Historical

Coup d’état?

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), days after his swearing in (so his oath should have been fresh in his mind) – made a thinly-veiled threat that if the investigation into Trump’s crimes isn’t stopped, the United States is in danger of a “coup d’état”.

REALLY?

Mr. Gaetz, if the GOP impedes the investigation into Trump’s crimes, your entire party will be labelled as traitors for all time.

Sit down, shut up and READ YOUR DAMN OATH you oaf.

This is an open message to ALL Trump supporters – you idiots START a civil war and we’ll FINISH IT. When we’re done with  you there won’t be two bricks on top of each other in the red states. It will make Sherman’s march look like a church picnic.

Seriously. Stop the talk of insurrection. Do it now. It’s disgusting and unAmerican – which is becoming the GOPs callsign.

Racism against Native Americans persists

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you’d like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at betsym@hcn.org.

Evelyn Red LodgeEvelyn Red Lodge is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. A writer in Rapid City, South Dakota, she is a correspondent for Native Sun News Today and member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

During my 13 years in Rapid City, South Dakota, I’ve learned that racism and ignorance almost always go hand-in-hand. The West was “won,” many people learn in school, but what did westward expansion mean for the Native people who were already living on the land?

The lure of gold brought explorers, miners and then homesteaders to South Dakota during the 19th and early 20th centuries. I imagine that most of those “invaders” — from my point of view — didn’t think twice about booting the local people out of the way. But that was then. The question today is why racism persists when America prides itself on tolerance and respecting diversity.

Here are examples from my life that reveal the kind of blatant racism I’ve experienced, as well as some of the unconscious racism that is sometimes almost comical.

I go to a Rapid City council meeting where a white local suggests placing statues of Native Americans in Founders Park, rather than in the proposed First Nations Sculpture Gallery in Halley Park. As Native author Elizabeth Cook-Lynn put it, the suggestion was made “without a hint of irony.” After all, who were the original founders if not Native people?

I go to the veterans’ parade where the 7th United States Cavalry, formed in 1866 to protect homesteaders and raid Native villages, is still honored. These days, of course, more Natives serve in the military per capita than any other ethnic group, according to the director of the National Museum of the American Indian. But few Natives march with the veterans in the parade.

I find a Black Hills trail guide listing the 7th Cavalry Trail as if it’s fun for people to follow the trail of mass murderers who killed anywhere from 75 to 125 babies, children and women at Wounded Knee in 1890.

Members of the 7th Cavalry Drum and Bugle Corps perform in a parade in downtown Rapid City, S.D., Nov. 11, 2007. Rapid City hosted the parade to honor those who have served and are currently serving in the U.S. military. The 7th Cavalry Corps is a volunteer marching band that dresses in authentic 19th century costume during parades in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller) (Released)

I buy a Happy Meal for my daughter only to find a 7th Cavalry Custer doll inside. She gets upset when I try to explain why I think it belongs in the trash.

In a jewelry shop along Mount Rushmore Road, I look at the gold for which my grandparents’ territory was invaded and spot a wine-bottle holder depicting a Native chief chugging a bottle of wine. Old stereotypes die hard. According to a recent study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Drug Dependence, alcohol consumption by Natives is shown to be generally less than that of Caucasians in the United States.

Just walking downtown in Rapid City, the so-called City of Presidents, I spot the stores along the way that used to sport signs saying “No Indians or Dogs Allowed.” I go to He Sapa — the Black Mountains — where I look upon the faces of past U.S. presidents who helped wipe out so many Indigenous peoples. I remember that Natives were only declared to be citizens by the United States Congress less than 100 years ago.

In 2015, I feared to go to any sporting event after a drunk beer salesman poured beer on Native students at a hockey game and shouted, “Go back to the reservation!” Within days, dumping beer on Natives had become a common occurrence at other venues.

I picked up the local newspaper four days after the drunk hockey fan did his business, and the question was raised on the front page: Had the Native students who were attacked stood for the national anthem? (Not that it should make any difference, but it was reported that the students did stand.)

I feared to walk on the north side of Rapid City in 2009 and 2010, after at least two Native families with children were egged while racial slurs were hurled at them. “Go back to where you came from!” is a laughable favorite. One Native woman, who was disabled, was run off the road while driving her car. Urine in bottles was thrown on other Natives. Some Natives were shot with pellet guns.

At the same time — and I am glad to report this — many of the attackers were held accountable after much public outcry:

The jewelry store owner removed the wine holder featuring a drunken Native from her window after local media asked why she’d given it prominence.

The newspaper removed its victim-blaming story from its Internet site.

Two 21-year-old women were arrested in the incident involving the disabled woman, becoming the first in the state to be charged with its new hate-crime law, “malicious intimidation or harassment.”

As for failures in the quest for justice, the drunk hockey fan was eventually acquitted of his one and only charge of disorderly conduct. And I am unaware of any charges brought against anyone for the attacks involving egg and urine throwing and pellet guns.

Racism persists, I am sorry to report. I still feel it every day.

Full disclosure: I am a Facebook friend to Evelyn Red Lodge – FRL – Thanks to High Country News!

The GOP and the Tall Tree

From Shareblue Media:

Missouri state Rep. Warren Love said on Facebook that he hoped Confederate statue vandals are lynched.

Missouri state Rep. Warren Love

Ever since the deadly neo-Nazi riot in Charlottesville, which centered on a condemned statue of Robert E. Lee, efforts to remove Confederate monuments have intensified.

But the statues, many of which were erected by white supremacist groups explicitly to protest Black civil rights, still have defenders.

Several Republicans, including Donald Trump and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, insist the statues are necessary to honor Southern history, even as they hypocritically allow Black heroes of the Civil War era to go unhonored and forgotten.

On Thursday, Missouri state Rep. Warren Love took his defense of Confederate statues to a violent extreme.

After a Confederate monument in Springfield National Cemetery was vandalized, Love took to Facebook to write, “This is totally against the law. I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

The idea of an elected lawmaker calling for people who defaced a statue to be lynched is horrifying. Love is explicitly invoking a terrorist act historically used by the KKK and white supremacist mobs.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Black men were lynched for everything from trying to register to vote, to looking the wrong way at a white woman. Whites who were too outspoken in sympathy for Black rights were also targeted. People seen as a threat to the white social order were randomly made examples of, to terrify the rest into compliance.

Love’s post was met with immediate outrage. State House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty thundered that Love “invoked a form of political violence used throughout the South to keep African-Americans subjugated for generations following the fall of the Confederacy.” Missouri Democratic Party chair Stephen Webber demanded his resignation. Sen. Claire McCaskill agreed, calling his comments “unacceptable.”

Amazingly, Love is not even the first Republican lawmaker this week to threaten racial violence.

On Tuesday, Georgia state Rep. Jason Spencer warned former Black Democratic lawmaker LaDawn Jones that if she keeps criticizing Confederate statues, “I can guarantee you won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive. People in South Georgia are people of action, not drama.” He added that people who do not watch what they say “will go missing in the Okefenokee. Too many necks they are red around here.”

Republicans insist their support of Confederate statues has nothing to do with white supremacy. But their impulse to echo the threat of white terror betrays their motives.


Author

Freelance Political Writer

Matthew Chapman

Video game designer and science fiction author from Texas. Can be found on Twitter @fawfulfan.

Remembering LBJ

Lyndon B. Johnson – 8/27/08 – 1/22/73 – 36th President of the United States

Any of you folks from my generation remember this picture? It was taken 45 years ago today. High school teacher >> Congressman >> Senator >> Senate Majority Whip >> Senate Majority Leader >> Vice President >> President >> derelict. What a long, strange trip it was.

I remember Lady Bird took some heat for telling the hippies to “get a haircut.” Though both were diehard liberals, Lady Bird took a stand against us longhairs. Yet when LBJ retired, he grew his hair out, as if in solidarity. Or maybe as an apology. Whatever the reason, it was in defiance of his own wife’s cleanup campaign (which also included a war on billboards).

Lyndon Johnson was a complex man. He did so much good during his 5+ years in office, yet he’s the president who told us “We have to save face” in Vietnam. To which, those of us nearing draft age wore T-shirts that read “Save Lives, Not Face.” Mine was dark blue with white lettering.

He pushed through civil rights legislation (against the will of the Dixiecrats), established his landmark Great Society, and when the day came when he was challenged by “Mr. Conservative” a mere year after ascending to the White House via Lee Harvey Oswald’s marksmanship, LBJ crushed Barry Goldwater like a smoldering cigarette butt.

It’s odd to think that I’m older today than he ever lived to be. His oddball ways notwithstanding, I don’t think he was a bad man. I think he was a decent man who tried to do the right thing during tumultuous times, but those times simply swallowed him up. I don’t think he lived long enough to ever admit that the escalation of Vietnam was a colossal mistake, but I KNOW he knew it.

In fact, I believe it’s what killed him. He died from a heart attack, five months after this picture was taken. 58,000 + 1.

RIP, LBJ

Bruce Lindner, Portland, OR

Bruce Lindner is a political commentator, humorist, coffee expert and part-time mechanic.

Littwin: Gigantic, enormous, colossal, unpresidented women’s march drives Trump mad

From the Colorado Independent:

These are, as they say, early days. And as the nascent Trump era progresses — if that’s the right word — we will continue to see things we’ve never seen or heard before.

For starters, we’ve never heard an inaugural speech like Trump’s American carnage address.

We’ve never seen a counter-inaugural demonstration drawing an astonishing 3 million across the country, many of the protesters wearing pussy hats and many carrying signs about a president keeping his tiny hands off the First Amendment. If you think you were stunned by the turnout — the 100,ooo-marchers-strong aerial shot of Civic Center is a remarkable testament to those Coloradans trying to take their country back — imagine how Trump felt.

We’ve never seen a press secretary, on his first day, ordered by the president to read out a pack of lies about, of all things, crowd size and insist they were true – period. Or see a presidential counselor say the lies were actually “alternative facts.” Or see Orwell cited quite so accurately quite so early in a president’s tenure.

We have seen Trump embarrass himself many times, but never quite as he did, as president, at the CIA, standing in front of the wall honoring the CIA dead, using the occasion to accuse the press of willfully deflating his inauguration numbers and of falsely creating a rift between him and the intelligence agencies that he had compared to Nazis.

We’ve never seen a president, in his first days, hold a meet-and-greet with congressional leaders and tell them the already clearly debunked lie that he had lost the popular vote only because 3 to 5 million illegal immigrants voted for Clinton, who apparently was not smart enough, as several observers have pointed out, to wield these voters in, say, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

He can’t let go — of anything. He can’t move on — from anything. Getting elected isn’t enough. It has to be the greatest election. The most colossal crowds. A global movement. And still that won’t satisfy. We can only imagine what the GOP congressional leaders were thinking – that they have to pretend for four years that this is remotely normal. Remarkably, in the face of Trump’s allegation of massive voter fraud, no one called for an investigation. A better response, of course, would be to call for an intervention.

Read the rest at the Colorado Indpependent.

Comparing Collateral Damage

Bush Administration

  • 13 Embassy Attacks
  • 66 Deaths
  • 3 US diplomats killed
  • 22 Embassy employees killed
  • Investigations [ 0 ]

Reagan Administration

  • 10 Embassy Attacks
  • 318 Deaths
  • 1 US ambassador killed
  • 18 CIA officers
  • 254 Marines
  • Investigations [ 1 ]

Obama Administration

  • 2 Embassy attacks
  • 4 US deaths
  • Investigations [ 13 ]

Cost to taxpayers for partisan witch hunt: $14 Million.

This is what the GOP thinks is more important than serving the American people.

Exxon’s inconvenient truth

This Guest Opinion first appeared in the Times-Call (FRL)

Back in the day when Exxon was just a gigantic oil company, before its merger with Mobil, Exxon had its own inconvenient truth. Based on investigation by Inside Climate News (ICN) as well as research by the Los Angeles Times in conjunction with a project at Columbia University, in the late 1970s and early 1980s Exxon scientists conducted pioneering research on climate change.

The ICN article is the basis for the following. In July 1977, James Black, one of Exxon’s senior scientists, gave a sobering report. From a written version he recorded later, Black said: “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.”

In 1978, Black gave an updated report to a larger audience of Exxon scientists and managers. According to a written summary of his talk, Black warned: “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.” Among other things, Black also predicted that rainfall might get heavier in some regions, and other places might turn to desert. In the written summary of his 1978 talk Black said: “Some countries would benefit but others would have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed.”

In 1982, Exxon developed a primer on climate change and carbon dioxide. Again, from ICN: Marked “not to be distributed externally,” it contained information that “has been given wide circulation to Exxon management.” In it, the company recognized, despite the many lingering unknowns, that heading off global warming “would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.” The ICN article continued: Unless that happened, “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered,” the primer said, citing independent experts. “Once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible.”

Exxon continued with its climate change research, an issue that posed an existential threat to its oil business, until the late 1980s. Exxon scientists even were permitted to publish at least three peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals on their ground breaking research.

Unfortunately, in the late 1980s Exxon shifted tactics to stressing the uncertainty of research into the greenhouse effect. This change apparently was due to financial considerations and was not based on any research challenging its previous findings. Since then, Exxon and climate-change deniers have been successful in preventing effective action on this issue. We have lost 20 to 25 years when steps could have been taken, and now the window for alleviating the worse effects is much smaller. Every year we delay taking effective action means that future actions will have to be much more draconian or the effects of climate change will be far worse.

It appears as if nothing very constructive will be achieved during the current talks in Paris. The fossil fuel industry still has sufficient clout to stop effective action. Distressingly, the U.S. is pushing voluntary national reductions. There would be no requirements since each nation does what it wants when it wants. On top of that, there would be no enforcement mechanism to hold a nation to its commitment.

Talk about perversion— the worse climate change impacts will initially be experienced by those nations that had little to do with causing climate change. The U.S., a key contributor to the increase in greenhouse gases, will generally initially suffer lesser impacts. Coming generations, including the young children and grandchildren of today, who have had no role in causing climate change, will face the greatest suffering. Those generations aren’t going to think kindly towards us and our lack of action.

Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics who lives in Longmont.

The Big Red Scare

Joe Stalin, nothing like Bernie Sanders.

Joe Stalin, conservative boogieman

Beware! Be very afraid is the message George Will imparts in his commentary, “When history books make history,” published in the Opinion page Aug. 9. But to me the overriding theme is the hubris— excessive pride— Will attaches to the power of writers. He singles out Robert Conquest, who, according to Will almost single-handedly brought down the Soviet Union with his honest and truthful description of the evils of communism under Joseph Stalin.

Understand there has been no communism except in theory, especially under the brutal dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. Everyone was not equal but there was a level of thugs at the top who were “more equal.” Everyone else followed orders or got sent to gulags in Siberia, or were shot. No writers brought down the Soviet system, and neither did Ronald Reagan as has been claimed for him posthumously. No, the Soviet Union collapsed in utter failure with a corrupt government, a failed economy and by investing in an arms race resulting in total disregard of its people.

By some estimates, Stalin had more than 20 million citizens murdered in order to instill his brand of communism. Stalin was guilty of “moral obtuseness,” meaning he said one thing and always did what he wanted, which usually resulted in breaking treaties and murdering anyone who got out of line. Liar and hypocrite are the most polite words we can associate with Stalin.

Yet, in his meandering punditry of 700 words, Will brands U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders with moral obtuseness. That is one writer’s hubris run amok. It is also disgustingly false.

So just what has Bernie proposed that is so threatening it receives a label the writer also chooses for the worst killer dictator in human history? Here is a sampling: healthcare for all by extending Medicare; eliminating tax evasion techniques by large corporations that offshore profits and jobs; extending Social Security to all by applying the payroll tax to income more than $250,000; raising the minimum wage to $15/hour; paying for parental leave and vacations; and foremost, getting big money out of politics.

These are major issues for the 99 percent of us who are being squeezed out of the middle class by stalled wages and benefits. Yet somehow Will and conservatives in Congress interpret our issues and Bernie’s common sense solutions as “socialist threats.”

America is a social country. Our history is marked by communities coming together to deal with tough issues. Every farming community has a cooperative that allows members to save money through bulk purchasing of goods and services at lower prices. Foremost though are the many benefits derived by all of us by combining our taxes for the common good: setting up public utilities and services, public libraries, public education, highways and roads top the list. Consider too that we have a national military, Social Security and Medicare.

Realize that many hardline conservatives like George Will consider social services undeserved entitlements. What is scandalous is the association of Bernie Sanders’ stand on providing for the people first akin to the moral obtuseness of Joseph Stalin. Rather, I believe entitled is the No. 1 characteristic of large corporations avoiding taxes and offshoring jobs. Entitled describes a Congress that votes itself better health insurance benefits and a better pension system than it allows the people it is supposed to serve.

Where Bernie would extend Social Security, conservative pundits like Will would cut it, limit benefits and raise the eligibility age.

A final thought. My friend Hermine is from Germany, a democratic socialist country. In a recent discussion she was asked about health insurance there. Her answer: Everybody has it. What about unemployment insurance? It never runs out. What about the homeless? She says there isn’t any. Parental leave and vacation pay? Yep, Germany has those too. Other studies point out the happiest people live in Scandinavia, where democratic socialism also exists with the benefits found in Germany.

In the next 15 months, pundits and politicians will try to scare you with demagoguery tactics like Will’s. “The Big Red Scare” was a farce perpetrated by radical anti-communist demagogues like Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Don’t believe the ghosts of that era posing as pundits and candidates for the presidency.

Bill Ellis is a local author; reply to bill-ellis@comcast.net
Bill Ellis

St. Vrain Valley Voices

TC Sale Delicious Irony

From TimesCall.com

NEW YORK — Digital First Media, the operator of The Denver Post, Daily Camera, Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Daily, Broomfield Enterprise and Colorado Hometown Weekly, announced Friday that it will “evaluate and consider strategic alternatives” that could lead to the sale of some or all of the company.

CEO John Paton said the company has retained UBS Securities to review a full range of alternatives — including selling the entire company, selling regional clusters or doing nothing.

“We believe we have many options available to us to maximize the value of our businesses for our stockholders and the board of directors has therefore decided to assess the full range of these opportunities,” Paton said.


The Times-Call, despite FRL’s continuing calls to moderate comments and require identification of commenters has stayed the course and now the newspaper finds itself again on the chopping block.

This comment in particular stands out:

AsokAsus

More deckchair rearranging. The death of print media is inevitable, and shifting to digital publication means nothing but competition with billions of other well-established websites which are already far better organized than the virtually unreadable digital newspaper sites, but even worse for the print publishers, ad revenue per ad is at least one ten thousandth less for a digital ad vs a print ad.

Bottom line is that printed newspapers are dead and their brands are worth zero. And quite frankly, it couldn’t happen to a better bunch considering that the bulk of newspapers have been unrelenting in blatantly pushing a s0cia!istic, “Progressive” agenda for decades instead of engaging in objective news reporting. So, basically, good riddance to bad rubbish.


Yes, the Times Call, that bastion of ‘Progressive’ thought. *COUGH*

No more bully pulpit for this bully.

No more bully pulpit for this bully.

To the extreme right of Longmont – your house organ has imploded and your pet hate-blogger has moved on. My advice is to clean up your act and start working to help Longmont. FRL is willing to publish your articles but you’ll need to stop trying to blame all your ills on the left.

Free Range Longmont is still here despite years of smears and lies aided and abetted by the Lehman family via the Times-Call. Now we get to see them hoist on their own petard.

The irony is truly delicious.

Here’s wishing the legions1 of anonymous hate posters a not-so-fond farewell and hoping the Times-Call gets the wire-brush cleaning2 its needed desperately for decades.


1.

Longmont's self-proclaimed 'First Lady'

Longmont’s self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’

Maybe not legions, perhaps just one or two very dispepsic hate-mongers?

2. As in all the Lehmans gone (waving merrily) Bye!!

Neutralization vs Annihilation

The frustration and futility of Israel ever finding a lasting peace with their Palestinian neighbors is once again on display. Eleven cease-fires, eleven failures. Just why intelligent Palestinians would support Hamas- a militant group with but one strategy – blindly firing rockets into (mostly) Israel dung piles and fields, is a wonderment indeed. Regardless, Hamas fires rockets, Israel’s “Dome” brings the majority down and gives Israel an excuse to once again  bomb and blow up that sorry place called The Gaza Strip.

Given that Hamas appears to be led by a collection of intellectual anvils and given that Israel PM Netanyahu‘s approach to diplomacy is hardball writ large, there should be no argument that this war is a loss-loss for all parties. If the loss of Palestinian children is not sufficient reason to wonder at Israel’s strategy, add to the carnage the generations of hatred now seeded in the souls of the survivors.

One answer to this mess might lie in an effort to neutralize Hamas – not by force but by their abandonment by Palestinians who see a better way – one which offers opportunity, security  and room to once again dream. I have been pushing a concept for at least 20 years without success, mainly because I’ve never managed to reach anyone with the clout to bring the concept to anyone with political clout. So here it is- one more time; hold onto your seat and before you say “It will never work”, at least read to the end.

If you want to step outside the box you might start thinking about the reality of Gaza – too many people, too little land and zero hope for a better life. There’s a Nobel Peace Prize just waiting to be shared by PM Netanyahu and Egyptian President Sisi if they are willing to break through generations of hatred and begin to think outside the boxes they are in. Here’s the idea: Egypt cedes Sinai land south of the existing Gaza border (say- 200 kilometers) with an eastern border continuing Gaza’s present border.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia-The Free Encyclopedia

Occupied Palestinian Territories

Imagine;  the desert would bloom along a coastline of resorts and commercial development, seaports and desalination facilities. Thousands of jobs would be created, the economies of the region (particularly Egypt’s) would take off and a “New Gaza” would be born. A declaration of a Swiss-style neutrality would further geld Hamas and with time and demographic shifts it would become a bad memory.

What would it take to bring this about? Guts and dreams. Political courage. The recognition that neither side will ever prevail and live in peaceful harmony. Egypt’s President  Sisi would see the disintegration of the despised Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza and  just possibly stand beside Mr. Netanyahu in Oslo.

Crazy? Got a better idea? Please pass this along to anyone who might have some clout. Give hope a chance.

NRA Cynicism Leads to Murders

It always hits a little harder when tragedy strikes a familiar place, and so it is as we learn of the latest massacre, this time in Isla Vista where our son lived for several years before graduating from UC Santa Barbara. Three stabbed to death, three shot and killed, six wounded and unfortunately a seventh dead- the killer.

Unfortunate because had he lived we might have learned much more beyond his suicide video; much more of what in God’s name could drive a young man to exact such punishment on so many, most of whom were unknown to him.

The NRA will of course be blamed and they will of course place the blame squarely on the barren field of mental health in America, and they are correct. Had this boy received better treatment, had authorities been empowered to vigorously intervene; well yes, this might not have happened.  Instead, sheriff’s deputies were sent to interview him to determine if he posed a threat to society.  Since when were deputies trained in psychology and the nuances of mental health? These actions do  not suggest a broken system; they suggest there is no functional system to repair.

All of which avoids introspection, any sniff of analysis and no scintilla of NRA guilt. Because of watered-down  background checks and the lack of a meaningful data base to track weapon sales- all fostered by and paid for by the NRA, the boy had no difficulty in purchasing three high powered handguns, and off he went on his rampage.

It makes little difference how the guns were obtained, for if not legally purchased, guns are never far away.  A closet, a deal on a corner, a mail order unknown or a  gun show- it hardly matters. What does matter is that anyone in this country can somehow manage to get his (mostly “his”) hands on a weapon. Rifle, shotgun, pistol, military  caliber weapons- it matters not, and the NRA is almost solely responsible for this accessibility. “Almost” because without the assistance of a corrupt Congress they would have never achieved  their perverted goal of arming America.

Fear and slick TV commercials are the driving forces in today’s culture. Despite years of statistical evidence that a gun in the home is far more dangerous to the family than any intruder, the NRA continues to preach the lie that we are all threatened. Despite the utter stupidity of imagining a citizenry armed with handguns and AK-47’s defending against the US military, the NRA wraps itself in the flag and calls for even greater access to weapons. The rationale for  this philosophy beggars the imagination and can only be understood by understanding the NRA.

I have written before, and state it again: The NRA is a lobbying group put together and funded by arms manufacturers. The folks who make guns wanted access to our elected representatives and poured money into the trough to which so many of our honorable members of congress find nourishment. As time went by, the evidence of fear as a factor in successful campaigns became more evident and the NRA jumped in.

Suddenly fear, God, flag and country became synonymous with the NRA and today we see the result of their efforts. Three more beautiful innocents dead and several injured by bullets fired from an NRA approved weapon.

It’s difficult to imagine what might someday break our culture of guns. Yes, the state of mental health facilities in the US is shameful. So too is the acceptance of the NRA into our daily lives. Answers are not far away.

  1. Get  the gun(s) out of your home. Don’t sell it – hand it over to the police to dispose of and forget how much it cost you. Check the stats and you’ll discover the odds are you’ve saved at least one life which is far more valuable than any weapon.
  2. Let your reps at every level of elected office know that if they support the NRA in any way, they’ll lose your vote.
  3. Demand the improvement and quality of personnel in the mental health field and be prepared to pay a little more in taxes. Ask yourself if the NRA should not be required to help pay the bill- after all, they are singularly responsible for the continuing carnage of gun violence in America which now demands greater social services. If the NRA gave a damn for America it would by now have started funding mental health care. But it hasn’t of course and probably never will. Hope burns eternal  which I pray the grand kids will someday appreciate.
  4. Understand the cynicism of the NRA and the way in which the American public has been manipulated by these puppets of the gun industry. I’ll continue to write; let’s all quietly tell the NRA to go to hell.

In both the public and private sector, power is the power to hide

From SunlightFoundation

by Emily Shaw

In academic definitions of power, power is equated with influence over others. In Max Weber’s frequently-cited formulation, power is “the chance of a man or a number of men to realize their own will in a social action even against the resistance of others.”  Harold Lasswell similarly describes politics as the art of determining “who gets what, when and how” and examines how individuals influence others to achieve those outcomes.

In the 21st century, the power to influence runs up against the internet-enabled equality of informational arms. When regular people can see how influence is being exercised, that influence can be highlighted and discussed — and is counterbalanced by public recognition of its antidemocratic effects.

In order for power to preserve itself, it now uses its influence to hide.

Read the rest at SunlightFoundation.com


I’ve watched this exact phenomenon happening in Longmont, starting with the 2009 city council election; powerful forces were set in motion and secret deals were very obviously made.

The numbers are clear, the election was bought and paid for.

Gabe Santos

Longmont City Council member Gabe Santos

Under no circumstances should Gabe Santos be left on council – he’s tied directly to corruption and his own supporters admitted being in on the hidden attacks waged in his campaign’s name.

Funny how it all spins down and around to oil.

Watch Santos fight tooth and nail for fracking at all costs – that’s what his masters paid for years ago, likely when he was working for Tom Delay.

Christians Must Embrace Truth

clark_aricby Aric Clark

This opinion column first appeared at The Fort Morgan Times.

On Tuesday evening there was a public debate held on the subject of evolution vs. creationism. Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis an organization dedicated to promoting the idea that the Earth is 6,000 years old, faced off against an icon from my childhood: Bill Nye “the Science Guy”. It was billed as Religion vs. Science, Bible vs. Evolution, Christians vs. Atheists, but it was really a publicity stunt for Ken Ham’s business that Bill Nye unfortunately fell into. We have been baited into the trap as well if we accept that Ken Ham represents the Biblical or Christian perspective on this subject.

Millions of Christians like myself do not subscribe to a forced literal reading of scripture that supposes the earth to be very young, flying in the face of overwhelming evidence from every field of science. In fact, the perspective Ham proposes is a relatively modern innovation born out of Fundamentalist-Modernist controversies of the 19th and 20th centuries that needlessly set religion and science up as enemies. Early Christians read the Bible allegorically. The 2nd century Church Father Origen of Alexandria famously wrote:

“For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life?… I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.”

The creation narratives of the book of Genesis are works of poetry. Even when they were written they were not understood in the literal way that Ham wants us to read them. They were composed partly as a challenge to similar Babylonian myths that portray humanity as slaves to powerful but uncaring gods. By contrast the Hebrew story of creation portrays God as caring, creating us in God’s own image to hold a special place of esteem. The point of the story is not whether it took six days, but that the God of Israel is powerful and compassionate.

To take allegorical and poetic works of ancient priests and turn them into a forensic laboratory for theories of human origin unsupported by a single shred of corresponding evidence from the natural world is extremely ham-handed. The biblical city of Jericho is over 11,000 years old for goodness sakes.

Christians do not need to believe that humans and dinosaurs coexisted in order to be faithful to scripture, but we do need to be lovers of the truth to be faithful followers of Jesus of Nazareth. When Ken Ham and Bill Nye were asked what it would take to persuade them to change their minds they responded, “nothing,” and “evidence,” respectively. Nye’s answer is the more Christian answer. It requires humility to be willing to listen to the evidence and accept where it leads rather than to cling dogmatically to unfounded opinions.

Rev. Aric Clark is the pastor of United Presbyterian Church of Fort Morgan. Read more of his writing on his blog at http://twofriarsandafool.com

ALEC’s Half-Century Contract on the Boulder Highway, US 36

Have you ever wished to sign a 50 year contract?

Sounds like a major bummer. Even utilities seek contracts from city-clients that last only 20 years, although their finance projections for their coal plants can go 60 years. Fifty years, 60 years, 20 years, they all last longer than most marriages. But in a few days Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) will sign a 50 year contract for the management of the Boulder Turnpike and its toll lanes, affecting transportation planning options from here to central Denver.

The long term contract is the fruit of a trend around the nation, decried by many, to invent “public private partnerships” also known as P3’s, following a grand design crafted by former Colorado State Rep. Glenn Vaad, in the eagle nest of committee meetings he chaired with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Yes, the same ALEC that writes pro-corporate model legislation with active state legislators, and yes, the same Glenn Vaad who’s just been appointed to serve on Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission (but is not yet approved by our Senate).

We should care that when the deal is signed for the 50 year concession for US 36, no one outside the immediate participants will have seen it, according to Ken Beitel with Friends of Colorado PUC and founder of the Drive SunShine Institute that promotes electric drive transportation and democratic process. Also, in coming weeks CDOT’s special office called the Higher Performance Transportation Enterprises (HTPE) will pursue a P3 arrangement for many Colorado roads including a major overhaul of I-70 in Denver along with a maintenance and toll-lane agreement for it all the way up to Glenwood.

Gravely imperfect, this P3 plan can still help Colorado. With the recession and the increasing efficiency of all manner of vehicles, the state gets less in fuel taxes for roads each year. According to Boulder councilman Macon Cowles the national gas tax has been frozen since 1993 and in polls Coloradans have said, “Not just no but hell no” to taxation for roads, and now there’s global competition for many materials used in highway construction which means to Cowles, “On transportation we’re in a very bad spot.”

So, allowing private companies to invest in our roads to profit from the toll lanes can bring fast relief to dangerous bridges and other binds. In 2009 Governor Ritter signed the FASTER bill, empowering CDOT to seek out and enter private-public P3 contracts to bring funding into transportation projects. The governor’s press release says that governments affected by the user fees can veto the projects, but how much scrutiny do they really get? And what about down the road of those long 50 years?

Review groups such as USPIRG have noted in particular that P3’s usually include “non compete” clauses to keep localities from building effectively competitive roads that might lure cars away from the toll lanes. Is that ALEC’s game — to talk about competition while ruling it out in the contract? Remember: 50 years.

Boulder Mayor Matt Applebaum explained by phone some key problems in developing the contract. First, he said, it’s still not clear whether there’s a non-compete requirement in the contract. Also, CDOT didn’t want to put in very much money to the turnpike upgrade, Applebaum said, which means that overflow revenues intended to go back to communities in the US 36 corridor will arrive later. To counter this, it has been suggested by the Plenary Group managing the highway that instead of allowing pairs of people to drive free in the HOV/toll lanes, groups of three minimum will be allowed to use the HOV/toll lanes which means pairs wanting access to that faster lane will have to pay. (Most lanes on US 36 will remain free.) The 3+ standard has been seen as a rip off to the public, however it remains plausible that the number one factor in upping the cost of a long drive is the fuel efficiency of one’s car in any lane.

It’s not clear if this P3 arrangement and its hidden details will be as bad as feared — or as silly as featured by ALEC’s own daft positioning when ALEC announced their idea of “true economic stimulus.” Prominently quoting its Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force Chair Rep. Glenn Vaad, it touted its newest initiative, “Publicopoly” to help states to shift government programs to private sector competitive bidding, with a special focus on transportation. About as subtle as “Unsinkable Titanic”, the term “Publicopoly” seems clear enough: let private interests grab monopoly control over public sector functions.

In Boulder we know a lot about monopoly grip over critical infrastructure that drives the heating of our climate, bumping weather into the unprecedented ferocity of the fires, floods and droughts suffered in Colorado, and we in Boulder voted three time to wriggle loose of XcelEnergy’s fossil fuel electric system. We in Colorado should recall what we know about ALEC: it has been trying to unravel states’ renewable energy standards and prompted voter-ID laws that have been ruled unconstitutional in three states, among many other vexing initiatives.

Therefore we should seek public review and legislative approval of the P3 contracts being signed. Will they accord flexibility to the state to favor emission free transportation as more climate change comes barreling down upon us?

Also Colorado’s Senate should find out who is really being served in the person of Glenn Vaad, a decorated ALEC committee chair who has thereby taken scholarship money from XcelEnergy and faced ALEC’s robust discipline that nearly foisted a loyalty pledge on its legislator members. Last but not least, the Senate should explore how Vaad’s committee member at ALEC, Geoff Segal of MacQuarie Capital, came to be a financial adviser (see page one) to the state of Colorado for creating a P3 for the over $1 billion improvement to I-70.

Honor and privilege

During the last years of Muriel Harrison’s life, Bill Harrison would greet me at the door and then tell her who had come to visit — Muriel had been blind for several years. He would say, “It is my honor and privilege to take care of her.” Usually, we expect to read about a wife caring for an aging husband until his last days. But Bill Harrison was unusual.

One night in 2006, I waited for a new batch of writers to come to my door for a “Writing Stories” class I was presenting in our family room. The first arrival that evening was an elderly gentleman who sat parked in my driveway a good 20 minutes early. I motioned him to come on in, and although he’d grown stoop-shouldered in his 87 years, Bill was still several inches taller than I. He lived on the east side of town, he said, and often arrived at meetings early to beat the trains.

That night, Bill related the story of how his grandfather John H. Wolfe had given him his Civil War diary when Bill was 5. Now he asked me to help him create a book out of that diary. Of course, I agreed and asked for more background. And over the next few months, I read Bill’s drafts and gave him encouragement, although how much effect I had was debatable. We often laughed that I’d had to forgo any attempt to change his writing style to the active voice; he wrote beautifully in the passive.

The result was Bill’s 200-page historical tome, One Man’s War: Tired ’till the Day I Die, based upon memoirs of John H. Wolfe, Company F, 8th Michigan Volunteers, 1861-1864. Bill’s preface concludes with this sentence: “I am merely trying to show my amazement that Grampa Wolfe survived the ordeal of the Civil War physically and still landed on his feet mentally.”

Bill and Muriel had taken a year off and traveled to every one of Grampa Wolfe’s 47 battle sites. And that night chatting in my living room, he recounted many battles that had taken place in my home state of Virginia. He and Muriel had stopped at every silver metal sign designating battles and Lee’s retreat from Richmond along the “old Danville road,” today’s Route 360. I’d driven the length of that highway hundreds of times and never stopped.

The presentation of history in Bill’s tome is unique. For each battle, he presented two perspectives: the overall view by the generals who set the stage; and Grampa Wolfe’s view of the foot soldiers at ground level, the men who suffered death and hardship, assuredly no glory.

Bill later transcribed the diary into Memoirs of John H. Wolfe. Bill’s son gave a copy of this book to a board of directors building a museum dedicated to volunteer soldiers of all the wars of this country. Civil War experts have authenticated Grampa Wolfe’s memoirs, and the board will feature him and his unit in the museum. Out of 100 Company F volunteers, he was one of the eight to survive.

Last year, Dr. Bill attended meetings of the Civil War History discussion group at the Longmont library. We would meet there, and I gave him a few rides home. His slideshow presentation of Grampa Wolfe’s battles will long be remembered by that group. Bill later made copies of his transcription of the diary and gave them to members. They hold a treasure, a legacy handed down in 1924.

Many people will remember Dr. Bill as their family veterinarian, others for his beautiful marquetry. He was a kind and humble man who deflected praise. But I will always cherish those visits and hearing him say it was his honor and privilege to take care of Muriel.

Bill Ellis is a local author who can be reached at contact@billelliswrites.com.