Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 6)

Today is National Fried Chicken Day; this is a pretty good Colorado-related marketing stunt. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

LGBT:

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

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

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

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 5)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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My Free Speech Zone: From Sea To Shining Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 11)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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