Ken Buck Goes 0-for-3 on Coronavirus Legislation

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

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

As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rep. Ken Buck only presses the red button.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 27)

We’d wish you a “Happy Friday,” but today kinda feels just like Thursday. And Wednesday. And also Tuesday. Anyway, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

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

—–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Republicans Staged “Drive-Thru” Convention Saturday

(For pity’s sake – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: The event occurred Saturday and was likely legal because it was related to an election, even if it could have been avoided.

—–

El Paso County, Colo, Republicans are apparently moving ahead with a “drive-thru” county convention Saturday, involving some 1,500 GOP voters, many elderly.

The delegates will drive to a Colorado Springs parking lot, where volunteers will verify their names in a computer and hand them a paper ballot.

Then the Republicans will fill out their paper ballots, ratifying already-elected delegates for the state convention, a larger gathering to be held later. They will then return the ballots to the same volunteers in the parking lot.

While this drive-through process avoids the usual congregation of 1,500 people in a room, it’s still dangerous and could be avoided, say other El Paso Republicans.

They worry that Republican delegates, who will come from all over the Colorado Springs area, will carpool to the site together, possibly infecting one another with COVID-19. The carpooling issue is particularly likely given the advanced age of many delegates, say critics.

Passing around hundreds of potentially virus-carrying ballots also makes no sense, say critics, who argue that entire process could be easily avoided with a virtual election, as was already conducted in Colorado Springs Senate District 10 and House District 16–and is currently underway in House District 15, 19, and Commissioner District 2, using email addresses to credential voters.

They also argue that the drive-through election is pointless because it involves nothing that’s contested; it’s a process to ratify delegates for the state assembly, where voting will take place.

El Paso Republicans believe their “Drive-Thru” assembly is allowed under a law signed March 20, giving them flexibility in conducting such political conventions. The law allows for conducting assemblies remotely but does not require this, saying, “a party may amend its bylaws as necessary in 2020 to provide for remote access to and participation in party assemblies and conventions.”

The El Paso Republican Party, which is a private group, apparently does not believe Polis’ subsequent stay-at-home order makes this event illegal. 

Activities related to elections are considered essential and allowed under the stay-at-home order.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder’s office did not immediately return a call seeking to know if he’d stop the drive-through event in light of Polis’ order. The El Paso County sheriff’s website states, “Our goal is to minimize public exposure to the virus, while carrying out our mission to protect public safety in El Paso County.” 

This week, El Paso Republicans distributed a document, titled “YOU are the life of the Party,” announcing that the event might be cancelled due to the stay-at-home order.

But El Paso County Republican leader, Vicki Tonkins, wrote that she hoped it would be held.

“As Republicans, we do not do well when our God given rights are infringed upon,” wrote Tonkins.

“My hope is that we will be able to continue with our plans,” wrote Tonkins. “This is essential to ‘Keep America Great.'”

With respect to Gov. Jared Polis’ (D-CO) stay-at-home order, Tonkins told fellow Republicans she will decide whether to abide it, and she said she will not tell anyone what they should do.

Tonkins did not return an email seeking to know if the event was canceled, if she was concerned about safety, what safety measures were being taken, and why/if she thought it was a legal gathering.

“Resist” COVID-19 Orders? Politically (And Literally) Hazardous

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

New polling released yesterday by the Pew Research Center provides the answer to one of the bigger political questions surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially here in Colorado: does the public support the sweeping measures taken to slow the spread of the disease–measures that many high-profile Republicans in this state in have condemned and in some cases promised to disobey?

The answer, overwhelmingly, is yes:

The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 19-24 among 11,537 U.S. adults using the Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that despite the partisan differences in views on several aspects of the outbreak, there also are important areas of agreement. Notably, majorities in both parties say it is necessary to impose strict limitations on commerce, travel and entertainment in order to address the outbreak. [Pols emphasis]

About seven-in-ten adults (71%) say that to address the coronavirus, it is necessary to require most businesses other than grocery stores or pharmacies to close. A larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (81%) than Republicans and GOP leaners (61%) view this requirement as necessary.

An even larger majority (85%) thinks it is necessary to limit restaurants to carry-out only. And with a growing number of states announcing delays of their upcoming primary elections, 70% say this is a necessary step to take because of the coronavirus.

With most of the various COVID-19 response measures polled, the partisan split in opinion was very small. Around 95% of both Republicans and Democrats support restricting international travel, and Republicans support both cancelling major events and closing K-12 schools at or above 85%. The widest partisan disparity of opinion is over the temporary closure of most businesses, and even on this point 61% of Republicans agree it’s a necessary measure. The one figure that irritates Democrats in this poll, 48% approval of Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic so far, is less important than the lopsided support shown for the strong measures being implemented by state governments. With the benefit of hindsight, the former (Trump) will take a much greater hit than the latter (states fighting the pandemic).

What does this mean for our local politics? In the simplest terms, it means that once again Colorado Republicans have positioned themselves as a brand on the wrong side of the issue dominating the headlines and impacting the lives of every Colorado voter. In a state already becoming more hostile to Republicans at the ballot box in every election, branding themselves as the “COVID resistance” party as a way of contrasting with our state’s Democratic majority government seems extremely ill-advised. Based on these numbers, and especially if the pandemic in the U.S. continues to worsen, Republicans are inviting a backlash from voters in November that could be truly historic.

Between now and then, we can only hope the real-world harm they do will not be too great.

Friday Open Thread

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

–Jim Elliot

The Top Arguments Colo Conservatives Are Using to Oppose Gov’t Efforts to Fight Coronavirus

(None of them are GOOD arguments — promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here’s a summary of how conservatives are justifying their opposition to government efforts to save people from getting sick or dying form COVID-19.

Get the Government Out of the Way

“As a conservative, I know governments don’t solve problems. They typically create more. A free people operating with individual liberty is best to solve problems,” former Colorado State Sen. Tim Neville, a Republican, opined yesterday, in an opinion piece that concludes with the line, “Get Out of Our Way and Let Us Get Back to Work.”

Stop Socialism

Some conservatives would rather take their chances with coronavirus than socialism, which they see in government aid and assistance to fight the virus. “I understand that nobody wants to catch Coronavirus but statistically, even if you catch it you’re likely to be just fine,” said Weld County, Colorado, Sheriff Steve Reams on Facebook. “What I’m concerned with is our Country catching a huge case of socialism.”

My Expert Says Not to Worry!

Notorious right-wing talk radio host Peter Boyles said Monday he wasn’t worried about taking his grandchild, whom Boyles is helping home school, to a playground where “bazillions of kids” are “touching the slides” because he had a doctor on his show who told him the sun will kill the virus. [There’s no evidence for this.]

Say No to Overreach

“It doesn’t have to come from a government mandate,” said Kevin Lundberg, a former Colorado state senator who suggested the health orders were “overreach.”

Let Individuals Decide

“Personally, just speaking for myself, there’s probably any number of restaurants that I would go into,” said Colorado State Rep. Liston of Colorado Springs. “I would be very cognizant of my surroundings, to make sure everything is swabbed down, not just with a dirty dish towel.”

Fight the Stealth Government Takeover

Being told to stay home or not go to restaurants is a step government should not take. “It is an action taken by the worldview that the state should control individual behavior,” state Rep. Mark Baisley of Colorado Springs told the Denver Chanel. “Let’s remember who we are as Americans and defeat this virus as Americans — not as ignorant subjects in need of an overlord.”

The Dems Are Really Out to Get Trump!

This one has faded as Trump himself acknowledged the danger of coronavirus—even as the president says we have to open everything up in two weeks.

Give Me Liberty or Give me Coronavirus

This is emerging as a prime objection, as stay-at-home orders spread across the country. “Over and over again what we are seeing is an overreaction to a very serious situation, and that overreaction is now causing some serious civil liberties issues,” said Colorado Congressman Ken Buck. “We are telling people they can’t go to church. We are telling people they can’t hold political rallies. We are telling people that, as the result of a disease that is not targeting younger populations, they can’t go to school. [COVID-19 is found in young people.] We are in the midst of a panic that is creating irrational responses,” the congressman told The Denver Post. He describes himself as “not a good example of someone who avoids social contact,” and has in recent days continued to shake hands with constituents.

Let Old People Die

You find some people in the conservative underworld floating the idea that it’s not worth it to save the lives of people with short life expectancies, at the expense of the economy and business. “It’s the Pansy-demic,” said Chuck Bonniwell, the conservative publisher of a suburban newspaper in Denver. … “The people who it’s killing are costing society huge amounts of money… Their death is not hurting the economy, it’s enabling the economy. But we are never allowed to discuss those things.”

The “Cure” Is Worse than the “Problem.”

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.” —President Donald Trump.

The president’s comment, more than anything else, seems to have given fellow Republicans the strength to speak up about what they see as misguided anti-coronavirus measures—and now potential and current coronavirus victims may suddenly feel as if they are under widespread attack, either directly or indirectly, like so many other vulnerable people in Trump’s America.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 26)

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

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

If you are reading this in Colorado, you had better be doing it from home. As part of ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus, Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday announced a “stay at home” order that takes effect as of 6:00 am today and runs until April 11. The Denver Post has more on the order from Gov. Polis.

♦ CLICK HERE to watch the press conference announcement.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the full text of the Governor’s order.

♦ CLICK HERE for an FAQ guide about the “stay at home” order.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the public health order.

The decision to issue a “stay at home” order for the entire state came as some of Colorado’s most highly-populated areas were issuing similar decrees locally — most recently the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening).

The statewide order puts a bit of a lid on a controversy stirred up Wednesday by six Republican legislators from Douglas County who would apparently prefer to become a Sanctuary Virus County. Here’s 9News with more on this shameful political stunt:

House Minority Leader Neville also said Wednesday on The Peter Boyles Show that he feels the orders, in general, are leading to a Gestapo-like mentality.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, also a Republican, said earlier in the week that he would defer to the department to make the decision for his city. But Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert told 9NEWS he considered it an overreach…

…”For an unelected bureaucrat at Tri-County Health to put out this order and have no accountability to any elected official, that is wrong,” said Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert. “It is, in my opinion, against the spirit of our nation and our state it is against our constitution.”

“I’ve advised them to sever the contract as soon as possible. If it costs Douglas County money, what’s the cost of freedom and liberty — it’s probably worth it.”

Just so we’re clear, the Republican Senate Minority Leader and the Republican House Minority Leader would like Douglas County to sever its relationship with the Tri-County Health Department IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

At least one Douglas County Republican is not a complete twit. County Commissioner Abe Laydon supports Tri-County Health and says “Now is not the time to politicize a pandemic.”

Elsewhere, Colorado Republicans across the state are pounding their chests about their brave opposition to social-distancing guidelines meant to prevent people from dying from the coronavirus outbreak.

 

► The Senate finally passed a $2 trillion coronavirus recovery bill late Wednesday. As The Denver Post reports:

The legislation passed by a vote of 96-0, with aye votes from Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat. Both Colorado senators made clear earlier in the day that they supported the massive agreement…

…Before the vote, Gardner and Bennet voted against an amendment from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to cap unemployment benefits at a worker’s full salary.

In remarks Wednesday, Bennet criticized Senate Republicans for not including a $600-per-week unemployment insurance increase, which was later added at the request of Senate Democrats. He also credited Democrats with adding money for the health care system, middle-class Americans and lower-class Americans.

“States and local governments not only have to fight this health crisis, they have to pay teachers, police and firefighters, even as their tax revenues collapse,” Bennet said in a lengthy statement. “The initial bill included nothing to help them confront these yawning budget caps. It was ridiculous.”

The Washington Post has more details on the guts of the stimulus bill. Democrats had been pushing for $4 billion to support elections in the wake of the pandemic; they only ended up with $400 million.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill on Friday.

 

► Coronavirus deaths in the United States have surpassed the 1,000 mark.

 

► Health officials are sounding the alarm about a second wave of the coronavirus. As The Washington Post explains:

The 1918 flu hit the United States in three waves — a mild outbreak in the spring, the deadliest wave in the fall and a final spike when the virus returned that winter. All told, the pandemic infected a third of the world’s population and killed at least 50 million people, including at least 675,000 Americans.

One of them was the great-grandmother of Debbie Birx, the lead coordinator of the federal government’s coronavirus task force. “My grandmother, for 88 years, lived with the fact that she was the one, at age 11, who brought home flu to her mother … when her mother had just delivered,” said Birx, 63. “She never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently brought that flu home.”…

…The 1918 case study weighs on leaders of the public health community as they scramble to ramp up capacity and spur vaccine development in preparation for a sustained war against covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “We’re dealing with Cycle A right now, not the one that could come in the fall of 2020 – although we’re getting prepared for it by the innovations that are being worked on,” Birx said at the White House on Wednesday evening.

 

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

 

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Darwinism In Action: Colorado Republicans “Resist” COVID Order

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R-MGO).

Yesterday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis took his biggest step yet in the response to the hockey-sticking COVID-19 global pandemic, as cases and fatalities in Colorado rapidly increase–a statewide stay-at-home order obliging most of us to stay in our houses except for designated essential trips. As our readers know, Polis’ statewide order came shortly after Republican lawmakers assailed a stay-at-home order issued by the Tri County Health Department for its jurisdiction of Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties. The Denver Post updates the controversy we covered yesterday:

A Republican Douglas County commissioner, however, said authority for such decisions rests with the health department under state law. [Pols emphasis]

The Tri-County order was superseded Wednesday afternoon when Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order, but the argument over local control remained.

The six Colorado lawmakers — including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock — sent commissioners a letter Wednesday, saying they learned that the health agency was issuing the order despite opposition from at least two Dougco commissioners. Sen. Jim Smallwood of Parker, who said he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, also signed the letter.

Like we said yesterday, the irony of Sen. Jim Smallwood signing this letter after he traveled to California following the adjournment of the General Assembly and contracted COVID-19 somewhere along the way is probably worth its own blog post. What this group of Republican lawmakers didn’t seem to understand is that health departments have the authority to issue such orders under state law–meaning if these lawmakers don’t like health departments having such authority, they’re the ones who can change it. In the end, all this off-base grandstand against Tri-County Health accomplished was to scare Colorado citizens into second-guessing emergency public health orders.

Folks, that’s really bad.

Former GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham.

This is former Senate President Kevin Grantham, responding to Gov. Polis’ statewide stay-at-home order yesterday evening by more or less declaring he’s going to disregard it. Grantham is now running for for a seat on the Fremont County board of commissioners, and we assume he’s decided a little coronavirus civil disobedience is a political net positive. Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville actually invoked the words “civil disobedience” to forecast the response to the statewide order issued yesterday. And up in Weld County, as the Colorado Times Recorder reports, politically promiscuous Sheriff Steve Reams says it even more plainly:

Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather take my risk with the virus then socialism. [Pols emphasis]

After conservative media spent weeks downplaying the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak and echoing President Donald Trump’s repeated denial of the severity of the crisis, by all estimates the pandemic is on a trajectory for the worst-case side of the scenarios that have been plotted by experts looking at the disease’s spread. The economic devastation resulting from the effective shutdown of large parts of the global economy is very serious, but it’s happening because the loss of life from not containing the spread of this pandemic would be far worse. Politically, a campaign to “resist” measures to contain the virus is only sustainable among people who don’t know–or don’t want to know–the truth.

Sheriff Reams’ selective enforcement of the law based on his opinion is well-documented in relation to gun safety laws. But resistance to the emergency orders issued from the governor down to health departments with the clear statutory authority to do so by local Republicans is irresponsibility that could have much bigger destructive impact than refusing to take a suicidal individual’s guns under the “red flag” law.

Some people who take their advice, or their family or friends, will die. It’s not hypothetical, it’s arithmetic. And that escalates this from cheap-shot political rhetoric into something that should outrage every single Coloradan regardless of your politics.

Weld Sheriff: I’d Rather Take My Risk With the Virus Than Socialism

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Weld Sheriff Steve Reams and District Attorney Michael Rourke at the Weld County Republican Assembly

Sheriff Steve Reams is the top public safety official in Weld County, Colorado. Yet even after his county declared a pandemic health emergency last week, the coronavirus isn’t his top concern. Reams is worried about socialism. 

I’m going to rant just a bit,” wrote Reams on Facebook. “I understand that nobody wants to catch Coronavirus but statistically, even if you catch it you’re likely to be just fine. What I’m concerned with is our Country catching a huge case of socialism. We (our government) has self imposed an economic crash in the name of saving us from a virus and now they are offering the “solution” through money that isn’t really available; let’s call that debt. If you read the attached article, examine what is being suggested and ask yourselves if this is makes sense. Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather take my risk with the virus then socialism.”

When criticized by a commenter, Sheriff Reams reiterated his position:

Reach by phone, Reams acknowledged that the pandemic has created a challenging environment:

“It’s frustrating on both sides, as a citizen and as a law enforcement office to see so many people disregarding the public health warnings and then people asking government to enforce [the public health emergency declarations] to make them feel safer,” Reams told the Colorado Times Recorder. “Asking for the government to be the fix for all this is probably the wrong way of thinking for all of us. It creates a fear of government from citizens who are going to worry, ‘What if I need go somewhere?’ It reeks of police state.”

Despite his discomfort with government enforcement of public health restrictions, however, Reams isn’t willing to go as far as he did with the 2019 “red flag” gun law, when he publicly declared the law unconstitutional and said he would go to jail before enforcing it. Asked if he would do that same now, he answered he doesn’t intent to make public health orders a priority of enforcement.

(more…)

Thursday Open Thread

“Cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

GOP Lawmakers Push for Sanctuary Virus County

THURSDAY UPDATE: As 9News reports, Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon is not the dumb one of the bunch:

While the Douglas County Commissioners are politically aligned with the Republican lawmakers, not all of them agree. Republican Commissioner Abe Laydon supported Tri-County’s mandate.

“Now is not the time to politicize a pandemic,” he told 9NEWS.

Laydon said his focus will be on working within the parameters of an order to keep people and businesses safe.

“Where I stand is — do everything we can do to make sure that hospitals, doctors, nurses, first responders, senior citizens are not decimated by what we’re hearing,” he said.

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UPDATE: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville is some kind of jackass:

—–

Letter from Douglas County Republicans

As Denver7 first reported today, Republican lawmakers from Douglas County are hopping mad about a new “stay at home” order implemented by the Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties. A similar order has also been issued in Boulder and Jefferson counties.

Six Republican legislators who apparently support becoming a Coronavirus Sanctuary County signed the letter addressed to the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners: Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen. Jim Smallwood, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, Rep. Kim Ransom, and Rep. Mark Baisley. You can read the full text of the letter here, but this is the important part:

It has come to our attention that Tri-County Health has issued a “shelter in place” order, which includes Douglas County. As a result of that order, we urge you to terminate whatever contract exists between Douglas County and that organization.

It is our understanding that at least two of you opposed this heavy-handed application of governmental power. To those who did oppose the action, thank you for standing with the constitution and with the majority of your constituents here in Douglas County. We consider it unacceptable that a contracted health agency could somehow ignore the will of a majority of our elected and accountable Douglas County Commissioners.

Sigh. Where to begin?

First off, this is more than just Douglas County Republican lawmakers screeching at one another; Chris Holbert is the Senate Minority Leader, and Patrick Neville is the House Minority Leader, so they are effectively speaking for the entire GOP caucus here. Their message is simple: If health experts don’t do what non-expert elected officials tell them to do, then we should fire them. 

We’re also perplexed that Sen. Jim Smallwood would sign his name here. Smallwood recently tested positive for coronavirus and is currently living at his second home in California. He’s not even IN Colorado at the moment, so how can he make this judgment?

Douglas County Commissioners Roger Partridge, Lora Thomas, and Abe Laydon.

More importantly, the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) is represented by three Republicans, none of whom are qualified to make public health decisions of this magnitude. Here’s the official biography for Abe Laydon, who was elected to the BCC in 2018:

Prior to being elected as County Commissioner, Laydon served as a Douglas County Planning Commissioner for two terms, and as the Douglas County Republican Party’s first vice-chairman and treasurer. A graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, Laydon has been involved in philanthropy and civic service his entire life. He sits on the board of many local nonprofits, was an officer and member of Denver Active 20-30 and the Metro Denver Board of Christian Legal Society.

Yeah, let’s put that guy in charge during a global pandemic. Roger Partridge previously owned a physical therapy business, and Lora Thomas is a former trooper with the State Patrol who served as the elected Coroner of Douglas County from 2011-15.

Screenshot from Patrick Neville’s Facebook page

Laydon, Patridge, and Thomas may be very nice people, but none of them are public health experts. In fact, we’re guessing that Douglas County contracts with the Tri-County Health Department in part because they don’t already have a bunch of public health experts roaming the building.

Oh, and to make matters worse, Rep. Neville also appears to be doxxing members of the Tri-County Health Department (see image at right), including the wife of State Rep. Kyle Mullica; you should know that Kyle Mullica is a trauma nurse working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, and Julie Mullica is the Systems Director for Infection Prevention at SCL Health.

Finally, it’s important to note that this letter from Republican lawmakers doesn’t provide any sort of alternative suggestion for how to handle the coronavirus outbreak in Douglas County. Holbert, Neville and friends aren’t for anything — they’re just against this for reasons they don’t even bother to explain.

We could go on and on about how irresponsible and shameful it is for a group of elected leaders to be publicly questioning a literal life-or-death health decision in the middle of a global pandemic, but the insidiousness of this letter speaks for itself.

Want a Better Stimulus? Elect a Better U.S. Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Hill reports on today’s big news out of Washington, bipartisan agreement after days of fraught negotiations on a $2 trillion-with-a-T bill to steady the economy as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic:

The revamped Senate proposal will inject approximately $2 trillion into the economy, providing tax rebates, four months expanded unemployment benefits and a slew of business tax-relief provisions aimed at shoring up individual, family and business finances.

The deal includes $500 billion for a major corporate liquidity program through the Federal Reserve, $377 billion in small business aid, $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments…

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) hailed the legislation as “the largest rescue package in American history.”

“This bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage,” he said.

In a lengthy Twitter thread this morning, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado explained the concessions Democrats were able to win from the GOP majority to improve the stimulus bill in ways to benefit ordinary Americans bearing the brunt of the economic fallout:

“Good but not enough” appears to be the consensus view from progressive Democrats and their allies, and though Speaker Nancy Pelosi agrees that more will be needed, what’s imperative at this point is to get relief in people’s hands without further delay:

She said the package did not go as far as a separate House bill, but argued that “thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers.”

…The Democrats won a long list of victories in the $2 trillion package, including billions of dollars for hospitals, students, the unemployed and states struggling to finance the wave of emergency services. [Pols emphasis]

Democratic leaders in both chambers are highlighting those provisions as they race to bring their members on board. It’s not as strong as the House’s alternative bill, Pelosi said, but marks a stark improvement over the Republicans’ initial proposal — an indication she wants to move it quickly through Congress.

As Democrats drove a hard bargain in their negotiations with the Senate Republican majority over the past few days, they’ve been assailed by Republicans for “delaying” stimulus relief to Americans whose economic lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. It’s important therefore for Democrats to be clear about the better deal they got for ordinary Americans in those negotiations, and also be ready to act quickly to get this hard-won deal to the President’s desk.

Tangible better outcomes through tough negotiations by Democrats also effectively defang criticism from Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and other Republicans that Democrats were “stalling” a stimulus bill to help American workers. It’s a strange state of affairs to see Republicans urging the swift passage of an economic stimulus package at all, of course, given how they’ve spent the last decade branding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, dwarfed in every respect by the present legislation, as “Obama’s failed stimulus.”

With all of this in mind, it’s true that progressive Democrats will find plenty to criticize about the final bipartisan legislation. The moral of the story, in the end, is that a better deal was only ever possible in a U.S. Senate with a different composition from the one that exists today. White House too, of course but it in is Mitch McConnell’s GOP Senate that the sausage of this stimulus bill was made. In March of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, history will record that America responded with the leadership we had.

For good or ill.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 25)

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

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The entire Metro Denver area is nearing lockdown status because of the coronavirus outbreak. Stay-at-home orders have been issued from the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening). The Metro Denver population, depending on how you measure it, includes about 3 million people — or more than half of the 5.6 million residents of Colorado.

Colorado’s most populous cities without a stay-at-home order include Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs. The City of Fort Collins is apparently waiting on Larimer County to make a decision on a stay-at-home order. Colorado Springs is likewise leaving that decision to El Paso County officials.

A stay-at-home order has also been issued for Aspen; visitors to the resort area have been asked to leave.

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been self-quarantining for the last week out of concern that he had interactions with people who had tested positive for COVID-19. Gardner says that he has not yet been tested for the virus, but as The Daily Beast reports, he damn well needs to be:

Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner walked up to a group of Capitol Hill reporters to share information with them about bills he was sponsoring to counter the coronavirus outbreak. According to people who witnessed the encounter, in order to separate the sheets of paper, the Colorado Republican licked his finger and thumbed the pages before handing them off to reporters to pass around. [Pols emphasis]

Several hours later, he was in self-imposed quarantine.

Gardner began his self-quarantine on March 17, and now he’s back?

 

► This is President Trump’s Coronavirus. Don’t argue with us — that’s what the White House is calling it.

 

► Senate and White House leaders have reached agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. As The Washington Post reports:

The Senate is aiming to vote Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package that is designed to flood the U.S. economy with money in an effort to stabilize households and businesses that have been floored by the coronavirus outbreak.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.

Senate aides were still scrambling to write the legislation, and House Democrats were expected to take it up no sooner than Thursday. Despite a brief burst of optimism about the landmark deal, they were still dealing with extreme pressure from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to make changes, as he alleged his state needed much more aid.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) breaks down the ins and outs of this debate in an epic Twitter thread. Democrats had been negotiating for more money to go to American families and small businesses, while Republicans insisted on bigger checks for big business. Check out this Politico story for more details on differences between a Democratic and Republican bailout plan.

 

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

 

(more…)

At Least She’s Not Your Legislator, COVID Wrath Of God Edition

PA state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R).

Newsweek reports on legislation introduced by Pennsylvania state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, who has come to the conclusion that the COVID-19 pandemic is God’s punishment of…well, America predominately we guess, even though most of the people infected with COVID-19 are not in America? Like most such findings of spiritual as opposed to, you know, reality-based fault for a global catastrophe, it’s complicated:

Pennsylvania State Representative Stephanie Borowicz has called for her state to recognize March 30, 2020 as “A State Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” in a resolution introduced to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly on Monday.

“During the pandemic of 2020 and the ensuing uncertainty and anxiety of this time, Pennsylvanians may be comforted by turning to a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer,” Borowicz wrote in legislation which also said the coronavirus pandemic may be a “punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins.”

However, Borowicz’s resolution does not explicitly state that the prayers of Pennsylvanians will cure the coronavirus. Instead, “the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessing no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our new divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”

Oh wait no, sorry, just America! As for what specific “sins” Rep. Borowicz may be referring to in declaring that America had the coronavirus pandemic coming, that isn’t as clear–but her reputation as an unapologetic GOP culture warrior precedes her. And as WHP-TV in Harrisburg reports, only what Rep. Borowicz calls a “Day of Humiliation” can make COVID-19 at least morally if not epidemiologically right.

The resolution also states, “With assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

Her resolution goes on to say that nations are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this work just as humans are.

The resolution has sparked reactions from other state lawmakers such as Rep. Kevin Boyle, who took to Twitter saying, “I do believe this is the stupidest resolution I’ve ever seen a politician introduce.” [Pols emphasis]

Coloradans who had the pleasure of getting to know Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt during his brief service in the Colorado General Assembly most certainly know the feeling. With that said, we of course encourage everyone to repent their sins to the diety, temporal authority, or moral yardstick of your choosing.

Not because of the coronavirus, just on general principles.

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