Please Don’t Tell Kevin McCarthy How Ken Buck Really Feels

Rep. Ken Buck identifies the caster of the “stupidest vote in the world.”

We wrote earlier this week about Rep. Ken Buck’s opposition to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee–a move that required a vote of the full House due to that committee’s importance. After earning some plaudits for pushing back on what’s widely considered to be tit-for-tat retaliation for the removal by Democrats of arguably much more deserving Republicans from their committee spots in the previous Congress, as NPR reported yesterday, Rep. Buck relented after a “conversation” with McCarthy about supposedly making it harder to do this in the future:

Some Republicans have been calling for Omar’s removal from the committee for years. But others voiced concerns about due process this week, and with a razor-thin Republican majority, it wasn’t clear that the resolution had enough votes to pass.

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., supported the move only after language was added allowing members to appeal their removal to the House Ethics Committee. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., dropped his opposition after a conversation with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Wednesday, in which Buck proposed future removals be handled by a majority vote in the evenly split Ethics Committee.

“He committed to the process of getting something like that done,” Buck said Wednesday, adding that Congress needs to “stop this nonsense of kicking people off committees because it’s just wrong.”

Buck’s complaints that “kicking people off committees” is bad practice apparently didn’t apply to Rep. Omar, at least not enough for her to be anything more than a bargaining chip for this seemingly meager concession to apply in future circumstances. The lack of any real concession from McCarthy has led to speculation that Buck may have received some other reward for ending his opposition. Either way, as Roll Call’s Rachel Oswald scooped yesterday, Buck’s two-faced grumbling about the situation didn’t end with his cave-in to McCarthy:

Following the vote, House Foreign Affairs member Ken Buck, R-Colo., was overheard in an elevator calling it the “stupidest vote in the world.” [Pols emphasis] Fellow Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, agreed and added that all it does is make Omar a “martyr.” They both also agreed that it was simply a retaliatory vote in response to Democrats removing certain Republicans from committees in the 117th Congress.

Buck and Simpson urged fellow passengers in the elevator to not let leadership know their thoughts.

That request was not honored, and Rep. Buck’s disingenuousness is on full display–right after voting “yes” on what Buck himself describes as the “stupidest vote in the world.” If that is how Buck felt about voting to remove Rep. Omar from her committee assignment, he should have stuck to his principles and voted against it.

The lesson here must inevitably be that Buck has no principles. Or at least…principles that can be swamped.

The Circle of Strife: Republicans Set Sail in Separate Leaky Boats

UPDATE: Going great!

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[Pols Note: This is Part Two of a three-part series]

Oh Captains, My Captains!

In part one of “The Circle of Strife,” we covered the ongoing feud between the El Paso County Republican Party and the State Republican Party. On Tuesday evening, the State GOP voted by a 139-123.8 margin (yes, 123.8) to allow a neutral group of observers to oversee the Feb. 11 election for new officers in El Paso County. The reason for this unprecedented vote is because of concerns that two-term El Paso Chair Vickie Tonkins (who is also seeking re-election) is trying to rig the election in her favor. 

This is not a new accusation – similar charges were made when Tonkins was re-elected in 2021 – but the El Paso GOP is so mad about being bigfooted by its statewide siblings that it filed a lawsuit against the State Party to stop the influence of a “neutral group of observers.” Meanwhile, accusations of election interference are also being made in Adams County regarding Chairperson JoAnn Windholz

While these battles are fascinating on their own, they are also part of a longer trend for Colorado Republicans that goes back more than a decade. It isn’t the GOP’s neverending circular firing squad that is solely responsible for recent election losses; but when you understand the history of these conflicts, it’s easy to wonder how Republicans even have the time or energy to worry about Democrats.

The timeline we reconstructed below begins in January 2019, but Republican leadership problems go much further back. For instance, the “Coffmangate” scandal of 2015 was as wild and ridiculous as anything Colorado Republicans have done since. The short version of “Coffmangate” is that a handful of powerful Republicans – including then-Attorney General Cynthia Coffman – attempted to overthrow State Republican Party Chair Steve House just three months after his election to the post. The scandal included some pretty believable stories of blackmail, which made it national news throughout the summer of 2015.

January 2019 was a pivotal time for the State Republican Party. The 2018 election had been devastating to Republicans both because of the results and because of the shattering of expectations that had grown after Donald Trump’s Presidential election in 2016. Democrat Jared Polis trounced Republican Walker Stapleton in the race for Governor by nearly 11 points; Democrats won all four statewide constitutional offices for the first time in modern history; Republicans lost six seats in the state legislature; and Democratic newcomer Jason Crow ousted longtime Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in CO-06 by an 11-point margin.

The 2022 election was dubbed by one Republican as “an extinction-level event.”

Then-State GOP Chair Jeff Hays was wrapping up a disappointing two-year term by promising not to seek re-election. Colorado Republicans SHOULD have been introspective about their 2018 performance and looking to chart a different path forward ahead of the 2020 election cycle, where they would be trying to re-elect the last remaining well-known Republican in Colorado (Sen. Cory Gardner). Instead, the GOP went with a new leader who only worked at the job of Chair when he had time away from his regular job of serving in Congress. Naturally, a part-time effort generated half-assed results. 

In May 2020, we chronicled Rep. Ken Buck’s disastrous first year as State Chair. In that same spirit, here’s a broader timeline of the many, many, many Republican missteps that brought them to their current “Circle of Strife.” 

As you’ll see below, there is one consistent commonality among all of the personalities involved with the Colorado Republican Party: Regret, rinse, and repeat. Republican leaders keep making the same mistakes by appealing to the right-wing for short-term gains and then finding themselves flummoxed when that same group creates a whole new batch of problems.

 

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Buck Buckles After McCarthy Cucks Buck On Big Tech

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The goodwill extended below to Rep. Ken Buck for defending Rep. Ilhan Omar is hereby retracted.

If you’re wondering what swampy quid pro quo Rep. Buck received for abandoning his principles, you’re not alone. In a way, it’s good for Buck to disabuse us of notions of his integrity whenever we entertain them.

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Rep. Ken Buck (R-’em all).

NBC News reported late Friday that Colorado’s periodically maverick-y GOP Rep. Ken Buck is not happy with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to remove Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from her post on the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

The GOP effort to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee took another blow Friday, with Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., pledging to oppose it.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy has pledged to remove the Minnesota Democrat from the panel for past comments that he characterized as antisemitic. That would require a full House vote, and Buck’s statement Friday means McCarthy likely cannot afford to lose any more Republican votes if he wants Omar removed.

“I think that we should not engage in this tit for tat. I am opposed to the selection — or the removal — of Congresswoman Omar from committees,” Buck said in an interview on Meet the Press NOW.

Buck said he had “a little bit less certainty” about McCarthy’s decision to bar California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, which McCarthy could do as Speaker.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Buck joins several other Republican representatives unexpectedly defending Rep. Omar–enough that McCarthy can’t lose any more if he follows through with the required vote to remove her. McCarthy’s retaliation against these high-profile critics of President Donald Trump are broadly viewed as score-settling for Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar bring stripped of their committee assignments in the previous Congress, after making violent threats and inferences against their colleagues. Buck didn’t support that action either, of course, but he gets credit for consistency at least in standing up for Rep. Omar.

And as the Phil Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner reports, there’s another reason why Buck might see little downside to pushing back on McCarthy:

House Republicans are set to hand libertarian Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) the gavel for the subcommittee responsible for antitrust, a snub to one of Republicans’ most vocal Big Tech critics and a sign the conference will try to steer clear of major clashes with Silicon Valley. [Pols emphasis]

Top Republican Big Tech critic Ken Buck (R-CO) was expected to take over the House Judiciary Committee panel responsible for antitrust, which would have positioned him to promote bills and oversight efforts aimed at curbing the power of Silicon Valley. Massie is viewed as more aligned with House Republicans who do not favor stronger government intervention to address perceived abuses and free-speech violations on the part of tech companies…

In the last Congress, Buck aligned himself with liberal Democrats on bipartisan measures that would step up antitrust scrutiny of the largest tech companies. The bills did not become law, thanks to opposition from centrists in both parties. Buck has made clear that he favors a more significant role for the federal government in counterbalancing the market and political influence of Big Tech, a stance long rejected by his party but that has gained currency among conservatives as they’ve found themselves opposed to tech gatekeepers on culture war issues.

Though their motivation beneath the headlines obviously differed, Rep. Buck found common cause with some liberal House members including Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder in legislation to step up anti-trust regulation and scrutiny of the largest tech-opolies like Google, Amazon, and Apple. That effort appears to be effectively dead in Kevin McCarthy’s House, scuttling one of Buck’s biggest remaining political objectives in what’s generally believed to be the latter days of Buck’s career in Washington.

Like Bob Dylan said, when you’ve got nothing you’ve got nothing left to lose.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Jan. 10)

Vote early AND often for Denver Nuggets’ players Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon as NBA All-Stars. 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Happy inauguration day! Governor Jared Polis and Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera were sworn-in for their second term in office this morning. Click here for more.

 

The opening day of Colorado’s legislative session on Monday clarified how Republicans plan to deal with their new micro-minorities: By doing the same shit that got them in the voters’ doghouse in the first place. The complete lack of self-awareness from Republicans — including freshman Rep. Ken DeGraaf — is actually pretty remarkable:

 

As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, Monday was not a good start for Republicans:

“A little blip.”

That’s what House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, called the disruption Monday by the GOP superminority in the House during the launch of the legislative session. The “blip” was caused by new Republican state Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf , both of Colorado Springs. DeGraaf nominated Bottoms for speaker (who seconded his own nomination) to protest Democrats’ support for abortion access and gun control measures.

It’s traditional for the House speaker vote in Colorado to be unanimous, [Pols emphasis] and since Democrats are in control of the chamber that means they chose the leader — Julie McCluskie. Bottoms’ nomination failed (he picked up eight GOP votes) and McCluskie was sworn in with bipartisan support. McCluskie’s nomination, in fact, was seconded by Lynch…

Here’s the question that may define the 2023 legislative session in the House: Democrats have signaled they are willing to bring Republicans into the conversation. But are Republicans willing to work with Democrats? Eight members of the House GOP caucus signaled “no” on Monday.

The takeaway: Democrats don’t have to work with the GOP to get their agenda passed this year. And Bottoms and DeGraaf on Monday gave them another reason not to bother. [Pols emphasis]

House Republicans haven’t quite hit rock-Bottoms yet, but they’re on the wrong track.

The Denver Post has a gallery of photos from opening day.

 

► As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News, Democrats in the state legislature are planning to do more about gun safety. Nick Coltrain of The Denver Post notes that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is gearing up for a fight with its rapidly-waning influence. Public opinion is definitely on the side of Democrats:

According to a poll commissioned by Giffords and conducted by the highly regarded Global Strategy Group, 73% of voters this November considered gun violence an important factor in their decision. And of the 78% that cited crime more broadly as an important factor, two-thirds said shootings and mass shootings were among their more specific concerns — outstripping crimes like burglary, carjackings, and retail theft.

“Nationally, we’ve seen a huge shift in the politics of the issue,” Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler said. “It’s gone from having this sort of third-rail reputation to being something that has significant bipartisan appeal. Colorado has been at the epicenter of that transformation.”

Republican Rep. Ron Weinberg of Loveland is inadvertently strengthening these arguments with his own idiotic decisions.

 

Click below to keep learning things…

 

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Will The Real Ken Buck Please Stand Up?

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Throughout the stalemate in the U.S. House over the selection of the next Speaker of the House that has dominated national political news all week, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado has become increasingly vocal about the dilemma faced by would-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Although Rep. Buck has voted for McCarthy in each of the six rounds of balloting so far, Buck has made no secret of his growing consternation, telling almost everyone who asks that McCarthy is quickly running out of time and support. Jeff Rice reports for the Sterling Journal-Advocate, a Buck-friendly publication in his district:

Buck told CNN on Wednesday that he had talked with McCarthy and with Rep. Steven Scalise of Louisiana about the possibility of McCarthy stepping aside to see whether Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, could garner the votes needed to win the Speaker’s chair.

Buck told CNN’s Jake tapper on Wednesday that he can no longer support McCarthy because it’s become clear the California Republican cannot break the deadlock that Boebert and her cohorts have caused.

“Kevin McCarthy, I think, will make the decision at some point and what’s going to happen and what should happen sooner rather than later, is some of the senior members, some the cardinals on appropriations and the committee chairman and some of the other folks who have been here a long time, have supported Kevin are going to have to have that private conversation with him that this doesn’t make sense and we need to move forward,” Buck said.

9NEWS:

“I’ve had a number of conversations with Kevin, and I basically told him at some point this needs to break loose,” Buck said in the interview. “He either needs to make a deal to bring the 19 or 20 over, or he needs to step aside to give somebody the chance to do that.

“I don’t know what that timeframe is, but it makes sense that at some point today we’re able to move forward in a way that we elect a speaker,” Buck continued…

Buck suggested Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise is “next in line” if progress can’t be made on McCarthy’s bid to lead the House.

Listening to Rep. Buck on CNN, you would certainly agree with the growing consensus that McCarthy’s bid for the speakership is damaged beyond repair. The problem is, Buck basically contradicted all of this in a story last night from CBS4 Denver’s notoriously slanted political reporter Shaun “Furry Panic” Boyd:

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, says the Republican Party will emerge stronger from a standoff at the nation’s capitol over who should be the next Speaker of the House.

Buck says McCarthy’s opponents aren’t cohesive – some want rule changes, others want policy commitments – and they keep changing their demands.

“You got 20 people dissenting at this point and they have 20 different reasons,” Buck said. “They were voting for Jim Jordan and Jim Jordan was voting for Kevin McCarthy, and that didn’t make sense to anybody. So they nominated Byron Donalds, who was voting for himself, so it made a little bit more sense.”

Buck believes McCarthy will ultimately prevail… [Pols emphasis]

The interview that Buck gave to Shaun Boyd is so far removed from what Buck told CNN that’s it’s almost impossible to believe it was same person talking. We assume this was done for the purpose of giving Buck cover after contributing significantly to McCarthy’s deteriorating position in Buck’s CNN interview. But it takes a shamelessly credulous reporter like Shaun Boyd to write this story knowing–or at least who should have known–what Buck was telling literally everyone else.

As for Ken Buck, never assume he’s telling you anything except what he thinks you want to hear.

Buck Votes Against Own Gun Safety Bill, Says He Didn’t Read it Closely Enough

(Ken Buck at his finest — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Congressman Ken Buck, who has campaigned for nearly two decades on his pro-gun stance, finally found a gun safety bill he could support, at least until it came time to vote for it.

Buck, a Republican, is a co-sponsor of a proposal to create a voluntary waiting period to purchase a firearm, but ultimately voted against it after its hearing Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee. Back in July, Buck co-sponsored H.R.8361, the bill introduced by Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) with the goal of preventing those who may experience suicidal thoughts from being able to immediately obtain a gun.

Anyone may add themselves to the “no-buy” list, which firearm dealers would consult as part of the national instant criminal background check system before making a sale. Those who change their mind can remove themselves from the list after a three-week waiting period.

Buck’s co-sponsorship of this bill angered Colorado’s most extreme gun rights group, the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), the national arm of Dudley Brown’s Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. NAGR’s sent an email on Tuesday urging its members to call Buck and demand he “reverse course” and pull his support.

Yesterday, during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill, Buck did just that.

“I have proudly cosponsored this legislation because I believe in doing everything we can to minimize suicides and protect people from themselves under certain circumstances,” said Buck. “I have issues with this bill and I will ask the gentlelady [Jayapal] if there’s a way to work to address them before or after the end of this markup.”

Buck then listed several changes he wanted to make to the bill.

Buck’s explanation for his flip-flop after being a co-sponsor for five months? He didn’t read the bill carefully enough.

“I apologize to my friend from Washington [state] for misleading her when I initially co-sponsored this bill,” he said. “I still would like to work on this bill, make it stronger and bring it back — since we have six days left in this Congress, perhaps next Congress — and see if we can’t do something to reduce the number of suicides in this country.”

Jayapal welcomed some of the changes Buck suggested and thanked him for his partnership and for reading it thoroughly, to which Buck replied, “I wish I’d read it thoroughly earlier.”

In another email sent after Buck voted against the bill, NAGR asked its members to call Buck again and vote against the bill, this time on the floor.

“The tremendous backlash from the pro-gun grassroots has already caused one Republican Congressman to abandon his support of this gun control scheme,” the email also noted, without mentioning that the Congressman in question was Buck himself.

Buck’s office declined to comment beyond his statements during the hearing.

O’Dea Continues Another GOP Tradition: Bombing on National TV

We wrote earlier about Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea inexplicably spending the last week of the 2022 election cycle touring the Western Slope and Eastern Plains of Colorado. This is a strange tradition for GOP Senate candidates who know they are about to lose, from Bob Schaffer in 2008 to Cory Gardner in 2020.

On the checklist of bad traditions among Republican Senate candidates in Colorado, there is another box that O’Dea apparently decided to mark off: Completely imploding on national television. When Democrat Michael Bennet was running for his first full term in the Senate in 2010, his Republican opponent was then-District Attorney Ken Buck. That race went down the wire, and most observers believe Buck lost the Senate race with a disastrous late-October appearance on “Meet the Press” in which he compared homosexuality to alcoholism and used the term “buyer’s remorse” in discussing the case of an alleged rape in his judicial district four years earlier.

Buck’s “Meet the Press” appearance was so bad it was even lampooned by “Saturday Night Live.” Had Buck not bombed so memorably, he might well have been elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Joe O’Dea makes his “nailed it” face after repeating for the 100th time his joke about how he doesn’t even agree with his wife 98% of the time.

On Tuesday evening, O’Dea sat down for an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN and flopped in a much different manner. You really should watch the entire seven-minute interview to grasp the extent of the problem for O’Dea, but we’ll break it down into a couple of pieces.

But first, it’s important to understand some context here. Candidates don’t just end up talking to Jake Tapper on CNN; this is the sort of interview that campaign staffers (or national GOP helpers) work hard to arrange. A couple of people had to go to a lot of trouble to get this interview to happen in the last few days before an election. Some of those same people apparently didn’t bother to prepare O’Dea for some difficult questions.

This is a masterclass in how to show voters that you have absolutely no business being anywhere near Congress.

Tapper’s first question is about former President Donald Trump’s outspoken opposition to O’Dea after the Colorado businessman said he would campaign against Trump in 2024. O’Dea dodges this question, which leads to Tapper replaying a moment from a Senate debate last week when Bennet talked about O’Dea’s previous support for Trump.

 

Tapper asks O’Dea “did it bother you” when Trump pushed his family separation policy at the border or said that there were fine people on both sides after white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, VA in 2017. Here’s O’Dea’s response:

JOE O’DEA: Well, I believe that [President] Obama started that policy to be quite frank with you.

JAKE TAPPER: Not really.

Gah!

O’Dea goes on to say that the border is “leaking like a sieve” and talks about fentanyl “coming right up I-25.” Tapper notes that former President Trump did not solve the border problem, either, and adds that every time immigration reform has come up in Congress in the last 20 years, it is Republicans in the House of Representatives who have blocked it from becoming law. Tapper asks O’Dea if Republicans share some of the blame for a lack of action on immigration reform. O’Dea calls the border situation “a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions”; he says that he is going to run an immigration reform bill and make sure it passes both the Senate and the House.

This is the point where things really start to go downhill for O’Dea. Tapper asks O’Dea about his appearance on “Meet the Press” last week and a question from Chuck Todd about whether O’Dea is comfortable with the idea of using migrants as a “political tool” (such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard).

TAPPER: Do you think it was right for them to ship off migrants under false pretenses into other parts of the country? That part of it — not just bringing attention to [the issue], but that part of it — was that the right thing to do?

O’DEA: [long pause] Well, I know that President Biden is shipping them all over the country right now in airplanes. Nobody said a word.

What? President Biden is flying migrants all over the country?

It appears at this point that a small part of O’Dea’s brain realized that he is screwing up, so he reverts to repeating his same talking points from before.

O’DEA: Every state is a border state now. We’ve got a humanitarian crisis down there — epic proportions. And I believe that Gov. Abbott and Gov. DeSantis are trying to bring some attention to this because of the failed policies of Joe Biden. And Michael Bennet’s right with him. 98% of the time he has failed because he’s with his President instead of stepping out and getting something done. We need change, and that’s why I got into this race.

Epic proportions!

Tapper then shifts to a question about gun violence that clearly surprises O’Dea (for some reason).

We are all Jake Tapper when listening to Joe O’Dea.

TAPPER: You do not support raising the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic weapon — the kind used in Uvalde [Texas] and other massacres. Why should an 18-year-old be able to purchase a semi-automatic weapon before he’s even mature enough to buy a beer?

O’DEA: [long pause] Look, this is about crime. We don’t need any more gun laws. What we need is more cops. And this is about Michael Bennet and Joe Biden having the wrong priorities. Here they pass this inflation reduction act — 87,000 new bureaucrats for the IRS — instead of focusing that money on getting our border under control, focusing that money on putting more cops on the ground here. Colorado had one heck of a weekend. I gotta tell you that we had 12 shootings this weekend, and we lost some Coloradans. Crime is at an all time high here.

TAPPER: Yeah, but, why should a 19-year-old be able to buy a semi-automatic weapon when he can’t even buy a beer or a handgun? That’s my question.

O’DEA: Well, he can sign up and go into our military. So, I just believe that we don’t need any more gun laws. What we need is more cops…

TAPPER: You’re…I’m…I’m sure you know of all the training that enlistees undergo when it comes to how to use a firearm.

Mercifully for O’Dea, Tapper wraps up the interview at this point. Unfortunately for O’Dea, his inch-deep understanding of a bevy of important issues has already been revealed. When the best thing you can say about O’Dea’s interview was that it wasn’t quite as bad as Ken Buck in 2010, you know things did not go well.

In fact, you might even say this interview was a disaster…of epic proportions.

Wildfire Recovery Act Passes, No Thanks to Boebert and Buck

Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck

Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) celebrated the passage on Tuesday of legislation intended to help communities recover from devastating wildfires.

Via press release from Neguse’s office:

Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), Co-Chairs and Founders of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, announced that the House of Representatives passed their legislation to help ensure impacted communities have the resources they need to recover from devastating wildfires. The bipartisan Wildfire Recovery Act would increase flexibility in the federal cost share for Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) to bring in additional resources for communities as they rebuild from wildfire damage. [Pols emphasis] The bill is sponsored by California Senator Alex Padilla in the U.S. Senate.

“Coloradans have been impacted by multiple natural disasters in recent years, from the devastating wildfire season in 2020 to the record-breaking Marshall Fire just this past year. For them and for all the communities across this country impacted by wildfires, floods, and more, we must ensure full and adequate federal support for recovery,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The Wildfire Recovery Act helps to support state and local governments in cases of disaster, covering the costs of critical services needed for protection and recovery. The strong bipartisan support for this bill – demonstrated by the House vote today – gives me hope that Colorado families and communities will never again have to navigate recovery alone.”

The Wildfire Recovery Act has a ton of bipartisan sponsors, as you might expect for something that wouldn’t look like a political maneuver no matter how hard you squinted. In short, the legislation allows people impacted by devastating fires, such as the Marshall Fire in Boulder County in 2021 that destroyed more than 1,000 homes, to qualify for additional federal assistance through Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG).

The Wildfire Recovery Act was approved on the House Floor on Tuesday by a wide margin (328-88). Two of those ‘NO’ votes, all of which came from Republicans, were cast by Colorado Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) and Ken Buck (R-Greeleyish).

These votes are indefensible considering what Aldo Svaldi reported for The Denver Post on Tuesday:

Nearly 320,000 single-family homes in Colorado are at risk of wildfire damage with potential losses highest in El Paso County, according to CoreLogic, a property information firm that prepares an annual Wildfire Report.

California, Florida, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico are the top five states in terms of the number of homes susceptible to wildfire damage, CoreLogic estimates. But given their much smaller populations than the first three states, Colorado and New Mexico are more vulnerable on a percentage of homes basis.

As you can see from the map below, the five Colorado counties with homes that are most at-risk for severe fire damage include THREE that are within areas represented by Boebert (Eagle and La Plata) and Buck (Douglas).

Via the annual “Wildfire Report” from CoreLogic.

El Paso County is considered to have the highest risk of single-home damage, which is probably why even Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs voted for the Wildfire Recovery Act.

As far as we can tell, neither Buck nor Boebert have said anything about why they would have voted against a bill that would provide significant help for people IN THEIR OWN DISTRICTS.

It is inexplicable why any voter in Colorado would continue to support the likes of Boebert and Buck when they go to such great lengths to work against the interests of their constituents.

Republicans to Introduce 15 Week Abortion Ban

UPDATE: Wait, really?

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What has two thumbs and just screwed Colorado Republicans?

As Inae Oh reports for Mother Jones, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is going to make the final two months of the 2022 election considerably harder for many Republicans candidates in Colorado (and around the country):

Lindsey Graham is set to introduce a new bill to restrict abortion nationally, specifically banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. [Pols emphasis]

This will mark the sixth time that the South Carolina governor has introduced legislation to restrict abortion at the federal level. The plan, which will be introduced Tuesday, has no chance of surviving a Democratic-controlled Senate; even if Republicans seize control of Congress, it would still likely face serious challenges, including an all-but-certain veto from the president.

But what’s interesting here is that by once again proposing nationwide abortion restrictions, Graham is reportedly hoping that the legislation will convince voters that the GOP is willing to make some concessions on the issue—that amid intense outrage, the Republican Party is not as cruel as the Democrats have been portraying. [Pols emphasis] But much of Graham’s logic here weaponizes the stigma, as well as the general misunderstanding of the term “late-term abortions,” and it’s difficult to see newly mobilized voters falling for it in our post-Roe landscape.

If a “15 week” abortion ban sounds familiar, it should: This is the same arbitrary restriction proposed by Mississippi lawmakers that led to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision in June that essentially overturned Roe v. Wade.

This bears repeating. Senator Graham is introducing a bill to ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy — a timeline that has no scientific or medical basis whatsoever — that would create the same abortion restrictions as the Mississippi law that led to the destruction of federal abortion rights in the United States. Graham thinks that this will somehow be helpful to Republicans; he apparently didn’t get the memo that “nuance” is dead when it comes to abortion rights.

Graham’s legislation is a disaster for every Republican candidate in Colorado who is not running in a safe Republican district. Current elected officials, including Reps. Ken Buck (R-Greeleyish) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) have already signed on to the idea of making further abortion restrictions at a national level (so long, “state’s rights”). Here’s a short list of those 2022 candidates in Colorado who will find this to be particularly unhelpful in the weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8:

Joe O’Dea, U.S. Senate

O’Dea has spent the last couple of months diligently trying to take every conceivable position possible on the issue of abortion rights, other than the only one that really matters: Supporting a woman’s right to choose. His latest answer on the subject is that he wants to go to Washington D.C. to “bring balance to women’s rights.”

O’Dea says that he would like to restrict abortions at an equally-arbitrary deadline of 20 weeks of pregnancy. It will be hard for O’Dea to argue that he would oppose Graham’s 15 week deadline given that his own 20 week deadline is not based on any tangible scientific evidence.

John Kellner

John Kellner, Attorney General

Kellner already screwed this up when he said out loud at a candidate forum in August that he considered himself “somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision” and later couldn’t answer a ‘yes or no’ question about whether he supported a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions. But Graham’s bill destroys whatever wiggle room Kellner might have tried to hold onto because the concept of “state’s rights” would go out the window.

If a Congress were to approve Graham’s legislation, it’s tough to believe that Kellner would still work to protect abortion rights in Colorado if elected Attorney General. He could just say, Oh, I support state’s rights but Congress changed the law, so what are you gonna do?

♦ Erik Aadland, Congress (CO-07)

Aadland is about as far right as you can get on the issue of abortion rights. He cheered the demise of Roe V. Wade and praised the Texas abortion law that basically made bounty hunters out of regular citizens who even heard the word “abortion” whispered by a neighbor.

♦ Barbara Kirkmeyer, Congress (CO-08)

Kirkmeyer has been one of Colorado’s most consistent anti-choice advocates for decades, but even she sees the political danger in talking about her position. Kirkmeyer opposes abortion for any reason. We don’t even need to ask if Kirkmeyer would vote YES on Graham’s bill if given the opportunity. She’s like political Thanos in this regard:

 

To be clear, Graham’s bill is bad for any Colorado Republican trying to finesse a position on abortion rights that is anything other than supporting a woman’s right to choose. Election after election, and poll after poll, have proved Colorado is an overwhelmingly pro-choice state — which is why dolts like GOP Lieutenant Governor candidate Danny Moore are trying to pretend reality is different. From The Colorado Sun’sUnaffiliated” newsletter:

“The Republican Party is not trying to take away anybody’s right to choose,” Danny Moore, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor [Pols emphasis], said last week on Jeff Fard’s interview show in response to a question about abortion. That statement comes despite the GOP’s efforts at the state Capitol and through ballot measures to restrict or outright ban abortions in Colorado. Moore said he thinks voters should decide Colorado’s abortion laws — even though they already have time and again through ballot measures — while criticizing the law passed by Democrats this year enshrining nearly unfettered abortion access in the state. (Heidi Ganahl, Moore’s running mate, wants to roll back Colorado’s new abortion-access bill and believes the procedure should be banned except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of a mother is at risk.)

Danny Moore is apparently unaware that many interviews with politicians are recorded or written down and are easily accessible to anyone with a connection to the Internet.

Lindsey Graham is expected to announce his national abortion ban legislation sometime today.

The GMS Podcast: Asshats in Key States

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s pledge to decide what rights women should get to have, and we consider how the breakdown of the national map for Senate Republicans (“Asshats in Key States”) is causing problems for O’Dea in Colorado.

We also talk about the latest state fundraising reports; the deadline for the recall of State Sen. Kevin Priola; and we bemoan the fact that the campaign for Denver Mayor is already well underway even though the midterm election still has eight weeks to go.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher |

To Hell With “State’s Rights” Say Buck, Lamborn

Rep. Ken Buck (top) and Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this summer overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing abortion rights in all fifty states, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado celebrated what he characterized as the restoration of state authority to regulate abortion as they saw fit:

The Supreme Court made the right decision in overturning Roe v. Wade, a tragic abortion mandate that has cost over 73 million unborn babies their lives. The power to decide this profound moral question has officially returned to the states, where it will be debated and settled in the way it should be in our democratic society—by the people.

In his statement the same day, Rep. Doug Lamborn likewise heralded the turn of the struggle over abortion rights “to the states.”

While today we are rejoicing, the fight now turns to the states where the American people must go on the offense for life.

But in the same press release where Lamborn said “the fight now returns to the states,” Lamborn contradicted himself by vowing to pursue further federal restrictions on abortion that would apply in all 50 states–no secret, but also making no sense right before celebrating the return of the fight “to the states.” And true to form, as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reports, both Lamborn and Buck have signed on to legislation severely restricting abortion rights at the federal level–demonstrating they were lying about wanting states to decide the question at all:

When the Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 established a nationwide right to an abortion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson that the legality of abortion would now be up to individual states. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” Alito said. “Roe and Casey [in 1992] arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

Many Republican foes of abortion celebrated the ruling as a victory for states’ rights. Yet since Alito’s draft opinion was leaked on May 2, 28 lawmakers have also signed onto a proposed nationwide ban — one that would impose abortion restrictions even in Democrat-led, pro-abortion rights states. [Pols emphasis]

This would seem to be a direct contradiction to the idea that states could chart their own course. Blue states that have less restrictive laws in place suddenly would find those laws overridden by a federal law.

Kessler reports that Rep. Ken Buck signed on as a co-sponsor of the so-called “Heartbeat Protection Act,” which would ban abortions if a “heartbeat” can be detected–an effective ban since this occurs before most people even know they’re pregnant–on May 27, after the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe was leaked. Rep. Lamborn signed on as a co-sponsor on July 11th, after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe was published. In both cases they knew that this ruling was coming, and it makes it impossible for them to claim to support returning the question of abortion rights “to the states.”

Will this glaring contradiction hurt Buck or Lamborn in the state’s two safest Republican districts? Of course not. But for fellow Republican candidates like Joe O’Dea trying (and generally failing) to walk a tortuous fine line on an issue expected to turn out voters in force against anti-abortion politicians, Buck and Lamborn’s example is a reminder that there is no longer any tenable middle ground on the issue. With Republicans in control of Congress, this is the kind of legislation that will pass. And a Republican President will sign it.

These are not hypotheticals anymore. Those with nothing to lose have exposed those who do.

Ken Buck Campaigns for Mayor of Crazytown

Republican Rep. Ken Buck exists in his own little world nowadays.

If you are a regular listener of The Get More Smarter Podcast, you know that the show often includes a segment called, “What the Buck?” This is a feature about Republican Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley-ish), who has gotten inexorably weirder the longer he has been in Congress.

Buck was never what you would call a political “moderate,” but he also wasn’t always the batshit crazy Congressman that he has morphed into today. Recently Buck has taken another couple of bizarre steps toward political oblivion, including some absolutely horrendous votes and a ludicrous round of questioning in a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Buck has been casting increasingly odd votes that he either can’t explain or doesn’t even try to rationalize. This week, Buck was one of just 20 Republicans to vote NO on legislation called the “Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act.” The bill is a reauthorization of funding for programs that include shelters, mental health care, education and job training for victims of human trafficking. That’s right — Ken Buck literally voted against legislation to assist victims of human trafficking. Reporters such as Kyle Clark of 9News took note of Buck’s silence:

Buck has also recently voted NO on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriage and NO on a bill designed to protect access to contraception.

It’s not just casting votes where Buck comes off looking awful. This week he tweeted that the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic have been “grossly overstated.” More than 1 million Americans have died from COVID-19 in the last 2+ years; that’s considerably more than, say, the 400,000 Americans who died during WWII.

Just yesterday, Buck raised the bar on his own absurd behavior during a House Judiciary Committee hearing while questioning Matt Olsen, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security:

What the Buck? Accusing George Soros of secretly funding and organizing Antifa is not new for Buck, but he’s generally kept this nonsense to Fox News appearances and avoided wasting everyone’s time during actual Congressional hearings. But this is crazy talk — the sort of lunatic rants you might hear from someone like right-wing blabbermouth Alex Jones.

Not a terrorist

To be sure, Buck has been trending in this direction recently — during a hearing in April, he compared Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to Benedict Arnold and said that he should be impeached for treason — but he seems to be raising his own bar for silliness. We won’t be at all surprised when Buck asks a senior law enforcement official for proof that Big Bird is a terrorist leader.

Buck wasn’t always like this. He was always a staunch conservative, but it was not unusual to privately hear from Democrats who worked with Buck — including other District Attorneys — that he was a decent guy.

After serving as the District Attorney in the Weld County area for many years, Buck was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010 and came close to defeating Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. In fact, Buck might be running for another term in the Senate today if not for his epic meltdown on “Meet the Press” just weeks before Election Day in 2010.

In 2014, Buck ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in CO-04, a seat that was being vacated by the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Cory Gardner, and easily won a Republican Primary (which, in a very-red district, basically ensured his seat in Congress). He has regularly been re-elected in CO-04 ever since, and seems to have settled for (not) doing one job well after a two-year run as State GOP Party Chair.

So what happened to Buck? Perhaps he is jealous of the attention that outspoken Republican Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has seized for herself, both in Colorado and around the country, and decided that the best way to get a piece of that spotlight was to follow her lead. Buck might also be moving further to the right after he got a scare in the Spring when some guy named Bob Lewis managed to win top-line at the Republican Congressional Assembly (Buck easily defeated Lewis in the June 28th Primary Election).

If Buck was ever truly interested in being a statesman, that dream is clearly dead. Instead he has committed himself to right-wing nuttery and self-interest, where the only thing that matters is getting re-elected for the sake of being re-elected. Buck now exists fully in that strange right-wing netherworld with Boebert and Rep. Doug Lamborn; here he’ll remain, more clown than Congressman, until he decides to retire.

Buck Joins Boebert, Gaetz In Unsightly Human Trafficking Vote

Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert (R).

The Hill reports on legislation reauthorizing federal enforcement efforts against human trafficking that passed the U.S. House yesterday by a lopsided 401-20 vote, with the teensy minority against nonetheless including two Republican members from Colorado:

The legislation, titled the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, passed in a 401-20 vote, with all opposition coming from Republicans. Eight Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.

Gaetz, who is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice for sex trafficking allegations involving a minor, was among the Republicans who opposed the bill that aims to bolster programs including shelters, mental health care, education and job training for victims of human trafficking.

Gaetz was joined by GOP Reps. Brian Babin (Texas), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Andrew Clyde (Ga.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Andy Harris (Md.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Mary Miller (Ill.), Troy Nehls (Texas), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Scott Perry (Pa.), Chip Roy (Texas) and Van Taylor (Texas).

Plenty of fringe right usual suspects on this list, and as readers know Rep. Lauren Boebert takes pride in being the lone or extreme minority vote against what seems like perfectly sensible and even uncontroversial policy, like stopping scams against senior citizens. It’s somewhat less common for Rep. Ken Buck to join Boebert and the “Qaucus” in these outlier votes, so everyone is naturally curious:

Rep. Matt Gaetz, whose vote against the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act was seized upon due to Gaetz being personally under investigation for the crime of sex trafficking (of humans) across state lines, doesn’t have much sense of shame when it comes to casting votes that raise glaringly obvious questions about his sordid personal life. But we would genuinely like to know what former prosecutor Buck, who despite his predilection for spouting off like a crazy old uncle exhibits occasional flashes of conscience, was thinking when he decided to vote with Matt Gaetz against this particular piece of legislation.

There are merely bad votes, and there are votes that stink to high heaven. Here we have the latter.

Doctor Ken Buck The Gynopandemiologist Strikes Again

Rep. Ken Buck, wearing his “Kill ’em all all, let God sort ’em out” t-shirt.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest wave of a highly infectious subvariant of the Omicron flavor of the virus is surging across the planet–though due to the vaccines and better treatment options available in 2022 compared to two years ago, the rate of hospitalization and death is far below previous waves of the pandemic.

As CBS4 Denver reports, this reductive in the relative lethality of COVID today compared to two years ago has given politicians who have downplayed the severity of the pandemic from the beginning like Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck a chance to make some pitifully ignorant statements–and as readers know, Buck never misses that chance:

Colorado Congressman Ken Buck tweeted that the COVID pandemic was “grossly overstated.” The Republican representing Colorado’s 4th Congressional District tweeted the comment on Saturday morning.

The tweet was part of a retweet from the White House with a picture of President Joe Biden wearing a face mask and making phone calls just days after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Buck tweeted, “If a 79-year-old man can get Covid and return to work days after, the dangers of the pandemic were grossly overstated. Our public health establishment was either systematically deceptive or systematically wrong.”

President Joe Biden is another example of the latest Omicron variant’s ability to partially evade the immunity provided by vaccines and boosters, having tested positive last week. Biden’s relatively mild case of the disease is attributed to Biden being fully vaccinated and twice boosted, as well as being treated since testing positive last week with the new anti-viral drug Paxlovid approved for emergency use in December of last year.

To get to this point where “a 79-year-old man can get COVID and return to work days after,” a “moonshot” effort to develop vaccines and effective treatments was necessary. The development of COVID vaccines with help from Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed was a huge missed political opportunity for Republicans, who were prevented from capitalizing on the success due to their base’s unfounded fears.

But the truth is, we don’t need to explain any of this. What we have here is a sitting member of Congress calling a pandemic that killed over one million Americans “grossly overstated.” In 2020, when the death toll from COVID-19 was still mostly hypothetical, maybe you could get away with this.

But how can anybody say that now over the bodies of a million dead Americans?

It’s not the first time Ken Buck has left us with our jaws agape. The only question is how low can Buck go in the moral freefall of today’s Republican Party, and Buck keeps breaking his own personal records.

The GMS Podcast: Tiny Guns and Boxes of Dirt (feat. Dave Young)

State Treasurer Dave Young

This week in episode 115 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young about all sorts of topics. Young explains how a State Treasurer impacts your life, from the Secure Savings Act to his idea for an “Infrastructure Bank” program. We also find out more about some of the weird items sitting inside the unclaimed property vault…including the world’s tiniest gun.

Later, Jason and Ian discuss Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s strange choice of a running mate and answer a listener question about the selection of a Lieutenant Governor. We also have more on Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea and some terrible votes cast by Colorado Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher |

Colorado Republicans Vote NO on Contraception Protections

Earlier this week we wrote about how all three of Colorado’s Republican Members of Congress — Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn — voted NO on legislation intended to protect same-sex and interracial marriage. This is an important issue now because of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, in which Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas both indicated that the legal logic involved in that decision might lead to removing protections for same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and even contraception.

Well, guess what happened today?

That’s right — Boebert, Buck, and Lamborn all voted NO on a bill seeking to protect the right to contraception. From The Washington Post:

The House passed legislation largely along party lines Thursday that would federally protect an individual’s access to contraception and ensure health-care providers are not penalized for prescribing it, a response to the Supreme Court decision last month that reversed federal protections for abortion access…

…The support for marriage equality by House Republicans on Tuesday shook the Senate into action, spurring Democratic leaders to shift their tone and announce that they will consider that bill on the Senate floor soon. But it’s unclear whether the Senate will also bring up the contraception legislation.

We haven’t seen a rationale for these votes other this perfectly ridiculous statement from Rep. Ken Buck regarding Tuesday’s vote on same-sex and interracial marriage protections:

 

Ken Buck says the Supreme Court considers marriage to be a “settled issue” and he believes them. He’s probably just trolling with this statement, but it’s in pretty bad taste to pretend that anything is settled law after the Supreme Court overturned Roe, which everybody insisted was also “settled law.” It’s also really lame for Buck to be pretending that inflation is the only thing that Congress should be discussing when the only thing Buck is talking about is the Second Amendment.

Boebert, Buck, Lamborn

As far as we can tell, Boebert has not commented on these votes. Neither has Lamborn, though we can never be sure if he’s paying attention to anything or if a staffer is just carting him around “Weekend at Bernie’s” style.

Anyway, we’ll reiterate the same thing we wrote on Tuesday: If Republicans take control of one or more Chambers of Congress in 2023, they’re going to go after same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and contraception. They’ll try to focus on the economy during the 2022 election — and even then only to blame Democrats — but don’t be fooled into thinking Republicans don’t have their own social agenda planned.

Colorado Republicans COULD have voted to protect same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and access to contraception…but they didn’t. What else do you need to see?

Colo. GOP Delegation: ‘NO’ to Same-Sex, Interracial Marriage

As Caitlyn Kim of Colorado Public Radio reports:

Today, Colorado Republican Congresspeople Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn all voted ‘NO’ on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriage.

Okay, just so there is no confusion later…

YOU SEE WHAT THEY ARE DOING, RIGHT?

Boebert, Buck, Lamborn

As The Associated Press reports:

In a robust but lopsided debate, Democrats argued intensely in favor of enshrining marriage equality in federal law, while Republicans steered clear of openly rejecting gay marriage. Instead leading Republicans portrayed the bill as unnecessary amid other issues facing the nation. [Pols emphasis]

Tuesday’s election-year roll call, 267-157, was partly political strategy, forcing all House members, Republicans and Democrats, to go on the record with their views. It also reflected the legislative branch pushing back against an aggressive court that has sparked fears it may revisit apparently settled U.S. laws…

…last month, writing for the majority in overturning Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito argued for a more narrow interpretation of the rights guaranteed to Americans, noting that the right to an abortion was not spelled out in the Constitution.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas went further, saying other rulings similar to Roe, including those around same-sex marriage and the right for couples to use contraception, should be reconsidered. [Pols emphasis]

YOU SEE WHAT THEY ARE DOING…RIGHT?

We don’t need to protect same-sex marriage or interracial marriage or contraception. It’s settled precedent.

This election is about the economy and gas prices. Why are we talking about laws that already exist?

They said the same thing about Roe v. Wade. It was settled precedent…until it wasn’t.

Former Sen. Cory Gardner’s toothy grin

Most Colorado political observers are well aware of the 2014 Denver Post endorsement of Republican Cory Gardner for U.S. Senate and that infamous line:

And contrary to Udall’s tedious refrain, Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights.

But often forgotten is this line that came just before:

For that matter, his past views on same-sex marriage are becoming irrelevant now that the Supreme Court has let appeals court rulings stand and marriage equality appears unstoppable.

Unstoppable…until it is stopped.

That editorial also noted that Gardner was focused on economic and energy issues, not social issues. But then Gardner got elected and voted for every Republican Supreme Court nominee that came forward. And then Roe v. Wade was overturned. And then…

TELL ME YOU SEE WHAT THEY ARE DOING!!!

Look, we don’t WANT this storyline to continue. We aren’t waiting to someday say, Told ya so! That would be a stupid prize for playing the wrong game.

If you don’t see what Republicans are doing, it’s either because you agree with it or because you don’t want to see it. If it’s the latter, we can sympathize; there are plenty of times where we want to stick our fingers in our ears and shut our eyes so tight that it hurts.

But this? No, this is right there in front of all of us now. There’s no avoiding the flashing neon signs.

You see what they are doing, right?

Sorry, Nobody Needs An AR-15 To Kill (Non-Fiction) Raccoons

Rocket Raccoon, the only raccoon in the galaxy you might want to have an AR-15 handy against.

Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim reports on debate yesterday in the U.S. House over the Protecting Our Kids Act, legislation to combat gun violence by raising the age for gun purchases to 21 along with a federal ban on high-capacity magazines similar to the law passed in Colorado in 2013. While Colorado’s Rep. Joe Neguse once again made Coloradans proud with his clear-headed arguments in favor of action, GOP Rep. Ken Buck took the debate in a different, less serious direction:

GOP Rep. Ken Buck, a former federal prosecutor, said he was part of a group that went into Columbine after the infamous attack in 1999. “One thing I’ve learned from law enforcement, and one thing I’ve learned from being involved in these particular shootings and also observing what’s happening in our country – these laws will not help the situation.”

Buck said he would not support the gun control package. Like other Republicans, he argued none of the measures “would have prevented what happened” in the most recent mass shootings.

“We have a serious problem involving family, involving drugs, involving mental health. We have gone in the wrong direction in the last 40 or 50 years.” Buck said. “Blaming the gun for what’s happening in America is small-minded.”

The Eastern Plains representative noted the AR-15 is the “gun of choice for killing raccoons before they get to our chickens. [Pols emphasis] It is a gun of choice for killing a fox. It is a gun that you control predators on your ranch, on your farm, on your property.”

Rep. Ken Buck’s AR-15.

Buck’s suggestion that a weapon designed to slaughter 150-pound humans en masse is the “gun of choice” for ranchers protecting their chickens from 15-pound raccoons drew instantaneous nationwide scorn, even though laughter is not easy in the immediate aftermath of another mass shooting carried out with one of those same AR-15 rifles:

Buck later Tweeted that “Democrats are using the shootings in Buffalo, Texas, and Tulsa to push for more gun control—even though they know this legislation wouldn’t have prevented any of these recent tragedies and won’t make any of us safer.” But like suggesting that ranchers need assault weapons to kill varmints, that’s simply not true: the Buffalo, New York grocery store shooting that targeted African-Americans last month, the most recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 21 people last week, and the shooting a year ago at a Boulder, Colorado grocery store were all carried out by individuals who purchased AR-15s under the age of 21. The Protecting Our Kids Act would raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 to 21, meaning it would have directly prevented the shooters in those three incidents from obtaining their mass murder weapons.

It’s a fusion of wrong and silly with a dash of terrible that takes a guy like Buck to pull off.

Boebert-ization: Ken Buck Unleashes Inner Nativist Fury

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Reports coming in of a wild exchange in the U.S. House today between Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who visited Capitol Hill to answer questions about the immigration backlog on the southern border and the forthcoming repeal of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that have forced thousands of asylum seekers to wait outside the U.S. in increasingly desperate conditions.

Rep. Buck recently lost the top line on the June 28th GOP primary ballot to an upstart challenger promising to be more right wing than Buck, which seems difficult–but as the New York Post reports, the experience appears to have thrown Buck into a rage that Secretary Mayorkas got in the way of with what can best be described as horrifying results:

“My constituents want you impeached because they believe you’ve committed treason,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

“They compare you to Benedict Arnold. You know, no parent with the last name Arnold names their kid Benedict. They wonder what will the Mayorkas family do down the road.”

For some background you may or may not know about DHS Secretary Mayorkas, he’s the son of Jewish immigrants. Mayorkas’ father escaped from the Holocaust, and then the whole family including a young Alejandro escaped Cuban Revolution–life experience that informs his work as DHS Secretary. Accusing people of Jewish ancestry of “treason,” especially over immigration policy, is one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes there is.

So, there’s that. But as CNN continues, accusing the DHS Secretary who happens to be Jewish of treason wasn’t the only nativist canard deployed by Ken Buck today:

Republican Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican, criticized Mayorkas for reversing Trump-era immigration policies and claimed Americans were frustrated with Spanish-speaking children in schools, immigrants getting care in hospitals, and wages “suppressed by the mass influx of laborers.” [Pols emphasis]

The horror of Spanish speaking children in the schools! Immigrants getting medical care in hospitals, after getting hurt doing jobs Americans don’t want to do even if you pay them double! Ken Buck just blew the doors off any remaining pretense of “compassionate conservatism” in today’s Republican Party, at least on immigration. And while Buck dragged the party back decades on Latino outreach, Buck’s colleague Rep. Jim Jordan brought the racist “replacement theory” underpinning this whole accusation of treason against Secretary Mayorkas home:

“We have a Secretary of Homeland Security who is intentionally, deliberately, in a premeditated fashion…executing a plan to overwhelm our country with millions and millions of illegal migrants,” [Rep. Jordan] said. [Pols emphasis]

With that, Jordan closed Buck’s circle–and obviously, put an end to rational debate in this hearing if it hadn’t been already. These are views that were once relegated to the fringe even among Republicans, with hard-boiled bigot politicos brave enough to voice them like Tom Tancredo and Iowa’s ex-Rep. Steve King ostracized and downplayed by Republican pundits to mainstream society.

Today, Ken Buck is just keeping up the pace.

Hold On to Your Hats, Republicans!

UPDATE #2: This is going well:

—–

UPDATE: Over in CO-07, it looks like Republicans will have a three-way Primary on their hands. Erik Aadland (63%) and Laurel Imer (34%) both made the ballot through the assembly process. One other Republican candidate, demon enthusiast Tim Reichert, made the ballot via the petition route.

—–

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder…

Incumbent Republican Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) damn near failed to make the Primary ballot at today’s GOP congressional assembly for CO-04, finishing with about 38% of the vote. As Sandra Fish of The Colorado Sun reports via Twitter:

Republicans are also holding assemblies for CO-02, CO-03, and CO-07 today. Given the craziness that has already ensued in other Republican assemblies, we could be in for a wild day on Saturday as the GOP selects nominees for Governor and U.S. Senate.

Buck, Boebert Carnival Barking Backfires Against KBJ

Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, with Buck’s “office AR-15.”

After three days of contentious hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the overall consensus appears to be that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s eminently qualified nominee to succeed retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, acquitted herself brilliantly against a wave of Republican attacks whose familiar vitriol seemed to wear especially thin. CNN reports:

Though [Judge Brown’s] approval seems all but sure — Democrats are aiming for a vote before Easter — Republicans kept trying to chip away at her record.

In more than 12 hours of testimony on Tuesday, and into the evening again on Wednesday, GOP senators aggressively questioned her on the sentences she has handed down to child pornography offenders in her nine years as a federal judge, her legal advocacy on behalf of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, her thoughts on critical race theory and even her religious views…

Republicans spent much of Wednesday focused on her sentencing, particularly on the child pornography cases, as they had on Tuesday. Tempers rose as the day wore on, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin slamming down his gavel at one point when Cruz refused to yield after his time expired while he was grilling Jackson.

“You can bang it as long as you want,” Cruz snapped, shouting that he just wanted Jackson to answer his question.

“At some point you have to follow the rules,” Durbin shot back.

Judge Jackson’s supposed leniency on the issue of kiddie porn, which is an allegation so lurid that it’s difficult for reasonable people to simply accept at face value, appears to be the central plank in the Republican Party’s case against her confirmation. As hearings opened this week, Colorado’s two farthest-right members of Congress, Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck, sent a letter calling for the Justice Department to investigate Judge Jackson’s “profoundly troubling pattern of leniency towards some of the most disturbing crimes in our society.” The Colorado Republican Party cheered them on:

The problem, which quickly emerged in the hearing but didn’t stop its proponents during three agonizing days of questioning, is that the allegation is completely without merit. Judge Jackson’s sentencing in these cases was in no way out of the ordinary or inconsistent with the rest of the judiciary. At length as Republican firebreathers Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley beat the question to death, fellow Republican Mitt Romney signaled to to the Washington Post that his colleagues were going too far:

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) appeared unmoved by the allegations from some of his conservative colleagues that have ignored key context such as that prosecutors also recommended sentences lower than the sentencing guidelines. “It struck me that it was off course, meaning the attacks were off course that came from some,” Romney told The Washington Post’s Paul Kane on Tuesday. “And there is no there, there.” [Pols emphasis]

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post goes deeper into the misleading attacks on Judge Jackson by Sen. Hawley in particular, who suggested instances in which Jackson was repeating back assertions by witnesses were her actual views. In the “post-truth” era of American politics, this kind of rank dishonesty is commonplace–but against Judge Jackson, who fended off all of these attacks imperturbably, it seems to be evoking a more negative response and in turn more sympathy for Jackson.

So where does that leave our local carnival barkers who kicked off the week pushing this baseless and now thoroughly-repudiated smear against Judge Jackson? Obviously, not looking good–especially since Gallup says that Judge Jackson has the highest initial support for her nomination of any recent nominee going back to the 1980s. Ironically, this ugly campaign against Judge Jackson is dominating the headlines the same week gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl launched what appears to be her her fourth rebranding effort, a new soft-touch “Ganahl’s Gals” initiative. Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearings represent a chance, and some Republicans like Sen. Romney might still take it, to transcend political bitterness and mark a brief return to the era when qualified Supreme Court nominees received bipartisan support regardless of ideological quibbles.

But that was the path not chosen by our local Republicans. Today, Colorado Republicans are at the center of another dishonest smear campaign against a figure who is prevailing in the court of public opinion despite their best efforts.

Colorado Republicans Whistle Past Lauren Boebert

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (left) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

In case you missed it, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene shouted at President Biden during the State of the Union speech on Tuesday — at the exact moment that Biden was talking about his son, Beau, an Iraq War veteran who died in 2015.

We waited a full news cycle to see which, if any, Colorado Republicans were going to comment on Boebert’s political theater performance; as it turns out, there wasn’t much to wait for. As far as we can tell, the sum total of the local GOP response to Boebert’s embarrassing antics was a both-sidery quote of disapproval from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and an acknowledgment from State Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta) that he didn’t mind a little racism so long as it was meant to offend Democrats.

No other Colorado Republicans would even pretend to say something, as South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham did on Tuesday.

Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi commented on Boebert and Greene’s nonsense with this zinger:

“Let me just say this, I agree with what Senator Lindsey Graham said: ‘Shut up.’ That’s what he said to them. I think they should just shut up.”

Here in Colorado there were plenty of Democrats speaking out about Boebert’s assholery, but only crickets from the likes of State Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (who did find time to comment on the SOTU — just not about Boebert).

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl also commented on the SOTU, but did not mention Boebert; she was a guest on Mandy Connell’s show on KOA on Wednesday and the SOTU never came up (until the moment Ganahl left). This is pretty typical of Both-Sidey Heidi, who totally supports Boebert so long as the right person is asking. This was one of the many tweets that Ganahl deleted just before announcing her run for Governor last September:

This tweet from Heidi Ganahl has since been deleted.

Boebert has become the face of the Colorado Republican Party in large part because none of the adults in the room have stepped up to say something otherwise. Boebert’s antics on Tuesday hijacked the entire Republican response to the SOTU speech. Most Republicans just looked the other way.

Like Ganahl, Republicans pretend to love Boebert because they think their base wants them to love Boebert (and they are absolutely terrified of their base). They know the harm that Boebert is causing their brand, but they’re paralyzed in fear of losing support in a Primary Election if they raised their hand to object.

Remember this the next time you hear a Republican candidate in Colorado talk about how they would do a better job than Democrats of standing up to [Vladimir Putin/criminals/corporations/corruption/space aliens/etc.]. The GOP can’t even look its own bullies in the eye.

Republicans Cheer Putin, Blame Biden as Russia Attacks Ukraine

Last evening (morning in Ukraine), Russia launched a full invasion of the former Soviet territory. While some Republicans said the right things about supporting Ukraine and pushing back against aggression from Russian President Vladimir Putin, most had…different ideas.

First, here’s former President Donald Trump saying that Russia invaded Ukraine because of the 2020 Presidential election in the United States:

This is the same Trump who earlier this week called Putin a “genius” for preparing to invade Ukraine with a “peacekeeping force.”

As MSNBC explains:

“As an American, I am angry and saddened,” the former president said of the conflict. “It happened because of a rigged election.”

Yes, as a deadly international crisis unfolds, what really matters to the head of the Republican Party is his pitiful Big Lie.

In the same on-air appearance, he admonished his own country’s leaders — Trump condemned what he saw as the Biden administration’s “weakness and stupidity” — before suggesting that he believed U.S. troops were part of last night’s military offensive. It fell to Laura Ingraham to explain that it was Russians, not Americans, that had launched an amphibious attack.

That’s right: Trump thinks the United States is sending troops into Ukraine (it is not).

Via Business Insider (2/24/22)

 

Meanwhile, as Chase Woodruff of Colorado Newsline reports, right-wing pundits in Colorado are using the Russian invasion as an opportunity to PRAISE VLADIMIR PUTIN:

Similarly, the Colorado Republican Party thinks this is a fine time to blame President Biden for Putin’s decisions. Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is echoing Trump’s rhetoric:

 

Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) agrees with Lamborn, issuing a full statement to talk about how everything is Biden’s fault (Boebert also seems to think that approving the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada would have stopped Putin from invading Ukraine, or something).

And then there’s Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who may not even be paying attention to what’s happening in Eastern Europe:

 

Republicans are all over the place on Russia/Ukraine in part because there is no consensus among Congressional leaders about how they should respond.

Finally, here’s an interesting reminder from Kyle Clark of 9News:

The GMS Podcast: The GOP Senate Race is Straight Bananas

This week in episode 97 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss a new entrant into the hall of shame for one of Colorado’s most famous political “kickers”; we check in on Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert; and we wonder aloud if Republicans have already forgotten the lesson they should have learned in 2015 about messing around with school boards.

Later, we dive into the two most recent Republican Senate candidate debates in an effort to make sense of this muddled field. Can any of these candidates pose a challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet? And can we please, please, PLEASE make sure that Daniel Hendricks gets his name on the June Primary ballot?

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher |

New “Big Line: 2022” Updates

With all of the fundraising reports from 2021 now available, we took a moment to make some adjustments to The Big Line: 2022. Here’s a brief synopsis of what changed (and what didn’t):

 

U.S. SENATE

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet remains the clear favorite here, so the only movement is on the Republican side. You can argue whether or not State Rep. Ron Hanks is a clear threat to Bennet given his fundraising troubles, but Hanks is following the same script that won Darryl Glenn the GOP Senate nomination in 2016. Gino Campana and Joe O’Dea look to have the most resources of all the Republican candidates, which puts them in the best position to attract undecided voters in June.

Eli Bremer and Deborah Flora drop into a lower tier after last week’s Senate debate in Lakewood showed that they don’t have anything interesting to say nor a clear strategy moving forward. Hanks, Campana, Bremer, and Flora are all going the State Assembly route for ballot access; there’s probably only room for two of them.

 

GOVERNOR

No real movement here. Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is still Hiedi Heidi Ganahl.

 

CO-03

This race will likely be decided in the June Republican Primary between Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and State Sen. Don Coram. Democrat Don Valdez has seen his fundraising numbers drop off significantly, while Sol Sandoval continues to spend as much money as she brings in to her campaign; both Democrats are just treading water at this point.

 

CO-07

Brittany Pettersen has cleared the Democratic field and is well-positioned to win this race. On the Republican side, State Rep. Colin Larson is probably not running, but some big Trump donor named Timothy Reichert has stepped into the fray.

 

CO-08

While the race in CO-07 seems to be getting clearer, the opposite is taking place in Colorado’s newest congressional district. Fundraising numbers for the top five hopefuls were pretty similar at the end of 2021. Both the Democratic and Republican Primaries are shaping up to be close fights. Keep an eye on Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine; if she can maintain her fundraising efforts, she’ll be in good shape to bring home the right-wing base in June.