Get More Smarter on Friday (April 12)

The Denver Nuggets start their playoff run on Saturday at home against the San Antonio Spurs. 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…

President Trump is affirming threats to release immigrant detainees into the home districts of prominent Democrats as punishment for not letting him build his big border wall. As the Washington Post reports:

Trump said Friday that his administration is giving “strong considerations” to a plan to release immigrant detainees into “sanctuary cities,” blaming Democrats for what he characterized as an unwillingness to change immigration laws.

His comments on Twitter followed a Washington Post report that the administration had been eyeing districts of political adversaries, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to release detainees.

“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!” Trump wrote.

His tweets suggested that the plan, which immigration officials had rejected in November and February, was again viable.

Never underestimate the ability of President Trump to sink lower than you ever thought possible. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

The fact that this would even be considered speaks volumes about how Trump (and Miller) view not only the ongoing crisis at the border, but human beings more generally. [Pols emphasis]

Because this is, at heart, a story about people. People who tried to enter the country illegally, yes. But people nonetheless. And what the President of the United States wanted to do to these human beings was turn them, literally speaking, into political pawns. Ship them somewhere so that they could, maybe, accomplish a political goal of his — and, if not that, then just make things more uncomfortable for his political opponents…

…Only by seeing certain people as lesser or a threat can you treat them like political pawns on your broader chessboard.

And when you see people as something less than, well, people you can rationalize treating them in ways that no person should be treated. That’s where we are with President Trump on immigration. There is no bottom. He just keeps going lower and lower. [Pols emphasis]

 

► The Denver Post endorses Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for re-election:

Ballots for the city’s spring election will arrive in mailboxes next week, and we hope voters consider how very much is on the horizon in Denver to be excited about….

…Hancock’s administration and City Council have stood up to developers, even if at times we wish they had reacted more quickly: rejecting slot-home developments; closing a loophole that allowed developers of multi-family houses on small lots to not provide off-street parking; setting an ambitious goal for affordable housing, meeting it early and then creating a multi-million dollar fund to keep the progress going. We see the mayor’s leadership in creating Denver Day Works, a program that sets aside city work for day laborers, and in his commitment to creating new shelter beds, improving existing shelter spaces and building a daytime facility with showers and other resources.

More needs to be done, but Hancock is ready and willing to meet the challenges of a booming city and he is the only candidate ready to meet the challenges if this nation faces an economic downturn.

 

► What are Republican recall attempts in Colorado really about? Making money, of course.
 
 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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New GOP Vice Chair, Who Founded the Personhood Movement, Thinks Trump Is Asset in Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

President Donald Trump.

“One of the things we have to do here in Colorado is talk about how the policies that our president has enacted benefit people here in Colorado and benefit our businesses,” Kristi Burton Brown, Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, told KNUS host Chuck Bonniwell yesterday.

“That’s one thing we have to do as Republicans, is connect our policies to people,” said Brown on air. “And that takes messaging. It also takes candidates who are likable, who can connect with people.”

Brown’s view mirrors comments last month by Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, also a Republican.

“I like the president, and we’ve got to make sure we have an opportunity for the American people to get to like the President,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Steffan Tubbs. “And I think they like his policies. I think they do.”

Neither Gardner nor Brown specified which Trump policies are allegedly popular here, but in the past Gardner has referenced Trump’s unpopular tax law.

Brown, who launched Colorado’s personhood movement in 2008, once lauded Gardner as being one of the “main stupporters” of the personhood amendment, which aimed to ban all abortion in Colorado but was rejected overwhelmingly three times here.

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Ken Buck on Nevilles Profiting From Recalls: “That’s for Patrick & House GOP to Decide”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Local broadcast news faces a challenge when covering politics–how to distill complex topics into brief segments that rarely run longer than four minutes?

Last week 9News’ Marshall Zelinger sat down with Congressman Ken Buck, the newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. The wide-ranging interview only lasted 3 minutes 30 seconds on air, which is why 9News’ decision to post the entire raw footage of the interview is so important.

Inquiring minds need only visit the Next on 9News Youtube channel to find the full 17-minute interview, “Head of Colorado GOP Ken Buck on recalls, oil and gas, Nazi question.”

At 9:45 Zelinger asks Buck if it’s appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit from recalls they’re promoting publicly.

Zelinger: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville has come out supporting recalls. His family could benefit from recalls because that’s their business. Should it be appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit off of recalls and elections? By being hired for election purposes–this is an added election outside of a cycle–perhaps this is being done in a way that benefits the family business?

Buck initially says he doesn’t understand, but then gives a response that indicates he does understand, but that he doesn’t want to get involved.

Buck: So, Patrick’s brother is a consultant in the business and certainly there were some resources from the House fund that were used in the last cycle and his brother ran some of that political operation. I think that is something that Patrick and the elected Republicans in the state House will have to decide. It’s not something the state party will intervene in in any way. Ken Buck, Next on 9News, 4/5/19

Zelinger’s question about the Neville’s family financial stake in the House GOP political machinery was just the latest reporting on the issue, the most prominent of which was Marianne Goodland’s pair of feature-length articles for Colorado Politics, particularly the second one titled “A hard look at 2018’s GOP ‘soft money’.” Goodland reported that other Republicans expressed concerns with the Nevilles’ performance and tactics:

One Republican insider told Colorado Politics he didn’t mind if Joe Neville and his companies make money off their political activities. But, he said, the lack of results in terms of election wins for the GOP is another matter… Another concern among Republicans who talked with Colorado Politics: what appears to be a large amount of unspent money left over after the election.

By early March, it was clear where at least some of that unspent money was headed- paying for recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville launched a website to support recalling his own colleagues in the legislature. At least one corporate donor, Xcel Energy, expressed surprise that some of its 2018 contribution to the GOP House caucus fund was now being used for recalls.

More recently, 9News’ Kyle Clark noted that both former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and also the conservative Independence Institute are both generating revenue from another proposed Colorado recall, the moonshot that is the attempt to remove Governor Jared Polis. State law dictates that petition gathering for a gubernatorial recall can’t begin until at least six months into the governor’s term, but there are no restrictions on when political operatives can start gathering checks from naive donors.

Friday Open Thread

“All passions exaggerate; and they are passions only because they do exaggerate.”

–Nicolas Chamfort

Cory Gardner’s Curiously Unremarkable Fundraising Numbers

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

As Justin Wingerter reports this afternoon for the Denver Post, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2019 that are curiously unremarkable:

Gardner raised $2 million in the first three months of 2019 and has more than $3.4 million on hand, his campaign said Thursday…

…“Senator Gardner’s strong fundraising quarter is another indicator of the wide range of support and confidence in the job he’s doing and the belief in his work to get things done for the state in a bipartisan manner,” said Casey Contres, the senator’s campaign manager.

“Strong fundraising,” “wide range of support,” “bipartisan,” blah, blah, blah…

These are things that your campaign spokesperson says after any fundraising period, but a $2 million quarter is milquetoast for the most endangered Republican incumbent Senator in 2020. Gardner raised $1.4 million in about a month when he first entered the race for U.S. Senate in Spring 2014. By comparison, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Boulderish) raised a little more than $2 million in the first quarter of 2014. That was 5 years ago.

Gardner is not just the most endangered Senate incumbent this cycle — he’s also coming off a two-year run as Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The whole point of being Chair of the NRSC is to strengthen your fundraising connections; instead, Gardner barely outraised Democratic challenger Mike Johnston ($1.8 million).

Note that Gardner is the only Republican candidate for Senate in Colorado, while Johnston has a half-dozen Primary opponents. Candidates who don’t have to worry about a Primary normally do better in fundraising; Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, for example, pulled down more than $4 million after announcing his Senate campaign on Feb. 14. Gardner’s fundraising quarter is also remarkably dull considering that he already has a number of big-name surrogates working on his behalf.

Gardner has strung together some terrible weeks into a pretty bad run, lowlighted by the Denver Post’s jaw-dropping UN-dorsement in March. In the midst of so many troubles, a $2 million fundraising quarter is…fine.

The problem for Gardner is that “fine” isn’t going to get him re-elected.

Rifle’s David Bernhardt Bellyflops Into The Swamp

David Bernhardt (left).

As the New York Times reports–not that there was ever much doubt, but another Colorado Republican oil and gas attorney has won the job of Secretary of the Interior after David Bernhardt of Rifle was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a mostly party-line vote:

The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for the oil and agribusiness industries, as secretary of the interior. The confirmation of Mr. Bernhardt to his new post coincided with calls from more than a dozen Democrats and government watchdogs for formal investigations into his past conduct.

Senators voted 56-41, largely along party lines, in favor of Mr. Bernhardt’s confirmation. Two Democrats, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, and Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, crossed party lines to vote in favor of Mr. Bernhardt.

As interior secretary, Mr. Bernhardt, who has already played a central role in designing many of Mr. Trump’s policies for expanding drilling and mining, will now serve as the nation’s senior steward of its 500 million acres of public land and vast coastal waters.

Colorado’s U.S. Senate split on the confirmation of Bernhardt, with Sen. Cory Gardner voting as pledged for Bernhardt’s confirmation and Michael Bennet voting against. Conservation Colorado’s Kelly Nordini issued this response to the vote:

“Being a Colorado native does not give David Bernhardt special qualifications for running the Department of the Interior, and shame on Senator Gardner for letting the fox guard the henhouse simply because he’s from the same neighborhood. Senator Gardner made a huge mistake with his vote today, given Bernhardt’s troubling record and spiraling conflicts of interest. Westerners love their public lands and the environment and Bernhardt cannot be entrusted to protect them on our behalf.

“Senator Gardner likes to talk about protecting public lands for future generations, but today’s vote to confirm a former oil lobbyist puts the public lands we love at risk. [Pols emphasis] This is yet another instance of Senator Gardner telling Coloradans one thing and then doing the opposite.”

Confirmation of Bernhardt by the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate will not end questions about his ethical record both at the Interior Department going back to the bad old Jack Abramoff days, as well as his private practice as an attorney representing big energy producers and other polluters creating major conflicts of interest. Colorado has been fortunate to have more than our share of locally grown Secretaries of the Interior in the last two decades, but we’re obliged to note that the last Republican Interior Secretary from our state Gale Norton left office under a cloud–soon after her departure waltzing through the revolving door to work for Royal Dutch Shell.

Bernhardt will take office under a cloud, so at least the worst case scenario won’t come as a surprise.

The First Amendment and the Right to be an Idiot

Like the Bible, gluten, and “Game of Thrones,” the First Amendment is often invoked but not always understood.

On Wednesday, Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) demonstrated a common First Amendment misperception with a ridiculous rant on the House floor:

 

During a debate about expanding a program to provide driver’s licenses for immigrants (SB19-139), several Colorado Democrats took umbrage with repeated Republican usage of the term “illegals” to describe undocumented immigrants. At one point during the discussion, Rep. Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams County) asked House members to “use the terms that are in the bill” rather than invoke inflammatory labels. This did not sit well with Rep. Saine, who stomped to the microphone to exclaim:

Thank you, Chair, and thank you Representative Benavidez. I really appreciate you very much on a lot of your work down here, but, um…[pause]…I feel that you are impugning us. We are not children. Not lawfully present also means illegal. Let’s not play around with that. Not lawfully present equals illegal.

So, telling us we can’t use certain words at this well is an abridgment of the First Amendment. [Pols emphasis]

And with that, Saine huffed off. State Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver) immediately responded with this:

The term “illegal” is very offensive to people. It’s like calling someone “colored” or “the N word.” [Pols emphasis] That is how it feels to people…it is extremely offensive. So now that we know, maybe we could stick to the merits of the bill and temper our language just a bit because of how it makes people feel. That’s all I’m asking. I wouldn’t expect anybody to call me words that I would tell you are offensive, and now that you know, maybe we can try to change our language to be respectful of people who are truly offended when this term is used to describe them.

We’d love to tell you that this exchange put an end to using the term “illegals,” but you know that it won’t. What the discussion did illuminate, however, was an oft-forgotten point: The First Amendment does not protect you from making a complete fool of yourself.

Representative Saine is certainly not the first politician to misunderstand the First Amendment. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin loved to assert that she had a First Amendment right to not be criticized. Palin was, and is, incorrect. The First Amendment does not prohibit people from saying mean things to Palin or to California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes — or to anyone else, for that matter (we’re also looking at you, Sen. Ted Cruz).

The First Amendment grants all Americans the right to speak freely and assemble peaceably. The First Amendment also establishes freedom of the press and the right to petition the government so that your grievances may be redressed. The First Amendment even protects your right to shoot a gun at a specific page in a newspaper (so long as you are taking the appropriate safety precautions).

State Rep. Lori Saine and State Sen. Vicki Marble

The First Amendment is not a license to say anything, anytime, to anyone. You cannot yell “fire!” in a crowded theater in order to cause panic and then hide behind a “free speech” defense. You also cannot libel or defame someone with knowingly-false information (although if that person is a “public figure,” you’re probably fine from a legal perspective).

The First Amendment also does not override guidelines that are clearly stated by private organizations. You can tell us to “f*** off” in the comment section below; we probably won’t remove the comment in part because it just makes you look like a dumbass. On the other hand, we might remove certain disparaging remarks and known falsehoods made by readers if they violate our Terms of Service and because we’re not interested in providing an open forum for irresponsible assholes of any political affiliation.

Words are not just a bunch of letters and sounds, no matter how much Sen. Cory Gardner wishes otherwise. On the other hand, as politicians such as Rep. Saine and State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Broomfield) have long demonstrated, words don’t necessarily have to form coherent sentences. Democrats on Wednesday weren’t telling Republican lawmakers that they didn’t have the legal authority to use the term “illegals”; they were merely asking that Republicans make an effort to be less offensive to a specific group of people.

So rest assured, Rep. Saine, that you have every legal right to knowingly use offensive terms in a public forum. Just know that those words say more about you than they do others.

Polis Recall: Never Mind The Details, The Grift Is On

UPDATE: A reader astutely points out that Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute has been using his Denver Post column as a vehicle for enthusiastically promoting recalls of late:

We’d say the opportunity for a “dollar sign” (see below) conflict of interest is rather large. Wouldn’t you?

—–

In the last 24 hours, the “campaign” to recall Gov. Jared Polis, which kicked off with a spate of nasty revelations about the anti-Semitic and otherwise unpalatably extreme views of its organizers, has shifted gears–into a new operation run by familiar faces in Colorado politics, and with a new sense of purpose.

What’s the purpose? We’ll let 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark explain:

“Dollar signs.” Lots of them. Here’s a TL;DR version:

Yesterday, it was announced that former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been “retained” as counsel for the Recall Polis organization, presumably to help the group navigate an unprecedented path to collecting over 600,000 valid Colorado voter signatures–many times the amount ever collected in a petition drive before. And that’s not all:

In a move just as noteworthy, fundraising for the Recall Polis campaign is being taken over by the Independence Institute , run by longtime local political walking clown show operative Jon Caldara, and their recently-deployed “Freedomfy” crowdfunding online platform. And with that bit of news, there’s something every person considering a donation to the Recall Polis campaign on “Freedomfy” needs to know:

Compared to every major crowdsource fundraising platform with the apparent exception of Indiegogo, “Freedomfy” is ripping you off. The Independence Institute charges an exorbitant fee of 6%, plus 30 cents for every individual transaction. That’s more than double the fees charged by GoFundMe, the platform the Recall Polis organization from is migrating away from. What’s more, GoFundMe has an active pool of over 50 million donors. We don’t know how many members “Freedomfy” has, but it’s not anywhere near 50 million.

With that said, there’s one thing GoFundMe hasn’t got–a percentage flowing to Jon Caldara.

We’ve already discussed at length how attempting to recall Gov. Jared Polis, a campaign that can’t even under the state constitution begin until he’s been in office six months, is a fool’s errand logistically. The massive signature requirement to place the question on the ballot would require a multimillion dollar petition gathering operation of unprecedented scale–to say nothing of what the actual recall election would cost proponents if it made the ballot. But that hasn’t dissuaded a strident segment of the Republican base in Colorado from raving.

And where there’s passion, especially poorly thought-out passion, there’s money! Caldara sets up a fundraising stream that he nets the skim from, and Gessler submits billable hours that there is now a stream of money to cover. That’s what they call a sustainable business model. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if there’s ever a recall of Gov. Polis–in fact that could be considered a less desirable outcome.

Just like when Ted Harvey discovered he could cash in by sending out fundraising letters with Hillary Clinton’s face on them, turning recalls into cash machines is an end unto itself.

Thursday Open Thread

“For the grifter, ripping people off is seldom the point. The grifter is an artiste who invests in the long con.”

–Jacob Weisberg

CU Regent Heidi Ganahl Endorses Trump

(Colorado’s only OTHER statewide elected Republican official – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The red meat was indeed raw and juicy at the Colorado Republican Central Committee meeting last month.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner shouted about needing “a fighter” at the top of his lungs. Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) threatened recalls and dared Democrats to take his guns from his “cold dead hands.” District Attorney George Brauchler said “the front was bloody” and warned that soon Coloradans will have to call California “our overlords.”

Compared to violent language and imagery favored by Buck, Gardner, and Brauchler, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl’s speech was relatively tame.

“We’re on the right side of history. We have the right solutions for the problems our state faces, and Ken Buck has a track record of winning and winning big, as our president likes to say. “It’s time to get to work to re-elect President Trump, to re-elect Senator Gardner, and to win back the state legislature.” CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, Republican Central Committee meeting, 3/30/19

This straightforward endorsement wouldn’t be significant were it not for the fact that during her 2016 campaign for CU Regent, Ganahl refused to even utter the name of her party’s presidential candidate.

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Gardner Down on Herman Cain–But Not Because He’s a Lech!

Herman Cain.

CNN reports on the latest Donald Trump-engineered minefield for Republicans up for election in 2020 to navigate, the forthcoming nomination of two controversial figures to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve: conservative columnist Stephen Moore formerly of the Wall Street Journal, and more controversially Herman Cain, the 2012 presidential candidate whose campaign collapsed under the dual revelations of Cain’s gross incompetence and extensive womanizing.

The concern over Cain in particular has grown so great that it appears Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking the rare step of allowing Republican Senators to publicly grouse:

During Tuesday afternoon’s Senate Republican lunch, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advised senators concerned about Trump’s selection of former presidential candidate and pizza executive Herman Cain and conservative economic commentator Stephen Moore to share their views with the White House now, before Trump officially moves forward with the nominations, a source familiar with the remarks told CNN…

Aiming to avoid a public fight over the confirmation, some Republicans hope to persuade Trump to reconsider ahead of Cain’s official nomination.

The problem, as Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado discovered shortly afterward, is that the “fight” is already public:

“No,” Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado quickly responded when asked if he would support Cain.

But, says Sen. Gardner, and this is a key point:

“It’s not about his past. [Pols emphasis] It’s about who I think should be on the board,” the senator explained. “So that’s that.”

Unfortunately “that’s that” isn’t a satisfactory explanation in the least for why Sen. Gardner would oppose Cain’s nomination, yet specifically exclude Cain’s “past” from his reasoning. But there is an explanation for Gardner being cagey: in October of 2016, after the tape of now-President Trump bragging about his ability as a television star to sexually assault women surfaced to bipartisan condemnation, Sen. Gardner called on Trump to pull out of the race, saying “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.” In January, Gardner endorsed Trump’s re-election in 2020, saying he “likes” the President and thinks Colorado should get the chance to like him too. Gardner has yet to offer an explanation for this, uh change of heart that would reassure women voters who took him at his word the first time.

But once Gardner let Trump off the hook he can’t really condemn Herman Cain, can he? Or anybody else.

It’s kind of a problem.

Crow Posts Blinking “Do Not Enter” Sign with Q1 Fundraising

Potential Republican challengers in CO-6.

Freshman Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) pulled off one of the more astonishing victories of the 2018 election when he unseated longtime Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in CO-6. Crow’s victory came in a very good year for Democrats, sure, but five months later it’s still hard to fathom that he ultimately won this race by 11 points.

Earlier this year, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) added Crow to its list of top pickup opportunities for 2020. Nevertheless, we haven’t heard much discussion among Republicans about potential challengers, and that isn’t likely to change now that Crow’s Q1 fundraising numbers have been revealed.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Crow ain’t messing around:

Crow, who isn’t accepting contributions from corporate political action committees, plans to report taking in $490,000, with $473,000 cash on hand, for the three-month period ending March 31. His campaign said two-thirds of the donations are from Colorado residents, with 74 percent under $100…

Crow’s fundraising total nearly matches the record haul for a Colorado congressional candidate during the first quarter of an off-year. [Pols emphasis] It falls short of the $519,000 Coffman raised during the first three months of 2013 and the $514,000 brought in for the same period by Coffman’s 2013 Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff.

You read that correctly. Jason Crow raised nearly a half-million dollars in the first three months of his first term in office…in an off-year…without a dime of corporate PAC money.

Fundraising isn’t the only criteria that potential opponents will use to gauge their chances in 2020, but Crow’s Q1 numbers are a massive warning sign that this seat may soon be out of reach for the GOP.

Ken Buck Keeps Making a Jackass of Himself on Race

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Yesterday in Washington, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the increase in white nationalism and hate crimes in the last few years, with prominent examples like the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and the mass murder of Jewish congregants at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October of 2018 serving as a backdrop to the reported three years of consecutive increases in such crimes. USA TODAY:

Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray called white supremacist violence “a persistent, pervasive threat” during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.

In November, the FBI released a report that showed a 17% increase in hate crimes from 2016 to 2017, although the bureau pointed out the number of law enforcement agencies reporting the data had also increased.

While majority Democrats in the Judiciary Committee wanted to talk yesterday about the statistically undeniable increase in hate crimes in the United States since Donald Trump became President, undeniable even factoring better reporting of hate crimes or any other kind of excuse one could make to explain the increase away…Republicans on the committee had other ideas. Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt:

Conservatives on the House Judiciary Committee, of which notably few were even in attendance, made it clear today that they are not equipped or willing to engage in a meaningful conversation about understanding and solving white supremacy and hate crime in America.

A panel of experts and people with lived experience who study and feel the effects of violent extremism in this country sat under the lights in the Rayburn House Office Building this morning–next to right-wing activists Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Point USA, and Zionist Organization of America’s Mort Klein. The esteemed experts attempted to share factual information and proposed solutions, but their messages were frequently derailed by the conservative duo’s efforts to change the topic of discussion and wield the hearing as a bludgeon against Democrats. Republican members of the Judiciary Committee in attendance, including Reps. Louie Gohmert and Ken Buck, egged them on and, at one point, Rep. Greg Steube yielded his time to Owens to make whatever comments she wanted to. Buck asked Owens if her status as a “pro-life” conservative “triggers” liberals. [Pols emphasis]

Owens testified that she was participating in the hearing because she had been the victim of a hate crime in high school, which is true. But Owens spoke only briefly about that incident and then pivoted to make accusatory and incorrect claims, such as that the GOP’s Southern strategy was a myth, ignoring the fact that RNC chairman Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern strategy’s existence in 2005.

Candace Owens.

Candace Owens of the hard-right college organizing group Turning Point USA recently caused a stir in Colorado when she spoke before Boulder County Republicans shortly after recorded comments of her saying Adolf Hitler “just wanted to make Germany great” in a way that could be interpreted as an excuse for Naziism if it only happened inside one country. Boulder Republicans gave Owens a pass, but the Turning Point USA chapter at CU Boulder later called for her to step down. But at yesterday’s hearing Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, fresh off his most recent lowlight last week comparing gay people to Nazis, had Owens’ back:

Buck, who was a longtime Weld County district attorney and is now the new chair of Colorado’s GOP party, was among the Republicans who defended Owens during the testy hearing.

“I think you’ve caused my friends on the left to go to their safe spaces,” said the 4th District Colorado Republican. [Pols emphasis]

As for Owens’ blanket denial that Republicans intentionally courted whites in Southern states with coded racist campaign messages, initiating the great Southern realignment from the Democratic Party to the GOP by the early 1980s? There’s simply no historical basis for this contention. The strategy was publicly avowed by its principal architect Lee Atwater, and it is an historical fact that the Republican Party apologized for it back in 2005:

Mehlman, speaking before the NAACP, said Republicans had been wrong to try to make use of racially divisive issues.

“Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” Mehlman said, according to his prepared remarks. “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.” [Pols emphasis]

While the “Southern strategy” helped Nixon win the White House in 1968, Democrats went on in the ensuing decades to solidify their support among black voters, as Mehlman acknowledged.

What changed between 2005 and today to make Republicans deny this dark but important period of their own history? That’s simple. The strategy became popular again–and not just in the South. The low-information apologetics of Candace Owens, backstopped by members of Congress like Ken Buck who are seemingly out to prove Owens wrong, is a bizarre spectacle that says a great deal about today’s GOP politics.

And nothing good.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 10)

Snowmageddon! 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…

► Attorney General William Barr continues to toss his credibility out the window. As CNN reports:

Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers Wednesday that he will be looking to the “genesis” of the the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government began in 2016, saying, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal” — echoing some of the more inflammatory claims lobbed by President Donald Trump for months, but declining to elaborate on his concerns [Pols emphasis]

…”For the same reason we’re worried about foreign influence in elections, I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr said. I’m not suggesting those rules were violated but I think it’s important to look at. . . . I think it’s my obligation.” [Pols emphasis]

He added that he’s not launching a full blown investigation to the FBI, and does not view it as a problem that is “endemic” to the FBI, but has in mind some colleagues to help him “pull all this information together, and letting me know if there are some areas that should be looked at.”

Barr isn’t saying that it happened, but it could have happened, and maybe it did happen. But then again, maybe it didn’t…

As Paul Waldman writes for the Washington Post, Barr is very much the good clapping monkey that Trump was searching for when he hired a new Attorney General.

 

► The Denver Post reports on the advancement of paid family leave legislation in Colorado:

The proposed insurance program, five years in the making, cleared a key Senate committee on a party-line vote Tuesday afternoon after the sponsors amended the bill to allow businesses that already offer identical benefits and local governments to opt out, increase the share employees must contribute, and push back the rollout of the program to 2023.

The committee also reduced the amount of available time off to 12 weeks. The previous version allowed up to 16 weeks in some instances.

The bill still provides wage-replacement benefits and job protections for all employees who work at least 680 hours during a year and contribute to the state fund. Seasonal workers are not covered.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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