National

Merciful God

Saw this on Facebook from Joel Tooley, Lead Pastor at Melbourne First Church of the Nazarene.

What I am about to write and what you are about to read may make some people very uncomfortable, if not angry.

That is not my intention nor is it okay with me to cause anyone to stumble. That being said, what I experienced tonight was so dramatic that I cannot help but reflect on it and share what I experienced.

A few days ago, people across the United States heard the news that our newly elected President would be visiting Melbourne, Florida – our hometown. It is no surprise to many that I do not support many of the objectives and “campaignisms” of Donald Trump. I know many people who voted for him – friends, family, church people who all voted for their own reasons. The point of this experience is not to relay all of the reasons why I think he should not be the president. Those points are moot – he IS our President.

Now, I am enough of a sentimentalist that when I found out THEEEE President was coming to town, I got online quickly and reserved two tickets.

The tickets were being given away by the Trump-Pence campaign; I found it odd that the tickets indicated that this was not a government/White House event & that this was a campaign event. I have, of course, posted a joking post about that earlier. What I discovered was that by hosting this as a campaign event, Mr. Trump could determine who was and was not allowed in the venue. If he came on an official visit, they could not prohibit anyone from entering and he couldn’t sell his campaign merchandise.

So, in essence, he was only allowing his supporters in the room. Well, with a few exceptions…

I talked my 11-year-old daughter into coming with me. After all, how many times do you get to see the President of the United States in person – let alone in your hometown? I was eager for her to have this experience. It has to be a pretty cool thing, as a kid to see Air Force One, the President and the First Lady.

The event started at 5 PM; we got in line at the venue shortly after 2 PM and the line was already pretty long. There are several mini stories to be told about that experience but don’t need to be told for this post. Suffice it to say, it is always an intriguing sociological experience to be surrounded by people in line for something for which they are fanatics – whether it is for a movie premier, a live concert, the release of the latest beanie baby or Cabbage Patch kid. Fanatic people are fascinating to me.

While I am not a fan of Trump, I certainly did not want to come across as a vigilante protester while standing amongst some of his most adoring fans. I truly wanted to see if what I was going to witness in person was any different than what I had observed on TV.

The entry into the event was very impressive. I have always admired the professional posturing of the Secret Service, including those from our own local law-enforcement who were on duty serving in this capacity. These are women and men who should be highly commended for placing their lives on the line.

We entered the venue at 3 PM, two hours before the event started. As we entered, everyone was being handed pom-poms and Trump campaign signs. The hosts made sure everyone had a sign in their hand. Someone shoved one into my hand and gave pom-poms to my daughter.

I felt like a sheep in wolves clothing.

Music was playing loudly throughout the venue as it filled up with hundreds of people. I would guess there were eventually at least 3000 people in the room. It was nowhere near full, but there certainly were a lot of people there. From my view, the crowd was 99.9% white folk. I did see a row of about 10-12 supporters who were black, wearing T-shirts that said, “Trump and Republicans are not racist” – they were positioned in the seating area directly behind the podium.

We were about three rows of people from the very front and had a very good position to view the President and the platform. As people were coming in, there was a lot of excitement and a strong sense of patriotism. Approximately every 15 minutes, the music would be a little more enthusiastic and party-like. I posted my play-by-play feedback of “God bless the USA!” in an earlier post…it was almost church-like. People sang along, raising their hands and were emotionally moved by this anthem. It was intriguing to watch.

People were being ushered into a deeply religious experience…and it made me completely uncomfortable.

I love my country; I honor those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and I respect our history and what we stand for, but what I experienced in that moment sent shivers down my spine. I felt like people were here to worship an ideology along with the man who was leading it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the song per se – it was this inexplicable movement that was happening in the room. It was a religious zeal.

You might liken it to the experience fans would have after their favorite team won the Super Bowl – faces painted, banners flying, confetti in the air and celebrating.

But this – this was deeper.

A couple of local politicians got up to bring greetings followed by state representative, followed by one of our Congress representatives. A soloist sang, “God bless America” and there was a strong sense of patriotism in the room. A pastor got up to pray and repeatedly prayed throughout his prayer, “Thank you for making this the greatest nation on earth…in Jesus’ name.”

Uh-uh. No. No way, josé.

Pastor, this is not the greatest nation on earth. The greatest nation on earth does not exist. Are we a great nation? Definitely. But there are many other great nations as well. Pastor, you have your eyes on a different kind of “greatness” and certainly a different kind of kingdom. Shame on you for praying those words in Jesus’ name!

Suddenly, the music changed from the pep rally theme to something that seemed more Star Wars themed. The crowd went crazy and turned towards the opening of the airplane hangar that was the venue, just as Air Force One pulled up.

What a magnificent sight! That enormous airliner is absolutely breathtaking. The crowd was going wild; signs waving in the air, people cheering, and every cell phone was positioned to take photos and video. As the First Lady and the President emerged at the top of the stairs, the air was electric! It really is a magnificent image to see in person!

As they entered the venue and walked to the platform, there was terrific celebration. I have been in the room when other Presidents were in a similar mode – it is always such a meaningful experience to be that close to them, regardless of whether or not you view them with adoration. Theeeee President of the USA!

The First Lady approached the platform and in her rich accent, began to recite the Lord’s prayer.

I can’t explain it, but I felt sick. This wasn’t a prayer beseeching the presence of Almighty God, it felt theatrical and manipulative.

People across the room were reciting it as if it were a pep squad cheer. At the close of the prayer, the room erupted in cheering. It was so uncomfortable. I observed that Mr. Trump did not recite the prayer until the very last line, “be the glory forever and ever, amen!” As he raised his hands in the air, evoking a cheer from the crowd, “USA! USA! USA!”

Just as the President begin to speak, a short grandmotherly lady in front of us asked me if I would help hold her walker – the kind that has a seat built into it. She said, “I need to climb up on it and hold something up.” Such an odd request at such an odd place at such an odd time. So, I helped her.

She held a pillowcase that had something written on the front of it, words I could not see. She climbed up onto the seat, wobbly-legged and held the sign up above her head. People in front of her turned around and started jeering and yelling at her. After holding her sign up for about 10 seconds, she climbed back down and thanked me. I asked her what her sign said – it read, “You had your chance, now resign!”

The very first words out of the President’s mouth were the words of a bully. That is not simply one person’s perspective, it is factual. He immediately began badgering and criticizing the media; like a bully inciting a crowd.

Now, do I think the media needs to be held to a high standard and be able to be held accountable? Absolutely! The media as a whole has become sadly non-journalistic and more entertainment, in my opinion.

Call it what you will, but I was completely dumbfounded as the most powerful leader in the world began his speech by badgering the media. The crowd began screaming angrily at the entire press corps that was present.

He could have said something inspiring and worthy of a Tweet or Facebook post, instead he emerged as an overly powerful bully. Literally, everything that he began speaking about evoked this angry response from the crowd. Immediately following the words of prayer that Jesus taught his followers…

It was then that I heard two ladies off to my left chanting, not yelling or screaming but chanting, “T-R….U-M-P; that’s how you spell – bigotry!” They repeated the rhyme over and over.

Two ladies in front of them began seething and screaming in their face while shaking their Trump signs at them. Another couple standing behind them started screaming at them as well. One of the chanting ladies had her eight-year-old daughter on her back; the other had a severely disabled child in a wheelchair in front of her. As they continued chanting, the people around them became violently enraged. One angry man grabbed the lady’s arm – that’s when I went into action. I barged through the crowd and yelled at them to back off. My heart wasn’t racing; I just instinctively became a protector.

I didn’t actually want a Trump sign, but one of the volunteers had shoved it into my hands as I walked through the door earlier; “Make America Great Again!” That sign probably saved someone from getting hurt. I held the sign close to my chest as I positioned myself between the chanting protesters and the angry mob. My 11-year-old daughter was clinging to my arm, sobbing in fear.

The two angry, screaming ladies looked at me, both of them raised their middle finger at me in my face and repeatedly yelled, “F*#% YOU!” Repeatedly.

I calmly responded, “No thank you, I’m happily married.” Their faces and their voices were filled with demonic anger.

I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable. The power of the Holy Spirit of God was protecting me in those moments and was once again protecting me and my daughter in this moment.

I raised my voice and calmly said, “These ladies have the right to do what they are doing and they are harming no one; this is America and they a right to express themselves in this way. They are harming no one.” A couple of other people around me stepped in and supported me in protecting them as a barrier, as well.

My daughter was shaking in fear as she clung to me. The one man behind the protesters shoved himself forward, grabbed the lady by the arm and screamed with multiple expletives, “I’m going to take you out! This is my president and nobody has the right to disrespect him and nobody has the right to keep me from hearing him!”

I wish I could have captured the expressions of that man on camera. I will never forget him.

The little girl on her mother’s back was crying, completely frightened. I leaned forward and reassured her in her ear, “Your mommy is being brave and we will not let these people hurt you. You are afraid because these are angry, awful people. We will not let them hurt you or your mommy. You are being so brave and your mommy is doing something very brave.”

That’s when another lady screamed in my face that what I was doing was un-American. I just chuckled and responded, “What I am doing is completely American – I’m standing up for people who are being bullied – it doesn’t matter if I agree with them or not. You came here to see the President, now ignore these ladies, turn around and enjoy the show.” Without explanation, they calm down and turned around to hear what Trump had to say.

The two protesters then moved towards the back and left the building. I got a couple of high-fives and “thanks for stepping up for them” from bystanders . I wanted to say, “Thanks. Where were you when the the demons were screaming and fists were getting ready to start swinging?”

Once again, the environment reminded me of some church experiences I’ve had. Bystanders.

I have no clue what Trump was saying at that point – draining the swamp, vetting refugees, and other things. Oh yeah, I heard people chanting, “Build that wall, build that wall!”

I realized then that we were not listening to someone presidential, we were listening to someone terribly powerful.

My kid was shaken – she had just seen some of the worst of humanity. We edged ourselves away from the front of the room to the opening of the hangar so we could get a clearer picture of Air Force One. I wanted to give her at least one positive presidential memory.

The crowd was much thinner at the back of the room, people were leaving by the hundreds. Outside, there were two jumbotrons set up for a potential overflow – there really wasn’t a need for them. There were maybe a couple of hundred people outside watching on the big screens.

Not too far behind that group was a large group of protesters.

Inside, Trump had rallied the group by giving a little bit of attention to the “paid protesters outside.” Now, I can’t speak for all of them, but I asked a few where they were from and why they were there – every single one of them were from different cities in Florida and could quickly articulate why they were there. They were not paid protesters – not the ones I spoke with.

I’m trying to separate how I actually feel about this man and his campaignisms. I know why people voted for him; I know why people voted against his opponent. But, at the end of the day, what I felt from his leadership in this experience was actually horrifying. There was palpable fear in the room. There was thick anger and vengeance. He was counting on it. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that it would not have taken very much for him to have called this group of people into some kind of riotous reaction.

Now, not everyone in the room was a part of the angry mob mentality – I looked around the room and saw many people who could quite easily be folks from my neighborhood, folks from my church, folks who were planning to go grab a bite to eat at Cracker Barrel afterwards. Folks who truly wanted to see America “great.” The people who support the Republican Party want to see some needed changes in the government – the people that were there for that reason, are by and large good folks. But those are not the people the President was inciting – they are not the people he was leading. He was rallying the angry, vigilant ones.

As we began to leave, I knew my daughter could not possibly care less about Air Force One or the fact that she saw the President of the United States and his wife, in the flesh. I truly had hoped that she could have had that sentimental experience.

What she WILL remember is the angry, violent man screaming demonic vitriol at a child and her mother. She will remember the two ladies screaming at her Dad, her pastor – flipping the middle finger and using the F word repeatedly.

Now, I know there are people who are convinced that I am jaded and cannot fairly give this man a fair chance. Perhaps that’s true. But please remember, especially those of you who know me well, I am a student of culture and human behavior. I am not a stubborn, close minded individual who likes to stick to the status quo. I know there are people who long for me to see the good things about this President and to talk about THOSE things. I know there are people who want me to realize that not everything he is doing is bad and that every President has their strengths and weaknesses and…

I know there are people who, when they see these words and hear my thoughts will feel badly because perhaps they can’t like me as much as they once did because they don’t agree with me. They want me to like the President that they like – they want me to see him the way they see him.

I’m sorry. I cannot. You see, the angry, F-word-spewing man is what has been depended on throughout this campaign and is the one who is still being counted on to sustain the message. I tried.

As we left the room, these words were echoing in my mind, “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…”

At the end of the day, I’m a citizen of a nation – I have a leader who God is very aware and who has tremendous responsibilities. I MUST and will pray for him. I’m a citizen of this world and I must continue to see beyond my own limited world view to seek ways to obediently serve Christ. But greater still, I am a citizen of a different kind of Kingdom – the Kingdom that strives for peace, mercy, kindness and a love-relationship with the King of kings.

May God have mercy on me.

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.

Oil and gas ‘third party validation’ and message control

Kaye Fissinger #123

Kaye Fissinger, Longmont, CO.

In mid-May, I went into “enemy territory” to hear what the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) had to teach regulators from oil-and-gas-producing states and the ex-officio industry that it actually represents. The IOGCC is similar to the COGCC, but on steroids.

The IOGCC conference had two sessions on “crisis communication.” The first had presenters from the Ohio oil and gas regulatory body and the second was led by a regulator from our own COGCC. The 2013 flood was the example in his presentation. What an incredible whitewash of the event as it pertained to oil and gas and a textbook example of message control! The second presenter was none other than Karen Crummy, communications director for CRED and Protect Colorado.

CRED is the organization that keeps bringing you (ad nauseum) TV ads about how great and wonderful fracking and oil and gas are. Never mind that their visuals do not reflect environmental realities. Protect Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence is the issue committee against Yes for Health and Safety over Fracking. George Orwell would have been so pleased at Protect Colorado’s name. Remember the Church Lady? She would have said, “Well, isn’t that special?” to the first place position of the environment.

Yes for Health and Safety is gathering signatures to place the constitutional amendments No. 75 (local control) and No. 78 (mandatory 2,500-foot setbacks) on November’s ballot. The health and safety of all of us is precisely what these amendments are all about. It’s time to get the state’s priorities straight, and the only way this can happen is a change in the state constitution. The legislature has failed the people. Governor Hickenlooper is even worse.

Here are the kickers from the regulators’ bedfellow, the oil and gas industry — in how to handle the public in a crisis. And No. 75 and No. 78 are certainly a “crisis” from the oil and gas industry’s perspective.

  1. Get out there first.
  2. Get out there loud.
  3. Control the message.
  4. Get “third party validation” for the oil and gas industry talking points.
  5. Tell people that their health and safety comes first, even if they don’t mean it.

The fourth is a doozy! Think about the University of Boulder oil and gas economics studies by the Leeds School of Business. These studies used industry modeling and gave the decision for releasing the results to that very same industry. No chance that a message other than one in support of their talking points would ever see the light of day. The Boulder Weekly did a thorough investigative report called “Behind the Curtain” that connected all the dots between Leeds and the industry.

And the latest report from the COGCC on Initiative 78 was requested by Mayor Tom Holton of Fort Lupton, also a COGCC commissioner. Holton regularly plays footsie with the oil and gas industry. And that report is ripe with flaws and omissions. Just what the industry was looking for.

See how “third party validation” works?

A good authority, at an earlier IOGCC conference, heard publicly that CRED was created because of Longmont’s success in overwhelmingly passing the ban on fracking and its waste products.

As it turned out, Coloradans can’t trust the Colorado Supreme Court either. Older folks might remember an ad from decades ago that said “a little dab will do ya.” Now its “a little phone call will do ya” with a well-laid foundation by the oil and gas industry that dates back a century or more.

Because the Colorado courts have said that Coloradans’ constitutional rights as already enumerated are essentially irrelevant, we have no other choice than to make it monumentally clear that the state constitution says otherwise. No wiggle room and no establishing priority of rights by the Colorado Supreme Court when it comes to oil and gas and the people.

State law does not override the constitution and preemption is state statute, not an article in our constitutional. At least not yet. If you see people asking for your signature on No. 138, don’t sign. This initiative enshrines preemption into the state constitution. If you do sign, you will be giving up your rights to health and safety, potentially in perpetuity.

Kaye Fissinger is president of Our Longmont.

Comparing the Choices

Bruce Lindner, Portland, OR

Bruce Lindner, Portland, OR

So I’m reading this morning that the GOP has adopted two more policies to be included in the official convention platform next week: To build Trump’s wall along the border with Mexico and to recognize pornography as a public health crisis. Let me see if I have this right.

  • The proposed wall, which even the party’s hitherto favorite son, Jeb Bush, said yesterday was a stupid idea, would achieve nothing.
  • Pornography, which as far as I know isn’t lethal, is a “public health crisis,” but 300 million guns on our streets and in our schools, churches, night clubs and movie theaters, which take the lives of 30,000 Americans per year … isn’t.
  • The presumptive nominee, a man with precisely ZERO political experience, has accused the current President—the first African-American President in our history—of being to blame for any racial divisions in our society today. Yet he himself just DECLINED an invitation to speak before the NAACP, the nation’s premier and possibly most respected civil rights advocacy group. Cat got your tongue Donald? That’s a first.
  • The GOP platform also calls for “continued conservative fiscal principles.” Right. The last time they held the White House, they ratcheted up federal spending by 85%, cut revenue by 25%, passed two tax cuts largely benefiting the top 1%, launched two catastrophic wars, none of which was budgeted for, and plunged the nation into the deepest recession in 80 years. This in contrast to the current administration who pulled us out of the recession and increased federal spending by a whopping 6% (or 11% over the level he inherited).
  • The CEO of the party’s official media organ, Roger Ailes, suddenly finds himself in competition with Bill Cosby for most allegations of sexual harassment and lewd behavior. Is he innocent until proven guilty? Sure. But based on statistics alone, it’s hard for any rational person to believe all of the women who’ve come forward thus far with similar allegations are lying. Yet he still controls what Republicans hear, and perhaps more importantly, what they DON’T hear. What say you Rupert? Isn’t it time for Sexy Roger to go on a sabbatical for a little R & R?
  • And no GOP convention platform can be complete without mentioning their continued pledge to abolish and outlaw a woman’s Constitutional RIGHT to make her own reproductive decisions. Rather than respecting a 43 year old Supreme Court decision, they defer to pressure from the religious community and violent groups who firebomb Planned Parenthood clinics and murder physicians who perform abortions. Because their mission is to “defend the sanctity of life,” don’tchya know.

So let’s see… Vote for the sexist, racist, fascist, xenophobic, pathological liar who’s backed by the overwhelming support of Republicans (and their secretive brethren under the hoods and sheets), many of whom want to take America back to the good ol’ days of Jim Crow, Bible lessons in public schools, submissive women, puritanical “morality,” crushing economic policies, a nation where guns are defended over human lives and the cries of inequality from Black Lives Matter are called “threats from a terrorist group” by their most-admired television personality, Bill O’Reilly.

Or I can vote with the Democrats, who, imperfections aside, have overseen 7-1/2 years of economic growth, a party that’s inclusive of ALL races, religions, sexual preferences, and hold a position that the Constitutional RIGHT to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness *must* override the GOP’s warped reinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment fetish for guns in our bleeding society.

Thanks Reince. But I’m with her.

Has the GOP Gone Insane?

From Salon:

Trump supporters first pepper spray, then yell “n****r lover” to 15-year-old protester in Paul Ryan’s hometown

pepper-spray

(Credit: Conservative Outfitters)

Police in Janesville, Wisconsin, are searching for two Donald Trump rally attendees who pepper sprayed and sexually assaulted a 15-year-old anti-Trump protester outside the Republican presidential frontrunner’s rally on Tuesday. Video of the incident shows other apparent Trump supporters shouting “bitch” and “nigger lover” to the teenager as she attempts to walk away with pepper spray in her eyes.

“Damn, Donald, back at it again with the white supremacy,” read 15-year-old Alex Drake’s topical protest sign, according to video that captured the incident. As another protester raised a sign that read, “Black Lives Matter,” the crowd of mostly older white Trump supporters began chanting “All lives matter,” attempting to drown out the Janesville teenager:

Law enforcement in Janesville, home of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, said that “a male in the crowd groped the 15 year girl, when she pushed him away; another person in the crowd sprayed her.” Video of the incident shows Drake confronting a man she says touched her breast before she reached out to strike him:

Another video shows one Trump supporter yelling to “get that bitch out of here,” after the teenage girl stumbles from being pepper sprayed

“Goddamn communist, nigger lover! Get out of here,” another Trump supporter can be heard shouting.


This is an open message to the Colorado GOP – some of your members have clearly gone completely off the rails and are attempting to incite riots.

I would hope that the few sensible people in your organization understand how incredibly awful and destructive such an event could be. Is this what your party has become? You want to cause a public melee?

Over the years FRL has been attacked repeatedly by extremists in your party howling for public condemnation when one of our stories upset them. Now something like this happens and you’re conspicuously silent.

Where is the condemnation of this act? Your failure to disavow this barbarity is telling.

Can I expect to see myself, family or friends attacked viciously for using our First Amendment right at political rallies?

I would strongly encourage you to caution your more extreme members not to commit violence against protesters – the backlash could be terrible and disgrace the CO GOP forever.

Donald Trump isn’t a candidate – he’s a symptom. Republicans in Colorado are well advised to distance themselves from him if they expect to maintain any semblance of respectability.

Donald Trump: A Litany of Lies

Photo courtesy of Newscorpse.com

Photo courtesy of Newscorpse.com

In just the last seven days Trump has lied nine times:

  1. Trump said his university had an ‘A’ rating by the Better Business Bureau.
    False: The BBB responded that Trump University had a D- rating.
  2. Trump said his steak and wine businesses are booming.
    False: He doesn’t own those companies at all… they just bought his name.
  3. Trump said Obama lied and that the real unemployment rate is up to 35%.
    False: The unemployment rate is 4.9% and Obama doesn’t generate the reports.
  4. Trump said Obama made the army weaker.
    False: Army generals said it’s the leanest, strongest and most powerful it has ever been.
  5. Insurance companies are hurting because of Obamacare.
    False: Health insurance industry stock has increased by 400% in the last seven years.
  6. Insurance companies have laid off millions of employees because of Obamacare.
    False: Insurance companies have hired in record numbers in the last four years.
  7. Obama is destroying the economy.
    False: Every sector of the economy has improved in the last seven years.
  8. Trump said he didn’t know who David Duke was.
    False: Trump has talked about David Duke many times in the past.
  9. Trump said Hillary is about to go to jail for using her email on her phone.
    False: It has been determined over and over again that she did nothing illegal.

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

The Sacrifice and Final Words of Rev. Charles Moore

Reverend Charles Moore - Photo from The Washington Post

Reverend Charles Moore – Photo from The Washington Post

From The Washington Post

A Texas minister set himself on fire and died to ‘inspire’ justice

One Monday in June, 79-year-old Charles Moore, a retired United Methodist minister, drove to Grand Saline, Tex., his childhood home town some 70 miles east of Dallas. He pulled into a strip mall parking lot, knelt down on a small piece of foam and doused himself with gasoline.

Then, witnesses said, he set himself on fire.

read the rest at The Washington Post


The Reverend Charles Moore’s final words are included in the WaPo article as scanned images. I feel that they should live on in the Internet so I have transcribed them in their entirety. Strong language caution. Powerful sentiments backed up by a man’s life. I feel this should be transmitted as far as humanly possible. – M.D.Wray


O Grand Saline, Repent of Your Racism

I was born in Grand Saline, Texas almost 80 years ago. As I grew up, I heard the usual racial slurs, but they didn’t mean much to me. I don’t remember even meeting an African-American until I began driving a bus to Tyler Junior College and made friends with the mechanic who cared for the vehicles: I teased him about his skin-color, and he became very angry with me; that is one way that I learned about the pain of discrimination.

During my second year as a college student, I was serving a small church in the country near Tyler, when the United States Supreme Court declared racial discrimination in schools illegal in 1954; when I let it be known that I agreed with the Court’s ruling, I was cursed and rejected. When word about that got back to First Methodist Church in Grand Saline (which had joyfully recommended me for minsitry– the first ever from the congregation), I was condemned and called a Communist; during the 60 years since then, I have never once been invited to participate in any activity at First Methodist (except family funerals), let alone to speak from its pulpit.

When I was about 10-years-old, some friends and I were walking down the road toward the creek to catch some fish, when a man called “Uncle Billy” stopped us and called us into his house for a drink of water — but his real purpose was to cheerily tell us about helping to kill “niggers” and put their heads up on a pole. A section of Grand Saline was (maybe still is) called “pole town,” where the heads were displayed. It was years later before I knew what the name meant.

During World War II, when many soldiers came through town on the train, the citizens demanded that the shades in the passenger cars be pulled down if there were African-Americans aboard, so they wouldn’t have to look at them.

The Ku Klux Klan was once very active in Grand Saline, and it still probaby has sympathizers in the town. Although it is illegal to discriminate against any race relative to housing, employment, etc., African Americans who work in Grand Saline live elsewhere. It is sad to think that schools, churches, businesses, etc. have no racial diversity when it comes to blacks.

My sense is that most Grand Saline residents just don’t want black people among them, and so African-Americans don’t want to live there and face rejection. This is a shame that has bothered me wherever I went in the world, and did not want to be identified with the town written up in the newspaper in 1993, but I have never raised my voice or written a word to contest the situation. I have owned my old family home at 1212 N. Spring St. for the last 15 years, but have never discussed the issue with my tenants.

Since we are currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer in 1964, when people started working in the South to atttain the right to vote for African-Americans along with other concerns. This past weekend was the anniversary of the murder of three young men (Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney) in Philadelphia, Mississippi, which gave great impetus to the Civil Rights Movement — since this historic time is being remembered, I find myself very concerned about the rise of racism across the country at the present time. Efforts are being made in many places to make voting more difficult for some people, especially African-Americans. Much of the opposition to President Obama is simply because he is black.

I will soon be eighty years old, and my heart is broken over this. America (and Grand Saline prominently) have never really repented for the atrocities of slavery and its aftermath. What my hometown needs to do is open its heart and its doors to black people as a sign of the rejection of past sins.

Many African Americans were lynched around here, probably some in Grand Saline: hanged, decapitated and burned, some while still alive. The vision of them haunts me greatly. So, at this late date, I have decided to join them by giving my body to be burned, with love in my heart not only for them but also for the perpetrators of such horror — but especially for the citizens of Grand Saline, many of whom have been very kind to me and others who may be moved to change the situation here.

Rev. Charles Moore
June 13, 2014

Disagreeable Me

Five ‘Truths’ You ‘Cannot Disagree With’
Conservative PropagandaFact
1You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.You cannot legislate the poor out of poverty by legislating the wealthy into prosperity.
2What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.What a wealthy person received without working for probably came from what another person worked for without receiving.
3The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.But banks can, through fractional reserve banking, in which the wealthy create wealth by putting the working class into debt.
4 You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.But you can multiply wealth by inventing money, again through fractional reserve banking.
5 When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them; and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.But who is working, and who is living off of their labors? The wealthy lay around the pool, counting their dividends, while the working class pays for their largess in the form of bailouts and subsidies.
6(Insert bullshit about trickle down, voodoo economics, etc.)A consumer economy cannot be prosperous if the consumers are impoverished.

A few more points about #3:

“The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from someone else.”

If this doesn’t demonstrate that the author of this only cares about money, then I’m not sure what does. Let’s try this out with a few items that a few people might care about the government providing and see how this “truth” is borne out, shall we?

“The government cannot give someone a financial safety net to guard against economic and circumstantial events that are outside of that person’s control without taking away someone else’s financial safety net to guard against economic and circumstantial events that are outside of that person’s control.”

Weird. That didn’t turn out at all. In some magical way we actually *can* provide this kind of a safety net without taking away someone else’s safety net, for the reason that the needs of a safety net are amortized across the population as a whole.

Okay, let’s try it again:

“The government cannot give one individual access to clean water and unpolluted air without removing someone else’s access to clean water and unpolluted air.”

Damn. That turned out weird again. I wonder what’s going wrong? It’s as if there are material things that the government can provide that can be ensured for all people without having to take that very same thing away from anyone.

Alrighty, one more time. I’m sure it’ll be a “truth” that I can’t disagree with this time:

“The government cannot provide for the basic subsistence and shelter of one individual without denying someone else basic subsistence and shelter.”

What the …? How is it that we keep finding things that the government can provide that don’t result in the type of direct accounting of dollars that the “5 truths” above describe?

One last try:

“The government cannot provide an individual with a basic level of security from foreign threats without removing someone else’s basic level of security from foreign threats.”

Well, golly. How can it be that the military provides a benefit for everyone at the same time? That’s just impossible – except it’s not.

Thanks to all the folks that contributed to this.

jon-steward

Let’s Send Vic Meyers to Washington

Vic Meyers

Vic Meyers

This year the residents of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District can send a strong message to our nation’s capital.

The message is that we are fed up with the failure of Congress to do its job, and we’re sending back a man to help fix it.

That man is Vic Meyers. He’s running because he shares our frustration and wants to do something about it. Vic will represent us, not the wealthy individuals and corporations who believe that their money makes their opinions more important and valuable than ours.

Send a message this year. Vote for Vic Meyers for Congress. He’ll do us proud.

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.

The “n-word” is offensive and reeks of disrespect

One day when I was 4 years old, I ran to answer the knock on our front door. My goal was to get there before Tessie, our black maid and my day-care provider. It was 1945 in my hometown of Martinsville, Va., close to the North Carolina state line.

What happened next is burned into my memory. I opened the door to face a snarly white man who towered above me. “Whar’s your folks, boy?” he growled. Tessie got there to save me and pushed me behind her.

“They’re not here,” she answered.

“Wasn’t talking to you, n-,” and out spilled that vile and vicious word, dripping with so much hate it scared me. Tessie slammed the door in his face and went into the living room, where she sat and cried.

I was shocked and completely confused about how that one word could so upset my best pal, the woman who cared for me, who loved me. So I asked her what it meant.

“Don’t ever say it,” she said. “It’s what mean people say when they want to hurt us colored folks.”

And so it remains. Over the last eight years or so, I have been reminded that angry, ignorant white people and even some African-Americans continue to toss that word around like a hand grenade. It is the ultimate degradation to a race of people. How do I know this? I saw it on Tessie’s face in 1945. I saw her reduced to miserable tears. And I get an occasional message from an old friend back in Virginia who just doesn’t think our African-American president is real — code for less than human.

I admit I used to feel superior to the typical bigots down South, those uneducated folks stereotyped as automatically prejudiced just because of their accent and useless arguments bemoaning the “lost cause” of the Civil War. But then I discovered an ancestor in North Carolina in the 1700s who had slaves. It was clearly there in his will that charged his son to sell some land to buy a slave to care for his wife after his death.

Yet here we are, 250 years later, still without a clue. As an almost fanatically religious country, too many of us do not live our values and follow the golden rule to treat people like we want to be treated. Shamefully, we don’t even see a connection between going to church and practicing brotherly love the other six days of the week.

My Latino friend, Dan, reminded me the other day that the Army teaches equal rights. All soldiers depend on everyone. There is no place for racial, religious, and sexual orientation prejudice in the military. So maybe the solution is to put everyone through basic training.

Better, though, is for everyone to stand up for speaking with respect. Next time somebody throws out that word, call time out. Correct them. Let them know it is offensive to all of us because the word reeks of disrespect. My friend Dan knows that today that word and the bigotry it holds disrespects African-Americans, the next day Latinos, and then on to women, gays and lesbians, and everyone else.

I must add this: The maddest I ever saw my mother was when President Clinton’s political nominees were being disqualified because they hadn’t paid Social Security taxes for their nannies. “Did you pay Tessie’s?” I stupidly inquired.

“I certainly did,” she answered in a huff, and gave me one of those withering looks that showed she doubted I had a grain of sense. I’d forgotten the day she took me to visit Tessie after I’d graduated from college. Mom’s reason: “She thinks you’re as much hers as I think you’re mine.”

Bill Ellis (contact@billelliswrites.com) lives in Longmont.

Coloradans eye rulings around country in favor of local fracking bans

sign_no_oilfield_traffic

John Tomasic – first published on The Colorado Independent December 23, 2013

BOULDER — Supporters of local bans on the oil-and-gas drilling process known as fracking celebrated a key legal victory in Pennsylvania last week, where the state supreme court ruled unconstitutional a law that sought to override local zoning initiatives in the state.

Colorado, like Pennsylvania — and states like California, New York and Ohio — is the site of a tug of war between state and local communities over drilling regulations. In the last two years, five Colorado towns on the heavily drilled northern Front Range have passed bans on fracking, drawing lawsuits from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association lobby group that have been either officially or tacitly supported by the state. The Association’s suit against the city of Longmont is scheduled to be heard this summer.

The news from Pennsylvania spread quickly over social networks in Colorado.

If the Colorado Oil and Gas Association cannot be persuaded to drop the lawsuits that seek to undo the results of fair elections, then we hope and expect Colorado courts to similarly recognize the rights of voters and respect the principle of local control,” said Our Broomfield, an anti-fracking group that passed a ban in that city in November.

“In Colorado, cities and towns should have the right to use zoning laws to protect the public from the toxic industrial process of drilling and fracking,” said Clean Water Action spokesman Gary Wockner. “We are optimistic that Colorado will follow Pennsylvania in allowing local control for local governments.”

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extraction where millions of gallons of water are mixed with chemicals and sand and blasted through drill holes deep into the earth to break up rock formations and loosen gas. Although the oil and gas industry has conducted fracking operations for 60 years, new horizontal methods have greatly increased the effectiveness of the process and have spurred a major drilling boom gas fields around the country.

Thousands of wells now dot the Wattenberg field in north-eastern Colorado. Bloomberg News reports oil-and-gas production has hit half-century record highs in Colorado. Trucks move equipment and frack fluid across great agricultural stretches north of Denver day and night but also increasingly through the region’s cities, towns and subdivisions, setting up drill pads in backyards and next to schools and apartment complexes. Site drilling goes on for months at a time, nonstop, filling neighborhoods with lights and noise twenty four hours a day. Residents have grown increasingly concerned over possible threats posed to health, safety and the environment and they have watched the value of their homes drop.

In Colorado, bans on fracking have so far passed in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins and Lafayette in addition to the first ban passed in Longmont. The Colorado initiatives join a movement across the U.S., where more than 380 local bans have passed according to Food and Water Watch. Governor John Hickenlooper has opposed the bans. He says he’s sympathetic to residents but that it is the state’s responsibility to regulate the oil and gas industry, which he believes would be hobbled if drillers had to navigate a patchwork of varied local rules and regulations.

The ruling in Pennsylvania comes as the Ohio Supreme Court weighs a similar case. Two courts in New York have decided in favor of local regulations on drilling and the New York Supreme Court may soon take up the question.