Best Wishes To Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders.

CNN reports that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is off the trail “until further notice” following apparent heart trouble at a rally last night:

Sen. Bernie Sanders experienced “chest discomfort” on Tuesday night and will suspend campaigning “until further notice” after doctors treated a blockage in an artery, senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement Wednesday morning.

“Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted,” Weaver said. “Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days. We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.”

Weaver delivered the news about the senator’s health during a conference call around 10:30 a.m. ET, an aide told CNN. He read the statement that was later released and did not elaborate.

Coronary artery stents save lots of lives every year, and have helped steadily reduce the fatality rate from heart attacks and get patients back up to full steam quickly since their introduction in the U.S. in 1993. Barring any complication, there’s no reason to expect this will keep Sanders off the campaign trail for more than a short period, and he’ll be “full Bernie” once he’s back.

We join supporters and opponents alike in wishing Sen. Sanders a speedy and full recovery.

Alligator Moats, Electrified Walls, and Migrant Snipers

If you were still one of the holdouts who didn’t believe that President Trump is completely out of his goddamn mind, new reports about Trump’s ideas for tightening border security should be enough to convince you otherwise.

As the New York Times reports:

The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him. [Pols emphasis]

Read that last paragraph again, and remember that these are serious proposals from the actual President of the United States of America.

In typical Trump fashion, the President expressed frustration to his advisors that more wasn’t being done to stop the flow of immigrants along the Mexico border. “You are making me look like an idiot!” he shouted during a March meeting in the Oval Office, completely oblivious to the absurdity of his own ideas. It’s worth noting that White House aides reportedly did look into cost estimates for an alligator moat.

Trump is not the first President to think of an alligator moat, though he is most certainly the first to have suggested it as a serious proposal. President Barack Obama once mentioned the idea of an alligator moat for border security — as a joke. As CBS News reported in May 2011:

“We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement,” Obama said. “But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I gotta say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.”

“Maybe they’ll need a moat,” Obama said mockingly to laughter from the crowd. “Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.” [Pols emphasis]

As far back as 2007, The Onion was laughing at the idea of an alligator moat as a border security option.

We’ll take this opportunity to remind you that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is one of the headliners at a Trump 2020 fundraiser this weekend in New York City. One day Gardner will tell his grandkids about the years in which he pandered to a lunatic.

Dems Simply Upset With Last Election Or Playing Politics, Say Republicans Who Backed Colo Recall Efforts

(O-kay… Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Democrats are pursuing impeachment for political reasons or simply because they’re upset with the last election, say Republicans who backed the recall of Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) and/or other Democrats soon after they were elected.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, head of the Colorado Republican Party, came out against impeachment, saying: “Democrats spent three years trying to overturn an election that didn’t go their way… It’s time to move on.”

In reporting on the statement, 9News’ Kyle Clark pointed out Sept. 25, “But the Colorado GOP pushed for the recalls of six Democrats this year.”

Buck called for the recall of Colo Democrats in a campaign-style speech in March, saying, “We need to teach them how to spell “R-E-C-A-L-L.”

Now, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling is echoing Buck, telling a northern Colorado radio station that the impeachment effort is “playing politics,” and it’s a “distraction.”

“It’s a huge huge mistake for Nancy Pelosi to go down a path in which the polling that I have seen across the country is, people don’t want us to go down that path they actually want us to actually get our business taken care of in Washington DC and quit playing games,” said Sonnenberg on air.
“It just seems ludicrous to me that you would want to continue down that path rather than move an agenda forward,” he added.

Yet, Sonnenberg was a high-profile signer of the petition to recall Polis, having been featured on the Facebook page of “Dismiss Polis,” a group backing the now-failed effort.

Does Sonnenberg think the Polis recall was less about “playing politics” than the impeachment inquiry?

“They are two different scenarios,” Sonnenberg told the Colorado Times Recorder, emphasizing his point that he thinks the impeachment inquiry will hurt Democrats. “A recall is grassroots driven. It comes from the people. The impeachment came from the Speaker of House or a faction of that caucus.”

Wait, BLM Chief Won’t Be Moving to Colorado?

William Perry Pendley, acting director of the BLM and totally not a villain from an old cartoon.

Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reports today on a long list of ethical red flags related to William Perry Pendley, the acting director for the Bureau of Land Management whose job was just extended by a few more months despite objections from the likes of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver).

The acting head of the federal agency overseeing 8.3 million acres of public land in Colorado has included 57 people and organizations — including many in Colorado — on a “recusal” list of potential ethical conflicts…

…Pendley is a longtime Colorado lawyer whose name has popped up for decades as a property-rights attorney for those who fight against local and state governments and the federal government on a long list of issues. That’s included lawsuits over guns, plastic bags in grocery stores and eminent domain, and even lawsuits naming BLM and other agencies of the U.S. Department of the Interior as defendants.

Last Wednesday, Pendley distributed a list of recusals that included 57 people and entities, including former clients, employers and business associates, as well as financial interests including stock holdings.

The last paragraph of Goodland’s story includes a pretty remarkable admission from Pendley regarding the BLM’s much-publicized decision to move its headquarters from Washington D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado:

Pendley has said he does not intend to make the move to Grand Junction, where the BLM is expected to relocate about two dozen senior level managers. [Pols emphasis]


Critics of the BLM move have alleged that Republicans are essentially trying to destroy the agency altogether — something that White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has directly admitted. But as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has repeated ad nauseam, the entire supposed point of moving the BLM to Grand Junction was to move the “decision makers” closer to the public lands that they are intended to oversee. This particular narrative falls apart when you learn that the acting director of the agency — a pretty key decision maker — HAS NO PLANS to move back to Colorado.

As E&E News reported last month, none of the 200 BLM employees currently working in Washington D.C. have expressed enthusiasm about the headquarters move. We missed the initial reporting about Pendley not moving with the rest of the HQ to Colorado, but this seems like a point worth repeating.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Episode 11

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii interview Eli Stokols, White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, for more perspective on President Trump’s impeachment troubles.

Last week, Stokols broke the story of President Trump suggesting that the whistleblower in the UkraineGate case was “almost a spy” and could be executed for treason. Stokols discusses his big scoop and his thoughts on how the case for impeachment will proceed.

Later in the show, Bane and Silverii talk about impeachment implications in Colorado, more trouble with recall grifting, and Ken Buck’s potentially precarious hold on the Chairmanship of the Colorado Republican Party.

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

Click after the jump to read a few selected quotes from the Stokols interview…



Lawmakers Saine & Marble Host Summit in Support of Vaccine Exemptions

(In Colorado, “anti-vaxxer” is spelled G-O-P – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last Wednesday morning, Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) and Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Greeley) hosted the second public “Vaccine and Health Choice Summit” at the Colorado State Capitol.  

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The summit featured two head speakers: Cynthia Nevison, Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science, and Dr. John Kucera, M.D.  

The meeting also featured panelists, including Rep. Rod Pelton (R-Cheyenne Wells) and Theresa Wrangham, executive director of the National Vaccine Information Center, a non-profit “dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and death,” who followed up the presentations with their own questions and comments.

The event circled primarily around the issue of exemption law. Colorado lawmakers tried to introduce a bill in April 2019 that would require parents to acquire an in-person signature from a health department in order for an exemption due to religious or personal beliefs, with pushback from those who oppose vaccines. The bill “died” in legislature before it could pass last session.

Nevison’s presentation focused on data and statistics intended to support why “changing vaccine exemption laws in Colorado won’t improve children’s health.”

Nevison made several false claims during her presentation, including that measles vaccination lowers herd immunity, which can only be achieved through natural immunity; that “the four ‘As'” (autism, asthma, food allergies, and ADHD) have risen in direct correlation with, and possibly due to, vaccines; and that boys have no need for HPV vaccinations because they cannot get cervical cancer.

In fact, in order for significant herd immunity to occur, a large portion of the population must be vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Likewise, there is little evidence of a causal relationship between vaccines and major chronic health issues, especially autism; various studies have even expressly rejected a causal relationship. Additionally, HPV vaccinations are necessary for both males and females because males are still carriers of HPV (an STD), and they can still get genital warts and several other types of cancer from the disease.


Gardner Straps In For More “Maximum Pressure”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNN, here we go again:

“I can confirm that US and (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) officials plan to meet within the next week. I do not have further details to share on the meeting,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Tuesday.

The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will lead the US side of the working-level talks with North Korea, according to a State Department official.

Negotiations on denuclearization have stalled since February, when President Donald Trump cut short his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. Trump left the meeting with no joint agreement after Kim insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country.

The last time the two leaders met was in June in the Korean Demilitarized Zone where they agreed to revive staff-level talks.

North Korea, like American relations with Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, and any number of other flashpoints around the world, is a subject on which Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has been obliged to tread very carefully since Donald Trump took office. Coming from a hayseed congressional district and the state legislature of a landlocked state, Gardner has worked hard to upgrade his international diplomacy credentials serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Gardner repeatedly chastised Trump’s Democratic predecessor for perceived weakness in relations with traditional American adversaries Russia and North Korea in particular.

Trump’s erratic on-again-off-again engagement with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, as well as the interference by Russia in the 2016 elections to help Trump win, has left Gardner’s hawkishness toward both countries in a very awkward position. Gardner denounces “Russian meddling” when he’s forced to, but without admitting on whose behalf the Russians meddled and why–obvious realities Gardner is politically unable to acknowledge. On North Korea, Gardner has been left to spin events he has no influence over after the fact as best he can, without breaking the cardinal rule of never saying anything on the record that could make Trump mad. Because the moment Trump’s Tweets of love for Gardner turn into nastygrams, Gardner loses his Republican base.

With all of this in mind, stay tuned for the results of this latest round of bilateral negotiations elevating the “Hermit Kingdom” to parity with the world’s greatest superpower! Gardner will be tuned in, too–and with former National Security Adviser John Bolton freshly trashing Trump on North Korea while boosting Gardner’s re-election campaign, we’ll be watching to see how Gardner manages to thread this rhetorical needle.

You know, along with all the others.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 1)

They say “spooky season” starts today; it kinds feels like that’s already been happening. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Next Question: Is Cory Still Heading To NYC This Weekend?

TUESDAY UPDATE: Via FOX 31’s Joe St. George, here’s your answer:

Duly noted for posterity. Filed under “fateful decisions.”


Back in late August, we learned of a major Trump campaign fundraising “retreat” scheduled for the first week of October in New York City–the presumption is that it’s being held at Trump Tower though that has yet to be confirmed. Headlining this weekend’s retreat are former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who are both actually listed ahead of Donald Trump, Jr. in formation on the invite you can see above.

As our readers know, the month of September has been very bad for the Trump administration, starting the month having gummed the Mueller investigation to death but ending today with Democrats moving to impeach the President over a scandal the public wasn’t even aware of when September began. All eyes are now on vulnerable Republicans in general and Cory Gardner in particular for signs of a split from the President to save their own hides. The latest word we have on this front comes from National Journal Friday:

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado called the transcript between Trump and the Ukrainian president “a serious issue” and declined to commit support for Trump’s reelection. (A spokesman for Gardner’s campaign called National Journal — after this column was published — to clarify that Gardner still supports the president’s re-election.)

Add this weekend’s Trump retreat to your list of bellwethers to watch in the impeachment crisis. If Gardner shows, it’s a sign that he’s standing by Trump no matter what happens. But if Gardner suddenly realizes he has a junket to the Philippines or a surprise swing through the Eastern Plains of Colorado on his schedule this weekend…

You’ll know what’s really going on. Stay tuned.

Cory Gardner Refuses To Shoot Straight On Gun Control

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Only two U.S. senators from blue states have “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association, and Cory Gardner is one of them. He also has a 100% rating from Gun Owners of America and a 0% rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

His voting record is unequivocally pro-gun and his campaign donations (nearly $4 million from the NRA) reflect that. Yet Gardner’s public statements about gun violence demonstrate a reluctance to acknowledge his own position on the issue.

When questioned directly by reporters, Gardner becomes a moving target, evading questions and avoiding direct answers, often by claiming he hasn’t yet read legislation that was introduced months or even years earlier.

President Trump’s on-again, off-again support for universal background checks has complicated Gardner’s attempt to avoid the issue. Following Trump’s call for “red flag” legislation following the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, 9News anchor Kyle Clark was forced to ambush Gardner on the street to get a comment.

Clark: “Do you support President Trump’s call for “red flag” gun control?”   Gardner: “I’m certainly going to look at it, study it, and make sure it’s something that doesn’t violate rights while it does the right thing for the people of Colorado.”   Clark: “Senator Rubio (R-FL) has had a bill like that for a while, so I assume you or your staff has looked at that, [Gardner nods]. Do you think that’s a good idea?”   Gardner: “Look we have to do what’s right by Colorado and we have to make sure we’re right by the Constitution and do what’s right to prevent this kind of horrific event from ever happening again.”

That same day Gardner refused to give any substantive answer to a local journalist, CNN’s Clare Foran published a feature piece on Gardner and the gun issue. The article cited numerous sources, including the Colorado Times Recorder’s reporting on Gardner’s radio statements that he didn’t think that any version of Colorado’s red flag law (neither the failed 2018 bill nor the law passed this year) were constitutional.



Impeachment Rapidly Gaining in Popularity

Wayyy up.

As The Hill reports, Americans are growing increasingly more supportive of the idea of impeaching President Trump:

A survey from Quinnipiac University Poll released Monday found respondents evenly split, 47 percent to 47 percent, on whether they support impeaching President Trump and removing him from office, a 10-point swing in favor of impeachment over a five-day period. [Pols emphasis]

The polling firm previously found voters opposed to impeachment and removal, 57 percent to 37 percent, in a poll released Sept. 25. The shift is largely driven by increased support of impeachment among Democrats, who support it 90 percent to 5 percent in the newest poll, up from 73 percent to 21 percent last week…

…A majority of voters, 52 percent, said they specifically support the impeachment inquiry announced last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), with independents supporting it 50 percent to 45 percent.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they think Trump believes he is above the law, compared to 42 percent who do not, while 54 percent agreed that Trump abuses the powers of his office versus 43 percent who disagreed.

Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) justified his opposition to an impeachment investigation in part by suggesting that public opinion was against the idea. It appears that Gardner is going to need a new argument.

Now Jon Caldara’s Ripping Off A 17-Year-Old Kid

During this year’s controversy in Colorado politics over the failed recall attempts by Republicans against various state legislators as well as Gov. Jared Polis, a recurring theme has involved local political usual suspects lining up at the trough to make money off of recall committees they in most cases knew would never be successful. In particular, the right-wing Independence Institute operated a “crowdfunding” website known as Freedomfy that brought in over $20,000 for the now-defunct (and thoroughly scandalized) “Official” Recall Polis committee, as well as a fundraising page for the abortive recall attempt against former Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley.

“Freedomfy” eventually fell out of favor with the Polis recall committee, reportedly due to the substantially above-market “processing fees” charged by the Independence Institute for every donation made through the platform, and they wound up moving to other fundraising sites that (presumably) skimmed less off the top. The executive director of the Independence Institute Jon Caldara later piled insult on injury by admitting to the press that the Polis recall his organization had raised tens of thousands of dollars for (and pocket a couple grand along the way) was a fool’s errand the whole time.

In the aftermath of all that #fail, you might have thought that Freedomfy would quietly dry up and blow away with so many other fly-by-night political fundraising schemes. But as PT Barnum is alleged to have observed, “there’s a sucker born every minute!”



Monday Open Thread

“False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.”