The Get More Smarter Podcast: What the Buck?

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss two polls that spell doom for our second favorite U.S. Senator from Colorado; everything is totally under control with the coronavirus as cases mount well past one million; Republicans still want to kill Obamacare (even though it’s one of the few things actually helping during this pandemic); and the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party commits at least one crime.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

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

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Ignoring Critics, Cory Gardner Again Claims Credit for Getting Ventilators for Colo

(Fact check: “pants on fire,” basically – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner continues to claim credit for obtaining 100 ventilators for Colorado, despite the federal government having blocked a state deal for 500 machines.

In an online interview with KNUS 710AM radio host Steffan Tubbs, Gardner said he has worked very closely with Governor Polis to obtain medical supplies, including ventilators.

“I’ve worked very closely with the governor,” said Gardner. “When the governor said we needed more tests, we went out and fought and got more tests for Colorado. When the governor said we needed more ventilators, I went out and fought and got more ventilators for the state of Colorado. When the governor said we needed more masks for Colorado, I went out and fought and got more masks, including just getting another hundred thousand from Taiwan this past week.”

As reported by numerous state and national news outlets, the Federal Emergency Management Agency canceled Colorado’s deal with a medical supplier for 500 ventilators. President Trump later tweeted that the federal government would send Colorado 100 ventilators “at the request of Senator Gardner.” Trump’s statement, though praised by Gardner himself was widely criticized as the worst form of political pandering. The Denver Post editorialized that “Trump is playing a disgusting political game with our lives.”

As he has in other recent interviews, Gardner also refused to criticize President Trump for his handling of the pandemic.

Read the full transcript of Tubbs’ question and Gardner’s answer below:

KNUS Host Steffan Tubbs: How do you think Governor Polis and the president have led this pandemic? 

Sen. Cory Gardner: Look, I get asked all the time to provide a grade on this or that or to provide the score. It’s important that we always do better and better. I’ve worked very closely with the governor when the governor said we needed more tests. We went out and got more tests for Colorado. When the governor said we needed more ventilators, I went out and bought and got more ventilators for the state of Colorado where the governor said we needed more masks for Colorado. I went out and got more masks –including just getting another 100,000 from Taiwan this past week– two million in the United States from Taiwan.

Mr. Polis Goes To Washington

Gov. Jared Pols and Vice President Mike Pence (4/18/20)

Colorado Public Radio reports on the event dominating Gov. Jared Polis’ work week, a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Donald Trump in a newly contaminated area of the city known as the White House:

“The Governor’s first priority is the health and safety of Coloradans, and the federal government is an important partner in Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Polis is expected to push for “more federal support during this global pandemic, including critical testing supplies and personal protective equipment” during the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday.

While Colorado has received shipments from the national stockpile, it hasn’t been enough to meet demand. And efforts to purchase supplies on the open market haven’t always worked out well for the state. At the start of the pandemic, Polis told CNN that one shipment was taken by the federal government.

Headlines over the weekend that staff uncomfortably close to both the President and the Vice President have tested positive for COVID-19 infections make this trip to Washington especially worrisome for Gov. Polis, and the apparent disregard for personal and therefore community safety expressed by both Trump and Mike Pence even after their staffers tested positive is also not what you’d call a good omen either. Gov. Polis has been nothing but diplomatic in his dealings with the Trump administration, even when it would be difficult or impossible for any reasonable person to avoid swear words–which will hopefully work in Colorado’s favor when the moment comes Wednesday to “kiss the ring” and ask Trump to come through with the equipment our state still very much needs.

Gov. Polis may not need hazard pay, but anyone obliged to visit the White House right now should get it.

Do What We Say, Not What We Do

We wrote a few days ago about the COVID-19 outbreak that seems to be running rampant in the White House. Today, the White House announced a policy change that pretty much sums up the entire Trump administration in general:

The Washington Post (5/11/20)

As The Washington Post reports:

Most White House officials will be asked to wear masks or face coverings in public spaces on complex grounds, a move to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading further inside the presidential compound, according to three administration officials with knowledge of a directive to be issued Monday.

The request does not apply to offices, however, and President Trump is unlikely to wear a mask or face covering, aides say. Vice President Pence was spotted on the grounds of the White House on Monday without a mask, and it is unclear if aides will wear masks in the Oval Office.

Perhaps Trump informed the coronavirus privately that it was not allowed inside the Oval Office.

Rep. Patrick Neville, Walking Talking Public Health Hazard

UPDATE #3: Governor Polis does exactly what he should be doing:

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UPDATE #2: The Tri-County Health Department is not amused by the antics of C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen. As The Denver Post reports:

The Tri-County Health Department on Monday ordered a Castle Rock restaurant that opened to Mother’s Day crowds Sunday to close until it complies with the statewide COVID-19 public health order limiting dining establishments to take-out and delivery services.

Tri-County said it warned C&C Coffee and Kitchen on Friday not to open for Mother’s Day, but the restaurant opened for dine-in services anyway, according to a statement from the department.

“If the restaurant refuses to follow Governor Jared Polis’ public health order, further legal action will be taken that could include revocation of the restaurant’s license,” the statement said.

The Post story does not yet include the expected gnashing-of-teeth comments from restaurant owners or Neville himself, but they are no doubt dressing up in their martyr costumes as we write this update. #MakeAmericaBrunchAgain!

Don’t tread on them, or whatever:

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UPDATE: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s (literally) in-house political front group, Values First Colorado, could use a rebrand:

You’re welcome, let us know where to send an invoice.

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Denver7’s Ivan Rodriguez reports from (we hope) a safe distance from Castle Rock restaurant, which has emerged as the latest front line in the ill-considered campaign by a vocal fringe to throw the doors open on the economy despite a raging pandemic:

While hundreds of restaurants across Colorado continue offering take out and curbside service in accordance with the standing public health order, C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock had other plans for Mother’s Day.

Video taken inside the coffee shop by Colorado Community Media shows booths packed, tables filled and a line snaking out the door. The owner of C&C Coffee and Kitchen declined to speak on the record with Denver7.

As the Denver Post’s Shelly Bradbury reports, Gov. Jared Polis is displeased as expected by this latest act of self-endangering defiance of both public health orders and common sense, which makes sense since every public poll shows Americans to be much more concerned about the unscientifically rapid pace of reopening than the economic pain and inconvenience of ongoing social distancing:

Gov. Jared Polis’ office on Sunday issued a statement calling such conduct illegal and dangerous.

“These restaurants are not only breaking the law, they are endangering the lives of their staff, customers, and community,” said the statement by deputy press secretary Shelby Wieman. [Pols emphasis]

“Under Safer at Home, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption are still closed. Delivery and drive-up service is available. Coloradans can contact their local public health department if they believe someone is violating Safer at Home.”

But 9NEWS updates that the cops did more reporting than enforcement, as least yesterday:

The Castle Rock Police Department said an officer reported to the Tri-County Health Department that the cafe planned to reopen. The health department said they plan to follow up, and released the following statement:

“We are disappointed that Cookies and Crème has decided to ignore the Governor’s Safer at Home order and open up today with no attention to social distancing. This decision runs the risk of undermining the impact that other Douglas County businesses and residents have achieved over the last seven weeks by taking various social distancing measures. As the entity charged with enforcing the Governor’s statewide Safer at Home Public Health Order, we will follow up with this restaurant to ensure that they, like other restaurants in the county, take appropriate steps to protect the public health, by limiting service to curbside and take-out service.”

Despite the near-universal condemnation of this restaurant’s decision to reopen to dine-in service, the establishment does not appear to have been shut down by law enforcement while the crowds were present yesterday. The over-capacity throng, which included the area’s state house representative House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (see photo above), was big enough to make shutting the place down problematic for all kinds of reasons–not least the desire to avoid exposing police officers to infection.

Perhaps second only in our state to Rep. Ken Buck, Minority Leader Neville has become the point man for turning the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic into a partisan political campaign–infamously accusing officials of developing a “Gestapo-like mentality” and openly encouraging residents to flout orders by the governor and public health authorities. This latest protest backed by Neville goes even further, encouraging disregard for the most essential best practices we should all be following even after these businesses are allowed to reopen. It’s a degree of willful irresponsibility that should shock the conscience of every Republican with a functioning brain in Colorado.

In the meantime, every Colorado legislator at least can sigh with relief that the legislative session has been pushed back another week, giving Pat Neville the opportunity to self-isolate for the recommended 14 days after doing something this stupid during a pandemic. Unfortunately we doubt he plans to do so, and hope he has not just become another preventable transmission vector. To the extent possible, if you find yourself in an enclosed space with Minority Leader Neville for the foreseeable future we suggest you make use of the nearest exit.

Cory Gardner Made His Bed. Now It’s Burning

President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

In today’s Washington Post analysis of the U.S. Senate playing field by veteran reporters Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis, a newsworthy development for all of us following vulnerable incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado’s race to survive against the odds–the first public discussion we’ve seen or heard of the possibility that Gardner has already been “written off” by national Republican strategists:

Republicans are increasingly nervous they could lose control of the Senate this fall as a potent combination of a cratering economy, President Trump’s handling of the pandemic and rising enthusiasm among Democratic voters dims their electoral prospects…

The emerging consensus of several Republican strategists is that GOP incumbents should be able to hang on in states Trump won in 2016 if the president can hang onto those states himself. That list includes North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa, which Democrats are heavily targeting this cycle.

The flip side for Republicans is that states Trump lost in 2016 — such as Colorado and Maine — could be out of reach. Many GOP strategists have already written off Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), [Pols emphasis] barring a major shift, and some have doubts that Collins will be able to continue her trend of faring far better in elections than Republican presidential candidates she has shared the ballot with.

To be clear, no one outside a relatively compact national GOP decisionmaking loop will know if Gardner has been written off as a certain loss until that becomes evident in visible ways–ad buys that don’t materialize, fundraising drying up, and so forth. But with Gardner’s poll numbers already trending downward from bad into true blowout territory, and a generally bleak outlook for Senate Republicans under the aggregate weight of Trump’s weakness and the pandemic’s devastation, Gardner really does seem to be on the verge of being, as they say when they make the hard calls, “triaged out.”

AP’s weekend look at the Senate race also cites Sen. Gardner of Colorado as singular example of vulnerability among Republican U.S. Senators up in 2020:

The president in office during the onset of Great Depression, Herbert Hoover, was routed in his 1932 reelection bid. Voters also cast out other recent incumbents who presided over sluggish economies, including Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, while Barack Obama was elected in 2008 after Republicans took the brunt of the blame for the collapse of the financial markets that fall.

If that happens again, the GOP isn’t just worried about keeping the White House. Voters who reject Trump may also turn against Republican candidates for Congress. That’s especially concerning for Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, [Pols emphasis] which has been trending Democratic in recent years, and could cause problems for GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tills of North Carolina and Martha McSally in Arizona, where close presidential races are expected.

The circumstances today are exactly not the same as those leading up to the 1932 elections, which took place after several years of economic disaster and ineffective political response by a Republican administration leading to an historic period of Democratic dominance in Congress and the White House. The shock of the massive job losses we’ve seen in the last two months has not been fully absorbed by the public, and the consequences in human terms are not yet apparent. It’s clear from polling that the Republican campaign especially in Colorado to blame Democrats for the economic pain from necessary measures to combat the pandemic has failed, and the story of gross incompetence by Republicans from the White House down in the face of the greatest challenge of our lifetimes so far has solidified as the publicly accepted narrative of events.

In October of 2016, Cory Gardner called for Donald Trump to pull out of the presidential race. Trump didn’t, unexpectedly won, and Gardner transformed himself from “Never Trumper” to Trump’s most loyal defender and ally without ever once explaining his change of heart. Gardner kept his game face through nearly every one of Trump’s innumerable gaffes, scandalously hateful non-gaffes, two damning foreign policy investigations, and finally an impeachment trial. As the COVID-19 pandemic loomed in late February, Gardner and Trump held a joint rally in front of thousands of packed-in supporters in Colorado Springs–right before Trump and Gardner personally worked together to turn the federal government’s response to the pandemic into a spectacle of logistical chaos and political cronyism.

Even at a moment as unprecedented as this, there are fundamentals that apply as long as the American political system as we know it exists. If there is anyone in this country–maybe on this planet–who has earned his fate as a political dead man walking in 2020, it’s Sen. Cory Gardner. This reality, apparent locally for some time, is now evident to everyone.

How Are You Doing?

We’re all riding out one of the most difficult periods of our lives together. And we wish our readers well.

That is all.

Weekend Open Thread

“Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the better designedly.”

–Francis Bacon

Weld County Health Director Out After Commishes Spurn Advice

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.

Here’s what’s known in the business as a “Friday news dump” out of pandemic-stricken Weld County, Colorado, where the arch-conservative county commissioners drilled ahead with their own plan to reopen businesses there early and over the strenuous objection of Gov. Jared Polis and state health department authorities. Dr. Mark Wallace, director of the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, is leaving his job after 25 years:

“Dr. Wallace has had an impactful career with Weld County, and we appreciate the dedication and professionalism he has brought to the county and our residents,” said Commissioner Chair Mike Freeman…

“Mark’s devotion, drive for perfection, and compassion for others have been instrumental in helping the county Health Department attain incredible success. We wish Mark all the best,” said Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer. “We truly appreciate his work for the county, and we respect his desire to now focus on his family, friends and new opportunities down the road.”

Wallace and the Board of Commissioners will spend the next few weeks developing a transition plan for the leadership role of the department, while the emergency response to the pandemic will now fully move under the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

The subtext for today’s Friday news dump was supplied a week ago by local reporter Kelly Ragan:

So many times in these politically dicey situations, it’s what’s left unstated that matters much more. We’ll perhaps never know whether Dr. Wallace decided to “spend more time with his family” for innocuous personal reasons, or whether continuing to serve as the director of the Weld County health department after it was clear that the elected government of the county was not putting the health of county residents first became morally unconscionable.

But we do know a doctor’s first obligation is to do no harm.

Senate Republicans Balk At More Stimulus Checks

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The Hill reports today, and for those of us who burned through that $1,200 of stimulus money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act just beginning to catch up from the personal economic devastation of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s bad news:

Senate Republicans are pouring cold water on including another round of stimulus checks in the next coronavirus relief bill.

The record $2.2 trillion pandemic bill signed into law March 27 mandated one-time payments of $1,200 for people making up to $75,000 a year, but most of the checks have already been distributed.

The White House and Democrats are signaling support for doing at least one more round of checks. GOP senators, however, say they aren’t sold yet on the need for a second round, and several said they are strongly opposed to the idea.

Democrats have proposed sending $2,000 checks to every household monthly until the economy is safely up and running again, and this story correctly points out that the original–maybe only now–round of stimulus checks to individual taxpayers in April was half of what Democrats originally wanted. But like Republican Sen. John Kennedy says, “people in hell want ice water too.” Sen. Lindsey Graham says getting your ass back to work is the best stimulus, and Sen. Ron Johnson says relax, “this isn’t your classic recession.”

Sen. Johnson is right, of course, but not in the way he thinks. According to the 14.7% unemployment rate announced today for the month of April, this is a much more severe economic crisis than anyone in the workforce today has ever experienced.

What happens next? It depends in large part on how “swing” Senators like Cory Gardner line up on the next stimulus bill. Gardner has been taking credit for the stimulus dollars flowing into Colorado so greedily he sent a release celebrating items just a few days before he had bashed as “despicable” examples of tripped Democrats holding up the works. Gardner has the choice of supporting another round of direct stimulus to individuals as loudly as he’s supported the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses, going along with his fellow Republican Senators in closing the wallet on the “takers,” or trailing the herd in silence until the last possible moment.

Without some timely and determined tag teaming, we already know which it will be.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 8)

It’s almost the weekend! Remember when we had weekends? 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

 

The unemployment rate in the United States has reached a level not seen since the Great Depression. As Vox.com reports:

The US shed 20.5 million jobs, and the unemployment rate surged to 14.7 percent in April, according to preliminary data released by the US Department of Labor Friday morning — worse than any unemployment rate on record in modern data, and higher than anything experienced since the Great Depression.

To make matters even worse, this figure almost certainly understates the true situation. April unemployment numbers are released in May based on surveys that took place during the week that contained April 12. And since April 12 in the US, things have only gotten worse: The initial unemployment insurance claims figures released in the final two weeks of April indicate that the labor market continued to deteriorate at a rapid pace, albeit slightly less rapidly than in the first weeks.

Ernie Tedeschi, a labor market economist, projected Thursday based on real-time data that the current unemployment rate is actually 20 percent. And in the jobs report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it believes murky classification of temporary unemployment in the household survey caused the official number to be about 5 percentage points lower.

As Denver7 reports, about 420,000 Coloradans have filed unemployment claims in the last seven weeks.

 

►  Don’t worry too much about the current state of affairs, because The Economy Fairy is here to save us! From Greg Sargent at The Washington Post:

President Trump’s campaign has already telegraphed its argument along these lines. And at its core is one of Trump’s biggest and most insulting lies yet.

The claim is that, having once created the most spectacular economy in the known universe, he will now do so a second time.

“We built the greatest economy the world has ever seen,” Trump intones in a major new ad campaign. “And we’re going to do it again.” That ad heralds “the greatest comeback story,” which in truth signals an extraordinarily audacious and propagandistic rewriting of recent history.

For all of you who already understand full well that Trump had virtually nothing to do with the pre-coronavirus economy, this is your stop:

Trump didn’t build the pre-coronavirus economy he hails as his own. He inherited its major trends. This is true by just about every major metric, such as job growth and the decline in the unemployment rate, both of which had been steady during the Obama years and carried over into Trump’s presidency.

 

The Donald Trump Justice Department announced on Thursday afternoon that it was DROPPING ITS CASE against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn…even though Flynn has repeatedly admitted guilt for his crimes. Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post calls it “another corrupt act by the most corrupt attorney general ever,” in reference to AG William Barr. National Public Radio tries to understand how this is even happening, while Charlie Savage of The New York Times sums things up with a single lede:

The Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, even though he had twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, was extraordinary and had no obvious precedent, a range of criminal law specialists said on Thursday. [Pols emphasis]

The New York Times reportedly separately on Thursday that the White House had been preparing for President Trump to issue a pardon for Flynn, but advisers urged Trump to let the Justice Department do it for him wait a little longer.

 

 Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chair (or vice-versa) is caught trying to force a local Republican official to put a candidate on the Primary ballot who failed to qualify through the caucus/assembly process. Conrad Swanson of The Denver Post updates a story that is quickly going from worse to worser for Buck:

Kris Cook, chair of the Denver Republican Party, found out about it Wednesday only to hear hours later that Buck canceled a committee meeting that had been scheduled for Friday.

“We’re touching on something here that’s not quite clean, and it’s not quite the image I have of what the party ought to be,” Cook said, later adding: “I think it’s worth questioning whether him in that role is going to have a negative effect on the rest of this cycle.” [Pols emphasis]

We’ll go ahead and answer that one now: Yes.

 

 

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

 

(more…)

Will GOP Primary Shenanigans Cost Ken Buck His Second Job?

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson follows up on a growing scandal within the Colorado Republican Party, following an unsuccessful attempt by state party chairman Rep. Ken Buck to coerce a district chair to lie about the results of the Senate District 10 assembly under penalty of perjury in order to qualify a candidate for the June 30th primary ballot:

At least two party executives say they were surprised to learn Buck — who’s also a U.S. representative — defended his position on the state Senate District 10 primary ballot in district court and then appealed that ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court, running up possibly tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Kris Cook, chair of the Denver Republican Party, found out about it Wednesday only to hear hours later that Buck canceled a committee meeting that had been scheduled for Friday.

“We’re touching on something here that’s not quite clean, and it’s not quite the image I have of what the party ought to be,” Cook said, later adding: “I think it’s worth questioning whether him in that role is going to have a negative effect on the rest of this cycle.”

After Rep. Buck attempted to strong-arm GOP SD-10 chair Eli Bremer into falsifying an affidavit to the state allowing primary candidate David Stiver to appear on the ballot against overwhelming district favorite Rep. Larry Liston, Buck was sued and lost–all the way up to the Colorado Supreme Court who refused to hear the case. This legal fight cost the party an unknown but presumably very large amount of money, with Bremer’s attorney’s fees alone estimated around $15,000 in today’s story.

It’s not hard to understand with all of this in mind why more Republicans than ever in the state–and the movement is not new as readers know–want to oust Buck from his position as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Buck’s term in the job of running the state GOP has been marked by almost continuous failure and controversy, and “absentee boss” Buck has had to grapple with the consequences of terrible decisions made by high-ranking party officials like vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown’s ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan he actively encouraged. Buck’s high-profile votes against COVID-19 relief, and backfiring grandstands against wearing face masks and other measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic have helped brand the Colorado GOP as the party of the irresponsible fringe in this pandemic.

Now Buck has been caught red-handed apparently trying to force a party subordinate to commit perjury. As an attorney and as a member of Congress, we have to think that suborning perjury is a bigger problem for Buck than any of these heretofore optical scandals. We’re not Pollyannish about how the assembly process can and probably has been fudged over the years to achieve desired outcomes. But how could a former prosecutor not understand the consequences of lying under oath?

We foresee a future in which Ken Buck wishes he never took this second job. It’s difficult even now to imagine Rep. Buck losing his ultra-safe Republican seat in Congress, but he’s certainly exposed himself to unwelcome scrutiny in a Democratic-controlled House. Short of that, turning the party over to someone with the time and competence to stabilize what’s become an ongoing organizational disaster ahead of another brutal election seems like something smart Colorado Republicans should urgently consider.

At this point, Democrats could honestly be Ken Buck’s biggest fans.

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