Is This What “Maximum Pressure” Looks Like?

In the words of Sen. Cory Gardner, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy:

“The Trump Administration, under Congressional direction, deserves praise for abandoning the failed policy of strategic patience and pursuing a maximum pressure campaign that has resulted in unprecedented sanctions against this heinous regime,” said Senator Gardner.

In this case, “maximum pressure” is a firm handshake! We don’t know the details about the North Korean general President Donald Trump bobbled his salute to–but hopefully he hasn’t killed too many of his own people, you know, personally. Because that wouldn’t be the kind of man our President should be saluting.

And sure, we could invoke the times Republicans came unglued on President Barack Obama for saluting American soldiers too “casually.” But that would be stupid, because this is so much worse.

Isn’t it? Or does nothing matter anymore?

“Media Is Afraid” GOP Will Retain Control of U.S. Senate, And They “Want Us to Fail,” Says Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Cory Gardner (R).

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said last week that he’s not planning to run again for his current U.S. Senate leadership position, in which he’s charged with electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate.

His reason for stepping away: “I am going to be focused on 2020,” he told The Hill, a Washington DC publication.

Translation: He’s going to work on his own re-election campaign in Colorado, where he’s even more unpopular than Trump–and that’s in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton by five points.

Gardner, who doesn’t return my calls, likely sees the obstacles to his own re-election in 2020 as similar to those facing Republicans this year.

A big problem is the media, according to Gardner. The media is making the November election look really lousy for Republicans.

Telling fellow conservatives at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver Friday that Republicans will be able to confirm scores of judges if they can retain control of the U.S. Senate in November, Gardner said the “media is afraid of this,” and they “want us to fail.”

Gardner (at 57 min 45 secs here): There is only one body that confirms judges and that is the United States Senate. We have the potential to confirm scores more of these constitutional judges, but we have to keep the senate.

The media knows this. The media is afraid of this. And that is why they want us to fail. They are already writing their stories. You can see it in the news. They don’t want us to think we are just going to lose the house and the senate, but sometimes I get the feeling they are cheering it on. This past election was a rebuke of their narrative that our movement is on the outs.

This is not the first time Gardner has claimed the media is aligned against Republicans. Back in 2012, Gardner blamed Mitt Romney’s loss in part on the media.

He once told a right-wing talk radio host that the media is biased against “people like us.”

In focusing on the media as a big Republican problem in November, Gardner is skirting discussion of the GOP legislative collapses on healthcare, immigration, and trade, or the mood swings of President Trump, or the tax bill’s failure to deliver promised wage increases for middle-class voters.

Cory Gardner Screws Up on North Korea

UPDATE #3: A spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence calls out Gardner directly:


—–

UPDATE #2: Vice President Mike Pence continues to refute Gardner’s claims. Welcome to Thunderdome!

—–

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence adamantly denies the story that Gardner is peddling:

Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said otherwise, and that the vice president said no such thing during the policy lunch.

Ruh-roh!

—–

North Korea policy experts Dennis Rodman (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has worked hard in recent years to position himself next to former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman as one of this country’s foremost experts on North Korea. It’s never been clear that President Trump actually listens to Gardner on this topic, but that hasn’t stopped Colorado’s junior Senator from backtracking on prior statements on North Korea in order to attempt to fit into Trump’s inner circle.

Gardner is spending much of today cheerleading for President Trump’s “summit” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, and he seems to be getting carried away with his Trump translations. Gardner was a guest on the “Business for Breakfast” show on KNUS radio this morning, where he tried (and failed) to parse Trump’s words on ending military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. Here’s what Gardner told host Jimmy Sengenberger just this morning:

I’ve talked to the President numerous times, including just a few days ago before he left for Singapore. [I] spoke this morning with a staffer who is in Singapore from the National Security Council to make sure I get an accurate — receive an accurate readout of both the meeting — internal meeting — as well as the press stand up after the summit. So, I feel like I have a good — a good grasp on what took place there, but certainly need more information as the days come forward.

You know, look, there is going to be a lot of people talking about — and analyzing — whether this is a good move or a bad move. Bottom line is this he talked about war games. That probably means bomber overflights. Does that mean all exercises? Doubtful. Does it mean that we stop working with South Korea? No. And does that mean — and did the President qualify it with good faith efforts and progress toward denuclearization? Yes he did. So, you know, I think there’s room to move on this, as long as we have those good faith efforts and progress being made toward denuclearization. The President didn’t say we’re going to stop the exercises or joint training. He didn’t say that. [Pols emphasis]

Um, yes, he did. As CNN and every other media outlet on earth has reported, Trump was very explicit in this declaration. While Gardner tries to intimate that Trump meant something other than what he actually said, U.S. military leaders are under no such illusion. As the Military Times explains:

The Pentagon is now working to implement President Donald Trump’s direction that it cancel joint exercises with the Republic of Korea following Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. [Pols emphasis]

“Under the circumstances, we are negotiating a comprehensive and complete deal [on denuclearization]. It is inappropriate to have war games,” Trump said in a press conference following the summit in Singapore. “Number one, we save money. A lot. Number two, it is really something they very much appreciated.”

In that press conference in Singapore, Trump also said that he would like to withdraw the thousands of U.S. forces stationed on the Korean peninsula, but would start with cancellation of military exercises.

Gardner appears to be getting some flak for “mansplaining” Trump’s comments, so he reacted this afternoon by throwing Vice President Mike Pence under the bus:

But…but…that’s not what mom said!

We’re not really going out on much of a limb when we say that President Trump’s decisions probably supersede whatever Vice President Mike Pence tells Gardner separately. Have fun explaining this one, Cory!

Cory Gardner Said a Proposed Abortion Ban Was Just Symbolic, but He Has Yet to Co-Sponsor It Again

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

It’s been almost four years since U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was running around Colorado saying that federal personhood legislation, which aimed to ban all abortion, even for rape, and which Gardner co-sponsored as a member of the U.S. House, was “simply a statement that I support life.”

Reporters repeatedly objected, reading the text of the anti-abortion bill directly to Gardner, but the words of the bill, and the fact checkers views of it, slid off Gardner, as did all those political advertisements warning everyone about Gardner’s extreme anti-choice views. Gardner said his Democratic opponent was just “trying to distract voters.

If the personhood legislation was indeed the symbol Gardner said it was in 2014, you’d think Colorado’s Republican senator would have co-sponsored the senate version of the bill once he was seated in the senate.

But Gardner’s name doesn’t appear on the Life at Conception Act, the Senate’s personhood legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Eleven other U.S. senators have co-sponsored the bill but not Gardner.

I called Gardner’s office to find out why he’s not on board with the bill, which is pretty much identical to the one he co-sponsored as a Congressman from northern Colorado in 2913. No response.

It doesn’t appear that Gardner’s anti-abortion position has changed since Colorado voters installed him in the senate.

You’d expect him to take action to restrict a women’s right to choose, and he has.

Since he was elected senator in 2014, Gardner has voted seven times to de-fund Planned Parenthood (e.g., Four Obamacare repeal measures, backed by Gardner, contained provisions that would have rescinded funds from the women’s health organization.)

Gardner hasn’t objected to Trump’s orders to gag some federally funded clinics from even talking about the option of abortion, a rule which will cause Planned Parenthood to lose millions of federal dollars.

And before that, Gardner didn’t object to Trump’s order imposing the same rule on U.S. funded clinics internationally.

Gardner continues his anti-abortion fight. So why hasn’t he co-sponsored the personhood bill again? It’s just a statement of his support for life, he said before about the bill, which came to define the 2014 campaign.

Trump on North Korea: “It’s About Attitude!”

CBS4 reported yesterday in a genuflection-heavy story titled “Sen. Gardner Has Clear Vision Of Summit With North Korea” on a very serious meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia subcommittee, in which a very serious Sen. Cory Gardner outlined his list of very serious priorities he wants to see addressed at the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un:

“So far, although it has suspended missile tests, North Korea has not taken concrete or verifiable steps towards denuclearization, so it is my hope that during the summit it will be made clear to the regime that the only goal of our negotiations is denuclearization,” said Gardner.

Gardner says he believes the Trump Administration’s policy of isolating North Korea is working. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Gardner was highly critical of President Barack Obama’s overtures to North Korea during his administration, calling it “extremely disappointing” that Obama “would talk with North Korea without tough preconditions.” That demand for specific concessions from North Korea before Obama held talks was a natural segue into the right’s boilerplate bluster about Obama’s supposed “weakness” on foreign policy, since after all, “he’s just not an American…”

Oh sorry, that was Mike Coffman. But you get the idea.

Back in the present, Gardner admits that North Korea “has not taken concrete or verifiable steps towards denuclearization,” but supports the upcoming summit–despite the complete absence of the “tough preconditions” he demanded from President Obama.

In fact, as The Hill reports today:

President Trump on Thursday said he does not have to prepare “very much” for his high-stakes summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because he believes “it’s about attitude.”

“I think I’m very well prepared,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. [Pols emphasis] It’s about willingness to get things done.”

It seems…unlikely that Trump is reviewing CSPAN footage to hear Gardner’s priorities.

Look, we understand that Trump’s chaotic overtures to North Korea have as much a chance of bearing fruit as anything else that’s been tried and failed in recent years. If this summit results in an agreement that reduces tensions on the Korean peninsula in any way, it will be recorded by history a good thing. With that said, it’s absurd to suggest that Gardner is being in any way consistent in his position on diplomacy with North Korea between his support for Trump today and his bitter denunciations of President Obama.

If Obama had ever once said “I don’t have to prepare very much” for a summit with North Korea, which Obama would never have said because it is ridiculous, Cory Gardner would be calling for resignation or impeachment.

Today, it’s just another turd Gardner has to shine.

No Recess for You, Senate!

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Associated Press)

As Politico reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — who heads up the NRSC — a big favor by cancelling much of the August recess.

Mitch McConnell is canceling all but a week of the Senate’s traditional August recess, hoping to keep vulnerable Democrats off the campaign trail and confirm as many of President Donald Trump’s judicial and executive branch nominees as possible.

The Senate majority leader said Tuesday that the Senate will only take a break for the first week of August because of “historic obstruction” by Senate Democrats and will stay in session the rest of the month. McConnell was under enormous pressure from his own caucus as well as the president to cancel as much of the recess as possible, but the majority leader also saw an opportunity to unite Republicans and annoy incumbent Democrats…

…By keeping the Senate in session, McConnell will significantly cut down on the time that Democratic senators have to campaign back home, particularly for senators like Jon Tester (D-Mont.) who have lengthy commutes back to their states. In 2016, when McConnell’s own caucus was facing a number of difficult reelection campaigns, the Senate was not in session in August.

There are 26 Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2018, compared to just 9 Republicans.

Can Gardner Answer This Question in Less Than 18 Seconds?

Can President Trump pardon himself?

That’s the question being asked of many Members of Congress this week. Blair Miller of Denver7 recently posed the query to every member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation and only received a response from one Republican:

“I don’t believe the President can pardon himself. It’s an absurd idea,” Coffman said in a statement to Denver7. “The rule of law applies to everyone—no matter their position or office.”

Denver7 sent two emails each to the spokespersons for Republican Reps. Ken Buck, Scott Tipton and Doug Lamborn, respectively, on Monday but none of them returned those emails. Buck sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which would have to start any impeachment proceedings against a sitting president.

Spokespeople for Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said the senator was on a plane and was not available for comment.

If someone can track down Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), we’d love to see if he can respond more quickly than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who paused for an incredible 18 seconds before answering a similar question on Monday:

Party’s Back On In Singapore, Cory Gardner!

USA TODAY’s David Jackson reports via affiliate 9NEWS and it’s so damn exciting:

After a rare meeting with a high-ranking North Korean official, President Trump said Friday he has rescheduled a June 12 summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un as part of a long-term effort to try and end the latter’s nuclear weapons programs.

In a moment for every red-blooded patriotic American to celebrate, Glorious Leader Donald Trump will meet with North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong Un on the 12th of this month after all! Whatever is what that led Trump to suddenly cancel the meeting a week and a half ago–it’s water under the bridge!

While hailing the promise of an unprecedented summit, Trump also sought to tamp down expectations by saying that “we’re not going to go sign something” at the Singapore meeting. [Pols emphasis] Instead, he said, “the process will begin” on an agreement to have Kim eliminate the nuclear weapons that have generated global tensions for years.

“I think it’s a getting-to-know-you meeting, plus,” Trump told reporters at the White House. [Pols emphasis]

It’s very difficult to contain our enthusiasm–hey, wait a minute. Weren’t there some kind of, you know, benchmarks that the North Koreans were supposed to meet before earning the right to sit down mano y mano with the President of the United States? Didn’t we actually just hear about this recently?

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, today released the below statement following President Trump’s decision to cancel the summit with Kim Jong Un.

“President Trump has made the right decision to cancel the summit with Kim Jong Un until North Korea is ready to act in good faith to fully denuclearize,” said Gardner. “We must double down on our strategy of maximum pressure and engagement. It’s time to pass my bipartisan legislation, the LEED Act, because it will increase the pressure on Kim Jong Un by implementing a full economic embargo and targeting his regime’s enablers. Our goal of any discussions with North Korea should remain the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

After all, when Barack Obama was President, Sen. Cory Gardner was really super specific and nasty about not having any chit-chat sessions with North Korea without some firm concessions in hand:

“It is extremely disappointing, yet unsurprising, that the Obama Administration would talk with North Korea without tough preconditions, including ending its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, human rights abuses, or cyber attacks. It was dangerously naïve for the Obama Administration to offer concessions to Pyongyang’s Forgotten Maniac, Kim Jong-un, especially when we’ve seen the Iranian nuclear deal fail to change the behavior of that regime,” said Gardner.

Now, we’re going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Sen. Gardner would have been most displeased by an announcement that President Obama was meeting with Kim Jong Un for a “getting-to-know-you meeting.” Even with a little “plus.”

Right? Or are we just Pollyannish to think that anything including hypocrisy of the first order on something as important as nuclear foreign policy…matters anymore?

As of this writing, we haven’t seen Gardner try to put this all back together. For whatever reason the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee On East Asia, The Pacific, And International Cybersecurity Policy hasn’t jumped back on the North Korea roller-coaster publicly since he backed Trump’s decision to cancel the summit.

But at this point, it doesn’t matter. Gardner’s only job now is apparently to shine whatever turd Trump lays.

Caption This Photo: Cory and the General of Siam

Sen. Cory Gardner is in Thailand this week, and here’s photographic proof:

We hadn’t seen any announcement of a foreign junket by Sen. Gardner, but his duties on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee frequently send him to Asia–like last year, when he paid a visit to controversial Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte and caught flak for helping legitimize Duterte’s violent crackdowns.

In this case, Gardner was meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss “non-traditional security threats” facing the two nations. But in terms of supporting, you know, the good guys, meeting with Prayut Chan-o-cha is more than a little problematic–since Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s previous title was General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army. Prayut seized power in a 2014 coup d’etat, overthrowing the democratically-elected first female PM of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra. Thailand is now ruled by the National Council for Peace and Order, otherwise known as a military junta:

Thailand endures a human rights crisis four years after the 2014 coup. The military junta under Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha has banned political activity and public assembly, enforced media censorship, arbitrarily arrested dissidents, and detained civilians in military facilities. Authorities have used lese majeste (insulting the monarchy), sedition, and computer crime charges to suppress free speech. In the Thailand southern border provinces, rights abuses persist in the conflict between separatist groups and the government. Over three million migrant workers face systematic abuse and exploitation, including in the fishing industry, despite government promises for reform. Refugees and asylum seekers are subject to arrest and deportation.

On the upside, the food is really tasty.

Cory Gardner: Helpless Passenger on Trump’s Crazy Korea Train

After President Donald Trump announced last week that a high-profile summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was cancelled, Republicans who cheered the initial announcement of the summit–despite their condemnation of President Barack Obama for even considering the same thing–dutifully walked back their accolades in order to support their President’s erratic negotiation style. CBS4 Denver reported Friday:

Sen. Cory Gardner says North Korea’s recent posture that contributed towards President Trump’s decision to call off the June 12 summit in Singapore fits a “pattern of misbehavior.” The promises of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s family have been broken over the decades many times, and this is nothing new, the Colorado Republican told “CBS This Morning” on Friday…

Gardner said what the U.S. is seeing is a struggle in Kim — a struggle between a peacemaker to bring his reclusive nation out of darkness, and between the propagandist. It looks like the propagandist won that debate, Gardner said. Gardner said he hopes the lingering questions of exactly why North Korea failed to communicate with the Americans will be answered.

Sen. Cory Gardner and other apologists for Trump responded initially to the announcement that the summit was off by declaring that North Korea had failed to meet specific-but-undefined benchmarks indicating their commitment to “irreversible denuclearization.” That would at least have been nominally consistent with Gardner’s previous criticism of President Obama’s overtures to North Korea, in which Gardner said that to meet with Kim Jong Un without a hard and fast agreement to denuclearize would be irresponsible.

But as it turns out, this latest flare-up was the result of Trump getting upset over boilerplate bellicose rhetoric in North Korean media. After Trump called off the summit, the leaders of the two Koreas held an emergency meeting to get things back on track, and Trump almost immediately started backing away from Thursday’s cancellation–again, with no new commitment from the North Koreans that would make either Gardner’s defense of Trump or criticism of Obama justifiable.

The reason? There is no justification. Gardner has absolutely no grounds to praise Trump for the same actions he condemned Obama for, especially now that Trump has demonstrated he is flying by the seat of his pants–basing major decisions on emotional reactions to press statements, not sober foreign policy objectives. And then walking them back. All behavior that Gardner would have absolutely lost his mind on Obama for.

Someday, hopefully soon, this will be apparent to even the most casual observer.

Coffman First Praised Trump for Planning a Summit with North Korea and Then for Canceling It

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) jumped on the radio this morning to say it’s a good thing Trump isn’t “so eager” to hold a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

But three months ago, when Trump was facing criticism for impulsively pursuing a summit, Coffman said it was “positive” for Trump to meet with Kim Jong Un.

“I think that the fact that the president does not show that he’s so eager for an agreement is a positive,” said Coffman on KOA’s Morning News today. “I think that there’s still hope for an agreement. But it will be an agreement that will be for a lasting peace–and not the type of agreement that we’ve had by prior administrations, that the North Koreans have broken every one of them.” (May 24 at 50 seconds)

In March, when asked about Trump’s announcement of plans to meet with Kim Jong Un, Coffman called the development “positive.”

“I think obviously it’s positive when people are talking,” said Coffman, adding that he’d prefer a lower-level meeting, but economic sanctions and “containment is not the solution in and of itself.” (March 9 at 1 min 50 seconds)

Over the past three months, Coffman also changed his view completely about whether military force should be considered an option against North Korea.

The Aurora Congressman said March 9 on the same KOA 850-AM program that “obviously the threat of the use of military force is always on the table” (March 9 at 2 minutes 20 seconds) and then today that “certainly military conflict should not ever be viewed as an option.” (May 24 at 4 min 10 seconds)

A call to Coffman’s office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Trump’s decision to meet with Kim Jong Un was met with surprise by Washington’s foreign policy establishment, in part because of the animosity that the two leaders had shown toward each other since Trump entered office.

In announcing the cancellation of his meeting with North Korea, Trump did not rule out the possibility of a future summit.

Gardner On Wrong Side As Senate Halts Net Neutrality Rollback

THURSDAY UPDATE: The battle to save net neutrality now moves to the House, where all eyes are on Rep. Mike Coffman to see if lip service will translate to votes at the critical moment they’re needed:

Evan Greer, deputy director at Fight for the Future, a nonprofit that has advocated for an open internet since 2011, told Courthouse News this week that the prospect of achieving the simple majority in the House is “doable.”

“But it’s an uphill battle,” Greer said.

“Fifteen House Republicans voted against the CRA to gut broadband privacy rules last year and a handful of others like Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado, Don Young of Arkansas, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Dave Reichert of Washington, John Curtis of Utah have already publicly criticized the FCC repeal,” she said.

Even if the resolution clears Congress and makes it to President Donald Trump’s desk, there’s a still a chance he could veto it.

But it’s not a given, Greer said.

“Getting this to Trump’s desk would be a massive victory for the net neutrality movement,” she said. “It would show that there is a clear mandate for strong, enforceable net neutrality protections. Even if Trump vetoes it, it will set a tone for any future congressional fights to come and beat back attempts by ISPs to push watered down legislation that undermines net neutrality while claiming to save it.”

The whole series of tubes is watching.

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Senator Cory Gardner (R).

A dramatic vote in the U.S. Senate today delivers a stinging rebuke to the Trump administration and Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai in particular–overturning new rules that would have gutted longstanding regulations requiring equal treatment of all internet data. CNN reports:

The Senate voted Wednesday to pass a measure that would repeal changes to net neutrality rules that were recently adopted by the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission.

The measure, which was backed by all 49 Democrats and Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Kennedy of Louisiana, will be sent to the GOP-led House, where it’ll likely go nowhere — and President Donald Trump is unlikely to back it.

While Collins’ support had been public leading up to the vote, Murkowski’s and Kennedy’s “yes” vote came as a surprise to some.

Democrats used the Congressional Review Act to force a vote — a law that allows Congress to repeal agency rules and regulations on a simple majority vote, instead of a 60-vote threshold needed to break procedural hurdles on most legislation, the kinds of traditional roadblocks where Senate leadership could typically hold up such a proposal.

NPR reports Sen. Cory Gardner’s vacant sloganeering while yet another issue with lopsided public support passes him by:

Republicans overwhelmingly support ending net neutrality because they want to shift regulatory power away from the federal government and toward the private market. Republicans also argue that Democrats are playing on unfounded fears that Internet service providers will jack up costs and anger their consumer base. “If the Democrats want to run on regulating the Internet, I think that’s a losing strategy,”  [Pols emphasis] said Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who runs the Senate GOP’s 2018 campaign operation and voted against the resolution.

A poll from last February demonstrates just how fundamentally out of touch this statement is:

Outside of Washington, D.C., net neutrality isn’t a partisan issue. Americans from red and blue states alike agree that equal access to the internet is a right, including: 79% of Colorado residents, [Pols emphasis] 81% of Arizona residents, and 80% of North Carolina residents.

91% of Americans believe consumers should be able to freely and quickly access their preferred content on the internet. Support for net neutrality is growing: When Mozilla and Ipsos asked this same question in 2017, 86% of Americans believed this…

76% of Americans believe internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all consumer data the same, and not speed up or slow down specific content. This opinion is most common among older Americans (80% of adults ages 55+) and Americans with a college degree (81%). 63% of Americans do not think that ISPs will voluntarily look out for consumers’ best interests, compared to 32% who agree with this statement…

So here’s where this issue stands just a few months from the midterm elections: when Republicans took control of the White House in 2016, ending net neutrality was high on the agenda. The attempt to repeal net neutrality rules was a major public relations fiasco, with the public and most of the tech sector outside internet service providers flatly rejecting the new rules. Stakeholders then organized a months-long grassroots lobbying campaign with the longshot goal of persuading enough Senators to reject this long-lobbied change. Since then, millions of Americans have contacted their representatives urging them to hit the brakes.

Today, that’s exactly what happened. While Sen. Cory Gardner stood with the 21% of Coloradans who don’t want net neutrality, a coalition of all 49 Senate Democrats, including Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet and a few conscientious Republicans, scored a critical victory for a free internet.

It’s not a decisive issue for everybody. But to patrons of this blog and every other website, it should be.

Cory Gardner: Think Big! There’s No Money, But Think Big

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

A story from Sunday’s Aspen Times caught our eye as illustrative of the way Sen. Cory Gardner does business–as interpreted by local officials on the Western Slope discussing a possible new reservoir on the White River east of Rangely:

Three variations of a potential dam that could someday sit astride the main stem of the White River between Meeker and Rangely have been examined by the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District in Rangely…

[Engineer Steve] Jamieson said the district started studying the maximum size of the potential reservoirs after Sen. Cory Gardner asked during a site visit, “How big can you make this reservoir?”

During his presentation Jamieson repeatedly referred to Sen. Gardner, using phrases such as “this is the maximum Cory Gardner reservoir.”

“The maximum Cory Gardner reservoir.” As the Times reports, there are three different proposals to build a dam of varying height on the White River, which would result in progressively larger capacity reservoirs to replace the existing Kenney Reservoir which is gradually losing its storage capacity to sedimentation. Obviously, the higher the dam you build, the more it will cost.

Which brings us to the next logical question:

A roundtable member asked, “Did the senator promise the money for this?” [Pols emphasis]

The basin roundtables operate under the auspices of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and review grants for water projects.

“No, he did not, unfortunately,” said Brad McCloud of EIS Solutions, a public affairs consulting firm retained by the district. “We asked.”

The irony of a representative of EIS Solutions, one of the state’s busiest Republican political consultant groups, delivering the bad news that Cory Gardner has nothing to offer to actually help build the “maximum Cory Gardner reservoir” was not lost on us! Of course, it’s not our purpose to make a judgment on the objective merits of building a large new reservoir in western Colorado–we know our readers will not be unanimous on this question. The point is that if Cory Gardner wants to leave some kind of Wayne Aspinall-style legacy of water storage projects across the landscape of Colorado, he needs to have the pork-barrel juice to back it up. And it would seem that Gardner does not.

Perhaps the “maximum Cory Gardner reservoir” is a tub just big enough to drown the government in?

Gardner sees Trump’s North Korea talks as “positive development” after denouncing Obama for lesser dialogue

(Right but that was OBAMA – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Cory Gardner (R).

UPDATE #2 May 25: Now that the summit has been canceled, Gardner is still saying his North Korea policy forced the Kim Jong Un to agree to the summit.

Gardner on KOA 850-AM: “It’s that pressure that we brought to bear that actually made this summit possible in the first place, that pressure that started working in ways that we never imagined possible. And so we have to continue this pressure. We have to continue this approach. And we have to make sure that China and other countries around the world uphold to that very strict and rigorous sanctions regime.

And now Gardner’s policy can take credit for the failure of the summit.

———

UPDATE: In an NPR interview today, Gardner said he talked to Trump, and Trump agrees that he will not meet with Kim Jong-un without preconditions on denuclearization. For Gardner, this represents a flip back to his old position of insisting on precounditions. Gardner had abandoned this stance (See below.). For the president, it appears Trump hasn’t advocated this stance publicly, only in private to Gardner.

HOST (at 1 min 45 sec):You told The Daily Beast that there shouldn’t even be a summit if there’s no– as you just said — verifiable, irreversible path to denuclearization. So you clearly think that would be a precondition for these talks. You’ve been talking with President Trump about this. Does he agree with you?

GARDNER: Absolutely, he agrees.

———-

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said on CBS last week that it was “certainly a positive move” for Trump to enter into talks with North Korea, even though he said the likely meeting should be taken “not only with a grain of salt but with perhaps an entire salt block.”

Gardner reiterated to CBS that the possible talks are a “positive development.”

But back in 2016 Gardner, when the Obama Administration reportedly engaged briefly in talks with North Korea without preconditions, just like Trump is doing but obviously at a lower level, Gardner was “extremely” disappointed, issuing this statement:

Gardner: It is extremely disappointing, yet unsurprising, that the Obama Administration would talk with North Korea without tough preconditions, including ending its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, human rights abuses, or cyber attacks. It was dangerously naive for the Obama Administration to offer concessions to Pyongyang’s Forgotten Maniac, Kim Jong-un, especially when we’ve seen the Iranian nuclear deal fail to change the behavior of that regime. Like Iran, North Korea doesn’t play by the rules, and it’s far past time that the United States meets its aggression with strength. My North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act changes U.S. policy to offer real solutions to counter North Korea’s belligerence. I’m proud it has been signed into law and it represents a significant shift away from the Obama Administration’s failed policy that has led to three nuclear tests since President Obama assumed office.” [Emphasis added]

Does that sound like the same senator who praised Trump’s outreach to Kim Jong-un as positive?

As recently as November, Gardner was warning against any talks without preconditions.

Gardner: Moreover, before any talks in any format with North Korea, the United States and our partners must demand that Pyongyang first adhere to the denuclearization commitments it had already agreed to in the past – and subsequently chose to brazenly violate.

What changed? Gardner didn’t return a call seeking comment, but judging from his media statements, it looks like his official explanation might be that North Korea has changed due to economic sanctions by the U.S. and others. But everything changed in just six months?

More likely: Gardner didn’t want to stand up to, or even criticize, Trump on the issue, especially because Gardner once claimed that he had Trump’s ear on North Korea policy.

That’s in keeping with Gardner’s stance toward Trump on many issues, as seen in Gardner’s 91 percent score of voting in line with the president and Gardner’s depressing silence on one pathetic and bizarre Trump antic after another.

Trump Burns Cory Gardner, West Virginia Edition

CNN reports that President Donald Trump is wading into tomorrow’s GOP primary election for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia, hoping to provide some–keep a straight face–moral guidance to voters, or at least practical advise about not nominating a candidate who can’t win the general election:

President Donald Trump on Monday urged voters in West Virginia to reject controversial Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship in Tuesday’s primary, stepping into a contest where establishment Republicans have grown increasingly worried that the ex-con coal baron could win.

“To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!”

The tweet is a remarkable moment for Trump, given that Blankenship’s campaign — from its nativist tendencies to its use of conspiracy theories — takes many cues from the President’s 2016 playbook. Trump seized on Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity in West Virginia in 2016 and won 68% of the state in November.

Blankenship responded to Trump later Monday morning, saying the President “doesn’t know me and he doesn’t know how flawed my two main opponents are in this primary.”

Last week, we took note of Sen. Cory Gardner’s of Colorado’s much more qualified remarks about Don Blankenship. Gardner, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee “remembers Alabama” too, and having been stung by criticism that he abandoned the Republican nominee in that state is playing much closer to the vest in West Virginia–even if that means legitimizing a very bad candidate.

[Gardner] once quipped about how Blankenship wouldn’t be allowed onto the floor of the Senate with a home arrest ankle bracelet , a comment he says in retrospect was “probably a little too flippant.” Aware that his words might do more harm than good, Gardner refuses to weigh in on a race that could control Republican control of the Senate.

To recap, Gardner condemned Roy Moore in Alabama, only for Trump to undercut him by endorsing Moore in the campaign’s final days. In West Virginia, Gardner failed to condemn Don Blankenship. So Trump took care of it for him!

Seriously, it’s like Trump is waiting to hear what Gardner wants, and then doing the opposite. After which Gardner is left to fumble for an explanation for why he is so far off-message from the Republican President of the United States. To make things even more complicated, there were reports today that Blankenship is surging in the polls and could be on his way to an upset victory.

Safe to say this does not bode well for Gardner or Senate Republicans in November.