The Get More Smarter Podcast: Weak, Frightened, and Impotent

The Get More Smarter Podcast drops its 25th episode with a look at a killer new (Republican-led) advertisement against Sen. Cory Gardner; the Trump administration makes Iran foreign policy more problematic for Colorado Republicans; and we preview the first full week of the Colorado legislative session with another discussion featuring House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

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

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James Carville Knows Something You Don’t*

The Hill reports:

James Carville.

Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville has formally endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D) long-shot presidential campaign, saying he thinks that the Colorado senator is the best candidate to face President Trump due to what he calls stark differences between the two men.

“The best way to beat Donald Trump is to show you’re not him in any way, shape or form,” Carville said in a statement released by the Bennet campaign Monday…

Carville predicted that Bennet will “surprise people,” specifically predicting the senator will do well in the New Hampshire primary next month.

“I think Sen. Bennet is uniquely suited for New Hampshire,” Carville said. “It’s a historical fact that people like him do well there.”

* Legendary Democratic strategy man James Carville knows a lot of things that other people don’t. As for when or where Carville proves accurate in the long run, of course, nobody who has been in politics as long as he has can claim a 100% perfect prognostication record. While most of the political class in America has written off Sen. Michael Bennet’s resolute but persistently second-tier presidential campaign, Bennet has vowed to stay in the race in hopes of achieving exactly what Carville is forecasting–a surprisingly strong showing in the New Hampshire primary that rockets Bennet back from the nether reaches of the pack.

In that event, James Carville will be here to say he told you so.

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Trump Keeps Digging on Iran; Colorado GOP Getting Buried

Clockwise from top left: Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton.

The House of Representatives voted last week on a resolution to restrict President Trump’s ability to attack Iran without provocation. The vote was split along party lines among Colorado’s delegation, with all four Democrats in approval and all three Republicans voting “NO.”

Colorado’s three Republican Members of Congress — Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Ken Buck (R-Greeley), and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) — may soon be looking for avenues to walk this vote back. As Aaron Blake explains for The Washington Post, President’s Trump’s ever-changing rationale for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani “has utterly fallen apart”:

Trump has said in recent days that Soleimani was planning to “blow up” the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and also that he was going after “four embassies.”

But Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper revealed on talk shows Sunday that the idea that Soleimani was about to attack four embassies wasn’t based on intelligence. Instead, he said it was simply something Trump and others “believed” to be the case.

Here’s Esper trying to explain Trump’s comments on CNN’s “State of the Union” over the weekend:

“What the president said was, he believed it probably could have been. He didn’t cite intelligence.”

“He believed it probably could have been.”

Trump administration officials are scrambling to understand and explain Trump’s Friday comments. Members of Congress who were briefed last week on the Iran strike said this was the first they had heard about a potential attack on American embassies. If there was such intelligence indicating this type of attack, nobody bothered to alert any of the embassies that would have theoretically been at risk.

Senate Democrats are pushing for a vote on a similar War Powers Resolution as soon as this week. Though Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) hasn’t yet had to cast that vote, he is in a worse spot than his Colorado colleagues after he came out last week in full-throated defense of the killing of Soleimani. Said Gardner:

“I commend the administration for taking decisive action last week in Baghdad against Tehran-backed terrorists planning an imminent attack on American targets. The administration’s action, with regard to Qassem Soleimani, was not only decisive, but necessary and legal under longstanding presidential authority to protect American lives from imminent attack.”

Decisive? Only in that Soleimani is definitely dead, since the threat from Iran is probably stronger now than ever before (according to polling from Quinnipiac University, most Americans polled now think that we are less safe as a result of Soleimani’s death).

Necessary and legal? Was it necessary and legal to kill an Iranian General and bring the United States to the brink of war based on something that “probably could have been” a threat? That’s almost a rhetorical question now.

Gardner has long portrayed himself as something of a foreign policy expert in the U.S. Senate, but now Democratic Senate candidates can tee off on Gardner as uninformed and dangerous when it comes to dealing with foreign threats. Much of what Jennifer Rubin writes about Trump for The Washington Post today could also apply to Gardner:

The ever-shifting explanations for Trump’s conduct are emblematic of how his utter lack of credibility in the national security realm has come back to haunt him. He has gone from smearing the intelligence community, to praising it, to inventing intelligence. The media too often pretend that there is credence to his assertions or that maybe there is some super-secret intelligence that cannot be shared with them.

Trump has a consistent pattern of misleading the public and out-and-out lying. He has ignored uncontroverted intelligence, hyped false allegations and now given what seems like false justification for launching offensive military action without congressional authorization.

Colorado’s Republican Members of Congress bizarrely decided to take Trump’s word on Iran when they came to his defense. Now they’ll need to decide on which Iran story to take seriously from here on out.

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Colorado’s Newest GOP Lawmaker Loves Him Some Cosplay

UPDATE: It’s worth noting that President Trump retweeted the image at right to his many followers this morning. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

Unless you are deeply obtuse, you get the point: Donald Trump is suggesting — to his nearly 71 million followers — that the two top Democrats in Congress are in league somehow with the Iranian regime. Presumably, Trump believes that to be the case because both Pelosi and Schumer have pushed for the administration to offer more detailed information about the supposed “imminent” threat posed by Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani which led to the US military’s killing of him by drone strike earlier this month.

There’s actually one thing wrong with that sentence above. I wrote “Trump believes” that Schumer and Pelosi are in league with the Iranians. That’s almost certainly wrong. What Trump believes is that sharing a doctored image of these two Democrats he will throw red meat to his base, who will eat it up. That it will play into his base’s twin dislikes (or at a minimum distrusts) of a) congressional Democrats and b) Muslims. (Remember that Trump ran openly in 2016 on the idea that Muslims were a violent people who hated America — and that he was the only politician willing to tell the truth about the threat they posed.)

As Greg Sargent notes for The Washington Post, the White House also weighed in on Trump’s Tweet:

After President Trump retweeted a doctored image of Democratic leaders dressed in Islamic garb, the White House offered a curious justification: Trump retweeted that image to send the message that Democrats are on the side of terrorists.

This was apparently intended as a defense.

Which would appear to mean the White House’s official message is now that depictions of Democrats in Muslim garb denote Democratic support for terrorists.

With this in mind, the pictures of Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf (below) will really bake Trump’s noodle.

—–

A photo from origins unknown was forwarded to us, apparently depicting newly-appointed GOP Rep. Richard Holtorf of rural House District 64 in what can be best described as…well, culturally appropriative clothing–photos that were reportedly deleted or hidden from public view recently on Holtorf’s Facebook page:

Now before anyone gets carried away, we’re inclined to give Rep. Holtorf the benefit of the doubt that he is not some kind of closet Muslim “Manchurian candidate” working his way up the ladder of American politics to carry out his sinister sultanic deed. With that said, we’re obliged to recall that when a photo surfaced of former President Barack Obama similarly wearing Islamic-world clothes for a wedding years before his political career began, it instantly became part of the apocryphal body of “evidence” that Obama was a Trojan horse for Mecca.

We’ll leave it to Rep. Holtorf to explain this interesting bit of khaffiyeh cosplay, which we suspect was not meant to offend although it’s always better to be sensitive as a white dude to matters of cultural appropriation (here’s looking at you, Justin Trudeau). And of course, we can’t be held responsible for any misunderstandings with fellow Republicans.

Like President Obama, right? Or maybe there’s, you know, a difference.

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George Conway’s Lincoln Project Rips Cory Gardner


The Lincoln Project, a group of dissenting high-profile Republicans led by attorney George Conway along with longtime GOP strategists Rick Wilson and Steve Schmidt, fired off its first volley against a fellow Republican–with blistering minute-plus video spot slamming Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado for “putting Trump ahead of Colorado every time.”

Last month the Lincoln Project’s principals laid out their red-on-red mission in a New York Times op-ed:

Over these next 11 months, our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference. We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.

The 2020 general election, by every indication, will be about persuasion, with turnout expected to be at record highs. Our efforts are aimed at persuading enough disaffected conservatives, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in swing states and districts to help ensure a victory in the Electoral College, and congressional majorities that don’t enable or abet Mr. Trump’s violations of the Constitution, even if that means Democratic control of the Senate and an expanded Democratic majority in the House…

[Trump] has neither the moral compass nor the temperament to serve. His vision is limited to what immediately faces him — the problems and risks he chronically brings upon himself and for which others, from countless contractors and companies to the American people, ultimately bear the heaviest burden.

But this president’s actions are possible only with the craven acquiescence of congressional Republicans. They have done no less than abdicate their Article I responsibilities.

Today, Conway said of Sen. Gardner in particular:

When he ran for the Senate six years ago, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) promised that “when my party is wrong, I’ll say it.” Now Gardner is so scared of Donald Trump, he won’t even say it’s wrong for a president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival.

If Sen. Cory Gardner can’t do his job, and can’t comply with his oath of office by considering the impeachment charges against Trump on their merits, then he should go.

We haven’t heard the size of the ad buy for this compelling spot, but we expect it to be widely circulated even without much money behind it. This is a message aimed directly at Trump-averse unaffiliated voters who joined with Democrats in 2018 to punish Colorado Republicans at all levels in a clear referendum against the President.

With Gardner fighting a rear guard action to keep the Republican base behind him by backing Trump at great cost to his own credibility, Colorado’s majority anti-Trump coalition has no incentive to split their ticket.

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Monday Open Thread

“Wisdom stands at the turn in the road and calls upon us publicly, but we consider it false and despise its adherents.”

–Khalil Gibran

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Thousands March In Denver To Take Away Abortion Rights

Colorado Public Radio’s Hayley Sanchez reports from the Colorado Capitol yesterday, where thousands of newly-energized religious conservative voters turned out to support ending abortion rights in Colorado–and freely acknowledging that a 22-week abortion ban headed for the ballot this year is a step toward their goal of completely banning abortion:

Thousands of abortion opponents rallied outside the Colorado state Capitol on Saturday afternoon for the “2020 Celebrate Life Rally.”

The gathering is an annual event, but this year it had a new focus — speakers and attendees repeatedly touted Initiative 120, which would ban on abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy. Initiative supporters must turn in 124,632 valid signatures by March 4 in order to qualify for the November ballot.

“We are not going to rest because what started in Colorado will end in Colorado,” said David Bereit, co-founder of 40 Days For Life, a Christian non-profit that campaigns against abortion. “Colorado has tried other ballot initiatives on the pro-life side in the past that have failed. This is the one that a large majority of people agree upon.”

By all accounts the crowd yesterday at the state capitol dwarfed a protest last Wednesday attended by “anti-vaxx” activists and a color-coded range of other fringe issues, cheered on by House Republican leadership. Boosted by reported heavy promotion at area churches, yesterday’s March for Life was probably the largest protest event organized by conservatives in Colorado at least since the “Tea Party” protests of 2009. It’s widely expected that Initiative 120 will qualify for the ballot, largely on the strength of petitions circulated on church property during worship services.

This large protest march takes place against the backdrop of rapidly eroding abortion rights nationwide, and an anti-abortion movement in direct pursuit of the repeal of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision guaranteeing abortion rights–and with a court now tilted to the right for a generation, their chances are better than ever. Colorado, on the other hand, has routinely rejected abortion ban ballot measures by overwhelmingly numbers in previous elections, clearly demonstrating majority support for safe and legal abortion.

The truth is that abortions later in pregnancy are almost always the result of severe complications and developmental problems that only become apparent later. This reality is a potent counterargument to the 22-week abortion ban in polling, and it changes undecided voters’ minds once properly explained. And once Colorado voters realize that this arbitrary, unscientific limit on abortion rights is meant to lead directly to the next step of banning all abortion, it’s likely they will reject this measure at the polls by a large margin.

With that said, it’s a good bet the religious right in Colorado is going to try harder this year than ever before. Because they realize, as supporters of abortion rights already understand, that the worst-case scenario is only one election away. If there ever was room for complacency on the left with this defining civil rights issue, there isn’t now.

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Weekend Open Thread

“Only a small rich fringe hates Social Security for disincentivizing 80-year-olds from seeking full-time employment.”

–Alex Pareene

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Marianne Williamson WAS Still Running for President

Apparently Marianne Williamson was pursuing the Democratic Presidential nomination as recently as yesterday. But not anymore.

From CNBC:

Williamson, who consistently polled near the bottom of the pack of Democrats vying to defeat President Donald Trump, said she stayed in the race “to take advantage of every possible opportunity to share our message.”

“With caucuses and primaries now about to begin, however, we will not be able to garner enough votes in the election to elevate our conversation any more than it is now,” she said. “The primaries might be tightly contested among the top contenders, and I don’t want to get in the way of a progressive candidate winning any of them.”

“As of today, therefore, I’m suspending my campaign,” Williamson said.

Williamson wrote on Twitter shortly after her announcement that “A politics of conscience is still yet possible. And yes….love will prevail.”

Peace out!

 

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Cory Gardner Praises Dear Leader’s Glorious Targeted Killing

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

9NEWS reports, Sen. Cory Gardner is not just backing President Donald Trump’s recent aggressive actions in the Middle East–while fellow Republican Senators denounce the administration’s arrogance in consultation with Congress as “insane” and “demeaning”–he’s laying it on thick:

“The president made the right call at the right time to neutralize the threat and to save American lives. Imagine having done nothing, having done nothing and allowing the attacks to proceed,” Gardner said. “At yesterday’s classified briefing, General Milley and our national security personnel made it clear — the death of General Soleimani saved lives.”

The briefing Gardner referred to was a classified briefing on the airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, held by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and other high ranking security officials on Wednesday.

“I commend the administration for taking decisive action last week in Baghdad against Tehran-backed terrorists planning an imminent attack on American targets. The administration’s action, with regard to Qassem Soleimani, was not only decisive, but necessary and legal under longstanding presidential authority to protect American lives from imminent attack,” Gardner said.

As we noted yesterday, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah was incensed by the high-handed treatment of U.S. Senators by administration officials in an earlier briefing, where it was suggested that even questioning the President’s war powers would be seen by the administration as “emboldening the enemy.” As a result, a deeply offended Sen. Lee and fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul say they will vote in favor of a resolution passed by the House to limit the President’s authority to strike Iran. As for proving that the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was a defensive action in response to an “imminent” attack, as Vox reports:

“The president has not supplied convincing evidence that his strike stopped an imminent attack on US forces. Nothing we’ve seen has changed my mind,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), who has proposed a bill to withhold funding for an Iran war unless Trump seeks congressional authorization, said on the Senate floor after the briefing.

Paul referenced claims by O’Brien, Trump’s top national security aide in the White House, who has said the 2002 authorization for war with Iraq supported the legal rationale for killing Soleimani — an Iranian — in Baghdad. “That is absurd, that is an insult,” he said.

And according to a Democratic Senate aide, the briefers didn’t touch on anything that would provide evidence of an “imminent” attack. [Pols emphasis] “There was no way they could know for sure,” the aide said after speaking with their boss on what happened inside the room. “There was nothing specific they could point to.”

No problem for Sen. Gardner, who seems to have heard only what the White House wanted him to hear and not a word more. Gardner has learned in the last three years to talk his way around even the worst foreign policy mistakes by Trump, and follow the proselytized MAGA base’s lead in effusively praising the President no matter how poorly that praise may age–like when Gardner praised Trump for holding a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and then watched helplessly as Trump’s engagement with North Korea devolved into the usual insults and renewed missile tests.

The moral of the story? If you want honesty, you won’t get it from Gardner–even when fellow Republicans are no longer restrained.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 10)

The First Son-in-Law is 38 years old today. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to limit President Trump’s ability to take unilateral military action without Congressional approval. As CNN reports:

The vote was 224-194. Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Francis Rooney of Florida crossed party lines to vote in favor while Democratic Reps. Max Rose of New York, Ben McAdams of Utah, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Stephanie Murphy of Florida voted against the resolution.

Now that the resolution has passed the House it will next go to the Senate.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst and senior Defense Department official, is the sponsor of the resolution, which calls on the President “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” unless Congress declares war or enacts “specific statutory authorization” for the use of armed forces.

You read that correctly — Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz voted IN FAVOR of the resolution.

Of course, the Senate is where all good things go to die; it is unlikely that Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell will even entertain a vote on the matter if he can avoid it. Some Republican Senators have expressed support for a “War Powers Resolution” after a disastrous White House briefing on Iran earlier this week.

Meanwhile, President Trump may have decided to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani to perhaps appease Republican Senators whose support he needs in a coming impeachment trial.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says her chamber may send impeachment documents over to the U.S. Senate as soon as next week. From the New York Times:

In a letter to colleagues Friday morning, the speaker moved to end a weekslong impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president’s fate in limbo. She did not announce the members of the team she will ask to manage the case, but said the House should be ready to vote to appoint them sometime next week.

“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Ms. Pelosi wrote after lawmakers departed the Capitol for the weekend. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”

Once the House votes and the articles are transmitted, the Senate’s proceeding, only the third impeachment trial of a sitting president in American history, will begin promptly — as soon as Wednesday based on Ms. Pelosi’s timeline.

 

► If you thought that Republican lawmakers in Colorado might be more reluctant to embrace their lunatic right-wing base after last year’s string of recall failures…well, we know you probably didn’t think that. The GOP still loves itself some lunatics.

Meanwhile, Colorado Republicans made it very clear during Thursday’s “State of the State” address that they have zero fucks to give about immigrants or refugees in Colorado.

For more on Gov. Polis’ “State of the State” speech, check this recap from The Denver Post or this annotated version of the entire speech via The Colorado Sun.

 

► Don’t miss the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an in-depth interview with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

 

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

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: More Smarter Legislating


In the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, we kick off the Colorado legislative session from the State Capitol with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett. We also discuss Iran and impeachment (and how Sen. Cory Gardner is screwed on both), and Rep. Garnett faces off against Ian Silverii in the world’s best worst game, “Duke or Donald.” 

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

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Colorado May Stand with Immigrants, But Republicans Do Not

Republican lawmakers remain seated after Gov. Jared Polis says that Colorado supports immigrants and refugees.

Governor Jared Polis (D-Boulder) today delivered his second “State of the State” address to an audience of Colorado lawmakers and elected officials.

Polis’ speech focused largely on health care issues and providing financial relief for Colorado families dealing with the high cost of health coverage and prescription drugs. Most of today’s “State of the State” remarks received bipartisan applause, but Republican legislators were noticeably stingy with recognition when Polis briefly touched on the importance of supporting immigrant and refugee families in Colorado. Said Polis:

…In the face of unprecedented hostility from this White House toward our immigrant communities, we can say loudly and proudly that in Colorado, we stand with DREAMers and with refugees.

Most of the room stood and applauded after this line, but as you can see from the video below, Republicans quietly sat on their hands instead. It was not a good look…

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House GOP Leadership Welcomes Fringe, Fascists To Capitol

Yesterday’s Opening Day rally at the Colorado legislature featured a motley crew of color-coded far-right activists (we are not making up the color-coded thing), sounding off on a range of issues from opposition to childhood vaccination to the state’s new “red flag” law to protect the public from preventable gun violence–and a range of more bizarre issues in between like conspiracy theories about 5G cell phone service. Also in attendance were members of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist “pro-Western civilization” group regularly involved in political street violence.

Here’s how 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark summarized the contrast between “the Republicans inside the building” and “the Republicans outside.”

We got a glimpse today of the difficult position that the minority Republicans are in when you compare their stated legislative priorities to what their supporters rally for on the capitol steps.

Republicans inside called for transportation funding.
Republicans outside carried anti-vaxxer signs.
Republican inside linked teacher performance with bonuses.
Republicans outside linked former President Obama and Hitler.
Republicans inside included a call for bipartisanship.
Republicans outside included the Proud Boys, recently featured in a 9 Wants To Know investigation on hate in our state.

So that is the trouble that looms ahead for the Republicans inside the state capitol. They have to answer to the Republicans outside.

The only thing we’re obliged to add is the photo collage at the top, courtesy the Colorado Times Recorder, which closes the loop in this discussion of the Republicans “inside the capitol” versus the right-wing protesters who turned out in force outside to vent their particular flavor of misguided rage. The protesters outside the capitol yesterday were eventually joined by a large contingent of elected Republican lawmakers–including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Dave Williams, Rep. Lori Saine “In The Membrane,” Rep. Susan Beckman, and a number of others.

That’s critical to understand. The Republicans inside the capitol went outside.

Once that happened, it was no longer possible–or necessary–to tell the “inside” and “outside” Republicans apart.

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Republican Senators Furious Over “Demeaning” Iran Briefing

THURSDAY UPDATE #2: Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) expanded on his comments in an interview with National Public Radio. Greg Sargent of The Washington Post singles out one of the more distressing pieces of that interview: Trump administration officials wouldn’t acknowledge a single hypothetical scenario in which they would consult Congress prior to taking significant military action.

As Sargent writes for the Post:

Our system is now functionally that one person makes these extraordinarily consequential decisions. Plainly, the person in question is not fit to do so.

Indeed, in this case, you’d think the starkness of the situation would get Congress — or, more precisely, congressional Republicans, since virtually all Democrats will do the right thing this time — to reassert its authority…

…Trump has threatened war crimes, has boasted about the size of his missiles and just ordered an assassination of a senior military leader in a sovereign country without alerting Congress or seeking its approval, based on intelligence that is dubious at best and on rationales that have fallen apart.

But Trump’s tweet calling on “all House Republicans” to vote against the new war powers measure now means that being loyal to Trump is synonymous with giving him unconstrained warmaking authority, despite all the madness we’ve seen. And so it shall be.

—–

THURSDAY UPDATE: Um, what?

Vice President Mike Pence said today the White House didn’t actually tell Congress any significant information about the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. From The Washington Post:

Appearing on the “Today” show, Pence said the Trump administration actually did not share some of the most important information, because of its sensitivity…

…So to recap: The White House is now saying the information provided to lawmakers indeed might not have been as compelling as it could have been, but that Congress and the American people just need to trust that it’s there.

As The Post’s Shane Harris noted, that’s difficult to swallow. Even if an administration doesn’t share all the information widely with Congress for fear of leaks, it generally shares highly classified information with a smaller group of high-ranking lawmakers who are experienced in intelligence matters.

If the goal of the White House is to make supporters like Sen. Cory Gardner look like complete idiots…it’s working.

Remember that this Tweet came after Gardner had already praised the earlier briefing.
—–

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee unloads on Trump administration officials today after a “demeaning” briefing on military action in Iran in which they were told not to question White House decisions.

Today may have been a singularly important moment for America during the Trump administration — the day that unquestioning support from Republican Senators finally started to crack. As The Hill newspaper reports:

GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) ripped the administration over a closed-door briefing on Iran on Wednesday, announcing they will now support a resolution reining in President Trump‘s military powers. 

Lee, speaking to reporters after a roughly hourlong closed-door meeting with administration officials, characterized it as “the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue.”…

…Lee said the officials warned that Congress would “embolden” Iran if lawmakers debated Trump’s war powers.

“I find this insulting and demeaning … to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happens to hold. I find it insulting and demeaning to the Constitution of the United States,” Lee said.

Both Senators Paul and Lee made it clear that they would now be supporting the War Powers resolution sponsored by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, which would limit the President’s ability to use military force in Iran. Senator Lee noted that he had been undecided on this decision until today’s briefing.

It’s difficult to get a full sense of the fury emanating from Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee unless you listen to his remarks in full. Take a look:

Here’s just a brief snippet of Lee’s rant in front of members of the media this afternoon:

“It is not acceptable for officials within the Executive Branch of government — I don’t care if they’re with the CIA, with the Department of Defense, or otherwise — to come in and tell us that we can’t debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran. It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong.” [Pols emphasis]

From what Lee and Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul are saying, today’s Iran briefing seemed to be largely about Trump administration officials telling U.S. Senators to just shut up and accept whatever foreign policy decisions are being made by the White House. Obviously, this was not well received by independent-minded Senators.

Of course, some Republicans are still not willing to question the Trump administration. Here’s Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) unashamedly parroting talking points from the very same briefing that incensed his colleagues:


In a 2014 campaign ad, Gardner infamously looked into the camera lens and claimed, “when my party is wrong, I’ll say it.”

But when it came time to “say it,” Gardner was nowhere to be found — despite Republican colleagues giving him all the cover in the world to pretend to challenge President Trump.

For Colorado voters in 2020, what Gardner didn’t say today says plenty.

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Live Today: Mayor Pete And Brother Jeff

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who most readers know better as the electrifying young Democratic presidential candidate currently posting unexpectedly strong poll numbers in early primary states, is in Denver today for a pair of fundraising events–but you can catch him gratis this afternoon on Facebook Live for an informal interview with local community organizer Jeff Fard.

Buttigieg’s rise in the polls in New Hampshire and Iowa has been offset by a persistent deficiency in support from voters of color, and Buttigieg has been working hard in recent weeks to win over this crucial Democratic primary voting bloc–or if not win them over as a first choice, at least ingratiate himself enough to pull together a majority coalition in the event Buttigieg’s early strength proves more than a flash in the proverbial pan.

It should be noted also that the somewhat imposing image above is a standard for Fard’s podcast guests, not designed by Buttigieg’s campaign. That may or may not prevent it from becoming a bit of, you know, a meme.

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Rep. Dave Williams, Facing Primary, Goes Hard “Anti-Vaxxer”

Rep. Dave Williams (R), with Congressman Steve King (R-IA).

We wanted to take note of a primary challenge reportedly brewing in Colorado House District 15, the infamously nut-tolerant Colorado Springs safe GOP seat once held by Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt and currently in the possession of Rep. Dave Williams. Williams, who trades on a charming amalgam of Latino heritage and virulent anti-immigrant demagoguery, has always had a less than firm grip on this seat on account of being generally an unpleasant individual–and now, GOP challenger Missy Ward is taking on Williams in a red-on-RMGO proxy war:

It took less than three days after filing to run for State House Representative of HD 15 for the threats from RMGO and their puppets to begin.

An elected official called to tell me that RMGO, Joe Neville and Jon Hotaling are already working their bully tactics against me.

This is exactly what I expected from this group of radical, women hating, abusers.

They SHOULD be threatened by a smart, independent woman and domestic abuse survivor like myself that refuses to be their pawn.

Today, Williams’ supporters were found spreading this message to attendees at the conservative protest rally outside the state capitol:

To the overwhelming majority of Americans who support vaccination and think the law should be much tougher in terms of requiring school-age kids to get their shots, being labeled “pro-vaxx” would be rightly considered a compliment. But it’s crucial to remember that in a GOP primary in a safe GOP seat, the sensibility of the majority counts for basically nothing. Rep. Williams has clearly determined that becoming the face of “anti-vaxxer” politics in Colorado is his ticket to political survival.

And as bad as that may be for the Republican brand outside those super-safe districts, he could be right.

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Crazies Of All Stripes Get Ready For Legislature’s Opening Day

WEDNESDAY UPDATE #2: It’s not a party until the Proud Boys show up with their boots on:

Now that elevates the discourse.

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WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Via the Colorado Times Recorder, the Colorado Freedom Force Opening Day rally has begun at the state capitol with an estimated 200 protesters sounding off their color-coded conspiracies:

Stay sanitary out there.

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With the second regular session of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly kicking off tomorrow, the noisier segments of the local fringe-right are set to make their presence cringeworthily known! First up is another protest hosted by the always-entertaining Americhicks, featuring a cross-section of right wing activists spanning issues from guns to abortion to vaccine conspiracy theories.

There’s even a handy color code to help outsiders sort the freaks out:

Wait, there’s a conspiracy theory for 5G cell service? Yes, gentle readers–there is.

From there, the freakshow heads indoors for a “town hall meeting” with GOP Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs. Williams is apparently the House sponsor this year of something he calls the “Vaccine Consumer Protection Bill.” While school districts and local governments around the country are tightening their vaccination requirements in response to outbreaks of preventable diseases, Williams and the GOP “anti-vaxx caucus” want to go the other way:

For your health and convenience, hand sanitizer is conveniently located throughout the building.

Day 1 of 120, folks. We do not foresee it becoming any less kooky.

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BREAKING: Iran Launches Missile Attack Against U.S. Base in Iraq

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: As CNN reports, there have been no reported American casualties from last night’s missile attack by Iran on American bases in Iraq–and it appears that may have been design, with the Iranians trying to de-escalate the situation while still appearing tough:

Wednesday morning’s missile strikes against al-Asad airbase and Erbil airport — both of which play host to US troops — were clearly not an act designed to kill the most Americans possible…

The missile attacks don’t make sense if Tehran’s goal was to really hurt US troops in large numbers — as some had been pledging to do.

They do make sense, however, as the execution of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s order to strike back openly, military-to-military, in response to the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

Or, maybe Iranian missiles are just crappy. Either way, it’s being interpreted as restraint.

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As NBC News reports:

A U.S. military air base in Iraq’s Al Anbar province was hit by more than two dozen ballistic missiles from Iran on Wednesday local time, according to the Department of Defense.

“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil,” the department said in a statement.

It is unclear whether there is any damage to Al-Assad air base or whether there are any casualties.

Iranian state TV described it as Tehran’s revenge operation over the killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, according to the Associated Press. NBC News has not confirmed the report.

Obviously we will update this post as more information becomes available.

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Gardner Enables McConnell’s Impeachment Trial Sham

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

As Politico reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has the votes to plow ahead with rulemaking for a Senate impeachment trial that completely ignores the input of Democratic Senators calling for witness testimony as part of a trial:

McConnell said Tuesday hehas locked down sufficient backing in his 53-member caucus to pass a blueprint for the trial that leaves the question of seeking witnesses and documents until after opening arguments are made.

That framework would mirror the contours of President Bill Clinton’s trial and ignore Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s demands for witnesses and new evidence at the outset…

…McConnell’s strategy has key backing from the handful of Republican swing votes heading into the trial, though many senators, like Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), had hoped Schumer and McConnell could come to an agreement.

“We’ve gotten so snarled up with debate over witnesses that the two leaders haven’t been able to come to terms on this first phase so it looks like we’ll go forward with a Republican [package],” said Murkowski, who said she would support McConnell’s proposal.

So-called moderate Senators like Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins are the names most often mentioned today as reluctantly siding with McConnell’s power play, but as local reporters have figured out, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner should be on this same list.

As Colorado Pols readers well know, Gardner has been ducking and dodging for months on questions about President Trump’s impeachment. On Monday, The Denver Post and other reporters called Gardner out on his persistent obfuscation on the subject. Gardner, meanwhile, responded to new questions with a silly “But…Nancy Pelosi!” retort.

Key witnesses — such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton say they are willing to testify, and some Senate Republicans have paid lip service to the idea of allowing witnesses in a Senate trial (no doubt partly because they understand that the evidence against Trump is going to keep piling up either way). Gardner, however, isn’t even pretending that he will do anything other than whatever McConnell tells him to do.

Cory Gardner is completely in the tank for President Trump. Colorado reporters have figured that out, and their national counterparts won’t be far behind.

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