Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 19)

Donald Trump will cease to be President of the United States at 10:00 MST tomorrow. Please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Today is the last full day for Donald Trump to play President of the United States. The Big Orange guy is setting a new record on his way out of the White House, as CNN reports:

Trump ends his term with the lowest average job approval rating — 41% — of any president in the last seven-plus decades, according to Gallup. That’s four points worse than the next, uh, worst — Harry Truman, who averaged a 45% job approval score throughout his time in office. Barack Obama averaged 47.9% job approval in his eight years, while George W. Bush averaged 49.4.

There are other “firsts” for Trump in the Gallup data. Trump is the first president to never break 50% job approval in any single poll conducted by the organization over his term. (The final Gallup poll pegged Trump’s job approval at a dismal 34%.) Trump is also the most polarizing president as measured by Gallup; the average gap between his job approval ratings among Republicans and Democrats was a whopping 81 points — 11 points higher than Obama’s partisan gap, which is now the second-highest ever. (Trump’s average job approval rating among Democrats for his term was 7%.)

President Trump is planning to pardon a whole bunch of people today before he leaves office; thus far, that list does not include pre-emptive pardons for family members.

 

► As The New York Times reports, several of President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees are getting started on their confirmation hearings today:

The Senate has a jam-packed schedule of hearings on Tuesday to begin considering President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s nominees for his Cabinet, but the process has been badly delayed, likely making Mr. Biden the first president in decades to take office without his national security team in place on Day 1.

The delay by congressional Republicans in recognizing Mr. Biden’s election victory, coupled with two Georgia runoff elections that left the Senate majority up in the air until Jan. 5, held up confirmation hearings for Mr. Biden’s team. That has made it impossible for the Senate to move quickly to fill top national security posts, including the secretary of defense, a job normally filled immediately after the president takes office to illustrate continuity of American power.

Hearings for five nominees — Lloyd J. Austin III to be secretary of defense; Antony J. Blinken to be secretary of state; Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary; Alejandro N. Mayorkas to be secretary of homeland security; and Avril D. Haines to be director of national intelligence — are scheduled for Tuesday. But it will be difficult for them to get floor votes by Wednesday, after Mr. Biden is sworn in at the Capitol.

 

► Pro-Trump protestors hinted at doing something over the weekend, but not much happened. Nevertheless, some high-profile Denver buildings will be operating much differently ahead of Wednesday’s Presidential inauguration.

 

► Colorado’s COVID-19 numbers are still moving in the right direction, but as Meg Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, it’s not yet clear if we have reason to feel more optimistic about the pandemic locally.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 15)

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

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Operation Warp Speed WTF:

Via The Washington Post (1/15/21)

As The Washington Post reports:

When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line.

Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will not immediately increase, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others are still in the dark…

…These officials were told that Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to speed the development of vaccines and therapeutics, stopped stockpiling second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the end of last year, instead taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line. The last shots held in reserve of Moderna’s supply, meanwhile, began shipping out over the weekend.

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, expect more problems with the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine because Trump administration officials are literally REFUSING TO CONSULT with staff for President-elect Joe Biden.

Click here for more on the response to this news from Gov. Jared Polis.

Also worth noting: The global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 2 million.

 

► As The New York Times reports, Vice President Mike Pence is doing his best to pretend to be President since Donald Trump is no longer interested in the work:

Vice President Mike Pence telephoned Vice President-elect Kamala Harris Thursday to congratulate her and offer his belated assistance — filling a leadership role all but abdicated by President Trump, who is planning to fly out of the capital shortly before Joseph R. Biden Jr. is sworn in next week.

The Pence-Harris conversation, relayed by two officials briefed on the call, was described as gracious and pleasant. The discussion is the first time Mr. Pence and Ms. Harris have spoken since they debated each other last fall.

It also represents the only one-on-one interaction between the dueling 2020 presidential tickets: Mr. Trump has refused to call President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and has not even fully conceded defeat.

As for Trump, he plans to leave Washington D.C. the morning before Joe Biden’s inauguration because he has the emotional stability of a toddler.

 

► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) says that the U.S. Senate can “walk and chew gum at the same time” in response to questions about handling both President Trump’s impeachment and confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s top appointees.

 

► The Aurora Sentinel reports on how the Colorado legislature is wrapping up a brief return to the State Capitol before taking a recess until February 16.

 

► Federal prosecutors say that a number of terrorists who attacked the Capitol last week planned to “capture and assassinate” elected officials.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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TRANSCRIPT: Rep. Jason Crow on The Get More Smarter Podcast

Earlier this week we noted an interview for The Get More Smarter Podcast with Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

In the interview with hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii, Crow discussed the events of January 6; his confrontation with a fellow House Member the morning before the attack; how Crow explains last week’s events to his children; and why impeaching President Trump was unavoidable after he incited an insurrection.

You can listen to the full 15-minute interview below. After the jump, we have included a transcription of Crow’s comments.

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 14)

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

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► We witnessed history on Wednesday when Donald Trump became the first President in American history to be impeached TWICE — thereby cementing his place as the worst President we’ve ever had.

Congress has voted to impeach three different Presidents, but none with as bipartisan a vote as occurred on Wednesday. Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at one of the more surprising YES votes from the GOP caucus:

When Tom Rice voted “yes” on the impeachment of Donald Trump over the President’s role in inciting the riot that led to the storming of the US Capitol, most close congressional watchers assumed he had made a mistake.

After all, there was little to indicate that the reliably conservative South Carolina Republican would join nine other colleagues in breaking with the President (and the party) to back impeaching Trump. Unlike Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), Rice hadn’t been an outspoken critic of Trump. And unlike Reps. John Katko (New York) and David Valadao (California), Rice doesn’t represent a swing district.

“Compared to the often raucous members of the state’s congressional delegation, Rice has been more low-profile and focused on his legislative work,” wrote the Almanac of American Politics of Rice, who has represented eastern South Carolina’s 7th district since 2012.

But Rice hadn’t made a mistake or accidentally pressed the wrong button. His vote to impeach was real — and without question, the most surprising of the 10 Republicans who bucked the President.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post ponders the thought process of the 10 Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment.

You probably don’t need us to tell you how Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted on impeachment. The four Democrats voted YES, while the three Republicans voted NO. We double-checked that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) voted NO, since he seems to change his mind on a topic at least once every 24 hours.

 

► Trump’s impeachment trial now moves to the U.S. Senate, where it won’t likely be taken up until late next week at the earliest. As The Washington Post and others have reported, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that he might support impeachment, if only to expedite the process of removing Trump’s presence from the Republican Party.

 

9News reports on local law enforcement efforts to secure the area around the State Capitol building in advance of planned “protests” in the next week.

 

► If you thought Colorado Republicans might have learned a lesson from their second consecutive drubbing at the polls in 2020…well, they didn’t. Led by new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, House Republicans tried a bunch of pointless shenanigans on Wednesday as the state legislature briefly gaveled into session before a recess until Feb. 16 for coronavirus safety precautions.

As Alex Burness of The Denver Post notes:

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Jason Crow on The Get More Smarter Podcast

Rep. Jason Crow comforts a fellow House Member during last Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Our first podcast episode of 2021 is a big one: We have an EXCLUSIVE interview with Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), detailing the harrowing moments surrounding last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol.

Hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Rep. Crow about the events of January 6; his confrontation with a fellow House Member the morning before the attack; how Crow explains last week’s events to his children; and why impeaching President Trump was unavoidable after he incited an insurrection.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

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 Monday (January 11)

President Trump will be out of the White House in less than 9 days. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Congresswoman Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has officially been in office for a little more than a week, and she is already facing significant pressure to resign or be expelled from Congress because of her open support of rejecting results of the Presidental election and inciting attacks on the U.S. Capitol. As Westword explains:

Only a few days into her term as U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, Lauren Boebert is already being inundated with calls for her to resign the position or risk being expelled by her new colleagues for allegedly helping to incite the violence that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6. And these efforts are getting national attention, with CNN putting a report about the controversial firebrand in heavy rotation over this past weekend.

Trending on Twitter (1/11/21)

Boebert is being identified as a key voice responsible for inciting last week’s attack on Congress — and fellow Republican Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has even acknowledged her role in stirring up Trump terrorists. Here’s more from Wyoming Public Media:

Their messaging – and the president’s – is what got us here, said Thomas Zeitzoff, a scholar of political violence and political psychology at American University.

GOP lawmakers like Lummis, Boebert, Daines and others acted as Trump’s “coordinators,” Zeitzoff said.

By buoying Trump’s false claims of election fraud, they essentially told their supporters: “Here are the enemies who did it and here are the actions that should be taken,” he said.

Zeitzoff said they created this narrative anchored by a shared set of grievances and Wednesday was the culmination of that.

Trending on Twitter (1/11/21)

A story from Raw Story over the weekend pointing to Boebert’s social media posts on Wednesday is picking up a lot of traction, as is the previously mentioned story from CNN (video). Celebrities such as Debra Messing, Patricia Arquette, and Patton Oswalt are amplifying the concerns about Boebert. A petition calling for the resignation of Boebert and fellow election results-denier Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is apparently getting a lot of traction.

How is Boebert reacting to these claims? Well, she isn’t even trying to pretend that she had nothing to do with last week’s attack. This is pretty much the only thing she’s said even addressing the issue. Perhaps she’s taking the advice of fellow Rep. Eric Swalwell and shutting the hell up. She may also want to familiarize herself with the 14th Amendment.

 

► As POLITICO reports, the House of Representatives has enough votes to impeach President Trump for inciting last week’s violence in Washington D.C.:

Key members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced a single article of impeachment Monday that has already gathered at least 218 cosponsors, according to a congressional aide involved in the process, meeting the majority needed in the House. Pelosi signaled Sunday night that the House would vote on that article if Trump refuses to resign and Vice President Mike Pence won’t initiate other procedures to remove him…

…At a brief House session on Monday morning, the House formally accepted the resignation of Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, who was partly responsible for security arrangements on Jan. 6. And moments later, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) blocked unanimous consideration of a resolution from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) that would have urged Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment process to remove Trump from power. The House intends to vote on the resolution Tuesday.

Because Republicans blocked a resolution to encourage invoking the 25th Amendment, the House will almost certainly vote on impeachment on Wednesday. A Senate trial on impeachment would not conclude before Trump’s last day in office, on Jan. 20, but the process will still continue.

As 9News explains, Rep. Ken Buck is trying to convince Democrats NOT to impeach Trump because it could be “divisive” for the country. Hopefully you didn’t just pull a muscle rolling your eyes.

 

► New polling from Quinnipiac University confirms that a majority of Americans support removing President Trump from office ASAP:

A majority of voters, 56 percent, say they hold President Trump responsible for the storming of the U.S. Capitol, while 42 percent say they do not hold him responsible.

A slight majority, 52 – 45 percent, say President Trump should be removed from office. Voters also say 53 – 43 percent that he should resign as president.

 

► As The Washington Post reports, there is more concerning news about how last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol made it past security measures:

Two days before Congress was set to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was growing increasingly worried about the size of the pro-Trump crowds expected to stream into Washington in protest.

To be on the safe side, Sund asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup.

But, Sund said Sunday, they turned him down.

In his first interview since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, Sund, who has since resigned his post, said his supervisors were reluctant to take formal steps to put the Guard on call even as police intelligence suggested that the crowd President Trump had invited to Washington to protest his defeat probably would be much larger than earlier demonstrations.

On Sunday, Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) shared details of a conversation he had with the Secretary of the Army regarding last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 8)

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

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► As POLITICO reports, momentum continues to build for impeaching President Trump:

House Democrats are moving quickly toward impeaching President Donald Trump as early next week, a reflection of the seething outrage that remains over his incitement of deadly riots inside the U.S. Capitol.

Timing remains in flux and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to make a decision on exactly how to proceed, including whether to pursue a constitutional process that could remove Trump without impeachment. Top Democrats are still in talks with all their members and will hold a caucus-wide call at noon. But they are expected to decide today on their next steps, according to several lawmakers and aides.

Whether or not Trump could officially be impeached before his time in office expires at noon on January 20 is less important than holding Trump accountable for this week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol:

If Democrats pass articles early next week — and Pelosi immediately sent them to the Senate — the Senate would be required to begin a trial immediately under congressional rules. Trump’s first impeachment trial, on charges he abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation, ultimately lasted four weeks before the Senate delivered its verdict.

That timetable suggests the goal of any impeachment is unlikely to be Trump’s removal and is much more focused on the option to prevent him from holding federal office in the future. Some Democrats believe that possibility could woo Senate Republicans, some of whom are eyeing a 2024 bid themselves.

 

CNN reports on another tragic loss resulting from the Trump mob’s attack on the Capitol building:

Prosecutors in the US Attorney’s office plan to open a federal murder investigation into the death of Brian D. Sicknick, a US Capitol Police officer who died Thursday night, a law enforcement official tells CNN.

Sicknick was injured Wednesday when a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol. He died at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday “due to injuries sustained while on-duty,” Capitol Police officials said in a statement.
The death is being investigated by the DC Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide branch, the US Capitol Police and their federal partners.

Sicknick was many Capitol Police officers who were attacked with lead pipes and other blunt instruments.

 

 As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, there is a growing list of high-profile names and organizations calling on the resignation of Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Doug Lamborn for taking part in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election:

The letter said the two lawmakers “have betrayed the trust of Colorado voters by helping incite violence against the body you were elected to, a body designed to serve us. By endorsing the president’s unsubstantiated and repeatedly debunked, discredited, and false claims of voter fraud, you encouraged and tacitly endorsed the actions of these terrorists and threatened the basic foundation of our democracy.”…

…Signatories to the letter include seven Democratic members of the Colorado General Assembly, city council members in Aurora, Broomfield, Denver and Edgewater; former Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Trish Zornio and Lorena Garcia, and two dozen progressive organizations, including unions, Planned Parenthood and ProgressNow Colorado.

Meanwhile, Boebert appears to have no concept of the harm she and fellow Trumpians have caused. In a video released today, Boebert sounds absolutely looney:

Boebert says that she wants people to view her floor speech on Wednesday. We agree. Here it is.

#ResignBoebert.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 6)

Welcome to the first “Get More Smarter” of 2021! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Holy crap, Georgia!

Democrats are close to capturing majority control of the U.S. Senate after Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s runoff election on Tuesday; Warnock becomes the first Black Senator from the State of Georgia.

In the other Senate contest, Democrat Jon Ossoff holds a narrow lead over Republican David Perdue, with the majority of the outstanding ballots still to be counted concentrated in Democratic-leaning counties. As National Public Radio reports, Ossoff has declared victory:

Democrat Jon Ossoff — who as of 9 a.m. ET Wednesday leads Republican David Perdue by about 16,000 votes in the Georgia runoff that could give Democrats control of the U.S. Senate — claimed victory Wednesday. The Associated Press, which NPR relies on for its results, has not yet called the contest.

“It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate,” Ossoff said in remarks Wednesday morning.

When Vice President Kamala Harris is sworn-in to office on January 20, she will become the tie-breaking vote in the Senate that will change Mitch McConnell’s title to “Minority Leader.”

Via The New York Times (9:15 am, 1/6/21)

 

► With a new Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, expanded coronavirus stimulus payments could be just around the corner.

 

► Tuesday’s big victories in Georgia for Democrats will undoubtedly sour the mood today when certain Republican Members of Congress — including Colorado Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Doug Lamborn — will make a no-hope attempt at preventing Democrat Joe Biden from becoming President. As POLITICO explains:

…the bicameral session of the House and Senate — which could stretch into the early hours of Thursday — will be the stage for this last stand by Trump allies who have refused to accept the election results.

Inside the Capitol, the effort has splintered Trump’s party, with more than 100 House Republicans and at least a dozen Senate Republicans objecting to Biden’s victory while Senate GOP leadership warned their caucus against the effort. Already, senators are signaling they’ll challenge results in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

But the most intense focus will be on Vice President Mike Pence, who will preside over the 1 p.m. joint meeting, where he’ll be required by the Constitution to count the electoral votes certified by the states. Biden earned 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, and a wave of legal challenges by Trump to reverse several states’ results failed at every level of state and federal court.

Are you familiar with the phrase, “it’s all over but the shouting”?

Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) will play a key role in today’s nonsense-fest as one of four Democrats assigned to handle the arguments against overturning the election results.

Here in Colorado, local Republicans are promoting a QAnon rally in Denver aimed at showing support for President Trump, or something.

 

POLITICO reports on an absolutely amazing bit of karmic justice:

Joe Biden has selected Judge Merrick Garland to serve as his attorney general, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.

Biden selected Garland over former Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, choosing to elevate the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals in D.C. to run the Justice Department.

In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Garland to serve on the Supreme Court, but his nomination languished in the GOP-controlled Senate at the end of the former president’s term. In recent weeks, Garland has been recusing himself from cases involving the federal government, fueling speculation that he was a leading candidate for the job.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (December 21)

Happy “Winter Solstice.” If you can make it through today, the day with the least amount of sunlight in the worst year in memory, then it’s all downhill from here. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Congress really, truly, actually appears to have come to agreement on a coronavirus stimulus bill. As The Associated Press reports:

Top Capitol Hill negotiators sealed a deal Sunday on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package, finally delivering long-overdue help to businesses and individuals and providing money to deliver vaccines to a nation eager for them.

The agreement, announced by congressional leaders, would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

It came after months of battling and posturing, but the negotiating dynamic changed in Republicans’ favor after the election and as the end of the congressional session neared. President-elect Joe Biden was eager for a deal to deliver long-awaited help to suffering people and a boost to the economy, even though it was less than half the size that Democrats wanted this fall.

House leaders informed lawmakers that they would vote on the legislation on Monday, and the Senate was likely to vote on Monday, too. Lawmakers were eager to leave Washington and close out a tumultuous year.

Nothing motivates Congressional Republicans more than threatening to cut into their vacation time. The New York Times has more analysis on what the new stimulus package does and does not accomplish.

 

► Soon-to-be-unemployed Attorney General William Barr is making some effort to show Americans that he still has a tiny bit of a soul. As The Washington Post explains:

Barr said that while he was “sure there was fraud in this election,” he had not seen evidence that it was so “systemic or broad-based” that it would change the result. He asserted he saw “no basis right now for seizing machines by the federal government,” and he would not name a special counsel to explore the allegations of Trump and his allies.

“If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one, but I haven’t, and I’m not going to,” Barr said.

Similarly, Barr said he would not name a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, President-election Joe Biden’s son who revealed earlier this month he was under investigation for possible tax crimes. Barr said the investigation was “being handled responsibly and professionally” by regular Justice Department prosecutors, and he hoped that would continue in the next administration.

“To this point, I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel, and I have no plan to do so before I leave,” Barr said.

Barr announced his resignation earlier this month; his last official day is December 23.

 

In his press conference on Monday, Barr also touched on a topic that appears to have little disagreement outside of the guy who sits at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office:

 

Over the weekend, The Nation published a story wondering if civil war is brewing within the Republican Party. As The Denver Post reported on Sunday, we have long since reached that point in Colorado:

This is a low point for the Colorado GOP, now with less electoral power than at any time since World War II. Democrats control both chambers of the statehouse by comfortable margins — 41-24 in the House, 20-15 in the Senate. The governor, attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state are all Democrats. Next year, both of the state’s U.S. senators and four of its seven U.S. representatives will be Democrats. In November, the University of Colorado Board of Regents, previously the last statewide body controlled by the GOP, flipped blue for the first time in 41 years.

Just 18 years ago, roughly the opposite was true.

The Denver Post examined data and spoke to more than 20 Republicans, including many current and former elected officials, and found most attribute the powerlessness of a party that was competitive here just a few years ago, and dominant as recently as 2002, to a mix of factors: allegedly mismanaged campaign money; fundamental disagreements within the party over its direction and message; the increasing strength of the Democratic Party; demographic shifts that contributed heavily to the GOP’s disadvantage in voter registration; and the unpopularity of President Donald Trump, whom one pollster referred to as a “rocket booster” for Colorado Democrats.

Republicans drop much of the blame for recent losses in the lap of the Neville Clan. Outgoing House Speaker Patrick Neville responded to the Post story by doxxing the reporter.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (December 18)

If you count today, there are eight more shopping days left until “Boxing 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► A coronavirus stimulus bill is still lingering around, but Congressional lawmakers still haven’t found a way to wrap up the proposed package.

Via The Washington Post (12/18/20)

As The Washington Post reports, the talks will likely continue into the weekend:

Congress appears likely to let funding for the federal government expire Friday at midnight, triggering the beginning of a shutdown, as lawmakers scramble to complete a $900 billion economic relief package, multiple aides and lawmakers involved in deliberations.

Senior Congressional officials are placing a high-stakes gamble that pressure from a looming government shutdown will force lawmakers to compromise on the sweeping economic relief legislation that has been delayed for months.

Lawmakers had hoped to introduce the relief legislation as early as Thursday but have been delayed by numerous contentious issues, particularly a push from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to curb the emergency lending authority of the Federal Reserve.

Aides close to the negotiations said a short-term bill to extend government funding was unlikely to be approved on Friday, meaning government appropriations would lapse Saturday morning. Budget experts said the impact of that lapse would almost certainly be minimal if Congress can approve the government funding deal by the end of the weekend. The nation would face a much more significant disruption if the federal shutdown continued on Monday, when shutdown orders would go into effect.

Great. A Holiday game of “chicken.” As The New York Times reports, the new wrinkle in discussions is about, you guessed it, power:

As they closed in on a $900 billion stimulus deal, top Democrats and Republicans in Congress hit a barrier on Friday over a last-minute Republican effort to cut off the Federal Reserve’s ability to restart pandemic relief programs and limit the central bank’s ability to fight future financial crises.

The proposal, fiercely opposed by Democrats who argue it would revoke a crucial tool to stabilize the sputtering economy, emerged as perhaps the thorniest point of contention among a handful of remaining issues holding up an agreement. It could take away some of the Fed’s power as a “lender of last resort,” and curtail President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s latitude in dealing with the continuing economic fallout from the pandemic.

Though a final deal won’t likely include $2,000 direct payments to Americans — which President Trump reportedly lobbied for — it may still contain a smaller amount of money for eligible Americans.

 

► The Trump administration appears to be botching the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, allowing millions of doses of the vaccine to sit in warehouses while First Son-in-law Jared Kushner tries to decipher his own spreadsheets. As The Washington Post reports today, not only is the federal government falling on its face on a delivery plan — we’re actually paying more money than Europe for a vaccine:

The European Union is paying less money than the United States for a range of coronavirus vaccines, including the Pfizer-BioNTech inoculation currently being rolled out across the country, according to a Washington Post comparison of the breakdowns.

The costs to the E.U. had been confidential until a Belgian official tweeted — and then deleted — a list late Thursday.

Comparing that list to calculations by Bernstein Research, an analysis and investment firm, it appears the 27-nation union has a 24 percent discount on the Pfizer vaccine compared to the United States, paying $14.76 per dose compared to $19.50 in the United States. Some of that difference may reflect that the E.U. subsidized that vaccine’s development.

How’s that “running government like a business” thing working for you? Maybe we should have agreed to allow President Trump to call this “The Trump Vaccine” after all.

Colorado has been informed that it will receive about 17 thousand fewer doses than anticipated.

 

New polling from Navigator Research suggests that Americans have had enough of President Trump pretending he didn’t lose the 2020 election. From a press release:

More than three in five Americans (61%) now believe Trump should concede the election, including one in three Trump voters (34%). Moreover, by a nearly 20-point margin, a majority of Americans approve of the way President-elect Biden is handling the presidential transition (56%), mostly citing his focus on addressing the coronavirus pandemic and his selection of Cabinet appointments.

While Republicans disproportionately believe that the 2020 election was somehow illegitimate, the majority of Americans do not share this opinion.

 

The Associated Press reports on a significant appointment expected from President-elect Joe Biden:

Biden plans to nominate New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary, according to a person familiar with the decision, a historic pick that would make her the first Native American to lead the powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for generations.

Tribal leaders and activists around the country, along with many Democratic figures, have urged Biden for weeks to choose Haaland. They stood behind her candidacy even when concerns that Democrats might risk their majority in the House if Haaland yielded her seat in Congress appeared to threaten her nomination.

Haaland, 60, is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and, as she likes to say, a 35th-generation resident of New Mexico. The role as interior secretary would put her in charge of an agency that not only has tremendous sway over the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes but also over much of the nation’s vast public lands, waterways, wildlife, national parks and mineral wealth.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 17)

Happy Pan American Aviation Day. Please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► You should still hold your breath, but it really does look like Congress might soon pass a coronavirus stimulus bill. From The Washington Post:

Congressional leaders are trying to resolve a number of lingering policy disagreements as they race to finalize an approximately $900 billion coronavirus relief package by the end of this week. They involve the powers of the Federal Reserve, aid for theaters and music venues, and whether to extend any flexibility to cities and states, among other things.

Negotiators have cited significant progress in recent days as talks accelerated. Senior lawmakers aimed to unveil legislation as soon as Thursday. While several difficult sticking points remain, aides are expressing optimism that none of the issues that has emerged appeared likely to prevent final passage of an agreement.

Congress must pass a spending bill by midnight on Friday to avoid a government shutdown, and some had hoped to add the stimulus package to that legislation. If the stimulus talks drag on, lawmakers could be forced to pass another short-term spending bill to give them more time, potentially pushing talks into Christmas week.

The stimulus deal could include another round of checks to Americans. As Joe St. George reports for Denver7, money could theoretically be available to the public by the end of the year.

 

► As The New York Times reports, jobless claims in the U.S. are at an all-time high:

The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment insurance remained high last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. After dropping earlier in the fall, claims have moved higher, and they remain at levels that dwarf the pace of past recessions.

There were 935,000 new claims for state benefits, compared with 956,000 the previous week, while 455,000 filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for part-time workers, the self-employed and others ordinarily ineligible for jobless benefits.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of new state claims was 885,000, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week.

MAGA, baby!

As Vox.com explains, even a pending stimulus bill won’t be enough to help many unemployed workers.

 

A second COVID-19 vaccine — this one from Moderna — could be approved within the next couple of days. From 9News:

Moderna’s vaccine is largely following the same path as Pfizer-BioNTech’s, which relies on the same groundbreaking technology. Most traditional vaccines use dead or weakened virus, but both of the new vaccines use snippets of COVID-19’s genetic code to train the immune system to detect and fight the virus. Both require two doses, weeks apart…

…If authorized by the FDA, U.S. officials said the initial shipment of nearly 6 million doses would go to health workers and nursing homes. The new vaccine needs to be stored at regular freezer temperatures, but not the ultra-cold required for Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot. [Pols emphasis]

That last detail could prove significant in the race to vaccinate people around the globe.

 

As Yahoo News notes, President Trump might truly believe that he won the 2020 election:

President Trump was privately coming to terms with his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but he “has now reversed and dug in deeper — not only spreading misinformation about the election, but ingesting it himself,” CNN reports, “egged on by advisers like Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis who are misleading Trump about the extent of voting irregularities and the prospects of a reversal.” One adviser told CNN, “He’s been fed so much misinformation that I think he actually thinks this thing was stolen from him.”

There is a lot to unpack in this CNN story being shared widely around the Internet tubes, from potential Presidential pardons to a report that Trump at one point actually considered NOT leaving the White House on January 20, 2021.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 16)

On this day in 1773, colonists living in Boston threw a bunch of tea into the harbor. The original “Tea Party” was much less insane than the modern version. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Don’t blink, but Congress might actually be getting close to approving a new stimulus bill. As The Washington Post reports:

Congressional leaders are near an agreement to add a new round of stimulus checks to a roughly $900 billion relief package as they rush to complete a deal before the end of the week, according to three people familiar with the talks granted anonymity to share internal deliberations.

A bipartisan proposal released earlier this week by a group of moderate lawmakers excluded another round of $1,200 stimulus checks. But as congressional leaders tried to resolve differences in recent days, they decided to try and include a round of direct payments in the emerging legislation.

They are rushing to complete a deal because they must pass a new spending bill Friday night at midnight in order to avoid a government shutdown. House Democrats had sought a much larger stimulus package before the election but have softened their position since President-elect Biden’s victory in hopes of securing some immediate relief.

 

► Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged on the Senate floor on Tuesday that Democrat Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. Later, McConnell reportedly implored his caucus to refrain from any attempts at challenging the legitimacy of Biden’s victory when a joint session of Congress meets to certify the Electoral College results. But as the editorial board of The Washington Post explains, this is no time to pat McConnell on the back:

Millions of Republican voters may now believe that their democracy no longer functions — not because there was fraud, but because their leaders lied to them or remained silent while others did so. Even many Republicans who refused to help Mr. Trump try to overturn the presidential results are signaling that they will pursue new voting restrictions in the name of election integrity, acting on the basis of the falsehoods about the voting system that Republicans have promoted since the election. Their defaming of democracy hurts us all.

Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times does not disagree:

To affirm Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the winners of the election more than a month after the end of voting — as Mitch McConnell did, on Tuesday morning, when he announced that “our country officially has a president-elect and vice-president elect” — is to treat the outcome as unofficial pending an attempt to overturn the result.

In short, Republicans are establishing a new normal for the conduct of elections, one in which a Democratic victory is suspect until proven otherwise, and where Republicans have a “constitutional right” to challenge the vote in hopes of having it thrown out.

We’ve already seen this spread to down-ballot races. Sean Parnell, a Republican House candidate, refused to concede his race against the Democratic incumbent, Conor Lamb, citing voter fraud and signed onto a lawsuit, since dismissed, to throw out mail-in ballots.

But as Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, McConnell may not be able to prevent his caucus from being forced to cast a politically-dicey vote in favor of Biden in early January.

 

A Legislative Audit Committee meeting at the state capitol on Tuesday failed to uncover even a hint of impropriety in the 2020 election in Colorado. As The Denver Post reports:

Former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, told committee members that Coloradans can be confident that their elections are free and fair, and instances of fraud that may have been successful are in the dozens, not hundreds of thousands.

The motions by Republicans — one to launch an audit of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and another to direct the state auditor to research a potential performance audit — failed on tie votes of 4-4.

Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Monument Republican, told The Denver Post that while the meeting didn’t uncover massive voter fraud, every person’s vote should be protected. [Pols emphasis]

This is a completely pointless statement from Lundeen that perfectly summarizes yesterday’s worthless hearing.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado church that sued the government in order to be allowed to host as many COVID-19 super-spreader events as it wants.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (December 14)

Happy “Monkey Day“; we have no advice on how to celebrate this one. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Members of the Electoral College are meeting in states across the country to formalize votes for the 2020 Presidential election. The Washington Post is keeping a running count of the balloting, which is expected to confirm (again) that Joe Biden is the President-elect:

Normally an afterthought, the vote will be closely watched this year as President Trump has sought to subvert Biden’s victory by promoting baseless claims that the vote was tainted by fraud and pressuring state lawmakers to back alternate slates of electors. No states have done so.

Based on the results of the Nov. 3 general election, Biden is set to have 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 by the end of the day. Votes are cast by individual electors, who are typically leaders and loyalists of the political party that won the state’s popular vote. Their ballots will be formally counted during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.

Chris Cillizza of CNN looks on the bright side of this process, which ordinarily nobody would pay much attention:

…there is one good thing that has come out of Trump’s ongoing attempts to overturn an election he quite clearly lost: The average person is following the usually-mundane ways in which the election is certified and confirmed far more closely than at anytime in the past — raising, at least for the moment, our collective civic literacy.

Consider Monday: The votes of the electoral college to confirm Biden’s win. CNN — as well as the other cable networks –are going wall-to-wall with their coverage of the votes in all 50 states.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to speak after all electoral votes have been cast today.

 

► On the subject of being educated about how the electoral process works in the United States…perhaps somebody needs to have a chat with White House adviser Stephen Miller. As The Hill newspaper reports:

Miller indicated that Trump supporters will act as “alternates” in a handful of contested states, including Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, to submit their own, unofficial results. Should the Trump campaign succeed in overturning the outcome in any of those states, Miller said, the alternate electors could then be recognized by Congress.

Nothing in the Constitution or state electoral processes allows for such an “alternate” slate of electors.

In other words, Trump supporters are going to make their own “electoral college.” This will likely be about as effective as last week’s lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that was quickly dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

Vaccinations for COVID-19 have begun in the United States, as CNN reports:

A critical care nurse was the first person in New York and among the first people in the United States to get a shot of the coronavirus vaccine authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York City, was administered the vaccine during a live video event at about 9:20 a.m. ET on Monday. Dr. Michelle Chester, the corporate director of employee health services at Northwell Health, delivered the shot…

…The first batch of the vaccine was shipped out from a Pfizer plant in Portage, Michigan, on Sunday headed for over 600 sites across all 50 states. The first deliveries arrived to the University of Michigan, George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC, and more locations on Monday morning.

State and local authorities make their own decisions on who gets vaccinated and when. The CDC has recommended that frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities get the vaccine first.

Colorado received its first shipment of vaccines on Monday morning. The editorial board of The Denver Post considers the question of how to prioritize vaccinations in Colorado. Denver7 has a handy Q&A on the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

 Congress is getting closer to approval on a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that will keep the federal government from shutting down. As POLITICO explains, this is probably the last 2020 hope for some sort of stimulus funding:

The massive omnibus deal is expected to be the final major piece of legislation pushed through the lame duck Congress — making it a likely vehicle for Covid-related fiscal stimulus if top Republicans and Democrats can reach a long-delayed accord this week. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said they want to combine coronavirus relief with the annual budget measure.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (December 11)

Happy “National Tango Day.” Please celebrate in an obvious manner. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on track to approve a COVID-19 vaccine by Saturday (The New York Times reports it could be as soon as tonight). As The Washington Post reports:

The Food and Drug Administration said early Friday that it “will rapidly work toward” authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on an emergency basis, an action that would kick off an unprecedented effort to inoculate enough Americans to stop a rampaging pandemic.

That decision was expected later Friday or early Saturday, according to two people familiar with the situation, who did not have the authority to talk about the timing and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The rapidly unfolding developments came hours after federal advisers endorsed the vaccine. The agency said in its statement that it has also notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed, “so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution.”

The United States set another record for daily COVID-19 deaths on Thursday with 3,347. If this current death rate continues, we will surpass the 300,000 mark sometime next week. NBCNews.com is devoting its entire front page to the pandemic today.

The United States is not alone in its struggles with the pandemic, as CNN reports:

Europe is in meltdown again as daily Covid death tolls reach record highs and countries scramble to expand testing and rescue hospital systems that are buckling under the pressure.

Russia and Germany reported record daily Covid-19 deaths on Friday, and October was Russia’s deadliest month in a decade. Stockholm’s intensive care units hit 99% capacity as Sweden proposed a spring “pandemic law” to potentially force closures of certain public spaces. And France said its lockdown would not be eased as planned on Tuesday after daily case numbers rose on Thursday compared with last week.

Germany tallied 598 fatalities in a span of 24 hours, according to the country’s center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute.

 

Here in Colorado, it appears that we may have dodged a significant increase in COVID-19 cases as a result of Thanksgiving travel. As Meg Wingerter reports for The Denver Post:

Two weeks after Thanksgiving, Colorado hasn’t seen a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, though health officials aren’t ready to breathe easy yet.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said it’s possible an increase still could show up in the next few days, as happened following the Independence Day and Labor Day weekends. But it could be that any increase from holiday travel was offset by decreases in other settings, she said at a meeting of a governor’s advisory committee on Thursday morning.

“So far, we’re not seeing an increased trend associated with Thanksgiving,” she said. “Either it’s too soon, or all the things we did in the state really made a difference.”

The Colorado Springs Independent has more on what (and when) to expect vaccinations in Colorado.

 

► The U.S. Supreme Court is discussing whether or not to even entertain a ridiculous lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that seeks to overturn the results of the Presidential election in four key states (Colorado has some unfortunate connections to this lawsuit). On the other side, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is among many voices urging SCOTUS to reject this last-minute attempt at keeping President Trump in the White House.

Meanwhile, more than 100 Republican lawmakers signed onto an Amicus brief related to the suit, including Colorado Reps. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). The editorial board of The Orlando Sentinel is not happy that one of its Members of Congress joined the circus:

Via The Orlando Sentinel (12/11/20)

We had no idea, had no way of knowing at the time, that Waltz was not committed to democracy.

During our endorsement interview with the incumbent congressman, we didn’t think to ask, “Would you support an effort to throw out the votes of tens of millions of Americans in four states in order to overturn a presidential election and hand it to the person who lost, Donald Trump?”

Our bad.

Trust us, some variation of that question will be asked of anyone running for Congress in the future, particularly Republican candidates whose party is attempting to upend the way we choose a president.

 

As The Aurora Sentinel reports, Colorado counties are moving quickly to distribute what little COVID-19 relief money is available before an end-of-month deadline. Congress does not appear to be close to reaching an agreement on another COVID-19 stimulus package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch “Scrooge” McConnell scuttled recent hopes for a new financial package, and it’s now possible that the federal government could shut down altogether for want of any sort of agreement. As POLITICO explains:

On Wednesday, McConnell’s staff informed House and Senate leadership staffers that the bipartisan group’s attempts to marry $160 billion in state and local aid and a temporary liability shield — major sticking points in the ongoing talks — probably won’t fly with most of the GOP, according to a senior Democrat familiar with the discussion.

It marked a major blow to ongoing bipartisan discussions. And Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a leader of those talks, suggested Congress may need to punt disagreements on liability and local government aid until next year.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 10)

Happy “Human Rights Day.” Please be a nice human today. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► The United States broke a week-old record by surpassing 3,000 daily deaths from COVID-19. The good news: Americans could be receiving vaccinations within a matter of days. As The New York Times reports:

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel, composed of independent scientific experts, infectious disease doctors and statisticians, as well as industry and consumer representatives, is meeting all day on Thursday to discuss whether Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine should be authorized by the agency. Although the F.D.A. does not have to follow the advice of the panel, it usually does.

If the experts vote in favor of the vaccine, it will clear the way for the F.D.A. to authorize the vaccine within days and for some health care workers and nursing home residents to begin receiving it early next week.

Earlier this week, career scientists at the F.D.A. published more than 100 pages of analysis of Pfizer’s clinical trial data that showed the vaccine was safe and effective across a variety of demographic groups and also began to show effectiveness after the first of two doses.

Colorado Public Radio and The Denver Post have more on how the State of Colorado plans to prioritize the availability of vaccinations, broken down by Winter, Spring, and Summer stages. The short version is that extremely-high risk health care workers and individuals will get the vaccine first, while the general public probably won’t get stabbed in the arm until early Summer 2021.

Prisoners in Colorado jails have been moved down the priorities list, though as 9News reports, the biggest outbreak in the federal prison system is in the Denver Metro area:

A minimum security federal prison in Jefferson County is experiencing the largest outbreak in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system.

Out of 900 inmates at FCI Englewood, 451 presently have COVID-19, and 50 out of 251 staff have COVID right now, according to BOP.

 

► Scrooge McConnell appears to have scuttled a coronavirus relief package. Again.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is still officially on the job until Democrat John Hickenlooper is sworn in as his replacement on January 3. But as Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Gardner hasn’t really been doing his job for weeks now:

The email contact form on Gardner’s website disappeared soon after the election, and the “email Cory” link at the bottom of the site’s other pages leads to a 404 page that says, “404. We’re sorry. The page you requested cannot be found.”…

…Gardner’s eight in-state offices in Colorado shuttered for good on Friday, according to a message reached by calling the senator’s Pueblo office. Multiple calls to each of his offices, including the one in Washington, D.C., went unanswered this week.

A Gardner spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

While it is not at all unusual for Gardner’s office to avoid comment — on pretty much any question — it is not standard practice for outgoing U.S. Senators to just stop doing their job:

Four of the other five departing senators had functioning email contact forms on their Senate websites on Wednesday, and the fifth, retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, greeted constituents with messages urging them to get in touch with other members of the state’s delegation…

Spokeswomen for U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Jason Crow said they’d be happy to help out constituents who can’t reach Gardner’s office. [Pols emphasis]

► Colorado is one of 46 states that have joined an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. As The Denver Post explains:

The lawsuit alleges Facebook aggressively bought out any company that threatened the platform’s dominance, including Instagram and WhatsApp, and worked to “bury” companies that did not sell out to the social media giant by using a variety of competition-stifling tactics, like limiting access to Facebook for third-party applications.

“If you stepped on Facebook’s turf or resisted pressure to sell, (Mark) Zuckerberg would go into ‘destroy mode,’ subjecting your business to the ‘wrath of Mark,’” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit and a separate complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission seek to stop Facebook’s anti-competitive behavior by forcing the company to sell Instagram and WhatsApp, and preventing the company from making any acquisitions for more than $10 million without first alerting officials in the states that filed the suit…

…The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, as well as an eight-member executive committee that includes Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and South Dakota did not join the effort. The District of Columbia and the territory of Guam did join.

 

 Colorado House Republicans want to hold a hearing of the Legislative Audit Committee in order to “investigate” nonexistent election fraud in Colorado. Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster have been invited to testify.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 9)

Happy “Anna’s Day” to all of our readers named ‘Anna’; please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► So much winning losing.

President Trump seemed convinced that the U.S. Supreme Court would somehow just make him the winner of the 2020 election. But as The Washington Post reports:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a last-minute attempt by President Trump’s allies to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania, a blow to the president’s continuing efforts to reverse his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The court’s brief order denying a requested injunction provided no reasoning, nor did it note any dissenting votes. [Pols emphasis] It was the first request to delay or overturn the results of last month’s presidential election to reach the court, and it appears that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s latest nominee, took part in the case.

The lawsuit was part of a blizzard of litigation and personal interventions Trump and his lawyers have waged to overturn victories by Biden in a handful of key states. But time is running out, and the electoral college is scheduled to meet in less than a week.

We’ve reached the point where judges are just saying, “No. Go Away.” As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN, there’s really only one question remaining:

The only questions now are how many more times President Donald Trump wants to lose the election to President-elect Joe Biden and whether his Republican acolytes on Capitol Hill will wake up and recognize reality.

Trump’s dangerous delusions about a stolen election represent the most overt attempt in modern history by a President to overthrow the will of the voters. But they have reached the point of no return after the conservative-majority Supreme Court largely crushed what remaining hallucinatory hopes Trump harbored of reversing his defeat…

The denial of Pennsylvania Republicans’ request to block the certification of their state’s results, for which there were no noted dissents, was a humiliating repudiation of Trump’s fundamental misunderstanding that three justices that he installed on the Court would swing him a disputed election. It also showed that evidence-free conspiracy theories might thrill the President’s base and his media propagandists, but they don’t cut it in court. [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Broncos win more often than Trump’s legal team. The Trump campaign has pursued more than 50 different lawsuits around the country since Election Day, with only one minor “victory” in Pennsylvania to show for their efforts.

Democrat Joe Biden is the President-elect and will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. Nothing is going to change this fact — not even your dumbass finger-waving, Sen. Ron Johnson.

 

President Trump’s bellyaching about his election loss won’t end up accomplishing anything, but observers are growing more worried about the potential for violence from Trump supporters. As The New York Times reports:

Despite his clear loss, Mr. Trump has shown no intention of stopping his sustained assault on the American electoral process. But his baseless conspiracy theories about voting fraud have devolved into an exercise in delegitimizing the election results, and the rhetoric is accelerating among his most fervent allies. This has prompted outrage among Trump loyalists and led to behavior that Democrats and even some Republicans say has become dangerous…

…Those supporters have started to flood the voice mails, cellphones and inboxes of dozens of elected officials across the country with angry messages and threats, as well as countless officials who handle local elections. The tenor has seemed to grow more menacing as Mr. Trump’s efforts appear even more unlikely to succeed, some officials said.

 

 Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is among the many Republican elected officials in Congress who have refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden is the President-elect. In Gardner’s typical hypocritical style, he delivered a farewell speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday in which he talked about the importance of a peaceful transition of power…which he is helping to obstruct.

 
The election is truly over, at least in Colorado. As The Denver Post explains:

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold officially certified the state’s November election results Tuesday, a normally sleepy affair that took on unusual significance in the face of President Donald Trump’s persistent rejection of 2020’s vote count showing Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential race…

…Colorado saw record turnout in last month’s election, with nearly 87% of active voters — representing nearly 3.3 million ballots — casting votes. Griswold said 94% of ballots in Colorado were cast using a mail ballot, a system Trump has without evidence denounced as susceptible to fraud.

 

 Governor Jared Polis extended a statewide mask mandate in Colorado for another 30 days. Masks are required to be worn indoors in all public spaces.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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House Speaker KC Becker Gets More Smarter

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Speaker KC Becker about last week’s special legislative session and what it’s like being called into work when you thought you had swung the gavel for the last time back in June (Becker is term limited).

Later, Bane and Silverii take a first, detailed look at the 2022 election cycle in Colorado, when five big statewide races will be on the ballot. After getting pummeled in Colorado in 2018 and 2020, can Republicans put up more of a fight in 2022?

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

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 Tuesday (December 8)

Happy “Safe Harbor Day“; please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The Associated Press explains “Safe Harbor Day”:

Other than Wisconsin, every state appears to have met a deadline in federal law that essentially means Congress has to accept the electoral votes that will be cast next week and sent to the Capitol for counting on Jan. 6. Those votes will elect Joe Biden as the country’s next president.

It’s called a safe harbor provision because it’s a kind of insurance policy by which a state can lock in its electoral votes by finishing up certification of the results and any state court legal challenges by a congressionally imposed deadline, which this year is Tuesday.

“What federal law requires is that if a state has completed its post-election certification by Dec. 8, Congress is required to accept those results,” said Rebecca Green, an election law professor at the William & Mary law school in Williamsburg, Virginia…

By the end of the day, every state is expected to have made its election results official, awarding 306 electoral votes to Biden and 232 to President Donald Trump. [Pols emphasis]

 

As The Washington Post reports, the first COVID-19 vaccination effort has begun in the United Kingdom:

It took barely a second. She rolled up her sleeve and Britain’s Margaret Keenan became on Tuesday the first person to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shot outside of clinical trials, as the first mass coronavirus immunization campaign in the West began.

The 90-year-old grandmother received her jab, as the Brits would say, at University Hospital in Coventry, England, at 6:31 a.m. local time. The nurse, May Parsons, told her to relax her arm.

“I feel so privileged to be the first,” Keenan said, adding that it meant she could “finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year.”

That was one quick shot for Maggie, one giant leap for humankind.

Here in the United States, a vaccine from Pfizer appears to be days away from getting final approval for distribution. Vaccinations in Colorado could begin as soon as the end of the week.

 

 A group of Colorado Republicans continues to insist that there were voting irregularities in Colorado — even though these folks can’t even begin to explain the supposed problem. If State Reps. Patrick Neville and Dave Williams are involved, you know it’s a very serious and factual complaint [insert eye roll here]. Just last week, State GOP Chair Ken Buck had seemingly given up on conspiracy theories related to the election.

If you’re looking for stories about political courage, you won’t find them from Colorado’s Republican Congressional delegation. Senator Cory Gardner, Rep. Scott Tipton, Rep. Ken Buck, and Rep. Doug Lamborn have all refused to comment on whether Democrat Joe Biden is the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election.

 

► President-elect Joe Biden selected retired General Lloyd Austin to serve as Secretary of Defense, but that nomination has already hit a snag. As Jim Golby writes for The New York Times:

General Austin is a capable and respected former commander of Central Command, but a civilian — not a recently retired general — should lead the Pentagon.

As it is, Mr. Biden will need a Congressional waiver; the National Security Act of 1947 requires a prospective secretary to wait seven years after ending active duty as a commissioned officer and General Austin retired only in 2016. It would be only the third time a president has requested a waiver — President Harry Truman for George Marshall in 1950, and President Trump for James Mattis.

The legislators who negotiated the original security act believed only unique circumstances might dictate that a newly retired general or admiral should lead the Defense Department. They codified into law a 10-year cooling-off period (which Congress in 2008 reduced to seven years).

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (December 4)

There are 47 days left until Democrat Joe Biden takes the keys to the White House. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As Denver7 reports, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccinations in Colorado could arrive by late next week:

Denver Public Health and the Tri-County Health Department have been told to expect their first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of next week.

Colorado’s first allotment will amount to 46,800 doses.

No specific timeline has been announced as to when the vaccine will be administered to various groups, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that healthcare workers be vaccinated first, and then elderly residents at long-term care facilities.

Meanwhile, new polling data suggests that just 60% of Coloradans are willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine. As The Denver Post explains:

Only 60% of surveyed Colorado voters in the November election plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available, according to poll results released by Healthier Colorado on Thursday.

To reach herd immunity, that percent needs to be closer to 70, according to Healthier Colorado…

…The survey asked participants whether they would plan to receive an FDA-approved vaccine for the coronavirus at no cost to them when it became available. Of those who responded, 21% said they would not take the vaccine and 19% said they were unsure. The responses were different across party lines — 3 out of 4 Democratic voter participants, 76%, said they would take the vaccine, compared with 42% of Republican voter participants. Although 38% of Republican voters said they would not get the vaccine, 20% indicated they were still unsure. It was 15% for Democrats.

“It’s going to be up to us here in Colorado to set the record straight on COVID-19 vaccines,” said Jake Williams, executive director of Healthier Colorado, in a release. “The polling shows that we have work to do in building confidence in these vaccines, and our economic recovery depends upon our ability to do so. Fake news is a pandemic in itself, and we need to fight it for the sake of people’s health and our economy.”

State health data indicates that more than 2,000 more Coloradans may die from COVID-19 before the end of the year.

 

Colorado Newsline updates an important discussion from this week’s special legislative session:

The original bill stipulated that only businesses located in counties that are complying with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions under the so-called “red level” would be eligible for relief. That would have made businesses in Weld County — where commissioners have said they won’t enforce capacity restrictions and an indoor dining ban — ineligible for financial assistance of up to $7,000 cash.

The bill was changed first to allow compliant cities within non-compliant counties to still receive aid for businesses, and then on the House floor, sponsor Herod introduced an amendment extending that exemption to certain businesses in unincorporated areas of non-compliant counties. To qualify, they must be within a mile of a city or town that’s complying with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Local government compliance means “good-faith efforts to enforce or promote” COVID-19 orders from the governor and the state Department of Public Health and Environment, within the scope of a city or county’s authority and “in consideration of available resources, including engaging law enforcement,” the bill says.

This would have been a lot easier if local governments would just, you know, follow safety guidelines.

Meanwhile, a quarantined Gov. Jared Polis is still making sure approved legislation moves along quickly:

 

The New York Times reports on a disturbing story involving the Trump administration and anti-immigrant goober Stephen Miller:

The Trump administration is rolling out sweeping changes to the test immigrants must take to become United States citizens, injecting hints of conservative philosophy and making the test harder for many learners of the English language.

The new citizenship test that went into effect on Tuesday is longer than before, with applicants now required to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly instead of six out of 10. It is also more complex, eliminating simple geography and adding dozens of possible questions, some nuanced and involving complex phrasing, that could trip up applicants who do not consider them carefully…

One test question that has drawn particular scrutiny provides a new answer to the question, “Who does a U.S. Senator represent?” Previously, the answer was “all people of the state”; on the new test, it is “citizens” in the state. [Pols emphasis]

In other words, the new citizenship test requires applicants to know the incorrect answer to some very important questions. A U.S. Senator represents ALL of the people in a particular state.

CLICK HERE to try out the test yourself, via the NY Times.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 3)

According to the Urban Dictionary, beautiful people are always born on December 3. We can’t even pretend to explain this one. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► The Colorado legislature concluded a three-day special session on Wednesday with plenty of success. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

The Colorado state legislature finished up a three-day sprint of lawmaking on Wednesday afternoon, passing a series of bills meant to throw a lifeline to businesses and families as the coronavirus pandemic surges.

“This is not the end of the conversation. There’s more that the federal government needs to do. And yes, there’s more that the legislature will be able to talk about when they convene,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “But you know what? This is going to help a lot of people and small businesses get through the next couple months.”

All told, lawmakers swiftly approved some $342 million in coronavirus aid packages for small businesses, housing relief, and public health response efforts (among others). The CPR story has the full list of legislation approved in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner.

You can read more from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, The Denver Post, and Denver7.

 

► President Trump posted a weird, rambling, 46-minute video on his social media channels on Wednesday. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

There have been a lot of low moments for democracy over the past four years, but none that reached quite as low as what happened on Wednesday afternoon: The release of a 46-minute rant by the President of the United States aimed at undermining the election results.

I’m not going to reproduce any of the myriad lies and conspiracy theories Trump leaned on in the address, which he opened by grandiosely declaring “this may be the most important speech I’ve ever made,” because, well, that’s exactly what the outgoing President wants. He wants the media to report on what he said and, in effect, launder the lies so that they come out looking somehow new or more relevant. (And some media outlets will do just that! Conservative stations and publications will cover this speech like a legitimate presidential address, repeating the debunked junk coming out of the President’s mouth like it is actually up for debate.)

What Trump is doing here has moved beyond laughable or embarrassing. It is now into the downright dangerous phase…

…He stood at a podium bearing the presidential seal and flanked by the American flag and another flag bearing the presidential seal on it. It was hard to miss this message. This was the President speaking in his formal capacity. Not as a losing candidate for office. As the leader of the free world.

Trump’s move to throw the power of the presidency behind disproven claims that seek to actively undermine the very idea of safe and fair elections and the peaceful transition of power creates a clear moment of choosing for elected Republican leaders who have, by and large, stood by silently as he has made his increasingly outlandish claims about what happened on November 3.

We’re certainly not holding our breath waiting for more high-profile Republicans to speak out against Trump’s ridiculous claims of election fraud, but we won’t fault you for holding out hope. Philip Bump of The Washington Post offered a very succinct reaction to Trump’s diatribe:

Via The Washington Post (12/2/20)

 

Colorado Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to put election fraud claims back in the box. You might remember that State Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck demanded an investigation into already-debunked claims about fraud in Colorado’s mail ballot process.

 

As Sandra Fish writes for The Colorado Sun, state and local officials are putting the final ribbon on the 2020 election:

All but one of the state’s 63 counties [sic] certified their election results last week. Gunnison County experienced a delay after elections officials contracted COVID-19 and expects to certify results this week.

The Secretary of State’s Office will certify the statewide results as soon as an automatic recount for district attorney in the 18th Judicial District is completed. That recount began Tuesday and must be completed by Dec. 8 but is expected to finish sooner.

Initial results in the 18th JD showed Republican John Kellner with a lead of less than 1,500 votes over Democrat Amy Padden. Both candidates are hoping to succeed The Magnificent Putz in a district largely composed of Arapahoe County.

 

The United States set two awful records on Wednesday: For the first time, we surpassed 200,000 new daily coronavirus infections and 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned Wednesday that the worst is still yet to come, warning that the U.S. death toll could reach 450,000 by February. Redfield predicted that the next three months are “going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 2)

On this day in 1409, The University of Leipzig opened its doors. Neat! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► A special COVID-19 legislative session that began on Monday is still expected to conclude today. The Associated Press has more on how things have been going at the State Capitol:

Colorado’s Democrat-led Legislature is plowing ahead on special session legislation to provide limited state relief to businesses, students and others affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats have overcome Republican objections to the scope of the aid and GOP attempts to limit the Democratic governor’s ability to decree public health orders.

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed bills to direct $5 million to help residents to pay utility bills; $50 million to assist landlords and tenants; and $100 million to the governor’s office for use in the public health emergency.

Meghan Lopez of Denver7 has extra deets on Tuesday’s legislative events.

 

► Attorney General William Barr took his head out of President Trump’s rear-end and looked around on Tuesday. As The Washington Post explains:

Barr said Tuesday that he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” undercutting claims that President Trump and his allies have made — without evidence — of widespread and significant voting irregularities.

His comments to the Associated Press, while caveated, make Barr the highest-ranking Trump administration official to break with the president on his allegation that the election was stolen, and they might offer political cover to other Republicans to stake out similar positions.

Trump himself, though, has shown no sign of backing down, and some of his Capitol Hill allies were critical of Barr’s assertions. Trump’s relationship with his attorney general was already deteriorating, with the president frustrated that Barr was unwilling to launch aggressive measures to support his fraud claims or take other steps that might benefit his reelection campaign.

 

As Jessica Seaman reports for The Denver Post, Gov. Jared Polis appeared on Tuesday with Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss the status of COVID-19 in Colorado:

“Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases,” Fauci said during the virtual news conference, adding, “If you look across the United States we are really in a public health crisis right now because we are having a surge the likes of which is worst than the surges we all saw in the late winter, early spring.”

The addition of Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to Polis’ briefing on Tuesday comes as state and public health officials are concerned that Thanksgiving and the upcoming December holidays will create a “surge upon a surge.”

Fauci said that the majority of Americans could receive a vaccination for COVID-19 by the second quarter of 2021. As Denver7 reports, a group of Denver Metro-area mayors are asking Polis to do more to enforce restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus.

 

The United Kingdom became the first country to grant formal approval for a COVID-19 vaccine. The first doses of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could start being distributed in the UK by next week.

 

Here’s one way to be sure that Democrat Joe Biden is the President-elect: Senate Republicans are suddenly very concerned about the national debt after spending like drunken sailors for the last four years.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 1)

At last, we have reached the final month of this wretched year. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► The first day of a (likely) three-day special legislative session kicked off on Monday with a flurry of bills and a bit of controversy. As Jesse Paul explains for The Colorado Sun:

Monday was the first day of the special legislative session. It comes as coronavirus is raging in Colorado and an estimated 1 in 40 people are actively contagious with the disease.

Lawmakers, however, felt it was critical that they return to the Capitol to pass $200-plus million in relief for people who are increasingly feeling the economic effects of the pandemic.

While some Republicans were wearing masks at the Capitol on Monday, others were not. Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, was photographed wearing a mask on the crown of his head, apparently in jest.

State Rep. Larry Liston channels Anthony Michael Hall in “Weird Science”

Much of the news later in the day was focused on a Republican legislative aide who showed up at the Capitol fresh off of an apparent positive COVID-19 diagnosis. This is particularly bad news for Republican lawmakers who continue to refuse to wear masks.

Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has more on the actual work that took place on Monday:

Not all 100 lawmakers were actually present, but the Colorado Legislature convened its special session Monday in hopes of passing measures designed to provide immediate aid to businesses, individuals and public health workers until a vaccine is widely available…

…On the table are eight main bills to provide tax breaks for businesses most impacted by what the pandemic has done to the economy, help to parents who are having a hard time finding adequate child care services while they try to work, mortgage and rent assistance to those facing foreclosures or eviction because they are unemployed, aid in paying heating bills that will go higher due to the colder temperatures, improving supplies at food banks and providing better broadband access for students who lack it.

 

As The Washington Post reports, Congress is again kicking around the idea of another COVID-19 stimulus package, but don’t get your hopes up.

 

Colorado set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday as officials continue to worry about another increases in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Meanwhile, Westword takes a look at which areas of Colorado could soon be forced to move from ‘Level Red’ to the maximum ‘Level Purple’ on the COVID-19 emergency scale. The short version: Things are bad everywhere.

 

Lawyers for President Trump have tried to challenge election results in six key states…and they’ve now failed in every one of them. As The Washington Post reports:

Wisconsin and Arizona on Monday became the last two of six states where President Trump has contested his defeat to finalize their vote counts, dealing a fresh blow to his quest to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory as a chorus of Republicans and Democrats offered support for the election’s integrity.

Trump and his allies vowed to continue pressing legal claims challenging the election results in several states, but such efforts have met with resounding failures in the courts across the country. Monday’s certifications brought to a close a key period in which Trump and his advisers had said they would be able to derail Biden’s win.

Even Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has disembarked from the Trump train and is touting the accuracy and fairness of his state’s election process.

The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to make it official that Democrat Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States.

 

► The Big Line 2022 is in the house!

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (November 30)

In honor of Cyber Monday, this edition of Get More Smarter is 300% more free than normal. Get More Free-er! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Lawmakers in Colorado kicked off a (likely) three-day special legislative session this morning. As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post:

With the coronavirus spreading uncontrolled throughout the state, lawmakers hope to spend as little time together as possible, and so they enter the special session with a specific and limited game plan. If all goes as expected, they’ll be in and out of the Capitol in three days — the minimum time it takes to pass a bill — having passed at least seven measures (and probably no more than 10) that’ll spread a total of about $328 million in COVID-19 relief around the state — $228 million in economic stimulus and $100 million to protect public health.

“Our objective is to go in there with precision, focused, with a greater majority on the items we’ve already identified and talked about,” said state Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “There’s not time or need for any sorts of shenanigans, and they wont be tolerated by me.”

Everyone seems to be mostly on the same page.

If you were wondering about mask-wearing at the Capitol, Burness also has you covered:

 

 

The New York Times reports on an important Supreme Court case about redistricting that began this morning:

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on a question that goes to the heart of American democracy: Must the government count everyone living in the country, citizens or not, in the census totals that the House of Representatives uses to reallocate its 435 seats among the states?

For more than two centuries, the answer has been “yes.” Both Article 1 of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment require that House seats be allotted according to “the whole number” of persons in each state. That phrase has long been read to include all the nation’s residents, whether American citizens, foreigners admitted here on visas or immigrants with no documents at all. But President Trump signaled in a memorandum this summer that he intends to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 census totals that he hopes to send to the House next year for use in reapportionment.

Federal courts have ruled in three separate lawsuits that Mr. Trump lacks that authority, saying in one case that the question was not even close. But the Supreme Court will have the final say.

 

Governor Jared Polis and first gentleman Marlon Reis have tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, as experts had warned, Colorado is seeing a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations since Thanksgiving.

 

Republicans are worried that President Trump’s constant lies about voter fraud could depress turnout in two critical runoff elections in Georgia that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Vox.com has everything you need to know about the Georgia runoffs.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (November 18)

Happy Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia. Please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► And then there was purple. As The Denver Post reports:

Colorado will impose tighter restrictions on 15 counties, including Denver and much of the metro area, by the end of the week in the state’s latest effort to curb the accelerating transmission of COVID-19 without ordering a lockdown, officials announced Tuesday.

The new public health restrictions in those counties encourage, but do not order, people to stay at home, while prohibiting all personal gatherings outside of an individual’s household, barring indoor dining at restaurants and moving last call for alcohol to 8 p.m.

Confusion about the new rules reigned for much of the afternoon Tuesday after Gov. Jared Polis announced at a news conference that “a number of counties” would be moving to Level Red on the state’s revamped, color-coded coronavirus dial — but then declined to identify which counties would be subjected to the more aggressive restrictions.

Level Red used to be the highest level on Colorado’s dial and would have triggered a stay-at-home order, but state officials have pushed back the threshold that counties need to qualify for a lockdown by adding an even higher status — Level Purple — that Polis said won’t be invoked unless hospitals are overflowing.

TL;DR: Most of the Metro area will likely be moved to Level Red at the end of the week, which is not as bad as Defcon Purple but is still a significant increase. 9News has more on what the Purple means.

Stay home if you can. Wear a mask if you can’t. And never forget: The coronavirus doesn’t care about your political leanings. As The Washington Post reports, more than 3 million Americans are now believed to be contagious with coronavirus.

Via CDPHE

 

Pfizer announced that its coronavirus vaccine appears to be 95% effective, and the company will seek regulatory approval “within days.” Earlier this week, Moderna revealed that one of its coronavirus vaccines appeared to be 95% effective.

Elsewhere, the FDA has authorized the first at-home coronavirus test — and it won’t require you to jab yourself in the brain with a long q-tip.

 

How bad are things going at the White House? As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, the Lame Duck-in-Chief is doing just about everything we feared he would do:

The end of Donald Trump’s time in the White House was always going to be ugly. Just how ugly is now coming into clearer focus.

The removal of Chris Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, on Tuesday night is the newest abomination of how a government and a president should work. While it’s impossible to say it’s the worst or most damaging thing Trump has done while in office — they all run together after a while — what can be said is that what the President did on Tuesday night runs directly counter to the healthy functioning of a democracy.

Why? Because Krebs was fired for telling the truth…

…If you are fine with Trump firing Krebs, what you are saying is that the truth is immaterial. That the whims of a leader trump facts. Down this road — and it’s not even that slippery of a slope — lies nothing good. And in fact, a lot of very scary things.

Krebs did his job by helping to keep our elections safe in 2020, but his failure to find fraud doomed him with a President who is desperate for someone credible to acknowledge that there is still a way that Trump could remain in office.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner will not be in the Senate much longer after getting pummeled at the polls earlier this month. You would think this would give Gardner some freedom to express actual opinions about important topics, but, alas, cowardice has kept a firm grip on the Yuma Republican.

 

► As we mentioned Tuesday, Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) will soon drop his second job as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. According to Conrad Swanson of The Denver Post, former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the genius behind “Personhood,” Kristi Burton Brown are both potential candidates to succeed Buck as Chair. Ultimately, we’d expect that it will be Gessler who ends up as the next GOP Chair.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 17)

Good news: There are only 45 days left in this miserable year. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► Here’s your regular reminder that the coronavirus doesn’t give a shit about your politics. As NPR reports:

As hospitals in Iowa fill up with COVID-19 patients amid a major surge in cases in recent weeks, Gov. Kim Reynolds, who once dismissed coronavirus restrictions as “feel-good” measures, has abruptly reversed course, issuing the state’s first mask mandate.

Reynolds signed a proclamation requiring Iowans over the age of 2 to wear masks in indoor public spaces starting Tuesday.

“No one wants to do this. I don’t want to do this,” Reynolds, a Republican, said at a news conference Monday.

“If Iowans don’t buy into this, we’ll lose,” she said. “Businesses will close once again, more schools will be forced to go online, and our health care system will fail.”

Last week, Iowa hit a record-high of 5,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day. As The New York Times reports, Republican governors in a number of states are being forced to acknowledge reality:

For months, Republican governors resisted calls for mask mandates. But as they have watched hospitals in their states stretched to the breaking point in recent weeks — driving home the reality of the dangers posed by a virus allowed to spread unchecked — that is starting to change.

In Utah last week, Gary Herbert, the Republican governor, issued a mask mandate “until further notice” as hospitals across the state were nearing or at full capacity.

Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota ordered residents of the state on Friday to wear masks indoors and outdoors if they could not socially distance. North Dakota has the country’s highest rates of new daily cases and deaths per person, according to a New York Times database.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice ordered on Saturday that residents must wear masks in indoor public settings.

New COVID-related restrictions are happening across the country — including in conservative bastions like Colorado’s Mesa County. Colorado is expected to add a new level to its COVID-19 meter in an announcement today.

 

Governor Jared Polis will soon call a special legislative session for the purpose of allocating money for COVID relief efforts. As The Denver Post reports:

Top Democratic officials in both chambers of the statehouse say they and the Democratic governor’s office have been in talks for weeks on a possible special session, and that the failure of Congress to pass a new federal stimulus package has added urgency to those talks of late.

Polis is expected to announce the move as early as Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said a special session is “likely” at this point, “given the (COVID-19) surge and the impact it’s having not just on families, but small businesses.”

Housing, child care, and small business relief are among the topics expected to be included in a special legislative session.

 

Efforts to recall Gov. Jared Polis have failed, again, in predictable fashion. Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman has the sad details:

Via Colorado Politics (11/16/20)

The second effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis has had the same results as the first: None of the 631,266 valid signatures required to put a recall on the ballot were turned in by the deadline of Nov. 13, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The second effort, begun Sept. 14, was launched by Lori Cutunilli of Summit County and Greg Merschel of Grand Junction, who was also involved with the 2019 effort.

 

► Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) will soon drop his second job as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. In his place: Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler. If you are a Broncos fan, this is like debating between Vic Fangio and Vance Joseph as head coach. Or choosing a general manager between John Elway and…John Elway.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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