Conservative Majority on Supreme Court Sharpens its Eraser

Neil Gorsuch and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in 2017

The Supreme Court issued a ruling today that is a clear red alert about the potential for a later ruling that could overturn Roe v. Wade. From Slate.com:

On Monday, in a 5–4 ruling, the Supreme Court overturned a 40-year-old precedent for the simple reason that five conservative justices didn’t like it. The decision itself is unfortunate, allowing states to duck lawsuits filed against them in other states’ courts at the expense of wronged plaintiffs. But the most significant aspect of the ruling may be its cavalier treatment of precedent, which—as the dissenting justices noted in a not-so-veiled warning—signals how the majority seems to be laying the groundwork for the reversal of Roe v. Wade…

…Throwing 40 years of precedent out the window, [Justice Clarence] Thomas wrote that states have sovereign immunity from private lawsuits brought in courts of other states. Nevada courts thus have no authority to try the California board, a state agency, or impose penalties for its abuses. Hyatt is out of luck.

Thomas’ opinion is remarkable for two reasons. First, it fails to identify a specific provision in the Constitution to support this sweeping new grant of sovereign immunity. That’s because there is none. This new rule may please supporters of states’ rights—but as Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted at oral arguments, the Framers “didn’t put it in the Constitution.”

Brett Kavanaugh

As the Washington Post reports, Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer is pretty direct about his concerns about how this decision could affect other pending cases:

It is “dangerous to overrule a decision only because five members of a later court come to agree with earlier dissenters on a difficult legal question,” Breyer wrote, adding: “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the court will overrule next.” [Pols emphasis]

As Mark Joseph Stern notes for Slate.com, now-Justice Mark Kavanaugh touted the importance of legal precedent during his confirmation hearings last year; on Monday, Kavanaugh demonstrated that his beliefs about “precedence” were little more than words.

“Stand For Colorado” Rallies–The Power Of Dozens

UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio reports from Grand Junction’s sleeper of a “Stand for Colorado” rally:

When 89-year-old Tom Foster saw only a few people mulling around, he thought he had the wrong time.

“You know, at my age, I’m accused of that every once in a while,” he said with a smile.

Foster was intent on staying, however, and said he was “disappointed” in people. He believes their “apathy” is helping erode the Constitution and the U.S. as a whole.

Clearly, revolution is at hand.

—–

Stand for Colorado rally in Grand Junction.

Last week we took note of conservative rallies scheduled for Friday evening across the state, organized by a Denver AM radio host in protest of Democratic control of the state government and the results of this year’s action-packed legislative session. Featuring a variety of speakers representing the Republican political coalition from the oil and gas industry to religious activists protesting “the hypersexualization of our children,” these rallies received a considerable amount of pre-event publicity from local media–enough that a large turnout wasn’t an unreasonable expectation.

Except, as the Denver Post reports and you can see from the photo above, not so much!

Late Friday afternoon, about 200 conservatives stood at the west steps of the Capitol for 90 minutes and cheered while activist speakers denounced nearly every major Democratic bill of the 2019 session as byproducts of socialism, corruption, sexual promiscuity or government overreach.

“We are wild, we are crazy and we’re going to force local control right down their throats, the way they forced (Senate Bill) 181 down our throats,” said Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, referring to an oil and gas regulation bill…

Organizers reiterated repeatedly that their theme was “Freedom versus force.” California was said to be controlling Colorado’s votes and its policies. Planned Parenthood was said to be grooming future abortion customers by teaching sex education. Public school students were said to be “marinating in ideas like capitalism is evil and socialism is not that bad.”

Headline from the Grand Junction Sentinel (5/11/19)

Two hundred protesters was the very generous estimate given for the biggest of the “Stand for Colorado” rallies at the state capitol in Denver by the Post, which may have been more like half that depending on your camera angle. In other cities it was more like a handful of local conservative usual suspects–the Grand Junction Sentinel’s glass-half-full count of the rally there was “more than 50.” Which leads to the next question: objectively speaking, was this turnout a failure? A show of weakness for bellicose conservatives where they put so much effort into demonstrating grassroots power?

Seriously, how the hell is it not? Rally crowd size isn’t the sole indicator of support, of course, but if throw one you need to not embarrass yourself. After the high bar set in recent years by (clockwise from top) Women’s Marches, public school teacher walk-outs, Jeffco students rallying to save AP History, and one of numerous protests in support of abortion rights outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s offices in 2017, the same couple hundred protesters showing up to listen to the same intemperate speeches they’ve been hearing since the birth of the “Tea Party” movement just doesn’t pack the intimidating punch it’s supposed to.

We’ve said it before–if you can’t compete, don’t try.

Monday Open Thread

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”

–Samuel Johnson

BREAKING: Rep. Rochelle Galindo Will Resign

UPDATE: Denver Post:

[P]olice would not specify the nature of the complaint against Rep. Rochelle Galindo, a first-term House Democrat representing Greeley, saying it is “sealed,” though not by a judge.

Police last week received a complaint naming Galindo, Greeley police Sgt. Kyle Peltz said Sunday night — after Galindo announced her resignation.

“It is currently being investigated,” Peltz said. “It has been sealed due to the ongoing investigation.”

—–

Rochelle Galindo (D).

News breaking this Sunday afternoon we’ll be working through all week, freshman Democratic Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley, who was facing a recall campaign against her presently in the signature gathering phase, will resign following an as-yet unspecified allegation Galindo denies but accepts will end her term in office:

It has been the honor of my life to serve as the Representative for State House District 50. I have served my community to the best of my ability have given a voice for the underrepresented. With that, it is with great sadness that I announce that I will be resigning my seat as the Representative for State House District 50 effective immediately.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Rep. Rochelle Galindo Announces Resignation

(May 12) – Rep. Rochelle Galindo, of House District 50 announces resigation.

“The allegations against me are false. That said, they will make my fight against the pending recall effort untenable. I will not put my constituents through what will surely be a recall campaign based on political smear tactics and false allegations. Instead, I will resign my seat as the elected representative of House District 50, effective immediately,” said Rep. Rochelle Galindo.

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd reports that Democratic House leadership agree with Galindo’s decision:

House Speaker KC Becker and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett issued a response to Galindo’s resignation.

“Today Rep. Galindo submitted a letter of resignation. We agree with Rep. Galindo’s decision to step down at this time and allow someone else to serve the people of House District 50.”

Galindo’s resignation effectively ends the recall campaign underway against her, which despite voluminous bluster from Republicans was the only such campaign to have advanced beyond the rhetorical phase. It remains to be seen how this development may affect those other efforts, which seem based on early fundraising reports to have much more bark than bite. It’s worth remembering that the overwhelming majority of financial support for Galindo’s recall came from a single local donor whose interests may or may not extend beyond his home turf.

With that all necessarily explained, we’re very sad to see Rep. Galindo’s career end this way. At this point, what we don’t know about this situation dramatically exceeds what we do–but we’ll update as that information becomes available.

Johnston Busts Down Gardner’s “Thoughts And Prayers”

No matter where you land in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, there’s no question that former state Sen. Michael Johnston has been a forceful advocate on the issue of gun control ever since the 2013 legislative session–and he’s getting a lot of views in a NowThis News video calling out Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner’s NRA millions:

Worth the watch and share.

Weekend Open Thread

“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Colorado Week in Review: 5/10/19

Giuliani Pressuring Ukraine to Assist in Trump Re-Election

Rudy Giuliani and President Trump

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post breaks down some stunning new reporting about President Trump’s re-election campaign:

There are some news stories so jaw-dropping that you have to read them two or three times to make sure you’re not hallucinating. So it is with a story in the New York Times in which Rudolph W. Giuliani announces to the world that he is going to Ukraine to pressure that country’s government to use its official resources to assist in President Trump’s reelection effort — by mounting an investigation he hopes will produce dirt on Joe Biden. [Pols emphasis]

Yes, Trump is trying to collude with a foreign government in an attempt to aid his campaign by creating negative stories about a potential opponent. Again.

“Oh come on,” you’re saying. “You’ve got to be exaggerating.” I’m not. The Trump team is apparently streamlining its previous pattern, which was to try to secretly work with a foreign government on its campaign, angrily deny it when it’s revealed and then, when caught by incontrovertible evidence, insist that there was never anything wrong with doing it in the first place.

They’re now skipping over the secrecy and denial parts, and just doing it openly.

Allow us to repeat this in case you thought you were, in fact, hallucinating the first time. As initially reported by the New York Times on Thursday, President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giulianifreely admits that he is trying to get Ukraine to launch investigations to discredit the Mueller investigation and to politically damage Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden:

There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. [Pols emphasis] And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

Mr. Giuliani’s planned trip, which has not been previously reported, is part of a monthslong effort by the former New York mayor and a small group of Trump allies working to build interest in the Ukrainian inquiries. Their motivation is to try to discredit the special counsel’s investigation; undermine the case against Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman; and potentially to damage Mr. Biden, the early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination…

…Giuliani said his efforts in Ukraine have the full support of Mr. Trump. He declined to say specifically whether he had briefed him on the planned meeting with Mr. Zelensky, but added, “He basically knows what I’m doing, sure, as his lawyer.”

“Somebody could say it’s improper,” says Giuliani.

Somebody could say it’s improper.

DSCC Thwacks Gardner Over “Gold Star Family Tax Hike”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

A press release from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee calls out Sen. Cory Gardner along with several other 2020 GOP vulnerables for a provision in the 2017 Trump tax cut legislation that’s being panned on both sides of the aisle for its “unintended” effects on military survivors:

The reckless Republican tax law passed in 2017 that gave away the vast majority of its benefits to the rich and big corporations and even sparked a lawsuit that could end protections for people with pre-existing conditions is having yet another disastrous effect: unfairly hiking taxes on Gold Star families…

While some Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been working on a fix, some of the most vulnerable GOP senators who voted proudly for the tax bill that caused this mess aren’t owning up to their mistake. Senators Gardner, Collins, McSally, Tillis, Perdue, and Ernst have been sitting on the sidelines, appearing to decline to co-sponsor the legislation while their Senate colleagues work across party lines to undo this cruel penalty hurting Gold Star families.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Stewart Boss issued the following statement:

“The most vulnerable Republican senators voted for a reckless tax bill that actually hiked taxes on Gold Star families, and now they’re not even working to fix this mess and support a bipartisan solution to the problem they created. Senators Gardner, Collins, McSally, Tillis, Perdue, and Ernst owe their states an explanation for why they voted in favor of a Gold Star family tax hike and why they’re not working to fix this issue.”

It’s a sticky subject of course, admitting that the so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” was a flawed measure that in addition to irresponsibly slashing revenues in an era of trillion-dollar deficits is hurting politically most problematic segments of the tax base with its various inadequate “pay-fors.” As The Hill reported last week:

Republicans’ 2017 tax-cut law made a change to how children’s unearned income is taxed under the tax. Previously, the income was taxed at the rate of the children’s parents, but under the GOP tax law, the income is taxed at the same rate as trusts and estates.

The change unexpectedly resulted in the children of fallen troops paying more taxes on their survivor benefits. Task & Purpose, a news outlet focused on military and veterans affairs, reported last month that it is common for spouses of fallen troops to put Department of Defense survivor benefits in the names of their children in order to ensure that the families can receive survivor benefits from both the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Under the new legislation, military survivor benefits would be treated as earned income, rather than as unearned income, so that they are not subject to the tax and instead are taxed at lower rates.

In the Senate, the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, but the legislation also has 28 other Senate cosponsors from both parties. Which leads to the obvious question–why isn’t Cory Gardner’s name on the bill too? Perhaps he’ll remedy this oversight in the coming days, but unless he does we have to assume that Gardner just doesn’t want to talk about the consequences, both intended and not, of the tax cut legislation he voted for. After all, once we fix this “glitch” hitting Gold Star families in the pocketbook, it might be a good time to discuss that massive federal deficit the Trump tax cuts have only worsened. As the only major policy achievement Gardner can hang his hat on, it’s not working out very well.

Its almost as if Cory Gardner (wait for it) didn’t read the bill! Either that or he really thinks survivor benefits should be “unearned income?” Either way, it’s a nasty political eyesore that refusing to own only makes worse.

Watch The Senate GOP’s Unwatchable Session Recap Video

This morning, the Colorado Senate Republican minority comms office put out a video attacking Democrats for their supposed “overreach” in the 2019 session. We’re embedding it below, but we’ll warn you in advance that we got more than a little nauseous watching it–not due to its unpersuasive arguments, but the weird overexposed shaky-cam effect they used in iMovie or whatever to produce it:

Yikes! We’ve admittedly both seen and made a few videos that weren’t ready for prime time post-productionwise, but it was at least not on purpose. This weird shaky flashy thing they’ve done here seems to be deliberate, and that means there’s no good excuse for inflicting the resulting queasiness on the political water cooler class of Colorado. It may not be as bad as the episode of Pokemon that gave Japanese children seizures, but it’s not a pleasant experience.

On the other hand, the parodies more or less produce themselves! They’re at least more ironic before the headache sets in:

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Get More Smarter on Friday (May 10)

Sunday is Mother’s Day. If you forgot to order flowers, enjoy that premium pricing! It’s time “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Our great negotiator-in-chief Donald Trump is defending his decision to raise import tariffs on some Chinese goods from 10% to 25%, even as economists warn of the damage this could do to businesses in the United States. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Friday defended his decision to impose steep tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and promised that much steeper penalties would follow, putting the rest of the world on notice that he will follow through on his protectionist agenda no matter the blowback. [Pols emphasis]…

…The chain of events that began with higher tariffs and continued through Trump’s tweets have sown unrest in financial markets around the world and have left investors and business executives unsure of what is to come. Trump in the past has threatened severe penalties only to back down days later, but he has also shown a willingness to dig in and trust his instincts, even if advisers have warned against it. He believes the strength of the economy gives him leverage to use aggressive trade tactics.

“At this stage, it is difficult to envision this as a bluff anymore,” said Eswar Prasad, a senior professor of trade policy at Cornell University. “He seems deadly serious about taking on China in a broad economic confrontation irrespective of the consequences to the U.S. economy.” [Pols emphasis]

“No matter the blowback.” Swell.

 

► As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Republicans are quietly — and anonymously — admitting that they don’t have a lot of hope for a big electoral comeback in 2020:

It’ll be nearly impossible for Republicans to win a majority next year in the Colorado House, where GOP candidates could win every competitive district and still fail to net the nine seats necessary to control the chamber.

That Republicans have no hope to win control of the State House won’t surprise many political observers, but even the State Senate could be out of reach for the GOP:

Next year, there won’t be as many narrowly divided districts on the ballot — and Republicans will be playing defense in some tough races, including an open seat in a district that’s trending Democratic.

By general agreement, the Republicans’ top target next year will be Jefferson County’s Senate District 19, held by Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, while the Democrats’ top targets will be Adams County’s Senate District 25, held by Republican Kevin Priola, and Arapahoe County’s Senate District 27, held by Republican Jack Tate, who won’t be seeking another term…

…There is a wild card, however, that could tilt the balance of power in the Senate after the 2020 election. Several threatened recall elections might put additional, off-cycle Senate seats in play next year, opening the door at least a crack to a Republican majority in the chamber.

Speaking of those recall elections, read on…

 

► As we’ve noted in this space on several occasions, the attempted recall elections in various stages of reality in Colorado are all about A) Grift, and B) Republicans looking for a way around General Elections that they can’t seem to win anymore. The “CEO” of the Colorado Republican Party, Steve House, said the quiet part out loud last weekend in Pueblo.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Friday Open Thread

“Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.”

–Hunter S. Thompson

Steve House Says the Quiet Part Out Loud on Recalls

Republicans gathered at the Pueblo Convention Center last Saturday for their annual “Derby Day Lincoln Dinner,” promoted as an “Evening with James O’Keefe of Project Veritas.” Inbetween dinner and O’Keefe hawking his latest book, Republicans in attendance heard a lot about recall elections in Colorado — perhaps a little too much.

One of the speakers at the Pueblo event was Steve House, the former GOP State Party Chair who is now the “CEO” of the State Party under new Republican Chairman Ken Buck. As you can hear in the audio clip below, House lays out a handful of priorities for the Colorado Republican Party that include supporting recall efforts across the state:

“We are going to support the recalls. We have to support the recalls, because, people…people are justifiably angry about what’s going on. And we need to, first of all, give a voice to that anger. And secondly, the process of identifying more voters for Trump, and for Cory Gardner, and for getting the State Senate back, starts as well with those recalls.” [Pols emphasis]

D’oh!

Recalls are how Republicans can start “getting the State Senate back.” This is the part about the recall efforts that House shouldn’t be discussing out loud: That Republicans see this as a way to subvert a regular election process that they are no longer capable of winning. 

Ken Buck and Steve House

Recall enthusiasts admitted last month that the rationale behind trying to oust Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) didn’t really have anything to do with her actual votes on issues; former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard told the Greeley Tribune that they would be working to recall Galindo regardless of how she voted in the legislature. As we first reported in this space last month, GOP consultants have been caught explaining how recalls should be viewed as a neat way to elect more Republicans because of the opportunity to catch the majority of voters napping.

Hearing these sentiments from House is a bit different, however, because House is the guy running the day-to-day operations of the Colorado Republican Party. While Buck has generally tried to avoid specifics on the subject of recalls, House doesn’t even pretend that this isn’t about sneaking Republican candidates in through the back door.

As we’ve discussed in this space before, recall elections in Colorado are — first and foremost — about grift for Republican consultants and “issue groups” looking to make some cash in a non-election year. Various Republican-aligned groups and individuals are spending as much time attacking each other as they are promoting their recall elections, because nobody wants to share their space at the fundraising spigot.

Once you get past the wallet-stuffing aspect of the recall elections, the strategerie is clear. Galindo, for example, was first elected in November and must stand for re-election in just 18 months. The State Republican Party could should be spending their time organizing for November 2020, but those darn General Elections are too hard!

Alice Madden Launches Senate Campaign: “we need to fight climate change just as hard as we fight Donald Trump”

Former Colorado House Democratic Majority Leader and Obama Administration official Alice Madden launched her U.S. Senate campaign today with a promise to get this country back on track.

Click here to see the launch video.

“We are now facing two man-made disasters unlike any others,” Madden said in her launch video promoted with a significant digital advertising buy. “I’m running for Senate because we need to fight climate change just as hard as we fight Donald Trump.”

 

Known as the architect of the Democratic takeover of the Colorado legislature, Madden became the first Democratic House Majority Leader in decades. She has dedicated her career to helping Colorado families thrive, protecting our iconic western landscapes, and educating the next generation of leaders.

 

As a young attorney, she protected access to reproductive health and helped victims of domestic violence. As a legislator, she got healthcare coverage for tens of thousands more Colorado kids, fought for education funding, and transformed Colorado from lagging behind to leading the nation in clean energy. She served as Climate Change Advisor to Governor Bill Ritter, helping develop Colorado’s New Energy Economy. As an appointee in the Obama Administration, she worked on expanding clean energy across the country.

 

“We need leaders who can solve the problems that keep Coloradons up at night, like affordable health care, quality education, gun violence, and economic opportunity,” said Madden. “Our state deserves a Senator who will represent Colorado values – not his special interest donors. There’s just too much at stake and I know that I can get our country back on track.”

 

Madden has both a Bachelor’s and a law degree from the University of Colorado. She and her husband Pete, a manufacturing engineer, have two grown sons — and in their first film appearance (but probably not their last), two dogs, Lily and Katie.    

 

  

Some Colo Republicans Blame Losses on Dumb Campaign Tactics and, partly, on the Koch’s Flawed Voter Database App

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A dispute has emerged among Colorado Republicans about how much to rely on a giant database of voter information developed over many years with billions of dollars by the Koch brothers, the GOP’s mega donors.

The Koch database, called i360, is heralded by many Republicans as a beautiful tool to target voters across the country, including Colorado, using information gleaned from consumer spending (from credit agencies and vendors), social media, canvassing by Americans for Prosperity and others here in Colorado, and other places where big data sources.

Just before last year’s election, Salon called i360 an “unprecedented propaganda” tool identifying more than 199 million active voters and 290 million U.S. consumers, with about 2,000 data points on each person, such as “your vitals, ethnicity, religion, occupation, hobbies, shopping habits, political leanings, financial assets, marital status and much more.”

“They know if you enjoy fishing — and if you do, whether you prefer salt or fresh water. They know if you have bladder control difficulty, get migraines or have osteoporosis. They know which advertising mediums (radio, TV, internet, email) are the most effective,” according to Salon.

But for former State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), the promise of i360 doesn’t match the reality, which led Neville, in part to reject pressure from the Colorado Republican Party (and its consultants) last year to use the party’s voter data to target voters in his (mostly) Jefferson County district, according to sources.

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