Thursday Open Thread

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

22 States Join Colorado To Stop “Faithless Electors”

A press release from Secretary of State Jena Griswold this afternoon:

Today, twenty-two states signed on to an amicus brief that underlines the urgency in Colorado’s petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an unprecedented decision issued in August in Baca v. Colorado Department of State. The 10th Circuit decision states that Colorado cannot remove presidential electors if they fail to cast their ballots in accordance with state law, which requires presidential electors to cast their Electoral College ballots for the candidate who won the most votes in Colorado. Because the 10th Circuit’s ruling impedes Colorado’s ability to enforce state law and has the potential to undermine voters across the nation, Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case and protect Americans’ fundamental right to self-determination.

In filing the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, Secretary Jena Griswold said the 10th Circuit’s decision, if upheld, “undermines voters and sets a dangerous precedent for our nation. Unelected and unaccountable presidential electors should not be allowed to decide the presidential election without regard to voters’ choices and state law.”

The states that signed onto the brief request are Alaska, California, Illinois, Mississippi, Maryland, Nevada, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Tennessee, and Rhode Island.

“Having twenty-two states support our petition to the U.S. Supreme Court underlines the urgency of this matter. When Americans vote in the presidential election, we are exercising our most fundamental right – the right to self-governance and self-determination. We have to preserve that right. Without swift action by the Supreme Court, the foundation of our democracy is at risk,” said Griswold.

The appeals court decision last August in the Baca v. Colorado Department of State case sent a shock through many more state capitols than our own, since the ruling threatens to destabilize the entire Electoral College system used to elect Presidents since the founding of the Republic. Although the notion of “faithless electors” is not new and historically very rare, the heightened awareness of the power of the Electoral College after two presidential elections in the past 20 years were decided adverse to the winner of the nationwide popular vote–combined with a ruling enshrining the right of electors to go “faithless”–could make them a regular, unpredictable, and decidedly un-democratic component of future elections.

As we’ve discussed in this space, the decision also complicates the as-of-now stalled implementation of the state’s National Vote Compact law, which would assign the state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Compact doesn’t have enough participating states to take effect, and the law in Colorado is under challenge via a statewide ballot question set for next November–but if the 10th Circuit’s ruling in this case prevails, NPV would be impossible to enforce here or anywhere else.

The one upside we can offer is that if the end result of this court battle is an Electoral College that no longer functions as the Founders intended, or no longer has the public’s confidence, it could result in the change the Electoral College’s opponents desire faster than any other means. We and everyone else with a stake in the outcome of presidential elections–meaning everybody–should be watching closely.

Who Will Be the Democratic Nominee for President in 2020?

Who fills this spot in 2020?

Since #SondlandSings is eating up most of the news coverage today, it’s easy to forget that there is another Democratic Presidential debate tonight in Atlanta, GA (or maybe it’s already over?)

You know what that means — it’s time again to ask the wise readers of Colorado Pols to predict the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. When we asked this question last month, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren dwarfed all other Democratic candidates.

As always, we want to know what you think will happen here — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to place a bet — right now — on the outcome of the Democratic Primary, where would you put your money? Who do you predict will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020?

Click after the jump to cast your completely un-scientific vote…

(more…)

‘No-Pants’ Pastor Seulean Re-enters State House Race, Says His Party Bullied Him to Drop Out

(Modest Culottes! — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner, Corey Seulean.

Ultra-conservative Longmont Pastor Corey Seulean, who believes women shouldn’t wear pants, has decided to re-enter the House District 63 race after dropping out in September.

In a video announcement on his Facebook page, Seulean harshly criticized “a handful of powerful elites” in his own party who he claims bullied him into dropping out of the race, saying he “did so against [his] will and better judgment.” He blamed the attacks on “the Christian conservative base of the Republican Party.”

Seulean claimed that a “sitting politician” – whom he did not name – told him he was simply a “placeholder,” and that he needed to “be a team player” and “get out of the way” for a better candidate.

That candidate appears to be former state legislator Pat Miller, who announced her candidacy just days before Seulean dropped out. Miller won the endorsement of current HD63 representative Lori Saine, who’s term-limited.

“It is not just the Democrats who are corrupt,” Seulean said. “There are many in our own party as well.”

Despite his harsh criticism of the “mafia mentality” of those who pressured him to step down, however, Seulean pledged to “run a clean campaign” and urged his party to unite against what he views as the real enemy:

“Our enemy is the liberal, socialist, radical Democrats who want to destroy our state, tear up our constitution, make Colorado be like California, strip us of our God-given inalienable rights, kill our babies, take away our national voice in the presidential election, turn us into a sanctuary state and destroy our economy by crippling our oil and natural gas industry.”

If elected, Seulean said he’d “bring God back to our state politics.”

Seulean made national headlines following the Colorado Times Recorder’s reporting on his belief that it’s immodest for women to wear pants, and that they should instead wear either skirts or “modest culottes.” He dropped out of the race a month later, on Sept. 20.

But, But…Her Emails!?!

What is the password?

As The Daily Beast reports, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recently made it a lot harder for Republicans to continue harping on emails sent by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

North Korea had just tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting Alaska, and the Trump administration was scrambling to react. But it seems Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, had lost her password for classified communications.

That’s why on that fraught July 4, 2017, she was typing away on her BlackBerry 10 smartphone, sending “confidential” information over a system meant only for unclassified material.

Haley was in a rush as she headed to her office—“On my way in”—shooting emails back and forth with top aides who’d been with her since she was governor of South Carolina. She needed to make a statement, and they were drafting it for her. “Let’s clean this up,” she writes after looking at some of the copy. “Pretty this up for me,” she says.

The next day we discover what the problem is with her communications. “Can’t find my password for the high side,” she writes.

Haley was apparently sending classified information through an unsecured email system because she forgot her password to the secure account.

Let’s repeat that: Haley used an email system that was not secure because she couldn’t remember her password to the confidential account.

She might as well have just faxed someone a piece of paper with sharpie scribbles across the front.

Sondland Explodes Trump Impeachment Defense

UPDATE #3: Amber Phillips of The Washington Post has the same takeaway from today’s hearing:

Gordon Sondland has been considered a figure who could crack the impeachment inquiry wide open. Not just because he was the witness directly talking to President Trump about Ukraine but also because of who he is: a Republican and Trump donor, a high-profile ambassador unanimously confirmed by the Republican Senate.

And despite his background as a Trump ally — the president last month called him “a very good guy and a great American” — in his opening statement Wednesday, Sondland stepped on nearly all of Republicans’ primary defenses for the president.

—–

UPDATE #2: President Trump delivers some (kinda) prepared remarks. Via CNN:

This is not a joke.

—–

UPDATE: Check out Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican member on the House Intelligence Committee, sharing a concerned look with House Republican attorney Steve Castor:


—–

Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland is testifying publicly today in the impeachment hearings against President Trump, and he’s slamming the door shut on Trump’s defense. Read all about it at The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, NBC News, Politico

Wednesday Open Thread

“We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.”

–Denis Diderot

Cory Gardner Says He Needs Money to Fight “Radical Liberal Hoard [sic]”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) recent fundraising letter attempts to scare Coloradans into donating to his reelection campaign by using extremely partisan language at odds with his claims of being a moderate, bipartisan dealmaker.

Toward the end of a four-page letter mailed to prospective donors, Gardner explains his need for money in extreme (though poorly copy-edited) language:

“To help me fight back the radical liberal hoard [sic] that is descending on Colorado to try to defeat me, please make a commitment to my campaign today…” writes Gardner.

It’s unclear which Coloradans specifically Gardner is referring to as part of the “radical liberal [horde] descending on Colorado,” but at the very least he includes his potential challengers, the two most prominent of whom (Hickenlooper and Romanoff) have lived in Colorado for decades. His language also invokes a longtime conservative complaint about liberal Coloradans who moved here from other states and shifting the political demographics.

An email to the Gardner campaign requesting clarification of whom he considers to be part of the “radical liberal [horde]” was not immediately returned.

In the postscript, Gardner continues to warn of “radical liberals” and of Democrats’ desire to institute socialism.

“They want to destroy me and elect a radical liberal to work with Schumer and Pelosi in Washington, D.C.,” Gardner writes.

(more…)

Conservative Group Hands an Award to Gardner

(Foxes for Henhouse Security – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) received a “Congressional Champion” award last week from ConservAmerica, a group formerly called “Republicans for Environmental Protection.”

“We recognized Sen. Gardner for his strong commitment to protecting the environment while also promoting the economy of Colorado, as well as for his role in founding and co-chairing the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus in the Senate,” spokesman Robert Dillon emailed the Colorado Times Recorder.

The Roosevelt Caucus is a group of Republican Senators who look at environmental problems “through a conservative, limited government lens.

That’s also the perspective of ConservAmerica, whose motto is, “Conservation Is Conservative.”

The “About” page on ConservAmerica’s website is broken, but on a previous “About” page, found on the Way Back Machine, the organization states its “mission is to educate the public and elected officials on conservative approaches to today’s environmental, energy, and conservation challenges.”

Gardner was selected for the award by ConservAmerica’s staff and board members, said Dillon.

Democrats say Gardner is trying to greenwash himself in advance of his 2020 election. They label Gardner as an enemy of the environment who sides with Trump on rollbacks in Obama-era policies protecting air, wetlands, public lands, and more.

Progressive environmental activists are pressuring Gardner to join Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in pushing the CORE Act, which is the first bill in a decade to set aside new wilderness in Colorado.

It cleared the U.S. House last month but faces a difficult road in the U.S. Senate without the “full-throated support” of Gardner, reported Colorado Public Radio.

Yet, Dillon says, “Gardner is trusted and works with members on both sides of the aisle, characteristics that are essential when you’re trying to advance policies and negotiate legislative text. The Senate should be about finding common ground and developing solutions that work for the majority of Americans. Sen. Gardner exemplifies the kind of policy-maker committed to good governance that is becoming increasingly difficult to find these days.”

Multiple awards Gardner has received in recent months have come under scrutiny as being either products of conservative groups like ConservAmerica or as being given on the basis of such a narrow analysis as to diminish their meaning.

For example, Gardner often cites his fifth-highest-ranking on a 2019 bipartisanship ranking that was given without considering any of his actual votes on legislation.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: The Sideshow Bob Defense


This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Congressmen Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) test out some odd impeachment defense strategies; Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) celebrates two years without a town hall event; Colorado Republicans promote a pointless new ballot measure; and the “fairy godmother” of the #resistance, Jessica Zender, plays America’s worst favorite game show, “Duke or Donald.”

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

Dems Commemorate Two Years, Zero Cory Gardner Town Halls


It’s an anniversary Sen. Cory Gardner would be happy for Colorado voters to forget:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Tomorrow, November 20th marks the second anniversary of Cory Gardner’s last public open forum town hall, held at the Pueblo Convention Center and attended by several hundred constituents. Weather permitting, there’s an event planned for outside Gardner’s downtown Denver office tomorrow afternoon to commemorate the occasion.

Like the other town halls Gardner belatedly consented to in the fall of 2017, after months of pummeling over his lack of accessibility while newly elected President Donald Trump plowed like a bull in a china shop through Washington, Gardner was booed and heckled in Pueblo robustly as he tried to defend Trump’s then-unpassed tax cuts and other controversial agenda items like repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Gardner has tried to spin the frosty reception he received at his 2017 town halls into a sympathy play, but his persistently lackluster approval ratings suggest strongly that a majority of voters just aren’t sympathetic. Aware of the self-inflicted harm these on-camera constituent floggings were causing, after the 2017 town halls Gardner switched to scripted appearances at friendly businesses and unannounced “walking tours” of main streets–the latter still exposing Gardner to considerable negative attention.

In recent weeks, the situation has deteriorated rapidly for Gardner as he has turned into a nationwide metaphor for Republican verbal paralysis in response to the impeachment inquiry consuming Trump’s presidency. It’s very difficult to see home-front reception improving for Gardner in the upcoming holiday recess, to say nothing of what’s going to happen when Gardner hits the campaign trail in Colorado next year.

One thing’s for sure: Gardner can’t run his whole re-election campaign from Trump fundraisers.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 19)


Happy World Toilet Day; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Washington Post catches us up on the latest news on today’s public impeachment hearings:

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, testified Tuesday that he spoke to an intelligence community official, whom he declined to name, about President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Vindman also testified in the impeachment proceedings that he was concerned about Trump’s statements about domestic politics on the call, which he characterized as “improper.”

Vindman is one of four key witnesses testifying at the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. The others are: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, Tim Morrison, another senior NSC official, and Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine.

President Trump is claiming that he doesn’t know any of the witnesses testifying in impeachment proceedings, which would probably be irrelevant even if it were true; this strategy is about as effective as claiming that everyone involved is a “Never Trumper.

Meanwhile, Trump says that he would consider testifying on impeachment matters “in writing,” a claim the President made as news was breaking that House Democrats may also be looking into allegations that Trump lied to special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Tuesday’s impeachment hearings.

 

► Today’s revelations could be just the appetizer to Wednesday’s main course, when EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland sits down in front of the House Intelligence Committee. Will Sondland have trouble “remembering” his July 26th telephone conversation with President Trump regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden?

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and calls himself the “leader in the Senate” on issues relating to North Korea. Yet Gardner still hasn’t said a public word about President Trump’s recent decisions to weaken U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more on how Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) tries using the “Sideshow Bob” defense on impeachment.

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

“Freep” Doug Lamborn’s Impeachment Poll


As delivered via Rep. Doug Lamborn’s official email address!

Gentle readers, it goes to a real live online poll! By real of course we don’t mean, you know, real, as in a poll containing any even slightly reliable information. But in case you wanted the chance to let Colorado’s least accomplished congressman know how you feel about impeaching Donald Trump, here it sort of is.

And yes, by encouraging our readers to “reweight” this poll we’ve probably given Lamborn all the reason he needs to ignore it. But we’re pretty confident that unless it tells Lamborn what he wants to hear…he was going to ignore it anyway.