Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 13)

Joe Flacco, eh? Try to contain your excitement. 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 leaders are putting the final touches on legislation that will prevent another government shutdown. From the Washington Post:

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill scrambled Wednesday to finalize a sweeping spending bill that includes a compromise on border security two days ahead of a deadline for government funding to expire, as last-minute disputes arose on an array of issues.

While President Trump appeared open to signing the legislation — which includes far less funding than he has sought for construction of barriers along the southern border — White House officials said he was waiting to see the final package before making a decision.

Still pending were issues, including whether to use the bill to provide back pay to federal contractors who were caught in the middle of the recent government shutdown and to extend the federal Violence Against Women Act.

President Trump is likely to sign the legislation — despite not getting what he wants — and will try his damndest to make it look like this is some sort of victory for his administration and all wall-loving people. In reality, this is nothing short of a big, fat loss for the White House.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the rebranding of the wall debate is already underway.

 

► Denver teachers are still on strike, but negotiations have restarted between Denver Public Schools and the teacher’s union.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was one of the first high-profile Republicans to endorse President Trump for re-election. Gardner is trying very hard to convince everyone else to agree with him.

 

► The U.S. Senate passed a massive public lands bill on Tuesday that includes reauthorization for the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). It may be up to the House of Representatives to make sure LWCF is properly funded, however. At the very least, it’s nice to know that Congress isn’t completely broken. Just “mostly” broken.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 11)

Valentine’s Day is on Thursday; those flowers aren’t going to order themselves. ” 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…

► Today is the day that Congressional leaders were supposed to announce a deal on keeping the federal government open, but there is no indication as of yet that a proposal is in the works. President Trump and the GOP are trying (again) to blame Democrats for inaction, but as James Downie writes for the Washington Post, Republicans are going through the exact same motions that drove us into the last shutdown:

The truth is, three weeks after the last shutdown ended, the White House and the GOP still have no idea how to get out of the corner they’ve worked themselves into. They promised the base a “border wall,” but they have even less leverage now than they did when the first shutdown started. So they’ve returned to the first page of the playbook: scaremongering about violent immigrants.

Of course, we all saw how well fanning fears over immigration worked for the president and his party during the last shutdown, not to mention during last fall’s midterms. If anything, one wonders whether spinning the bed issue will make any deal harder for the GOP base to swallow. What was once a nonissue becomes, in the base’s mind, another cave.

As CNN reports, you’ll need to look elsewhere for silver linings:

Bottom line: There is no agreement on the path forward on the conference committee. There is no agreement on what, if any, alternatives could pass both chambers and be signed by the President if the conference committee fails. Monday is a crucial day as lawmakers try and figure a way out of another mess, all as the clock ticks away. At this point, each day leading into the February 15 deadline is enormously consequential.

Shutdown 2: Electric Boogaloo.

 

► Denver teachers are off the job today as part of the first DPS strike in 25 years; many students are joining the picket lines in solidarity. The Denver Classroom Teachers Association will hold a rally on the West Steps of the State Capitol this afternoon.

For more information on all things strike-related, check out this FAQ from the Denver Post or this primer from Colorado Public Radio and the Associated Press.

 

► A growing number of Americans are expressing frustration that the great Republican tax cut of 2017 isn’t doing jack squat for them. From the Washington Post:

Millions of Americans filling out their 2018 taxes will probably be surprised to learn that their refunds will be less than expected or that they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service after years of receiving refunds.

People have already taken to social media, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam, to vent their anger. Many blame President Trump and the Republicans for shrinking refunds. Some on Twitter even said they wouldn’t vote for Trump again after seeing their refunds slashed.

The uproar follows the passage of a major overhaul to the tax code in December 2017, which was enacted with only Republican votes and is considered the biggest legislative achievement of Trump’s first year. While the vast majority of Americans received a tax cut in 2018, refunds are a different matter. Some refunds have decreased because of changes in the law, such as a new limit on property and local income tax deductions, and some have decreased because of how the IRS has altered withholding in paychecks…

…The average tax refund check is down 8 percent ($170) this year compared to last, the IRS reported Friday, and the number of people receiving a refund so far has dropped by almost a quarter.

Lower tax refunds mean bad news for the American economy.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 4)

Let the record show that the New England Patriots officially killed the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2019; there was more drama during “The Puppy Bowl.” 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 still threatening that he might make an “emergency declaration” in order to build his great big border wall. But as the Washington Post reports, Senate Republicans are positively terrified because of what would happen next:

According to one of the country’s leading experts on national emergencies, it appears that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can trigger a process that could require the GOP-controlled Senate to hold a vote on such a declaration by Trump — which would put Senate Republicans in a horrible political position.

Trump reiterated his threat to declare a national emergency in an interview with CBS News that aired over the weekend. “I don’t take anything off the table,” Trump said, adding in a typically mangled construction that he still retains the “alternative” of “national emergency.”

But Pelosi has recourse against such a declaration — and if she exercises it, Senate Republicans may have to vote on where they stand on it.

Senate Republicans would likely be forced to take a public position on an “emergency declaration,” which leaves them backed into a corner between a rock and a hard place:

…the Senate could vote not to consider that resolution or change its rules to avoid such a vote. But in those scenarios, the Senate would, in effect, be voting to greenlight Trump’s emergency declaration.

D’oh!

 

Politico answers your questions about the State of the Union speech, which President Trump is scheduled to deliver on Tuesday.

 

► Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is expected to enter the 2020 race for U.S. Senate, according to Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman. Romanoff kinda, sorta leaked his Senate plans in mid-December before  an associate walked it back on his behalf.

Romanoff unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) for the Democratic Senate nomination in 2010; in 2014 he came up short against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in CO-6. Former State Senator and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston announced his U.S. Senate bid last week.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 30)

At least you don’t live anywhere East of Kansas, where temperatures are cooler than a penguin’s refrigerator. Let’s warm up with “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 another crap on U.S. Intelligence agencies, as the Washington Post reports:

President Trump lashed out at U.S. intelligence officials Wednesday, calling them “extremely passive and naive” about the nuclear danger posed by Iran and pushing back on their assessments of the Islamic State and North Korea during a congressional hearing.

In tweets, Trump offered what amounted to a rebuttal of testimony on an array of global threats provided to the Senate on Tuesday by a panel of top officials from his administration.

Trump was most pointed in his pushback on the assessment of Iran. During testimony, officials said that Iran was not trying to build a nuclear weapon and was in compliance with an agreement forged during the Obama administration from which Trump subsequently withdrew the United States…

…“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” the president added.

Panelists at the Senate hearing included Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, so this wasn’t exactly the “C” team doing the talking.

 

► According to a new poll of Colorado voters, most people don’t support a border wall, President Trump, or Sen. Cory Gardner.

As Politico notes in a new poll about another potential government shutdown, voters have no appetite to support President Trump’s threats:

Only 31 percent of voters support shutting the government down again to force Congress to appropriate money for the wall, while nearly twice that many, 58 percent, oppose another shutdown. If the government does shut down again, a combined 54 percent would blame Trump and congressional Republicans, while just 33 percent would blame Democrats in Congress.

Trump has suggested that he could declare a “national emergency” to avert a shutdown but still build the wall — but that, too, is unpopular. A narrow, 51 percent majority opposes declaring an emergency, which is supported by 38 percent.

 

► Contract negotiations between Denver Public Schools and the teacher’s union are expected to resume on Thursday.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 25)

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

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 
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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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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 15)

We’re halfway through the NBA season, and the Denver Nuggets are still the best team in the Western Conference. Get on the bandwagon, people! 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…

President Trump’s nominee to be the next Attorney General is sitting before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Confirmation hearings for William Barr are largely focused on how the former George H.W. Bush AG would handle the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation into potential collusion between Trump and Russia. The New York Times is following Barr’s confirmation hearings with live updates.

 

► President Trump may own the ongoing federal government shutdown, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are more-than-willing partners. McConnell and pals — like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner — are getting more attention as enablers of Trump’s disastrous policies.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Colorado Democrats are pushing hard for an end to the shutdown:

As the country entered the fourth week of the partial government shutdown, Colorado’s Democratic delegation to Congress had a unified message for Republican leadership: End the shutdown now. Discuss border security later.

U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Diana DeGette, Jason Crow, Joe Neguse and Sen. Michael Bennet held a news conference Monday at Denver International Airport that overlooked airport security, where Transportation Security Administration workers served travelers without pay.

There are more than 15,000 federal employees that are furloughed or working without pay in Colorado.

The legislators emphasized that if the Democratic House majority and the Republican Senate majority work together, they can end the partial government shutdown without President Trump’s approval.

Meanwhile, stories about the local impact of the shutdown continue to dominate headlines here in Colorado. The City of Denver is offering grants for federal workers to help them make mortgage payments.

 

► As the New York Times reports, a federal judge has blocked the Trump administration’s attempts to put a citizenship query on the next U.S. Census questionnaire:

The ruling marks the opening round in a legal battle with potentially profound ramifications for federal policy and for politics at all levels, one that seems certain to reach the Supreme Court before the printing of census forms begins this summer.

In a lengthy and stinging ruling, Judge Jesse M. Furman of the United States District Court in Manhattan said that Wilbur L. Ross Jr., the commerce secretary, committed “a veritable smorgasbord” of violations of federal procedural law when he ordered the citizenship question added.

Mr. Ross “failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices,” Judge Furman wrote.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 8)

The 2020 election is 665 days away. In the meantime, 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…

► Democrat Jared Polis will officially take over as Colorado’s Governor today. Polis’ 2018 opponent, Republican Walker Stapleton, will be reporting for jury duty. Denver7 has more on today’s inauguration festivities.

 

► President Trump will deliver a prime time address tonight about his fictional border crisis; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will follow with a Democratic rebuttal. As James Hohmann writes for the Washington Post, Trump’s rhetoric on immigration is not at all related to facts on the ground:

Leaks from inside the government continue to undercut the administration’s misleading spin on crime and terrorism vis-à-vis immigration:

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered only six immigrants at ports of entry on the U.S-Mexico border in the first half of fiscal year 2018 whose names were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists, according to CBP data provided to Congress in May 2018,” NBC News’s Julia Ainsley reports.

Six people. Six. That’s quite a bit fewer than the 4,000 that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted were stopped at the border in 2018. And then there’s this:

“Despite their portrayal of Mexico as a teeming portal for terrorists,” the AP’s Calvin Woodward reports this morning, “the State Department issued a report in September finding ‘no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.’” (Read the State Department report for yourself.)

Here in Colorado, we’ll be anxiously waiting to see how Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) responds to Trump’s speech tonight. Gardner’s recent shutdown waffling has angered his Republican base (or what’s left of it) and prompted new talk about a “circular firing squad.”

 

► The New York Times examines the toll of the government shutdown on day 17:

The impact of a partial government shutdown began to ripple across the economy as it stretched into Day 17, with mortgage applications delayed, public companies unable to get approval to raise capital and thousands of Secret Service agents expected to show up for work without pay.

President Trump and congressional Democrats have made little progress in negotiations to end a shutdown that has affected about 800,000 federal workers, many of whom will miss their first paycheck this week, and who owe a combined $249 million in monthly mortgage payments, according to the online real estate firm Zillow…

…The standoff is beginning to inflict pain on Americans, whose lives are affected, in one way or another, by the federal government. It is already the second-longest shutdown in history, behind the one that started in December 1995 and lasted 21 days.

More than 600 federal employees in Colorado have now filed for unemployment benefits, as 9News reports.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 3)

This is the first “Get More Smarter” update of 2019; try not to pull a brain muscle after the long holiday break. 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 116th Congress convenes today with Democrats in majority control of the House of Representatives. California Rep. Nancy Pelosi is expected to be elected Speaker of the House on Thursday afternoon. Colorado’s Congressional delegation includes two new members — Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

At the top of the list for the new Congress is finding a solution for the federal government shutdown now in its second week. From Politico:

Pelosi is set to pass a package of government funding bills on Thursday afternoon aimed at reopening the quarter of the government that’s closed and shirking President Donald Trump’s border wall. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he won’t take up the proposals — or anything at all without Trump’s approval.

A government shutdown has never in recent history dragged on from one Congress to another, but like so many things under Trump’s presidency this conflict is one without precedent.

The sharp impasse comes after a bipartisan meeting with the president on Wednesday aimed to restarting moribund negotiations. But Trump dismissed Pelosi’s plan and said he would look “foolish” for reopening government departments unrelated to the immigration dispute, leaving the new divided Congress opening in a state of remarkable gridlock.

On Wednesday Trump flat-out rejected a compromise deal with Democrats that had been worked out by Vice President Mike Pence.

For more on the opening day of the new Congress, check out the Washington Post.

 

► The Colorado legislature convenes for a new session on Friday. Anna Staver of the Denver Post takes a look at the new Democratic supermajority:

The diverse group of incoming state legislators includes a pediatrician and solar entrepreneur, as well as Colorado’s first transgender lawmakerand nine new Latino members who, when added to the list of five returning legislators, set a record for Latino representation in the General Assembly. It’s also the first time women have held a majority in either chamber. The Colorado House has 33 women and 32 men, but this could change in the coming days because of one and potentially two appointments.

 

President Trump presided over a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that was bizarre even by his standards. Trump said that he “essentially fired” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and then things got even weirder. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump, 12 days into a government shutdown and facing new scrutiny from emboldened Democrats, inaugurated the new year Wednesday with a Cabinet meeting. It quickly became a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness defense of his presidency and worldview, filled with falsehoods, revisionist history and self-aggrandizement…

…He took credit for falling oil prices, arguing they were the result of phone calls he made to the leaders of oil-producing nations.

“I called up certain people, and I said let that damn oil and gasoline — you let it flow, the oil,” he said.

And Trump defended his push to fund his promised border wall, parrying complaints from Democrats who have called the wall immoral by remarking, “Then we have to do something about the Vatican, because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America!

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (December 14)

Get ready for a lot of “hemp” mentions in the near future. 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…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to run interference for Saudi Arabia when it comes to foreign policy decisions. From the Denver Post:

Gardner voted Thursday afternoon against ending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen — one of a pair of votes taken in response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The amendment passed, however, with support from all Senate Democrats, including Colorado’s Michael Bennet, and a handful of Republicans.

“The tragic and extraordinarily complex situation in Yemen requires a political solution,” Bennet said in a statement. “It’s also critical to stress how inadequate the President’s response to the death of Jamal Khashoggi has been, in effect legitimizing his murder and failing to stand up for press freedom.”

President Donald Trump has continued to support Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite the CIA’s findings.

As the Washington Post explains, the Senate — not including Gardner — is at least trying to take on a leadership role in the absence of a strong voice in the White House:

On Thursday afternoon, a bipartisan coalition in Congress moved to fill the void and perform this function of the presidency that Trump has essentially outsourced. Senators voted 56-to-41 to cut off U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s often brutal conduct in the Yemen civil war. It’s the first time either chamber of Congress has asserted itself against the executive branch by using the War Powers Act, which became law during the depths of the Vietnam quagmire in 1973.

A few minutes later, the Senate voted unanimously to approve a separate, nonbinding resolution that blames Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for what happened to Khashoggi. The CIA concluded that MBS, as he’s known, probably ordered and monitored the dismemberment of the dissident journalist inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. But Trump has touted the authoritarian prince’s denials and sought to play down the expert assessment of his own intelligence community. There’s even a tape.

Gardner has said a lot of words about Saudi Arabia lately. None of them meaningful.

 

► Congressional Republicans have again settled on a familiar strategy regarding a potential government shutdown: Punt. As Politico reports:

The House and Senate left town Thursday with no strategy to avert a partial government shutdown next week, putting Congress on the brink of an intractable conflict that could drag out through New Year’s Day — furloughing hundreds of thousands of workers and costing taxpayers millions.

Frustrated lawmakers in both parties are complaining that congressional leaders have made zero progress since Tuesday, when Trump stunned even his fellow Republicans by boasting that he would take the blame for the closure of a dozen federal agencies if he doesn’t get money for his border wall.

Lawmakers say there is no public plan to prevent a partial government shuttering. And no secret plan either.

 

President Trump has more answers than a Scantron sheet in response to worsening news about Robert Mueller’s investigation into a myriad of 2016 campaign issues. From the Washington Post:

The president no longer disputes that he instructed his then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to make the payments to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels.

Instead, Trump sought to evade that question Thursday by saying he never told Cohen to break the law — making a narrow assertion that was itself an admission that his and his team’s earlier denials were false…

…In these and other statements Thursday, Trump tried to place blame entirely on his lawyer for felonies that his advisers and allies are increasingly concerned could imperil the president. The statements come as Trump feels besieged by multiplying investigations in New York and Washington and uncertain about what may be around the corner, according to several of his associates.

The evolving strategy on the hush-money allegations is textbook Trump: Tell one version of events until it falls apart, then tell a new version, and so on — until the danger passes.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 13)

Tremendous amounts of political news. 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…

► Gun deaths in the United States have reached a new high, as CNN reports:

Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died by guns last year, marking the highest number of gun deaths in 38 years, according to a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database.

A similar analysis was first conducted by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, a non-profit gun policy advocacy group.

CNN replicated that analysis and found that 39,773 people died by guns in 2017, which is an increase of more than 10,000 deaths from the 28,874 in 1999.

CDC statisticians confirmed with CNN on Thursday that these numbers are correct and they show gun deaths have reached a record-high going back to at least 1979.

We’re #1! Dammit.

 

A new farm bill made it through the House of Representatives on Wednesday and is now on its way to the desk of President Trump.

 

► Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) emerged as a major player in discussions that will likely ensure that Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House. Perlmutter helped negotiate a deal that will set term limits on Democratic leadership to pave the way for new “generational” change in two years.

 

► “Medicare X” is not the name of a new superhero. The Colorado Sun explains:

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is giving a new push to his grand idea for fixing America’s health insurance market.

He calls it Medicare-X — “the best name I ever came up with,” he says. Bennet, a Democrat, touted the idea last week at the Colorado Health Institute’s annual Hot Issues in Health conference, then spoke about it afterward with reporters.

On the political spectrum of health-policy ideas, Medicare-X sits somewhere in the middle — a more moderate and incremental approach than the single-payer plans many of his fellow Democrats have been endorsing, but with plenty of federal involvement to draw fire from Republicans skeptical of government meddling in the marketplace.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 12)

We have reached the teens! There are only 19 days remaining in 2018. 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 tried to film an episode of “The Apprentice” in the Oval Office on Tuesday, and it did not go well at all. As the Washington Post explains, Trump got his first taste of divided government on Tuesday:

In his first two years in office, President Trump operated without a clear check on his power. With his party controlling both houses of Congress, he issued demands from his bedroom in the form of early-morning tweets, and legislative leaders got in line. He rarely was personally confronted about his untruths and misstatements. And he mostly ignored congressional Democrats, choosing to spar instead with journalists.

That all came to a crashing halt Tuesday. In an extraordinarily heated public fight with the nation’s top two Democratic leaders, the combustible president confronted for the first time the enormity of the challenge he will face over the next two years: divided government…

…With Democrats sweeping into power in the House in January, Trump for the first time will be forced to work with the opposition party to govern. And if Tuesday’s spectacle is any indication, Pelosi and Schumer intend to be tough adversaries. They showed an eagerness to challenge the president by using some of his own tactics against him. They tried not only to debate him on policy, but also to hold him accountable for his fact-challenged bluster and to paint him as weak and inept.

 

► President Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison today as a result of illegal activities he allegedly performed at the behest of Trump.

 

Another poll, another bad set of numbers for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). According to a survey conducted this month by Change Research, Gardner is wildly unpopular heading into the last two years of his Senate term:

The poll also found that 50% have unfavorable feelings towards Senator Gardner compared with 38% who are favorable and if the election were held today, he would lose to ‘the Democratic candidate’ 47% to 41%.

Given their size in the state, independent voters who do not identify with one of the two major political parties are particularly important. Senator Gardner’s net unfavorables are 14 points higher than his favorables among this group and he loses them by 13 points in a head-to-head with a generic Democrat.

Gardner’s numbers in Colorado have been positively brutal for more than two years now.

 

► Britain’s Conservative Party has called for a vote to oust Prime Minister Theresa May, which could be a precursor to a sea-change election in Old England.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (December 10)

There are 15 shopping days left until Christmas. 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 needs a new Chief of Staff after it was revealed that John Kelly is will depart the White House at the end of the year. The problem, it seems, is that nobody really wants the gig.

Trump and Kelly reportedly aren’t even talking to each other, one of many reasons Kelly has no obvious successor. As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN, this job sucks (at least under this President):

The next chief will walk into a White House engulfed in scandal, in the sights of special counsel Robert Mueller and newly empowered Democrats, at what is shaping up as one of the most grave constitutional moments in US history…

…Nick Ayers, a rising political star in the GOP — who had long been considered Kelly’s likely replacement after serving as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff — announced Sunday he would not take the position after talks with Trump.

That left the President without an obvious frontrunner for the toughest job in politics as the White House is being battered by multiple crises, including a trade war with China, turmoil in the markets and a revolt by Senate Republicans over Saudi Arabia policy. And as it braces for a punishing new era of Democratic oversight, Trump’s team is also gearing up for the imminent escalation in the President’s re-election campaign.

If that was not enough, the new chief of staff will also be faced with the likely hopeless task of trying to tame a President who appears to be deeply rattled by Mueller’s strides in recent days, despite his insistence that everything is sunny in the White House.

How unappetizing is the job of Chief of Staff under Trump? Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is even being mentioned as a real candidate. Chris Cillizza of CNN breaks down the list of potential hires for a President who is definitely beginning to freak out about his political future.

As for Kelly’s legacy, 

Based on Trump’s hiring track record, we can expect he’ll hire someone terrible. But the Kelly bar is exceptionally low, so America may be in for a stroke of luck. But we owe it to ourselves to remember how bad Kelly was.

 

► Colorado Senate Republicans announced new committee assignments late Friday afternoon as they struggle to deal with their newfound minority status. Of particular note: Sen. Randy “Boob Grabber” Baumgardner isn’t on a committee. At all.

 

► The Denver Post runs a fawning profile of Rep-elect Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish):

He’s now the first African-American to represent Colorado in Congress and an early leader in his freshman class.

And friends say he’s nowhere close to done.

“Joe has this uncanny ability to bring people together and to really help manage personality differences,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “People are attracted to him for it, and in that way he is unstoppable.”

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (December 7)

“A date which will live in infamy.” 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 confirmed on Friday that he has chosen nominees for two high-profile jobs in his administration. From the Washington Post:

President Trump confirmed he will nominate former attorney general William P. Barr to lead the Justice Department again, telling reporters Friday that Barr was “my first choice since day one.”

He also said he would nominate Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, saying the State Department spokeswoman, a relative novice on foreign policy, is “very talented, very smart, very quick.”…

…The Washington Post reported a day earlier that Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, had emerged as the leading contender, and Trump told associates he planned to nominate him as attorney general.

Barr and Nauert are interesting juxtapositions in terms of qualifications for each respective position. While Barr has previously served as Attorney General, it’s hard to argue that Nauert is at all qualified to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (as Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has noted).

But as CNN reports, Nauert may have gotten the nod because the Trump administration wants to downgrade the role:

Nauert, a former Fox News host who arrived at the State Department in 2017, would be a relatively inexperienced newcomer in one of the most high-profile positions in US diplomacy. Her nomination sets the stage for a potentially tough Senate confirmation hearing, where Democrats will likely grill Nauert on her qualifications for the position.

In an administration rife with internal conflict and deeply distrustful of the UN, Nauert’s nomination would place a less senior person at the international agency than Haley, who reportedly sparred with other administration officials…

…Nauert’s appointment would realign power dynamics within the President’s national security team. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told aides he wants the UN position downgraded from the Cabinet-level job Haley had insisted on, an official familiar with his remark has told CNN. Elevating Haley to a Cabinet-level post broke with the tradition of previous Republican administrations.

National security adviser John Bolton has been said to want the role downgraded as well, according to people familiar with his thinking. A former UN ambassador himself, Bolton has taken an interest in some UN matters, such as the International Criminal Court.

Elsewhere in Trumpland, Politico reports that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is expected to leave his job within the next week.

 

► The New York Times previews a potentially-huge day in the advancement of special investigator Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign:

The special counsel’s office is expected to reveal more details on Friday about separate investigations that have ensnared President Trump’s personal lawyer and his former campaign chairman.

Federal prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, will submit a sentencing memorandum in Manhattan federal court outlining how much time Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen should spend in prison for admitting he lied to Congress. Mr. Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced next week and has agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s team as well as prosecutors in Manhattan investigating the president’s inner circle.

In the case of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted of financial fraud and who agreed to cooperate with the special counsel rather than face a second trial, Mr. Mueller’s team has accused him of repeatedly lying to investigators. Prosecutors pulled out of their plea deal with him because, they said, he was repeatedly untruthful. They were expected to disclose details about his falsehoods on Friday.

 

► Be sure to check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Show, where we look deeper into the numbers from the 2018 election with Ian Silverii of ProgressNow Colorado.

 

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The Get More Smarter Show: December 7, 2018

Today on the 30th episode of the Get More Smarter Show: Jason Bane and special guest Ian Silverii of ProgressNow Colorado break down the 2018 election results, debunk the spin, and look ahead to Colorado’s increasingly blue political future.

Catch up on previous episodes of the Get More Smarter Show here. Thanks for watching!

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 4)

Did you know that today is Colorado Gives Day? If you have an email account or an electronic device of any kind, you might have noticed already. 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…

As CNN reports, Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign could take a YUGE step forward this week:

America may get its most intimate look yet inside Robert Mueller’s secretive Russia investigation in the next four days, with a series of disclosures that have the potential to be greatly damaging for President Donald Trump.

Court filings focusing on Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Tuesday and his ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Friday could offer tantalizing new details of Mueller’s deep dive into the 2016 campaign.

If the special counsel lives up to his reputation, his filings will feature surprising revelations and rich texture to color the picture he has already painted in indictments and witness testimony of a culture of endemic dishonesty in Trump’s orbit about multiple, so far unexplainable, ties with Russians…

…Stepping up the pace of his probe since the midterm elections, Mueller has moved in a direction that appears increasingly threatening to the President, including his crossing of Trump’s red line by showing interest in his family real estate empire.

 

President Trump’s Twitter habit may be crossing new lines in relation to Mueller’s special investigation. From the Washington Post:

Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that the most striking thing about Monday was that there were two statements in proximity.

“It comes very close to the statutory definition of witness tampering,” he said. “It’s a mirror image of the first tweet, only he’s praising a witness for not cooperating with the implication of reward,” he said, adding that Trump has pardon power over Stone.

“We’re so used to President Trump transgressing norms in his public declarations,” Eisen said, “but he may have crossed the legal line.”

This begs the question: Which social media platform is the most effective for witness tampering?

 

► Nic Garcia of the Denver Post manages to write an entire story about a Democratic majority in the state legislature without actually quoting any, you know, Democrats.

 

► Republicans are challenging election results in HD-47 (Pueblo), where Democrat Brianna Buentello defeated Republican candidate “Deadbeat” Don Bendell by a margin of a few hundred votes.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (November 30)

So long, November! 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…

► We haven’t even finished with 2018, and it’s already clear that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is in for a rough couple of years before his term expires in 2020. A new report showing rising uninsured rates for American children is a significant political problem for Gardner, as his is willingness to support President Trump in declining to take any action against Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Gardner is even promoting Trump’s decision to ignore information from American Intelligence agencies in regard to the Khashoggi murder.

 

► As the Washington Post explains, President Trump is absolutely on the top of the list when it comes to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation:

In two major developments this week, President Trump has been labeled in the parlance of criminal investigations as a major subject of interest, complete with an opaque legal code name: “Individual 1.”

New evidence from two separate fronts of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation casts fresh doubts on Trump’s version of key events involving Russia, signaling potential political and legal peril for the president. Investigators have now publicly cast Trump as a central figure of their probe into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.

Together, the documents show investigators have evidence that Trump was in close contact with his lieutenants as they made outreach to both Russia and WikiLeaks — and that they tried to conceal the extent of their activities.

Trump has provided conflicting answers on his business ties to Russia. In July 2016, he Tweeted that he had “ZERO investments in Russia.” In January 2017, Trump told a reporter that “I have no deals that could happen in Russia.”

Today, Trump Tweeted this:

We can all see where this is going.

 

► Republican State Sen. “Handsy” Jack Tate announced that he will not seek re-election in 2020.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (November 28)

There are still plenty of shopping days left until Christmas. 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…

► House Democrats are meeting today to select their new caucus leaders, and it appears that Rep. Nancy Pelosi is well on her way to retaking the gavel as Speaker of the House. As the Washington Post reports:

The gathering provides a key test of strength for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who is unopposed in her bid to become speaker again but faces opposition from nearly two dozen Democrats who argue the party needs fresh leadership.

The full House, including Republican members, will choose a speaker on Jan. 3. If Democrats win two uncalled races where their candidates are leading, they will have won 235 seats, meaning Pelosi can weather as many as 17 defections.

In their first action Wednesday, House Democrats picked Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) as their new caucus chair.

Opposition to Pelosi from within the Democratic caucus appears to have fizzled over a lack of direction and no specific candidate to challenge the current House Minority Leader. Jefferson County Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Rep-elect Jason Crow are among the Democrats who have publicly called for new leadership.

As Politico reports, the top potential challengers to Pelosi sat down for a meeting with the likely Speaker on Wednesday.

 

► Senate Republicans are doing what they can to protect President Trump as rumors swirl that special investigator Robert Mueller may be getting close to announcing his findings regarding potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. From Politico:

Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan push to vote on legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday.

After Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) sought to bring the bill to the floor, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected to the request and argued the bill was unconstitutional…

…His remarks echo those of Senate GOP leaders, who have consistently rebuffed calls to consider the measure. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill was “a solution in search of a problem.”

Earlier Wednesday, Coons accused McConnell of protecting the president by blockinga vote on the bill.

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting on some apparent Trump answers to key questions about the investigation:

President Donald Trump told special counsel Robert Mueller in writing that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks, nor was he told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

 

Harry Enten of CNN runs down some of the key takeaways from Tuesday’s runoff election in Mississippi for a U.S. Senate seat. As expected, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy for the right to finish the final two years of Zombie Thad Cochran’s term. 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 20)

Dia de la Revolución! 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…

► In a twist of irony that is almost too ridiculous to comprehend, Ivanka Trump is under fire for using her personal email account to conduct official White House business.

Read that sentence again.

As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN, Ivanka’s response is absolutely absurd:

Faced with a Washington Post report that Ivanka Trump had regularly used a private email account to conduct government business in 2017, the explanation from her side went like this: She didn’t know that was wrong! [Pols emphasis]

I’m not kidding…

…How could Ivanka Trump have not known — even prior to the White House providing her “guidance” — that using a private email account to conduct official business was a giant no-no?

As you may remember, the central attack by Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign centered on her decision to use a private email account and server while serving as secretary of state. Trump insisted that Clinton was not being fully transparent about why she used a private email server for government business — and used that as a foothold into a broader questioning of whether the former secretary of state could be trusted with the nation’s top job.

Lock her up?

The House Oversight Committee plans to investigate Ivanka Trump’s use of a personal email account for government business, because of course it should.

 

Gun violence erupted in multiple cities on Monday, including in Denver, where 1 person was killed and four others injured in a shooting near Coors Field.

 

► A federal judge issued another defeat to President Trump on Monday. From the Washington Post:

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration from denying asylum to migrants who crossed the southern border illegally, saying the president violated a “clear command” from Congress to allow them to apply.

In a ruling late Monday, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar of San Francisco issued a nationwide restraining order barring enforcement of the policy announced by President Trump on Nov. 8, which he billed as an urgent attempt to halt the flow of thousands of asylum-seeking families across the border each month.

The rule pursued by the Trump administration would allow only people who cross at legal checkpoints to request asylum. Those entering elsewhere would be able to seek a temporary form of protection that is harder to win and doesn’t yield full citizenship. The changes would amount to a transformation of long-established asylum procedures, codified both at the international level and by Congress.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post picks up on this thread in relation to the big scary caravan of brown people that Trump warned us about before the election:

We are now learning that the troops President Trump sent to the southern border are already being brought home, even as the first migrants in the “caravan” begin to arrive. In case you doubt that this whole exercise was a campaign stunt, note that since the election, Trump himself has gone oddly quiet about what he previously claimed was a national emergency.

Here’s the key part:

But for our purposes here, there’s something remarkable buried deep in the decision: The judge warns that Trump’s proclamation and the interim rule that went with it actually claim for Trump the authority to shut down the southern border to any and all asylum-seeking.

As one immigration attorney explains in Sargent’s story, the judge in this case is sounding “a constitutional alarm bell.”

 

► The 2020 election cycle can officially begin now that The Big Line 2020 is online.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (November 16)

If you lived in Canada, you would have already celebrated Thanksgiving (and, presumably, you wouldn’t be the only person still in your office today). It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is no match for the First Amendment…at least for today. As CNN reports about CNN:

CNN’s Jim Acosta will return to his post at the White House on Friday following a court ruling that forced the Trump administration to reinstate his press pass.

The ruling by federal judge Timothy J. Kelly was an initial victory for CNN in its lawsuit against President Trump and several top aides. The suit alleges that CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by last week’s suspension of his press pass.

Kelly did not rule on the underlying case on Friday. But he granted CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order. And he said he believes that CNN and Acosta are likely to prevail in the case overall.

Speaking outside the court, Ted Boutrous, an outside attorney representing CNN, said “this is a great day for the First Amendment and journalism.”

 

► As the Denver Post reports, Colorado is on the verge of adopting new standards for vehicle emissions:

A Colorado commission appears likely to decide that new cars sold in the state have to emit fewer greenhouse gases and get better gas mileage starting in 2022.

The nine-member Colorado Air Quality Control Commission is scheduled to vote Friday on a set of low-emission vehicle standards proposed by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The Democrat mandated in June that the commission — composed of his appointees — adopt the rules by the end of the year.

Opponents say the new statewide standard, which is based on California’s rules, would make cars a lot more expensive without making them a lot cleaner.

Opponents say the proposed standards will raise the average price of vehicles in Colorado, while supporters of the change say drivers will save thousands of dollars on fuel costs.

 

► The margins of victory in many Colorado races have changed quite a bit since Election Day. Updated numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State show that Democrat Jason Crow defeated incumbent Republican Mike Coffman in CO-6 by better than 11 points.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is sounding more and more like President Trump every day. Gardner has been on the post-election talk radio circuit and is working very hard to convince himself that 2018 was not a wave election for Democrats. Gardner’s talking points aren’t backed up by reality, as Republican-aligned polling outfit Magellan Strategies explains. Unaffiliated voters in Colorado made themselves very clear in 2018.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 13)

The 2018 election is already a week old. 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…

► Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen looks to be the next cabinet official on the way out of the Trump administration. From the Washington Post:

President Trump has told advisers he has decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and her departure from the administration is likely to occur in the coming weeks, if not sooner, according to five current and former White House officials.

Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend that he wants her out as soon as possible, these officials said. The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.

The announcement could come as soon as this week, three of these officials said.

Trump has changed his mind on key personnel decisions before, and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is fighting Nielsen’s pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it, aides say. But Kelly’s future in the administration also is shaky, according to three White House officials.

President Trump canned Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, less than 24 hours after Election Day.

 

► Democrats picked up another U.S. Senate seat on Monday when Rep. Martha McSally conceded to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona. McSally could still end up in the U.S. Senate anyway, as Chris Cillizza of CNN explains.

 

► Colorado Democrats will hold 41 seats in the State House when the legislature reconvenes in January, which means that there will be more Democrats in the lower chamber than there are Republicans in both legislative chambers combined.

 

► A judge has delayed the certification of voting results in Georgia amid growing concerns of voter disenfranchisement.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Halloween (October 31)

Because it’s Halloween, it’s Hall-o-we-en, Hall-o-ween, nuh nuh nuh nah nah. 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.

Meanwhile, the latest ballot return numbers are available from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. As Republican-leaning polling firm Magellan Strategies explains, Democratic voters are surging in Colorado.

 

► Trump mad! Trump smash! As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump lashed out Wednesday at House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) over Ryan’s comments on birthright citizenship, saying he “should be focusing on holding the Majority.”

The extraordinary rebuke from Trump came one day after Ryan pushed back on the president’s remarks on the issue, saying “you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”

“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump vowed to push forward with his call to end birthright citizenship, despite a backlash from legal scholars and some prominent members of his own party against his pledge a day earlier to take executive action on the matter.

Paul Ryan is not the boss of me!

Elsewhere, 9News fact-checks Trump’s claims that he can change birthright citizenship on his own.

 

► In a separate story from the Washington Post, reporter Jacqueline Alemany writes that President Trump’s birthright citizenship rhetoric is a big problem for Republicans in tight races:

Republican leaders and candidates in tough races to be decided in next Tuesday’s midterm elections were divided, evasive and otherwise just plain off message yesterday after President Trump spontaneously introduced the notion of ending birthright citizenship.

This really isn’t the way Republicans running with — or in some cases, away — from Trump want to be spending the closing days of a campaign on which control of Congress hinges.

This rhetoric is particularly problematic for incumbents like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who has a history of supporting legislation to eliminate birthright citizenship.

 

► The oil and gas industry is responsible for 1 out of every 5 dollars spent on the 2018 election in Colorado — for a total of more than $40 million.

 

► Republican Secretary of State Wayne “Boots” Williams can’t stop digging his own hole.

 

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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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