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.

Justice Department Will Drop Case Against Michael Flynn

UPDATE #2: You really can’t argue with this:

—–

UPDATE: Via The New York Times:

In a possible sign of disagreement, Brandon L. Van Grack, the Justice Department lawyer who led the prosecution of Mr. Flynn, abruptly withdrew from the case on Thursday. Mr. Flynn’s lawyers have repeatedly attacked Mr. Van Grack by name in court filings, citing his “incredible malfeasance.” Prosecutors in [U.S. Attorney Timothy] Shea’s office were stunned by the decision to drop the case, according to a person who spoke to several lawyers in the office. [Pols emphasis]

Responding to the news, Mr. Trump told reporters that Mr. Flynn was “an innocent man,” and said he now views him as an “even greater warrior.” Sidney Powell, Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment.

—–

Michael Flynn, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015

There’s some very troubling news breaking this afternoon, as The Washington Post reports:

The Justice Department moved Thursday to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts during the presidential transition.

The unraveling of Flynn’s guilty plea marked a stunning reversal by the Justice Department in the case of the former three-star Army general, who was convicted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In court documents filed Thursday, the Justice Department said “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information … the government has concluded that [Flynn’s interview by the FBI] was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and that the interview on Jan. 24, 2017 was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.” [Pols emphasis]

And here’s the understatement of the week month year:

The retreat from prosecutors could be a political windfall for President Trump, who last month announced on Twitter that he was “strongly considering a Full Pardon” for Flynn.

It also will likely intensify concerns within and outside the Justice Department that Barr and its politically appointed leadership is intervening in sensitive cases to help the president’s friends and political allies. [Pols emphasis]

Michael Flynn served very briefly (for only 24 days, in fact) as President Trump’s first National Security Adviser before he was fired in February 2017 because of allegations — WHICH FLYNN FULLY ADMITTED — that he had been having secret conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that involved Russian efforts to weaken U.S. sanctions implemented during President Obama’s administration. Flynn later testified that his Russian discussions had been ordered by a top Trump administration official (whose name may or may not rhyme with Fared Mushner).

President Trump and his supporters have long claimed the existence of a shadowy “Deep State” that operates with the goal of thwarting Trump at every step. Perhaps this conspiracy theory was always half right.

Gardner Praises COVID-Tainted Meatpacking Plant, Without Acknowledging It Broke Promise to Test Workers

(If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

During an online discussion hosted by a conservative talk radio station yesterday, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) refused to acknowledge that the JBS meat-processing plant brazenly broke its promise to test all employees before they went back to work. Seven JBS employees have now died of COVID-19.

As Gardner was giving a rambling response to KNUS radio host Steffan Tubbs’ initial inquiry about whether Gardner had received “false promises” from JBS management, Tubbs interrupted Gardner to ask simply if Gardner thought the JBS plant had been “up front and honest.”

“They shut the plant down. They worked on it,” Gardner replied. “In terms of sanitizing it, they need to continue to do that. Every employee who wants a test can get a test. It’s important that they continue to do that.”

Gardner went on to say: “It’s important that they live up to their word. It’s important that they live up to the promises that they have made to employees. Employee safety is paramount.”

Multiple news outlets have reported that JBS promised to test all employees, but has since decided not to do so.

Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) said the state has told JBS that free tests are available, Colorado Public Radio (CPR) reported yesterday:

“To be clear, if JBS is willing to test all employees, we would be happy to work with them on making sure they have the supplies to do that,” CPR reported Polis as saying. “We can’t just go on their premises and test people, that’s why we did it a mile away.”

CPR reported:

Polis said JBS officials backed away from an initial plan to test all employees and decided to just close for two weeks instead. It reopened in late April. Polis said state officials would work “around” JBS if they need to in order to make sure all employees get tested. “These are folks who live and work in Greeley, and we’re just as worried about their neighbors, their friends, store owners who serve them, and many others, in addition to those who work directly at the JBS plant,” Polis said.

In a virtual meeting with Republican activists last week, Gardner boasted that he and Vice President Mike Pence had procured 5,000 COVID-19 tests for workers at the JBS plant. But the workers had not been tested.

In response to Tubbs’ ititial question about the JBS plant last night, Gardner said that it was his understanding that any employee at JBS who wanted a test could get a test, without acknowledging that the optional-testing offer provided by the state only exists because of the company’s broken promise to test all of its employees.

“We need to continue to protect or workforce, not just at JBS but at businesses across the state, across the country that are open, that have remained open, those essential businesses that are there every day. They are the real heroes,” Gardner told Tubbs. “Think about it. Yes, we absolutely have to do great things for our health care workers, our EMTs, our first responders. They have been absolutely heroic. But you’ve also got people like the grocery store workers, like the people working at our meat-processing facilities, our farmers and ranchers, who are working every day to make sure that we have this food-supply system that works and puts food on our tables. Thanks to them as well, each and every one. Thanks to the people working at convenience stores, our gas stations. These are people who have done it every day. We have to make sure that they are protected.”

Ken Buck Caught Red-Handed Manipulating GOP Primary

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

A story from the Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson is roiling Colorado Republican Party insiders today, with allegations of criminal demands on party officials to ensure an underperforming state senate candidate appeared on the June 30th party primary ballot despite not qualifying–and the finger is being pointed squarely at Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck:

Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck, a U.S. representative from Windsor, pressured a local party official to submit incorrect election results to set the primary ballot for a state Senate seat, according to an audio recording of a conference call obtained by The Denver Post.

“You’ve got a sitting congressman, a sitting state party chair, who is trying to bully a volunteer — I’m a volunteer; I don’t get paid for this — into committing a crime,” [Pols emphasis] Eli Bremer, the GOP chairman for state Senate District 10, told The Post on Wednesday, confirming the authenticity of the recording. “To say it’s damning is an understatement.”

The district in question is Senate District 10, currently held by term-limited (and apparently ceilinged in his political career) Sen. Owen Hill. Longtime El Paso County Republican bit player Rep. Larry Liston pulled down the lion’s share of support at the district assembly, enough to keep challenger David Stiver under 30% and off the ballot.

But as Swanson continues, that’s when Ken Buck intervened:

“Do you understand the order of the executive committee and the central committee that you will submit the paperwork to include Mr. Stiver and Mr. Liston on the ballot, with Mr. Liston receiving the top-line vote?” Buck said on the call.

“Uh, yes, sir, I understand the central committee has adopted a resolution that requires me to sign a false affidavit to the state,” Bremer replied. [Pols emphasis]

It’s pretty simple: David Stiver only got 24% of the vote at the district assembly, therefore the party chair for SD-10 cannot legally sign an affidavit stating that Stiver got 30% and met the legal qualification for the ballot. The Colorado GOP central committee apparently decided that because attendance at the socially-distanced GOP assemblies was down this year, the result keeping Stiver off the ballot was “unfair.”

The problem with that is, if the assembly process is valid at all, as Eli Bremer was being asked to swear it was, the law is the law. If a former district attorney doesn’t understand that, who would? It’s another case where ignorance, never a valid defense against breaking the law yet the only defense Buck can offer, makes the perpetrator look even worse.

And as we learned during Donald Trump’s impeachment, lawbreaking doesn’t faze this lawman.

The Pandemic Comes Home To Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R).

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul has an in-depth look today at the county suffering the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in the entire state of Colorado. It’s not Weld County, whose disproportionate death rate during the ongoing pandemic has made for a cruel backdrop to the political posturing of the area’s conservative elected officials against basically every necessary albeit economically painful step that has been taken to slow the spread.

Today, the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in Colorado is in neighboring Morgan County, also on the Eastern Plains. And here’s their story:

In Morgan County, where outbreaks of the disease at a meatpacking plant, a dairy processing facility and a nursing home have pushed the count of COVID-19 cases to 439 and killed at least 21 people through Wednesday, the rate of infection is more than three times that of Denver. [Pols emphasis]

The situation has become so dire that county health officials are using a refrigerated trailer to store the bodies of the dead because local morgue capacity has been reached. The trailer was put to use the day after it arrived in Fort Morgan, about 60 miles southeast of Greeley…

Morgan County’s infection rate is 1,540 per every 100,000 people. In neighboring Weld County, which has been hard hit by the virus, the rate is 632 infections per every 100,000 people, compared with 512 for every 100,000 people in Denver.

Like Weld County to the north and west, Morgan County is represented in Congress by Rep. Ken Buck, and Buck’s highly conspicuous votes against coronavirus relief bills while scoffing at basic protective measures like wearing a mask have already made him nationally infamous. But in the Colorado Senate, Morgan County is represented by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg–another rural Republican politico who has frequently been the subject of derision for saying things that don’t age well.

That sums up Sen. Sonnenberg’s March 26 guest column in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

What if you are the employee, especially an employee who isn’t in the vulnerable population nor living with others who are? Will the consequences be worse than the virus?

We now have a shortage of resources, scared citizens, and a police state in which the government controls every aspect of our lives. The coronavirus has created conditions that could fool our younger generations into thinking that communism seems like freedom; at least with communism people were still free to leave their homes! [Pols emphasis]

As for the relative danger of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sen. Sonnenberg had this to say:

Last year there were over 34,000 U.S. deaths attributed to the flu. In 2009 H1N1 killed more than 12,000 Americans. Each and every year there are 35,000 deaths in car crashes with another 2+ million injured! But we didn’t shutter the economy over those health challenges, nor have we banned cars. Isn’t there a better response to this SARS-CoV-2 threat than a police state on the verge of martial law?

The very next day, March 27, Sen. Sonnenberg signed a letter from most Republican state senators excoriating Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order:

When Coloradans from across this state visit your office’s dedicated COVID-19 website – covid19.colorado.gov – they are met with data indicating that 44 out of 64 Colorado counties currently have fewer than five cases of the virus. [Pols emphasis] Understandably, the data you have been presented within private briefings with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is most likely more comprehensive, but that data has not been shared with the public or with our caucus. With the Denver metro area already under a “stay at home order,” what is accomplished by closing down the business activity and daily routines of Coloradans living in a county that has fewer than five cases of COVID-19 after weeks of dealing with this crisis?

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg was far from alone in his wholesale disregard for the threat faced by his constituents in the early stages of the pandemic. All but two Colorado Senate Republicans signed the letter to Polis bemoaning the fact that most counties, which were at that time generally beet-red rural counties represented by safe-seat Republicans at every level, had “fewer than five cases” of the virus.

But like Ken Buck, Jerry Sonnenberg’s extra effort to disparage steps to control the virus looks more like deadly negligence as the pandemic rages through the heart of his district, as in Weld County killing in numbers disproportionate to urban areas of the state. The same urban areas Buck and Sonnenberg claimed Gov. Polis was imposing a “police state” from that wasn’t needed in the countryside.

Today we know the truth: Ken Buck was wrong. Jerry Sonnenberg was wrong.

And we are learning of their error the worst possible way. Their constituents are dying.

Thursday Open Thread

“Propaganda, to be effective, must be believed. To be believed, it must be credible. To be credible, it must be true.”

–Hubert H. Humphrey

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