the second biggest named candidate to decline attending after former Gov. John Hickenlooper turned down Club 20’s invitation last month, mirroring what now Gov. Jared Polis did in his 2018 gubernatorial bid.

The two aren’t alone. Seth Cagin, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, for House District 58, also said he won’t attend, saying there’s nothing to benefit…

Back in 2018, now-Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to skip the Club 20 conference was greeted with ominous handwringing from the local pundit class. But despite the warnings that this “affront to the Western Slope” would hurt Polis in the general election, the results in 2018 only helped demonstrate that Club 20’s influence as an organization is on the wane.

In 2020, it’s just a reality to accept:

“The group has been in a serious decline for some time because of their old politics,” [Pols emphasis] [Mesa County Democratic Party vice-chair Scott] Beilfuss said. “While it’s easy for Front Range candidates to swing by and kiss the ring, there is rarely anything of consequence that comes out of their meetings.”

The one thing we will say in Club 20’s favor this year is that for the first time ever, the political debates that do take place at their annual conference will actually be livestreamed so what happens inside the room might possibly be learned about by those, you know, outside it. That’s a positive development, but with so many other ways candidates have to directly reach voters in every part of the state, there’s just no reason to treat this organization as some kind of regional gatekeeper. There hasn’t been in years.

If candidates want to stump at Club 20, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s fine too.

Either way, it’s just another club.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 25)

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

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

The Republican National Convention kicked off on Monday with a lot of anger and bluster. The big story of the RNC is more about what’s missing — like previous Republican elected officials (such as former President George W. Bush) and a party platform. That’s right! Republicans literally don’t have a party platform in 2020. Nothing. Nada.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, the public portion of the RNC got off to quite the “culty” start:

It has now become widely accepted that President Trump has essentially hollowed out the Republican Party and turned it into little more than a personality cult. But no level of appreciation of this state of affairs could possibly have prepared us for what we’re witnessing at the GOP convention.

What was truly striking about the convention’s first night, in addition to the widely expected parade of white grievance we’re seeing, is the sheer unbridled messianism that’s been on display.

In this telling, Trump’s performance as president hasn’t just been infallible on every front, though of course it has been that. His personal qualities, too, have been a divine gift to the nation, one that should keep us bowed in deep reverence and thankfulness at all times.

Check out this example provided by Sargent of an “elderly nursing supervisor” speaking directly to Dear Leader Trump:

I am so in awe of your leadership. Honestly, I know many people have said often interesting things, but it takes a true leader to be able to ignore all that stuff and do what is right, and not be offended by all the words being said.

Uh…yeah. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza concludes:

Monday night’s festivities were a remarkable demonstration of how the Republican Party at this moment is less a collection of like-minded people gathered around a set of common principles and much more a cult of personality built around the man one GOP delegate called “Donald J. President.” Virtually every speaker — Sen. Tim Scott was a notable exception — dedicated at least some chunk of their speech to fawning praise of the President, often in terms that would make the average person blush.

Colorado Congressman/State Party Chairman Ken Buck stuck to the script from the beginning, praising the Trump administration because “they’ve protected us from a worldwide pandemic.” Just for reference, there have been nearly 6 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States and nearly 180,000 deaths. So, yeah, bang up job!

 

New coronavirus cases are down in Colorado for the fourth straight week, but the virus continues to rage around the country. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is concerned about “an alarming trend” in cases in Kansas; at least one person has now tested positive for COVID-19 in every county in the state.

 

We’ve discussed in this space the disgusting political tactics used by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who is pretending to run a bill protecting pre-existing medical conditions even though his entire career has been about eliminating things like pre-existing medical conditions. 9News dismantled all of this in a must-watch “Truth Test” on Friday.

The Colorado Times Recorder has more on the yacht-sized loopholes in Gardner’s bill.

 

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

 

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What The Hell Is Going On At Conserva-CU?

CU’s new “visiting scholar of conservative thought” John Eastman.

Two must-read related stories from the Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez today about politically incendiary developments at the University of Colorado, which despite the state’s general leftward trajectory is controlled by a Republican majority Board of Regents–who recently appointed a highly controversial ex-GOP Congressman President to succeed retiring Republican kingpin President Bruce Benson.

Under Benson’s term as President, CU took an unapologetic turn toward “conservative affirmative action”–with Benson regularly calling for “ideological diversity” on campus, and creating a “visiting scholar of conservative thought” position in faculty at his namesake Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization. As our readers know, these “scholars” have not distinguished the institution–starting with Steven Hayward, whose gratuitous insensitivity toward LGBT students in particular outraged basically everyone on campus except Benson and the Republicans on the Board of Regents.

With that in mind, this update is not really very surprising:

The University of Colorado Boulder’s chancellor said Monday he will not rescind the appointment of John Eastman following national outcry over the visiting conservative scholar’s essay in Newsweek questioning whether Sen. Kamala Harris is eligible to serve as vice president because her parents were born outside the United States…

“Even if he did not intend it, Professor Eastman’s op-ed has marginalized members of our CU Boulder community and sown doubts in our commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion,” Chancellor Phil DiStefano wrote in an email to faculty Monday.

“Without minimizing those harms, and recognizing that we must repair that trust, I must speak to those who have asked whether I will rescind Professor Eastman’s appointment or silence him,” DiStefano wrote. “I will not, for doing so would falsely feed a narrative that our university suppresses speech it does not like and would undermine the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom that make it possible for us to fulfill our mission.”

That’s right, folks–the 2020-2021 “Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy,” John Eastman, is the same John Eastman currently on the receiving end of national ridicule for his roundly-condemned Newsweek opinion piece, speculating that Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris may not be eligible to serve–on account of, you know, her parents’ foreign-ness. The Hill, in case you missed it:

Newsweek has apologized after an op-ed it published about Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, drew an avalanche of criticism that it perpetuated a racist conspiracy theory about her eligibility to be vice president.

The magazine added an editor’s note late Friday to a piece authored by Chapman University law professor John Eastman in which he suggested Harris, who was born in Oakland, was not a natural-born citizen because her parents were immigrants.

It’s pretty much exactly what we said about Steven Hayward–if the intent here is to outrage the CU student body, and in doing so reinforce their generally liberal predilections, great job! If the goal was to in any way make conservatives look good, we must report that John Eastman has failed his conservative benefactors mightily.

And that segues into the other story in the Denver Post today from Elizabeth Martinez about CU:

The University of Colorado has instructed communications staff on the school’s campuses to avoid partisan language and submit any statements dealing with “sensitive” topics — including COVID-19 science, race relations, climate change and the First Amendment — to the office of President Mark Kennedy prior to publication…

Regent Linda Shoemaker, D-Boulder, said she recently learned of the memo and felt it has a “chilling effect” over the campuses. She said she believes it could pressure CU’s campus leaders to censor themselves as to not offend the Republican majority on the Board of Regents.

While the “visiting conservative scholar” drags the reputation of the University of Colorado back to the stone age, communications staff at the university must now submit any communications on “sensitive” topics to the ex-GOP congressman President of the university for appropriate censorship. Makes perfect sense!

Republicans have held a majority on the CU Board of Regents for the last 40 years. In 2020, a pivotal battle for the CD-6 Regent seat being vacated by Republican John Carson could end that majority, and with it one of the last remaining vestiges of Republican power at the statewide level.

All told, a very strong case is being made for change–by Republicans themselves.

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Tuesday Open Thread

“Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.”

–Pearl S. Buck

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The Story of the RNC: Everybody Who ISN’T There

UPDATE: On the subject of things that don’t exist at the RNC 2020, you can now include “a party platform.” The Republican Party stands for Trump…and that’s about it.

Via the Republican National Committee

Tim Alberta of POLITICO has more on how the Republican Party is no longer about anything:

I decided to call Frank Luntz. Perhaps no person alive has spent more time polling Republican voters and counseling Republican politicians than Luntz, the 58-year-old focus group guru. His research on policy and messaging has informed a generation of GOP lawmakers. His ability to translate between D.C. and the provinces—connecting the concerns of everyday people to their representatives in power—has been unsurpassed. If anyone had an answer, it would be Luntz.

“You know, I don’t have a history of dodging questions. But I don’t know how to answer that. There is no consistent philosophy,” Luntz responded. “You can’t say it’s about making America great again at a time of Covid and economic distress and social unrest. It’s just not credible.”

Luntz thought for a moment. “I think it’s about promoting—” he stopped suddenly. “But I can’t, I don’t—” he took a pause. “That’s the best I can do.”

When I pressed, Luntz sounded as exasperated as the student whose question I was relaying. “Look, I’m the one guy who’s going to give you a straight answer. I don’t give a shit—I had a stroke in January, so there’s nothing anyone can do to me to make my life suck,” he said. “I’ve tried to give you an answer and I can’t do it. You can ask it any different way. But I don’t know the answer. For the first time in my life, I don’t know the answer.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

The Republican National Convention officially got underway today with a rousing display of fist-shaking anger. This message from a Louisiana delegate should give you a good idea of the general tone for the week:

In case the video doesn’t work for you, the gentleman from Louisiana says, “Joe Biden is hiding in the dark, waiting to take the lives of our unborn babies.”

And, we’re off!

Colorado was represented early by Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa). Buck had some very nice things to say about an imaginary White House:

 

Buck’s revisionist history might be the only words you hear from notable Colorado Republicans. The RNC lineup of speakers does include some odd choices, such as the St. Louis, MO couple — Mark and Patricia McCloskey — who got in trouble in June for waving guns at Black Lives Matter protestors, but not a lot of other recognizable names from the GOP’s recent past.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey

As Amber Phillips writes for The Washington Post, perhaps the most notable part of the RNC schedule is about who is NOT participating:

Not speaking for the second time at a convention nominating Trump is the only living past Republican president, George W. Bush — a break from tradition. (All three past Democratic presidents offered remarks at that party’s convention last week.)

We also won’t see a ton of Republican senators and House lawmakers who are running for reelection in potentially competitive races. Republican senators running for reelection from swing states for both the White House and the Senate — such as Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Maine — won’t be making an appearance to speak on behalf of Trump.

That means Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will not be making an official appearance. Gardner is tight with Trump, but that’s not really a winning message these days. As Phillips continues:

…many of these lawmakers are facing a difficult political reality in which Trump’s popularity is sinking in their states, largely because of concerns about how the president and his administration have failed to get the novel coronavirus pandemic under control. Voters also give the president poor marks on his handling of racial relations, which is unhelpful to senators representing increasingly diverse suburbs, especially in Southern states.

The conclusion is not to speak prominently at the president’s convention, which would almost certainly make it to their Democratic challengers’ TV ads. The one exception to this is Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in Iowa, who is in Republican leadership and facing a tough reelection but has apparently calculated that speaking will help her.

Normally these senators could use campaigning as an excuse for not being able to make it to the convention. But since it’s a convention where video feeds will be the norm, that excuse doesn’t work.

The rest of the lineup of speakers for the 2020 RNC is heavy on people named “Trump” and light on pretty much everyone else. Donald Trump, Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, headline the speaking lineup for Monday; First Lady Melania Trump will speak on Tuesday, as will Trump offspring Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump; on Wednesday we’ll hear from Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife; and on Thursday First Daughter Ivanka Trump will introduce The Big Orange Guy himself.

Thursday won’t be the first appearance for President Trump, however; he’s literally going to speak every day of the convention, which is fairly unusual for a Presidential candidate in general. Of course, it’s also unusual — and possibly illegal — for a President to accept his party’s nomination from the grounds of the White House.

We’ll keep you updated if any Colorado politicos make noise at the RNC this week, but it appears that the plan for most is to stay as far away from Trump as possible.

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Truth Test Plus: 9NEWS Blows Up More Than Gardner’s Record

UPDATE: Let the word go forth: “That is actually horse excrement.”

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark is referring to Cory Gardner’s pre-existing conditions bill (below), but t seems to us this could find its way into an awful lot of content.

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Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Friday evening, 9NEWS ran a “Truth Test” fact check of a recent ad from Chuck Schumer-connected PAC Majority Forward targeting Sen. Cory Gardner’s record on health care, specifically Gardner’s numerous votes in the U.S. House and Senate to terminate the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that insurance companies cover patients with pre-existing conditions–a provision which despite the decade-long war by the GOP against “Obamacare” has remained so popular that not even Donald Trump himself dared to threaten it as Republicans tried and failed to repeal the ACA in 2017.

With respect to Gardner’s many votes to repeal the ACA with no provision to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, there’s really nothing more than this to say:

BOTTOM LINE: Yes, Gardner has a voting history to weaken the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for those with preexisting conditions. [Pols emphasis] However, voters should have known that when they elected him in 2014 in the first place.

This year, we do expect Gardner’s record on health care to factor more strongly in voters’ thinking than in the GOP wave midterm of 2014–but despite what Gardner says now, it’s true that nobody can deny he has repeatedly voted to do away with protection for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. It was true in 2014, too.

Although this fact-check substantially validates the basic contention in the ad, which is that Cory Gardner has repeatedly voted against protections for patients with pre-existing conditions,  the more important takeaway from this story is Zelinger’s look at legislation recently introduced with tremendous hype by Sen. Gardner in order to rebut accusations based on his record–S. 4506, “To ensure coverage of pre-existing conditions under private health insurance, and for other purposes.”

The bill text is eight lines long, when you open it in pdf form

It does require insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, it just doesn’t require an insurance company to take you on in the first place. [Pols emphasis]

“In order to truly protect people who are sick with preexisting conditions, you have to be willing to strictly regulate insurance companies and provide the kind of funding that would keep the insurance market stable. And this bill from Sen. Gardner falls well short of providing comprehensive protections for people with preexisting conditions,” said Larry Levitt, vice president of Kaiser Family Foundation.

Because this legislation is in its most charitable reading redundant to the ACA’s much stronger and more explicit protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, all Gardner has really done with this attempt at a diversion is highlight his many failed attempts to enable exactly what this bill is supposed to prevent. But because under a more thorough examination the absurdly short bill Gardner took days to release the text of turns out to contain a glaring loophole that insurance companies could exploit to deny patients with pre-existing conditions coverage to begin with, it’s even worse for Gardner. Either he knows his bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or he’s that clueless. Either way, it’s a fig leaf over a record no one can honestly dispute.

The truth of Gardner’s worthless bill, a sidebar in this fact check, is something every voter should know.

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Monday Open Thread

“We never fully grasp the import of any true statement until we have a clear notion of what the opposite untrue statement would be.”

–William James

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Everybody In Colorado Should Report This Tweet

UPDATE: Thanks, Jack:

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Donald Trump.

Twitter’s terms of service are pretty clear:

You can’t share false or misleading information intended to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in an election or other civic process. This includes but is not limited to:

᛫ misleading claims that polling places are closed, that polling has ended, or other misleading information relating to votes not being counted;

᛫ misleading claims about police or law enforcement activity related to voting in an election, polling places, or collecting census information;

᛫ misleading claims about long lines, equipment problems, or other disruptions at voting locations during election periods;

᛫ misleading claims about process procedures or techniques which could dissuade people from participating; and

᛫ threats regarding voting locations or other key places or events (note that our violent threats policy may also be relevant for threats not covered by this policy).

Here in Colorado, where an estimated 75% of voters utilize secure drop boxes at libraries and government offices to return their mail ballots, we know from our own individual experience that President Donald Trump’s allegation drop boxes “make it possible for a person to vote multiple times” is false. It’s not a question of interpretation, it’s completely ridiculous. You know it, we know it, and every Republican in Colorado knows it. According to the Pew Research Center, one in five Americans are on Twitter, and tech-savvy Colorado has always enjoyed a higher rate of social media participation than the national average.

The old saying that a lie gets halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its pants on remains as true in the era of social media as ever, and as we’ve documented in this space for years now local Republicans have depended on this phenomenon for far longer than Trump has been in office. The limited reach of fact-checking relative to the original falsehood’s high velocity makes this a game that liars, simply put, tend to win. Deliberate, sustained “post truth” politics is at the heart of Trump’s rise to power, and it’s how America got to a place where millions of Americans reject the science that could have saved lives in a global pandemic.

Recently, Twitter announced that they’re sick of being used this way.

So if you’re one of those 20% of Americans who use Twitter and probably more in Colorado because we’re savvy like that, you now have a way to strike a blow for the truth we didn’t have before this election. You can report the President of the United States to Twitter for spreading false information about the upcoming elections in violation of Twitter’s policy against lying about elections.

And you should–because as a Colorado voter, just like Cory Gardner himself, you know Trump is lying.

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Weekend Open Thread

“Our society finds truth too strong a medicine to digest undiluted. In its purest form, truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder. It is a howling reproach.”

–Ted Koppel

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Republicans Both Dismiss and Embrace QAnon

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and President Trump

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is facing a potential challenge to his caucus leadership thanks in part to the prevalence of QAnon-loving congressional candidates who are making rank-and-file Republicans more than a little bit nervous. Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene has gotten the ‘Q’ headlines recently, but the GOP’s Q troubles include Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, the Republican nominee for Congress in CO-3.

As The Washington Post reported last week:

A cluster of GOP lawmakers is starting to privately question whether the California Republican is putting loyalty to the president over the good of the conference. And a small group of members is discussing whether someone should challenge him for minority leader if Trump is defeated Nov. 3.

The matter bubbled to the surface this week with the primary election of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a fringe House candidate in Georgia who espouses the QAnon conspiracy theory and has made numerous racist comments. Multiple Republicans implored McCarthy to help defeat her by supporting her primary opponent. But McCarthy refused, phoning the candidate in an apparent peace accord before the primary, while Trump embraced her on Twitter this week as a “future Republican Star.” [Pols emphasis]

McCarthy seems to have gotten the message that he needs to pretend to oppose QAnon conspiracists, telling multiple news outlets this week that he does not agree with QAnon theories and that “there is no place” for QAnon in the Republican Party. Except, well, that’s not really true.

Via The Hill (8/21/20)

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence said “we dismiss conspiracy theories around here out of hand.” But earlier this week, President Trump publicly embraced QAnon followers, in no small part because Trump “understands” that QAnon followers tend to think he is some sort of pedophile-hunting superhero.

Despite his admonitions about QAnon-supporting candidates, McCarthy is headed to Aspen later this month to raise money for Boebert. The Rifle restaurant owner sometimes says she is not a QAnon believer but can’t seem to stop promoting QAnon conspiracy theories (HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE).

Boebert infamously said back in May that she hoped QAnon was real. In an interview on the Q-loving show “Steel Truth,” Boebert said this about QAnon:

“Honestly, everything that I’ve heard on ‘Q’ — I hope that this is real, because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values. And that’s what I am for. And, so, everything that I have heard of this movement is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger, and if this is real, then it could be really great for our country.”

It’s not hard to see what’s happening here. McCarthy doesn’t want his caucus (or sane voters) to think Republicans actually believe in QAnon conspiracies, but candidates such as Boebert and Greene have gone too far down that rabbit hole to plausibly pretend that they aren’t true ‘Q’ adherents. McCarthy will thus pay lip service to dismissing QAnon — and will instruct Boebert and friends to do the same — but in the meantime he’ll keep on campaigning and raising money to help bring ‘Q’ to Congress.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (August 21)

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

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden is now officially the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. Biden accepted the Democratic nomination in an emotional speech on Thursday night from his home base in Wilmington, Delaware. Dana Milbank of The Washington Post hits on a theme that seemed to be picked up everywhere in media coverage of the last night of the Democratic National Convention — Biden’s humanity:

President Trump has tried every dirty trick in the book — and a few new ones — to cast doubts about the workings of Joe Biden’s brain. But Trump has been focusing on entirely the wrong organ. Biden’s appeal is from the heart.

The Democratic presidential nominee, in the most crucial speech of his long career in public service, had no problem clearing the low bar Trump had set. The evening began with a clip of Biden quoting Kierkegaard and ended with him quoting the Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

But the power of Biden’s acceptance speech — and the power of his candidacy — was in its basic, honest simplicity. The rhetoric wasn’t soaring. The delivery was workmanlike (he botched an Ella Baker quote in his opening line). But it was warm and decent, a soothing, fireside chat for this pandemic era, as we battle twin crises of disease and economic collapse and we only see each other disembodied in boxes on a screen. Biden spoke not to his political base but to those who have lost loved ones to the virus.

While Biden was preparing to deliver his acceptance speech, President Trump was spouting some ridiculous nonsense at a Pennsylvania rally before being interviewed by Sean Hannity of Fox News. Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at some of Trump’s more absurd statements on Fox News.

Elsewhere in Biden news, POLITICO takes an early look at a potential Biden cabinet.

 

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and exclaimed that it was “outrageous” that anyone would accuse him of trying to hamper voter turnout this fall. Amber Phillips of The Washington Post breaks down 5 big takeaways from DeJoy’s testimony today.

DeJoy will speak to the House Oversight Committee on Monday.

 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is (sorta) speaking up about the dangers of QAnon candidates in the Republican Party. McCarthy is facing questions about his continued role leading the GOP caucus after some members accused him of not doing enough to stop the candidacy of QAnon lover Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia. Appearing on Fox News on Thursday, McCarthy took a stronger stance, as The Hill reports:

“Let me be very clear,” McCarthy told Fox News. “There is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party. I do not support it and the candidate you talked about has denounced it.”

Greene also came under fire after videos emerged of her making bigoted remarks and questioning whether a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, comments she later walked back.

A number of GOP lawmakers have expressed concerns that Greene’s comments and association with QAnon could stain the party’s image and potentially have a negative effect on vulnerable members’ races this year.

McCarthy emphasized Thursday that Greene has distanced herself from the QAnon theory and deserves a chance to prove herself once elected to the deep-red district. [Pols emphasis]

Greene has only pretended to back away from her support for QAnon. Here in Colorado, Republican congressional candidate Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has made half-hearted attempts to “distance” herself from QAnon, only to continue to repeat some of their most-trafficked conspiracy theories.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Republicans Desperately Need New Talking Points Against Hick

Generic target of generic talking points.

Former GOP state Rep. Mark Hillman’s career in public office may have sputtered out in the bush leagues of the state legislature, but he continues to lob spitwads into the marketplace of ideas via whatever opportunities are afforded him by local media and sympathetic partisan outlets kind enough to republish him. Yesterday, Hillman wrote in the Aurora Sentinel that rural Coloradans like himself are not into this John Hickenlooper character one bit:

This year has no doubt been a tumultuous one for citizens in Colorado and across the country. Some issues (like a particularly bitter election cycle compounded by a global pandemic and endless protests) are new. Others (like a government that shows little regard for rural communities and citizens) are all too familiar for citizens living east of the Front Range.

Many rural Coloradans believe we’re not being heard by our elected officials and John Hickenlooper has not done much to change our mind.

The former governor recently chose to skip the Club 20 gathering of Western Slope organizations. Hickenlooper seems to think that it’s unfair to have to stand up and be held accountable for taking policy positions which could prove ruinous to Western Slope communities. He’d rather not look into the eyes of the folks he knows will be jobless if he wins. This guilt may explain why Hickenlooper has not graced the Eastern Plains with his presence either…

As readers know, Hickenlooper wasn’t the first Democratic candidate to determine that Club 20 isn’t representative enough of the Western Slope to kowtow to. We could take a further gratuitous opportunity to point out that politicians who want to win elections go where the people are, and on the Western Slope and Eastern Plains of the state, there just aren’t that many people–but it’s not necessary to be rude. Former Gov. Hickenlooper will certainly get out to the hinterlands between now and November. Especially in the middle of a pandemic, this feeble and premature complaint doesn’t hold water.

He’d rather not look into the eyes of the folks he knows will be jobless if he wins. [Pols emphasis]

This particular line, though, is where Hillman goes definitively off the rails. It’s a regular allegation from Colorado Republicans that Democrats are out to “destroy the oil and gas industry in Colorado.” But if there’s any Democrat in the state to whom that label does not stick, it’s John Hickenlooper. After the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) piled on in support of Hickenlooper’s primary opponent over Hickenlooper’s less-than-hostile relationship with the oil and gas industry as governor, Republicans can’t just pivot 180 degrees and claim that Hickenlooper is going to destroy that same industry.

Well actually, of course they can–it’s ridiculous, that’s all. It’s the same dilemma faced by Sen. Cory Gardner, who has stuck to his script of bashing “socialist Democrats” even after Hickenlooper, who ran for President despite much criticism on a platform of “I’m not a socialist,” became Gardner’s opponent. As much as Hickenlooper irritated ideologue Democrats during his presidential run and to some extent the Democratic U.S. Senate primary with his contrarian branding, these pre-scripted talking points from Republicans against “socialism” simply don’t work against Hick in the general election.

They’re talking about somebody, but not John Hickenlooper.

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The GMS Podcast: Cardboard Cory and QAnon Madness

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast

We interview filmmaker Nick Rosen about his new Cardboard Cory documentary and check in with journalist Erik Maulbetsch of The Colorado Times Recorder about a QAnon rally in Denver.

Also, we talk Kamala Harris as the VP pick; we find Sen. Cory Gardner writing empty bills and advertising everywhere but in Colorado; we update the GOP’s war against the post office; check Lauren Boebert’s arrest records, and so much more.

If you missed our last episode, click here to catch up or scroll through all of our past episodes at GetMoreSmarter.com.

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

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

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