DACA Ruling Exposes Colorado Republicans

Clockwise from top left: Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton.

The United States Supreme Court issued its second bombshell decision of the week following Monday’s decision in favor of LGBTQ workplace protections.

The Washington Post reports on today’s big ruling to preserve DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which was announced by then-President Obama six years ago this week:

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, a reprieve for nearly 650,000 recipients known as “dreamers.”

The 5 to 4 decision was written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and joined by the court’s four liberals. It was the second, stunning defeat this week for the Trump administration, as the Supreme Court begins to unveil its decision in marquee cases.

It will likely elevate the issue of immigration in the presidential campaign, although public opinion polls have shown sympathy for those who were brought here as children and have lived their lives in this country. Congress repeatedly has failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) wasted little time this morning pretending that he is an advocate for immigrants. State Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) was equally swift in calling bullshit on Gardner’s word salad:

Back in September 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security formally rescinded the Obama-era DACA decision at the behest of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The response from Colorado Republicans at the time was nothing if not consistent: All GOP members of the state’s Congressional delegation celebrated the move and stated unequivocally that the Trump administration was making the right legal decision (the same argument that the Supreme Court just dismissed):

♦ Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez):

“President Obama circumvented the Constitution when he unilaterally created the DACA program without going through the legislative process. Today’s announcement by Attorney General Sessions shows this administration’s commitment to the rule of law.”

♦ Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley):

“We’re a nation of laws, and our immigration system must reflect that principle. I opposed President Obama’s DACA action because I believed it was wrong and unconstitutional, that ultimately Congress has the responsibility to craft our nation’s immigration laws. President Trump made the right choice by giving Congress time to pass legislation that secures our border from future illegal immigration while also addressing issues like DACA.”

♦ Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)

“After eight years of the Obama administration dismantling our immigration laws, I’m encouraged by the President’s commitment to cracking down on illegal immigration, securing our borders, and reversing the unconstitutional DACA program. I have always opposed any type of amnesty and will continue to do so.”

♦ Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma):

“I have long said that we need to have a legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system – this also includes children living in this country without documentation who were brought here by no fault of their own. I’m currently working with my colleagues in Congress about the next legislative steps we can take to ensure these children continue to have the opportunity to be in this country. We are in this situation today because the program was created through executive action by the previous administration instead of through Congress. We now have the opportunity to fix this issue through the legislative process.” [Pols emphasis]

Trust me, I’m on it!

Soon afterward, Gardner did sign on as a co-sponsor of The DREAM Act, which was quite the departure from his previous positions on immigration reform — notably a 2013 vote to prevent DACA from being implemented. As Blair Miller wrote for Denver7 in September 2017:

In 2013, both Coffman and Gardner, who was then a member of the House of Representatives, voted in favor of an amendment from Rep. Steve King of Iowa to the Homeland Security appropriations bill that prohibited DACA from being implemented. [Pols emphasis]

The House did not consider the so-called “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill passed by the Senate that year, which contained DACA protections as well. Bennet was one of eight senators–four Democrats and four Republicans–who helped craft the bill.

Gardner moved up to the U.S. Senate in 2015, and he has since regularly claimed that he is working hard to get immigration reform measures passed in upper chamber — though nothing ever seems to happen in that regard. In fact, Congressional Republicans have done precisely JACK SQUAT about immigration reform in the nearly three years since the Trump administration tried to smother DACA with a pillow. President Trump himself later derided efforts to protect immigrants from what he called “shithole countries.” And what did Colorado Republicans have to say about those remarks in January 2018? As The Denver Post reported:

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said the Windsor Republican does not have a response to the matter.

Email messages Friday to representatives for U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, were not returned.

But let’s get back to Gardner, who swears up and down that he is totally working every day on getting something done in the U.S. Senate. “I’ll continue to work across the aisle to deliver certainty for Dreamers in a way the Court cannot,” said Gardner today. This is similar to what he told constituents in August 2019:

Gardner affirmed that he sponsored the Dream Act (without mentioning the Dream and Promise Act), and said, “I fight each and every day to find those six votes [that would pass it].

In June 2019, Democrats in the House of Representatives did what Gardner only talks about in passing the American Dream and Promise Act. The bill was read in the U.S. Senate on June 10, 2019 and promptly shelved by Senate Republicans.

If Gardner is not flat-out lying when he says that he is working “each and every day” to advance protections for DREAMERs, then his repetitive comments prove that he is completely ineffective in actually getting something done on the issue.

When it comes to immigration reform, Gardner is either lying or impotent. It really is this simple.

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Ken Buck’s Perjury Doo-Doo Deepens

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson updates the developing story of an apparent attempt last month by Rep. Ken Buck, acting in his capacity as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, to pressure a subordinate party volunteer to falsify a sworn affidavit on assembly results in order to qualify at least one candidate for the June 30th primary ballot:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor must defend actions he took as Colorado Republican Party chairman or face a possible investigation by a state office that oversees attorneys’ conduct.

A representative for the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation wrote to Buck earlier this month asking that he answer questions about a recorded conversation in which he pressured a local party official to submit incorrect election results to set the primary ballot for a state Senate seat in El Paso County…

The Denver District Court chief judge ruled that filing the paperwork would have indeed been illegal. The Colorado Supreme Court cemented the decision when it declined to hear the Republican Party’s appeal.

While the office awaits a response from Buck, allegations of election fraud and corruption made against several Weld County Republicans — including one of Buck’s congressional aides — remain under consideration by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

It’s been several weeks since the controversy exploded in early May over Buck’s attempt to induce Senate District 10 district chairman Eli Bremer to falsify the results of the district assembly, in order to place a challenger to Rep. Larry Liston on the ballot in the race to succeed term-limited Sen. Owen Hill. We’ve heard differing excuses for Buck’s recorded conversation with Bremer, in which Bremer clearly outlines and disavows the violation of the law Buck is demanding–later confirmed in a lawsuit filed on Bremer’s behalf that went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court. Explanations range from grudges against longtime Rep. Liston among local party officials, to a misguided determination on the part of Buck to “be nice” no matter what the law says about the required support to make the primary ballot.

But the fact remains that pressuring a subordinate official to falsify a sworn affidavit, which Buck did in this case for whatever reason, is a criminal act. And even if no prosecutor brings a charge against Buck, as an attorney Buck is subject an additional level of oversight to prevent dishonest conduct of exactly this sort.

If you’ve watched Better Call Saul, you know how this works. Buck has a problem now that won’t just go away.

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Ken Buck Once Again Vows To Thoroughly Investigate Himself

Ken Buck will investigate himself and let you know what he finds he swears.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby updates on the developing scandal over Colorado GOP Chairman Ken Buck’s management of the COVID-addled 2020 assemblies, the apparent fudging of the results of which is threatening to plunge an already beleaguered party facing another round of destruction at the polls in November into even more intraparty chaos:

The chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, formed a special commission Wednesday to review the party’s assembly nomination and ballot designation processes, some of which the 4th District congressman is deeply involved with himself. [Pols emphasis]

Controversies in the party’s nomination process first came to light in a Denver Post story last week that included a recording of Buck ordering Eli Bremer, the GOP chairman for Senate District 10, to place a candidate on the June primary ballot who only received 24% of the vote at the district’s assembly in March. His opponent, state Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, received 76%.

If the news that Buck is forming a special commission to look into irregularities that Buck himself appears to have not only been party to but directed sounds familiar to you, it’s because almost exactly one year ago this headline ran in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

That’s right, patient readers–this strategy of setting up an “investigation” to investigate one’s own actions, thus delaying accountability, allowing time to settle emotions, and burying misconduct eventually under procedural jargon in a report no one reads, is a thing that Ken Buck does:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, has asked a state lawmaker to lead an inquiry into allegations by another legislator that the March party election won by Buck was so riddled with errors and irregularities that its final results could be open to question.

Buck told Colorado Politics that he’s enlisted state Rep. Mark Baisley of Roxborough Park to assemble a panel to examine allegations made by state Rep. Susan Beckman, a Littleton Republican and Buck’s chief rival in the March party election.

After Baisley and his team investigate Beckman’s complaints, Buck said he wants them to issue recommendations on party election procedures — potentially including holding another vote for state party chairman. [Pols emphasis]

Needless to say, there was never another vote for state party chairman. Within a few days of this story, Colorado GOP vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown had filed her ill-conceived recall attempt against Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan, Ken Buck got busy in Washington making himself and the party look as bad as possible during the long impeachment inquiry, and the news cycle moved on from the allegations of electoral treachery that kicked off Buck’s term as Colorado GOP party chairman.

As it turns out, Buck’s electoral treachery, and the method of covering it up, follows a pattern.

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Ken Buck’s Descent Into Comic Book Villainy Continues

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the Greeley Tribune’s Cuyler Meade reports–voting against every coronavirus relief bill, sometimes almost alone, slamming stay-at-home orders to slow the pandemic while deaths from COVID-19 skyrocketed in his home Weld County, mocking basic best practices like wearing masks and avoiding mass gatherings, and plenty more examples of outrageous irresponsibility we didn’t even bother to list here during the ongoing emergency wasn’t enough for Rep. Ken Buck, Congressman and embattled chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

Now Rep. Buck wants you to know that the unprecedented millions of Americans who lost lost their jobs in the last two months, and forced through no fault of their own to seek unemployment compensation, are a bunch of freeloaders! Especially the really poor ones:

Touting a bill he and North Carolina Republican Ted Budd introduced in Congress on Tuesday, Windsor-based Republican congressman Ken Buck continued his consistent criticism of the CARES Act, saying it incentivized unemployment through benefits that are too high for those who are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Pols emphasis]

The Getting Americans Back to Work Act, Buck said, caps the amount an individual can receive from unemployment insurance at 100% of their previous wages, fixing, a release said, “glaring errors in the CARES Act” that provide too much money to people who have lost their jobs and are relying on unemployment insurance.

“America’s Grand Reopening starts by getting people back to work. We need to fix the glaring flaws in the CARES Act that have incentivized many Americans to remain out of work by providing more income through unemployment benefits than they would have received from their employer,” Buck said in the statement released by his office. “A record number of Americans have lost their jobs because of this nationwide shutdown and we need to do everything we can to encourage people to safely return to their places of work. Our strong, vibrant workforce is the backbone of our nation and is the key to a full recovery.”

It’s true that the additional unemployment relief authorized in the original CARES Act on top of states’ existing unemployment benefits has created a situation where some low-wage workers are receiving more in relief funds than they made on the job. For the purpose of keeping people home and safe during the ongoing pandemic, there’s nothing wrong with making sure the most vulnerable workers in the economy are not driven to unhealthy choices out of economic necessity. As anybody who has ever tried to live off the wages earned by workers who fall into this category of getting a bigger relief check than they got in paychecks before the pandemic, workers making such low wages are not “ripping off” anyone. They are themselves being exploited. Taxpayers are already paying to supplement the low wages of workers in America who earn so little they are forced onto public assistance to make ends meet.

But above all, for Ken Buck to make clamping down on the lowest-paid workers who are guilty only of receiving a benefit that exposes much greater systemic inequality his top priority, instead of policing big corporations who vacuumed up “small business” Paycheck Protection Program funds before real small businesses could even call their bank to apply or countless other more useful and (key point here) less heartless targets of oversight, says everything you need to know about Buck’s own principles.

At this point, we think Buck intentionally chooses his ugly grandstands. The uglier the better, and the negative reaction he gets is perversely gratifying to him. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of cynicism and misanthropy that has its embittered audience, but contributes nothing useful to the debate over any issue beyond helping define the limits of common decency. And it will continue until Buck leaves office or the voters of beet-red CD-4 decide they’ve had enough.

Until then, Chairman Buck soldiers on as the greatest brand ambassador since Jared the Subway Guy.

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A Brief History: Ken Buck as State Republican Party Chairman

Who has a crooked first finger and is killing the Colorado Republican Party? This guy!

In recent history, serving as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party has come with a heaping helping of downside and just a smidge of upside. The current State GOP Chair, who also moonlights as Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), has largely managed to stub his toe on every available rock in a little more than a year on the job.

Once upon a time, the GOP Chairman was considered a prestigious position among Colorado Republicans that could be used as a springboard for higher office; in the early ‘oughts, Bob Beauprez transitioned from Party Chair to Congress in CO-7, then became the GOP nominee for governor in 2006 (and 2014). But after Initiative 27 passed in 2002, the power of being party chairperson for any political party diminished significantly.

After an historic drubbing at the polls in 2018, Colorado Republicans were looking for a new leader to point the way out of their electoral abyss in 2020. Instead, they got Buck.

We wrote at the time that picking a chairman like Ken Buck, who openly ran without offering a forward vision of the party, and pledging to be a figurehead while working two jobs, would probably cause more problems than it solved:

This is really the Colorado Republican Party in a nutshell: One of the top contenders to be the next GOP Party Chair is proposing a return to an era in which the Colorado Republican Party was objectively not very successful, and then lashing out at anyone who questions his ideas.

Today, with Buck facing two separate allegations of tampering in a local caucus process, we thought we’d take a look back at Buck’s year of double-duty.

 

(more…)

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: What the Buck?

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss two polls that spell doom for our second favorite U.S. Senator from Colorado; everything is totally under control with the coronavirus as cases mount well past one million; Republicans still want to kill Obamacare (even though it’s one of the few things actually helping during this pandemic); and the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party commits at least one crime.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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

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Will GOP Primary Shenanigans Cost Ken Buck His Second Job?

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson follows up on a growing scandal within the Colorado Republican Party, following an unsuccessful attempt by state party chairman Rep. Ken Buck to coerce a district chair to lie about the results of the Senate District 10 assembly under penalty of perjury in order to qualify a candidate for the June 30th primary ballot:

At least two party executives say they were surprised to learn Buck — who’s also a U.S. representative — defended his position on the state Senate District 10 primary ballot in district court and then appealed that ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court, running up possibly tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Kris Cook, chair of the Denver Republican Party, found out about it Wednesday only to hear hours later that Buck canceled a committee meeting that had been scheduled for Friday.

“We’re touching on something here that’s not quite clean, and it’s not quite the image I have of what the party ought to be,” Cook said, later adding: “I think it’s worth questioning whether him in that role is going to have a negative effect on the rest of this cycle.”

After Rep. Buck attempted to strong-arm GOP SD-10 chair Eli Bremer into falsifying an affidavit to the state allowing primary candidate David Stiver to appear on the ballot against overwhelming district favorite Rep. Larry Liston, Buck was sued and lost–all the way up to the Colorado Supreme Court who refused to hear the case. This legal fight cost the party an unknown but presumably very large amount of money, with Bremer’s attorney’s fees alone estimated around $15,000 in today’s story.

It’s not hard to understand with all of this in mind why more Republicans than ever in the state–and the movement is not new as readers know–want to oust Buck from his position as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Buck’s term in the job of running the state GOP has been marked by almost continuous failure and controversy, and “absentee boss” Buck has had to grapple with the consequences of terrible decisions made by high-ranking party officials like vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown’s ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan he actively encouraged. Buck’s high-profile votes against COVID-19 relief, and backfiring grandstands against wearing face masks and other measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic have helped brand the Colorado GOP as the party of the irresponsible fringe in this pandemic.

Now Buck has been caught red-handed apparently trying to force a party subordinate to commit perjury. As an attorney and as a member of Congress, we have to think that suborning perjury is a bigger problem for Buck than any of these heretofore optical scandals. We’re not Pollyannish about how the assembly process can and probably has been fudged over the years to achieve desired outcomes. But how could a former prosecutor not understand the consequences of lying under oath?

We foresee a future in which Ken Buck wishes he never took this second job. It’s difficult even now to imagine Rep. Buck losing his ultra-safe Republican seat in Congress, but he’s certainly exposed himself to unwelcome scrutiny in a Democratic-controlled House. Short of that, turning the party over to someone with the time and competence to stabilize what’s become an ongoing organizational disaster ahead of another brutal election seems like something smart Colorado Republicans should urgently consider.

At this point, Democrats could honestly be Ken Buck’s biggest fans.

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Ken Buck Caught Red-Handed Manipulating GOP Primary

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

A story from the Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson is roiling Colorado Republican Party insiders today, with allegations of criminal demands on party officials to ensure an underperforming state senate candidate appeared on the June 30th party primary ballot despite not qualifying–and the finger is being pointed squarely at Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck:

Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck, a U.S. representative from Windsor, pressured a local party official to submit incorrect election results to set the primary ballot for a state Senate seat, according to an audio recording of a conference call obtained by The Denver Post.

“You’ve got a sitting congressman, a sitting state party chair, who is trying to bully a volunteer — I’m a volunteer; I don’t get paid for this — into committing a crime,” [Pols emphasis] Eli Bremer, the GOP chairman for state Senate District 10, told The Post on Wednesday, confirming the authenticity of the recording. “To say it’s damning is an understatement.”

The district in question is Senate District 10, currently held by term-limited (and apparently ceilinged in his political career) Sen. Owen Hill. Longtime El Paso County Republican bit player Rep. Larry Liston pulled down the lion’s share of support at the district assembly, enough to keep challenger David Stiver under 30% and off the ballot.

But as Swanson continues, that’s when Ken Buck intervened:

“Do you understand the order of the executive committee and the central committee that you will submit the paperwork to include Mr. Stiver and Mr. Liston on the ballot, with Mr. Liston receiving the top-line vote?” Buck said on the call.

“Uh, yes, sir, I understand the central committee has adopted a resolution that requires me to sign a false affidavit to the state,” Bremer replied. [Pols emphasis]

It’s pretty simple: David Stiver only got 24% of the vote at the district assembly, therefore the party chair for SD-10 cannot legally sign an affidavit stating that Stiver got 30% and met the legal qualification for the ballot. The Colorado GOP central committee apparently decided that because attendance at the socially-distanced GOP assemblies was down this year, the result keeping Stiver off the ballot was “unfair.”

The problem with that is, if the assembly process is valid at all, as Eli Bremer was being asked to swear it was, the law is the law. If a former district attorney doesn’t understand that, who would? It’s another case where ignorance, never a valid defense against breaking the law yet the only defense Buck can offer, makes the perpetrator look even worse.

And as we learned during Donald Trump’s impeachment, lawbreaking doesn’t faze this lawman.

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The Pandemic Comes Home To Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R).

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul has an in-depth look today at the county suffering the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in the entire state of Colorado. It’s not Weld County, whose disproportionate death rate during the ongoing pandemic has made for a cruel backdrop to the political posturing of the area’s conservative elected officials against basically every necessary albeit economically painful step that has been taken to slow the spread.

Today, the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in Colorado is in neighboring Morgan County, also on the Eastern Plains. And here’s their story:

In Morgan County, where outbreaks of the disease at a meatpacking plant, a dairy processing facility and a nursing home have pushed the count of COVID-19 cases to 439 and killed at least 21 people through Wednesday, the rate of infection is more than three times that of Denver. [Pols emphasis]

The situation has become so dire that county health officials are using a refrigerated trailer to store the bodies of the dead because local morgue capacity has been reached. The trailer was put to use the day after it arrived in Fort Morgan, about 60 miles southeast of Greeley…

Morgan County’s infection rate is 1,540 per every 100,000 people. In neighboring Weld County, which has been hard hit by the virus, the rate is 632 infections per every 100,000 people, compared with 512 for every 100,000 people in Denver.

Like Weld County to the north and west, Morgan County is represented in Congress by Rep. Ken Buck, and Buck’s highly conspicuous votes against coronavirus relief bills while scoffing at basic protective measures like wearing a mask have already made him nationally infamous. But in the Colorado Senate, Morgan County is represented by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg–another rural Republican politico who has frequently been the subject of derision for saying things that don’t age well.

That sums up Sen. Sonnenberg’s March 26 guest column in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

What if you are the employee, especially an employee who isn’t in the vulnerable population nor living with others who are? Will the consequences be worse than the virus?

We now have a shortage of resources, scared citizens, and a police state in which the government controls every aspect of our lives. The coronavirus has created conditions that could fool our younger generations into thinking that communism seems like freedom; at least with communism people were still free to leave their homes! [Pols emphasis]

As for the relative danger of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sen. Sonnenberg had this to say:

Last year there were over 34,000 U.S. deaths attributed to the flu. In 2009 H1N1 killed more than 12,000 Americans. Each and every year there are 35,000 deaths in car crashes with another 2+ million injured! But we didn’t shutter the economy over those health challenges, nor have we banned cars. Isn’t there a better response to this SARS-CoV-2 threat than a police state on the verge of martial law?

The very next day, March 27, Sen. Sonnenberg signed a letter from most Republican state senators excoriating Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order:

When Coloradans from across this state visit your office’s dedicated COVID-19 website – covid19.colorado.gov – they are met with data indicating that 44 out of 64 Colorado counties currently have fewer than five cases of the virus. [Pols emphasis] Understandably, the data you have been presented within private briefings with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is most likely more comprehensive, but that data has not been shared with the public or with our caucus. With the Denver metro area already under a “stay at home order,” what is accomplished by closing down the business activity and daily routines of Coloradans living in a county that has fewer than five cases of COVID-19 after weeks of dealing with this crisis?

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg was far from alone in his wholesale disregard for the threat faced by his constituents in the early stages of the pandemic. All but two Colorado Senate Republicans signed the letter to Polis bemoaning the fact that most counties, which were at that time generally beet-red rural counties represented by safe-seat Republicans at every level, had “fewer than five cases” of the virus.

But like Ken Buck, Jerry Sonnenberg’s extra effort to disparage steps to control the virus looks more like deadly negligence as the pandemic rages through the heart of his district, as in Weld County killing in numbers disproportionate to urban areas of the state. The same urban areas Buck and Sonnenberg claimed Gov. Polis was imposing a “police state” from that wasn’t needed in the countryside.

Today we know the truth: Ken Buck was wrong. Jerry Sonnenberg was wrong.

And we are learning of their error the worst possible way. Their constituents are dying.

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Ken Buck Will Defy Polis and Attend Church May 3

(God helps those who don’t screw themselves – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Saying “we will not get through this mess without the blessing of God,” U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) told a conservative radio host Thursday that he will apparently defy Gov. Jared Polis’ (D-CO) orders and go to church May 3, one week from this Sunday.

“We don’t get through this without prayer,” Buck told conservative KOA radio host Mandy Connell Thursday. “And that’s something that I think a lot of our leaders miss, that we can have the best medical technology possible, but without the blessing of God, we will not get through this mess.”

“And we need to get back to our churches and make sure that we pray as a group,” continued Buck, saying, “I don’t care if I have to wear a SCUBA outfit to my church, I’m going to church on May 3rd.”

Polis issued revised orders this week that relaxed his previous stay-at-home order, but his rules still prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people.

Buck did not return a call seeking to know if he’d talked to health experts about his plan to attend church–and for details about the size, location, and social-distancing practices of his church congregation.

Much of Buck’s district covers Weld County, which has suffered the third most COVID-19 deaths among Colorado counties, but 9News reported yesterday that Weld County Commissioners also plan to defy Polis’ order, giving more businesses the option of opening on Monday, if they follow social-distancing guidelines.

But Weld County will continue to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people, which would presumably include Buck’s church.

(more…)

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Buck, Lamborn’s COVID-19 Priority? “Baby Body Parts!”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

Michael Karlik reports for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck signed on to a letter to the Trump Administration on Tuesday advising against a suspension of the ban on fetal tissue research — which they described as “research using aborted baby body parts” — in pursuit of a treatment for COVID-19.

“Aborted fetal tissue from ongoing abortions, however, has never been used in the production of a single vaccine,” reads the Lamborn-led letter, which over 120 Republican House members co-signed. “While a few old cell lines derived from abortion in the 1960s and 1970s continues to be used for a small handful of vaccines, most vaccines today use more efficient, modern cell lines and production techniques.”

Except, well, that’s not exactly, you know, accurate:

The Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University notes that some vaccines to prevent rubella, measles, rabies, poliomyelitis, hepatitis A, chickenpox and smallpox use tissue from abortions. Scientists seeking to use fetal tissue in mice to create more realistic trials of potential COVID-19 treatments on humans have run into a 2019 federal ban on using donated tissue…

Obviously, we’re not infectious disease research experts, and are in no position to comment one way or the other about the efficacy of fetal tissue in research to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We have no problem admitting this up front so you know where we’re coming from.

What we do know is that Reps. Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck are not qualified scientists either, and themselves have no clue or concern whether fetal tissue could be useful in life-saving COVID-19 research. For both of them, this is just another opportunity to recite a gruesome pre-existing litany of misleading talking points about so-called “baby body parts” in medical research–the same stuff that motivated a psycho named Robert Dear to open fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs a few years ago.

If you’re asking the obvious question, “Really? Can they not? At least not right now?”

We’re sorry to inform you they will never miss the chance.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 15)

Hey, at least your taxes aren’t due today. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

President Trump and many Republicans still really want to open up the country around May 1. This makes scientists and health experts very nervous, as The Washington Post reports:

A draft national strategy to reopen the country in phases, developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emphasizes that even a cautious and phased approach “will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus.”

The internal document, obtained by The Washington Post, warns of a “large rebound curve” of novel coronavirus cases if mitigation efforts are relaxed too quickly before vaccines are developed and distributed or broad community immunity is achieved…

…The framework lays out criteria that should be in place before a region can responsibly ease guidelines related to public gatherings: a “genuinely low” number of cases; a “well functioning” monitoring system capable of “promptly detecting” spikes of infections; a public health system able to react robustly to new cases and local health systems that have enough inpatient beds to rapidly scale up in the event of a surge in cases.

This would seem to necessitate ramping up testing and production of personal protective equipment at levels not currently being done.

Polls continue to show that the vast majority of Americans are not at all enthusiastic about rushing back to “normal” life. As Vox.com explains, the Trump administration is actually pretty freakin’ far from being ready for the country to reopen.

 

Late Tuesday, President Trump announced that he was cutting off funding for the World Health Organization because he needs a scapegoat for his coronavirus response failures. House Democrats don’t believe that Trump can legally make this decision, but “laws” aren’t really a concern for this White House.

Trump is also holding up the distribution of stimulus checks so that the “memo” line of the checks can include the name “Donald J. Trump. No, seriously.

 

Today is the filing deadline for political campaigns to report Q1 fundraising numbers.

 

As The Denver Post reports, state officials are cautiously optimistic that social distancing and stay at home orders have dramatically slowed the transmission of COVID-19 in Colorado. Here’s more from Denver7 and 9News.

Meanwhile, Colorado wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover most of the costs for the construction of temporary field hospitals in Denver and Loveland. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

The costs of the facilities are split between the states and the federal government under the federal Stafford Act. But Polis and other members of the National Governors Association think that’s an unfair expectation during an unprecedented outbreak.

“We believe that the unprecedented size, scale and duration of the COVID-19 impacts far exceed the response capabilities of the states and territories and warrants the full force and support of the federal government. Waiving the cost-share requirements will ensure that states and territories are able to adequately and rapidly respond to and support the American people,” read a letter from the NGA to President Donald Trump.

Polis has described the facilities as preparation for a worst-case scenario. They’ll hopefully see only dozens or hundreds of patients, he said. The Denver and Loveland facilities are for “Tier 3” patients who don’t need the full medical care of a hospital.

Colorado is also planning out how to respond to a potential second wave of coronavirus cases by preparing more medical facilities around the state.

 

CNN dutifully fact checks another of President Trump’s coronavirus briefings:

Another coronavirus briefing. Another series of false claims.

Speaking Tuesday in the Rose Garden of the White House, President Donald Trump denied making a comment he did make. He criticized the World Health Organization for the same thing he has done before. He wrongly suggested he was the only national leader to impose travel restrictions on China. He claimed he was “authorizing” governors to lift coronavirus restrictions even though this power always belonged to governors. He falsely claimed, again, that “nobody ever thought” there would be a crisis like this. And he repeated some of his favorite false claims about his tariffs on China.

It’s probably fair to say that CNN has had enough of Trump’s crap. We are all CNN.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Grim Update: Buck’s Weld County Now #1 For COVID-19 Deaths

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that Weld County, with a population around 350,000, now has the most number of COVID-19 fatalities of any county in the state–more than several counties with around twice Weld County’s population including the City and County of Denver. We noted a week ago that Weld County was tied with El Paso County on this tragic data point, but since that time El Paso has fallen behind Arapahoe County and Denver while fatalities in Weld have continued to grow.

Weld County is represented in Congress by Rep. Ken Buck, the former DA of Weld County who has become a nationwide lightning rod in the debate over the response to the pandemic. Buck’s high-profile votes against coronavirus relief legislation and vocal criticism of stay-at-home orders, bitterly complaining over the weekend about a new “bailout mentality” and his unjust inability to attend Easter Sunday services, have continued even as the death toll in Buck’s district has soared.

And as Rep. Buck heads back to Washington this week, his lackadaisical disregard in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic apparently continues without interruption:

Rep. Buck’s high-visibility opposition to both relief funds to economically soften the blow of the pandemic, as well as public health orders to stay at home which Buck blames for the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic instead of the pandemic itself, have given him some of the widest publicity he has enjoyed since his election to Congress. No doubt the appearances on Fox News and mentions in a disproportionate number of stories about the relief bills than he would ever have garnered as just another near-unanimous yes vote have motivated Buck to stay his contrarian course–and operating on the disputed theory that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, it makes a kind of sense.

But to keep doing this today, after Buck’s home county has become the state of Colorado’s deadliest pandemic hotspot, reflects such a degree of fundamental disregard for the best interests of the people he represents that we can hardly find the words to express it. That any elected official could be sufficiently disconnected from what’s happening to their own constituents to feel at liberty to behave this way in the midst of such historic suffering indicates–and it is very distressing to write this–the checks and balances we rely on in our representative democracy have broken down.

Because unless something happens we cannot now foresee, Weld County is set to happily re-elect him.

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Get More Smarter on Good Friday (April 10)

Have a nice “Good Friday” and a Happy Easter. If we work together, maybe we can convince President Trump to pardon a turkey on Sunday. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► President Trump cherishes few things more than the opportunity to stand at a podium and see if he can construct new sentences out of mismatched words. But as The New York Times reports, an increasing number of Republican advisers are worried that Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings are doing far more harm than good — and not just for the country:

As unemployment soars and the death toll skyrockets, and new polls show support for the president’s handling of the crisis sagging, White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him. Many view the sessions as a kind of original sin from which all of his missteps flow, once he gets through his prepared script and turns to his preferred style of extemporaneous bluster and invective.

Mr. Trump “sometimes drowns out his own message,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has become one of the president’s informal counselors and told him “a once-a-week show” could be more effective. Representative Susan Brooks of Indiana said “they’re going on too long.” Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said the briefings were “going off the rails a little bit” and suggested that he should “let the health professionals guide where we’re going to go.”…

One of Mr. Trump’s top political advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to anger the president, was even blunter, arguing that the White House was handing Mr. Biden ammunition each night by sending the president out to the cameras. [Pols emphasis]

Anybody who has watched even a snippet of one of Trump’s coronavirus briefings can understand these sentiments. Of course, Trump wouldn’t give up the opportunity to air his grievances on national television if the microphone was made entirely of coronavirus particles.

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado officials are urging residents and small businesses to act swiftly in order to collect federal stimulus money. Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Independent points out that the federal government is bailing out on coronavirus testing in local areas:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has ended support for community COVID-19 testing sites effective April 10, leaving in doubt the future of the drive-up test site in Colorado Springs.

Dr. Leon Kelly, El Paso County coroner, said county Public Health is trying to find supplies and personnel to help run the testing site.

UCHealth, which established the site in a tent off South Parkside Drive, said Thursday it hopes to continue operating the site without FEMA support.

 

 Vox.com weighs in on the “ventilator patronage” story that broke in Colorado this week.

 

As The Washington Post reports, city and state governments are bracing for serious economic trouble:

The economic carnage unleashed by the novel coronavirus nationwide hasn’t just shuttered businesses and left more than 17 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits — it has also threatened city and state governments with financial devastation, according to local leaders, who say their ability to maintain roads, schools and basic social services is at risk at a time when their residents need help most.

Many states and cities, which were already cash-strapped, are now in dire straits, facing plunging tax revenue and spiking costs.

“I do think cities across the country are looking at some degree of austerity,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (I), who predicts his municipality will face as much as a $100 million shortfall. “This is a reckoning for us.”

Colorado lawmakers are worried that the state budget could take a hit of some $3 billion.

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who will be the Democratic nominee for President, announced new policy proposals for expanding Medicare and forgiving student debt.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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It’s a Whole New Ken Buck, We Guess!

Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated into a global emergency, and particularly in recent weeks as even many political conservatives in the United States began to take the crisis seriously, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado emerged as a national symbol of opposition to both public health orders to control the spread and stimulus spending to soften the blow to the economy–spending, we should add, that even Colorado’s highest-ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner has eagerly embraced. Buck also harshly criticized the stay-at-home order issued in Colorado by Gov. Jared Polis, contributing to a climate of misguided “resistance” that directly contravenes the work being done to control the spread of the coronavirus in Colorado.

Well folks, sometime between when Rep. Buck said it’s “craziness to shut down businesses” and yesterday, he appears to have found the epidemiological equivalent of religion! In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, an immeasurably more contrite Ken Buck lavishes praise on the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic–after decrying just a few weeks ago that “we have no leader” in rare (and not wholly misplaced) criticism of Donald Trump:

I write to thank you for your continued leadership as the head of the Coronavirus Task Force. Under your direction, the Task Force has assembled the best and brightest minds to help our nation defeat the coronavirus (COVID-19) and provide sound guidance to the American people. In this vein, I urge the Coronavirus Task Force to develop and distribute clear, concise sanitation guidelines to ensure American businesses can safely and confidently re-open as soon as possible. [Pols emphasis]

Current federal guidance to combat COVID-19 in the workplace is limited and generically focused on stopping the immediate spread of the virus, not sterilizing businesses before reopening to the public. Additionally, varying reports detailing how long COVID-19 can live on different surfaces and what types of cleaning solutions are most effective at killing the virus add confusion as businesses contemplate restarting operations. One thing is clear, one-size-fits-all guidelines will not work for every industry in America. Main Street businesses need expert help to ensure the safety of their employees and customers as they reopen for business.

Establishing clear guidelines now will also give manufacturers and suppliers time to build critical supply chains to distribute these needed materials and give businesses confidence before reopening their doors. [Pols emphasis] Furthermore, these guidelines will help ensure that the $700 million provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to clean federal workplaces is not being wasted…

How can this be the same Ken Buck? Buck voted against the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act–which leaves him less than entitled to complain about how the money is spent. But before we even assess that, we need to hear Ken Buck explain his much more fundamental change of heart about businesses “reopening” their doors.

Because if you’ll recall, Ken Buck never believed those doors should be closed.

Are we glad Rep. Buck has shifted from condemning the closure of non-essential business to hoping businesses get really strong cleaning products “before reopening their doors?” Every responsible person should be, not least the beleaguered residents of Buck’s own Weld County.

What Buck doesn’t get to do, or any other Republican eating their poorly-aged words today, is to take their irresponsible naysaying at a moment it was least needed back. And if Buck’s newfound concern doesn’t play at least as widely as his votes and prior statements, that’s yet another travesty.

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Welcome to “The Coronavirus Election”

With the lack of a coordinated national strategy for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, news outlets across the country have been focusing heavily on the languid response from the Trump administration and the “every state for itself” dynamic that has emerged from the federal government’s ineptitude.

Here in Colorado, Republicans in leadership positions — including State GOP Chair/Congressman Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert — have busied themselves by questioning decisions made by Gov. Jared Polis, local health officials, or Congress in general. In states, counties, and congressional districts where elected officials have acted quickly to combat the coronavirus spread, communities are weathering the storm much better than in places where leaders — often Republicans — have dithered.

 

As Politico explained over the weekend, coronavirus is now the top election issue of 2020, and with that understanding comes serious electoral consequences:

What remains on the air has adapted to the new reality of American life. High-spending issue groups on the left are slamming Trump for missing the mark on his virus response. Priorities USA has budgeted more than $6 million to run anti-Trump TV and digital ads related to the virus in battleground states. Unite the Country is touting Biden as a steady-handed leader necessary in a time of crisis.

With the obvious caveat that there is still a lot of time to go until Election Day, it would be tough to argue that Republicans are not in trouble thanks to the actions of many of their leaders. A majority of Americans now disapprove of President Trump’s coronavirus response after a brief jump for Trump early in the crisis.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, any comparison between President Trump and likely Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden comes out clearly in Biden’s favor:

We’re now learning that President Trump’s efforts to promote an anti-malarial drug for use against the coronavirus is causing internal administration tensions. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s own leading expert, privately challenged this optimism about hydroxychloroquine, and fittingly, Trump prevented Fauci from publicly reiterating this skepticism at Sunday’s briefing.

Only hours earlier, Joe Biden presented a striking contrast. On ABC’s “This Week,” Biden called on Trump to exercise the Defense Production Act to marshal the private sector to speed lifesaving equipment to hospitals, urged stricter social distancing and reiterated the need to “follow the science” and “listen to the experts.”

It’s now clear that this stark contrast could define the 2020 campaign. Democrats are unveiling new ads highlighting Trump’s serial failures to take the coronavirus seriously. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is urging surrogates to claim, laughably, that Trump is “leading the nation” in the “war against coronavirus,” and to cast the former vice president as “the opposition in that war.” [Pols emphasis]

We wouldn’t want to be in charge of trying to make this message work when there are SO MANY terrible Trump quotes on the pandemic — many of which Americans have already seen and heard repeatedly.

Here in Colorado, Republicans don’t have a lot of positive news to share about coronavirus response efforts. It’s fair to say that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) will be favored to win re-election in his heavily-Republican district, an advantage also enjoyed by fellow Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). But if any of these races tighten, the incumbents don’t have much to talk about other than their efforts to blame China for the coronavirus. Unlike Buck, Lamborn, and Tipton, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) hasn’t completely buried his head in the sand, but backing the largest government spending bill in congressional history doesn’t jibe with his long, vocal opposition to any form of stimulus spending and will be hard to explain to whatever base of support he still maintains.

As for local elected officials, their flighty contrarianism won’t age well. As we wrote last month:

…once again Colorado Republicans have positioned themselves as a brand on the wrong side of the issue dominating the headlines and impacting the lives of every Colorado voter. In a state already becoming more hostile to Republicans at the ballot box in every election, branding themselves as the “COVID resistance” party as a way of contrasting with our state’s Democratic majority government seems extremely ill-advised…

…Republicans are inviting a backlash from voters in November that could be truly historic.

The coronavirus outbreak is one of those history-defining moments that people will never forget. The 2020 election will proceed accordingly.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: COVID Conspiracies

We’re a little late this week with a new episode. But then again, days of the week have lost all meaning anyway.

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett about everything the state legislature is not doing at the moment; we discuss the many ways in which local Republicans are digging coronavirus holes for themselves; we try to make rational arguments for two coronavirus conspiracy theories; and we find Sen. Cory Gardner unfamiliar with the man in the mirror.

Look out next week for some bonus content, featuring an exclusive new interview.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

Hey, you made it through another week of this — that’s not nothing. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The Trump administration is struggling to actually implement many of the economic relief measures contained in last month’s $2.2 Trillion spending bill. First, here’s CNN on those stimulus checks that were supposed to be coming right away:

Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.

The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also confounding the banks, as The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed from the White House podium yesterday that small businesses battered by the coronavirus epidemic could access $350 billion in taxpayer-backed cash quickly starting on Friday. But as the rescue effort debuts, banks are concerned in part about how to assess the risks of small businesses applying for assistance directly to them, even as the federal government is guaranteeing those loans.

JPMorgan Chase, for instance, posted a notice online that it won’t be accepting applications from prospective borrowers. “Financial institutions like ours are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury,” it said.

Banks are asking questions about the length of the loans, the interest rates they can charge, and how much due diligence financial institutions are responsible for performing on borrowers

Take the politicians out of Washington D.C.! Put businesspeople in charge! This is working out great!

 

Is the White House overestimating or underestimating the potential death toll from COVID-19? Nobody knows, because it’s unclear how the White House came up with its projections. From The Washington Post:

Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people will die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.

The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.

Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.

There is a non-zero chance that President Trump literally picked these numbers out of a hat.

 

As CNN reports, two top Trump administration officials were publicly voicing concerns about U.S. readiness in the face of a pandemic LAST APRIL:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council, made the comments at the BioDefense Summit in April 2019.

“Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

The Trump administration is facing scrutiny over its preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and its slow response to provide states and cities assistance in testing kits and personal protective equipment. The 2019 summit, hosted by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Department of Health and Human Services to “discuss and solicit input on implementing the National Biodefense Strategy,” offers insights into early awareness of the potential for a pandemic threat.

Transcripts of Azar’s and Morrison’s comments at the summit, which have not been previously reported on, are available on the HHS website.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one predicted a pandemic crisis like the one caused by coronavirus. [Pols emphasis]

 

Here’s the latest fact-checking from CNN of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► Weld County has surged to the top of the list in Colorado for the largest number of coronavirus deaths. Weld County is represented in Congress by social distancing skeptic Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Sure, maybe it’s a coincidence.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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COVID-19 Tragically Zeroes In On Rep. Ken Buck’s Weld County

Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

9NEWS reported last night that Weld County is being hit very hard by the expanding COVID-19 pandemic, now tied for the most number of deaths in the state so far–a tragic distinction disproportionate to the county’s population:

Weld County is tied for the highest number of deaths in the state related to COVID-19. 16 people have died in the area. The county also has one of the largest number of cases, even though the number of people who live there is far less than other counties.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says there are 329 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Weld County, roughly the same number as El Paso County. The population of Weld County is nearly 400,000 less… [Pols emphasis]

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms now crowd the emergency rooms. Steven Loecke is the Chief Medical Officer for several Banner Health hospitals in Northern Colorado. He says the hospital in Greeley is seeing the most action.

Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessarily has enormous political implications, and the response to the outbreak by government authorities from the President of the United States to the smallest municipalities is a principal factor now in every voter’s decisionmaking, even the most partisan political diehards can agree that significant components of the response to the pandemic have been carried out with overwhelming bipartisan agreement–most recently the massive $2.2 trillion stimulus bill to blunt the effects of shutting down large parts of the economy to contain the disease.

With that said, the “resistance” to public health measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmingly come from one political party, Republicans–including President Donald Trump himself until he was belatedly convinced to take the crisis seriously. In Colorado, Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, has enthusiastically led the opposition to the statewide stay-at-home order by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. In Congress, Buck’s repeated votes against the successive coronavirus relief packages–in one case one of only two votes against in the entire chamber–have significantly raised Buck’s national profile, earning him cable news appearances and adulation on the far right.

As readers know, Rep. Ken Buck served as the District Attorney of Weld County before his election to Congress, and Weld County is one of the two population centers of his district along with similarly conservative but more affluent Douglas County.

Folks, we don’t want to spell this out. If we do, some in the chattering class will say it’s “too soon.”

But how can you not connect these dots? And how can the resulting outrage not transcend politics?

These are hard words to write. But to not write them would be the greater disservice to our readers.

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Colorado GOP Delegation Backs COVID Blame Projection Bill

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Michael Karlik at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn have co-sponsored a House resolution that condemns the Chinese government’s response to COVID-19 and asks the country to take responsibility for originating the novel coronavirus…

Tipton blamed the severity of the global pandemic on the Chinese government’s failure to act quickly and be “immediately forthcoming” about what it knew. “This recklessness by the Chinese government cannot be tolerated, and they should face severe consequences including sanctions and reparations to nations they have impacted,” he said.

Colorado’s three Republican members of Congress, Reps. Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton are all on board, with Lamborn earning a name-check from leading congressional Trump apologist Rep. Elise Stefanik:

Here’s the intro to House Resolution 907:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of the People’s Republic of China made multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages of the COVID–19 outbreak that heightened the severity and spread of the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic, which include the Chinese Government’s intentional spread of misinformation to downplay the risks of the virus, a refusal to cooperate with international health authorities, internal censorship of doctors and journalists, and malicious disregard for the health of ethnic minorities.

In psychology, the term “projection” refers to ascribing one’s own flaws and insecurities to another party in order to assuage one’s own guilt. The accusation that the People’s Republic of China made “multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages of the COVID–19 outbreak” may have basis in fact, but this allegation applies every bit as well to the early response by the United States government to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That should be the priority of the U.S. House of Representatives, not China.

President Donald Trump’s weeks of denial of the severity of the pandemic, insisting that the virus would “go away” and that the number of cases was declining, perfectly fit the accusation in this resolution of “intentional spread of misinformation to downplay the risks of the virus.” Trump called the World Health Organization coronavirus test used to good effect in other countries “a bad test,” which could fairly be called “a refusal to cooperate with international health authorities.” While we wouldn’t say that scientists in the United States have been “censored,” watching Dr. Anthony Fauci facepalm while Trump fictionalizes the latest pandemic updates seems close enough. Finally, there’s the “malicious disregard for the health of ethnic minorities.” Check.

We all accuse the other side of being crazy, but in this case we think a clinical explanation might honestly be right. We’ll leave it to qualified psychologists to make the diagnosis, but we will say that rarely does the projection so perfectly characterize the original sin.

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Ken Buck Goes 0-for-3 on Coronavirus Legislation

Who has a crooked forefinger and keeps voting against coronavirus relief?

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice versa) had his third chance to vote for coronavirus relief legislation today.

As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post:

With the apparent support of all but one Coloradan, the U.S. House passed the largest economic stimulus package in American history Friday, a more than $2 trillion agreement to boost a national economy ravaged by coronavirus.

The bill passed on a voice vote, a tactic used for uncontroversial legislation. As a result, House members were not required to record where they stood on the historic bill. But in comments before, only one Coloradan signaled opposition.

“I agree we are facing an unprecedented emergency, one tied directly to China’s nefarious actions. However, as President Trump said, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” said Rep. Ken Buck in a speech on the House floor.

Buck has been consistent in his opposition of new funding to combat coronavirus — whether to help first responders or the American economy — as well as his general opposition to, well, science. Buck has been vocal about his disagreement with the idea of closing businesses where people tend to congregate in groups, and he reiterated on Friday that he believes we’re almost done with this virus problem anyway:

“There is no attempt by Congress to reduce spending elsewhere in the budget to pay for this bill. The sad truth is that most of this money in this bill is unrelated to fighting the coronavirus. We believe that the fight against the virus will take six to eight weeks, yet this bill spends money decades into the future,” added Buck, who is the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, during his remarks Friday.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) had a much different take, which seems to place him well within the overwhelming majority of Members of Congress:

“Our country and the American people are in crisis and it requires our action now,” said Crow, of Aurora, in a speech on the House floor Friday. “To be clear, this is not a perfect bill, but it is the bill that America needs today.”

Rep. Ken Buck only presses the red button.

Let’s recap Rep. Buck’s record over the last few weeks:

♦ Thursday, March 5: Buck is one of only two House Members to vote “NO” on coronavirus relief legislation aimed at providing emergency resources for first responders and other healthcare professionals. The bill quickly passed through the Senate and was signed into law by President Trump.

♦ Saturday, March 14: Buck votes “NO” on the second major piece of coronavirus legislation, known as The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill also quickly passed through the Senate and was signed into law by President Trump.

♦ Friday, March 27: Buck completes the trifecta and opposes a $2 trillion stimulus package that had already sailed through the U.S. Senate without a single vote of opposition and will absolutely be signed into law by President Trump as soon as it hits his desk. And get this: Buck didn’t even have to record an official vote (Congress approved the measure by a “voice vote”) but he still insisted on making it clear that he would not support legislation to provide financial relief to struggling Americans.

Congressman Ken Buck absolutely doesn’t get it, and neither does Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck. These “positions” probably won’t cost Buck his Congressional seat in 2020, because he’s firmly entrenched in a strong GOP district. His hot takes on coronavirus probably won’t cost him his State Party Chairmanship, either, in part because state GOP leaders are equally baffled about how to respond to the outbreak.

But if you think Buck’s actions this month are going to age well, both politically and in general, that’s a bet we wouldn’t hesitate to accept.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 27)

We’d wish you a “Happy Friday,” but today kinda feels just like Thursday. And Wednesday. And also Tuesday. Anyway, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► UPDATE: The House passes the stimulus bill. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck voted against the legislation, giving him a perfect 0-3 record on coronavirus-related legislation.

—–

Members of the House of Representatives are heading back to Washington D.C. to vote on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is in no danger of failing because one Kentucky Republican (and it’s not even Mitch McConnell) is being kind of a dick. As The Washington Post explains:

The House of Representatives prepared to vote Friday on a $2 trillion economic relief package to address fallout from the coronavirus, with scores of lawmakers begrudgingly returning to the Capitol after one GOP member threatened to raise a procedural objection.

With the economy reeling and millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, House leaders had hoped to pass the sweeping measure by a “voice vote” that would not require members to show up in person. Those who wanted to could come to the Capitol to speak in favor of or against the legislation that will send $1,200 payments to many Americans and free up large loans for businesses of every size.

If they used a “voice vote,” members in quarantine or who simply did not want to travel would not have to do so. There are now roughly 86,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and 1,300 people have died just in the past few weeks.

But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) threatened to raise procedural objections that would require a majority of the House to be present to quash, and so on Thursday evening leadership in both parties began urging members who could do so to return to Washington in order to have the numbers to overcome whatever objection Massie might raise. [Pols emphasis]

Massie may have seriously misread this situation, because President Trump is not happy:

As The Washington Post notes in a separate story, Rep. Massie’s colleagues are not at all surprised that he’s needlessly throwing wrenches:

During his seven years in Congress, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has established a reputation as a uniquely irascible congressional gadfly — one who is frequently at odds with his own party’s leadership, rarely votes for major bills negotiated with Democrats, and, to make an ideological point, is willing to use the House rule book to inconvenience his colleagues.

In other words, he’s the Kentucky version of State Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs).

Just in case you thought opposition to the relief bill was relegated to some looney from Kentucky…Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are railing about their own grievances with the legislation.

 

 Eight of Colorado’s 9 Members of Congress are urging President Trump to approve a Major Disaster request for Colorado. Who was the lone dissenter? Hint: His name rhymes with “suck.”

 

► Many of Colorado’s most prominent Republican lawmakers — including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville — are growing increasingly vocal about their opposition to “stay at home” orders because…tyranny, or something. These actions are bad for their health and the health of their friends and family — and new polling info suggests that these positions will hurt them politically in November.

If you are interested in making specious and dangerous arguments yourself, here’s a cheat sheet to get you started on messaging.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Denver Post have more on the partisan pushback to coronavirus responses.

 

► Not all the coronavirus news is bad news, as The Washington Post reports from the state of Washington:

The suburban hospital that handled the first onslaught of coronavirus patients weeks ago — a crush of seriously ill and dying nursing home residents that signaled the beginning of the national health crisis — is now offering cautious optimism to people across the United States who are searching for an end to the springtime nightmare: They believe they might have flattened the curve here.

At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, two miles from the shuttered Lifecare nursing home where 35 patient deaths were linked to the virus, officials say their rate of new covid-19 cases has remained steady for two weeks, leveling off at a trickle. On some days, doctors here see just one new case and haven’t seen more than four in a single day since mid-March. Few need admission to the intensive care unit, which is now half full, two weeks after overflow necessitated transfers to nearby hospitals…

…“It is a glimmer of hope,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This is suggestive that some of the things we’re doing together is having some very modest improvement. The things we did two weeks ago are now appearing in our hospitals.” [Pols emphasis] 

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Ken Buck on Coronavirus: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

When it comes to social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO4) appears to be taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach. While he has said people should try to avoid publics places for the next months, and that “elderly Americans…should be concerned” about the coronavirus, he is also still attending group events and has been photographed shaking hands with senior citizens.

Congressman Ken Buck shaking hands at the Weld County Clerk’s office, March 21, 2020

Following the Weld County Republican Party Assembly on March 21, Donna Windholz posted a picture of Buck, who also serves as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, enthusiastically shaking hands with Lynn Miller at the Weld County Clerk’s Office. Lynn Miller is the husband of former state representative Pat Miller, who is once again a legislative candidate, 27 years after she last left office. Windholz believes Buck was improperly using his position as state party chair to support Miller over other primary candidates.

Congressman Buck’s notable disregard for social distancing reinforces his statements earlier this week, when he told the Denver Post, “it’s just craziness to shut down businesses.” He also mentioned that “elderly Americans…are rightly concerned about the virus.” Lynn Miller, the man with whom Buck is shaking hands in the image above, is 73 years old.

His position differs from other members of the Colorado delegation, who have supported Governor Polis’ decisions to close non-essential businesses and public gathering places.

Buck’s hasn’t been shy about being a contrarian on the issue of stopping the coronavirus. He was one of only two House votes against the $8.3 billion federal aid bill signed by President on March 6.

The following week, Buck held a telephone town hall. As part of a longer answer about whether or not people should stop attending church, Buck noted that he continues to shake hands with constituents and that he is “not a good example of someone who avoids social contact.”

His full answer, transcribed below included contradictory statements as to whether one should or shouldn’t attend church, but at least as of March 11, Buck said that he would still be going.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Hey, look: Snow! 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Two down, one to go?

The Senate on Wednesday approved the second major piece of legislation related to the Coronavirus outbreak, allowing lawmakers to fully focus on a massive stimulus bill. From Politico:

With Senate leaders vowing to work at “warp speed” to blunt the financial fallout from the pandemic, the Treasury Department unveiled to lawmakers a plan for $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting April 6…

…According to the Treasury Department’s proposal, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the so-called “phase three” proposal would include $50 billion to aid the hard-hit airline industry, $150 billion for other distressed sectors of the economy, two rounds of direct payments of $250 billion each on April 6 and May 18, and the creation of a small business interruption loan program.

The document notably does not mention a payroll tax cut, which President Donald Trump has suggested he wanted to be included in the package. But the idea lost steam in recent days as lawmakers from both parties rejected the idea, citing the need to grant immediate, large-scale relief.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” on Wednesday; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did not cast a vote because he is currently in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Bennet may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus but has opted not to self-quarantine. Congress is not currently able to conduct tele-voting, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) says that he would be comfortable with such an option.

We posted this here yesterday, but it’s worth repeating for a reminder of the Coronavirus legislation being discussed:

BILL ONE
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO (Families First CoronaVirus Response Act)
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). Since the bill passed in the House on Saturday, outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to add their support. The Senate approved this measure on Wednesday and President Trump signed it into law today.

BILL THREE
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. As The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the Trump administration is working on a plan that would send most Americans $1,000 within three weeks and an additional $500 for every child as a way to flood the country with money and try to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy…

…Mnuchin’s comments are part of the rapidly evolving fiscal stimulus plan that the White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to assemble amid growing signs that large parts of the economy are grinding to a halt. House Democrats, meanwhile, are working on their own set of proposals, and negotiations with the White House are expected to begin very soon.

For more on federal legislative efforts and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

► President Trump spoke today at another Coronavirus press briefing, which German Lopez of Vox.com called “a disastrous failure in leadership.” You won’t be shocked to learn that he made another big mistake:

11:49: *Trump starts playing with ball of yarn

11:51: *Trump threatens to use Marines to invade Coronavirus

11:52: *Trump pulls a piece of meatloaf from his breast pocket and takes a bite

 

► Two Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah).

The first state lawmaker in Colorado (that we know of) has tested positive for COVID-19. Two members of a municipal delegation that recently traveled to Washington D.C. have also tested positive.

 

► Governor Jared Polis ordered all Colorado schools to close until April 17 as part of continuing efforts to contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Polis also ordered a temporary ban of any gathering of more than 10 people.

Most Colorado school districts closed their schools late last week. Polis said Wednesday that it is “increasingly unlikely” that Colorado schools will open again before the end of the school year.

The Denver Post breaks down some of the other “emergency powers” that Gov. Polis could choose to activate.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Rep. Ken Buck’s Dangerous Irresponsibility Rolls On

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports–after Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado became a national embarrassment as one of only two House votes against the initial coronavirus relief legislation to pass Congress, and one of a relatively small contingent of House Republicans to vote against the second, Buck is doubling down on his “what, me worry?” approach to the rapidly-widening global pandemic:

“You don’t shut restaurants down for 30 days,” Buck said in an interview Wednesday, referring to a policy enacted in Colorado and many other states.

“I have no problem with (stopping) sporting events or things that don’t impact our civil liberties and don’t impact everyday life. Those are things that I think we can suspend for a period of time. But it’s just craziness to shut down businesses or parts of the economy that are absolutely necessary,” the congressman added…

“We don’t have a leader. It was FDR who said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ We need leaders to stand up and say we’re going to have a measured response,” said Buck, who is usually a defender of President Donald Trump.

That’s right, readers–Colorado’s far-right lightning rod congressman/state GOP chairman just invoked FDR to criticize President Donald Trump! That is of course interesting, but it’s a distraction from the larger problem here so don’t get stuck on it. There’s no question that the emergency public health measures taken by the state of Colorado along with many others are very painful economically. That’s why Congress needs to pass relief legislation for American workers affected by the pandemic considerably broader in scope than what’s currently being offered by the GOP Senate majority.

With that said, virtually every public health expert literally on the entire planet says these measures, and even more strict isolation measures than exist in most places in the United States today including Colorado, are desperately needed to contain the spread of the coronavirus–or if not contain it, at least spread out the rate of infection enough to not overwhelm the hospitals. If this all sounds old hat to you, that’s because it’s beaten into all of our heads for weeks.

But not Rep. Ken Buck, folks! Buck doesn’t want to hear any of your damn pesky “expert” warnings about any global pandemic. When you’ve already made the decision to blow off the science on a whole range of issues from guns to climate change, ignoring the coronavirus threat comes…well, frighteningly easy, apparently.

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