Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 15)

Happy “Global Handwashing Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Oh, this is rich. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump complained Tuesday about a lack of “transparency” in the accelerating Democrats-led impeachment inquiry as House investigators heard from another key State Department official behind closed doors at the Capitol. [Pols emphasis]

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, has been summoned to testify about a campaign by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter…

…House Democrats are scheduled to huddle behind closed doors later Tuesday about the status of the inquiry.

The New York Times has more on the latest updates regarding impeachment depositions. The fact that regular updates about impeachment depositions even exist would seem to refute Trump’s “lack of transparency” complaints.

As Politico reports, Trump’s attempts to bar the doors to impeachment testimony is failing bigly:

Donald Trump’s impeachment blockade has collapsed.

The president’s former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats’ investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has sketched for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kiev to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump’s top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy.

And on Tuesday, a senior State Department official, George Kent, appeared on Capitol Hill to testify about his knowledge of the episode despite an attempt by administration lawyers to block him, according to a source working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for his testimony Tuesday morning, and Kent complied.

It’s the latest evidence that the White House’s stonewalling against congressional requests for documents and testimony is crumbling — and Democrats are feeling a new sense of momentum.

 

► Democratic Presidential candidates hit the stage in Columbus, Ohio tonight for the next big debate. Readers of Colorado Pols seem to think that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is in the driver’s seat at the moment. Over at CNN, you can read their list of seven things to watch for in tonight’s debate, including the performance of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had heart surgery just a few weeks ago.

 

► As the New York Times reports, Russia is plenty pleased with President Trump’s decision last week to remove American troops from Syria:

As the Middle East reels from President Trump’s erratic foreign policy, Russia is savoring a fresh chance to build its status as a resurgent world power and cast itself as a force for stability. The withdrawal of United States troops from northeastern Syria, coupled with Turkey’s incursion, is allowing Russia to play the part of responsible peacemaker and to present a contrast to what many in the region see as unstable leadership from Washington.

It’s too soon to tell whether Russia will be able to manage the new volatility in Syria, just as it’s not clear if the impeachment furor over Ukraine will help the Kremlin’s interests in Eastern Europe. But as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin landed in Saudi Arabia Monday for a state visit to one of America’s most important allies, it appeared clear that Mr. Trump’s moves in recent months were helping him make the case that Moscow, not Washington, was the more dependable actor on the world stage. [Pols emphasis]

Here in Colorado, residents with Kurdish ties are asking Americans to speak out against Turkey’s aggression in Northern Syria.

 

► Colorado Republicans are going to have to cast a ballot for President Trump in a GOP Primary, as 9News reports:

Trump will face a Republican primary in Colorado, unlike five other states where party leaders canceled contests in favor of automatically assigning delegate votes.

The Colorado Republican Party cannot cancel a primary if a second person is on the ballot. In Colorado, Trump will compete with Robert Ardini, of New York, for the 2020 nomination.

Ardini 2020, or something!

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 9)

The hashtag #RepublicanCampaignSlogans is trending on Twitter 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is scaling back his Presidential campaign as he continues to recover from a heart attack suffered last week.

 

Turkey has begun a military offensive against American-allied Kurds in Syria, just days after President Trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.

 

► Former Gov. John Hickenlooper announced on Tuesday that his campaign for U.S. Senate raised an astonishing $2.1 million in just five weeks.

 

► If you’re having trouble keeping up with the rapidly-changing news on impeachment proceedings against President Trump, we’ve got you covered with a new feature we’re calling “Just Impeachie.”

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast and play the game that everybody is talking about (probably): “Duke or Donald?”


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The Get More Smarter Podcast: “Duke or Donald?”

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss attempts to find Sen. Cory Gardner at a Trump fundraiser in New York City; the latest news in Impeachment-a-lago; whether or not Denver should elect its sheriff; and a look at the two initiatives on this November’s ballot.

More importantly, we introduce what is certain to become America’s favorite new game, “Duke or Donald?” (skip ahead to the 39:44 mark to play the game).

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 3)

It’s finally time to celebrate Fullmetal Alchemist day. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is now publicly calling on China to investigate various Bidens for some sort of invented transgression. As NBC News reports:

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

While Trump said he hasn’t requested Chinese President Xi Jinping investigate the Bidens, the public call mirrors the private behavior on which Democrats are partially basing their impeachment inquiry— using the office of the presidency to press a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

It is “certainly something we can start thinking about, because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being on that kind of scrutiny, where billions of dollars is taken out of his country by a guy that just got kicked out of the Navy,” Trump said Thursday of asking China to probe the Bidens. “He got kicked out of the Navy, all of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

Now it’s “billions” of dollars. By this time next week, Trump will be alleging that the Bidens pocketed trillions.

In a related story, CNN’s Chris Cillizza takes us through the transcript of Trump’s bananas press conference on Wednesday alongside the President of Finland.

 

► Welcome to the shitshow, Vice President Mike Pence. From the Washington Post:

President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — at a time when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said.]]
Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Pence is trying to claim ignorance about the whole Ukraine scandal, but as the Post reports, officials say that “one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call and the vice president should have had access to the transcript within hours.”

Have fun with this one, Mr. Vice President.

 

 The battle has been joined! The “YES” on Proposition CC campaign kicked off on Wednesday with the support of Gov. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish).

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 1)

They say “spooky season” starts today; it kinds feels like that’s already been happening. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Department of State apparently plans to ignore Congressional subpoenas related to impeachment proceedings against President Trump. As the Washington Post explains:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fired a broadside at House Democrats on Tuesday, saying State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not be made available until “we obtain further clarity on these matters.”

The refusal, in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”…

…The statements came as Pompeo’s role in the Ukraine investigation broadened with reports that he was a participant in the July 25 call by President Trump to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to the impeachment investigation.

Before that report, first published by The Wall Street Journal, Pompeo had brushed off questions about the incident, saying last week that he had not yet read the transcript of the telephone call released by the White House, or the whistleblower complaint that it sparked.

It was widely reported on Monday that Pompeo was indeed a participant on the infamous July 25 call with Ukraine. Now Pompeo is accusing Democrats of “bullying.”

The Trump administration appears to be digging in on impeachment at the same time that public opinion is drastically shifting in favor of ousting Trump. As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN, Trump’s impeachment defense strategy has more holes than the Denver Broncos’ roster:

The President seems to be reeling, waiting for the next blow to fall, defended only by his increasingly unhinged tirades, his tweets quoting supporters on cable news and confrontational and conspiracy-laden appearances by aides on TV.

The President’s unaccustomed struggle to control the narrative and to get his opponents to respond to his moves bodes ill for any hopes he has of avoiding a full House impeachment vote.

There is no sign of the organized, disciplined political and legal strategy that for instance helped Bill Clinton emerge from his impeachment trial as a viable President.

 

 As the New York Times reports, President Trump recently pressured Australia to get involved in helping to discredit the Mueller investigation.

 

 Democratic Presidential candidates are starting to reveal third quarter fundraising numbers. As CBS News reports Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $25 million in the last three months and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled down $19 million.

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 24)

Today is National Voter Registration Day; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump’s latest scandal, involving withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for that country potentially investigating one of Trump’s political opponents, looks to have tipped the scales on impeachment proceedings. From the New York Times:

House Democrats hurtled on Tuesday toward a consequential set of decisions about the potential impeachment of President Trump, weighing a course that could reshape his presidency amid startling allegations that he sought to enlist a foreign power to aid him politically.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, who has stubbornly resisted a rush to impeachment, appeared to be rapidly changing course, as lawmakers from every corner of her caucus lined up in favor of filing formal charges against Mr. Trump if the allegations are proven true, or if his administration continues to stonewall attempts by Congress to investigate them.

“We will be making announcements later,” she told reporters in the Capitol, declining to discuss her views on impeachment.

One possibility was the formation of a special committee — reminiscent of the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal — to look into the president’s dealings with Ukraine and potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is among seven freshman Democrats who penned an Op-Ed for the Washington Post making the case for proceeding with impeachment proceedings.

President Trump today confirmed that he made a decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, though he claims it is totally unrelated to his requests to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

 

 If you’re waiting for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) to weigh in on President Trump’s Ukraine scandal…well, you might want to get comfortable.

 

 Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is supporting an effort to require federal background checks for ammunition purchases.

 

► Make sure to check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast. Hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin have Ukraine on the Membrane!

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Episode 9

This week: Cory Gardner is very sad, a celebration of saying nothing, one more recall to spell out, a fundraiser mystery (sort of) in Aspen, a clever chess move in a Denver primary race, and thinning out the Democratic Senate primary! With Ian Silverii on vacation, host Jason Bane trots Progress Now Colorado political director Alan Franklin out of his mom’s basement to fill in. A full transcript follows after the jump.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is also available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 17)

Today is Constitution Day, which is apparently a thing; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Former President Teddy Roosevelt was known for his “big stick diplomacy” when it came to foreign policy. Surely you remember the quotation: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

President Trump’s philosophy is a little different; it’s more like, “Yell loudly and make occasional references to the size of your stick.” As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump has said Iran is the greatest threat in the Middle East, a would-be nuclear power that he has brought low through the stiffest sanctions ever applied to a single nation. He has warned that the United States is “locked and loaded” to punish Iran if it is found to be responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities over the weekend.

But Trump has also eagerly courted a sit-down negotiation with the leader of Iran, called off a military strike earlier this year because it could have killed too many Iranians and flirted with a plan to offer Tehran a $15 billion lifeline to help it deal with the crushing U.S. sanctions.

On Monday in the Oval Office, Trump told reporters “we don’t want war with anybody” and then less than an hour later said he thinks a U.S. military strike on an Iranian oil facility would be a proportional response.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader appeared to rule out direct negotiations with the United States. From a separate Washington Post story:

U.S. officials rejected claims by Houthi rebels in Yemen, who receive Iranian support, that they had launched the strikes Saturday. The officials described the attacks as more sophisticated and powerful than anything the rebels could accomplish on their own.

But neither Trump nor Saudi leaders would say unequivocally that Iran was responsible…

…Trump’s reluctance to assign blame appeared to reflect his long-standing desire to keep the United States out of wars, despite his tweet Sunday that the United States was “locked and loaded depending on verification.”

“I’m not looking to get into new conflict, but sometimes you have to,” Trump said Monday.

Trump did not rule out a military response but made clear that the Saudis would take the lead — and pay the bill.

Oh, good. The Saudis will pay the bill — just as soon as the check clears from Mexico to pay for a border wall.

 

 Former Trump campaign manager and aspiring U.S. Senate candidate Corey Lewandowski is testifying today before the House Judiciary Committee. According to a report from Reuters, Lewandowski was “excited” to be able to defend Trump in a public setting. With any luck, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) will again unintentionally create new problems for the White House.

 

►  It’s Election Day (again) in Israel today. Vox.com considers the possibility that longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might lose his job.

 

► Congressman — and State Republican Party Chairman — Ken Buck knows how to spell “recall.” He’s still working on the spelling of “leadership.”

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th

For the first time in nearly two decades, there will be a full moon on Friday the 13th; this won’t happen again for another 30 years. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Ten Democratic candidates for President took to the debate stage in Houston on Thursday night. The Washington Post does a quick breakdown of everything you might have missed.

There are plenty of “Winners and Losers” lists from Thursday’s debate. Check out the Washington Post; CNN; the New York Times; Vox.com; and Politico.

 

 The Trump administration is rolling back clean water standards to 1986 levels, and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is thrilled about the move. From the Associated Press via Fox 31 Denver:

The Trump administration on Thursday revoked an Obama-era regulation that shielded many U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution but was opposed by developers and farmers who said it hurt economic development and infringed on property rights, a move that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner cheered as “a victory for Colorado’s farmers.”…

…Environmentalists say the move would leave millions of Americans with less safe drinking water and allow damage of wetlands that prevent flooding, filter pollutants and provide habitat for a multitude of fish, waterfowl and other wildlife…

…Betsy Southerland, who was director of science and technology in EPA’s Office of Water during the Obama administration, said repealing its regulation would create further regulatory confusion.

“This repeal is a victory for land developers, oil and gas drillers and miners who will exploit that ambiguity to dredge and fill small streams and wetlands that were protected from destruction by the 2015 rule because of their critical impact on national water quality,” Southerland said.

 

► Taking money from military projects to fund a wall along the Mexico border is a serious security risk, according to a report from the U.S. Air Force. As NBC News reports:

The report, obtained by NBC News, details the importance of each of the 51 military projects chosen by the Trump administration to lose their funding, including construction of a new gate to address a growing security concern at an overseas U.S. base, projects to build facilities to safely store more than $1 billion in munitions overseas, and even replacing a boiler whose failure is “imminent” and could cause the evacuation of an entire base in Alaska…

…There is no guarantee the funds will automatically be backfilled, according to a congressional official and a U.S. defense official. The congressional official said the projects may be set back a year or more.

The funding diversions include an $8 million project for Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) promised to prevent this exact scenario last spring.

 

The mystery of two anonymous donors who covered security costs for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Aspen this summer has been solved…but it creates a whole new batch of questions. Thanks in part to an idiotic comment from the Chair of the Pitkin County Republican Party, this story is getting an extended shelf-life.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 12)

On this day 45 years ago, it was 1974. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Immigration advocates are facing a setback after a big Supreme Court decision late Wednesday. As the New York Times reports:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to bar most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States, while the legal fight plays out in the courts.

The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned order, said the administration may enforce new rules that generally forbid asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through another country on their way to the United States without being denied asylum in that country.

The court’s order was a major victory for the administration, allowing it to enforce a policy that will achieve one of its central goals: effectively barring most migration across the nation’s southwestern border by Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others. Mexican migrants, who need not travel through another country to reach the United States, are not affected by the new policy.

It was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court has allowed a major Trump administration immigration initiative to go forward. In July, the court allowed the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction of a barrier along the Mexican border. Last year, the court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

From Vox.com (9/12/19)

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is livid with her colleagues’ decision, however. As the Washington Post explains:

No vote was recorded in the Supreme Court’s order, which is standard on a matter like this, but Sotomayor wrote an uncharacteristically blistering five-page dissent. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cosigned.

“The rule here may be, as the District Court concluded, in significant tension with the asylum statute,” Sotomayor said. “It may also be arbitrary and capricious for failing to engage with the record evidence contradicting its conclusions. It is especially concerning, moreover, that the rule the Government promulgated topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere.”…

…The bulk of Sotomayor’s critique relates to process. She argues, essentially, that it’s in poor form for the Trump administration to immediately come running to the Supreme Court, with two Trump appointees and five of the nine justices appointed by Republicans, every time a lower court puts on hold a policy while legal challenges are being heard. She would prefer to let the process play out the way it has in the past.

 

► On orders from the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency is scaling back clean water standards to where they were in 1986. From the Washington Post:

In the halls of Washington and on sprawling farms and ranches, in courtrooms and corporate boardrooms, a legal tug of war has unfolded over a 2015 rule that gave the Environmental Protection Agency much broader authority over the nation’s waterways. Critics say the Obama rule gave the federal government far too much power; supporters countered it would prevent the loss of vast swaths of wetlands. Court rulings have temporarily blocked the regulation in 28 states, while keeping it in effect in 22 others.

On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986…

…critics say the rollback will speed the conversion of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking water supply. Americans drained about half of the 220 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States between the 1780s and 1980s, most of it to expand farmland. That rate began to slow after George H.W. Bush took office, pledging to stem the tide of wetlands loss.

 

 As CBS4 Denver reports, Colorado Democrats are leading the charge in Washington D.C. in pushing for new gun safety regulations:

Congressman Joe Neguse said he favors changes to federal law, and hopes Republicans will too.

“If my colleagues are serious about addressing gun violence, about addressing suicide — Colorado happens to have the 10th highest rate of suicides in the United States, 50% of those involve a firearm — if my colleagues are serious about that, I would hope that they would join us tonight in supporting this bill so that we can finally do something about the pervasive gun violence that is ravaging communities across our country,” he said during Tuesday’s hearing.

While the bills have support in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, there’s an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate. President Donald Trump at first seemed to favor some changes in gun laws several weeks ago, but it’s unclear where he stands now.

 

 Ten Democratic candidates for President will take to the debate stage tonight in Houston, Texas. The New York Times previews the big show.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 11)

It’s been 18 years since the September 11 attacks; the Denver Post remembers Coloradans who perished that day. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Congressional Republicans avoided a disastrous outcome in a special election in North Carolina on Tuesday. But as Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, all is not well:

Republican Dan Bishop beat Democrat Dan McCready in a special election in North Carolina’s 9th District, an outcome that, given the clear Republican lean of the suburban Charlotte district, should have been a lay-up for the GOP. Bishop won by 2 points after both national parties spent more than $10 million in the district.

That Bishop won — whether by two votes, 2 points or 20 points — averts what would have been an absolute panic within the GOP conference had he come up short. Politics is, at its essence, about winning and losing — and when you have a party coming off as sweeping a defeat as House Republicans suffered in 2018, it’s always a good thing to wind up on the victorious side of the ledger.

But it is also true that Bishop’s victory — and the way in which it was achieved — should still be read as a warning sign for a party that is dealing with a very unpopular President and a decidedly unsettled political environment.

President Trump carried NC-9 by 12 points in 2016. Bishop’s 2-point victory on Tuesday means that the national environment is still terrible for Republicans. That’s significant news in Colorado for Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), who will be defending his seat for the first time in 2020.

 

 Democratic Senate candidate John Walsh is exiting the 2020 race and endorsing former Gov. John Hickenlooper for his party’s nomination:

 

 Colorado Republicans are now 0-4 in their efforts to recall various elected officials in Colorado. On Tuesday recall groups announced that they were ending efforts to gather petition signatures for the removal of State Sens. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) and Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood). In a nutty statement, the group “Recall Et. All” said that they “are confident in the success of our future efforts to recall both of these elected officials” and then accused mysterious “leftists” of targeting 60-80 year old female petition gatherers for abuse of some sort.

 

 Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is quite clearly very nervous about the lack of enthusiasm over his pet project to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Colorado. Gardner delivered a stupifying speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday that relied on absurd rhetoric to make his point:

The only reason to oppose this move is if you don’t care about the people of the western United States, or you don’t think somehow the people of the western United States are smart enough to figure out how to run public lands, or to manage public lands. Or maybe you don’t think that Colorado is up to the task of being the headquarters of the BLM, because apparently you don’t trust the people in the West.

This is, in a word, childish.

Members of the House Resources Committee grilled BLM leaders on Tuesday about the proposed HQ move to Grand Junction.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 10)

Sorry, Broncos fans — it’s gonna be a loonnngg season. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is looking for a new National Security Adviser — the fourth NSA of his first term in office — after dismissing John Bolton and his obnoxious mustache on Tuesday. Bolton is a notorious Hawk whose default position on national security matters tended to start and end with dropping bombs, metaphorical and otherwise. Trump Tweeted that Bolton is out because the Big Orange Guy continually disagreed with his advice, though Bolton is insisting that he actually resigned.  

Meanwhile, Trump’s approval ratings are as bad as the Denver Broncos. From Politico:

Thirty-eight percent of respondents in an ABC News/Washington Post pollreleased Tuesday approve of Trump’s performance in office, a drop of 6 percentage points from a peak of 44 percent approval in July. A majority, 56 percent, disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president, while 6 percent have no opinion.

Americans’ opinions on Trump’s stewardship of the economy, which his campaign plans to emphasize to voters as he battles for a second term, have also diminished, according to the survey.

Less than half of respondents, 46 percent, approve of the way the president is handling the economy, a decrease from 51 percent approval in midsummer. Fewer of those polled, 35 percent, approve of the way the president is handling trade negotiations with China, and 60 percent worry the trade conflict between the two countries will raise the price of goods for their families.

 

 As the Associated Press reports, the number of uninsured Americans is on the rise as President Trump and Congressional Republicans continue to undermine the Affordable Care Act:

The number of Americans without health insurance edged up in 2018 — the first evidence from the government that coverage gains from President Barack Obama’s health care plan might be eroding under President Donald Trump…

…Though the increase in the number of uninsured Americans last year was modest, it could be a turning point, the first real sign that coverage gains under Obama could be at least partly reversed. This year, the number of uninsured could rise again because a previous Republican-led Congress repealed fines under the Affordable Care Act for people who remain uninsured if they can afford coverage.

 

 An effort to recall State Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) comes to a tipping point today, the deadline for the group to submit signatures in hopes of initiating a recall election. If the results are anything like the recent failed attempt to oust Gov. Jared Polis, this will be another sad day for Colorado Republicans.

Elsewhere, there appears to be a bipartisan effort forming in Colorado to reform the process for attempting a recall of an elected official.

 

► Why, yes, there is a new episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast. This week, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss Sen. Cory Gardner’s no-good, very bad summer; the empty Republican bench; and more trouble with the Bureau of Land Management’s pending move to Colorado.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 5)

Click here to donate to the American Red Cross for relief efforts surrounding Hurricane Dorian’s destruction. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is spending a significant amount of time trying to convince Americans that he was correct in stating that Hurricane Dorian was a threat to the state of Alabama (it wasn’t.) Politico looks into the “mystery” of #Sharpiegate to determine who doctored the map below (like we all don’t know the answer to this one):

Trump holds a map of Hurricane Dorian’s projected path, which includes a Sharpie-drawn addition (we added the red arrow)

Trump was mercilessly mocked online and on late-night television for #Sharpiegate. Fox News commentator Juan Williams even unleashed on Trump, saying “We need accurate information at a time like this.”

Of course, Trump has no intention of letting this topic rest, doubling down on Thursday and spending an inordinate amount of time on Twitter defending his claims that Dorian was once a threat to Alabama. From CBS News:

Even though the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center said there was no potential threat to Alabama, the president doubled down on his claim in several tweetsThursday morning.

“Alabama was going to be hit or grazed, and then Hurricane Dorian took a different path (up along the East Coast). The Fake News knows this very well. That’s why they’re the Fake News!” Mr. Trump tweeted. “What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!” he said in another tweet.

To back up his claim, he posted a map Wednesday of possible storm tracks that the South Florida Water Management District had put out on a week earlier, on August 28.

Go ahead and defend President Trump here. Really — we’d love to understand why anyone thinks this is a good use of time for the President of the United States. As Greg Sargent writes for the Washington Post, this is indicative of a much bigger problem where Trump and the White House take extreme measures to dispute inarguable factual information. CNN’s Chris Cillizza examines the larger concern with #Sharpiegate:

What’s remarkable — and telling — about the now days-long saga over Alabama and Hurricane Dorian isn’t that Trump didn’t tell the truth initially. Or even that he continued to double and triple down on the falsehood. Or that none of his senior aides, who presumably know the truth and how far Trump is from it here, are willing or able to do anything to modulate his behavior. (To be clear: All of these things are important and troubling. They’re just not new.)

It’s this: Trump is so obsessed with being right (or at least being perceived as being right by his supporters) that he blocks out any and all other responsibilities or duties as President to pursue that goal. [Pols emphasis]

 

President Trump’s insistence on using military funds to build his big ‘ol border wall with Mexico comes at a significant cost to many other projects that are now on hold as a result. As the Denver Post explains:

The Department of Defense has delayed work on an $8 million construction project at Peterson Air Force Base as part of President Donald Trump’s plan to use military money to pay for a border wall, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s office said Wednesday.

Air Force officials told the Democratic senator’s staff that the project had been delayed for the duration of this year…

The Colorado project in question is construction of a space control facility at Peterson AFB in the Colorado Springs area. According to a description on the military’s website, the $8 million was to “construct a space control facility utilizing conventional design and construction methods.” The facility was to have a secure area, known as a SCIF in military parlance, that held 88 people…

…If the space control facility is not built, the military wrote in its May 2017 proposal, there could be “operational and strategic mission impacts due to inadequate facilities.” Peterson AFB did not answer questions about the project Wednesday.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) had previously guaranteed that no military funding would be diverted for wall-building purposes. As the Colorado Springs Gazette reported in March:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., exacted a promise from the Trump administration last week that Colorado military construction money wouldn’t be “repurposed” for the wall, a promise that spokesman Jerrod Dobkin emphasized Monday.

Check out this graphic from MSNBC.com detailing the military cuts around the country:

Via MSNBC

 

► Tune your earbuds into the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, where hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk Mike Johnston’s exit from the U.S. Senate race, fake outrage over fake hamburgers, and the latest news from the race for CO-6.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 3)

Click here to donate to the Red Cross for hurricane relief efforts in the Bahamas. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

As the Associated Press reports, lawmakers are making a renewed push to ban high-capacity magazines for firearms as Congress approaches the end of its August recess:

Nine states, including Colorado, have passed laws restricting magazine capacity to 10 to 15 bullets, and the Democratic-led U.S. House plans to consider a similar ban at the federal level in the coming weeks.

In arguing for the bans, politicians, experts and gun-control advocates point out that in the time it takes for a driver to wait through a stop light, a shooter with a 100-round magazine can kill and injure dozens of people.

The man who opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, last month killed nine people and injured 27 others in only 30 seconds, in part because of the 100-bullet drum attached to his rifle. It only took 85 seconds for a gunman to empty several 30-round magazines at an IHOP in Carson City, Nevada, killing four people and injuring 14 in 2011.

Authorities have not released any information on the accessories the gunman in Odessa, Texas, used over the weekend when he opened fire on police and bystanders with an AR-style weapon.

Seven people were killed and at least 22 injured in Saturday’s shooting in Odessa, Texas. Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell says that he will only allow a vote on new gun safety measures in the U.S. Senate with the approval of President Trump.

Meanwhile, as CNN reports, America’s largest retailer is making a big move on gun safety:

Walmart on Tuesday announced it will reduce its gun and ammunition sales, one month after more than 20 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Walmart also pressured Congress to enact gun safety measures.

The company, America’s largest retailer, said it will stop selling handgun ammunition and ammunition for short-barrel rifles after selling all of its current inventory. Walmart (WMT) will also stop selling handguns in Alaska, the only state where it still sells handguns. And Walmart will request that customers no longer openly carry guns into its 4,700 US stores, or its Sam’s Club stores, in states that allow open carry.

However, Walmart will continue to sell long barrel deer rifles and shotguns and much of the ammunition for those guns. Walmart will also continue to allow concealed carry by customers with permits in its stores. 

 

► The El Paso County Republican Party is in tatters.

 

► There are a lot of things that you can and should be outraged about. This is not one of those things.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 27)

Colorado could see its first snow of the season as soon as next week. Yes, it is still officially summer. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump wrapped up his visit to the G7 summit in France with a long, rambling press conference that could easily just be a cold opener for “Saturday Night Live” by itself. This is the actual President of the United States of America at the peak of his lunacy.

 

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was in Aurora on Monday to talk about curbing gun violence. As the Denver Post reports:

“Be bold, be courageous. The nation is counting on you,” Giffords told a standing-room-only crowd of about 150 people during a town hall meeting in Aurora.

Giffords was shot and nearly assassinated in early 2011 during a constituent event in Arizona. To focus on a lengthy recovery, she retired from Congress the following year and has since become one of the nation’s leading advocates for gun control measures.

On Monday night, she hosted the town hall event with three Democratic members of Congress from Colorado — Reps. Jason Crow, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter — as part of her advocacy work in the Centennial State. Attorney General Phil Weiser and several state lawmakers were also in attendance.

“The good news is, the tide is turning,” said Crow, who represents Aurora and ran for Congress on a gun control platform last year. “The majority of Americans are with us” on gun control.

Cardboard Cory — who has had a very big month already — was also in attendance on Monday:

Photo via Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post

 

► Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff reached a new level of self-parody on Monday.

 

► The latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. Find out more about John Hickenlooper’s Senate candidacy, Cardboard Cory’s adventures, and whether or not wearing pants will become the signature issue of 2020.

 

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Modest Culottes and Cory Collisions

Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, now available wherever you listen to podcasts.

This week, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss John Hickenlooper’s U.S. Senate candidacy; the collision of Cardboard Cory and non-Cardboard Cory Gardner; stupid recall stuff at the State Fair in Pueblo; ghostwriting help from the oil and gas industry; and whether or not women’s pants will be the key issue of the 2020 elections.

Get caught up on all the episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Buzzsprout. You can also find “The Get More Smarter Podcast” on Facebook and Twitter.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 21)

After a slow start to the week, things are heating up quickly in Political Land. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump had another bad day on Tuesday. As Dan Balz writes for the Washington Post:

He poked another U.S. ally in the eye, questioned the loyalty of American Jews, backpedaled on gun legislation and undercut the denials of his advisers on the economy. It was just another normal day in the Trump administration.

Take this quartet case collectively and it portrays an administration and White House in chaos, lacking in systematic policymaking. It portrays a president who changes his mind whenever it suits him, whose statements change with the moment, and who uses words carelessly and sometimes destructively. It forms a pattern of dissembling, of deliberate or unknowing falsehoods as well as efforts to divide already divided Americans from one another.

Trump is spending part of his day today slinging barbs at Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, whom he says said “nasty” things about his dumbass idea to try to buy Greenland. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, this Greenland nonsense is the perfect metaphor for Trump’s Presidency.

Trump is also further inflaming his comments about Jewish voters, as USA Today explains:

Speaking to press on Wednesday, Donald Trump reiterated his earlier comments on Israel, saying “In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

“I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel,” Trump said.

This is the second time Trump has expressed this sentiment, which prompted backlash on Tuesday from Jewish Americans. Trump, though, said his assertions are not anti-Semitic.

The Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, Morgan Carroll, had harsh words for Trump on Tuesday.

 

Cardboard Cory is getting a lot of love around the state during the August recess. The same can not be said of the real guy, Sen. Cory Gardner. Here’s more on the “Since You’ve Been Gone” tour from the Ft. Collins Coloradoan and the Greeley Tribune.

Gardner, meanwhile, continues to avoid public events in Colorado. At a posh fundraiser in the Denver area earlier this week (hosted by former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley) Gardner spoke to reporters and it did not go very well.

 

► You can mark this down in the category of “Completely Unsurprising Political News.” As 9News reports:

The group trying to recall Democratic Governor Jared Polis could choose not to turn in the signatures they’ve gathered. And that might be a smart strategy.

The poorly-funded effort to recall Polis is declining whether to say if organizers are even approaching the 631,266 signatures needed as they approach a September 6th deadline.

No petition signature-gathering effort in Colorado history has needed so many signatures. The amount represents 25% of the votes cast in the last election….

…[Dismiss Polis spokeswoman Karen Kataline] confirmed that recall organizers will not submit the gathered signatures to the Secretary of State for verification if they believe they will fall short of the required 631,266 valid signatures.

Of course the recall Polis groups aren’t going to get enough signatures. But that was never really the point. Getting paid was the point.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (August 16)

We should just buy all of the islands. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is apparently getting nervous about the economy — mostly for what it means related to his 2020 re-election. From the Washington Post:

Mounting signs of global economic distress this week have alarmed President Trump, who is worried that a downturn could imperil his reelection, even as administration officials acknowledge that they have not planned for a possible recession.

Trump is banking on a strong economy to win a second term in 2020, and in recent weeks he has impulsively lashed out at the Federal Reserve, pressured Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to label China a “currency manipulator,” and unexpectedly delayed tariffs on Chinese imports out of fear they could depress holiday retail sales.

Yet despite gyrations in the U.S. stock market and economic slowdowns in other countries, officials in the White House, at the Treasury Department and throughout the administration are planning no new steps to attempt to stave off a recession. Rather, Trump’s economic advisers have been delivering the president upbeat assessments in which they argue that the domestic economy is stronger than many forecasters are making it out to be.

President Trump might be setting up Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to take the fall for any potential economic troubles, but as Catherine Rampell writes in a separate story for the Washington Post, there’s no real plan from the White House:

If things go south, this administration doesn’t have a plan. It never had a plan. And it doesn’t have competent personnel in place to come up with a plan.

Trump’s economic brain trust consists of a guy who plays an economist on TV, a crank  who has been disowned by the (real) economics profession and the producer of “The Lego Batman Movie.”

D’oh!

 

► “So whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” said President Trump at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday. 

 

► House Minority Leader and recall grifter Pat Neville says that he is personally responsible for talking President Trump out of supporting so-called “red flag” laws in the aftermath of the Parkland High School shootings in Florida last year.

 

► An astonishing 67% of Americans support an assault weapons ban, according to polling conducted on behalf of Fox News. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

Yes, there is something of a partisan divide on the question — with 86% of Democrats favoring a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons, while 46% of Republicans feel the same. But look at it another way: On a proposal that is widely regarded in GOP congressional circles as a non-starter because it is going too far in limiting guns, self-identified Republicans are split right down the middle — 46% support, 46% oppose.

Among Republican women — one of the key swing voting blocs heading into 2020, a majority (54%) support an assault weapons ban, while just 36% oppose it. And even a majority of people in gun-owning households (53%) support an assault weapons ban.

There hasn’t been an assault weapons ban in place in the United States since the last one expired in 2004, after a decade on the books. Attempts to renew it in 2004 failed — due at least in part, to a heightened national security climate in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and a lack of urgency from the Bush White House.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 13)

Enjoy your last day of summer vacation, Jefferson County students. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Eight counties in Western Colorado are among the fastest-warming places in the entire country, according to data compiled by the Washington Post:

Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. In the 2015 Paris accord, international leaders agreed that the world should act urgently to keep the Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid a host of catastrophic changes…

…A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.

Montrose, Rio Blanco, Mesa, and Ouray counties are among the Top 10 most rapidly warming counties in the United States.

 

Colorado Public Radio follows up on a story we’ve been watching closely here at Colorado Pols: The real reason for moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado. From CPR:

Critics of the Trump administration’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction fear the real goal is to weaken the bureau.

These concerns and suspicions have only been heightened by recent statements and actions from administration leaders. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed William Perry Pendley as acting BLM director. For years, Pendley advocated selling off the public lands of the agency he’s now leading…

…George Stone, with the Public Land Foundation, a nonprofit made up of many former BLM employees said there’s another saying in D.C.: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

He and many others fear BLM is the next dish to be served up, facing de-facto cuts and a marginalized position far from D.C. power players to advocate for its interests.

 

A “Draft Hick” movement is the next step in what is increasingly looking like an inevitable U.S. Senate campaign for former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Recent polling indicates that Hickenlooper holds a 51-point lead over the rest of the Democratic field should he join the race for the 2020 nomination.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (August 12)

Today marks the second anniversary of the deadly white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Trump administration is pushing new restrictions targeting legal immigrants. From the Washington Post:

Legal immigrants who use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — could have a tougher time obtaining a green card or U.S. citizenship under a policy change announced Monday that is at the center of the Trump administration’s effort to reduce immigration.

The new policy for “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” which appeared Monday on the Federal Register’s website and will take effect in two months, sets new standards for obtaining permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. The Trump administration has been seeking to limit those immigrants who might draw on taxpayer-funded benefits, such as many of those who have been fleeing Central America, while allowing more highly skilled and wealthy immigrants into the United States.

Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance in the process for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a “public charge,” as well as who is likely to be one under U.S. immigration law.

 

► If former Gov. John Hickenlooper drops his bid for President and instead decides to run for U.S. Senate, the road looks pretty smooth ahead. As the Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper would enter a crowded Democratic field of candidates as a heavy favorite to capture the nomination. 

 

It is entirely possible that people trying to recall State Sen. Brittany Pettersen believe that “State Senator” means Pettersen is a Senator for the entire state of Colorado. Either that, or they really have no idea where to find Lakewood.

 

► The latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. If you would rather read the transcript, here you go.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 7)

Welcome back to school, kids. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is visiting Toledo Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas today in the wake of last weekend’s mass shootings. As the Associated Press reports:

Protesters greeted President Donald Trump’s arrival in Dayton Wednesday, blaming his incendiary rhetoric for inflaming political and racial tensions in the country, as he visited survivors of last weekend’s mass shootings and saluted first responders.

Critics say Trump’s own words have contributed to a combustible climate that can spawn violence such as the outbreaks in Dayton and El Paso, Texas.

Trump rejected that assertion as he left the White House, strongly criticizing those who say he bears some responsibility for the nation’s divisions.

“My critics are political people,” Trump said, noting the apparent political leanings of the shooter in the Dayton killings and suggesting the man was supportive of Democrats.

If pointing fingers healed wounds, President Trump would be our greatest surgeon.

 

► Republican politicians are starting to poke their heads up after a week of mass shootings in the United States and realizing that we have a gun violence problem on our hands. James Hohmann of the Washington Post explains the latest convert:

When the National Rifle Association endorsed Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) for a ninth term last fall, the group noted that he’s consistently maintained an “A” rating and has been “solidly pro-gun.” Literature sent to members emphasized Turner’s opposition to expanding background checks and banning assault weapons, as well as his past vote to immunize gun manufacturers from liability and to force all states, regardless of their own laws, to recognize concealed carry permits issued anywhere else.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Turner’s daughter and a family friend had just entered the Tumbleweed Connection bar in Dayton when a gunman opened fire across the street. Nine people were killed, and 27 were injured. The congressman’s daughter ran home, as he prayed for her and the community.

On Tuesday afternoon, Turner announced that he’s had a change of heart on gun control.He said he would vote for an assault weapons ban, limits on the size of gun magazines and for a federal “red flag” law that would make it easier to “quickly identify people who are dangerous” so their firearms can be taken away.

“The carnage these military style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable,” Turner said in a statement. “I understand not every shooting can be prevented or stopped from these measures, but I do believe these steps are essential. … This tragedy must become a catalyst for a broader national conversation about what we can do to stop these mass shootings.”

As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Unfortunately, there is still not yet enough of a will from Republicans to seriously address gun violence. President Trump said Wednesday that he sees “no political appetite” for renewing a long-expired ban on assault rifles in the United States, though he left open the possibility that he would support calling Congress back into session to expand background checks for gun purchases. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing increased pressure to act on gun violence but has so far continued to refuse to even debate a pair of bills passed in February by the House of Representatives.

 

► Plans to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado were met with skepticism from those who worried that the real motivation for the move was to kill off the agency altogether. Those concerns are now being realized.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (August 2)

Happy National Water Balloon Day. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

UPDATE: Nevermind, then. Ratcliffe has withdrawn from consideration.

Here’s a shocker: President Trump’s pick to be the next director of national intelligence seems to have a problem with making things up about himself. From the Washington Post:

President Trump’s choice to lead the nation’s intelligence community often cites a massive roundup of immigrant workers at poultry plants in 2008 as a highlight of his career. Rep. John Ratcliffe claims that as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Texas, he was the leader of the immigration crackdown, describing it as one of the largest cases of its kind.

“As a U.S. Attorney, I arrested over 300 illegal immigrants on a single day,” Rat­cliffe (R-Tex.) says on his congressional website.

Um, nope. Court documents show that only 45 people were charged by Ratcliffe’s office — and six of the cases were dismissed.

Ratcliffe’s background has come under scrutiny since Trump announced Sunday that he plans to nominate the lawmaker to be the next director of national intelligence, replacing Daniel Coats, a former longtime senator and diplomat who was often at odds with the president.

Ratcliffe has dialed back his earlier claims that he had won convictions in a high-profile terrorism case as a federal prosecutor. His planned nomination has drawn opposition from Senate Democrats and tepid support from key Republicans.

Some current and former intelligence officials have said Ratcliffe is the least-qualified person ever nominated to oversee the country’s intelligence agencies — previous directors have been former diplomats, senior intelligence officials and military leaders — and questioned whether he would use the position to serve Trump’s political interests. [Pols emphasis] The post was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to coordinate the 16 other agencies of the nation’s intelligence community.

As CBS News reports, Ratcliffe doesn’t appear to be all that interested in the subject he would be tasked with overseeing:

The House Intelligence Committee conducts the vast majority of its work behind closed doors and, often, beyond the walls of the Capitol. But a CBS News review of the eight open hearings the committee has held to date show that Ratcliffe engaged comparatively little during those sessions with the substance of intelligence topics in the panel’s purview.

While in open session, he did not ask any questions related to the work of the intelligence community — or unrelated to the Mueller investigation — in his six-month tenure on the panel.

Democrats are planning to put up a prolonged fight in an effort to prevent Ratcliffe’s nomination from being approved in the Senate.

 

► Opponents of recently-passed legislation to add Colorado to a list of states that would choose the President via a national popular vote have submitted signatures to get their measure on the ballot in 2020. Whether this actually makes political sense is another topic altogether.

 

A bunch of new laws go into effect in Colorado today, including a measure to provide cost transparency by hospitals and a cap on co-pay costs for life-saving insulin medication.

 

► According to an analysis by the Washington Post, a majority of House Democrats now support moving forward with impeachment hearings against President Trump. Aurora Democratic Rep. Jason Crow recently announced his support for impeachment proceedings.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 1)

Welcome to August, friends. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Senate passed a broad new spending agreement that completely ignores Republican claims to be “fiscally conservative.” As the Washington Post reports:

The Senate passed a broad, two-year budget deal Thursday that boosts spending and eliminates the threat of a debt default until past the 2020 election, while reducing chances for another government shutdown. The legislation now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it despite conservative complaints that it will fuel the nation’s runaway debt…

…Republican leaders including Trump himself had been working to round up GOP support ahead of Thursday’s vote, trying to avoid a repeat of the outcome in the House last week, when a majority of Republican lawmakers ignored Trump’s pleas and voted against the deal. It passed the House anyway, on the strength of Democratic votes. The lobbying effort paid off in the Senate as more Republicans voted in favor of the deal than against it.

The agreement heads off several looming fiscal threats, most immediately the possibility that the Treasury Department could have run out of money to pay its bills as early as September if Congress didn’t act, resulting in a market-shattering default on U.S. obligations.

The deal passed Thursday suspends the debt ceiling through July 31, 2021, removing the threat of default and the accompanying risk of political brinkmanship that typically accompanies debt limit negotiations. It lifts strict Obama-era spending caps that would otherwise slash indiscriminately into agency and military budgets, and sets overall spending levels that will make it easier for lawmakers to write the individual appropriations bills needed to keep the government open past Oct. 1, when current agency budgets expire.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was among the Republicans who had been waffling on a new spending agreement, expressing half-hearted concern about deficits while conveniently ignoring the budgetary peril they inflicted with massive tax cuts for the wealthy in late 2017.

 

► We could be just days away from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) claiming credit for free full-day kindergarten in Colorado. On Wednesday, Gardner made the ballsy and completely baseless boast that he helped Colorado secure approval for a “reinsurance” program that could cut healthcare costs for Coloradans by as much as 18% in 2020. Credit for this program actually goes to Gov. Jared Polis and Democrats in the state legislature, who have worked for years to implement this cost-saving measure.

Colorado journalists, including Kyle Clark of 9News, saw right through Gardner’s nonsense:

► We’ve made it through the second round of debates for candidates seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination. Chris Cillizza of CNN lists his “winners and losers” from Wednesday night, while Ed Rogers of the Washington Post doesn’t give high marks to either Colorado-based contender, former Gov. John Hickenlooper or Sen. Michael Bennet. Hickenlooper and Bennet had brief moments in Detroit, but neither did well enough to likely keep them in the race for much longer. As Nic Garcia writes for the Denver Post, it is Hickenlooper who might be the first to depart:

John Hickenlooper’s campaign for the presidency was always a longshot. Now, after another lusterless debate performance, national political observers and some of his closest allies are wondering when — not if — the former Colorado governor will end his quixotic bid for the White House.

At best, Hickenlooper’s friends are split on whether he should persist in seeking the Democratic nomination or bow out. State party insiders are annoyed with Hickenlooper — some openly pushing him to run for the U.S. Senate instead. Others merely dismiss him as a relic of a political era gone by.

“I think he’s done,” a former Hickenlooper aide told The Denver Post.

Like many former gubernatorial and campaign staff members interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with Hickenlooper.

“I think his team will know in the next two days after they see the numbers and analyze other data,” the former aide said. “But my sense is he’s not going to see that.”

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (July 26)

It’s been a long, strange week in the land of politics — particularly if your name is Ken Buck — so let’s wrap things up. It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 It would seem to be inarguable that Russia (and perhaps others) interfered in the 2016 election, and it seems likely that they are going to try again in 2020. As CBS News reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is actively working to make sure that nobody in the United States is effectively able to prevent future interference:

Hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified Wednesday that Russians are still meddling in the U.S. political system, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the advancement of legislation to secure the nation’s election system. Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith also blocked a set of bills on election security Wednesday.

In blocking the legislation crafted by Senate Democrats to provide more funding for election security, McConnell declared the effort partisan and insisted the Trump administration has already done much to secure the nation’s elections.

One bill McConnell objected to would have both required the use of paper ballots and provided funding for the Election Assistance Commission. He also objected to legislation that would have required campaigns and candidates to report offers offers of election-related aid from foreign governments.

McConnell’s blocking of the legislation also comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report identifying significant vulnerabilities — like aging voting equipment, paperless machines without backups and insecurity voter registration basis — exist in the United States’ election system.

As Paul Waldman writes for the Washington Post, McConnell’s rationale for cutting off election security funding is essentially that Republican candidates benefit from his inaction:

Republicans have quite plainly looked at our current state of electoral dysfunction and concluded that it’s working pretty darn well for them. Donald Trump is president, isn’t he? Why would we want to mess with a system that’s producing such wonderful outcomes?

 

► We’ve spent a lot of time in this space recently discussing the various recall grifting operations taking place across Colorado — including at least one example of a recall effort convincing poor saps to part with a piece of their Social Security checks. As Politico reports, the conservative ScamPAC business is humming these days:

After recruiting thousands of donors for the American Conservative Union — the powerful organization behind the annual CPAC conference — a Republican political operative pushed the same contributors to give millions to a PAC that promised to go after then-President Barack Obama, but then steered much of their donations to himself and his partners.

The PAC, called the Conservative Majority Fund, has raised nearly $10 million since mid-2012 and continues to solicit funds to this day, primarily from thousands of steadfast contributors to conservative causes, many of them senior citizens. But it has made just $48,400 in political contributions to candidates and committees. Public records indicate its main beneficiaries are the operative Kelley Rogers, who has a history of disputes over allegedly unethical fundraising, and one of the largest conservative fundraising companies, InfoCision Management Corp., which charged millions of dollars in fundraising fees.

The saga of how politically connected fundraisers used one of the nation’s leading conservative organizations as a springboard for fundraising that mainly benefited the fundraisers themselves sheds light on the growing problem of so-called scam PACs — organizations that take advantage of loosened campaign finance laws to reap windfalls for insiders while directing only a small portion of receipts to actual political advocacy.

If only you could still make a fortune by pretending to raise money for the purposes of attacking Hillary Clinton. Those were the days, eh, Ted Harvey?

 

► Westword’s Chase Woodruff explains how Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton are actually trying to scuttle public lands legislation by introducing a new bill of their own. We waded into this topic earlier this week.

 

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