Opinion

Encrypted Police Radio

American police departments have used two-way radios for 85
years to great advantage, and with no adverse effects. But recently the Times-Call
reported that without prior public notification, our Longmont Police Department
has begun encrypting previously open radio communications between dispatch and
officers so that the public cannot hear a single word. They call it a
“pilot program” but it has no end date. I find this entire action
extremely disturbing.

Longmont Police notice about encryption of dispatch radio.

The argument is that sometimes sensitive information is
broadcast that has the potential to compromise victim privacy and perhaps,
officer safety. The police spokesman insists that this move will not affect transparency,
but how could it not? No secondary distribution or publication of
police-filtered accounts could possibly replace the real-time radio narrative
of police and citizen interactions in our community. Other local municipalities
are also encrypting communications, but that is no reason for Longmont to get
on some imaginary bandwagon. There is a need to balance privacy against the
public’s right to know, but this is going too far.

What is the records retention policy for all these hours,
days and weeks of regular communications? Will every second of every police
communication be recorded and backed up forever in case it’s needed? We need to
know that. Attorneys will definitely need to know to prepare for defense or
prosecution of future cases.

What’s especially difficult to understand is that it was reported
that this was not done in response to a specific issue or complaint from any
quarter, just some vague “buildup of concerns.” Clearly this is a
solution in search of a problem. I normally don’t buy into slippery slope arguments,
but will make an exception this time, and here’s one reason why.

About a month ago, it was reported that the Long Beach,
California police department has adopted the use of a cell phone messaging app called
TigerText that automatically and permanently deletes messages a short time
after they are read. There is no possibility of data recall, and these
conversations cannot be “discovered” in subsequent legal actions
involving the police, especially in complaint proceedings against the department.

“I find it odd that we have a communication system that
circumvents everything that we are supposed to be doing,” one officer said.
How novel, an automatic electronic cover-up system that obliterates
transparency when it’s needed the most.

Long
Beach PD quickly suspended TigerText after civil liberties advocates and media
outlets raised concerns that the app could be used to hide evidence useful to
the other side in criminal and civil court cases. The city said the decision to
halt the use of TigerText came “pending further review of whether the use is
consistent with the city’s record retention policy and administrative
regulations for the use of mobile devices.”

Do we know if the Longmont PD is also using the TigerText or
Signal apps in their text communications? Please ask, Times-Call.

So I fail to see much difference between encrypted radio
communications and self-deleting texts. They all lead to the same bad end, a
severe compromise of the public’s right to know what their taxpayer funded police
are doing, and how they are doing it.

The City Council should request and receive regular detailed information about this pilot-program-with-no-end, and be part of the implementation decision going forward because it doesn’t sound like they are now. And I hope they decide that this pilot program should be ejected without a parachute.

Charlie Fellenbaum

The writer is a former news reporter and photographer, and a Longmont resident for 12 years.

Vote for the Candidate That Reflects Your Values

City Council races are non-partisan.  Josh Goldberg and Tim Waters are registered Democrats. Russ Lyman is a registered Libertarian.  Of the three candidates for Ward 1, the only one who repeatedly  references partisan politics is Josh. In their Letters to the Editor, his supporters do also.  At the Longmont Democrats candidate forum in early January, Josh said “I’m a Democrat. I wake up a Democrat and go to bed a Democrat. “ Yet at the League of Women Voters and Sustainability forums this week, Josh opened with, “I am not tied to a political party.”  Tim has never made any reference to party affiliation. Russ did not attend either forum.

Much more important than party affiliation are integrity, experience, core values, and vision.  A registered Democrat, I volunteered for Roger Lange, a life-long republican, last fall, because he impressed me in these areas.  I support Tim Waters for the same reason.  This race appears to be between Tim and Josh. Distinctions between these two relative to their expressed values and vision include the following:

~Affordable Housing: Tim supports reinstating Longmont’s Inclusionary Housing Clause (requiring Developers to provide at least 10% affordable housing or pay cash in lieu).  Josh does not.

~Wildlife:  Tim supports fiercely defending our 150-foot riparian setback from encroaching and damaging development along our St. Vrain Greenway.  Josh does not.  Indeed, his employer, Lefthand Brewery has purchased property adjacent to their facility and has been actively lobbying city council and boards with their plans to build an amphitheater well within the 150-foot setback.

~Growth: Tim supports reinstating Quality of Life Benchmarks (including traffic) and advancing green building codes/standards for smart and sustainable growth.  Josh’s references to managing growth have been very vague at best.

~Campaign Contributions: Tim’s campaign has been funded completely by people.  The only organization that has contributed is the Sierra Club ,who has endorsed him. Developers, Lenders, Realtors, Investment Companies and a Law Firm have largely funded Josh’s campaign.  Business can contribute up to $610 compared to the $240 limit on individual contributions.

A link to videos of these forums is posted on Tim’s website timwatersforward1.com. Please educate yourself, use your voice and vote.  It matters.

Mob Rule at The Denver Post

The Denver Post’s civility policy for its online forums is anything but civil. It is an online version of mob rule, where opinions are weighed not for accuracy or merit but by how well they conform to the demands of the Right Wing Thought Police.

On December 13, the Denver Post ran a story about the surprising Democratic victory over Republican pedophile Roy Moore in Alabama. The Post story quoted Cory Gardner’s statement, “I hope Senator-elect Doug Jones will do the right thing and truly represent Alabama by choosing to vote with the Senate Republican Majority.”

I replied to this story in the Comments section following the article. This is what I wrote:

Gardner believes that Alabama is “really” a Republican state and that the majority of Alabamans are Republicans; therefore, the new Senator should behave like a Republican. By that logic, Trump should behave like a Democrat, since he lost the election by 3 million votes. 3 Million votes would seem to say that America is actually a Democratic nation. The Senate should also “do the right thing” and pass Democratic policies. There were 39 million people who voted for Republican members of Congress, compared to 45 million who voted for Democrats. If Gardner is so concerned about “doing the right thing”, then he should support legislation that the majority of America wants, like gun control, healthcare, climate protection, Net neutrality, and other issues where Republicans are out of step with America. Gardner and the Republicans have never cared about “doing the right thing.” They don’t even care about representing voters. They only care about their donors and their own careers.

The Denver Post uses a system that asks readers whether a post is “Civil.” There doesn’t seem to be any computer algorithm involved in this judgement. It is a simple vote of Post readers who happen to be online at the time.

My comment “was rated below the civility threshold for publication” and was deleted. Apparently, the people who were online at the time were Republicans.

I am not angry that my comment was deleted. I have been deleted or blocked from forums before. My own Congressman, Ken Buck, blocked me from his Facebook page and deleted my comments shortly after he came into office. My comments magically reappeared after an article I had written about his censorship appeared on HuffingtonPost.

I am concerned because we have reached the point where any disagreement, any challenge, can now be dismissed as “Uncivil” regardless of how polite the wording. I agree that civil discourse is important. But “civility” has been redefined as “people who agree with me.” Anyone who dares to disagree is ridiculed and dismissed. Trump’s attacks on the media have metastasized like an authoritarian cancer.

Facts are not always polite. Truth doesn’t care about your politics or your feelings. The fact is that America is now ruled by a political party that is out of step with what the majority of Americans think about most major issues. Republicans are in power – and our freedoms are at risk –  because of gerrymandering and voter suppression, not because the majority of Americans agree with Alt-Right ideology. Right wing propaganda, foreign and domestic, fueled the Trump campaign. The Denver Post is adding to this problem when it blocks comments that use facts to make a strong argument.

I am obviously free to post comments on left-learning, Progressive forums. But nothing will change if Progressives and Conservatives are only allowed to speak in their respective safe places. If we want discourse, we must be willing to listen to those who disagree.

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.

Longmont Council Needs Prodding to Adopt Drop Zone Fees

When will the next one land on Airport Road?

For several months, the Longmont city council has been considering a signficant increase drop zone fees, which would be based on the drop zone square footage of 338,000 sf (recommended by the USPA.) The fees would go from the current $7,800 to $70,000 per year.

Longmont airport advisory board Aug agenda and June minutes – search for keyword $70,000

For many years, Mile-Hi Skydiving has been getting a free ride, while the airport enterprise fund can barely meet operating expenses. They were paying zero dollars for the 40-acre drop zone area until we made council aware of the oversight. Then they began paying the annual permit fee of $7,500 codified in the city ordinance – still a paltry sum compared to the damage they are causing. Worse yet, in 2016 Longmont tax dollars – to the tune of $40,000 – were siphoned from the General Fund to pay for airport expenses. Your tax dollars were misdirected and taken away from other worthwhile public projects and amenities.

The drop zone fee proposal has languished since the AAB began reviewing it, and has not moved forward for at least 3 months now.

At least one council member has suggested that it would be very helpful for Longmont residents to speak at their meeting (PITBH) and urge them to proceed with the fees, without further input from the AAB. Your opportunity is tonight, Tuesday 8/22 at the Longmont city council meeting, 7 pm – I hope you will be there and also send an email to council. We must have Longmont residents driving this issue – I cannot do it for you but will provide full support.

Longmont city council email address

June 20, 2017 email: Kimberly: Attached is the information you requested regarding the airport. The answer to question 4 below is as follows: In 2016 the General Fund funded $40,000 for “Development Funds for Airport Utilities and Drainage Master Plan”.

Valeria Skitt
City Clerk

Many thanks,
Kimberly Gibbs
Founder, Citizens For Quiet Skies, Boulder County, Colorado

Stop by our table at the Longmont Farmers Market – Sept 2nd and Oct 7th

Trump’s Minions

This is the narrative that Trump’s minions have adopted. Whenever you bring up Trump/Russia collusion, they always refer to this: “Your side lost. Russia is just an excuse for your butthurt.”

My retort to the Trump faithful: If it was really just about Dems looking for an excuse for their loss, then…

  • Why did the Director of the FBI, Jim Comey, a REPUBLICAN up until a few months ago, confirm it?
  • Why did the Director of the CIA last year, John Brennan, an Independent, NOT A DEMOCRAT, confirm it?
  • Why did your own CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, a REPUBLICAN, confirm it?
  • Why did your own Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coates, a REPUBLICAN, confirm it?
  • Why did the Director of the NSA, Mike Rogers, an Independent, NOT A DEMOCRAT, confirm it?
  • Why did several of the above Directors either imply or confirm that Trump asked them to scuttle the investigation?
  • Why did Trump fire Director Comey after Comey declined to drop the investigation?
  • Why did Trump admit that the Russia investigation was what motivated him to fire Comey?
  • Why did none of the remaining fourteen intelligence agencies dispute the CIA, FBI, NSA analysis?
  • Why did Trump threaten to fire his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, a STAUNCH REPUBLICAN, for recusing himself from the investigation?
  • Why did the REPUBLICAN controlled U.S. House of Representatives vote 419 to 3 to sanction Russia for hacking our election?
  • Why did the REPUBLICAN controlled U.S. Senate vote 98 to 2 to sanction Russia for hacking our election?

That’s some “Democratic excuse” they pulled off!

Surprise! Ken Buck Shows Up for Work!

Longmont Area Democrats had their “with or without Ken Buck town hall meeting” and guess who showed up? The man himself. Think activism doesn’t have any effect – there it is. Buck started out on the defensive and got more shrill as the meeting wore on. He hacked his way through a series of questions, tossing out rhetoric, GOP talking points and some good ole fashioned bullshit – which the crowd called him out on. It got tense a few times and I think the organizers wished they had a whip and chair – but the Dems calmed down and Ken didn’t run away (as GOP candidates are wont to do when faced with any substantive resistance). It was a great meeting – the Dems were fired up and Buck scurried away with his pants still smoking, staff hustling to keep up. Thanks to Shari Malloy who asked me to shoot this meeting – and a special thanks to everyone that came and spoke!

Photos at Flickr.

My friend Kate Beier asking Ken Buck a question:

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.

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.

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.

I Think They’ve Peaked…

Eat shit!

Sometimes you can only say it so nicely.

Well, once again the cowards are getting their asses handed to them.

I watch the right wing online and one particular site spewed the most ridiculous lies and distortions for months, hammering away at the recall backers. The anti-union rhetoric was disgusting, especially in the state that hosted the Ludlow Massacre. Feh. The “thugs” in CO have already clearly identified themselves.

Here’s what Westword said about them:

Political Blog Colorado Peak Politics is Denver’s Best Political Blog.

Because of the secret-secret nature of this blog, it’s not entirely clear where it’s based.

Golly.

Why are right wingers in Colorado such scaredy-cats? Too afraid to put their name on their work? Or just unwilling to admit who’s pulling their strings? It’s very obvious that there’s fundy money and oil money at work.

Also, to those who whine about FRL censoring ‘opposing views.’ Bullshit. I’ve posted comments that were CIVIL. The rules are simple. The people bitching are just louts that want to make FRL a cesspool like the Times-Call’s virtually-unmoderated comments. When the hero behind Not So Bonita fesses up, then, maybe they can post comments here. Till then, to hades with them.

As for this wingnut echo-chamber, I don’t see ANYWHERE to comment. What courage.
Update, LOL, they’ve turned on comments apparently. Not a lot of folks agreeing with them.

Obviously they’re not interested in what anyone has to say.

And it seems to run both ways, based on the election results.

Big Kisses kids.