Get More Smarter on Monday (March 16)

If you need a new playlist of songs, here are some timely suggestions from readers of Colorado Pols. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

* For the latest Colorado-related Coronavirus information, go to this website from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

The Coronavirus is totally no big deal if you live inside President Trump’s big orange melon. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

While Trump creating his own set of facts — in which he is always the best, always the winner, always the hero of the story — isn’t new, the stakes here are radically different. Now is not a time for happy talk. Now is a time for buckling down, for staying home, for understanding that this virus isn’t something we have ever experienced as a society before.

When the President of the United States gets up in front of the American people and talks the way Trump talked on Sunday, it sends the wrong signal to people. And that wrong signal encourages behavior that is detrimental to slowing the spread of the virus, which we know is vital if we want to protect ourselves.

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post takes this argument a step further in the context of Trump’s “fake news” narrative:

It’s bad enough that President Trump has relentlessly minimized the coronavirus threat for nakedly political reasons, disastrously hampering the federal government response to the crisis, with untold consequences to come.

Determined not to be outdone by his own malice and depravity, Trump is taking new steps that threaten to make all of it worse. He’s telling millions of Americans to entirely shut out any and all correctives to his falsehoods. He’s insisting they must plug their ears to any criticism designed to hold his government accountable for the failures we’re seeing, even though such criticism could nudge the response in a more constructive direction…

…But also note Trump’s declaration that, in a larger sense, the media is not being truthful at a time of crisis. Trump is using his megaphone to tell the American people not to trust an institution they must rely on for information amid an ongoing public health emergency, all because that institution held him accountable for his own failures on this front.

David Leonhardt of The New York Times is keeping track of President Trump’s bag of lies regarding Coronavirus. ICYMI on Friday, Trump definitively stated that “I don’t take responsibility at all” for botching the federal government response to the Coronavirus:

 
The stock market is not responding well to the Federal Reserve’s decision to drop interest rates to zero.

 

Tuesday is another big day in the Democratic Presidential Primary, but Coronavirus is changing some voting equations. From The Washington Post:

Voters, campaigns and election officials in four states holding contests Tuesday are braced for a presidential primary day unlike any in memory, as the surging threat of the novel coronavirus has forced major changes at voting locations, rattled poll workers and left voters worried about how to cast their ballots.

In Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, election officials have raced to replace poll workers who have said they will not show Tuesday, supply thousands of precincts with sanitizing supplies, and notify voters whose polling locations, many in senior facilities, have been moved as a result of the pandemic.

Voters, meanwhile, have flooded information hotlines. Among their urgent questions: where to vote, how to deliver a ballot if they are under quarantine and how to vote if they registered while attending a college that is now closed.

As the coronavirus spreads, the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico announced Sunday that it would seek to postpone the territory’s March 29 primaries, joining Louisiana and Georgia. One New York election official said Sunday that discussions are underway about whether to delay that state’s contests.

Bernie Sanders is suggesting that perhaps we should postpone all remaining Primary elections.

 

The Colorado General Assembly has suspended work until March 30. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discussed preparations for such a move in last week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

The Denver Post has the latest facts and figures on Coronavirus in Colorado, including a special warning for high country residents and others who have recently visited mountain communities. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock updated the city’s Coronavirus response, which includes closing down restaurant dining areas.

 

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

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Caucuses and Coronavirus

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, House Majority Leader Alec Garnett takes us through the process for a legislative recess due to Coronavirus and talks about the biggest bills on the docket — including a discussion about whether or not host Jason Bane can take his pet kangaroo to a restaurant patio. Later, Jason and Alan Franklin also discuss Colorado’s caucus results; Bernie vs. Biden; the utter lunacy of Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley); and we find Sen. Cory Gardner hiding out at a bougie billionaire’s champagne party.

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

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Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th

We’ve added a new “Coronavirus” section to our news roundup to keep that news quarantined. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS RIGHT NOW…

Both Democrats and Republicans have been pleading with President Trump to declare a national emergency regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. Today he finally relented, as NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump plans to declare a national emergency Friday to allow more direct relief to Americans affected by the coronavirus, two administration officials told NBC News.

The move could help open up tens of billions of dollars to help fight the rapidly spreading pandemic.

Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference at 3:00 pm EST.

 

Health experts are begging the Trump administration to stop blaming China for Coronavirus. As Politico explains:

The Trump team’s escalating drumbeat against China is worrying some public health experts, who say the attempts to blame Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak could harm efforts to combat the spreading contagion, while winning praise from others.

And it’s come amid conspiracy theories and counteraccusations from Chinese officials, some of whom are alleging the virus’s true origins lie outside China, in what U.S. officials say is a malicious effort to shift blame.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has accused China of covering up the health crisis. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly labeled the illness the “Wuhan coronavirus” — a reference to the Chinese city that is the epicenter of the disease.

 

Thank God there are still some officials in the federal government willing to tell the truth. As The Washington Post reports:

With the country desperate for answers and leadership, all Trump can do is spread his magical lying and chaos pixie dust everywhere, all to fog over his own naked-emperor inability to supply either amid a public emergency happening in the immediate here and now.

Into this vacuum stepped Dr. Fauci on “Morning Joe,” to try to create an impression of calm leadership where there isn’t any…

…Officials like Dr. Fauci are in an admittedly difficult spot. As he himself has also acknowledged, telling the country the truth while keeping the principal happy is a difficult balancing act.

This particular principal — that is, Trump — has turned that balancing act into a monumentally more difficult task, one akin to tightrope-walking in a hurricane. And we have no idea how bad the consequences could get.

 

 The Denver Post updates state-level efforts to deal with the outbreak. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discusses how the legislature is preparing for Coronavirus in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

 The Trump administration is partnering with private businesses to implement drive-thru Coronavirus testing. Colorado was ahead of the curve on this; here’s the latest on COVID-19 testing at the Lowry facility in Denver.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 11)

The World Health Organization has officially classified the Coronavirus as a “pandemic.” It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The race for the Democratic Presidential nomination appears to be nearing its end after another big night for Joe Biden on Better Than Average Tuesday. As The Washington Post reports:

The campaign for the Democratic nomination has moved at warp speed over the past 10 days, and on Tuesday night it reached a decisive turning point. Barring something unforeseen, Democrats now know that former vice president Joe Biden will be the party’s nominee to challenge President Trump in November.

Biden scored a group of victories over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday, adding to the overwhelming — and unexpected — successes of a week ago on Super Tuesday. He romped in Mississippi, where he was expected to romp. He won handily in Missouri, where Sanders came agonizingly close four years ago. Most important, Biden won where Sanders could not afford to lose, in the general election battleground state of Michigan.

Biden remains well short of the 1,991 pledged delegates needed for a first-ballot victory at the national convention in Milwaukee in July. But with Tuesday’s results, he has solidified his lead in the delegate battle and, with the states that will hold their primaries in the next two weeks, that advantage inevitably will grow. Sanders has little time and few delegates remaining to be selected to have much chance of changing the trajectory.

Here’s more from The Washington Post on Biden’s biggest Tuesday victory in Michigan. Four more states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio — will cast ballots next Tuesday. Sanders lost all four states in 2016 to Hillary Clinton.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, the big question now is about how long Sanders will remain in the race:

The Joe Biden who took the stage in Philadelphia on Tuesday night to celebrate a series of victories including in the critical state of Michigan was a far cry from the exuberant comeback kid who had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat a week earlier on Super Tuesday.

This Biden was more measured, more magnanimous and more conciliatory. There was no gloating or boasting. And everything — from Biden’s tone to the speech he delivered — was all aimed at convincing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that the time had come to end his primary challenge.

“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and passion,” Biden said. “We share a common goal. Together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together. We’ll bring this nation together.”

Biden and Bernie Sanders are still scheduled to debate on Sunday in Arizona.

 

► President Trump is getting hammered politically for his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Even the conservative publication National Review is calling out Trump:

So far in this crisis, Donald Trump himself has obviously failed to rise to the challenge of leadership, and it does no one any favors to pretend otherwise…

…The failures of leadership at the top, however, show no sign of being corrected. In a serious public-health crisis, the public has the right to expect the government’s chief executive to lead in a number of crucial ways: by prioritizing the problem properly, by deferring to subject-matter experts when appropriate while making key decisions in informed and sensible ways, by providing honest and careful information to the country, by calming fears and setting expectations, and by addressing mistakes and setbacks.

Trump so far hasn’t passed muster on any of these metrics. He resisted making the response to the epidemic a priority for as long as he could — refusing briefings, downplaying the problem, and wasting precious time. He has failed to properly empower his subordinates and refused to trust the information they provided him — often offering up unsubstantiated claims and figures from cable television instead. He has spoken about the crisis in crude political and personal terms. He has stood in the way of public understanding of the plausible course of the epidemic, trafficking instead in dismissive clichés. He has denied his administration’s missteps, making it more difficult to address them.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has now surpassed 1,000.

Trump is still scheduled to be in Colorado on Friday for a fundraiser to benefit Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

 

Columbus Day in Colorado will be replaced with Frances Xavier Cabrini Day, barring an unexpected veto from Gov. Jared Polis. As The Denver Post reports:

The state legislature gave final passage Tuesday to a bill that would replace Columbus Day with a new state holiday, on the first Monday of October, in honor of Frances Xavier Cabrini.

It is believed that the proposed Cabrini Day would be the first paid state holiday recognizing a woman anywhere in this country…

…Lead bill sponsor Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, has been trying for years to abolish Columbus Day, which she calls “a festering sore.” Previous failed bills proposed to replace with the day with Colorado Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day or an Election Day holiday, but those and other concepts were met with bipartisan resistance and with outrage from some in Italian Americans who take pride in Columbus Day.

Honoring Cabrini — an Italian American and the patron saint of immigrants — was a compromise palatable to Benavidez, her fellow Democrats and to many of those who’ve opposed previous bills.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 10)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Today is Better Than Average Tuesday, with voters in 6 states casting ballots to help determine the Democratic Presidential nominee. The big prize is Michigan and its 125 delegates; Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton here in 2016, but a loss to Joe Biden tonight could be a fatal blow to his nomination hopes. Sanders probably needs to put up fairly big numbers in Michigan — winning the state in a squeaker won’t be enough — because Biden is likely to get the lion’s share of delegates in Mississippi and Missouri. As The Associated Press explains:

Sanders has scoffed at suggestions he could drop out if he doesn’t win Michigan, but his travel schedule underscores its importance. He canceled a trip to Mississippi and instead made five campaign stops across Michigan since Friday…

…Sanders is optimistic about Washington state on Tuesday, and Idaho and North Dakota, both states Sanders won in 2016, go to the polls Tuesday as well, though the lack of polling in both states has made them difficult to predict.

But the senator’s team acknowledges he will struggle in next week’s Florida primary, where the senator’s past defense of Fidel Castro looms large. He also could face long odds in Ohio and Illinois — especially if he underperforms in Michigan. Both of those states also vote March 17.

Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington will also cast ballots today. Based on limited polling, the former Vice President seems to have momentum in Idaho and in North Dakota, though Sanders won both states in 2016. As of now, Washington looks like it could be a nail-biter. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown from Reuters.

Chris Cillizza of CNN runs through three potential scenarios on Better Than Average Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two recent national polls show Biden surging ahead of Sanders. A CNN poll of Democratic voters nationwide found that respondents prefer Biden to Sanders 52-36. Polling from Quinnipiac University found similar numbers, with Biden leading Sanders 54-35.

 

Governor Jared Polis officially declared a “state of emergency” in Colorado because of the Coronavirus outbreak. There are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, with another 14 cases pending test results. Polis is earning strong marks for his calm response to the coronavirus outbreak.

 

While Gov. Polis is doing a good job managing the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump continues to struggle. As The Washington Post explains:

President Trump confronted one of the most perilous days of his presidency Monday by first erupting in a barrage of commentary that failed to calm the cratering financial markets, struggling to inspire confidence that his administration could stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But by the time the sun set in Washington, Trump sounded momentarily chastened by the turbulence and previewed a raft of emergency measures to shore up the economy…

…Trump’s overall handling of the converging crises — while spreading misinformation and blaming others — has unsettled many of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill and even inside the White House, where some aides acknowledged that the president is compounding problems with his grievances and conspiratorial mind-set.

The coronavirus and the market meltdown present Trump with a challenge unlike any he has faced as president, and one for which he has no ready solution. At a moment when anxious citizens are turning to the government for facts and assurance, Trump is playing down risks and immersing himself in feuds with Democrats, the media and other perceived enemies.

Trump spent much of the day Monday in Florida — where he was golfing over the weekend — and shook hands/bumped fists at a fundraiser for his re-election campaign. Don’t worry about Trump’s health, however; the White House Press Secretary has been boasting that Trump works 15-16 hour days and never sleeps.

Trump is hearing from advisers about a host of potential actions that the federal government might take, including promoting paid sick leave.

Also, President Trump’s new Chief of Staff might have the coronavirus. Does President Trump have COVID-19? It’s not clear that he’s even been tested.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 6)

Happy “National Day of Unplugging.” If you’re reading this, you’re probably doing it wrong. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► On Thursday afternoon, Governor Jared Polis announced the first two positive tests for Coronavirus in Colorado. As The Denver Post reports:

Polis announced the second case at a Thursday afternoon news conference that had been called to discuss the first case.

The state said Thursday evening that the second patient is an older woman from Douglas County who had returned to Colorado from an international cruise. She is “isolated at her home per CDC guidelines,” the state health department said…

…“At the end of the day we have a very robust health care system in this state,” Polis said. “We’ve been preparing for this moment, we are now in execution mode of this plan.”

Polis was calm and reassuring in Thursday’s press conference, a marked difference from the chaotic federal government response driven by the Trump administration (which continues to demonstrate that nobody is talking to anybody else about how to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak).

On Friday, Trump signed an $8.3 billion spending package for Coronavirus response. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck was one of only three people IN THE ENTIRE CONGRESS who voted to oppose the bill.

The White House is also considering options for helping the tourism industry, which has been getting pummeled because of COVID-19.

 

The Colorado Option has landed!

 

Democrats and Republicans in Colorado will hold their caucuses on Saturday to determine ballot access for races from U.S. Senate down to county coroner. The Denver Post has more on what will be a critical day for Senate candidates not named John Hickenlooper.

On the Republican side, expect some right-wing challenges to candidates who are considered more “moderate,” because the far right in Colorado is still convinced that they need the craziest candidates in every district.

Also, a guy named “Critter” will be seeking the U.S. Senate nomination from the Unity Party.

 

► Presidential campaigns (those of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, mostly) will be making the rounds this weekend ahead of six more elections on Tuesday. Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington will hold Primary Elections on March 10, while voters in North Dakota will do the caucus thing. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Michigan will be the big prize on Tuesday:

On Thursday morning, with much fanfare (and tweeting), former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign announced that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had endorsed his presidential bid.

Within hours, Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced that the Vermont senator would cancel a planned trip to Mississippi on Friday and instead head directly to Michigan.
These things are not a coincidence.

Michigan, which will hold its primary on March 10, is not only the biggest delegate prize of that day (125 delegates) but also hugely important, symbolically speaking, given that it was one of three critical Midwestern states President Donald Trump flipped to his side in the 2016 presidential race.

In the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary, Bernie Sanders pulled out a surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 5)

Yeah, that’s right: You get an afternoon version of Get More Smarter 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The U.S. Senate voted 96-1 to approve an $8.3 billion package for Coronavirus response. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul was the sole “NO” vote in the Senate.

On Wednesday, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was one of just TWO House Members to vote “NO” on Coronavirus funding. President Trump is expected to sign the legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

 

As Philip Bump writes for The Washington Post, President Trump’s penchant for making up numbers is a particularly bad habit during a global pandemic:

On Tuesday, a World Health Organization official stated that the mortality rate for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, is at 3.4 percent globally. Asked about it during an interview Wednesday night with his friend Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump disagreed with that number.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number,” Trump said. “Now, and this is just my hunch [Pols emphasis], and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this. Because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about those people.”

Trump eventually settled on a number of “way under 1 percent” for the COVID-19 mortality rate. The source for this information? There is no source:

Trump twice admits that he’s simply making up the percentage he’s talking about, calling it a “hunch” and saying that it’s his personal assessment. Yes, he has access to more experts on the subject than your average American, which may inform that personal estimate, but his access to experts didn’t prevent him from reiterating obviously inaccurate information at an event with drug companies earlier this week.

Bump sums up Trump’s manufactured numbers with a sober warning:

We don’t know the mortality rate of the coronavirus in the United States in part because we don’t know the spread of the virus thanks to the government’s slow, faulty start in measuring it. We do know, though, that, by themselves, numbers offered by Trump aren’t trustworthy. That the world he presents is often not the real one.

Swell.

 

 According to data from Public Policy Polling, Americans are very nervous about Coronavirus and very dissatisfied with how the federal government is handling response efforts:

Voters take the virus a lot more seriously than the president does. Only 8% of voters agree with Trump’s claim that the virus is a Democratic hoax, while 82% think the virus is real. Only 16% of Trump’s own voters agree with him that the virus is a hoax.

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus could threaten his reelection. By a 20-point margin, voters say his administration’s handling of the virus makes them less likely to vote for him this fall. Independents say they’re less likely to vote for Trump by 32 points because of how he’s dealt with this issue. Only 37% of voters agree with Trump’s assessment that his administration is doing a “great job” dealing with the coronavirus, while 53% disagree.

 

►  The Colorado Option has landed. As The Denver Post reports:

The long-awaited Colorado bill to create a variation of a public health insurance option — an effort that has garnered national attention and the ire of hospitals — was unveiled Thursday, just before the midway point of the legislative session.

Although Democrats are preparing for a contentious fight about the proposal they’re calling the Colorado option, they say they believe they can pass it.

The bill would provide Coloradans who purchase insurance on the individual market another choice by the state through private insurance at what’s expected to be a more affordable cost by Jan. 1, 2022. The bill targets counties that only have one option to create competition and lower premiums and will require hospitals to participate. If everyone on the individual market opts to use the plan, that’s about 8% of Coloradans, bill sponsors have said. In some rural parts of the state, participation is expected to be higher.

 

Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, and listen to House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explain what might happen next if a legislator or staffer at the State Capitol ends up testing positive for COVID-19.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Super Tuesday Spectacular!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin spend plenty of time trying to sift through Super Tuesday results; we check in on some more odd behavior by Colorado Republicans; Sen. Cory Gardner’s 2020 campaign narrative confuses us; and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us again for an update on the state legislature — including potential actions the legislature could take if the coronavirus seeps into the State Capitol. 

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

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Get More Smarter on Super Tuesday (March 3)

We’re one week away from going back to Regular Tuesday. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

First things first: DO NOT MAIL YOUR BALLOT! Ballots must be received by 7:00 pm tonight — the postmarked date is irrelevant — so you need to take your ballot to a suitable drop-off location TODAY. Go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information.

If you already cast your ballot and had voted for one of the candidates who has since dropped out (Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer, and Amy Klobuchar in just the last few days), then you’re just out of luck. There is no option for you to cast another ballot this year, though state lawmakers are discussing potential remedies in future elections. If this makes you salty, then complain to the campaign instead of the people trying to handle gazillions of ballots today.

The Denver Post has more on how Colorado voters are viewing their ballots today.

9News also breaks down what you need to know for Super Tuesday.

 

We could be in for a wild night as votes are counted in 14 states and one U.S. territory (American Samoa) today. The race for the Democratic Presidential nomination looks significantly different than it did just one week ago. Steyer, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar are out, and former Vice President Joe Biden is surging at the moment.

Fun fact: With Buttigieg and Klobuchar out of the race, the average age of the field of candidates seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination jumped from 68 to 75. At age 70, Elizabeth Warren is now the baby of the bunch. At age 77, Biden is now the youngest male candidate still in the Democratic field (Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are both 78 years old).

From a national perspective, CNN’s Chris Cillizza lays out his vision of the 5 most likely Super Tuesday scenarios. National Public Radio has a simple guide for each state casting votes today. Philip Bump of The Washington Post looks at how moderate Democrats are doing what moderate Republicans could not (or would not) do in 2016.

 

► President Trump is plainly terrified about the political ramifications for him related to market instability and the COVID-19 virus. Here’s but one more example, via The Washington Post:

The Federal Reserve made an emergency interest rate cut Tuesday, slashing the benchmark U.S. interest rate by half a percentage point, the biggest cut since the financial crisis.

The U.S. central bank has not made an emergency move like this since late 2008, and Fed leaders said it was done to protect the U.S. economy and financial markets as the coronavirus spreads.

“We saw a risk to the outlook of the economy and we chose to act,” Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell said at a press conference shortly after the rate cut announcement.

The Fed’s action reduces the U.S. interest rate to just below 1.25 percent, down from 1.75 percent. Fed leaders voted unanimously in favor of the rate reduction, and Powell tried to project a sense of calm during short 13-minute press conference. He said repeatedly that the U.S. economic fundamentals still look healthy, but he said “sentiment” had shifted.

The highly unusual Fed action comes on the heels of other central banks around the world lowering their interest rates and calls by President Trump for a “big” rate cut. [Pols emphasis]

The stock market responded to news about the interest rate cut with quite the spasm.

And before you wag your finger about “politicizing” the COVID-19 virus, read this.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 2)

March didn’t really come “in” like a lion or a lamb — more like a mildly-irritating raccoon.  It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Super Tuesday got a whole lot more interesting over the weekend. Former Vice President Joe Biden won a decisive victory in the South Carolina Primary on Saturday; Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg subsequently suspended his Presidential campaign (as did businessman Tom Steyer).

Biden is certainly riding the momentum wave at the moment, picking up notable endorsements (including from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock) and raising big money since his South Carolina victory. Sanders, meanwhile, continues to throw down monster fundraising numbers. As for Elizabeth Warrenshe’s not dead yet and is rolling out new endorsements of her own. Finally, Amy Klobuchar will make a last pre-Tuesday campaign stop in Colorado today.

Colorado is among 14 states that will count ballots on Tuesday in a Democratic race that might have become a Bernie Sanders/ Joe Biden battle. For more on the local race to the polls, check out this story from The Denver Post. Here’s a look at the latest ballot return numbers in Colorado.

REMEMBER: If you still have a ballot at home, or in your purse, or wherever, DO NOT PUT IT IN THE MAIL. Ballots must be RECEIVED by 7:00 on Tuesday; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on where to find a ballot drop-off location.

 

► The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which is now being commonly referred to as COVID-19, is quickly becoming a significant political problem for the Trump administration. As CNN reports:

Trump’s earlier rambling, contentious and widely criticized first public appearance on the issue last week as well as inflammatory remarks on the virus and Democrats at a campaign rally Friday night threatened to overshadow its mitigation efforts. His previous comments that the number of US cases could soon disappear and that his administration had made “tremendous” efforts to thwart the virus arriving in the US now look premature.

On Sunday night, the President crowed about a poll that he said showed 77% of adults were confident the government could handle the situation.

“Gallup Poll numbers on the handling of this situation are outstanding, the best. Thank you!”

The poll that he was referring to, however, appeared to be one conducted between February 3-16 — well before the deaths on US soil, the spike of new cases and the stock market routs last week that exemplified growing panic about the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Trumpistas continue to insist that mean Democrats and those journalist jerks are at fault for politicizing the fact that President Trump is screwing up:

Vice President Pence defended the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., for saying that Democrats were rooting for “millions” of Americans to die so the coronavirus could hurt Trump politically. And he complained that the President — who has done more to coarsen public life than any other modern politician — had been the target of “very strong rhetoric” from his opponents and the media.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported on the Trump administration’s panicked attempts to get control of a coronavirus narrative.

Here in Colorado, COVID-19 is starting to impact larger events.

 

► The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will take up two cases that could decide the ultimate fate of Obamacare…but probably not before the 2020 election. From Vox.com:

The Republican legal arguments against Obamacare in this case are widely viewed as ridiculous, even by many lawyers and scholars who spent much of the last decade trying to convince the courts to repeal President Obama’s signature achievement…

…And yet, the lawsuit has received very favorable treatment from Republican federal judges. Judge Reed O’Connor, a former Republican Senate staffer turned district judge, ordered the whole Affordable Care Act repealed in its entirety. Two Republican federal appeals court judges reached a somewhat more mild conclusion — striking down a small portion of the law and then sending the case back down to O’Connor to reconsider which other provisions should fall. But, while that holding creates more work for Judge O’Connor, he remains likely to kill as much of the law as he can.

In addition to weighing the merits of the plaintiffs’ arguments, the Supreme Court will need to consider whether any federal court has jurisdiction to hear this case. As a general rule, no one is allowed to challenge a law in federal court unless they can show they were injured by that law. Because the zeroed-out mandate does nothing, it’s highly doubtful that anyone is allowed to challenge it.

In the meantime, Colorado isn’t waiting around to push forward on health care changes.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Surveys, Sausages, and Sanders

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we get some fascinating new polling insights from Fawn Bolak (1:10); House Majority Leader Alec Garnett is back to take us through the latest in legislative sausage making (14:16); President Trump makes a bananas visit to Colorado Springs (35:27); and we’re feeling the Bern — whether we like it or not (50:25).

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

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 27)

Happy “National Protein Day.” Go eat a burger, or something. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

As the United States braces for what appears to be an inevitable Coronavirus outbreak, more attention is (rightfully) being paid to Trump administration decisions that have left the country more vulnerable to a pandemic. From The Washington Post:

President Trump insists the United States is “very, very ready” for dealing with the coronavirus. Yet two years ago, his administration undercut its own ability to respond to such an outbreak.

Trump announced in a news conference last night that Vice President Pence will lead the federal government’s response to the deadly coronavirus, trying to reassure Americans amid growing concerns of a global health crisis that has led to tumbling stocks as the virus spreads around the world…

…Trump didn’t mention that there’s evidence the virus could now be spreading within the United States. A person in Northern California has contracted the coronavirus without traveling to regions hit by the outbreak or coming in contact with anyone known to have the infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last night…

And he didn’t point to the history that is making his administration’s response to this new outbreak more difficult. Two years ago, the administration disbanded two permanent groups formed by President Obama to respond to the 2014 Ebola outbreak one within the White House National Security Council and another within the Department of Homeland Security.

That sounds bad, right? But it’s just the beginning…

That’s not all Trump did. He also proposed cutting the parts of the budgets at NSC, DHS, and Health and Human Services designated for fighting global disease. And in early 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dramatically downsized its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries because money was running out. 

We should also mention that putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of Coronavirus response is a dicey choice considering Pence’s history with such efforts; Pence was Governor of Indiana during the worst outbreak of HIV in state history, and he regularly overruled suggestions by health officials on how to handle the problem.

If you are concerned about how to prepare for Coronavirus coming to Colorado, experts say to plan like you might for a big snowstorm. 9News.com has more on separating fact from fiction.

 

► Colorado lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that will repeal the death penalty in Colorado. As The Denver Post explains:

After nearly five hours of debate Wednesday, the state House voted 38-27 for the repeal, with three Democrats joining all 24 House Republicans in voting against the bill.

In total, lawmakers spent about 36 hours debating and taking testimony on the bill since late January, when the bill moved through the Senate.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who will have 10 days to sign it or allow it to become law without any action.

 

► There had been scant polling information in Colorado related to the Democratic Presidential Primary until recently. A new poll from Data For Progress shows Bernie Sanders leading Elizabeth Warren in Colorado. Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies sees similar numbers.

Meanwhile, Colorado Public Radio reports that more candidates are spending money in Colorado ahead of Super Tuesday…but nobody is dropping more coin than Michael Bloomberg. Of course, nobody seems to be dropping in polls more than Bloomberg, either.

 

 If you still have a mail ballot ahead of Super Tuesday, DO NOT DROP IT IN THE MAIL. In order to make sure that your vote is counted, take your ballot to a drop-off location in your area; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information. You might also check out this Super Tuesday Q&A from Colorado Public Radio.

Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies updates its ballot return numbers HERE.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 26)

Yes, that person you walked by on the street is well aware that they have a black smudge on their forehead. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Democratic Presidential candidates took to the debate stage in South Carolina on Tuesday, where many a sharp elbow was thrown — most of them aimed at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Here’s a local perspective from The Post and Courier in South Carolina.

If you’re looking for the obligatory “Winners and Losers” analysis, here’s CNN; The Washington Post; Politico; Vox.com; and The New York Times. Most seem to agree that the biggest “losers” were the inept moderators from CBS News.

As Slate.com writes, the problem with digesting these debates may just be that there are too many candidates in the Democratic field.

 

► Congressional leaders have decided that they can no longer wait for the Trump administration to get off its collective butt and start taking action to deal with the spread of the Coronavirus. From The Washington Post:

Congressional leaders on Wednesday planned to begin designing a large emergency spending package for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, revealing the wide gulf between lawmakers who have demanded more action and a White House that has sought a more measured response.

Even government officials have been split internally about how to respond, with some health officials urging more public preparedness while a number of political appointees have sought to downplay any risks. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, appearing at a congressional hearing Wednesday, sought to clarify that the near-term risk to Americans was low, but that the number of cases would likely increase.

The White House on Monday evening requested $1.8 billion to deal with coronavirus, and $535 million of that would be rerouted from an account that is designed to deal with Ebola. But Trump administration officials told senators Tuesday that they knew their request would need to grow, said a Senate aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe discussions with the White House.

Democrats and a number of Republicans have decried the White House request as insufficient and are aiming for a more robust package.

President Trump, meanwhile, is blaming the media for stoking fears about Coronavirus while many administration spokespeople continue to insist that everything will be just fine. Trump is holding a press conference to address the subject today; there has been talk that the White House might appoint a “coronavirus czar” to oversee the government’s response. The White House also wants to fund some coronavirus response by cutting money meant for low-income heating programs.

On Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren ripped Trump for his slow response to the spread of the virus on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it was a matter of “when,” and not “if,” Coronavirus starts spreading across the United States.

CBS4 Denver has more on how Colorado officials are preparing for a potential outbreak.

 

 Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted in favor of two more anti-choice bills in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

 

 If you plan to mail your Presidential Primary ballot ahead of Super Tuesday, you should probably make sure to drop it in the mailbox by the end of the day; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on ballot drop-off locations. If you are having trouble making up your mind…you’re not alone.

Meanwhile, The Denver Post looks at ballot returns thus far and notes that more Unaffiliated voters are deciding to cast a ballot in the Democratic Primary. Colorado Public Radio breaks down how the candidates stand on health care, which continues to poll as the top issue among most voters.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 24)

We’re one week away from Super Tuesday, which makes today…still just a regular “Monday.” It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado’s votes in the Presidential Primary won’t be will be revealed until next Tuesday, so you still have some time to make your decision (but only a few more days if you plan on returning your ballot by mail). Go to GoVoteColorado.com if you need ballot or voting information. Today is the last day to register to vote and still receive a ballot for the Presidential Primary. Also, remember that 17-year-olds can vote on Super Tuesday as long as they will officially turn 18 before the November General Election.

Elizabeth Warren held a big campaign rally at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver on Sunday and is making a late push for undecided Colorado voters. Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, made a campaign stop in Aurora; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on a cool moment from Buttigieg’s “town hall” meeting.

Bernie Sanders was not in Colorado over the weekend, but his big victory in Nevada gives his campaign yet more momentum. Former Vice President Joe Biden, fresh off a second-place finish in Nevada, gets a big endorsement in South Carolina.

CBS4 Denver takes a different angle on recent candidate visits by profiling a local audio/visual company that makes sure these big events can be heard and seen.

 

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post pens a must-read story on the ongoing loyalty purge being implemented at the request of President Trump:

When Trump demands that the Justice Department do his political bidding and/or rages at it for failing to do so, the press tends to treat this as flowing from an actual belief on Trump’s part: He really thinks a “deep state” cabal is out to get him, and he’s fighting back.

But this is a fundamental error. Trump is raging at officials who constitute an obstacle to his own active, ongoing corruption of the rule of law. And it’s working: The Justice Department actually is carrying out his corrupt bidding in many ways.

Barr actually did work to reduce Stone’s sentencing recommendation. (Even if you think the original recommendation was too strict, this is still not okay, given who Stone is.) Barr actually has opened a direct line to Trump’s private attorney for dirt on Joe Biden. The Justice Department actually did try to help block the whistleblower complaint revealing Trump’s Ukraine shakedown from getting to Congress. Barr actually did badly mislead the country about the special counsel’s findings.

As Aaron Rupar writes for Vox.com, Trump’s rambling explanations for some of the reasons behind his purge don’t make a lot of sense.

 

 Stories continue to filter out after last week’s campaign rally for President Trump in Colorado Springs. Among the more notable storylines: Trump’s completely dishonest claims about wind power, which is a burgeoning industry in Colorado. Republican elected officials in Colorado aren’t batting an eye, but at least one notable Mayor is pushing back at Trump’s wind rage.

 

 As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is getting national attention for coming health care battles:

Colorado has become a national battleground in the health care fight, particularly since Gov. Jared Polis and lawmakers began pursuing a state insurance option. A “dark money” campaign has aired more than $800,000 worth of ads and sent mailers to voters criticizing Democrats’ efforts.

Sponsors are confident they have the votes to pass a bill in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, but they have made significant changes to the initial recommendations in an attempt to garner more support across the aisle. They’re not proposing a pure public option but rather a statewide health insurance option that would be run by private insurance. Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, said the sponsors are also willing to consider amendments as the bill moves through the statehouse.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 20)

Happy National Love Your Pet Day…though that kinda seems like something that should just be every day. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is in Colorado Springs today for a rally with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) as part of the post-impeachment payback tour. This event has been publicly known for about a week, but there was an interesting late addition to the schedule on Wednesday: Vice President Mike Pence. It’s pretty unusual for both the President and Vice President to appear in the same place at the same time for a political rally.

Colorado Public Radio has a pre-rally guide for those who will be listening to the speechifying. Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman looks back at how Colorado Republicans became Trumpians.

Oh, and for you local taxpayers: The bill is in the mail.

 

 Democratic Presidential candidates debated in Las Vegas on Wednesday, where former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg played the role of a piñata. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appears to be the big winner from Nevada scuffle with a strong, fiery performance that was evident from the first moments of the debate. Warren will visit Denver on Sunday for a campaign rally at the Fillmore Theater.

For more on Wednesday’s debate, here’s “Winners and Losers” from CNN, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico, and NBC News.

 

► 9News managed to catch up with “Colorado’s most elusive politician,” finding Sen. Cory Gardner bobbing his head like some kind of maniacal, over-caffeinated squirrel:

 

Gardner danced around when 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger asked him if there was anything Trump could do to lose his support, then mumbled something about how it is inappropriate for foreign governments to interfere in American elections. Gardner really tried to expand the meaning of the phrase “town hall” at the end of this interview; he has not held one of those since November 2017. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is holding three town hall meetings this week.

Maybe Gardner is a bit blue because Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has moved Colorado’s 2020 U.S. Senate race from “Toss Up” to “Leans Democratic.”

 

 It’s been a good week for former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020. Hickenlooper’s campaign needed just a couple of weeks to collect the required number of signatures to grant him ballot access in June. This week he also picked up high-profile endorsements from Senate President Leroy Garcia and Pipefitters Local 208.

 

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Gardner on Guard

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talk about the Presidential candidates as they start filing into Colorado; new polling on impeachment is bad news for Sen. Cory Gardner; and voter and demographic changes hint at more trouble for Republicans.

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

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 19)

Today is the 50th day of 2020; please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We really can’t be far away from Donald Trump declaring himself King of America. As The Washington Post reports:

On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.

Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip to California, Nevada and Arizona. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”

Of course, this is NOT true. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, but when the AG just does whatever the President wants…

The president’s post-impeachment behavior has alarmed Attorney General William P. Barr, who has told people close to the president that he is willing to quit unless Trump stops publicly commenting on ongoing criminal matters, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. It also has appalled several legal experts and former officials, who have said his direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Trump is almost daring Attorney General William Barr to quit his job:

Against the wishes of Attorney General William P. Barr, President Trump continued to tweet Wednesday about the Justice Department, relaying the sentiments of conservative allies that Barr should “clean house” and target those involved in the Russia investigation.

Former Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer is among many current and former Justice Department officials who think Barr should resign

You can thank Senate Republicans for fully unlocking Trump’s dictator mode. Here in Colorado, voters are well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted for Trump’s impeachment acquittal purely as political protection.

 

The Democratic candidates for President will debate tonight in Nevada, which will also mark the first on-stage appearance of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Here’s more on how candidates are courting Coloradans leading up to Super Tuesday on March 3:

♦ Jon Murray of The Denver Post breaks down how Bloomberg has been courting politicos in Colorado for decades.

♦ Elizabeth Warren has launched a new ad campaign in Colorado.

 Amy Klobuchar will be in Denver on Thursday. Tulsi Gabbard will be in Colorado Springs and Boulder. Joe Biden will not be appearing anywhere.

♦ President Trump is in Colorado Springs on Thursday with Sen. Cory Gardner. As The Colorado Springs Independent reports, Trump’s expensive visit will be paid for…by local taxpayers.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 13)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

►As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post, President Trump is turning the Justice Department into his own political hit squad — with little sign that Senate Republicans will do anything to rein him in:

President Trump, empowered by acquittal in his impeachment trial and allowed free rein by his Republican Senate allies, has waged a war of vengeance and retribution against those who declined to enable his impeachable conduct. Now he has taken a club to the Justice Department.

The Post reports on the four prosecutors who refused to go along with their boss’s directive to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone following Trump’s tweet criticizing the seven- to nine-year sentence recommendation…

…Aside from the Saturday night massacre, we have never seen multiple Justice Department lawyers resign to protest a presidential abuse of power.

Just as Trump tried to engage a foreign government to announce an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and ordered up a probe of Hillary Clinton (which came to nothing), this is an egregious perversion of the rule of law. The president, like a tin-pot dictator, now uses the Justice Department to shield his criminal cronies, putting his finger on the scale in a way no other president has done in the modern era.

Politico has more on the shockwaves of Trump’s Justice Department meddling, while Vox.com takes a deeper dive into overall problems under Attorney General William Barr.

Meanwhile, CNN Congressional reporter Manu Raju approached Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) for comment on Wednesday. This was Gardner’s response:

“I’m sorry…miss my vote.”

As such, Rubin finishes her Washington Post column with an appropriate hammer:

Coming on the evening of the New Hampshire primary, the latest crisis should remind us of the stakes in 2020 and the necessity that Democrats nominate someone who can beat Trump and stop our slide into authoritarianism. It should also remind us that without the cowardice of Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others, Trump would not be lighting a fire to the Justice Department and the Constitution. Voters must remember this come November. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will visit Denver this weekend as he campaigns for the Democratic Presidential nomination, but he won’t be the only top candidate coming through our state. From Jon Murray at The Denver Post:

Sanders, the progressive U.S. senator from Vermont who won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, has set a rally for 6 p.m. Sunday in Denver, inside the Colorado Convention Center’s Exhibition Halls C and D. Doors open at 4 p.m., the campaign says, and the event is open to the public but an RSVP is encouraged via Sanders’ website. (The location was changed to a larger venue from the convention center’s Bellco Theatre, which has a seating capacity of 5,000, due to high demand.)

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, placed a close second Tuesday and narrowly beat Sanders in Iowa last week. He will have a town hall in Aurora at 7 p.m. Feb. 22, according to a campaign event page. The location will be revealed closer to that date, but supporters are encouraged to RSVP on his website…

…Sanders has had a small staff in Colorado for months, and Buttigieg’s campaign, hoping to capitalize on its all-volunteer effort here so far, is expected to announce the hiring of its first three staffers in Colorado on Thursday. Buttigieg’s lead staffer here will be Ken Gonzalez, who has shifted from organizing duties in Iowa, a campaign spokesperson said.

Biden, the former vice president, is scheduled to visit Denver on Monday for a private fundraiser hosted by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He is alone among the major candidates in not having had a large public event in Colorado so far this campaign, though he has been sending surrogates.

 

► It’s “Hate Week” at the State Capitol. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explains how that moniker applies to what GOP lawmakers are attempting in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast:

 

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The GMS Podcast: You’ve Got Questions; These Aren’t Answers

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin preview the New Hampshire Democratic Primary; discuss a wacky vacancy committee for Republicans that doesn’t bode well for their hopes in 2020; and delve into Sen. Cory Gardner’s impeachment debacle. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us once more in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, talking about kill committees; confusing abortion bills; and how Republican lawmakers are rolling out “Hate Week” under the Gold Dome.

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

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 10)

Valentine’s Day is on Friday; you’re welcome. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is making his swamp…swampier. Still basking in the orange glow of a Republican Senate cover-up for his impeachment crimes, Trump is taking out his anger on administration officials and staffers who dared speak the truth. As The Atlantic explains in a story titled, “The Crime of Doing the Right Thing“:

Trump managed to wait two days after his Senate acquittal before taking care of family business, as Michael Corleone would put it, with respect to those who had upset him in the Ukraine affair.

[On Friday] he removed from the National Security Council staff Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman—along with Vindman’s twin brother, who served as an NSC attorney, for good measure. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman had had the temerity to object to Trump’s “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and then committed the unforgivable sin of telling the truth about the matter when the House impeachment investigation sought his testimony. The brothers were, according to reports, escorted out of the White House complex…

…Trump also fired Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who had tried to play both sides—testifying in a fashion that upset Trump while being cagey at first and thus raising questions to House members about his candor. Sondland had managed to please nobody, and his presence on the scene at all was, in any event, a function of his large donation to the presidential inaugural committee. He had bought his way into service at the pleasure of the president and, having done so, proceeded to displease the president.

 

► After spending the end of last week bumbling and fumbling for a coherent message on why he voted to acquit President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) threw some red meat around in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” Gardner needs these softball interviews, because he keeps bombing with local news reporters asking relevant questions.

 

► Voters in New Hampshire cast their ballots in Presidential Primary race on Tuesday; on the Democratic side of the ledger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders looks like the frontrunner.

Meanwhile, we finally found out who won the Iowa caucuses and associated delegates — well, mostly. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the most delegates, while Sanders appears to have won the popular vote. The Sanders campaign is indicating that it will ask for a remcanvass of votes in at least some districts; the current results would assign 14 delegates to Buttigieg and 12 delegates to Sanders. The New York Times breaks down how the Iowa caucuses went so awry for Democrats.

Here in Colorado, mail ballots for the Presidential Primary races will start going out this week; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on what to expect in your mailbox.

 

► The Trump administration budget is rolling out its new budget proposal, which seeks to cut domestic spending on the backs of Americans relying on Medicaid and food stamps, while also slashing foreign aid by a considerable amount. Via Politico:

As with his previous budget proposals, Trump is once again seeking deep and unrealistic cuts to most federal agency budgets, according to the budget summary tables. The cuts are unlikely to be embraced by Congress.

For example, the administration is seeking an 8 percent cut to USDA’s budget over current funding levels. Trump’s plan would cut the Commerce Department by 37 percent, the Education Department by 8 percent, the Energy Department by 8 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 15 percent, and the Department of Health and Human Services by 9 percent.

The administration is also seeking a 13 percent cut to the Interior Department, a 2 percent cut to the Justice Department, an 11 percent cut to the Labor Department, a nearly 21 percent cut to the State Department and a 13 percent cut to the Department of Transportation. The EPA’s budget would see a nearly 27 percent chop, the Army Corps of Engineers would see a 22 percent reduction and the Small Business Administration would see an 11 percent decrease.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, this seems like an odd election-year strategy for Trump:

This new budget is being widely described as a blueprint for Trump’s argument for a second term. It’s actually a very good argument against a second term.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (February 7)

Remember that old joke about how your (grand)parents had to walk 10 miles a day to school in the snow, and it was uphill both ways? Yeah, well, your kids won’t be able to use that one. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The 2020 “Thanks for Covering Up for Me on Impeachment” tour is coming to Colorado. President Trump will stump for himself (mostly) and Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs on February 20. If you’ve always wanted to see the Big Orange Guy bloviate in person, this could be your last chance; Colorado isn’t what you’d call a “winnable state” for Trump in 2020, so he may not be back.

Gardner could use all the help he can get for his re-election bid; he’s getting absolutely hammered in Colorado for his inept explanations about why he supported Trump’s acquittal. As the editorial board of The Denver Post writes: “Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

 

President Trump held court in front of a microphone at the White House on Thursday for an airing of grievances related to his impeachment acquittal. As Chris Cillizza of CNN explains, everyone who was in attendance should be ashamed of themselves:

Less than 24 hours after formally being acquitted by the Senate, President Donald Trump riffed for over an hour from inside the White House — a vengeful, angry, fact-challenged spew of score-settling that even for this most unorthodox of presidents was eye-opening in its tone and jaw-dropping in its boundary busting…

…It felt like watching a bully beat up a helpless kid. Sure, the bully is to blame. But the crowd of people surrounding the beating and either cheering or doing nothing at all are far worse.

Trump is Trump. While he stepped beyond where has gone before in many respects during Thursday’s “celebration,” it hard to say that no one saw this coming.

But the complicity of those in attendance — the most powerful people within the Republican Party — is what was truly astounding. Yes, the Republican Party threw in its lot with Trump (and his forced takeover of it) long ago. But to sit by or even celebrate while Trump used the White House as a combination of a campaign venue, or a bathroom wall on which to write his darkest thoughts about those who oppose him, was beyond unforgivable. [Pols emphasis]

Interestingly, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner did not warrant a special shout-out from President Trump:

Meanwhile, President Trump is working on ousting all dissidents — the honest people on payroll — from his administration, as The Washington Post reports.

 

Surrogates for Democratic Presidential candidates are scheduled to tool around in Colorado this weekend. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is stumping for Elizabeth Warren today and tomorrow. Former “Law & Order” actor Sam Waterston will help open new field offices this weekend for Mike Bloomberg.

Elsewhere in Democratic Presidential candidate news, the campaign for Bernie Sanders is hiring more staff in Colorado and increasing its advertising budget; and State Sen. Julie Gonzales is endorsing Elizabeth Warren.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Impeach the Caucuses!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin discuss the disastrous Iowa caucuses; the final day of the Senate impeachment trial; and what we learned from a couple of big last-minute campaign finance reports. We also chat again with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, covering topics including the death of a puppy mill bill; the latest on efforts to repeal the death penalty; legislation that would allow college athletes to get paid; and how Colorado decided to ditch its Presidential caucus system in favor of holding a straightforward vote. It would be impossible to not Get More Smarter this week!

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

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 3)

It’s cold, wet, and icy today — please be careful out there, and don’t put stock in weather forecasts from rodents. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Closing arguments are being made today in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, though acquittal appears to be a foregone conclusion — nevermind a new NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll showing that most Americans believe Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. On Friday, Republican Senators blocked efforts to add new witnesses or documents to the impeachment inquiry, effectively ending any hope of a real trial in the Senate.

House impeachment managers are nevertheless making their final case today in the Senate. “Your duty demands you convict President Trump,” said Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) today on the Senate floor. As The Denver Post reports:

The Aurora Democrat spoke first Monday morning as the seven impeachment managers made their final case to the Senate and the American people. He quoted from the nation’s Founding Fathers and former giants of the Senate, such as Daniel Webster, as he urged senators to do what they almost certainly will not do: convict the president and remove him from office. [Pols emphasis]

“I submit to you, on behalf of the House of Representatives, that your duty demands you convict President Trump,” Crow said. “I don’t pretend this is an easy process. It’s not designed to be easy. It shouldn’t be easy to impeach or convict a president. Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy, a tool only to be used in rare instances of grave misconduct, but it is in the Constitution for a reason.

“In America, no one is above the law, even those elected president of the United States, and I would say, especially those elected president of the United States.”

You can watch Rep. Crow’s entire closing argument below:

 

 

► Meanwhile, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is still getting a lot of impeachment-related attention…but not in a good way. #CoverUpCory has become a national trend.

The editorial board of The Aurora Sentinel calls out Gardner and his fellow Republicans for their cowardice on impeachment:

America can add Jan. 31, 2020 to the list of the nation’s most appalling blunders.

Defying their sworn duty, overwhelming public opinion and decency, the Republican Party on that day succumbed to fear and corruption in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump.

Friday became historical as the day Senate Republicans refused to seek the truth about just how far the president had gone in blackmailing Ukranian officials, forcing them to undermine Trump’s political opponent…

…Republicans, and the entire nation know full well that a tsunami of truth and facts will eventually wash away Trump’s deceptions and obfuscations. Cowardly members of Trump’s own party, however,  prevented those revelations now.

Instead, Jan. 31, 2020 was the day Senate Republicans like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner shrank in fear and colluded in the scheme to hide Trump’s crimes from the American public. [Pols emphasis]

 

► It’s caucus day in Iowa. Readers of Colorado Pols will tell you who is going to win tonight. The Washington Post takes a look at how the ghost of Hillary Clinton still haunts Democrats in Iowa. Here’s a primer on the Iowa caucuses and how they will be different than they were in 2016.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 31)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► It appears that we are nearing the inevitable conclusion of President Trump’s acquittal at the hands of Senate Republicans who refuse to see anything wrong with anything wrong. On Thursday evening, Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander — who is not seeking re-election — was nevertheless unable to summon the courage to support a call for more witnesses in the Senate trial. Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced that she WOULD support a call for witness testimony, but without Alexander’s support there probably aren’t enough Republicans to make that happen. CNN’s Chris Cillizza breaks down how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kept his caucus together on avoiding new witnesses.

As The Washington Post reports, the end is near — though it may be drawn out a bit longer still:

While many Republicans have expressed hopes that the expected failure of a vote to call new witnesses would mean a rapid end to Trump’s impeachment trial, officials are warning that might not be the case.

A longer schedule could mean the trial stretches beyond Monday’s Iowa caucuses, further complicating the campaign schedules of the four senators seeking the Democratic nomination who are sitting as jurors.

A senior administration official and two congressional officials said Friday it was unlikely that senators would rush immediately to a verdict after the witness vote fails. They requested anonymity to speak candidly about internal discussions.

The administration official and a congressional official raised the possibility that the Senate could take up a new procedural resolution laying out rules for the trial’s endgame — which could include time for closing arguments, private deliberations and public speeches by senators.

The Senate passed such a supplemental resolution in the middle of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Perhaps no Senate Republican is more emblematic of the GOP’s blind loyalty to Trump than Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner. As Greg Sargent of The Washington Post revealed on Thursday, there is significant evidence that Gardner has known for years that former Vice President Joe Biden did nothing unethical in relation to his dealings with Ukraine, which invalidates a key Trump argument about why $391 million in foreign aid was withheld from the country.

You’ll be seeing a lot of the hashtag #CoverUpCory over the next year.

 

► Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times-Recorder takes an impeachment-related comparison of two of the most endangered Republican Senators in 2020: Gardner and Susan Collins of Maine. You can probably guess who ends up looking better.

 

► Monday is the deadline to change your voter affiliation in Colorado if you want to cast a vote in the March 3 Democratic Presidential Primary. There will probably not be chaos.

 

► As Jim Anderson writes for the Associated Press, legislation to repeal the death penalty in Colorado moved a step closer to passage with a vote in the State Senate.

 

► We’re still waiting for end-of-year fundraising reports from several federal campaigns, most notably those of Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Senate challenger Andrew Romanoff. If both campaigns wait as long as possible to file their reports, you probably won’t hear anything about the numbers until Saturday.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 30)

On this day in 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn-in as Chancellor of Germany. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Why was #CoverUpCory trending nationally on Twitter on Wednesday? Because Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced — after months of dodging the issue — that he opposes calling witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.

Earlier this week, Gardner said that he had “approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and with the seriousness our oath requires.” He apparently forgot to add the part, “but only for two weeks.” Gardner really just wants this all to go away.

Meanwhile, the Senate impeachment trial continues today, with Republicans looking to wrap things up in the next couple of days as long as they can prevent four elephants in their ranks from voting to hear from new witnesses.

 

President Trump’s attorneys presented a brazen new strategy on Wednesday in the Senate impeachment trial. As Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post:

A decade after being acquitted of murder, Alan Dershowitz’s former client O.J. Simpson questionably planned a book and a TV special titled, “If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened.”

On Wednesday, Dershowitz assisted in a novel defense for his current client, President Trump: If he did it, it’s still okay. [Pols emphasis]

As The Post’s Erica Werner, Karoun Demirjian and Elise Viebeck write, Trump’s legal team advanced an exceptionally broad defense of Trump’s actions at Wednesday’s Q&A session of the impeachment trial. The most striking parts of that defense came when they entertained the idea that Trump was indeed out for personal political gain when he asked Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son Hunter Biden — despite long-standing denials that he was — and suggested even that that would be aboveboard.

It was almost as if they are girding for what might come from former national security adviser John Bolton.

In a separate story, The Washington Post points out that Trump’s attorneys notably refused to answer two very important questions.

As NBC News reports, legal experts are aghast at Dershowitz’s logic:

Dershowitz argued Wednesday that if a president engaged in a quid pro quo arrangement for their own political benefit, it is not impeachable because all politicians believe that their elections are in the public interest…

…Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley, law school, said he thought Dershowitz’s argument was “absurd and outrageous.”

“It means that a president could break any law or abuse any power and say that it was for the public interest because the public interest would be served by his or her election,” he said.

And Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas law professor, said Dershowitz’s argument was “on its face, preposterous.”

And yet…Senate Republicans are eating it up.
► Fundraising reports for federal campaigns are due to be filed before the end of the day on Friday, January 31. While many candidates for federal office in Colorado have already made their end-of-year and Q4 2019 fundraising numbers public, we’re still waiting to find out results from the campaigns of Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Senate challenger Andrew Romanoff. If both campaigns wait as long as possible to file their reports, you probably won’t hear anything about the numbers until Saturday.

 

► The Colorado State Senate is again debating legislation that would end the death penalty in Colorado. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discusses this bill and other hot items under the Gold Dome in this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

 

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