The Get More Smarter Show: April 14, 2019

Today on the Get More Smarter Show: host Jason Bane sits down with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to talk about the 2018 elections, Weiser’s agenda and accomplishments in just a few short months in office, and the greatest video game ever.

Catch up on previous Get More Smarter Show episodes here, and thanks for watching!

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 23)

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

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 22)

If you have gone the entire month without once writing “2018,” then give yourself a nice pat on the back. Now, let’s “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The federal government shutdown is now in its 32nd day, and supporters of President Trump are increasingly getting fed up with the man they helped elect to the White House. From the Washington Post:

“What the [expletive] were we thinking?”  [Pols emphasis] he asked the other night inside a Walmart here, in an area of blue-collar suburban Detroit that helped deliver the presidency to Trump.

While Trump’s relationship with much of his base remains strong, two years after his inauguration his ties are fraying with voters like Jeff Daudert, the kind who voted in droves for Trump in key pockets throughout the industrial Midwest, flipping previously Democratic states to him in 2016. The shutdown fight, as it has played out over the past month, is further eroding the president’s support among voters who like the idea of beefing up border security — but not enough to close the government.

Many here, even those who still support Trump, say they hold him most responsible. They recite his comment from the Oval Office that he would be “proud to shut down the government.” When he said it, they listened. [Pols emphasis]

“What the [expletive] were we thinking?” If there is a more perfect quote for Trump supporters, we’d love to see it.

 

► In local shutdown news, Colorado has spent more than $100,000 on unemployment benefits for federal workers who aren’t getting paychecks anymore; Gov. Jared Polis authorized an emergency rule to allow federal employees who remain on the job (without pay) to apply for unemployment benefits.

As the Denver Post reports, the shutdown is causing significant economic damage across a broad range of sectors in Colorado.

 

Senate Republicans have ceded the shutdown/border wall debate to President Trump, offering little resistance to their man in the White House. And as Politico reports, upcoming Senate legislation to end the shutdown is filled with sharp, pointy bits that won’t do much for a compromise:

A 1,300-page spending bill released by Senate Republicans Monday night contains provisions to restrict asylum and other hard-line immigration changes that make it unlikely to generate bipartisan support.

Democrats already were poised to reject President Donald Trump’s proposal to pass his $5.7 billion funding request for a border wall in exchange for temporary protections for some immigrants brought to the United States as children and others covered by a humanitarian status. But hawkish measures embedded in the Republican spending bill will give Democrats even more reason to spurn the legislation.

“This is a Stephen Miller special,” Kerri Talbot, a director with the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Hub, told reporters Tuesday. “It’s a Trojan horse with many extreme immigration proposals included.”

The bill doesn’t appear likely to end a partial shutdown of the federal government that stretched into its 32nd day Tuesday.

Elsewhere, CNN takes a look at six potential scenarios that could possibly lead to an end of the government shutdown.

 

► Republican State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Weld County) is getting blasted in both local and national press over comments she made suggesting that white and black people were lynched in equal numbers after Reconstruction (comments first reported here at Colorado Pols). Here’s a brief rundown of the coverage.

You know you done f*cked up when even Fox News calls you out.

 

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Signs of the Times at Denver’s #ProtectMueller Rally: “Gardner Grow A Spine”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

With less than 24 hours’ notice, hundreds of Coloradans gathered at the West Steps of the state capitol on Thursday evening to protest President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker to be acting Attorney General of the United States. Whitaker had been AG Jeff Sessions’ Chief of Staff. He has publicly argued that Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation has gone too far and that President Trump has the authority to end it whenever he wants.

Speakers included Senator Michael Bennet, Congressmen-elect Joe Neguse and Jason Crow, Attorney General-elect Phil Weiser, State Rep. Joe Salazar (D – Thornton), and AME Shorter Church Pastor Dr. Timothy Tyler.

Gardner Sign at Protect Mueller Rally

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Get More Smarter on Monday (October 29)

Just vote. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Still haven’t voted? Still waiting for a ballot? Head on over to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on voting centers, ballot drop-off locations, or for resources to check on the status of your mail ballot. Click here for the latest ballot return numbers.

 

► Colorado leaders are reacting to Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Huge crowds turned out for a vigil at Denver’s oldest synagogue on Sunday.

The reaction from President Trump’s administration has been…different. During a press briefing today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that President Trump “has brought our country together.” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, meanwhile, blamed something she called “anti-religiosity.”

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Trump’s amoral Presidency is changing everything:

On the day that the man who killed 11 Jewish people in a synagogue — inspired by the baseless claims that prominent Jews were funding a migrant caravan moving across Mexico — is set to appear in court for the first time, and just days removed from the arrest of a man who sent more than a dozen pipe bombs to prominent Democrats as well as a media organization, the President of the United States had this to say on Twitter:

“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!”

So. The reason, according to Donald Trump, that we have “anger” and “Outrage” in this country, and that he is not able to “bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony,” is because the media reports fake stories.

Elsewhere, Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh say that President Trump is not welcome in their city until he completely denounces “white nationalism” and stops targeting minorities in his rhetoric. Trump plans to visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday anyway.

► The accused “MAGA Bomber,” Florida man Cesar Sayoc, will face charges in federal court today. Filmmaker Michael Moore has released footage of Sayoc from a Trump rally in Florida in 2017 that undercuts Trump’s claims that he is not responsible for inciting violence among his followers.

 

► President Trump has ordered more soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border to await the scary convoy of immigrant women and children moving north. From the Washington Post:

The Trump administration is preparing to send thousands of additional U.S. troops to the border with Mexico, U.S. officials said Monday, as President Trump likened a caravan of Central American migrants to “an invasion.”

One Department of Homeland Security official with knowledge of the planning said 5,000 active-duty soldiers would be temporarily sent to the border, but two other U.S. officials cautioned that the final number had yet to be determined by the Pentagon.

It was not immediately clear why the scale of the mobilization increased fivefold from the 800 to 1,000 troops that Defense officials were discussing last week. The additional personnel would join roughly 2,000 National Guard troops assigned to the border since April, and the combined force would be the largest deployment there in at least a decade.

Check this story from BBC News for some important answers to questions about the convoy.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (October 26)

Monday, October 29 is the last day to register for a mail ballot in Colorado. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Voter Service and Polling Centers are now open. Head on over to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on voting centers, ballot drop-off locations, or for resources to check on the status of your mail ballot. Click here to see the latest ballot return numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State.

 

Authorities have arrested a person believed to be the “MAGA Bomber” after a dozen explosive devices were sent to Democratic figures and media outlets such as CNN. As NBC News reports:

A man in Florida was taken into custody Friday and will be charged in connection with the series of bombs found this week addressed to critics of President Donald Trump, law enforcement officials said shortly after the latest two devices were found.

Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, who has been previously arrested on unspecified charges, is currently in custody, law enforcement officials said. DNA evidence played a role in the arrest, law enforcement told NBC News.

Investigators in the Plantation, Florida, parking lot where Sayoc was arrested could be seen placing a tarp over a van with windows covered with dozens of pictures of Trump and decals, one of which appeared to be a version of a presidential seal.

Conservative commentators have been trying to float the idea that the mail bombs were some sort of “false flag” operation to benefit Democrats ahead of the mid-term election, and President Trump had been lamenting the media coverage of the story as recently as this morning. From the Washington Post:

President Trump lamented Friday that the news media was more focused on covering “this ‘Bomb’ stuff” rather than politics, a development he asserted was slowing Republican momentum in advance of the Nov. 6 midterms.

“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows — news not talking politics,” Trump said in a midmorning tweet. “Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”

His tweet came as authorities recovered two more potential explosive devices sent to public figures, the latest packages addressed to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.

Trump also sent out a Tweet critical of CNN’s news coverage of the investigation at 3:00 in the morning today.

As Danielle Campoamor writes for NBC News, history shows that you “cannot stoke ideological divides and then be appalled when those who listen to you take action.” CNN takes a detailed look at incendiary remarks from Trump and his allies in relation to the bomb threats.

 

► It continues to look like Republican Rep. Mike Coffman will be ousted in CO-6, which could make the battle for CO-3 the race to watch in the next 10 days. As Westword reports:

When we first previewed this race over the summer, we’d predicted Tipton would “be able to dictate the key issues in the election” because of an expected sizable cash advantage, but Tipton’s money advantage isn’t as large as one might have thought this late in the campaign. Based on the more important cash-on-hand statistics, Tipton still has a solid cash advantage over Mitsch Bush heading into the home stretch (about $491,000 to $408,000). But it’s close enough that Tipton probably won’t be able to fully dictate the terms of the debate in the final days leading up to the election and through mail-in early voting.

According to Nate Silver’s number-crunching data website FiveThirtyEight, Mitsch Bush has an approximately 44 percent chance of winning on November 6, tilting the race into FiveThirtyEight’s “toss-up” column. That figure, strikingly enough, is far closer than FiveThirtyEight’s assessment of the 6th race, which gives Democratic challenger Jason Crow a roughly 86 percent chance of ousting Republican incumbent Mike Coffman.

 

A new ad goes after Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams for spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on $700 boots and a $475 cowboy hat.

 

 

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Will The President Endorse Other Trump-Loving Candidates In Colorado?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton’s “complete and total endorsement” this week by Trump came as a surprise, in part because other Colorado candidates, who’ve also backed Trump, did not get the President’s kiss of approval.

Colorado’s Republican candidate for governor appears to be the only candidate who’s invited Trump to Colorado to campaign with him, but other local Republicans have lavishly and loyally supported Trump.

For example, George Brauchler, who’s battling Democrat Phil Weiser to be Colorado’s Attorney General, told fellow Republicans last year that “we’re in pretty damn good hands right now” with Trump, and he called on other GOP candidates to come forward and tell voters if they also cast a ballot for the President.

“And I’m here to tell you I voted for Donald Trump,” Brauchler told the group. “…If you listen to the news, you think we’re on the verge of some sort of Constitutional crisis. This tells me we’re all in pretty damn good hands right now in terms of the United States of America.”

A handful of local state senate races will determine whether Republicans lose their majority in the chamber–and likely hand control of Colorado state government to Democrats.

Some of the Republican candidates in these senate races have stayed silent when it comes to Trump, but Littleton GOP State Sen. Tim Neville, who faces Democrat Tammy Story, is a loyal and vocal Trump backer, who joined other Trump leaders in Colorado this year in celebrating Trump’s “year of greatness” to mark the President’s first full year in office.

Beth Martinez Humenik (front right)

Beth Martinez Humenik, who’s facing Faith Winter in a swing Adams County district, appears to be in Trump’s camp due to the fact that she recently appeared with the President’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and gave him the thumbs up in a photograph.

An email to Humenik’s office seeking clarification of her stance on Trump was not returned. Calls to Wheat Ridge Republican Christine Jensen and to Tony Sanchez, who’s running for a Lakewood senate seat, were also not returned.

On the Democratic side, President Barack Obama endorsed the Democratic candidates, including Winter and Story, in the key races that will likely determine which party controls Colorado’s senate chamber.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 26)

On this day in 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first female candidate to receive a major party’s nomination for President; things kinda went downhill from there. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► Congressional Republicans, led by the (ahem) “Freedom Caucus,” introduced a resolution late Wednesday to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on account of Rosenstein being mean to President Trump. As the Washington Post explains:

The effort, led by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also sets up a showdown with House Republican leaders, who have distanced themselves from calls to remove Rosenstein from office. But Meadows and Jordan stopped short of forcing an immediate vote on the measure, sparing Republican lawmakers for now from a potential dilemma.

“We’re tired of the Justice Department giving us the finger and not giving us the information we’re entitled to to do our constitutional duty,” Jordan said Wednesday night in a Fox News Channel appearance alongside Meadows. “More importantly, the American people are sick of it. That’s why we filed the resolution.”

Justice Department officials have said they have provided the vast majority of information sought in subpoenas from two key House committees — and are nearly done with providing all the outstanding information requested in those subpoenas. Democrats have said that House Republicans’ clashes with Rosenstein are little more than a pretext to weaken Mueller’s efforts.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters today that he opposes the impeachment effort, saying “I don’t think we should be cavalier with this process or this term. I don’t think this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

It’s unclear how this effort will move forward, given that the House is wrapping up business today before leaving for the August recess. It’s also unclear why conservative Republicans would leave this turd in the punchbowl just before heading to their home districts for the next month, though Rep. Jordan’s ambition to become the next House Speaker is likely related.

 

► The word of the day is “emoluments,” as the New York Times reports:

A lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by maintaining a financial interest in his company’s Washington hotel cleared a critical hurdle on Wednesday when a federal judge allowed the case to move forward.

In the first judicial opinion to define how the meaning of the Constitution’s anticorruption clauses should apply to a president, Judge Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Md., said the framers’ language should be broadly construed as an effort to protect against influence-peddling by state and foreign governments.

He ruled that the lawsuit should proceed to the evidence-gathering stage, which could clear the way for an examination of financial records that the president has consistently refused to disclose. The Justice Department is expected to forestall that by seeking an emergency stay and appealing the ruling.

The two constitutional clauses at issue restrict a president’s ability to accept financial benefits or “emoluments” from domestic or foreign governments, other than his official salary. No federal judge before has ever interpreted what those bans mean for the president.

This is most assuredly NOT good news for President Trump.

 

You can add Colorado farmers to the long — and growing — list of Americans who are suffering from President Trump’s disastrous trade policies. Congressional Republicans are growing increasingly concerned about Trump’s tariff bloodlust, which may have played a role in Trump dialing back trade rhetoric with the European Union.

Trump is in Iowa and Illinois today, where he is likely to hear plenty of disagreement over his trade wars.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 29)

It’s hotter than Donald Trump’s bowels outside; don’t forget your hat and sunscreen this weekend! 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► Thursday saw the 154th mass shooting in the United States in 2018 alone. The Washington Post reports on the massacre at a newsroom in Maryland:

A man with a vendetta against a newspaper in Annapolis, Md., is due in court Friday morning to face charges of murder after a Thursday afternoon shooting left five people dead and two injured.

Officials say Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, fired a shotgun through the glass doors of the Capital Gazette newsroom and then turned the weapon on his victims, carrying out what appears to be the deadliest attack on journalists in the United States in decades.

On Friday, the opinion page of the Capital Gazette read, “Today we are speechless.”

It went on, “This page is intentionally left blank today to commemorate victims of Thursday’s shooting at our office.”

This story for Bloomberg News attempts to answer the question of why American laws on gun violence aren’t changing despite overwhelming public support for new regulations.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has no problem with ramming through a new Supreme Court Justice just two years after he participated in Republican efforts in the Senate to deny a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s last SCOTUS nominee, Merrick Garland

 

 As 9News reports, the U.S. Senate passed a farm bill that could legalize hemp…if the House of Representatives can find agreement:

Congress doesn’t seem likely to legalize marijuana anytime soon, but hemp— a non-intoxicating version of the same species of plants– would be removed from the list of federal controlled substances.

Hemp (sometimes referred to as “industrial hemp” in legal speak) is any strain of cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive drug found in marijuana. You can think of it as the cannabis equivalent of non-alcoholic beer.

In Colorado, it’s mainly grown for food in the form of hemp seed and oil. It’s also grown commonly here for CBD, a natural compound in cannabis that doesn’t get you high but does have medical uses for things like seizures.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 28)

If you still have a ballot sitting on your kitchen table, you should recycle it or something. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► Republican leaders have confirmed that they will push for a quick confirmation hearing of a new Supreme Court nominee after Wednesday’s news that Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire. As the Washington Post explains:

The vacancy promises to play a prominent role in the midterm elections, with leaders in both parties seeking to energize their voters by promoting the nomination fight as one with dramatic consequences for the country. Even if Kennedy’s replacement is confirmed before voters head to the polls in November, strategists in both parties said the intense focus on the court pick will be a galvanizing issue.

“Nothing less than the fate of our health-care system, reproductive rights for women and countless other protections for middle-class Americans are at stake,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech, calling the Kennedy vacancy the “most important . . . in at least a generation.”

Republicans are pitching the opening as an opportunity to lock in a reliably conservative majority after years of decisions that hung on which way Kennedy would vote. Referring to the court opening and rulings on issues such as the president’s entry ban, unions and abortion, Josh Holmes, a longtime adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said, “For anybody who is right of center, this entire week has been five straight Super Bowls.”

There is a strong likelihood that Roe v. Wade could be overturned within 18 months depending on how the new SCOTUS nomination plays out. This is not hyperbole.

Politico breaks down five key issues where a new Supreme Court Justice could portend major changes in the United States for generations to come.

 

President Trump is preparing for an in-person meeting in Helsinki next month with Russian President Vladimir Putin by once again trying to discount the idea of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. From CNN:

President Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on US intelligence assessments that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential contest, just as his aides announced details of his upcoming summit talks with President Vladimir Putin.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. He went on to question why US law enforcement agencies weren’t investigating other perceived influences on the election, which he has repeatedly said was rigged for his opponent Hillary Clinton.

“Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t Shady James Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!” he wrote.

The President’s tweet was sent roughly a half hour before the White House announced the two leaders will meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, where they will “discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues.”

Make America Russia Great Again!

 

 Check out our list of Winners and Losers from the 2018 Colorado Primary Election. Two tight statewide races were unofficially concluded on Wednesday when Phil Weiser captured the Democratic nomination for Attorney General and Brian Watson emerged victorious in a Republican Primary for State Treasurer. Democrat Joe Salazar is not conceding the race for Attorney General, but the math is not on his side.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, more than 1.17 million people cast a ballot in the Primary.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 18)

Don’t forget to get those Primary ballots in the mail or deliver them to a nearby ballot drop (the latter option is probably better at this point). Check GoVoteColorado.com for more information. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

The Trump administration policy to separate innocent children from their families as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration is quickly becoming one of the biggest issues of 2018, with media outlets descending on Southern U.S. border areas to report on a sickening crisis. As the Washington Post reports, pushback from all sides has been swift:

President Trump doubled down Monday on his insistence that Democrats are to blame for the administration’s forced separation of migrant children from their families at the border, even as some Republicans urged him to reverse course…

…Contrary to Trump’s claims, the separations largely stem from a “zero-tolerance” policy announced with fanfare last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As more families are stopped for illegally crossing the border, adults are taken to detention facilities that are effectively jails, and children are sent elsewhere.

The White House also has interpreted a 1997 legal agreement and a 2008 bipartisan human trafficking bill as requiring the separation of families — a posture not taken by the George W. Bush or Obama administrations. [Pols emphasis]…

…“The President should immediately end this family separation policy,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a lengthy Facebook post Monday. He said Trump doesn’t need Congress to change course on “the horrors of family separation.”

“The administration’s decision to separate families is a new, discretionary choice,” Sasse wrote. “Anyone saying that their hands are tied or that the only conceivable way to fix the problem of catch-and-release is to rip families apart is flat wrong.”

President Trump is trying hard to maintain his line that this hardline policy is somehow the fault of Congressional Democrats, but it is indisputably true that these enhanced enforcement measures began under the Trump administration. Here’s the New York Times:

President Trump remained resistant on Monday in the face of growing public outcry over his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, repeating the false assertion that Democrats were the ones to blame for it, and suggesting that criminals — not parents — were toting juveniles to the United States…

…In a series of tweets and speeches on Monday, Mr. Trump instead relied on fear to curry support for a “zero tolerance” policy that refers for criminal prosecution all immigrants apprehended crossing the border without authorization. The president used the threat of gang violence and other crime, and a change in the fabric of American culture as a means to stoke support among supporters and push Congress into figuring out a way to drum up funding for his long-promised border wall.

Former First Lady Laura Bush is among the notable Republicans condemning the Trump policies, which she blasted in a harsh editorial published on Sunday. Meanwhile, Dara Lind explains for Vox.com why Trump’s strategy of blaming Democrats doesn’t work in this case:

As a matter of policy, the US government is separating families who seek asylum in the US by crossing the border illegally.

To be clear, there is no official Trump policy stating that every family entering the US without papers has to be separated. What there is is a policy that all adults caught crossing into the US illegally are supposed to be criminally prosecuted — and when that happens to a parent, separation is inevitable.

Still unconvinced that this policy actually comes from the Trump administration? Try this CBS News story.

► Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today refused to apologize for the Trump administration policies — sparking calls for her resignationStephen Collinson and Lauren Fox of CNN wonder how long the White House can sustain this policy. NBC News takes a detailed look at life inside the chain-link fences at an immigration processing center in Texas.

 

► Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today joined Governors from across the country in refusing to use state resources for the Trump administration’s family-separation enforcement methods :

For more local coverage on reaction to the Trump immigration policies, check out the Colorado Independent, the Longmont Times-Call, and the Grand Junction Sentinel.

 

 

 Colorado’s Primary Election finally concludes in about a week. Tell us who you think will win the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominations, respectfully. 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 29)

Let’s get you caught up on everything that happened over the Memorial Day weekend. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

President Trump is taking his anti-Robert Mueller conspiracy theories to new heights (or lows, really). As CNN explains:

President Donald Trump alleged Tuesday — without providing any evidence — that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will meddle in the midterm elections to benefit Democrats…

Trump’s claim is his latest attack on the credibility of the Russia investigation as being politically motivated, though it’s a significant new step in his attacks on what is intended to be an independent probe working to get to the bottom of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

“The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls,” Trump tweeted. “There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!”…

…Tuesday’s conspiracy theory was accompanied by a barrage of Trump tweets on the Russia probe, which repeated his previous requests for investigations into his political enemies.

As Z. Byron Wolf writes in a separate story for CNN, Trump’s demonization of Mueller and the special investigation might be working as intended.

 

 As the Washington Post reports, Trump is pushing ahead with his plan to institute massive tariffs on goods from China:

President Trump said Tuesday that he would proceed with tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports and introduce new limits on Chinese investment in U.S. high-tech industries as part of a broad campaign to crack down on Chinese acquisition of U.S. technology.

“The United States will implement specific investment restrictions and enhanced export controls for Chinese people and entities related to the acquisition of industrially significant technology,” the White House said in a brief statement.

Specifics of the new limits will be announced by June 30 and will take effect “shortly thereafter,” the White House said. In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 400 points, or 1.7 percent, on renewed concerns over the unsettled Italian political situation and U.S.-China tensions.

The moves come less than 10 days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the trade war with China was “on hold” and appear designed to create bargaining leverage for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is due to arrive in Beijing on Saturday for talks aimed at cooling trade tensions between the two countries.

The stock market was down for most of the day on Tuesday in part because of economic fears over Trump’s proposed tariffs.

 

► The U.S. Supreme Court issued an important ruling on Tuesday that could allow an Arkansas law to take effect that essentially seeks to block medication-induced abortions. Meanwhile, the Associated Press takes a look at some big LGBTQ-rights cases in the Supreme Court pipeline — including the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that originated in Colorado:

A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision in the case of a Lakewood baker who would not create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Courts are engaged in two broad types of cases on this issue, weighing whether sex discrimination laws apply to LGBT people and also whether businesses can assert religious objections to avoid complying with anti-discrimination measures in serving customers, hiring and firing employees, providing health care and placing children with foster or adoptive parents.

The outcome of baker Jack Phillips’ fight at the Supreme Court could indicate how willing the justices are to carve out exceptions to anti-discrimination laws; that’s something the court has refused to do in the areas of race and sex.

Colorado Public Radio has more on potential outcomes in the Masterpiece Bakeshop case. The Supreme Court could announce its decision on “Masterpiece” as soon as this week.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 8)

Today is the 73rd anniversary of VE Day. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► It’s (Primary) Election Day in several states. Voters will make some important choices today in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia.

In West Virginia, ex-con coal baron Don Blankenship might be surging at the right time. If Blankenship is able to win a three-way race for the Republican Senate nomination, re-election will get a whole lot easier for Democratic Sen. Joe Minchin (and the 2018 cycle will get a lot worse for Sen. Cory Gardner, chair of the NRSC).

In Ohio, Republican candidates are jockeying for the right to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November. Also in Ohio, former Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich tries to resurrect his political career with a victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Republicans in Indiana are fighting a nasty battle to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is widely considered to be among the most vulnerable incumbents of 2018.

And in North Carolina…there are some moderately-interesting primary races for a couple of Congressional seats.

For more on today’s big races, check out Politico’s “seven things to watch.” That’s two more “things to watch” than the Huffington Post will discuss.

 

► The 2018 legislative session in Colorado comes to a close on Wednesday. In the meantime, lawmakers are rushing to complete work on several important pieces of legislation, including a transportation and infrastructure bill that was the first Senate bill introduced this year (SB-1). Blair Miller of Denver7 explains the transportation compromise:

According to the chamber leaders, the amended bill would put $495 million in General Fund money into transportation projects this year, and an additional $150 million next year.

The state would then send $50 million in General Fund money each of the following years.

The amended version also would ask state voters to approve a $2.3 billion transportation bonding measure in 2019, which the lawmakers say would be paid off by the General Fund appropriations. The funds would be split: 70 percent would go to state highway projects, 15 percent to local road projects, and another 15 percent would go to transit “multi-modal” projects.

The maximum estimated repayment could amount to $3.25 billion when combined with transportation money passed during last year’s session.

 

► The Republican-controlled Senate killed a “Red Flag” bill on Monday despite wide support among law enforcement officials. From the Denver Post:

A contentious measure that would have allowed Colorado judges to order the seizure of guns from people considered a “significant risk” to themselves or others was rejected Monday night by Republicans in a GOP-controlled state Senate panel.

The so-called “red flag” legislation — House Bill 1436 — failed on a 3-2, party-line vote in the Senate’s State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, as expected.

The measure’s demise comes after it cleared the Democratic-controlled House on Friday night by a 37-23 vote — with only two Republicans voting “aye.” One of those was Assistant House Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial, a prime sponsor of the legislation along with Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver.

Despite its legislative failure, the “Red Flag” bill will likely reverberate for months as candidates for major office in Colorado are asked to give their opinions on the proposal.

 

President Trump is expected to squash a waiver of sanctions against Iran, a key part of the United States’ participation in a controversial 2015 deal with Iran over its nuclear weapon pursuits. From the Washington Post:

The decision follows the failure of last-ditch efforts by the three European signatories to the agreement to convince Trump that his concerns about “flaws” in the 2015 accord could be addressed without violating its terms or ending it altogether.

While the deal itself contains no provisions for withdrawal, Iran has threatened to reactivate its nuclear program if the United States reneges on any of its obligations under the pact’s terms.

France and Germany, whose leaders visited Washington in recent weeks to appeal to Trump, have warned that nullification of the agreement could lead to all-out war in the Middle East. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in Washington on Monday, said that as far as he knows, the administration has no clear “Plan B” for what to do next.

The New York Times reports that Trump has already informed French President Emmanuel Macron of his intentions to essentially scuttle the Iran deal.

 

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Colorado Democratic Assembly Results

Colorado Democrats assembled at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield from Friday, April 13, to Saturday, April 14, 2018. The crowd of almost 4,000 Democrats were enthusiastic, engaged, yet civil (in contrast to the stunning back-stabbing and skullduggery at the Republican assembly) . The CDP Assembly was superbly well-organized, with balloting completed in about a half hour, and counted in less than two hours.  Kudos to Chair Morgan Carroll and all of the CDP staff and volunteers.

All of the  congressional districts held their own assemblies; many candidates had primary challengers or Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents. In this “blue wave” year, no office held by the GOP can be considered to be off-limits. Democrats in Colorado put forward a slate of phenomenal candidates.

The official results from the Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) for statewide offices are:

CU Regent-at-Large
Lesley Smith: 3,229 votes (100.00%)

Based on these results, Lesley Smith has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for CU Regent-at-Large.

Treasurer
Bernard Douthit: 1,074 votes (31.50%)
Charles Scheibe: 557 votes (16.34%)
Dave Young: 1,778 votes (52.16%)

Based on these results, Bernard Douthit and Dave Young have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Treasurer.

Secretary of State
Jena Griswold: 3,352 votes (98.44%)
Phillip Villard: 53 votes (1.56%)

Based on these results, Jena Griswold has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Secretary of State.

Attorney General
Amy Padden: 360 votes (10.54%)
Joe Salazar: 1,249 votes (36.58%)
Phil Weiser: 1,805 votes (52.87%)

Based on these results, Joe Salazar and Phil Weiser have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Attorney General. Amy Padden can qualify for the ballot if the Secretary of State determines that she has collected the requisite number of valid signatures.

Governor
Cary Kennedy: 2,101 votes (61.65%)
Jared Polis: 1,120 votes (32.86%)
Erik Underwood: 187 votes (5.49%)

Based on these results, Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Governor.

NOTE: These are not all of the candidates that are running for these particular offices. Some candidates have chosen to qualify for the ballot by submitting petition signatures instead of going through the caucus-assembly process.

Here are the CD results in order: ( rounded to nearest 1%). I’ll update this list with numbers as I find them.

I’ve included my notes on the assemblies I attended and on the speakers I heard.

CD1: (Denver metro)Diana Degette – 61% . Her primary opponent, Saira Rao , got 37%, and  will be on the ballot. Rep. Degette has been a reliable Democratic vote for many years in a safe district – I think Rao’s candidacy will be a needed wake-up call to be more progressive and to offer better constituent services. Rao is sharp, a great speaker, and has energized the progressive base. Degette attended her CD1 assembly on April 13 , did not attend nor speak at the state assembly April 14.

CD2: (Boulder area – Jared Polis vacated the seat to run for Governor) Joe Negeuse – 91% Joe gave a helluva speech, as he always does. His personal story touches many people. Boulder will be well represented by him, as he’ll certainly win the primary, and almost certainly the general election. His primary opponent, Mark Williams, did not make the ballot.  The GOP has put up a couple of “Nicks” against Neguse: Nick Thomas and Nicholas Morse. I don’t know who won the GOP assembly vote, but they won’t beat “the Goose”.

CD3: (most of the western slope and SW CO – currently held by Scott Tipton) Diane Mitsch Bush had the highest delegate vote with 56%; Karl Harlon also cleared the 30% threshold with 41%, and will be on the ballot.

CD4: (Mostly NE CO – current incumbent Ken Buck) The Doctors were in the house! Veterinary doctors Karen McCormick and Chase Kohne each had throngs of energetic supporters on stage for their nominations. Each gave a rousing speech:

Kohne’s best line, in my opinion: “If you want to shoot an AR15, go down to the recruiting office and join the military.”

McCormick’s nominators are emphasizing Dr McCormick’s support for Dreamers and immigrants. Karen McCormick emphasized Cannabis, immigrant rights, healthcare, union support, bipartisan cooperation to get laws passed. Full disclosure: I live in CD4. I’m voting for McCormick, will be fine with Kohne as well.

CD5 (El Paso area, currently held by Doug Lamborn) Stephany Rose Spaulding won the delegate count and will be on the ballot. I don’t know about the other CD5 candidates, whom you can read about at the EPCO Young Dems site.  It’s great to see so many young Democrats running from what has6been the Tea Party GOP’s bastion in Colorado.

CD6 Aurora / Arapahoe County area, currently held by Mike Coffman. Jason Crow won top ballot with 64% , while Levi Tilleman will also be on the ballot with 35%. I saw Crow speak to the assembly, and found his persona to be authentic and appealing. PPP surveyed 761 voters, and found that Crow polled 44-39 against Coffman in Febrary 2018.

CD7 Ed Perlmutter, the Democratic incumbent, did not attend the Assembly as far as I know. Ed, a very popular Congressman in his district,  is not  being primaried in this election.

 

Author’s note – this diary started as an open thread based on my  live blogging at the Colorado State Assembly. I’ve updated it with ballot results.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (the 13th)

Do you know how many movies have been released as part of the “Friday the 13th” franchise? If you guessed “12,” then you’re already pretty smart. Still, 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tells friends that he is prepared to be fired by President Trump. From NBC News:

One source who spoke to Rosenstein said he seemed fully aware he may soon lose his job and was at peace with the possibility, confident he had done his job with integrity…

If Rosenstein is fired, the next in line to oversee Mueller’s probe is Solicitor General Noel Francisco, though Trump could choose to replace Rosenstein with anyone who has been confirmed by the Senate.

 

► The State Assemblies for both Democrats and Republicans will be held on Saturday. The big contests are obviously those for Governor, but both parties also need to vote among candidates for State Treasurer. Among Democrats, there is also an important contest for Attorney General.

Last night, two Republican candidates for Governor (and Greg Lopez) participated in a debate on 9News that was notable largely for the roundhouse punches thrown at Walker Stapleton by Mitt Romney’s Nephew.

 

► President Trump reportedly plans to pardon Scooter Libby, former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, largely to send a message to potential witnesses in an investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller. From the Washington Post:

President Trump’s plan to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby is the latest signal to his associates that he has the power and inclination to reward those who stay loyal during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Libby was convicted of four felonies, including obstruction of justice and perjury before a grand jury, related to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame during his time as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000.

Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House from 2005 to 2007, tweeted: “So what’s the message here? Lie to a grand jury to protect political superiors and you will get a full pardon?”

Um, yeah, pretty much.

 

► Former FBI Director James Comey is promoting his new book set to be released last week, and early reports indicate a bombshell of a tome. CNN’s Chris Cillizza runs down 11 of the most incredible parts of Comey’s memo that have already been released. Nothing in Comey’s book, however, may be bigger than the revelation that the “pee pee tape” could be real. From the Daily Beast:

We regret to inform you that James Comey, the former director of the FBI, says it’s “possible” that a pee tape involving Donald Trump and Russian prostitutes actually exists.

The most infamous section of the Steele dossier, which was full of salacious claims involving Trump and Russia, included a totally unverified claim that the now-president paid prostitutes in 2013 to pee on a Moscow hotel bed where Barack and Michelle Obama once slept.

In his new book, Comey revealed Trump asked him to investigate the claim that any such video existed in order to prove that it wasn’t true. In an interview Friday on Good Morning America, Comey said for the first time that the near-mythical tape could really exist.

Of course the “pee pee tape” might be real. Seriously — would anyone in America actually be surprised to learn that this is a real thing?

Meanwhile, the White House is prepping an all-out messaging war against Comey. Trump is attacking Comey as a “slime ball,” but Politico writes that the President may be on the verge of a complete explosion (or implosion — some kind of ‘splosion, anyway).

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 15)

Read this and then you can get back to pretending you aren’t watching March Madness. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Thousands of Colorado students joined their peers across the country in walking out of school on Wednesday as a protest of inaction from elected officials on gun violence; the Wall Street Journal estimates that more than 1 million students took part nationwide. CNN ponders the next steps in the movement to stop gun violence.

In the middle of Wednesday’s #NationalStudentWalkout, the NRA responded with this nonsense:


► Students and others who wonder why Congress won’t do anything about gun violence need look no further than Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). This story is only going to get worse for Gardner.

 

► The Trump administration announced new sanctions against Russia over meddling in the 2016 election that President Trump won’t really admit actually happened. From the Washington Post:

The Trump administration on Thursday imposed fresh financial sanctions on Russian government hackers and spy agencies to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election, and for a cyberattack against Ukraine and other countries last year that officials have characterized as “the most destructive and costly” in history.

Sanctions also were imposed on individuals known as “trolls” and the Russian organizations that supported their efforts to undermine the election. Additionally, the administration alerted the public that Russia is targeting the U.S. energy grid with computer malware that could sabotage the systems.

Taken together, the moves represent the administration’s most significant actions to date against Russia for its aggression against the United States. They are intended to deter tampering with this year’s midterm elections while signaling to Russia that Washington will not allow its attacks to go unchallenged, officials said.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 5)

The Groundhog saw his shadow on Friday, which is bad news; but the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, so the weekend ended on a high note. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► A new bipartisan immigration plan may soon be debated in the U.S. Senate. As the Washington Post reports:

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) formally introduced a bill that would grant permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” and start bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border. But the measure would not immediately authorize spending the $25 billion President Trump is seeking to fortify the border with new wall and fence construction. Some Republicans are seeking at least $30 billion.

The McCain-Coons plan also would grant legal status to dreamers who have been in the country since 2013 — a larger pool of undocumented immigrants than the 1.8 million Trump supports legalizing.

The bill says nothing about curbing family-based legal migration or making changes to the diversity lottery program — two other priorities for Trump and conservative Republicans.

 

► Congressional Democrats are planning to push for a vote today on releasing their “rebuttal” of the controversial “Nunes memo,” prompting President Trump to delve into his shallow bag of stupid nicknames. From CNN:

President Donald Trump accused the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat Monday of criminally leaking sensitive information.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!” Trump tweeted.

In case you were wondering, Trump did NOT provide any evidence whatsoever to indicate that Schiff was leaking sensitive information.

 

► It’s government shutdown time again for Congressional Republicans, as Politico explains:

With government funding running out Thursday night and bipartisan deals on budget caps and immigration still out of reach, House GOP leaders will meet with their members Monday night to decide how to avoid another federal shutdown. A vote to fund the government could come as soon as Tuesday.

Speaker Paul Ryan and House GOP leaders are considering whether to attach additional funding for the Pentagon to a continuing resolution to keep the government operating into late March, according to Republican lawmakers and aides. House leaders hope that will placate GOP defense hawks, who are upset that there has not been a big increase in Pentagon spending as they had hoped when President Donald Trump was elected.

But House Democrats — who want an equal increase in defense and nondefense spending — will not support such a move on the stopgap. That means Ryan and Republicans may have to pass a short-term funding bill on their own — even if the Senate may end up stripping the extra defense money later.

This is also scheduled to be a short work week for Congress, which may only have through Wednesday to figure out how not to shut down the federal government.

 

► House Speaker Paul Ryan had himself an absolutely brutal Twitter moment over the weekend that opens new wounds over the Republican tax plan passed in late December.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 9)

We can’t promise that reading this will make you as brilliant as Donald Trump, but it’s a start. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado legislature kicks off its 2018 session on Wednesday. The Denver Post previews the upcoming action with a list of the eight biggest issues on tap for the next 120 days. Among them: PERA reform, addressing sexual harassment under the Gold Dome, and long, long, long battles on transportation funding.

Elsewhere, the Pueblo Chieftain examines a likely slate of bills targeting heroin abuse.

 

► The Senate Finance Committee begins confirmation hearings today for Alex Azar, the former pharmaceutical company executive nominated by President Trump to be the new Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Azar is expected to face pointed questions from Senate Democrats about his role in driving up drug prices while at the helm of Eli Lilly.

 

► Republican and Democratic leaders are scheduled to meet with President Trump at the White House today to discuss DACA reforms as another funding deadline to keep the federal government running looms on the horizon. From CNN:

Republican and Democrats involved in negotiations over the must-pass January spending deal say that DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — has become the key to unlocking any funding agreement and some are frustrated with how negotiations are unfolding. Republicans charge that Democrats have all but halted talks on spending caps until there is a resolution on DACA, which gives undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children a chance to stay, work or study in the US without fear of deportation.

“Seems to me that Democrats are holding that deal hostage for a DACA negotiation and we are meeting at the White House tomorrow on a bipartisan basis with the President to see what that might look like,” said the Senate’s No. 2, Texas Republican John Cornyn. “But I think that’s going to make the January 19 date pretty hard to hit.”

“It’s a mess,” said one person directly involved in the negotiations.

Colorado Senators Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and Michael Bennet (D-Denver) are both expected to attend today’s White House meeting.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 3)

Nothing shows compassion more than stupid budget jokes. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado Senate Republicans pledged not to do their jobs when the legislature convened for a brief session to fix an unintentional error in SB-267, and that’s exactly what happened on Monday. The editorial board of the Denver Post blasted Republicans for their petty response to a fixable problem:

Colorado’s Republican lawmakers blew off responsibility on the first day of a special legislative session Monday, when three GOP lawmakers cast a spiteful, obstructionist vote to score political points and punish innocent government entities with small but significant erroneous budget cuts.

Clearly, the three Republican senators who cast that very vote on Monday, signaling the end to the October special session just as it began, don’t have an answer for their scorn-worthy actions…

..Certainly, Republicans were entitled to complain about how Gov. John Hickenlooper failed to consult with many GOP leaders before calling a rare special session. Hickenlooper even provided them with additional fodder, floating an ill-conceived proposal that the special districts hurt by the error pay for the $25,000 a day it would cost to bring lawmakers back early.

But once gathered in the Capitol for the work of the people, none of that background noise justifies blocking the simple-fix legislation. [Pols emphasis]

Blair Miller of Denver7 has more on the partisan bickering from Monday. The special session could essentially come to an end today when Senate Republicans kill a House-sponsored fix to SB-267.

 

Colorado lawmakers reacted to the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, with Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) calling on Congress to react swiftly to the deadliest mass shooting in American history. As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, on Monday urged Congress to pass stricter gun control measures in the wake of a mass shooting overnight in Las Vegas that left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 injured.

“I am devastated and horrified, but not shocked,” said Polis in a statement. “Mass shootings must not become the new normal. While I am praying for the victims and everyone affected, I am also calling on my fellow members of Congress to act. If not now, when? We can save lives while protecting our Second Amendment rights.”

Polis’ comments echo those of Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who previously served as a Congressman in the district where the Sandy Hook shootings took place in 2012. Said Murphy on Monday:

“It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.” [Pols emphasis]

Elsewhere, Las Vegas native Jimmy Kimmel delivered an emotional monologue on Monday to open his Jimmy Kimmel Live! television show.

On a more positive note, blood donations in Colorado saw a huge increase in response to the Las Vegas shooting.

 

► President Trump is in Puerto Rico today and is mighty proud of himself for responding to calls for help in the wake of Hurricane Maria. As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump praised himself for the “great job” he claims his administration has done in responding to the hurricane that decimated Puerto Rico last month, speaking as he prepared to depart for his first visit to the devastated island territory.

But Trump’s comments — and his trip to Puerto Rico — come nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria first ravaged the island, and the president will touch down in San Juan amid harsh criticism of the administration’s slow response to the natural disaster.

Trump’s highly scripted visit will include a briefing on relief efforts, a meeting with senior military personnel — as well as with Govs. Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico and Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands — and an opportunity to visit with people impacted by the storm and the Navy and Marine Corps.

The president, who will be accompanied by the first lady, is not expected to stray far from San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city, where recovery is furthest along.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 20)

Get outside and enjoy the weather — just don’t forget your sunscreen. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republicans in Washington D.C. are angry and frustrated over their inability to craft any sort of plausible legislation for repealing Obamacare, and President Trump voiced his displeasure in person during a luncheon at the White House on Wednesday. Later in the day, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of a Senate proposal to repeal — but not replace — Obamacare, and the numbers just keep getting worse. This proposal is similar to legislation that Senators voted on in 2015, and as the Washington Post explains, it’s pretty terrible:

Congressional budget analysts estimated Wednesday that a Senate plan to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act with no immediate replacement would increase the number of people without health coverage by 17 million next year and 32 million at the end of a decade. The forecast by the Congressional Budget Office of the impact on coverage of the Senate GOP’s latest health-care legislation is nearly identical to estimates the CBO made in January based on a similar bill that passed both the House and Senate in late 2015 – and was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.

For those Americans who don’t lose healthcare under this proposal, premiums would DOUBLE within the next few years.

 

► Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in Denver to take part in the right-wing ALEC legislative conference. As Luke Perkins writes for the Durango Herald:

Hundreds of Coloradans protested U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ visit in Denver on Wednesday, largely criticizing her stance on using tax dollars to fund private schools.

DeVos is in Denver to speak at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 44th annual meeting Thursday. The exchange council is a conservative organization focused on providing “model legislation” for lawmakers across the country. Like DeVos, it supports privatizing public schools.

The protest had hallmarks of a Republican versus Democratic showdown, using DeVos’ visit as the catalyst. It quickly went beyond attacks on the secretary of education and the GOP and to attacks on anyone who had promoted efforts to move funds away from traditional public schools…

…“Betsy DeVos is the worst example of these so called ‘reformers,’” said state Sen. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs. “She has never attended, worked in nor sent her children to public schools. She has no government experience and no experience in running a bureaucracy or a large organization.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is also making an appearance at the ALEC conference and will stick around to take part in the Western Conservative Summit this weekend.

 

► Attorney General Jeff Sessions is responding to some pretty negative words from President Trump. As CNN reports:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he plans to continue in his job despite President Donald Trump’s comments that he’d have picked someone else had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

“We love this job. We love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” he told reporters Thursday.

In a New York Times interview published Wednesday, Trump second-guessed his decision to nominate Sessions, an Alabama Republican who was the first sitting senator to back the real estate mogul’s presidential bid.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the President,” Trump said, referring to himself. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the President.” [Pols emphasis]

Trump was referring to Session’s decision to recuse himself from overseeing the FBI investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The attorney general made his decision after it became public that he had previously met on behalf of the Trump campaign with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during an event at the Republican National Convention, and later in his senate office.

As Vox.com reports, Trump’s interview with the New York Times demonstrates his complete disregard for the rule of law.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 6)

Today is National Fried Chicken Day; this is a pretty good Colorado-related marketing stunt. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► President Trump is continuing his nationalist and anti-media rhetoric in Europe this week ahead of the Group of 20 Summit of world leaders in Hamburg, Germany. The New York Times sums up Trump’s talk in Warsaw, Poland with a single paragraph:

At a news conference with President Andrzej Duda of Poland earlier in the day, Mr. Trump broke with his own intelligence agencies by saying he was not convinced that Russia was solely behind the hacking in the 2016 presidential election; he repeated a warning to North Korea after its missile test; and he once again denounced what he called “fake news.”

Poland’s first lady is taking over the Internet thanks to her handshake snub of Trump.

 

► How low can the polls go? The only thing with more downward momentum than Trumpcare is the public opinion of Republicans involved with the healthcare debacle. Here in Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-Yuma) approval ratings have sunk to 27%, largely because voters really don’t like the healthcare proposals championed by Congressional Republicans. Gardner’s numbers have been plummeting in recent months, which is no surprise when you consider that only 50% of Republican voters in Colorado approve of the Senate’s approach to healthcare legislation.

Of course, Gardner’s approval ratings are also going to keep falling the longer he remains hidden away from his constituents.

 

► Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is taking a lot of heat over his decision to comply with requests from the Trump administration to turn over election-related data from Colorado. It doesn’t help Williams’ cause when you consider that 41 other states have refused the request from the Trump administration, citing a refusal to play along with Trump’s unfounded claims of massive election fraud. A good number of these denials are coming from solid red states. The Denver Post breaks down the particulars of this controversy and what it means for Colorado voters.

 

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Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine. And that’s fine. Something I’m missing? Add it in the comments.

LGBT:

Massive Marches may move us, but the  biggest and gayest parade this year in Colorado will be Pridefest, this Sunday June 18. Civic Center Park will host the celebration all weekend. For your daily minimum requirement of fabulousness, go to Pridefest Denver. (Photo from 2016 Pridefest, Wikipedia Commons)

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

LGBT hero: One of the Capitol Police agents wounded in the recent terrorist attack in DC was Crystal Griner, a married lesbian woman. Griner and her fellow officers, including David Bailey , rushed the shooter, taking him down and preventing a massacre.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 5)

Get More SmarterThere is a reason why we only have once Vice Presidential debate. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The first (and, thankfully, only) Vice Presidential debate took place Tuesday night at Longwood University in Virginia. By most accounts, the debate was about as exciting as Colorado Rockies baseball in October. Overall, the VP debate was a bit of a mixed bag for both Presidential campaigns. Many media outlets thought Republican Mike Pence outperformed Democrat Tim Kaine by a slim margin, but as the Washington Post explains, that’s better news for Pence than for Donald Trump:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence sought to stabilize the Republican ticket by accusing his Democratic opponents of the same kind of insults and raw partisanship that have been a hallmark of Donald Trump’s candidacy as he faced off against Sen. Tim Kaine here Tuesday night in a combative and at times grating vice-presidential debate.

With Trump reeling from self-inflicted controversies at a critical juncture in the campaign, Pence projected a steadier temperament than Trump and largely ducked Kaine’s demands to answer for the GOP nominee’s incendiary actions and statements.

But Pence made numerous statements that conflicted with positions taken by Trump. He suggested that Trump would not immediately deport all undocumented immigrants, that he believes military action is warranted to help the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo and that Russia is a dangerous country that the United States must deal with aggressively.

Pence on several instances denied statements that Trump had made in the past, including his assertion that NATO is “obsolete” and his suggestion that Putin is a “stronger” leader than President Obama. Pence repeatedly accused Kaine and Clinton of running “an insult-driven campaign.”

Kaine’s retort: “I’m just saying facts about your running mate.”

Pence repeatedly tried to pretend that Trump didn’t say some of the more bombastic things that everyone knows he has said, which led to some problematic fact-check stories for the Trump campaign. From CNN:

Deportation force. More nations should have nuclear weapons. Punishment for abortion.

At Tuesday’s vice presidential debate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said his running mate Donald Trump never spoke these words.

But as this video shows, the Republican presidential nominee definitely did.

In short, Pence may have eked out a slight victory over Kaine on Tuesday, but it wasn’t a good night for the GOP ticket overall. Since Americans cast their vote for the candidate for President, and not the VP, we’d be inclined to say that Hillary Clinton actually came out ahead at the end of the evening.

Oh…and Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is being forced to refute claims that Trump is upset that he was upstaged by Pence on Tuesday.

 

► Donald Trump’s tax-return story (or, really, his tax-hoarding story) continues to create significant problems for the GOP nominee. News outlets are scrambling to try to figure out the source of the anonymous media tip on Trump’s tax returns, and as The Daily Beast reports…oh, we really hope this is true for sheer entertainment value:

At 1:34 p.m. Sunday, Donald Trump’s second ex-wife, Marla Maples, tweeted a photograph of a pumpkin patch. Does what happened next contain clues that confirm she anonymously mailed Trump’s 1995 tax return to The New York Times?…

…Her spokeswoman, Elissa Buchter, did not respond when asked if she was behind the leak, not that she would have any incentive to. The attorney who represented Maples in her divorce from Trump (and also represented Ivana Trump in her divorce from Trump, but that’s another story), Robert Stephan Cohen, did not respond to two phone calls Saturday night to his office and home.

Come on, be honest: You’re kinda hoping it’s Marla Maples, too.

 

► Ruh-roh, Republicans! For the first time in 32 years, there are more “active” registered Democrats in Colorado than there are Republicans. As the Denver Post reports, this could be particularly problematic for Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora):

Democrats had already surpassed Republicans in the total number of registered voters — which includes both active and inactive voters. But gaining the edge in active voters is more significant because inactive voters don’t receive a mail-in ballot and historically vote much less often.

That could be tough for Republicans running statewide, and the trendline could cause trouble for Coffman too, who faces Democrat Morgan Carroll in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.

According to the latest registration figures, the percentage of active Republican voters in that district is at its lowest level in the October of an election year since the seat was redrawn in 2012.

State statistics show that as of Oct. 3 about 32.2 percent of active voters in the 6th were from the GOP. That compares to 33.2 percent in October 2014 and 36 percent in October 2012 — a drop of about 1 and 3.8 percentage points respectively.

 

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My Free Speech Zone: From Sea To Shining Sea

Yesterday afternoon, I headed north to Loveland to join a small but dedicated group of protesters outside Donald Trump’s rally at the Budweiser Events Center–located on the grounds of the The Ranch (Larimer County Fairgrounds).

I’ll let the Loveland Reporter-Herald’s Pamela Johnson explain what happened next:

Larimer County sheriff’s deputies escorted one protester from the Donald Trump rally in Loveland on Monday after he led people with signs out of an enclosed “free-speech area” to stand on the sidewalk so people driving past could see their signs.

Alan Franklin, political director with ProgressNow Colorado, as well as a handful of other protesters said the deputies and mounted members of the Sheriff’s Posse corralled them away from the curb, coming very close to them with their horses, and threatened arrest if they didn’t return to the fenced-off free-speech zone.

“I consider this to be a very big violation of the First Amendment,” said Franklin after he was kicked off the grounds of The Ranch events center complex. “These folks done screwed up.”

He was the only protester forced to leave, though others were threatened with arrest if they did not return to a designated free-speech area, which they did.

So, here’s the deal: unbeknownst to myself or other non Trump supporters who showed up outside his rally, the Larimer County Sheriff’s office had set up a “free speech area” completely removed from the scene. This small fenced-off area was 20 feet or more from the sidewalk next to the access road for the event, and so far from the line for rally attendees that a bullhorn wouldn’t even reach them.

This wasn’t an acceptable situation, so I proposed to the few folks then in attendance that we walk down to the sidewalk where more people could see us. Pamela Johnson picks up the story from there:

He and a handful of other protesters walked about 20 feet from the free-speech area to the sidewalk along the road that leads to the parking lots inside the events center complex. That is where deputies and posse members ordered them back to the protest area.

Several protesters said the officials told them they had to be in the designated area because it is on “private property” and “private public property,” which fired up Franklin. The protesters, he said, were being peaceful and not belligerent when deputies confronted them.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really familiar with this concept of “private public property” the Larimer County Sheriff and posse kept insisting applied to our situation. I didn’t have a chance to discuss it with the deputy the posse called in, though, as apparently his only job was to enforce the “request” from the horse-mounted posse that I completely exit the “private property” of the Larimer County Fairgrounds.

But as it turns out, and as I explained to every cop on the scene that I was pretty sure of, that’s not right:

Deputies on scene would not explain why they asked Franklin to leave or answer the question of why they would say the county events center is private property. They referred inquiries to Sheriff’s Office spokesman David Moore, who said Sheriff Justin Smith would answer questions Tuesday.

County Commissioner Steve Johnson, however, when reached by phone, looked into the private-public property issue. The Ranch is public property, he said…

“So while I agree with the deputies’ actions and believe the time, manner and place of assembly can be regulated reasonably … the justification that it is private property, if that is in fact what they said, does not conform with our understanding,” Johnson said after consulting with County Attorney Jeannine Haag.

The problem is, the assertion we were on “private property” was the only pretext for ordering us back into the “free speech area.” No one was obstructing vehicle or foot traffic. The armed volunteer horse-mounted posse assigned to patrol the “free speech area” were openly hostile–they might as well have been wearing Trump buttons. The Sheriff deputy who threatened me with arrest for trespassing and escorted me to my car was polite, while repeatedly insisting that free speech is important. His actions spoke much louder.

Obviously, this is a pretty large problem and I’m considering the next steps. Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, a politically activist conservative elected sheriff with (I assume) a well-formed opinion on the presidential race, needs to fully explain the actions of his deputies and the policy that was followed in my case (or not followed).

Freedom of speech and assembly is about as fundamental as it gets, and those rights do not appear to have been respected yesterday.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 11)

Get More Smarter“Sine Die” sounds a lot more foreboding than it should. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado continues to get weirder. On Tuesday, Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 broke the news in a series of reports that Jon Keyser appears to have qualified for the June 28th Primary ballot despite apparent widespread fraud on his signature petitions. Keyser’s name will likely remain on the ballot, but he has much bigger problems right now.

 

► The 2016 Colorado legislative session comes to an end today, as Joey Bunch reports for the Denver Postwithout much movement on some of the key issues that first faced legislators in January:

Now, at the end of the legislative session, lawmakers are back where they started.

The General Assembly saved the 2016 term’s top priorities for the final days and struggled Tuesday to reach deals on most of them.

The Republican-led Senate rejected separate measures to reclassify how the state collects fees paid by hospitals and create a primary for the 2020 presidential election. And the Democratic-controlled House jettisoned a $3.5 billion bond package for transportation and a proposal to study how construction-defects laws are hurting the condominium market.

The biggest issue of the session — reclassifying the so-called “Hospital Provider Fee”  to provide more money for key infrastructure needs — finally met its end in a Senate committee after Senate President Bill Cadman basically ran out the clock on making a decision. As the Colorado Springs Independent reports, there was wide support for the HPF issue…but it couldn’t overcome Cadman’s allegiance to the Koch Brothers-funded “Americans for Prosperity.”

The legislature also failed to come to an agreement on a bill that would get rid of Colorado’s Presidential caucus system in favor of a Primary vote.

 

 Voters in West Virginia and Nebraska got to pull some levers in the Presidential Primary on Tuesday. Democrat Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in West Virginia, though the result doesn’t put much of a dent in Clinton’s delegate lead. On the Republican side, Donald Trump was victorious in both West Virginia and Nebraska, which wasn’t a huge surprise since he’s the only GOP candidate still standing.

 

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