Seen Elsewhere

Portrait of a Traitor

by James Dunlap

Donald John Trump – Soon to be tried for treason

Ok, so I’ve actually sat down and read the entire 29 page Mueller indictment against the 12 Russian intelligence officers, and it is totally insane. I literally can’t believe the scope of this thing. I’m making this status public (i.e., shareable), because people need to know about this shit. There is no way you can read the actual indictment and not conclude that 1) there WAS a RUSSIAN conspiracy, 2) that the scope of that conspiracy was GARGANTUAN, 3) that it was organized BY THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT [i.e., there’s no way Putin didn’t know about this], 4) That people connected to the Trump campaign [and, shockingly, other U.S. Gov’t officials] WERE INVOLVED, and 5) this is just the beginning. If Mueller has already uncovered this amount of information with such specificity regarding the goings-on in far-away Russia, there’s NO WAY some serious shit isn’t going to hit the fan going forward right here in the U.S.

So, without further ado, here are the highlights:

Article 1 of the indictment states that the Russian government actively set up multiple intelligence units (known as the GRU) with the sole aim of interfering with the 2016 election. Two of these units, 26165, and 74455, were specifically tasked with acquiring and releasing stolen documents via hacking.

Article 2 specifically calls this a “conspiracy” and states that the 12 indicted Russians had contacts with “persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury.”

Article 3: The aforementioned Russian intelligence units deliberately targeted the Clinton campaign.

Article 4: They deliberately targeted the DNC as a whole.

Article 6: In June of 2016, they released TENS OF THOUSANDS of hacked documents using fictitious online personas.

Article 10: One of the intelligence officers, Boris Antonov, oversaw a department within 26165 tasked with hacking the U.S. military, governmental (i.e., political) and non-governmental organizations. [i.e., they were spying on every level of our gov’t].

Articles 12-18: The Russian hackers often used various online aliases, both male and female, such as (but not limited to) “Kate Milton,” “James McMorgans,” and “Karen Millen.” Sergey Morgachev, another Russian hacker, was a Lt. Colonel in the Russian military. He created the hacking malware used by dept. 26165, known as “X-Agent.” Another hacker named in the indictment, Nikolay Kozachek, was a Lt. Captain in the Russian military. Artem Malyshev (also named in the indictment) was a Second Lieutenant in the Russian military. Aleksandr Osadchuk (also named in the indictment) is a Colonel in the Russian Military. He oversaw the creation and dissemination of anti-Clinton material online.

Article 19: Russian Military Officer Aleksey Potemkin, assigned to 74455, supervised the creation of fake social media accounts used (among other things) in the release of DNC documents.

Article 21: Over 300 individuals affiliated with the DNC were SUCCESSFULLY targeted. (Article 21 is lengthy, and includes a detailed, play-by-play account of how 26165 and 74455 achieved their aims. Spoiler alert: It’s crazy).

Article 24, subsection B: The Russian’s hacking of the DNC was so advanced that they were able to monitor individual computers in real time. Subsection C states that their malware sent actual screenshots of DNC computer activity to a server in Arizona that the Russians had access to. They were also able to capture keystrokes entered by DCCC employees.

Article 24, subsection D: They monitored individual DNC / DCCC employees for hours on end, and obtained information about DNC fundraising plans and even banking information (as well as other personal information).

Article 26 subsection A: By June 2016 the Russians had complete access to 33 DNC computers, totally and completely.

Article 27: The GRU gained access to information regarding DNC opposition research, field operation plans, and the Benghazi operation.

Article 28, subsection B: Aside from the server in Arizona, the GRU also stored data to a server in Illinois, to which they filtered large gigabytes of stolen information via a program they developed known as “X-Tunnel.”

Article 32: The DNC became aware of Russian attempts to hack their servers and hired a security firm to identify the extent of the intrusions. The security firm (identified in the indictment only as “company 1”) also put in place measures to halt GRU access to DNC computers, but, despite this, the GRU was so efficient that they continued to maintain access via “X-Agent” well through October of 2016.

Article 33: The GRU immediately became aware of “company 1’s” (referring here to the security firm that the DNC hired) efforts, and took countermeasures in response. This included investigating / hacking “company 1” itself, and later, apparently as a retaliatory measure against the DNC, setting up a wesbsite that redirected from a DNC online political donations website, to another website set up by the GRU (in other words, the GRU took funds from DNC donors, using the pretext of a false DNC donations website).

Articles 35-36: The GRU set up another website, the sole purpose of which was to release stolen DNC documents. They created fake social media accounts that falsely attributed this website’s creation to a group of “American hacktivists.” It received over 1 million hits.

Article 37: The GRU has also released stolen documents dating back to 2015 (i.e., they’ve been up to this for quite a while).

Article 40: The notion of a “lone Romanian hacker” being responsible for the DNC leaks was a fiction deliberately created by the GRU and disseminated via fake social media accounts.

Article 42: Using a popular blogging site, the GRU set up a blog that used the most “searched for” keywords by conspiracy theorists, (e.g., “Illuminati,” “Worldwide,” “Conspiracy,” et. al.), -and used this website to further disseminate the “lone Romanian hacker” conspiracy theory. (Article 46 of the indictment further states that later entries on this blog site posted articles positing that the released, stolen documents had “nothing to do with Russia.”)

Article 43, Subsection A: An individual the indictment identifies only as “a known member of congress” contacted an online GRU dummy persona, (“Guccifer 2.0”) and requested stolen documents related to their political opponent, and the GRU / “Guccifer” responded by giving said member of congress access to the stolen data they were requesting.

Article 43, Subsection B: The GRU released stolen documents to what the indictment identifies as “a lobbyist and online source of political news.”

Subsection C: “Guccifer” / The GRU sent stolen documents pertaining to the “Black Lives Matter” movement to a reporter (unidentified in the indictment), to which the reporter not only responded, but offered to write an article using said information.

Article 44: The GRU, posing as “Guccifer 2.0” wrote to a person who was in regular contact with SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN. (The indictment includes direct quotes of their online conversation, and this is CLEARLY referring to Roger Stone).

Article 45, subsection B: The GRU, using an alias, contacted a U.S. reporter (unnamed in the indictment) and ultimately gave them access to stolen DNC data.

Articles 47-49: Here the indictment refers to an organization, identified only as “Organization 1,” [I’m thinking, Wikileaks] -which actually reached out to the GRU aliases seeking the stolen emails / data. “Organization 1” is directly quoted by the indictment as having communicated to “Guccifer,” that they should “send [Organization 1] any new material [i.e., stolen data] here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.” Organization 1 was given, and later released, said data, approximately 3 days before the Democratic National Convention. In total, between October and November of 2016, over 50,000 stolen documents were released.

Articles 50-79 : Lists the counts against the 11 Russian Military Personnel, which include charges of 1) Conspiracy to Commit Offenses Against The United States, 2) Aggravated Identity Theft, 3) Conspiracy to Launder Money [according to the indictment, over 95,000 USD$ was laundered], i.e. using cryptocurrency, that was then use to register domain names, set up websites, create server infrastructure, et. al.,3) The Use of Transferred Money To Commit Crimes Against The United States, 4) General Unlawful Conspiracy [It should be noted that many of these counts have sub-crimes attached to them, such as unlawful hacking, etc.].

So, there it is folks. This WAS A RUSSIAN CONSPIRACY, massive in scope, directly linked to the Trump campaign, the sole aim of which was to subvert Democracy. There is no way around it.

Here’s Mueller’s evidence against Paul Manafort.

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!

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.

Unity in the Community 2017

From the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce:

Unity in the Community is a Chamber premier event that welcomes business, non-profit and political leaders from the region and the state. Unity is open to the public at no charge and provides a unique opportunity to network with a vast number of representatives from the business, political and non-profit sectors.

Date and Time: Feb, 23 2017   5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
RSVP Deadline: Feb, 22 2017 at 05:00 pm (Please call 303-776-5295 if past deadline)
Location: Plaza Convention Center, 1850 Industrial Circle, Longmont, CO 80501 (Map)
Cost: Chamber Member:  $ 0
Non-Member:  $ 0
Seats: Limited Seats Remaining


Cory Gardner – photo by MDWray

I’ve been informed that Cory Gardner might very well be there.

If you’ve been trying to see him or ask him a question, this might be just the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Please be sure to attend and take LOTS of photos and videos – FRL is happy to publish your best. Always fun to see Cory’s face when he’s being asked a hard question.

Enjoy!

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.

Better to be Thought Miserable Excuses for Human Beings than to be Aaron and Melissa Klein

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD

(apologies to Keith Olbermann)

Aaron and Melissa Klein

Last month, judgment was finalized against Aaron and Melissa Klein for refusing to sell a same-sex couple a wedding cake out of the Oregon bakery they co-owned called Sweet Cakes by Melissa. In addition to $135,000 fine for violating the state’s nondiscrimination law, the Kleins were ordered to cease and desist from in any way communicating to the public an intention to discriminate. This, they claimed, was a violation of their free speech, but this week, they undermined their own self-victimizing argument. On September 8th, residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas will consider Ordinance 5781, which creates LGBT nondiscrimination protections. While a local group is advocating for the protections, religious conservatives with national support are working to quash the ordinance, and Tuesday night, they brought in the Kleins to speak at their rally. The rally attracted press attention, not only because of the hundreds who turned out, but because several advocates of Ordinance 5781 were forced to leave the event by a police escort. Aaron and Melissa Klein were among those interviewed by KNWA…. “You guys are facing the same issues we face in the state of Oregon and that is a law that really seemingly is needless,” Aaron explained. “It leaves the door wide open to force people to adhere to something they don’t want to adhere to.”…. Melissa added, “We just feel that we also should have the right to — you know, not necessarily refuse a person, but refuse an event.”

pol-rightSomewhere along the line, it seems some Christians decided that following their Lord and Savior’s teachings about love, tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion just didn’t make sense. Perhaps they felt Jesus couldn’t grasp that homosexuality is an abomination and that those living an LGBT lifestyle are sinners destined for an eternity in the fiery pits of Hell. Perhaps He neglected to adequately address the truth that it’s supposed to be “Adam and Eve,” not “Adam and Steve.” Or perhaps Jesus just didn’t consider that there would be a large number of judgmental, self-righteous, self-victimizing zealots who believe they possess the absolute right to demand the world live by their narrow, fear-based morality.

Aaron and Melissa Klein are typical of those who’ve turned hatred and homophobia into a career- despite the teachings of the Jesus Christ they claim to revere. They’ve managed to convince themselves that their prejudice and hatred of homosexuality is a core tenet of their Christian faith…when in fact it’s nothing of the sort. They’re free to hate and judge whomever they may choose, but they don’t have the right to demand that ALL Americans hew to their morality…nor do they have the right to portray themselves as victims.

That they’re predicated their hatred and homophobia on their (bastardized and intellectually dishonest) faith isn’t surprising, if only because they representative of a vocal and ugly minority of Christians for whom hatred is the new Christian charity.

By continuing to speak out, the Kleins are proving that LGBT nondiscrimination protections are actually not a violation of free speech or religious liberty. They simply protect LGBT people from discrimination.

Despite what the Kleins believe, there’s no right- 1st Amendment or otherwise- to discriminate against someone because you happen to find their lifestyle and sexuality to be “icky.” There’s no right to treat another human being as “less than” because how and whom they choose to love clashes with your conviction as to what relationships are “right” or “appropriate.”

I’d respect the Kleins more if they at least had the courage and intellectual honesty to own their hatred and homophobia. Instead, they cower behind their “faith,” and portray themselves as the victims in this scenario. It’s as if the lesbian couple they refused to serve didn’t even exist. The Kleins have succeeded in martyring themselves in the sense that they’ve become minor celebrities among the American Taliban and have raked in something like a quarter-million dollars, more than enough to pay their fine without feeling any pain.

The Kleins continue to proclaim their victimhood, that their 1st Amendment rights and religious freedom is being proscribed by those who hate the baby Jesus. The fact that they’ve suffered no backlash from speaking out demonstrates their argument to be a sham, proof that their cherry-picked cafeteria Christianity is about their convenience and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If nothing else, Aaron and Melissa Klein illustrate why I reject modern Christianity. They’ve taken a perfectly good concept and turned it into a means for justifying their hatred and homophobia.

EXACTLY What Jesus Would Do, eh??

If you believe in karma as I do, you believe that the Kleins will at some point be called to account for their hypocrisy and self-superiority. When it comes to life, you get out what you put in…and the Klein’s karmic bank account has long been overdrawn. Their time will come.

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

My Message to Twin Peaks Charter School

This was first published at outboulder.org.

Evan 1

“My name is Evan Young. I was the valedictorian of Twin Peaks High School’s 2015 graduating class, but was not allowed to deliver my prepared speech at the graduation ceremony on May 16th.

The school’s administration maintains that I was prevented from speaking “to preserve and protect the mission of the school.” However, my school’s mission is one of promoting tolerance and respect, and it is these values I sought to promote in my graduation speech. The central message of my speech was that you must learn to respect people even if you disagree with them, a lesson which I learned during my four years as a student at Twin Peaks High School, and I thought briefly disclosing my sexual orientation in my speech would be the perfect catalyst for this discussion.

I understand such a revelation might be difficult for some people, but my main point was precisely that even if they don’t agree with me we can respect each other’s opinions. My friends and I disagreed about many things over the years, but we learned to overlook our differences and respect one another. In my speech, I merely asked the audience to do the same to me.

Lastly, I’d like to make clear my reasons for bringing this to the press. I’m not angry or bitter, and my frustration at being prevented from speaking at my graduation has largely subsided.

I love my school, and I want nothing to happen to it save that which will improve it in the long run. Nor am I doing this for publicity, or to seem like a hero. I’m not a hero, and the overwhelming support I’ve received from friends, family, and even people who I’ve never met show that I had nothing to fear to begin with.

Rather, I’m bringing my story forward so that it may serve as an inspiration, not only to other LGBT students, but to any student who is in some way different. I want them to know they should not be ashamed of who they are. They can celebrate their uniqueness, no matter what people in authority tell them. They can achieve academic success, if they let nothing hold them back. They can become virtuous and compassionate; their differences don’t make them morally inferior. That’s what my school is all about.”

-Evan Young, Twin Peaks Charter School Valedictorian 2015

From Dr. Evil, with love

Recently The Sentinel’s editorial page repeated a charge that’s been formulated by the right-wing echo chamber: that the movement to oppose fracking is brought to you by “Russkies.” The more we see these desperate attempts to malign advocates (in this case, a Hail Mary pass that’s reminiscent of red baiting during the McCarthy era), the more we know: we’re winning.

The “journalistic investigations” referred to in Rick Wagner’s column linking the environmental movement to Russia have not come from journalists at all: the people behind the attack are the folks at a front group led by PR man for the oil and gas industry, Rick Berman — a man 60 Minutes has dubbed “Dr. Evil.” His dishonest attacks have targeted public interest groups from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to unions — and are bought and paid for by industry. He’s the man corporate executives call when things go horribly, horribly wrong for them in the court of public opinion.

And, for the oil and gas industry, that’s precisely what has happened. Despite paying more than $85 million to PR and advertising firms since 2012, and spending just shy of $12 million to influence the 2014 elections in Colorado, polls are not looking good for fracking. A recent Pew Poll, for instance, showed that 51 percent of the general public is opposed to increased fracking. The number leaps when you look at the scientists (66 percent) and biologists and medical scientists (73 percent) opposed to increased fracking. These numbers have the industry on high alert.

Coloradans are not fooled by these oil and gas industry scare tactics. Despite being outspent 30-to-1 by the oil and gas industry, five communities along the Front Range have voted to protect their health, safety and property from this dangerous, industrial practice. Gov. John Hickenlooper and the industry are desperately afraid of this bipartisan opposition to fracking and they have teamed up to undermine these public votes in the courts.

It’s also ironic that this line of attack is coming from Berman since he was secretly taped at a recent industry event in Colorado. The New York Times quoted Berman as saying, “You can either win ugly or lose pretty.” He also told the executives present, “Think of this as an endless war” (apparently touting his own services) “and you have to budget for it.” With the proliferation of front groups across Colorado promoting fracking — including the innocuously named Vital for Colorado, CRED, and Energy in Depth — it appears the industry is heeding his advice.

According to the Times, Berman told the executives that he could hide their role in funding his campaigns. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”

So “Dr. Evil” knows a little something about obscuring facts. And as happens with a specious argument not based on facts, somewhere along the way, it was claimed that Food & Water Watch has been given money by the Sea Change Foundation, the foundation that Berman’s organization linked to Russian interests — a charge repeated in Wagner’s column. Food & Water Watch has never been funded by Sea Change.

Please don’t look to the oil and gas industry and their right-wing echo chamber to stay up on the facts, because on the facts, they lose on every count. Fracking is bad for the environment, communities and public health, and should be banned.

Sam Schabacker is the Western Region director for Food & Water Watch and is based in Denver. He is a native of Boulder.

Don’t take the bait

By Joel Dyer at The Boulder Weekly

Longmont Council member Bonnie Finley - with a surprising motion that should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention.

Longmont Council member Bonnie Finley – with a surprising motion that should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention.

It was a nearly packed house Tuesday, Aug. 26, in the Longmont City Council chambers as citizens who believe that local communities should have the final say over fracking in their neighborhoods turned up in good numbers.

The Council was voting on whether the city should continue its support of the fracking ban that Longmont voters placed into their city charter via the ballot box in 2012.

You may recall that Tuesday’s vote was necessitated by Boulder County District Court Judge D.D. Mallard’s ruling in July that found Longmont didn’t have the authority to ban hydraulic fracturing within its city limits because the state was in charge of regulating the practice and a precedent had been set in 1992 when Greeley tried to ban drilling within its city limits only to lose that right in court after being sued.

Public comment went as expected with one speaker after another imploring council to appeal Mallard’s decision. Many reminded the seven-member council that 60 percent of Longmont voters supported the fracking ban and that those citizens expect council to fight for their ban as long and as far as possible. In some instances that reminder sounded like a plea and in others a threat.

And then something a bit unusual happened. After virtually no discussion, pro-oil and gas industry Councilwoman Bonnie Finley, the same Bonnie Finley who has fought for years now to allow the industry to drill and frack Longmont at will, opened her mouth and said she wanted to make a motion that was going to surprise people.

“There’s a need for clarity on the issue,” she said. “That’s why I am supporting this [appeal], and that’s why I believe we should go all the way.”

And then she said one more thing.

“And I also believe we should invite other communities with similar interests to join our case.”

The crowd went wild. The other members of council, both those who were recently voted in by the antifracking crowd and those who are more industry-friendly, quickly echoed Finley’s sentiments. They all agreed with great enthusiasm that all the other communities along with Boulder County that have fracking bans or moratoriums should hitch their antifracking wagons to Longmont’s appeal.

Translation: Look at this really great giant horse Finley is offering to us as a gift. Let’s take it inside the fort, celebrate our victory and get a good night’s sleep.

For those unfamiliar with Longmont City Council, for more than a decade Finley has been employed by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry a.k.a. the Colorado Chamber of Commerce. Her job at the state level is government affairs and membership retention. So who are some of the members that she is working to retain? How about trade groups like the Colorado Petroleum Association, Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and the American Chemical Industry, all groups whose profits are increased by way of drilling and fracking. COGA is even one of the organizations who is suing Longmont over its ban.

The fact that Finley has not recused herself from votes on issues like fracking — an issue wherein her employer has a stated position and is actively trying to sway public opinion and lobbying to create a more oil-andgas -friendly regulatory environment at the state and local level — is an appalling abuse of Longmont’s democratic process. It’s like giving the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry a proxy vote at the center of one of the most important issues in Colorado history. It is also an incredible oversight by her council peers that they have not demanded that she recuse herself in light of this clear and substantial conflict of interest.

So why the sudden change of heart by Finley at Tuesday’s council meeting? First, I think that everyone on council knew that the city was going to appeal, so one dissenting vote wouldn’t have mattered.

Second Finley’s or her boss’s or COGA’s, however you want to interpret who controls this council seat, suggestion that all the communities with bans and moratoriums join Longmont’s appeal is pretty shrewd. After all, even the anti-frackers applauded the suggestion. But it may well be a Trojan horse of sorts.

The oil and gas industry is certain that it will eventually prevail in defeating the Longmont ban. They may yet be wrong, but truth be told, they think they will win sooner than later as the courts seem to be rushing through the fracking cases these days.

After the great Jared Polis debacle left the industry with a two-year drilling window before the next attempt can be made by citizens to create a constitutional amendment that can protect communities from the dangers of drilling and fracking, getting the rigs going in Boulder County potentially has a 24-month timeline.

So getting Lafayette, Boulder, Broomfield and Boulder County all into one court case wherein their concerns and legal arguments could all be dismissed at the same time would really help the industry exploit this small window of opportunity to drill up Boulder County . If each of the towns and the county fight their lawsuits and presumed-to eventually-be-filed lawsuits individually, it will no doubt drag things out much longer, regardless of the final outcomes, quite likely well past the Polis/industry created twoyear drilling window.

So thanks for your motion Bonnie Finley and thanks for your vote to appeal. But as for your invitation to get all the governmental entities to join Longmont’s appeal, I think that the elected officials getting your invitation will see it for what it is, an attempt to get the rigs drilling more quickly in Boulder County. Thanks but no thanks.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com