Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Jan. 31)

Today is the last day of January, which means you no longer have an excuse for writing “2022” instead of “2023.” Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Western states are agreeing to voluntary reductions in use from the Colorado River…except for California, that is. From The Associated Press:

Six western states that rely on water from the Colorado River have agreed on a model to dramatically cut their use, months after the federal government called for action and an initial deadline passed.

California — with the largest allocation of water from the river — is the lone holdout.

The Colorado River and its tributaries pass through seven states and into Mexico, serving 40 million people and a $5 billion-a-year agricultural industry. Some of the largest cities in the country, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas, two Mexican states, Native American tribes and others depend on the river that’s been severely stressed by drought, demand and overuse.

As The Washington Post adds:

California has so far offered to reduce just 400,000 acre feet. An acre foot is 326,000 gallons, or enough to cover an acre in water one foot deep. JB Hamby, chair of the Colorado River Board of California, told the Associated Press in a statement that the state “remains focused on practical solutions that can be implemented now to protect volumes of water in storage without driving conflict and litigation” and will submit its own plan.

Officials say serious action is needed to prevent the Colorado River from running out of river.

 

Here’s a look at what’s happening at the state legislature this week:

♦ Democratic lawmakers want a better picture of how much money Uber and Lyft drivers are actually making for their efforts. This is part of a broader effort to better regulate ride-sharing and food-delivery companies that benefit from local labor.

♦ Lawmakers are considering a bill to make all auto thefts in Colorado a felony, regardless of the value of the vehicle.

♦ Marianne Goodland looks at gun safety proposals in a story for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman.

♦ Denver7 reports on legislation to give physician assistants more leeway in treating patients directly.

♦ Democrats want to make it easier for concertgoers to find tickets to their favorite shows without having to fight the automated bots that snap up the best seats as soon as tickets become available.

 

The Congressman who claims to be named “George Santos” is stepping aside from his House committee assignments in order to focus on inventing a new story about himself as he deals with numerous ethical issues. From The Associated Press:

Santos told GOP colleagues Tuesday he is temporarily stepping down from his two congressional committees, a move that comes amid a host of ethics issues and a day after he met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Santos has faced numerous calls for his resignation and is facing multiple investigations by prosecutors over his personal and campaign finances and lies about his resume and family background.

Santos was assigned to two fairly low-profile panels, the House Committee on Small Business and to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

The latest problem for Santos, as Mother Jones reports, is that many of his top campaign donors don’t appear to be real people:

 

 

Check out the latest episode of the Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with former Republican operative (and now journalist) Tim Miller:

 

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Why Do Republicans Do Anything? (feat. Tim Miller)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with bestselling author, Colorado (almost) native, and former Republican political consultant Tim Miller about why Republicans went off the deep end and whether they can ever find their way back from the wilderness. Miller also talks about the early days of Colorado Pols!

Later, Ian and Jason talk about gun safety legislation in the Colorado legislature and the odd fact that nearly a quarter of all state lawmakers began their legislative careers through “vacancy committee” appointments.

When you’re done listening, go buy Tim’s book: “How We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell.”

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Jan. 25)

Enjoy the not-as-cold weather today, because temperatures are predicted to drop significantly by the weekend. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

The Gazette “newspapers,” led by the Denver Gazette, are picking a public fight with The Denver Post in a strange attempt to increase stagnant readership numbers.

 

Colorado educators are badly in need of more assistance, as Denver7 reports:

The Colorado Education Association released its annual State of Education report and concluded the state’s education system is in a state of crisis.

The largest teachers union in the state — representing 39,000 public educators and school staff — says it is seeing a large number of educators who are considering leaving the profession because of low pay, staffing shortages, work load and safety issues — all problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers cite safety issues as their number one concern, followed by the consistent problem of low pay for educators. The Colorado Sun has more on the results of the new survey.

 

As Seth Klamann reports for The Denver Post, Democratic lawmakers at the State Capitol are looking at trying to eliminate bans on rent control in Colorado:

Nearly half of Colorado’s House Democrats have signed on to a bill that would allow local governments to enact rent control, repealing a decades-old prohibition and setting up a potential showdown with Gov. Jared Polis.

HB23-1115 does not institute any rent control or stabilization policies statewide. But it removes a state-level block on local officials rolling out one of their own, and it comes as lawmakers and Polis weigh an array of legislation to address Colorado’s growing housing crisis.

“Rents are too high,” said Rep. Javier Mabrey, a Denver Democrat, eviction attorney and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “And that does not just mean essential workers like grocery store workers and servers. It’s unaffordable for teachers and nurses.”

Mabrey, a freshman lawmaker, is joined by fellow Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, of Glenwood Springs, as prime sponsors in the House. Twenty other members — all Democrats — have also signed on. That list includes nearly all of the chamber’s leadership, including Majority Leader Monica Duran, Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon and the House’s two whips, Reps. Iman Jodeh and Andy Boesenecker.

The Colorado Apartment Association is one of the more vocal opponents of the idea of rent control, because of course it is.

 

As Colorado Newsline explains, a national debt default could be catastrophic for the economy, but House Republicans are still playing games with demands for spending cuts:

If Congress doesn’t come to an agreement before the default date, expected in early June, economists have warned it could have drastic repercussions for Americans and across the globe. The Treasury would no longer have borrowing authority to pay for the country’s bills in full and on time, which has not happened before in the country’s history.

“Global financial markets and the economy would be upended, and even if resolved quickly, Americans would pay for this default for generations, as global investors would rightly believe that the federal government’s finances have been politicized and that a time may come when they would not be paid what they are owed when owed it,” said Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi and Assistant Director Bernard Yaros in a September 2021 report that came out during the last round of debt limit brinkmanship.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Denver, said in a town hall with news reporters that right-wing Republicans don’t want to “exert fiscal responsibility.” She said the debt ceiling was something people on both sides of the aisle always agreed on until the Tea Party Republicans fought raising it in 2011, like she said the MAGA Republicans are doing now.

DeGette said she’s “disturbed” by the rhetoric she’s heard from the far right and how a default could “wreak havoc” on the country’s economy.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) thinks the debt default concerns are overblown, which says more about Buck than it does about the problem at hand.

 

 

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How to Go the Full Alan Salazar (feat. Alan Salazar)

Alan Salazar (left) and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with legendary Colorado politico Alan Salazar and coin a new term from his vast experience. Currently serving as Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Salazar has been a top adviser to Congressmen, Senators, Governors, and even Presidents — for familiar names such as Roy Romer, Mark Udall, John Hickenlooper, and Bill Clinton. We discuss the traits that these successful politicians all have in common (other than hiring Alan Salazar).

Later, Jason and Ian also dive into the debt ceiling and try to understand why Colorado Republican lawmakers refused to co-sponsor a resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Jan. 20)

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

 

FIRST UP…

 

We should soon know exactly how many candidates for Mayor of Denver are actually going to be on the ballot in April. Thursday was the deadline to submit a laughably-easy 300 valid petition signatures for ballot access As Joe Rubino reports for The Denver Post, the following candidates have been officially certified for the April ballot:

Kelly Brough
♦ Lisa Calderón
♦ Leslie Herod
♦ Mike Johnston
♦ Debbie Ortega
♦ Trinidad Rodriguez
♦ Andy Rougeot
♦ Kwame Spearman
♦ Ean Thomas Tafoya
♦ Thomas Wolf

Another 11 candidates for Mayor submitted their petition signatures on Thursday and are awaiting confirmation from the Denver Clerk and Recorder. Those candidates are:
Matt Brady, Renate Behrens, Alex Cowans, Paul Fiorino, Al Gardner, Marcus Giavanni, Chris Hansen, Sylvia Herring, Aurelio Martinez, Jesse Lashawn Parris, Ken Simpson, Robert Treta and James Walsh. As Rubino explains for the Post:

If even one of the remaining candidates whose signatures are still going through the verification process makes the ballot, it would surpass 2011 as the longest list of mayoral candidates since at least 1975 and possibly ever.

Abass Yaya Bamba and Terrance Roberts were somehow unable to collect 300 valid petition signatures and will not be on the April ballot.

The official list of candidates for Mayor of Denver will be finalized on Feb. 3.

 

In a separate story, Rubino reports on the five candidates invited by the Denver Business Journal to take part in a candidate forum on Thursday. This is a pretty good indication of how the top of the field of candidates for Mayor is shaking out at the moment:

The former head of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Kelly Brough, State Sen. Chris Hansen, State Rep. Leslie Herod, former state senator Mike Johnston and Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega were the five candidates the Denver Business Journal invited to appear on a panel Thursday morning focused on the overlap between city policies and business concerns in the Mile High City.

The panel covered topics including crime, affordability, homelessness, revitalizing the city’s ailing downtown and a backlog in the city’s permitting processes that is hindering development.

 

Colorado’s economy continues to do well, according to a press release from the office of Governor Jared Polis:

Today, Governor Polis and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced that Colorado’s unemployment rate declined in December to 3.3%, below the national rate of 3.5%…

…Colorado’s strong labor market added 8,600 jobs in December in industries including leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and business and professional services.

 

The Colorado Sun reports on the launch of the Colorado SecureSavings Plan:

The Colorado SecureSavings program was designed to help nearly 1 million workers with no retirement plan to start one at no cost to the employer. Companies with existing plans must be exempted by the state. Others with at least five employees must enroll in what state Department of Treasury officials called a “10- to 15-minute” process.

“This is about how (to help workers in) Colorado sustainably retire with dignity on their own terms,” state Treasurer Dave Young said. “Instead of being tied to an employer, like a traditional retirement plan, the Colorado SecureSavings Program travels with the employee (to a new job). … This allows small- and medium-sized businesses a broader compensation package.”

SecureSavings essentially sets up a Roth Individual Retirement Account for the worker and is open to all-sized businesses, including the self-employed, gig workers and farm laborers. After an employer enrolls, their workers are added to the portal so they can then choose to opt out or stick with it. After 30 days, 5% of a worker’s paycheck after taxes is deducted and placed into the retirement account. Vestwell Holdings manages the program for the state while BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors manage the investments.

This is a great idea. Our only question is why there is no space between the words “Secure” and “Savings.”

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Jan. 17)

Snow is coming tonight — perhaps a lot of snow. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Governor Jared Polis delivered his 2023 “State of the State” speech this morning. Polis spent a lot of time talking about the importance of affordable housing in Colorado; renewable energy advancements; water and drought issues; the high costs of healthcare; and increasing funding for public education. Polis also took a shot at quoting Yoda from “Star Wars”…in a Yoda-ish voice.

 

 We noted last week that ZERO House Republicans in Colorado co-sponsored a resolution to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., something that has not happened before in the state legislature. We had wondered if House Republicans just dropped the ball and made a mistake. As it turns out, this was apparently done on purpose for really stupid reasons:

 

Colorado parents can now apply for free preschool programs — a longtime goal for Gov. Jared Polis dating to his first gubernatorial campaign in 2018. From Chalkbeat Colorado:

The parent application for Colorado’s new free preschool program opened at 8 a.m. on Tuesday — a major milestone in the march toward the program’s launch next summer. The program, funded in part by a voter-approved nicotine tax, will offer 10 to 15 hours a week of tuition-free preschool to 4-year-olds statewide, with some eligible for 30 hours a week. In addition, some 3-year-olds will be eligible for 10 hours a week.

State officials expect about 30,000 children to opt into the universal preschool program in its first year. That’s about half the number that will be eligible.

Click here to apply.

 

 Election denialism took a dangerous turn in New Mexico, as The Associated Press reports:

A failed Republican candidate who authorities said was angry over his defeat in November is facing numerous charges in connection with drive-by shootings targeting the homes of Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico’s largest city.

Solomon Pena, 39, was arrested Monday evening after SWAT officers took him into custody and served search warrants at his home, police said.

Pena, a felon whose criminal past had been a controversial issue during last year’s campaign, repeatedly made baseless claims that the election was “rigged” against him as he posed with “Trump 2024” flags and a “Make America Great Again” hoodie.

“I dissent. I am the MAGA king,” he posted the day after the election. And on Nov. 15, he added: “I never conceded my HD 14 race. Now researching my options.”

He was being held pending an initial court appearance Wednesday on charges including multiple counts of shooting at a home and shooting from a motor vehicle, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina described Pena as the “mastermind” of an apparently politically motivated conspiracy leading to shootings at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators between early December and early January.

We say it all the time: Words matter. It’s not harmless to pretend that elections are fraudulent.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th (Jan. 13)

There was only one instance of “Friday the 13th” in 2022; it will happen again in 2023 in October. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

► Tax cuts do NOT pay for themselves.

Don’t take our word for it: The House Rules Committee, overseen by Republicans, just inadvertently acknowledged as much. As Catherine Rampell writes for The Washington Post:

Via The Washington Post (1/12/23)

Congress sets rules for what kinds of budgetary changes it can pass under what circumstances, including what kinds of programs must be “paid for” by nipping and tucking elsewhere in the budget. Often, lawmakers want to change the law in a way that would cost money (i.e., increase deficits), either by reducing tax revenue or increasing spending. In recent Congresses, when lawmakers made that kind of change, they were generally supposed to find something to offset the cost so that long-term deficits didn’t grow…

…This GOP-led House has done something a bit different.

Under the new rules package, the budgetary requirements are more one-sided — in favor of tax cuts. Going forward, tax cuts do not need to be offset with any sort of savings elsewhere in the budget. They can add trillions to the debt. No problem.

But this is not true of spending programs. Spending program increases still have to be paid for.

Not only that, but the savings to offset expansions of mandatory programs have to come from cuts to other spending programs. They cannot be offset by tax revenue increases. In practical terms: An expansion of food stamps can’t be paid for by raising taxes on the rich — only by cutting, say, Medicaid or disability benefits. So basically any attempt to provide more support for poor or middle-income people is likely to come from other programs that help those same groups.

In related news, POLITICO reports that House Republicans are setting up a government shutdown this fall by implementing impossible spending requirements:

House Republicans are vowing to put Don Quixote to shame by tilting at a huge windmill: slashing federal spending by at least $130 billion without cutting defense.

It’s a proposition that’s severely unlikely on its face, before factoring in a Democratic Senate and White House that would never accept such cuts. Even the GOP’s fallback plan for avoiding a shutdown later this year — passing a short-term funding patch that would trigger reductions as an incentive for lawmakers to finish comprehensive spending bills — is inconceivable this term…

…that funding work is one of the few items Congress has to accomplish this year as part of basic governing. While lawmakers had always expected appropriations would be a struggle this term, the spending concessions negotiated by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his conservative foes have raised members’ blood pressure. Those House GOP demands could set the stage for a government shutdown, unless conservatives relent or enough moderate Democrats come to other Republicans’ rescue.

“I don’t think we’ve had a really good full-throated discussion and debate about what is politically doable,” said Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, a Republican appropriator.

 

The New York Times digs into some clearly-problematic and probably illegal campaign finance issues related to the Congressional campaign of the New York Republican who claims to be named George SantosMeanwhile, four Republican Members of Congress are calling for Santos to resign. In a separate story from The New York Times, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck BLAMES DEMOCRATS for the existence of Rep. Santos:

Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, said he believed Mr. Santos’s actions were wrong. But he blamed Democrats for failing to raise concerns about Mr. Santos before his election and said there was little chance of removing him from Congress now.

“If the Democrats had done their research and exposed things, the voters would have had more information,” Mr. Buck said. “I think what he did was wrong, but whether he gets a committee assignment is up to Kevin,” he said, referring to Mr. McCarthy.

Mr. Santos’s committee assignment remained unclear on Wednesday, but he did not receive a spot he coveted on the House Committee on Financial Services. Mr. McCarthy had said earlier in the day that Mr. Santos would not get a spot on choice committees.

What a schmuck.

 

The Colorado Sun reports on the swearing-in of Attorney General Phil Weiser for his second term in office. 

 

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GElT En BXTaQO

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Jan. 10)

Vote early AND often for Denver Nuggets’ players Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon as NBA All-Stars. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

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

 

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

 

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

“A little blip.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Jan. 5)

Believe it or not, there are other political stories not related to the GOP’s persistent inability to select a House Speaker. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Congressional Thunderdome got underway on Thursday at 10:00 with Republican Rep-elect John James of Michigan (first elected in November) nominating Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker. CLICK HERE to keep up with our updates, starting with vote #7.

A desperate McCarthy made new concessions to right-wing holdouts on Wednesday evening. As The Washington Post reports:

McCarthy has made fresh concessions to a group of 20 GOP lawmakers in hopes of ending their blockade of his speakership ahead of votes Thursday, a stunning reversal that, if adopted, would weaken the position of speaker and ensure a tenuous hold on the job.

During late-hour negotiations Wednesday, McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed to the proposed rule changes, according to four people familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

In a major allowance to the hard-right Republicans, McCarthy offered to lower from five to one the number of members required to sponsor a resolution to force a vote on ousting the speaker — a change that the California Republican had previously said he would not accept.

McCarthy also expressed a willingness to place more members of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus on the House Rules Committee, which debates legislation before it’s moved to the floor.

To track the votes on a member-by-member basis, check out this handy guide from The New York Times.

 

Colorado Rep-elect Lauren Boebert rose to nominate Florida Republican Rep-elect Byron Donalds on Wednesday, kicking former President Donald Trump in the nuts in the process. As POLITICO explains:

It was the second day of chaos on the floor of the House of Representatives when Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) took the previously unthinkable step of thumbing her nose at Donald Trump, the ex-president she otherwise venerates.

“Let’s stop with the campaign smears and tactics to get people to turn against us — even having my favorite president call us and tell us to knock this off. I think it actually needs to be reversed and the [former] president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw,” Boebert said. “Ooo”s from Democrats could be heard from the chamber.

The inability of McCarthy to secure the needed votes to be House Speaker — despite six tries at doing so — represents a unique failure on his part. But it has also called into question the extent of Trump’s own power to shape the party in his image, coming at a time when some Republicans have openly soured on his current run for the presidency.

Boebert is clearly enjoying her role as potential spoiler, telling reporters that there is NOTHING McCarthy can do to get her vote for Speaker. Boebert is also she’s getting hammered by right-wing McCarthy supporters — including Sean Hannity of Fox News and former Trump cabinet member Ryan Zinke:

 

Colorado’s other Republican Members of Congress are diverging in different ways. Colorado Springs Republican Doug Lamborn has steadfastly voted for McCarthy, as has Greeley’s Ken Buck

…but Buck has offered several conflicting answers on what might happen to end this circus. Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver somehow managed to put together a story with AN INACCURATE INTERVIEW from Buck’s own mouth.

 

Colorado lawmakers kick off their legislative session next week; they’ll be able to get right to work because there is no confusion about who will be House Speaker (Julie McCluskie). As Seth Klamann reports for The Denver Post reports, rent control could be front-and-center:

For years, the idea of rent control in Colorado simmered at a low temperature. Advocacy groups have pushed for it, some lawmakers have nudged at it, but there was no broad political movement to cap rising rents.

Even as Minneapolis, St. Paul and the state of Oregon have enacted or are considering policies capping how much rent can be raised in a given year, Colorado has eschewed it. When one lawmaker proposed limited rent protections for mobile home residents last year, Gov. Jared Polis threatened to veto it. A state law, on the books for more than 40 years, prohibits local governments from enacting any form of rent caps.

“It’s important to remember — this housing crisis we’re in right now, this affordability crisis, it’s actually a very new thing,” said Brian Connolly, a lawyer who works in land use policy and has taught at the University of Colorado law school. “Even five years ago, there was such little conversation — even though it was a problem — so little conversation about housing affordability and how we address this.”

The problem is not what it was five years ago. The housing crisis in Colorado has come to a head, several state and local officials say, prompting broader conversations about how to address it. The lessons of the pandemic — which required tens of millions of dollars of federal intervention to stave off mass evictions — and broader questions about the state’s role in addressing a statewide problem have reframed the housing debate.

Rent for Denver apartments increased more than 14% between 2021 and 2022, according to one survey. Another found that suburban rents had jumped 25% on average since the pandemic began.

This discussion also touches on local control issues; cities and counties aren’t thrilled at the idea of the state government dictating their housing policies.

The Colorado Sun has more to discuss in its preview of the upcoming legislative session.

 

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The Last Get More Smarter Podcast of 2022 (In 2023)

Yes, we know it’s now 2023, but this week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the last of the big political stories of the year that was.

We talk about the new Congress and whether Republicans will ever settle on a new House Speaker — a mess that involves Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert. We also discuss the Colorado Republican Party now that it officially needs a new Chairperson; the relative level of demise for Donald Trump; and Colorado’s version of New York Congressman-elect and master liar George Santos.

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Dec. 20)

It’s about to get really freaking cold in Colorado. Like, dangerously cold. Bundle up, people! Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

State Republican Party Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown announced on Monday that she will not seek another term after leading the GOP to its worst election year defeat in generations. As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, there’s a new name who could be interested in half-assing the job for the 2024 cycle:

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, a fierce gun rights advocate and familiar face at Republican events, is strongly considering running next year to become the Colorado GOP’s next state party chair.

Reams told The Colorado Sun on Monday there’s a greater than 50% chance he makes a bid for the job when the Colorado Republican Party votes for a new leader in March, but that he still has “some work to do to convince myself fully.”

Reams was reelected Nov. 8 to a third four-year term as sheriff, meaning he would have to balance his position as sheriff with the demands of being state party chair. That’s his biggest consideration in weighing whether to make a party chair bid. U.S. Rep. Ken Buck served as party chair from 2019 to 2021 while he was also a congressman.

Colorado Republicans lost every statewide race in 2022 by at least 10 points; lost a new Congressional seat in CO-08; and fell further into minority party status in the state legislature. What Republicans definitely need now is a new leader who already has a full-time job and can’t devote 100% of his time to being GOP Party Chair. Here’s how well that approach worked when Congressman Ken Buck tried doing two jobs at once in the 2020 cycle.

Reams says he will decide by the end of the year whether to run for Party Chair, where there are a handful of perennial losers lining up for the job. Casper Stockham, who loses political campaigns like children lose baby teeth, is running once again to be State Party Chair. Two-time gubernatorial loser Greg Lopez is also apparently looking at running, as is outgoing Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters (who might well be in prison by next summer); outgoing State Rep. Dave Williams (who lost a Republican Primary in CO-05 in June); and Holly Osborne Horn (who managed Attorney General candidate John Kellner’s debacle of a campaign in 2022).

In fairness, Republicans would probably prefer a candidate for State Chair who has not recently lost a campaign of some sort, but those people don’t really exist.

 

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection referred Donald Trump and several associates to the Justice Department for prosecution on Monday. Republicans who have always rushed to Trump’s defense have been noticeably silent this week, as The Associated Press reports:

The Republican Party quickly and forcefully rallied behind Donald Trump in the hours after federal agents seized classified documents from his Florida estate this summer.

Four months later, that sense of intensity and urgency was missing — at least for now — after the Jan. 6 House committee voted to recommend the Justice Department bring criminal charges against him. Leading Republicans largely avoided the historic criminal referral Monday, while others pressed to weigh in offered muted defenses — or none at all.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell called for “an immediate and thorough explanation” after the FBI executed the August search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. On Monday, he told reporters he had only one “immediate observation” about the criminal referral: “The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day.” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who called for Attorney General Merrick Garland’s resignation in the wake of the search, was silent on the committee’s referral, focusing instead on alleged FBI missteps…

…The divergent responses are a sign of how quickly the political landscape has shifted for Trump as he faces a new legal threat and mounts a third bid for the presidency. It’s a marked change for a party that has been defined, above all, by its unconditional loyalty to Trump under any and all circumstances for the last six years.

 

Regents at the University of Colorado are finally calling a spade a spade, as Elizabeth Hernandez reports for The Denver Post:

The chair of the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents called John Eastman “an embarrassment” Monday and said the elected board respects the ability of the Justice Department to weigh the Jan. 6 committee’s request that the attorney be prosecuted in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

Eastman was employed by CU Boulder as the visiting scholar of conservative thought and policy at the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization while he was advising President Donald Trump on how to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

On Monday, the House Jan. 6 committee recommended to the Department of Justice that Trump be charged with violating four criminal statutes, including aiding an insurrection, and that Eastman be prosecuted on two of the same statutes as Trump: conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstructing an official proceeding…

…CU Regent Chair Lesley Smith, an at-large Democrat, issued a new statement Monday on behalf of the university’s governing board:

“John Eastman has not been affiliated with CU for some 20 months. As CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano clearly noted immediately following the Jan. 6 riot, Eastman’s conduct in the weeks preceding Jan. 6 and on that day was shameful and it certainly does not reflect CU’s values. He is an embarrassment. We respect both the January 6 Committee’s right to make a referral to the Justice Department and the department’s ability to evaluate the evidence and determine whether to seek charges against him.”

We would imagine that CU Regent Hiedi Heidi Ganahl does not agree with this statement, given her repeated excuses for Eastman.

 

 

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The GMS Podcast: Have Republicans Reached the End of the End?

Christy Powell and Alan Franklin (he’s older now)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, Ian Silverii is on vacation, so Jason Bane sits down with returning guests Christy Powell and Alan Franklin to take a closer look at the 2022 election in Colorado and what it portends for the future of this state.

We talk about how Republicans completely hosed themselves in 2022; whether or not the Colorado GOP is even salvageable; and what Democrats need to be careful about with their new super-duper majorities in Colorado. We also touch on some news about exporting QAnon and whether failed Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker was tanking all along.

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

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Dec. 15)

Where’d everybody go? Did we move Christmas up 10 days? Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Survivors of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs last month were in Washington D.C. to talk to Congress about their experience. As Seth Klamann reports for The Denver Post:

The hearing — focused on the rise of anti-LGBT violence and extremism in the United States — came a day after President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex and interracial unions. Haynes attended the signing ceremony and told the committee it was the first joy he’s experienced since the shooting…

…The testimony came as national lawmakers race to finish their work for the year. To the frustration of many Democrats, the year-end agenda doesn’t include legislation to ban semiautomatic firearms due to firm Republican opposition.

The House passed legislation in July that would ban assault weapons for the first time since 2004, but it failed to pass in the Senate. Republicans dismiss the bill as an attack on Second Amendment rights.

Wednesday’s hearing also came on the 10-year anniversary of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that took the lives of 20 students and six teachers. Mass shootings haven’t abated since then, with another deadly attack at a school occurring just this summer in Uvalde, Texas.

Colorado Newsline notes that witnesses at the House hearing also brought up violent anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from Republican politicians:

Survivors of a deadly attack at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs and other advocates told a U.S. House panel Wednesday that political rhetoric and policy fights dehumanize LGBTQ people and contribute to such violence.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee largely sympathized with the survivors, but drew different conclusions about the root issues and what should be done next. Republicans said Congress should focus on rising crimes against all victims, pledging to make the issue a priority when they take control of the House next month.

Ah, yes, the “All Lives Matter” response from Republicans has returned.

 

As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post, Congressional Republicans may need a new argument in the next Congress:

Has the worst of the pandemic-induced inflation already passed? The latest economic data released this week suggest so. That leaves Republicans in a quandary: After dedicating practically all of their midterm messaging of substance to President Biden’s supposed mishandling of the economy, they might have little left to stand on…

…Should the economy continue to improve, the GOP would have few ideas left for its agenda. It could go back to advocating tax cuts for rich people, but that would be inflationary. It could attack Biden’s legislative achievements, such as limits on prescription drug prices, but those are popular. It could advocate for more drilling permits, but oil companies are not making use of the public leases already available to them.

There’s always Hunter Biden’s laptop, amirite?

 

Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun takes his turn at considering whether the U.S. Supreme Court might end up undermining Colorado’s redistricting process.

 

As The Associated Press reports, plotters who intended to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 will be spending a long time in prison:

A judge on Thursday handed down the longest prison terms so far in the plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor, sentencing three men who forged an early alliance with a leader of the scheme before the FBI broke it up in 2020.

Joe Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar were not charged with having a direct role in the conspiracy but were members of a paramilitary group that trained with Adam Fox, who separately faces a possible life sentence on Dec. 27 for his federal conviction.

The trio was convicted in October of providing material support for a terrorist act, which carries a maximum term of 20 years, and two other crimes.

Musico was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison, followed by his son-in-law Morrison at 10 years and Bellar at seven. They will be eligible for parole after serving those terms.

Speaking in a recorded video, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged the judge to “impose a sentence that meets the gravity of the damage they have done to our democracy.”

Hooray for laws!

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Dec. 13)

There are 13 more days until Boxing Day. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

We made it!

The 2022 election in Colorado is finally complete. According to a press release from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office:

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has announced the certification of the 2022 General Election, making the results of the election official and final. The certification was conducted after each county’s bipartisan canvass boards submitted their official abstract of votes to the Secretary of State’s Office, as well as the conclusion of a mandatory recount in the race for Colorado’s U.S. Congressional District 3 and permissive recount of the Colorado House District 43 race…

…After the election, the Secretary of State’s office worked with Colorado’s county clerks to complete a bipartisan risk-limiting audit that verified the results of the election. After the audit, each county’s bipartisan canvass board certified the election results. The canvass boards then submitted the final results to the Secretary of State’s office, including the recount results from the 3rd Congressional District and House District 43.

Colorado voters had more options than ever to cast a ballot in the November 8 General Election. In addition to Colorado having 411 drop boxes – a more than 65% increase from the 2018 midterm – and 366 voting centers available to voters, the Secretary of State’s Office worked with Colorado Ute Tribal communities to increase access to early voting; voters in the RTD region had two zero fare days to take the bus or train to cast their ballot at no cost; and the office launched a Language Assistance Hotline to assist voters who don’t speak English as their primary language with ballot content.

Returning a mail ballot was the preferred method for voters with 95.3% of voters choosing to cast their mail ballot during the 2022 General Election – accounting for 2,444,360 total ballots returned – and only 4.7% of voters choosing to vote in-person – 120,159 total ballots returned.

Also on Monday, the SOS office announced the results of two recounts — in CO-03 and HD-43 — that predictably ended up making no meaningful change to the final results.

Via the Colorado Secretary of State

 

 

 Now that Boebert has officially won re-election, will she tone down her nonsense rhetoric and learn a lesson from her near-defeat?

Nah.

 

President Biden will sign into law the “Respect for Marriage Act” today, with a prominent guest from Colorado in attendance. From The Associated Press:

Among the attendees will be the owner of Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado where five people were killed in a shooting last month, and two survivors of the attack. The suspect has been charged with hate crimes.

Plaintiffs from lawsuits that originally helped secure the nationwide right to gay marriage are also expected to be there, according to the White House.

The new law is intended to safeguard gay marriages if the U.S. Supreme Court ever reverses Obergefell v. Hodges, its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex unions nationwide. The new law also protects interracial marriages. In 1967, the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia struck down laws in 16 states barring interracial marriage.

 

A proposed anti-abortion ordinance in Pueblo appears to have been defeated. If you can figure out how in the hell to access your account with The Denver Post, you can probably even read this story from Seth Klamann:

Pueblo’s City Council voted down a proposal Monday night that would’ve effectively banned abortions in the city, ending a contentious month-long saga that threatened to pit Pueblo against state law and drag it to the forefront of America’s abortion fight.

After the council president read a statement criticizing the measure as hastily drafted and outside the body’s authority, the council voted 4-3 to pull it from the agenda and table it, effectively killing it. It had passed two weeks before on an initial reading, albeit because some council members — who complained that they knew little about it — wanted more information about it before making a final decision.

The ordinance would’ve banned providers in Pueblo from receiving abortion-related materials in the mail under a federal law that’s nearly 150 years old. Experts and opponents of the ordinance cast the approach as the latest attempt by anti-abortion activists to limit abortion access nationally, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in June that struck down Roe vs. Wade. Supporters said they wanted Pueblo to be in compliance with federal law and that the ordinance wouldn’t specifically ban abortion.

Heather Graham, the council’s president, rejected that argument and said abortion access was not something the city could — or should — wade into.

This dude needs a new hobby.

 

 Be careful out there, particularly if you are traveling in Eastern Colorado or trying to navigate your way to Denver International Airport.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Dec. 9)

Mighty Brazil was ousted from the World Cup today in a penalty kick shootout with Croatia. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Questions continue to swirl about what law enforcement officials did NOT do that might have prevented the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs last month. As The Denver Post reports:

The 2021 criminal case against the Club Q shooting suspect that involved an alleged threat to become the “next mass killer” was dismissed by a judge after the suspect’s family members refused to participate in the court process, Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said Thursday.

Law enforcement officials seized two guns from Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, after that incident, including a 9 mm pistol that was a “ghost gun,” as well as an AR-15 rifle. But, Allen said, those guns were never returned to Aldrich, who now stands accused of carrying out a mass shooting with an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun.

Five people were killed and another 22 injured, 17 by gunfire, in the Nov. 19 attack at the LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs. Prosecutors this week charged Aldrich with more than 300 criminal counts, including first-degree murder and hate crimes.

The new revelations about Aldrich’s arrest last year on felony kidnapping and menacing charges came only after El Paso County District Court Judge Robin Chittum unsealed the case Thursday morning, citing a “profound” public interest in the 2021 arrest and prosecution that significantly outweighs Aldrich’s right to privacy.

Republican officials in Colorado Springs — including District Attorney Michael Allen, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, and incoming Sheriff Joe Roybal — are all outspoken opponents of Colorado’s “red flag” laws that are intended to prevent exactly this sort of scenario. Elder is doing a lot of back pedaling these days.

 

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema seems hell-bent on making sure nobody likes her. From POLITICO:

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is changing her party affiliation to independent, delivering a jolt to Democrats’ narrow majority and Washington along with it.

In a 45-minute interview, the first-term senator told POLITICO that she will not caucus with Republicans and suggested that she intends to vote the same way she has for four years in the Senate. “Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she said.

Provided that Sinema sticks to that vow, Democrats will still have a workable Senate majority in the next Congress, though it will not exactly be the neat and tidy 51 seats they assumed. They’re expected to also have the votes to control Senate committees. And Sinema’s move means Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — a pivotal swing vote in the 50-50 chamber the past two years — will hold onto some but not all of his outsized influence in the Democratic caucus.

Sinema would not address whether she will run for reelection in 2024, and informed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of her decision on Thursday.

Sinema began her career in public office as a member of the Green Party before winning elections to Congress and U.S. Senate as a Democrat. By this time next year, she’ll be calling herself a “Whig.”

 

Colorado Public Radio reports on advancements toward passing a new National Defense Authorization Act:

The House took the first step Thursday to passing the National Defense Authorization Act, a defense policy bill Congress has approved every year for more than 60 years. The bill passed 350-80. It now heads to the Senate.

GOP Rep. Ken Buck was the lone Colorado vote against the bill. Reps. Lauren Boebert, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, Doug Lamborn, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter all voted for it.

After the vote, Buck said he couldn’t support spending the amount of money the NDAA authorizes.

The bipartisan bill totals almost $858 billion for defense programs, which is $45 billion more than President Joe Biden sought. It includes a 4.6 percent pay raise for military personnel.

Ken freaking Buck, ladies and gentlemen!

 

Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) and a discussion about the “Infinity War” within the Colorado Republican Party.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Dec. 8)

‘Tis a mighty blustery day. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Journalists at The New York Times are on strike after contract negotiations broke down, so there will be no links to the Times in this edition of “Get More Smarter.”

 

After Roe v. Wade was overturned last June, there were lots of rumblings that conservative judges on the U.S. Supreme Court might be interested in going after same-sex and interracial marriage protections next (Justice Clarence Thomas openly spoke about that desire). Today, Congress took final steps to make sure that those protections remain in place regardless of what the Supreme Court does next.

As The Associated Press reports:

The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of those unions that reflects a stark turnaround in societal attitudes.

President Joe Biden is expected to promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages. It is a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized those marriages and have worried about what would happen if the ruling were overturned.

The bipartisan legislation, which passed 258-169 with almost 40 Republican votes, would also protect interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.” After months of negotiations, the Senate passed the bill last week with 12 Republican votes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who presided over the vote as one of her last acts in leadership before stepping aside in January, wiped her eye as she became emotional before signing the bill, which sent it to the White House immediately after the vote. She called the bill “a glorious triumph of love and freedom.”

Every Democrat in Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted in favor of the “Respect for Marriage Act.” Every Republican — Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn — voted ‘NO.’

 

► Brittney Griner, the WNBA basketball star who has been detained for months in Russia, was finally freed in a prisoner exchange negotiated by the Biden administration. Griner is expected to arrive in the United States at some point today.

 

Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) and a discussion about the “Infinity War” within the Colorado Republican Party.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Dec. 2)

The United States Men’s soccer team faces Netherlands on Saturday in the World Cup Round of 16, but you’ll have to wake up early to watch the game (8:00 am MST). Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Fox 31 News is heavily promoting an interview with Rep. Lauren Boebert that will run on its Sunday political show. During the interview, Boebert doubles-down on her vile comments about the LGBTQ community and then makes a completely absurd statement about Colorado’s “Red Flag” laws that proves — once again — that Boebert has no grasp whatsoever of any policy issues:

The suspect in the Club Q shooting did have a past run-in with law enforcement in Colorado Springs. The suspect’s mother called police after she was threatened with a homemade bomb in 2021. Many, including Boebert, questioned why Colorado’s red flag law wasn’t used.

Derp

“Why did this (person) have a firearm if we have red flag laws in the state of Colorado?” Boebert said. “I’m not in favor of red flag laws. It’s just pointing out the hypocrisy of using this against law-abiding citizens, having this law on the books, which is completely unconstitutional. But then where it could have potentially matter, it wasn’t used.” [Pols emphasis]

Why wasn’t the “Red Flag” law used in Colorado Springs? This isn’t a mystery. It wasn’t used because Republican officials in El Paso County, including District Attorney Michael Allen and Sheriff Bill Elder, openly admit that they refuse to abide by the law.

 

Meanwhile, elected officials in Colorado who actually DO understand what is happening in our state continue to discuss potential new gun safety measures. From The Colorado Sun:

A host of changes to Colorado’s gun laws, from a ban on so-called assault weapons to tweaks to the existing red flag law, are already being considered by Democrats at the state Capitol in response to the shooting last month at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs.

“Pretty much everything is on the table,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat. “The question now is: What seems like a priority?”

Democrats will return to the Colorado Capitol in early January with expanded majorities in both the House and Senate and facing pressure to act after the state’s latest mass shooting. Five people were killed and more than a dozen others wounded in a Nov. 19 attack on Club Q allegedly carried out by a 22-year-old shooter armed with a semi-automatic, AR-15-style rifle.

Gun policy could be the first big test of Democrats’ expanded majorities at the Capitol next year. Memories of the 2013 recalls of Democratic lawmakers over tougher gun regulations adopted in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting certainly remain, but Colorado is a different state politically than it was a decade ago, and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are almost guaranteed until January 2027. [Pols emphasis]

 

The U.S. economy just won’t die, despite what Republicans told you for the last 10 months. From The New York Times:

America’s jobs engine kept churning in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, a show of continued demand for workers despite the Federal Reserve’s push to curb inflation by tamping down hiring.

Employers created 263,000 jobs, even as a wave of layoffs in the tech industry made headlines. That was only a slight drop from the revised figure of 284,000 for October.

The unemployment rate was steady at 3.7 percent, while wages have risen 5.1 percent over the year, more than expected.

The labor market has been surprisingly resilient in the face of successive interest rate increases by the Fed, adding an average of 323,000 jobs for the last six months.

Some economists are still fretting about particular aspects of the labor market, but finding things to be nervous about is sort of a requirement for an economist.

 

Remember when Weld County rancher/oil and gas development land owner Steve Wells made headlines for promising to spend $11 million of his own money to defeat Democratic Gov. Jared Polis?

The Dream Team: Steve Wells and Heidi Ganahl

That was all nonsense.

As The Colorado Sun reports:

Steve Wells, the deep-pocketed Weld County rancher and oil and gas booster who made waves over the summer when he dedicated $11 million toward a longshot effort to unseat Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, ended up spending only about 30% of the money.

Wells has refunded himself about $7 million from the super PAC, Deep Colorado Wells, he formed to defeat Polis and support Republican candidates, leaving about $850,000 in the committee’s coffers for future political spending. [Pols emphasis]

Wells said he always intended to spend the full $11 million but that he stopped at $3.3 million about a month before Election Day after he realized other GOP donors weren’t going to open their wallets in Colorado and as he saw how much money Polis, a wealthy self-funding candidate, was dedicating to his reelection bid.

Sure thing, Steve. We all totally believe you.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Nov. 30)

The United States Men’s soccer team advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup after defeating Iran by a score of 1-0; the U.S. team now faces Netherlands on Saturday. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

History was made in Congress today. As The Washington Post reports:

House Democrats elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as their leader, making him the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress. The New Yorker succeeds House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who has led the Democrats for two decades. Jeffries will carry the title of minority leader when Congress returns in January with Republicans in control of the House as a result of the midterm elections.

Approved by acclamation, Jeffries, 52, and two other lawmakers in leadership — Reps. Katherine M. Clark (Mass.), 59, and Pete Aguilar (Calif.), 43 — will represent a generational change for Democrats who will be in the minority in the new Congress.

 

Seth Klamann and Nick Coltrain of The Denver Post have more details on what lawmakers are considering in order to address gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs:

Addressing gun violence was a top priority before the attack at Club Q, lawmakers say. But the massacre there — “unfortunately, another chapter in a long story of tragedies,” as Senate President Steve Fenberg put it — underscores the need for action.

Though the shooting has prompted lawmakers to discuss everything from an assault weapon ban to age restrictions on the purchase of firearms, they said policymakers cannot continue to wait for a mass shooting to react to gun violence here.

“Everything should be on the table,” Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat, said. “We should prioritize what we think is going to save the most lives and have the most impact. That should be our north star.”

The City of Broomfield, meanwhile, is already moving ahead with several new gun safety measures.

 

The Associated Press reports on efforts in Congress to prevent a rail strike:

Congress is moving swiftly to prevent a looming U.S. rail workers strike, reluctantly intervening in a labor dispute to stop what would surely be a devastating blow to the nation’s economy if the transportation of fuel, food and other critical goods were disrupted.

The House was expected to act first on Wednesday after President Joe Biden asked Congress to step in. The bill lawmakers are considering would impose a compromise labor agreement brokered by his administration that was ultimately voted down by four of the 12 unions representing more than 100,000 employees at large freight rail carriers. The unions have threatened to strike if an agreement can’t be reached before a Dec. 9 deadline.

Lawmakers from both parties expressed reservations, but the intervention was particularly difficult for some Democratic lawmakers who have traditionally sought to align themselves with the politically powerful labor unions.

Many Senate Democrats, including Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper, want to ensure that rail workers receive the seven days of sick leave that has been a sticking point in negotiations.

 

 Colorado’s U.S. Senators — Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooperboth voted ‘YES’ on Tuesday on the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which codifies into federal law protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. The measure passed by a vote of 61-36.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Nov. 29)

The United States Men’s soccer team takes on Iran today at Noon for a chance to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

One of the big questions from the Club Q mass shooting in Colorado Springs revolves around the refusal of local elected officials to use so-called “Red Flag” laws that were intended to help prevent such a tragedy. Governor Jared Polis says he wants to expand the law, as 9News reports:

Polis on Monday called for the expansion of the “red flag” law in Colorado that gives loved ones and law enforcement the ability to take guns away from people who appear to be dangerous.

A roommate, relative or law enforcement officer can ask a judge to remove firearms from someone the court deems to be a “significant risk” to themselves or others. In a statement to 9Wants to Know, Polis’ spokesman said the governor supports expanding the list of those who can request a red flag order – officially known as an “extreme risk protection order” – to include district attorneys and possibly others…

…Despite having the second-most red flag cases in the state, El Paso County has the lowest approval rate in the state among the large Front Range counties. There was an approval in 23% of the county’s 53 cases.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder has repeatedly made it clear that he opposes the law. In 2019, the county passed a resolution declaring itself a sanctuary from the enforcement of the red flag law. The sheriff has not filed an application for a red flag order, according to court records.

The Colorado Springs Independent has more on questions about why “Red Flag” laws weren’t used by local officials.

Meanwhile, as The Colorado Sun reports in it’s “Unaffiliated” newsletter:

Pressure is building on Democrats in the Colorado legislature to act — once again — after the state’s latest mass shooting. And preliminary conversations are already underway in the House and Senate Democratic caucuses about what gun control steps to take next year…

…Senate President Steve Fenberg said there are already discussions happening around tweaking Colorado’s red flag law, raising the minimum age to purchase certain firearms, enacting waiting periods between when someone purchases a weapon and can access it and improving the background check process.

 

The U.S. Senate will vote today on a same-sex marriage measure. From NBC News:

The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on legislation to codify federal protections for marriages between same-sex and interracial couples.

Unless some Republican supporters of the bill flip, the Respect For Marriage Act is expected to pass, one day after it cleared another procedural hurdle by a vote of 61 to 35, receiving unanimous support from Senate Democrats and 12 GOP votes, enough to break a filibuster.

“We’re making a really positive difference in people’s lives by creating the certainty that their ability to protect their families will be lasting,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the author of the bill and first openly gay American elected to the Senate, told NBC News.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday he’s wearing the same tie he wore to the wedding of his daughter and her wife. “It’s personal to me,” he told reporters.

 

The Washington Post ponders when the “recession” that so many economists predicted might actually arrive:

The overwhelming view among economists and Fed watchers is that the country is barreling toward a recession. And experts have good reason for the doom and gloom: The Fed is in the middle of an all-out effort to bring down dangerously high inflation, hiking interest rates at the most aggressive pace in decades. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell will speak at the Brookings Institution, where he’s expected to set the stage for smaller rate hikes in the coming weeks and months while reinforcing the Fed’s commitment to taming inflation.

Yet the feared recession still hasn’t arrived. Ever since the Fed started aggressively hiking interest rates in March, crucial pillars of the economy have stayed remarkably strong. The economy grew in the third quarter after shrinking in the first half of the year. Gas prices are ticking down. Companies are still eager to hire workers. And for many businesses and households planning for the future, a slowdown just doesn’t seem imminent.

Powell and his colleagues say they will be guided by the economic data, and this week will offer plenty to analyze. New government figures on October job openings come out on Wednesday, and the November jobs report comes out on Friday. But for months, the Fed’s resounding message has made clear that officials will not stop until prices come back down to normal levels, and as a result, the chances of avoiding a recession are slimming.

 

If you thought Republican leaders in one of Colorado’s largest counties might have learned a lesson from the 2022 election…think again.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (Nov. 28)

Happy Cyber Monday! A quick note before we get started: Some of the items in today’s Get More Smarter are a few days old because of the Thanksgiving holiday break. 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 

 

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is hoping to use a lame duck session in Congress to revive an expanded child tax credit program. As Nick Coltrain reports for The Denver Post:

Bennet has long championed the expanded child tax credit and helped secure its inclusion in 2021’s American Rescue Plan Act. Under that temporary program, parents received $300 per month and per child younger than 6, and $250 per month for children 6 and older. It scaled lower if households made higher incomes.

It only lasted about half a year, however, and expired in January. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, tilted the odds against its continuation in an evenly split Senate. He cited concerns about inflation and that it discouraged people from working.

Despite its short lifespan, the Census Bureau credited it with nearly halving childhood poverty in the country. Its analysis found that the expanded tax credit lifted some 5.3 million Americans, most of whom are children, out of poverty. That doesn’t include the millions more who weren’t in poverty but otherwise benefited from the expanded credits.

Colorado Public Radio has more on what Democrats hope to accomplish in the final weeks of the current Congress.

 

► President Biden is pushing hard for a new Assault Weapons Ban in Congress after another week of mass shootings around the country. From The Associated Press:

“The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. Just sick,” Biden said on Thanksgiving Day. “I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons.”…

…A weapons ban is far off in a closely divided Congress. But Biden and the Democrats have become increasingly emboldened in pushing for stronger gun controls — and doing so with no clear electoral consequences.

The Democratic-led House passed legislation in July to revive a 1990s-era ban on “assault weapons,” with Biden’s vocal support. And the president pushed a ban nearly everywhere that he campaigned this year.

Still, in the midterm elections, Democrats kept control of the Senate and Republicans were only able to claim the slimmest House majority in two decades.

The tough talk follows passage in June of a landmark bipartisan bill on gun laws, and it reflects steady progress that gun control advocates have been making in recent years.

Meanwhile, expect to see more pushback against local elected Republicans who refuse to use tools such as “Red Flag” laws that might have prevented the mass shooting in Colorado Springs.

 

Lindsay Datko, the nutball leader of the “Jeffco Kids First” organization that played a significant role in promoting the widely-discredited nonsense about “furries” in schools (which GOP gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl talked about incessantly) is now pushing a new lie via Facebook. The message below is complete nonsense; Colorado Community Media is NOT considering a retraction of this October story from reporter Rylee Dunn.

 

 

Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Congresswoman-elect Brittany Pettersen providing a look behind the curtain about how newly-elected Members of Congress get acclimated to Washington D.C..

 

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Rep-Elect Brittany Pettersen Gets More Smarter

State Sen. Brittany Pettersen and son Davis.

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Brittany Pettersen, Congresswoman-elect from the seventh congressional district (and Ian’s wife). Pettersen takes us behind the scenes for a look at what it’s like for a newly-elected Member of Congress to spend the week after the election learning the ins and outs of life at the U.S. Capitol. 

Later, we discuss Rep. Lauren Boebert’s narrow victory in CO-03; Donald Trump’s very sad 2024 campaign announcement; and leadership elections at the State Capitol. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for listening!

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

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

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

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Nov. 15)

It’s been a few months since we posted one of these news roundups. Now that the election season is over, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

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 

 

Former President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new bid for the White House today at an event at Mar-a-Lago. Many Republicans don’t seem particularly thrilled about the idea, as NBC News reports:

“Personalities come and go,” said Dave Ball, the GOP chair in Pennsylvania’s Washington County, who has supported and defended Trump. “Sometimes you have overstayed your welcome. You’ve got new people, new faces come, and you have to change with the times sometimes.”

In interviews, more than two dozen state GOP leaders, elected officials and operatives said Trump’s heavy involvement in midterm contests up and down the ballot doomed them in swing states, leaving intact the Democrats’ blue wall in Pennsylvania and the industrial Midwest and costing them a winnable Senate seat in Nevada. Trump loomed large in the minds of voters, exit polls showed, and in many key races, voters rejected his hand-picked candidates.

Those Republicans, including those who supported him in the past and others who tolerated him but rarely spoke out publicly, said they increasingly see Trump and Trumpism as losing propositions and would prefer he not run for president again in 2024. Trump is preparing to do just that, with a Tuesday announcement expected at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Trump had wanted to announce his 2024 Presidential run before the midterm elections, but advisers apparently talked him out of that decision.

 

Trump has invited a bunch of MAGA Republicans in Congress to join him at Mar-a-Lago this evening for his big announcement. But before that can happen, Republicans need to gather to vote in leadership elections. California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy is expected to be elected House Speaker, though his power has been significantly diminished already after struggling to net more than a mere five seats that were required for Republicans to gain control of the House of Representatives. 

As The Washington Post explains, the right-wing of the right-wing is promising to make McCarthy’s ascension quite the headache:

If McCarthy doesn’t get 218 today, it will show he is working from a position of weakness as he tries to secure more support in the coming weeks. (Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) announced Monday evening on Newsmax that he will be nominated by his colleagues to challenge McCarthy.) 

Members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus are asking for concessions on conference rules and seats on key committees in exchange for their votes. [Pols emphasis]

The biggest rule change far-right members want is to reinstate a rule called the motion to vacate, which allows any member, at any time, the ability to submit a motion to remove the speaker. McCarthy doesn’t want to make this concession since the rule could be held over his head by recalcitrant members whenever they don’t get their way.

The House Freedom Caucus includes Colorado Rep. Ken Buck and Congresswoman-in-limbo Lauren Boebert.

 

Speaking of Boebert, the next big update on a potential outcome in her close battle with Democrat Adam Frisch will come tomorrow (though CO-03 seems headed for a recount anyway). Both campaigns are rushing to “cure” ballots, as Colorado Newsline explains. A bunch of military and overseas ballots are also expected to arrive in Colorado by Wednesday.

 

Colorado Republicans are still struggling to understand how they got wiped out in last week’s Bluenami. The latest local story, via Fox 31, is mostly about blaming Trump for their losses. Republicans have also reached that grieving stage wherein everybody pretends that there were moral victories that were won. 

As we wrote on Monday, the Colorado GOP seems to be struggling to comprehend some fairly obvious shortcomings.

 

Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for a deep dive into last week’s election results with Seth Masket of the University of Denver’s Center on American Politics.

 

Click below to keep learning things…

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast Breaks Down the Bluenami

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk once again with Seth Masket, Director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, to break down the massive Bluenami that overtook Colorado on Election Day.

And, no, we still don’t know who won the race in CO-03 between Republican Lauren Boebert and Democrat Adam Frisch.

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

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

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

Get More Smarter Before Election Day!

This week on a special pre-election episode of the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii make their final prognostications for the 2022 Election.

We also talk again with Andrew Baumann, senior vice president of research at Global Strategy Group and the lead pollster for the quarterly “Rocky Mountaineer” poll in Colorado, about what to watch out for on Election Night once numbers start trickling in nationally. Later, Jason and Ian show off what they’ve learned from Republicans in 2022 by attempting to repeat — from memory — stump speeches for Senate candidate Joe O’Dea and gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl.

Remember, friends: Vote early, not often. If you’re still holding onto your ballot, DO NOT drop it in the mail; instead, take your completed ballot to one of many drop boxes in your area. For more information, head over to GoVoteColorado.gov.

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

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

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

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State Sen. Kevin Priola Gets More Smarter

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii are joined by State Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson, who made lots of news this fall by switching parties from Republican to Democrat. Senator Priola talks about how he ended up leaving the Republican Party, how he plans to vote in 2022, and what it feels like to be rooting for a different team this election cycle.

Later, we update listeners on all the latest news from the top races in Colorado, including GOP gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s closing “argument.” We also discuss the relentless disgusting editorializing from The Colorado Springs Gazette; and we introduce a new segment for the show that we’re just calling “That’s Bullshit!”

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

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

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