Colorado’s Newest GOP Lawmaker Loves Him Some Cosplay

UPDATE: It’s worth noting that President Trump retweeted the image at right to his many followers this morning. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

Unless you are deeply obtuse, you get the point: Donald Trump is suggesting — to his nearly 71 million followers — that the two top Democrats in Congress are in league somehow with the Iranian regime. Presumably, Trump believes that to be the case because both Pelosi and Schumer have pushed for the administration to offer more detailed information about the supposed “imminent” threat posed by Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani which led to the US military’s killing of him by drone strike earlier this month.

There’s actually one thing wrong with that sentence above. I wrote “Trump believes” that Schumer and Pelosi are in league with the Iranians. That’s almost certainly wrong. What Trump believes is that sharing a doctored image of these two Democrats he will throw red meat to his base, who will eat it up. That it will play into his base’s twin dislikes (or at a minimum distrusts) of a) congressional Democrats and b) Muslims. (Remember that Trump ran openly in 2016 on the idea that Muslims were a violent people who hated America — and that he was the only politician willing to tell the truth about the threat they posed.)

As Greg Sargent notes for The Washington Post, the White House also weighed in on Trump’s Tweet:

After President Trump retweeted a doctored image of Democratic leaders dressed in Islamic garb, the White House offered a curious justification: Trump retweeted that image to send the message that Democrats are on the side of terrorists.

This was apparently intended as a defense.

Which would appear to mean the White House’s official message is now that depictions of Democrats in Muslim garb denote Democratic support for terrorists.

With this in mind, the pictures of Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf (below) will really bake Trump’s noodle.

—–

A photo from origins unknown was forwarded to us, apparently depicting newly-appointed GOP Rep. Richard Holtorf of rural House District 64 in what can be best described as…well, culturally appropriative clothing–photos that were reportedly deleted or hidden from public view recently on Holtorf’s Facebook page:

Now before anyone gets carried away, we’re inclined to give Rep. Holtorf the benefit of the doubt that he is not some kind of closet Muslim “Manchurian candidate” working his way up the ladder of American politics to carry out his sinister sultanic deed. With that said, we’re obliged to recall that when a photo surfaced of former President Barack Obama similarly wearing Islamic-world clothes for a wedding years before his political career began, it instantly became part of the apocryphal body of “evidence” that Obama was a Trojan horse for Mecca.

We’ll leave it to Rep. Holtorf to explain this interesting bit of khaffiyeh cosplay, which we suspect was not meant to offend although it’s always better to be sensitive as a white dude to matters of cultural appropriation (here’s looking at you, Justin Trudeau). And of course, we can’t be held responsible for any misunderstandings with fellow Republicans.

Like President Obama, right? Or maybe there’s, you know, a difference.

Colo Lawmaker Introduces Anti-Vaccination Bill in Name of Consumer Protection

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This article, which originally appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder, was written by Noah Zucker.

After Tuesday’s vaccine-oriented rally in front of the Colorado State Capitol, a few parents and some of their school-age children filled a committee room in the ornate building’s basement for a town-hall meeting, organized by state Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs), to discuss his proposed legislation, called the Vaccine Consumer Protection bill.


Many at Tuesday’s rally held anti-vaccine signs

“If families believe that [vaccination is] a benefit to them, then so be it – take it on yourself,” Williams said, summarizing his bill, which has yet to be released. “But if there are parents and families that know of vaccine injuries that have occurred and they don’t want to have that risk, then that’s fine, too.”

Williams said the proposed legislation would require health care providers to give information about vaccines to patients when requested and report adverse vaccine-related events.

He added that the bill would outlaw government discrimination against those on delayed vaccine schedules or those who outright refuse vaccination.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) does acknowledge there have been some rare cases of adverse side effects associated with vaccines, its page on common vaccine misconceptions completely dispels the idea that vaccine-related health issues are at all common or widespread.

With respect to risks of not vaccinating, Colorado has one of the lowest immunization rates in the country, with only 87 percent of the state’s kindergarteners having received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine during the last school year. A vaccination rate of 90 to 95 percent is required to achieve herd immunity, meaning that enough of the population is immune in order to prevent the spread of the disease, particularly among those who are unable to receive certain immunizations, like infants.

RELATED: Republican Lawmakers to Host Anti-Vaccination Summit at Colorado Capitol

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George Conway’s Lincoln Project Rips Cory Gardner



The Lincoln Project, a group of dissenting high-profile Republicans led by attorney George Conway along with longtime GOP strategists Rick Wilson and Steve Schmidt, fired off its first volley against a fellow Republican–with blistering minute-plus video spot slamming Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado for “putting Trump ahead of Colorado every time.”

Last month the Lincoln Project’s principals laid out their red-on-red mission in a New York Times op-ed:

Over these next 11 months, our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference. We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.

The 2020 general election, by every indication, will be about persuasion, with turnout expected to be at record highs. Our efforts are aimed at persuading enough disaffected conservatives, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in swing states and districts to help ensure a victory in the Electoral College, and congressional majorities that don’t enable or abet Mr. Trump’s violations of the Constitution, even if that means Democratic control of the Senate and an expanded Democratic majority in the House…

[Trump] has neither the moral compass nor the temperament to serve. His vision is limited to what immediately faces him — the problems and risks he chronically brings upon himself and for which others, from countless contractors and companies to the American people, ultimately bear the heaviest burden.

But this president’s actions are possible only with the craven acquiescence of congressional Republicans. They have done no less than abdicate their Article I responsibilities.

Today, Conway said of Sen. Gardner in particular:

When he ran for the Senate six years ago, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) promised that “when my party is wrong, I’ll say it.” Now Gardner is so scared of Donald Trump, he won’t even say it’s wrong for a president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival.

If Sen. Cory Gardner can’t do his job, and can’t comply with his oath of office by considering the impeachment charges against Trump on their merits, then he should go.

We haven’t heard the size of the ad buy for this compelling spot, but we expect it to be widely circulated even without much money behind it. This is a message aimed directly at Trump-averse unaffiliated voters who joined with Democrats in 2018 to punish Colorado Republicans at all levels in a clear referendum against the President.

With Gardner fighting a rear guard action to keep the Republican base behind him by backing Trump at great cost to his own credibility, Colorado’s majority anti-Trump coalition has no incentive to split their ticket.

Monday Open Thread


“Wisdom stands at the turn in the road and calls upon us publicly, but we consider it false and despise its adherents.”

–Khalil Gibran

People Who Are Pro-Choice Have “Dead” Consciences, Says Denver Catholic Leader

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In endorsing a partial abortion ban targeted for Colorado’s November election ballot, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila denounced abortion in sweeping terms yesterday at the annual Celebrate Life rally in Denver, saying, “Only the persons whose consciences are dead, who have no conscience, can participate in [abortion].”

The proposed measure backed by Denver’s Catholic leader would prohibit abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, putting a major regulation on abortion in Colorado that’s one of seven states that has not cutoff date for abortion.

Opponents of the partial ban say it targets a group of women who are already dealing with horrific decisions about pregnancies, and so the government should leave the choice to women.

Aquila

Amber Jones had an abortion after 22 weeks, for example, after receiving a diagnosis of a rare fetal genetic disorder, which causes miscarriage half the time and death after one week for the median of those that make it through delivery. Read Jones’ story, written by my colleague Madeleine Schmidt, in Jezebel.

Dr. Warren Hern, who performs abortions in Colorado, has said the 22-week ban would be a “catastrophe” for women with pregnancy problems, like Jones’, who aren’t diagnosed until late in pregnancy.

“These women are desperate,” Hern told Jezebel “They don’t want to have an abortion. They want to have a baby.”

But Aquila told the crowd that neither medical nor any other complication should stand in the way of stopping all abortion.

“No matter what the circumstances in life, each and every person is called to defend life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable,” said Aquila.

Placing a 22-week regulatory framework on abortion, instead of banning the practice outright has drawn opposition from some of the state’s leading anti-abortion activists.

“Our misguided pro-life allies have presided over decades of regulating child killing,” Bob Enyart, a spokesman for Colorado Right to Life (CRTL), told me earlier this year. “You don’t regulate crime; you deter crime. Once again, they increase confusion where only truth should be proclaimed. Their immoral initiative 108 seeks to protect children ‘who can survive outside the womb.’ But what about the rest of them?”

Aquila responded to Enyart’s concerns by saying the proposed partial abortion ban is an important incremental step toward a total ban.

“And yes, we firmly believe that all abortion laws should be abolished,” said Aquila. “But we also desire to protect, even in increments, the gift of given life. We are not voting for abortion, nor are we saying we agree with abortion up to 22 weeks. What we are saying, is that we respect life, and we respect it for all the pregnancy.”

“We hope in November 2020 you and the citizens of Colorado will have the chance to protect unborn children, mothers, and fathers,” Aquila told the crowd.

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Thousands March In Denver To Take Away Abortion Rights


Colorado Public Radio’s Hayley Sanchez reports from the Colorado Capitol yesterday, where thousands of newly-energized religious conservative voters turned out to support ending abortion rights in Colorado–and freely acknowledging that a 22-week abortion ban headed for the ballot this year is a step toward their goal of completely banning abortion:

Thousands of abortion opponents rallied outside the Colorado state Capitol on Saturday afternoon for the “2020 Celebrate Life Rally.”

The gathering is an annual event, but this year it had a new focus — speakers and attendees repeatedly touted Initiative 120, which would ban on abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy. Initiative supporters must turn in 124,632 valid signatures by March 4 in order to qualify for the November ballot.

“We are not going to rest because what started in Colorado will end in Colorado,” said David Bereit, co-founder of 40 Days For Life, a Christian non-profit that campaigns against abortion. “Colorado has tried other ballot initiatives on the pro-life side in the past that have failed. This is the one that a large majority of people agree upon.”

By all accounts the crowd yesterday at the state capitol dwarfed a protest last Wednesday attended by “anti-vaxx” activists and a color-coded range of other fringe issues, cheered on by House Republican leadership. Boosted by reported heavy promotion at area churches, yesterday’s March for Life was probably the largest protest event organized by conservatives in Colorado at least since the “Tea Party” protests of 2009. It’s widely expected that Initiative 120 will qualify for the ballot, largely on the strength of petitions circulated on church property during worship services.

This large protest march takes place against the backdrop of rapidly eroding abortion rights nationwide, and an anti-abortion movement in direct pursuit of the repeal of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision guaranteeing abortion rights–and with a court now tilted to the right for a generation, their chances are better than ever. Colorado, on the other hand, has routinely rejected abortion ban ballot measures by overwhelmingly numbers in previous elections, clearly demonstrating majority support for safe and legal abortion.

The truth is that abortions later in pregnancy are almost always the result of severe complications and developmental problems that only become apparent later. This reality is a potent counterargument to the 22-week abortion ban in polling, and it changes undecided voters’ minds once properly explained. And once Colorado voters realize that this arbitrary, unscientific limit on abortion rights is meant to lead directly to the next step of banning all abortion, it’s likely they will reject this measure at the polls by a large margin.

With that said, it’s a good bet the religious right in Colorado is going to try harder this year than ever before. Because they realize, as supporters of abortion rights already understand, that the worst-case scenario is only one election away. If there ever was room for complacency on the left with this defining civil rights issue, there isn’t now.

Weekend Open Thread


“Only a small rich fringe hates Social Security for disincentivizing 80-year-olds from seeking full-time employment.”

–Alex Pareene

Sharing the Stars & Bars: Conservatives’ Contrasting Responses After Posting the Confederate Flag

(“If, by ‘white nationalist,’ that’s what you mean, count me in” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A blog post promoting a “Militia Second Amendment Rally” in Virginia made the rounds of Colorado conservative social media in mid-December. The event, scheduled for January 20, Martin Luther King Day, uses the Confederate Flag as its logo.

Of the people and group pages sharing the post, two were relatively prominent: The Montrose County, Colorado, Republican Party, and KNUS 710-AM radio host Randy Corporon.

Their responses to inquires about the post, however, were decidedly different.

The Montrose Republican Party immediately removed the post, while talk show host Corporon reaffirmed his support for the event, the post, the Confederate flag, and even for a (narrow and specific) definition of “white nationalism.”

The Montrose GOP’s post was noticed by Michal Rosenoer, who was one of the Facebook commenters who expressed concern about it on social media.

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Marianne Williamson WAS Still Running for President


Apparently Marianne Williamson was pursuing the Democratic Presidential nomination as recently as yesterday. But not anymore.

From CNBC:

Williamson, who consistently polled near the bottom of the pack of Democrats vying to defeat President Donald Trump, said she stayed in the race “to take advantage of every possible opportunity to share our message.”

“With caucuses and primaries now about to begin, however, we will not be able to garner enough votes in the election to elevate our conversation any more than it is now,” she said. “The primaries might be tightly contested among the top contenders, and I don’t want to get in the way of a progressive candidate winning any of them.”

“As of today, therefore, I’m suspending my campaign,” Williamson said.

Williamson wrote on Twitter shortly after her announcement that “A politics of conscience is still yet possible. And yes….love will prevail.”

Peace out!

 

Cory Gardner Praises Dear Leader’s Glorious Targeted Killing


President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

9NEWS reports, Sen. Cory Gardner is not just backing President Donald Trump’s recent aggressive actions in the Middle East–while fellow Republican Senators denounce the administration’s arrogance in consultation with Congress as “insane” and “demeaning”–he’s laying it on thick:

“The president made the right call at the right time to neutralize the threat and to save American lives. Imagine having done nothing, having done nothing and allowing the attacks to proceed,” Gardner said. “At yesterday’s classified briefing, General Milley and our national security personnel made it clear — the death of General Soleimani saved lives.”

The briefing Gardner referred to was a classified briefing on the airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, held by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and other high ranking security officials on Wednesday.

“I commend the administration for taking decisive action last week in Baghdad against Tehran-backed terrorists planning an imminent attack on American targets. The administration’s action, with regard to Qassem Soleimani, was not only decisive, but necessary and legal under longstanding presidential authority to protect American lives from imminent attack,” Gardner said.

As we noted yesterday, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah was incensed by the high-handed treatment of U.S. Senators by administration officials in an earlier briefing, where it was suggested that even questioning the President’s war powers would be seen by the administration as “emboldening the enemy.” As a result, a deeply offended Sen. Lee and fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul say they will vote in favor of a resolution passed by the House to limit the President’s authority to strike Iran. As for proving that the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was a defensive action in response to an “imminent” attack, as Vox reports:

“The president has not supplied convincing evidence that his strike stopped an imminent attack on US forces. Nothing we’ve seen has changed my mind,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), who has proposed a bill to withhold funding for an Iran war unless Trump seeks congressional authorization, said on the Senate floor after the briefing.

Paul referenced claims by O’Brien, Trump’s top national security aide in the White House, who has said the 2002 authorization for war with Iraq supported the legal rationale for killing Soleimani — an Iranian — in Baghdad. “That is absurd, that is an insult,” he said.

And according to a Democratic Senate aide, the briefers didn’t touch on anything that would provide evidence of an “imminent” attack. [Pols emphasis] “There was no way they could know for sure,” the aide said after speaking with their boss on what happened inside the room. “There was nothing specific they could point to.”

No problem for Sen. Gardner, who seems to have heard only what the White House wanted him to hear and not a word more. Gardner has learned in the last three years to talk his way around even the worst foreign policy mistakes by Trump, and follow the proselytized MAGA base’s lead in effusively praising the President no matter how poorly that praise may age–like when Gardner praised Trump for holding a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and then watched helplessly as Trump’s engagement with North Korea devolved into the usual insults and renewed missile tests.

The moral of the story? If you want honesty, you won’t get it from Gardner–even when fellow Republicans are no longer restrained.

Get More Smarter on Friday (January 10)


The First Son-in-Law is 38 years old today. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to limit President Trump’s ability to take unilateral military action without Congressional approval. As CNN reports:

The vote was 224-194. Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Francis Rooney of Florida crossed party lines to vote in favor while Democratic Reps. Max Rose of New York, Ben McAdams of Utah, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Stephanie Murphy of Florida voted against the resolution.

Now that the resolution has passed the House it will next go to the Senate.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst and senior Defense Department official, is the sponsor of the resolution, which calls on the President “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” unless Congress declares war or enacts “specific statutory authorization” for the use of armed forces.

You read that correctly — Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz voted IN FAVOR of the resolution.

Of course, the Senate is where all good things go to die; it is unlikely that Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell will even entertain a vote on the matter if he can avoid it. Some Republican Senators have expressed support for a “War Powers Resolution” after a disastrous White House briefing on Iran earlier this week.

Meanwhile, President Trump may have decided to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani to perhaps appease Republican Senators whose support he needs in a coming impeachment trial.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says her chamber may send impeachment documents over to the U.S. Senate as soon as next week. From the New York Times:

In a letter to colleagues Friday morning, the speaker moved to end a weekslong impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president’s fate in limbo. She did not announce the members of the team she will ask to manage the case, but said the House should be ready to vote to appoint them sometime next week.

“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Ms. Pelosi wrote after lawmakers departed the Capitol for the weekend. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”

Once the House votes and the articles are transmitted, the Senate’s proceeding, only the third impeachment trial of a sitting president in American history, will begin promptly — as soon as Wednesday based on Ms. Pelosi’s timeline.

 

► If you thought that Republican lawmakers in Colorado might be more reluctant to embrace their lunatic right-wing base after last year’s string of recall failures…well, we know you probably didn’t think that. The GOP still loves itself some lunatics.

Meanwhile, Colorado Republicans made it very clear during Thursday’s “State of the State” address that they have zero fucks to give about immigrants or refugees in Colorado.

For more on Gov. Polis’ “State of the State” speech, check this recap from The Denver Post or this annotated version of the entire speech via The Colorado Sun.

 

► Don’t miss the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an in-depth interview with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

 

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

The Get More Smarter Podcast: More Smarter Legislating



In the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, we kick off the Colorado legislative session from the State Capitol with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett. We also discuss Iran and impeachment (and how Sen. Cory Gardner is screwed on both), and Rep. Garnett faces off against Ian Silverii in the world’s best worst game, “Duke or Donald.” 

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

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

Colorado May Stand with Immigrants, But Republicans Do Not


Republican lawmakers remain seated after Gov. Jared Polis says that Colorado supports immigrants and refugees.

Governor Jared Polis (D-Boulder) today delivered his second “State of the State” address to an audience of Colorado lawmakers and elected officials.

Polis’ speech focused largely on health care issues and providing financial relief for Colorado families dealing with the high cost of health coverage and prescription drugs. Most of today’s “State of the State” remarks received bipartisan applause, but Republican legislators were noticeably stingy with recognition when Polis briefly touched on the importance of supporting immigrant and refugee families in Colorado. Said Polis:

…In the face of unprecedented hostility from this White House toward our immigrant communities, we can say loudly and proudly that in Colorado, we stand with DREAMers and with refugees.

Most of the room stood and applauded after this line, but as you can see from the video below, Republicans quietly sat on their hands instead. It was not a good look…

House GOP Leadership Welcomes Fringe, Fascists To Capitol


Yesterday’s Opening Day rally at the Colorado legislature featured a motley crew of color-coded far-right activists (we are not making up the color-coded thing), sounding off on a range of issues from opposition to childhood vaccination to the state’s new “red flag” law to protect the public from preventable gun violence–and a range of more bizarre issues in between like conspiracy theories about 5G cell phone service. Also in attendance were members of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist “pro-Western civilization” group regularly involved in political street violence.

Here’s how 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark summarized the contrast between “the Republicans inside the building” and “the Republicans outside.”

We got a glimpse today of the difficult position that the minority Republicans are in when you compare their stated legislative priorities to what their supporters rally for on the capitol steps.

Republicans inside called for transportation funding.
Republicans outside carried anti-vaxxer signs.
Republican inside linked teacher performance with bonuses.
Republicans outside linked former President Obama and Hitler.
Republicans inside included a call for bipartisanship.
Republicans outside included the Proud Boys, recently featured in a 9 Wants To Know investigation on hate in our state.

So that is the trouble that looms ahead for the Republicans inside the state capitol. They have to answer to the Republicans outside.

The only thing we’re obliged to add is the photo collage at the top, courtesy the Colorado Times Recorder, which closes the loop in this discussion of the Republicans “inside the capitol” versus the right-wing protesters who turned out in force outside to vent their particular flavor of misguided rage. The protesters outside the capitol yesterday were eventually joined by a large contingent of elected Republican lawmakers–including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Dave Williams, Rep. Lori Saine “In The Membrane,” Rep. Susan Beckman, and a number of others.

That’s critical to understand. The Republicans inside the capitol went outside.

Once that happened, it was no longer possible–or necessary–to tell the “inside” and “outside” Republicans apart.