The Get More Smarter Show: August 19, 2016

This week on Get More Smarter: your hosts take a brief break from the usual commentary to bring you an extended interview with Congressman Ed Perlmutter! Sit back and relax as Rep. Perlmutter talks space exploration, life in Congress, politics in Jefferson County, a variety of issues he’s working on like marijuana and student debt–and this year’s historic presidential election.

If you’ve missed any episodes of the Get More Smarter Show, catch up here. And thanks again for watching.

Friday Open Thread

“Whenever a thing is done for the first time, it releases a little demon.”

–Emily Dickinson

Trump Finally Gets Around to Doing TV Ads…But Not in Colorado

Did we mention that Sen. Cory Gardner says he's voting for Donald Trump?

Did we mention that Sen. Cory Gardner says he’s voting for Donald Trump?

As the Associated Press reports, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is finally spending money on television ads:

A new brain trust in place, Donald Trump on Thursday moved to invest nearly $5 million in battleground state advertising as the Republican presidential contender took modest steps to address daunting challenges in the states that will make or break his White House ambitions.

The New York businessman’s campaign reserved television ad space over the coming 10 days in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker. While Democrat Hillary Clinton has spent more than $75 million on advertising in 10 states since locking up her party’s nomination, Trump’s new investment marks his first of the general election season.

You might have noticed that Colorado is not on the list of states getting TV ad attention from the Trump campaign. This may just be an initial TV ad buy announcement — after all, $5 million is a relative pittance in terms of ad spending in a Presidential race — but the absence of Colorado from this list will only further the belief that our fair state is out of reach for Trump. That’s what the polls say, anyway.

In Which Trump’s Legal Counsel Channels the “Black Knight”

If you are unfamiliar with the scene featuring the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just watch this clip. This scene, in which the Black Knight character repeatedly refuses to acknowledge the fact that King Arthur is (literally) chopping him to pieces during a sword fight, was the first thing that came to mind when we saw this CNN interview with Michael Cohen, chief counsel to Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Wednesday’s interview quickly went viral, with the hashtag #SaysWho, for reasons you can see for yourself:

Donald Trump and his campaign are uncomfortable with the truth. Mr. Trump has made that clear throughout his campaign, and on Wednesday his chief counsel, Michael Cohen, punctuated the point in a tense interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

“You guys are down,” Keilar said.

“Says who?” Cohen asked.

“Polls … most of them,” Keilar continued. Maybe even “all of them?”

There was an unusually long silence — long enough, perhaps, for anyone listening to hear Trump’s poll numbers dropping further, in real time, on live television.

“Says who?” Cohen asked again.

“Polls,” said Keilar. “I just told you.”

You can see the interview yourself below:

Senate Republicans Entice Donors with Horse (and John Elway)

We were forwarded this invitation to a fundraiser benefitting the state Senate Republicans, and we felt compelled to share it with our readers.

The headliner of the event is former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, who has long been a staunch Republican supporter. Elway’s name appears at the top of the invitation, just before the name Climax Molybdenum, which sounds like some sort of new-age porn star but is in fact a Colorado mining company.

But our favorite part of the invitation is the big mention at the bottom left: A special appearance by Thunder, the Broncos mascot. For a minimum contribution of $500, you can get up close and personal with a horse.


Air Quality is Being Harmed by Oil And Gas Development

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sometimes it seems that a headline should be too obvious to write, a title too trite and true. The “Dog Bites Man” story.

But there it is. And here we are–policy-wise–debating as if it is actually a question whether Colorado’s air quality is harmed by industrial development known to spew methane and volatile compounds.

Such is the power of money and slick PR. And it doesn’t just buy opinion and confound the public, it seems to buy congressmen too.

Congressman Scott Tipton represents Colorado’s Third Congressional District, home to America’s largest concentration of methane pollution from oil and gas development.

Earlier this month a new NASA study put to rest any doubt that America’s largest cloud of methane pollution was tied directly to oil and gas development in the San Juan Basin, the Durango Herald is reporting.

A two-year study released by NASA on Monday confirmed suspicions that energy extraction practices are largely responsible for the methane hot spot in the Four Corners.

“The argument that most of the emissions are from natural seeps, definitely, we can put that to rest,” said Christian Frankenberg, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Most of the plumes we observed were directly related to industrial facilities.”

Shortly after the study was made public, a coalition of local and regional oil and gas associations in Colorado and New Mexico decried NASA’s findings, calling it limited in scope.

“They did not fly the entire outcrop,” Christi Zeller, executive director of the La Plata County Energy Council, said of the area where methane naturally escapes from the Earth’s surface. “We disagree with it (NASA’s study) wholeheartedly. We know and believe the largest sources are that outcrop.”

And this past Tuesday the state health department issued a pollution alert for the Front Range according to the Denver Post:


“Paid Surrogate” of Trump Allegedly Threatened to “Put Bullet in the Head” of Fellow Republican

(Just sayin’, you know — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Progressives can argue, yes, but… Unrah Facebook post 1You wonder how recent Trump backer Cory Gardner would respond to fellow Republican Kendal Unrah, who outlined what she sees as the Trump campaign’s strategy to force Republicans to back Trump:

Unruh: “According to what the delegates [at the Republican National Convention] experienced, their strategy is: 1) threaten their job 2) threaten their position 2b) threaten them 2c) threaten their future 3) threaten their family 4) threaten to put a bullet in their head (from a paid surrogate). The victim wouldn’t release it for frear of further endangerment. #unity in their handbook means ‘Support Trump or we hurt you.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Unruh, a long-time Republican, led a group of Colorado RNC delegates who tried to stop the Trump nomination at the last minute.

Did Gardner himself face any of this treatment, prior to his first or second Trump endorsement? Threats to his family, future? And the bullet in the head part by a paid Trump surrogate? That’s not confirmed, but WTF?

Unruh made other comments about Trump’s supporters on Facebook (See them pictured with this post.), which drew support from State Sen. Chris Holbert.

Holbert: “Somebody forgot to tell Trump supporters about that strategy [to unify the Republican party]… Offering Trump’s own words to Trump supporters often leads to said Trump supporter demanding that Trump never said what Trump actually said.

Former Republican state legislative candidate Brian Vande Krol weighed in with:

Vande Krol: Isn’t [Trump] supposed to unify the party, instead of just hoping they unify on their own?

Seriously, you wonder what Trump and Company said to Republicans like Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who’s also said he’d vote for Trump, despite misgivings, to get their support.

Unrah Facebook post two

Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 18)

Get More SmarterBack to school, back to school; to show my dad, that I’m not a fool. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


► According to polling results released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, Colorado’s U.S. Senate race is really starting to get away from Republicans. Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) leads Republican Darryl Glenn 52-38 in a head-to-head matchup. These numbers are similar to those reported by NBC/Marist last week, in which Bennet was leading Glenn 53-38.

Quinnipiac has a strange history of polling in Colorado, however, and they added to their weird reputation in a press release announcing the poll numbers. Here’s a quote from Tim Malloy of Quinnipiac University: “There is still time for Darryl Glenn to summon enough support to win a Senate seat the GOP sorely needs.”

Um, no. There may not even be time for Glenn to get this race to within single digits.

On Wednesday, Quinnipiac released polling numbers in Colorado for the Presidential race, showing Hillary Clinton with a 10-point lead over Donald Trump.


► Speaking of Trump, his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, says that her plan moving forward is to “let Trump be Trump.” In other words, Donald Trump has apparently given up on the idea of being elected President.


► The U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday that it will no longer employ the use of private prisons, citing evidence that they are less safe and less effective than government-run prisons. From the Washington Post:

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

The Justice Department’s inspector general last week released a critical reportconcluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report. Yates said there are 13 privately run facilities under the Bureau of Prisons purview.

There are several private prisons in Colorado that house criminals convicted of state or local crimes; it is unclear how this announcement might affect these facilities.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


With Hillary Pulling Away, What Happens Down The Ballot?

Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton.

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports, there’s really no longer any doubt:

Hillary Clinton holds a 10-point lead over Donald Trump among likely Colorado voters, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released Wednesday…

It’s the sixth consecutive poll that shows Clinton comfortably ahead in Colorado, which has been considered a swing state in recent elections.

In the poll, which was conducted Aug. 9-16, Democrat Clinton beats Republican Trump with the support of 49 percent of likely Colorado voters to his 39 percent. In a four-way race, Clinton leads Trump 41-33 percent, with 16 percent for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and 7 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Colorado voters appear to have highly unfavorable opinions about both Clinton and Trump, although that’s a contest Trump is winning by about 10 points.

Quinnipiac University’s polling in Colorado is notorious for overestimating Republican strength, especially early polling from them more useful as GOP-leaning propaganda than any kind of accurate barometer. In this case, however, Q-Pac is tracking only a few points right to what the other recent polls all show in Colorado–a large and growing lead for Hillary Clinton.

In the absence of anything on the horizon to change the trajectory of the presidential race, the next logical question is how the growing likelihood of a Clinton landslide victory will affect races down the ballot. Republicans have more or less conceded the U.S. Senate race to incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet at this point, so the line of defense for them begins with the two congressional races considered pickup opportunities for Democrats: Scott Tipton in CD-3 and Mike Coffman in CD-6. From there, Colorado Republicans face a major challenge holding their one-seat majority in the state senate–with everything coming down to an all-in Trump-supporting conservative running in a swing suburban district.

For all of their perennial bravado Republicans have generally had their backs against the wall electorally in this state since 2004, when a resurgent Democratic coalition took what has proven to be enduring control of the state legislature. Since 2004 Democrats have won consistently at the top of the ticket, and fought to the last vote even in the biggest “GOP wave years” of the Obama presidency.

In 2016, the scenarios for Republicans in Colorado range from honorable defeat to wholesale destruction. The difference relies on the degree to which local Republicans can convince voters to split the ticket–a nightmarish political position to be in.

For Democrats, it’s the greatest opportunity to run up the score since the “Colorado Model” became a thing.

Thursday Open Thread

“A prejudice, unlike a simple misconception, is actively resistant to all evidence that would unseat it.”

–Gordon W. Allport

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 17)

Get More SmarterHappy Flag Day…in Bolivia. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


► Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has made some major changes at the top of his campaign as the candidate pledges to increase his level of Trumpiness in the final months of the election cycle. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

“I am who I am,” Trump said. “I’ve gotten here in a landslide and we’ll see what happens.”

What that quote — and the subsequent staff moves — should tell you is that Trump believes he made a mistake in bowing to establishment pressure and bringing in a veteran hand like Manafort to oversee things. Trump sees his current problems in the race as deriving not from being too much of himself but from not being enough of himself.

What moving out Manafort and elevating Conway and Bannon should tell you is that Trump has decided that he is going to run the last three months — or so — of the campaign on his own terms. Win or lose, he is going to go out being himself.

If you come across a Republican weeping quietly in the fetal position today, try to give them an encouraging pat on the back or something.

And if you see Sen. Cory Gardner, it’s probably best that you just not use the “T” word. Gardner quietly announced his support for Trump on Friday, but the lede was so buried that the original story didn’t get widespread attention until Tuesday.


► New polling results from Quinnipiac University show that Hillary Clinton maintains a  double-digit lead over Donald Trump in Colorado. Quinnipiac has Clinton up 49-39 in Colorado; 47-44 in Iowa; and 50-38 in Virginia. Quinnipiac’s numbers in Colorado are in the same ballpark as the Real Clear Politics polling average of Clinton +11.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Just Go Away, Eric Nelson–Pretty Please?

Eric Nelson impersonating a U.S. Air Force major in an undated photo.

Eric Nelson impersonating a U.S. Air Force major in an undated photo.

The Aurora Sentinel’s Quincy Snowdon reports on the ongoing embarrassment over ex-Democratic House candidate Eric Nelson, who remains on the Aurora Public Schools board despite revelations of lies about basically everything related to Nelson’s past:

Former APS Superintendent John Barry, who moved on from the district three years ago, reiterated Tuesday what the majority of the school board and several community members have already made clear this summer: Nelson should cease his work on the school board because of his fictitious resume and falsified military record.

“Mr. Nelson, veterans in Aurora ask for your resignation,” Barry, who is a retired Major General in the U.S. Air Force, said before the meeting. In an initial report published by The Colorado Statesman earlier this summer, Nelson was accused of falsifying several points on his resume, including academic degrees, military decorations and affiliations with multiple professional organizations. An investigation solicited by APS for a fee of about $18,000 substantiated those initial claims.

During the public comment section of the regular board meeting, Barry read a letter penned by U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, that called for former U.S. Attorney John Walsh to investigate whether Nelson violated federal law. Specifically, Coffman — and now Barry — asked the prosecutor’s office to determine if Nelson was in violation of the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, a federal law intended to punish anyone who misrepresents receipt of military decorations.

It’s anybody’s guess how long this charade is going to continue. The APS board has no authority to remove Nelson from the board, though they have censured him and relieved him of basically all of his responsibilities besides attending meetings and voting on proposals.

Whether Nelson finally puts an end to the distraction or serves out his term in disgrace, he’s a lesson to everyone in politics on why you vet all candidates. Yes, even for the school board.

Because, well, you just never know.

How to Survive Until Election Day

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Face it. When there are only two candidates remaining and one of them is named Trump, you can’t be blamed for panic attacks. After all, something unexpected can occur during any election season that determines the outcome. Another scandal for the Democrats and it may be bedtime for Clinton. Or if a hacker leaks Trump’s tax returns, the question is not whether he will suffer any humiliations, but how many. However, you can’t spend the next ten weeks speculating and worrying about what might occur. Instead, focus on what the primary season has demonstrated and you just may get a better night’s sleep.

The Story of Trump Being A Force Of Nature Who Conquered The Republican Party Is Being Told By An Unreliable Narrator. 

Most of the media following Trump have let everyone down. From broadcasting ‘press conferences’ in which the reporters’ questions cannot be heard, to placing an image continuously on the screen of Trump’s empty podium for nearly an hour while breathlessly waiting for the oracle to appear, to permitting Trump to call into a national Sunday news show for an ‘interview’, the Fifth Estate acted as if aiding and abetting the dissemination of a campaign’s chronicle is preferable to hard reporting. So when the Trump campaign shouts that it won the primaries in a ‘landslide’ and the media endlessly repeats that Trump vanquished a field of 17 candidates on the way to winning more votes than ever in Republican primary history, it’s easy to be lured into thinking that’s what actually happened.

Hogwash.  Eleven of the 17 candidates (Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, and Jim Gilmore) were going to be vanquished by any other breathing participant, as they essentially defeated themselves. Ben Carson had no chance of overtaking competitors who were skillful enough to stay awake during an entire debate. Jeb Bush had tremendous name recognition, unfortunately stemming from a name that no Republican may utter. Combined with his so-called moderation, he was destined to be toast. For that reason, it was a miracle that John Kasich lasted as long as he did, given that his moderate extremism was still too far to the left. Marco Rubio made the fatal mistake of not taking Trump’s candidacy seriously, and when Rubio finally had that Eureka! moment, the rules of proportionate delegate allocation made it prohibitively difficult for him to catch up. In effect, Trump defeated one candidate on the way to becoming the nominee, Ted Cruz, the most disliked Senator of the Republican Party since Joseph McCarthy.

In defeating Mr. Cruz and the others, Trump received only a 45% plurality of the vote. That’s hardly the ‘landslide’ crowed about by Trump, especially because the approximate 14,000,000 votes received by Trump includes 2,225,000 of the 3,000,000 votes cast on the last primary day of the season, when Trump was running unopposed. That’s right, even when Trump was already the presumptive nominee and all other campaigns had ceased, at least 25% of Republican voters in the final States chose to vote against Trump. According to Trump, his record-breaking receipt of 14,000,000 votes is supposed to be evidence  of his bringing new voters into the Republican Party and of his monumental support. But that argument can be turned on its head. The primary voting could instead be explained as a record-breaking 17,000,000 Republican voters who chose to vote for anyone but Trump.


Trump Shakes Up Campaign Staff (Again)


Bannon and Conway: “You’re hired!”

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is falling rapidly in the polls and flailing wildly everywhere else, so it should come as little surprise that His Hairness is once again making major changes at the top of his campaign. As CNN reports:

Donald Trump’s campaign is undergoing a major staff shake-up with less than three months to Election Day, adding two officials to top posts overseeing his struggling campaign and signaling a shift toward campaigning as a scorched earth outsider in order to win.

Trump has named Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News and a former investment banker, to the post of chief executive and promoted Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster to his campaign, to the position of campaign manager, Conway confirmed to CNN early Wednesday morning.

The addition of Bannon — known for his brass-knuckled demeanor and his website’s sharp tone — came hours after reports surfaced that Roger Ailes, the recently ousted head of Fox News, will begin to advise Trump as he prepares for the presidential debates. The influence of both men lays the groundwork for unleashing Trump this fall from the more traditional presidential candidate framework, which Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort’s leadership was brought on to create. [Pols emphasis]

Trump is apparently growing increasingly frustrated with his plummeting poll numbers, and multiple news outlets are reporting that he has been feuding with Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort — who was just brought on a few months ago — over the direction of the campaign in general. Trump seems to believe that his best path to winning the Presidential race is to get back to his Republican Primary self; he seems convinced that voters want more Trump, not less Trump. Again, from CNN:

Both Trump and Manafort discussed the friction in their relationship with friends in recent days, and a close associate described Trump as frustrated at the state of the race, leveling complaints that he has been the victim of bad advice from his political team. [Pols emphasis]

“Mr. Trump doesn’t trust him anymore. That’s it. Pure and simple,” a source familiar with the tensions told CNN, adding that Trump’s gaffes and controversial statements in recent weeks have been fueled in part by his “exasperation” with the campaign’s management.

If Trump wants someone different from Manafort, he should find it in Steve Bannon. A former investment banker with no experience managing a political campaign, Bannon is the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News, the conservative online news outlet that has fawned over Trump for most of the last year. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway will assume prominent new roles in the Trump campaign, while the newly-neutered Manafort (along with deputy Rick Gates) are relegated to offices in Washington D.C.

Trump’s staff changes have not been met with much enthusiasm among Republican allies. Or perhaps they have fallen under the spell of Trump spokeswoman Katrina “Baghdad Bob” Pierson, who insisted that the moves were not indicative of a “shakeup.”

Oh, and one more thing…good timing on that Trump endorsement, Sen. Cory Gardner!