Category: colorado politics

Just because we can . . . does it mean we should?

The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau

Ever heard of vivisection?  It comes from Latin words meaning “alive” and “cutting.”  It’s the practice, in other words, of cutting living creatures.  Sounds pretty creepy.  And for that reason, the term’s largely fallen out of use.

But the word can also refer to what many of us have experienced as the beneficial effects of surgery.  What, after all, is surgery except “cutting” on “living” creatures?

But when H.G. Wells uses the term in his unsettling, 1896 science fiction novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, vivisection takes on a much more sinister meaning.   At it’s most basic level, the story describes Moreau using vivisection in a series of cruel experiments to “uplift” animals to something approaching a “human” state.  In other words, changing a creature into something it wasn’t meant to be, something unnatural.

Now, Before Our Very Eyes . . .

Vivisection is back in the news.  And, for our purposes, high school sports.  Articles and reports abound (here and here) about males “deciding” they’re females.  And then going out and cleaning up in sporting competitions against real females.

It’s true, for a number of reasons, most of these male to female “reassignments” don’t involve surgery.  First, surgery’s expensive (up to $50,000 and not typically covered by insurance).  It also looks pretty gruesome-but, to be fair, to an untrained eye like mine, most surgeries probably look about the same.  Nonetheless, in 2016 there were about 1,500 male to female surgeries.

Chemical reassignment via hormones is probably more common-but the changes are less comprehensive, limited to things like muscle mass and facial hair.

The Sports Problem.

750x450 girls soccer silhouette

My problem with all this “gender reassignment,” at least in regards to high school sports, is that I don’t want my granddaughters to be forced to compete against what are really someone’s grandsons.  Like this state champion track star who if, with “her” square jaw and mustache, is a “girl,” then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

If my granddaughters take after their parents, they are likely to enjoy sports.  But to throw them in against boys, who are naturally bigger and stronger, in sports like soccer, lacrosse, and track isn’t just unfair.  It’s dangerous.

And it becomes outrageous when kids, whose birth certificate identifies them as a “male” can simply, on their own say so, declare themselves “females.”  To what end?  So they  can compete on a playing field that’s not just tilted?  But pitching wildly.  And then perpetuate the fraud by scooping up college scholarships which, under Title IX, are intended to be awarded to women?  (Don’t get me wrong-I’m not a big fan of Title IX. It’s resulted in the elimination of some 400 college sports programs that mainly attracted men.  That is, real men.)

Which makes me wonder:  how’s the #metoo movement going to handle this ploy to make women go to the back of the bus?

The Conceit Of The Far Left.  And Right.

The 20th century was the bloodiest in history.  Millions died at the hands of governments in the grip of savage ideologies which were determined to remake human nature in their own, brutal image.  The Nazi’s Übermensch.  The Soviet’s New Man.  The penalty for failing to fit the mold?  Death.  On a mass scale.  Thankfully, though the cost in blood and treasure was high, those cruel idols were overthrown.

However, now, well on into the 21st century, it seems the lesson of the impossibility and undesirability of fundamentally reshaping human nature has yet to be learned.  Except, this time, rather than concentration camps, gas chambers, and the Two Minutes’ Hate, individuals are remaking themselves. With vivisection.  Or chemicals.  Or the bare assertion that they are what they aren’t.

But It Doesn’t Stop There.

Did you see this story?  If you accept it, North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-Un, has spent billions attempting to clone an army of “super soldiers who will obey his every command.”  The article goes on to say that the hermit nation has a long history of human cloning experimentation.  Kim is also trying to insure his own immortality by cloning himself.

And Kim isn’t alone in the pursuit of super soldiers.  It’s an arms race that many, much more “advanced” nations, including ours, are engaged in.

And you thought Dr. Moreau was crazy.

So, just because we can, does it mean we should?  And even if “we” decide we shouldn’t, how do we keep this genie in the bottle if the “we” doesn’t include us all?  Will my grandchildren be forced to compete against “super” kids not just for athletic prizes?  But also for places in college?  And the work force?

Or, God forbid, on the battlefield?

Join the army. Go to distant lands.

5280 Magazine cover

Making War Cool

Meet exotic people. And kill them.  Even for women!

5280 magazine is the cool magazine for Denverites. Which, if you believe our press clippings, is among the coolest cities in the nation.

The magazine’s usual beats are Colorado’s pricey ski resorts. The latest and greatest on Denver’s foodie scene.  All things culture.  The groovy health trends. The best Colorado workouts (and those are different from the best Iowa workouts how?).

But, because I tend to come down on the cranky, old curmudgeon side, I usually don’t pay much attention to the publication when I see it in the checkout line.

But the November cover picture made me take a second look.  An attractive woman, in full battle rattle, her hair pulled back in a severe bun, her helmet tucked under her arm.  The headline?  “On The Front Line:  Embedded With American Female Combat Soldiers In Afghanistan.”  And, even before I’d read the first line of the article, I picked up a copy.

Why we fight.  Who knows?

9/11.  Does anyone besides me have trouble remembering the third two numbers in that now talismanic combination of digits?  They’re 01.  Or, to put it in plain English:  September 11, 2001.  That’s nearly 20 years ago.

And still we fight on in Afghanistan.  The human toll is staggering.  Over 2,300 dead U.S. soldiers.  (And, as of a few of days ago, 3 more.)  More than 20,000 maimed and wounded.  Countless others dead by suicide as a result of the mental trauma of war.  Who knows how many families shattered by repeated deployments.

And dare I mention the toll on the Afghan people? While estimates vary in the fog of war, the number of killed or wounded Afghanis ranges in the hundreds of thousands.  And we wonder why so many Afghans have made common cause with the Taliban?

Making war cool

So now 5280 puts out a puff piece that makes this conflict look like the latest front in a noble struggle for equal rights for women.  Rather than a ruinous war that will, at some point, inevitably result in this country finally admitting that the conflict can’t be won.  And, like the Soviets once did, coming to our senses and leaving.

It’s astonishing that in this lengthy article there is only the briefest mention of what these women, who serve in an artillery unit, actually do:   [Her] “greater concern had less to do with gender and more to do with the actual job she was carrying out: She was killing people.”  This particular woman reconciled herself to this grim reality with the thought  that, “If I didn’t like the idea of killing people I shouldn’t have joined the Army-because that’s what the Army does.”

So, join the Army and grow to like killing people?

Bleeding Air Force blue

Picture of Mariah

Making War Uncool

While writing this post, I happened to meet a young woman named Mariah.  Twenty seven years old, her appearance reminded me of the woman on the cover of 5280: striking red hair pulled back in a severe bun.  But while she also shared the military background, the rest of her story is anything but cool.

A self described “Air Force brat,” her dad put in 30 years in the service.  While she was still an infant, the family was transferred to Buckley airbase in Aurora, where she grew up.

Her dad was deployed repeatedly.  “Which,” according to Mariah, “was pretty negative; my mom had severe abandonment issues. However,” she continued, “it was a also a benefit because there was no abuse at home while dad was gone.”   Domestic violence, as is well known, is a risk of multiple deployments.  So is divorce; Mariah’s parents separated after 30 years of marriage.

To escape an intolerable home life, Mariah enlisted in the Air National Guard after high school; the Guard provided her with the financial resources to make the break.

But as her LinkedIn profile reveals, it’s been anything but a smooth flight.  While she’s earned an I.T. degree and become an articulate writer, she’s also flirted with suicide.  And had a run-in with the law.  Which resulted in a seven month jail sentence; something to do with sending an ugly email to a counselor that violated a restraining order.  Which, in turn, caused her to lose the V.A. benefits she’d been awarded as a result of the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) she says she suffered at her father’s hands.  An appeal’s pending, but with the V.A.’s enormous claims backlog, who knows how long it’ll be before her case is resolved?

Darkness, darkness, be my pillow

And now, with winter closing in, homelessness.  How she manages is hard to fathom.  Crashing on friends’ couches some nights.  Sleeping in her car others.

I’ve suggested several possible resources in the Christian community with which I’m familiar.  Also some in the secular world that I became acquainted with during my service in the legislature.  Do they have room for her?  Has she applied to get in?  I’m not sure.  At one point, she described the shelters with which she’s familiar as “sketchy.”  That’s easy to believe.

Go west, young woman. Go midwest

She expressed her determination to move to the midwest, where the cost of living is lower.  Given Denver’s fevered economy, it’s not difficult to imagine that a place like Des Moines would be cheaper.  But I had to ask: “Does it really make sense to go to an entirely strange city to start over?”  She had a ready answer: “I can’t take the chance of running into my dad. And,” she says, “the criminal justice system in that part of the country tends to be more lenient than it is here.”

So, just another chapter in an old American story?  The one about those who are sufficiently adventurous (or sufficiently desperate), to pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.

Or something more sinister?  A tale about yet another desperate attempt to escape the pity of war.

Gimme Shelter.

Sunset photo of Colorado State Capital buildingProject Sanctuary At The Winding River Ranch.

Rand Case.  Now there’s a name you don’t hear everyday.  And neither had I until I met Rand during my last door to door campaign for the Colorado House about four years ago.

Of course, after doing it thousands of times, I pretty much had my line of front porch patter down cold:  small business owner, Colorado native, all three kids graduates of Cherry Creek schools, a son that served eight years on submarines.  Something, almost invariably, made a connection.

In Rand’s case, it was the Navy and submarines:  he’s a graduate of the Naval Academy. And served on subs.  And, for good measure, he’s also a Colorado native: grew up in the profoundly land locked little tourist town of Grandby, just south of Rocky Mountain National Park and west of some of the most rugged peaks on the Continental Divide.

Not Just War Weary.  But Actually Doing Something About It.

But by then in my political life, when I met someone with a military connection on the campaign trail, I usually couldn’t refrain from saying something about my weariness of our endless wars. The broken bodies.  The broken minds.  The broken families.  And for what purpose?  To enrich defense contractors and to justify Congressmen’s boasts about bringing home that tainted defense “bacon.”

And that’s probably why Rand also told me about Project Sanctuary.   Run by and for veterans, it’s an organization that recognizes, as it says on the website, that “The whole family serves, and the best way to ‘support the troops’ is by supporting the entire family.”  Rand serves as board secretary.  Most of the other board members are vets as well.

True Grit.

But the real impetus for the organization came from registered nurse, Heather Ehle, who, in 2007, saw the need, set up a card table in front of a local grocery store, and began asking for money for 6 day family retreats.  The retreats focus on three aspects of the lives of returning vets:  assessing the need for help, reconnecting families at the 6 day retreats, and offering up to 24 months of ongoing support.  All services are free of charge.  In their effort to take soldiers from “combat ready to family ready,” they now offer programs all across the country.

My wife and I had our first in person exposure to Project Sanctuary at their annual fund raiser.  Heather, I’ll confess, spent a good deal of time in the spotlight that evening.  And the program planners seemingly lost track of the maxim that the “brain can absorb only so much as the rear end can endure.”  Heather, especially, was a bit too much for my wife.

But it was also clear that Heather was a hero to the many vets and their spouses in attendance that night.  Moreover, who but someone endowed with enormous self confidence and grit, could raise an organization from nothing to one that has now impacted 1,000+ families in just over 10 years?

KP.  Babysitting.  And PTSD For Kids!

So, I decided to volunteer for a retreat-the 149th since PS began.  But I started by dipping my toe in the shallow end at a nearby retreat at the Winding River Ranch, just outside Grand Lake, Colorado.

Initially, I thought I might be helping with cooking-something I’m pretty good at.  But fortunately, they had that covered.  Cooking three meals a day for 50 some people for 6 days is no mean feat.  So I did KP:  putting out food for the cafeteria style meals, washing dishes, sweeping floors after meals.  You know, the glamorous stuff.

And, while parents were in sessions where heavy topics like Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were discussed with trained counselors, I helped babysit the younger kids.  Sharon Harris, a licensed play therapist, did a great job coming up with diverting games that usually managed to sneak in a lesson about family team work or some similar moral.

It was heartbreaking to learn that there was a session for kids to help them cope with the PTSD that’s sunk its claws into their families.

When the lights went out at 9 pm, I slept the sleep of the righteous.  Despite a stuffy, far from luxurious room and a roommate I’d never laid eyes on before.

Husband Caregiver.

Two of the little kids at Winding River were beautiful, blond twins who rode in the back seat from Georgia with their parents who, after going through the program themselves, were now back as volunteers. Although you wouldn’t know it if you saw him on the street, the father’s among the walking wounded.

At breakfast one morning, I had the opportunity to speak with the wife-who described herself as a “husband caregiver.”

“How,” I asked, “is the care you get from your local Veterans Administration?  The VA hospital they recently built here has been a scandal.  About a $1 billion over budget and years behind schedule.  Has President Trump’s effort to introduce choice into the VA helped?”

“The choice program might be a good idea” she answered, “but it’s still snarled in red tape.  The GP we’re assigned to has about 7,000 patients.  There’s no was they can keep up with it.  And with that kind of workload, there’s a lot of turnover among doctors.  That’s why,” she concluded, “PS is so important to us.”

Walton’s Warriors.

Bonnie Walton was another PS staff member that I met.  When I started speaking with Bonnie, I had no idea of why she was on staff.  So I asked.

“Because my husband, Brian, and I went through the program. And it was great.  But, despite that,” she concluded, “he ended up committing suicide.”

Talk about a gut punch.  And Brian is only one of what the VA estimates could to be up to 20 service members per day who commit suicide.  But there is some hope; Brian is the only Project Sanctuary graduate who has taken his life.

And, to try to make sure that Brian is the last veteran that kills himself, the organization started Walton’s Warriors.  Although the program is multi-faceted, it’s built around “peer mentors”: vets who’ve wrestled with the same demons that have lead so many to despair and death.  Who then volunteer to be trained and ready to help others.

“Get Out Now!”

Colorado House of Representatives

When I served in the Colorado House, the Iraq and Afghan wars were still raging.  And the vet suicide issue was rapidly making its way to our attention.

In response, a bill was introduced that set up a state program providing “early intervention” mental health services for returning vets.  For obvious reasons, it was one of those bills that got unanimous support.  Members lined up to speak in favor; the phrase “early intervention strategies” was uttered repeatedly.

But while I had every intent of voting for the bill, I sat at my desk, stomach churning, a scowl on my face.  I was debating whether I should speak.  And what I should say.

Finally, mind made up, I got in line to take my turn at the mic.

When I got there, I first turned to my left to thank the sponsor, Dave Young.

“But,” I went on, scanning the entire chamber now, “how about this as an early intervention strategy?  GET OUT NOW!”  With that, my “speech” was done.

The Colorado House of Representatives operates under certain rules of decorum.  One of those is that members and spectators should observe a respectful silence when we are in session.

My fellow legislators observed the rules after my little talk.

But before I’d left the podium, a small group of spectators, above me and to the left, erupted in cheers and clapping.  I still don’t know who they were.  But the Speaker of the House, presiding over our deliberations from just behind me, immediately gaveled down the gallery, crying “Order, order!”

The Real Question.

So, here we are, nearly 20 years on from 9/11.  And we’re still not entirely out of Afghanistan and Iraq.  Not to mention all of the world’s other hot spots where our military’s presence will probably do no more to insure this nation’s peace and security than all the blood and treasure we’ve squandered in the Middle East.

And even when we do finally get out, the horses have already left the barn-and we’re not gettin’ ’em back: the vets whose lives and families have been shattered.  Whose wounds, both mental and physical, have left the VA hideously overtaxed.  And have left organizations like Project Sanctuary to pick up the pieces.  Whose efforts, although valiant, are little more than a drop in the bucket.

So what’s the real question?  Just this: Have we, finally, learned our lesson?  Yes, it may be an old saw, but we can’t be the world’s cop.  Nor, and just as importantly, does much of the world want us to be.

America, it’s time to come home.

Just So Sad . . .

school shootings 2Compared To . . . ?

About two months ago there was a high school shooting in Aztec, New Mexico that resulted in the deaths of two students.  The shooter, who died in the incident, was armed with a Glock pistol that he legally purchased.  The weapon is widely used by both law enforcement and civilians.

My sister lives in Albuquerque.  With the tragedy occurring in her figurative backyard, my sister an sent an indignant email to me.  The subject line was, “Just so sad . . .”

Because immigration is often a bone of contention between us, that vexed topic also worked it’s way into the discussion.  She was particularly upset that the shooter was a white, American male. And, according to her, that these are the people that pose a real threat to our safety-as opposed to illegal immigrants.  As she put it, “Who is killing more of us?  White American males or illegal immigrants?”

And now we now have an even worse school shooting in Florida.   Again, the shooter was a white, American male.  But this time the shooter survived the episode, was arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.  The latest reports are that while the shooting was underway, four deputy sheriffs were hiding behind their nearby patrol cars-rather than storming the building. And that law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, ignored warnings signs of the danger posed by the shooter.  The shooter was armed with a legally purchased, semi-automatic, AR-15 rifle.  It’s estimated that there are several million of these weapons in circulation in the country.

Rivers of electronic ink have already been spilled discussing gun violence in this country.  What can be said that hasn’t already been said?  Well, here are a couple of ideas.

Compared To Most Of The World And Most Of Its History, America Is Peaceful

This is going to sound crazy coming on the heels of these horrific shootings, but by comparison to most of the world and for most of it’s history, America is peaceful.

The bloodiest war we ever fought was our Civil War, which left about 700,000 dead, more than the rest of our wars combined.  A terrible tragedy, without question.  But by comparison to the rest of the world, the US is a piker when it comes to blood letting.

One hundred years ago, Europe was nearing the end of World War I, the “war to end all wars”-which did nothing of the sort for that bloody continent.  In four years of savage trench warfare, over 9 million combatants lost their lives; additional millions of civilians perished.

But World War I was just the prelude to an even more horrifying conflict:  World War II.  This time, there were over 24 million military deaths, and nearly 30 million civilian.  American deaths (about 419,000), were a tiny fraction of these mind numbing totals.  And behind most of these countless deaths and maimings there were loved ones who, no doubt, experienced every bit as much grief as those who were left behind by our school shootings.

Am I making light of the shock and intense sorrow that has followed the school shootings in our country?  Of course not; it’s just to put it in context.  Do you charge me with being cold hearted?  Fair enough.  But what’s it called when you’re more grieved with 19 murders-than with the industrial scale slaughter of 24 million?

In light of these terrifying numbers, preachy articles like this one from an English newspaper, comparing European and US gun violence, and which are so prevalent after something like the Florida shooting, strike me, at best, as historically myopic.  And, at worst, as hypocrytical.

“But,” you say, “those wars were a long time ago.”  That’s right.  So was The Holocaust-and the 6 million who died in the gas chambers.  Are you saying, “It’s time to put The Holocaust behind us and focus on Florida”?  The question answers itself.

I could go on, but I’ll spare you the gruesome details.  But please, don’t lecture me about how “peaceful” Europe is in comparison to America.  Scholars estimate that the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, may have been responsible for up to 50 million deaths.  This quote, usually attributed to the Communist monster, is particularly apt here: “A single death is a tragedy.  The death of millions is a statistic.”  Yes, America has its share of tragedies.  But, thank God, we’re short on statistics.

Compared To Whom?

There’s an odd thing about these mass shootings that you probably haven’t noticed.  And that’s that not all of them are committed by white, American males.  In fact, a sizable number of these killings are committed by culprits that aren’t white, American males.   And the reason you haven’t noticed this fact? Because the main stream media doesn’t want you to notice it.  It doesn’t fit into their meme of white, American males as violent, gun happy criminals.

But the facts, here, tell a different story.  Immigrants of all races, both legal and illegal, have killed at least 635 and wounded at least 2,160 as of December, 2017.  And that doesn’t even count the 3,000 killed and over 6,000 injured in the September 11 attacks.  But these facts are often concealed in the coverage of these immigrant crimes because the main stream media usually doesn’t even talk about these attributes of the culprit. Unless he’s a white, American male.

So, is it atrocious when a white, American male is involved in one of these horrific crimes? Absolutely.  But it’s every bit as bad when the criminal is an immigrant, regardless of his race.  And if it’s relevant that some of these crazed criminals are white, American males, then the ethnicity and immigration status of the the culprit should be relevant and reported in all cases.

Compared To What, Realistically, Can Be Done

I live within a few miles of where the Columbine High School massacre occurred.  The body count in that tragedy left 15 dead (including the 2 perpetrators) and 24 wounded.  The Superintendent of that school district, Jason Glass, knows all too well the suffering caused by these crimes. Since the Florida shooting, he has weighed in on school safety with some ideas worth paying attention to.

First, he doesn’t believe that more restrictive gun control laws or arming teachers will get any more traction this time than it has after the numerous, previous incidents of this kind.  Thus, he doesn’t believe we should waste energy on the politically impossible.  And, that, instead, we should focus on the politically possible.

Superintendent Glass thinks the following are possible:

  • Putting trained, armed law enforcement officers in every school.
  • Increase funding for school mental health services.
  • Redesign schools to be more like airports, stadiums, and other public facilities, so that access is better controlled.
  • Create a federally funded center to study school safety and security.

I think three of the four of these ideas make sense.  I’m opposed, however, to turning the problem over to the federal government-even the funding.  If the feds fund school safety research, it will almost certainly try to impose a “one size fits all” solution.  When I was in the legislature, I learned that the “golden rule” rigidly applies to federal funding:  he who has the gold, makes the rules. Colorado isn’t California or North Dakota or New York or Alaska. We’re smart enough to come up with a solution that works for Colorado; keep the feds out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A War Like All Others.

750x450 ancient greeceThose Who Can’t Learn From History, Are Condemned To Repeat It.  But Why?

An old friend and I are planning a cruise to the Aegean islands this spring.

I’ve known Dean for decades.  First, back in the ’80’s, when we were brought together by our mutual loathing for rail mass transit.  But 21st century Denver’s unreasoning lust for a 19th century technology won out in the end:  FastTracks, as we predicted, is billions of dollars over budget and decades behind schedule.  The long, miserable track record of other failed projects like this around the county made no difference to voters.

But why?  Because they swallowed, whole hog, the Chamber of Commerce’s line of light rail BS.

Somewhere along the way, however, I lost track of Dean.  Which isn’t really the right way to put it.  I had it from a usually reliable source that he had actually died after a long bout with prostate cancer.

But then one night, as I was opening mail in my “campaign headquarters” (my grown son’s former bedroom), what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a check from Dean to help fuel one of my runs for the Colorado House of Representatives.  “What,” I thought, “a check from beyond the grave?!”  No, of course not; the guy I met a few days later for breakfast, while, like me, somewhat worse for wear, was no ghost.

In any event, we’ve booked a cruise this spring to see Greece and the Aegean islands.  So, I’ve been boning up on my Greek history.

Athens, Sparta And The War That Doomed Greece.

One of the books I’ve listened to is Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC).  Considered one of the two fathers of the study of history, Thucydides was an Athenian and an eyewitness and participant in the events he described.

In effect a civil war, it was fought with the savagery that is typical of internecine conflict.  Its conclusion marked the end of Greece’s Golden Age, and left its two primary combatants, Athens and Sparta, burnt out husks of their former selves.

The other father of history, Herodotus, also a Greek, chronicled the earlier Persian Wars (499 to 449 BC) that pitted the overwhelming might of the Persian empire against a ragtag band of Greek city states led by Athens and Sparta.  Against all odds, the Greeks prevailed and the nascent idea of democracy was not strangled in its Athenian crib.

As the Peloponnesian War began, Athens was near the pinnacle of its influence, wealth, and matchless cultural achievements.  But from a scrappy democracy, imperial pretensions were beginning to appear.  What had been the “coalition of the willing” that had banded together to turn back the Persian threat a mere 18 years earlier, was now a restive Athenian empire: the Delian League.  Athen’s increasingly heavy-handed treatment of League members provoked its rival, Sparta, and contributed to the outbreak of the war.

Initially, Pericles, the Athenian statesman and general, persuaded his fellow citizens to adopt a defensive strategy, withdrawing behind the “Long Walls” that connected the city to Piraeus, the nearby port where its battle tested and nearly invincible navy lay could launch raids against Spartan territory.

More than Athen’s equal on land, Sparta pursued a scorched earth policy, squeezing Athenians into their walled city where they watched their olive trees and vineyards being ravaged.  But the Athenians, with their control of the sea lanes, could securely resupply themselves.

Stalemate: both sides settled in for a grinding siege.

Athens:  Democracy to Bullying Imperial Power.

But the crowded conditions behind Athen’s walls caused a devastating plague to break out in the war’s second year.  Thousands perished, including Pericles and most of his family.  Thucydides himself contracted the disease, but survived, writing about it in gruesome detail.  Social order collapsed, since most Athenians believed they were doomed anyway.

Remarkably Athens was able to rebound from this calamity.  Over the next 15 years, and with increasing ruthlessness on both sides, the war dragged on inconclusively.

Until Athens, in 415 BC, under the generalship of the brilliant, but unscrupulous Alcibiades, launched a massive sea borne invasion of Syracuse.  Like Athens, Syracuse was a democratic a city state.  It’s crime was that it was a Spartan ally.

The invasion ended in disaster for Athens, with its fleet at the bottom of the Mediteranean and the entire expeditionary force either slaughtered or sold into slavery.  While the war dragged on in desultory fashion for years thereafter, the ending was a foregone conclusion: ruin for all of Greece.  The way was cleared for Alexander the Great to subjugate the entire peninsula.

But why?  Because Athens had gone from the birthplace of democracy. To a bullying imperial power.

America, Israel And Our Unnecessary Wars.

The United States has now been fighting wars in the Muslim Middle East for nearly 20 years.  We’ve kicked over more hornets’ nests than you can shake a stick at: Afghanistan. Iraq. Libya. Syria. Yemen.  All fruitless.  All enormously expensive.  All blood soaked for both us and our opponents.  All with no end in sight.

But why?  To make the world safe for Israel.

The Jewish dominated, neoconservative movement has played an enormously influential role in American foreign policy since at least the 1960’s.  Although it’s tenets have varied based on the needs of the moment, in recent years the primary focus of neocons has been Israel and the Middle East.  The movement has deep roots in the Jewish American community.  It grew out of the Jewish monthly magazine, Commentary, originally published by the American Jewish Committee.  The American State Department, rife with neocons, has become a virtual low-level department in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs when it comes to the Mideast.  When Israel says “Jump,” our State Department asks, “How high?”

President Trump’s appointment of David Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, to be the US ambassador to Israel does nothing to dispel this perception. Friedman is cut from the same extreme right wing cloth as Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Friedman’s Senate confirmation hearings were contentious, with a number of Israeli and American Jewish groups opposing it.  Friedman denounced his Jewish opponents in what can scarcely be described as diplomatic terms:  they are “far worse than kapos”-Jews who betrayed their fellows in the Nazi death camps.  While Friedman later attempted to walk back this language, his liberal Jewish critics weren’t mollified.  Several Jewish members of Congress opposed the nomination, as did five former US Ambassadors to Israel, who declared him “unqualified.”

No more helpful was the President’s recent announcement that the US embassy will be moved to Jerusalem.  Nearly every former US ambassador to Israel thought it was a bad idea.

The Israel Lobby.

And when not actually in government, Israel also exercises enormous influence over our foreign policy through a network of organizations described by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of the Harvard School of Government in The Israel Lobby.  According to the authors, “No lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical.”

Of course, Mearsheimer and Walt have been accused of anti-Semitism.  Anyone who dares criticize Israel is, in the view of the Lobby, anti-Semitic.   It’s the perfect weapon for shutting down any reasoned consideration of what would be America’s best interests in the Middle East.

Why Not An Honest Broker?

In 1956, Israel, England and France invaded Egypt and took control of the Suez Canal after Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the waterway.  While the invasion was a military success, it was a diplomatic disaster for the three allies.

Under President Dwight Eisenhower, America was not yet in thrall to Israel; “Ike” played the crisis down the middle.  The three aggressors withdrew from Egypt.  The canal, which Egypt had blocked with sunken ships, was reopened.  America still had the standing to act as an honest broker in the Middle East.

No more.  In virtually the entire world, we are viewed as Israel’s handmaiden, its useful idiot.  Is it an accident that we are fighting wars with so many Muslim countries that surround the state of Israel?  And which consider nuclear armed Israel (although Israel is coy about its bomb) a threat to their existence?

Is America First?

One of the main reasons I was an early supporter of President Trump was that he promised to put “America First.”  Is it surprising that some Jewish scholars, commentators, and organizations have criticized the President for even suggesting that Israel be moved down the pecking order?  Unfortunately, with our never ending Mid-East wars, it appears that the Lobby is continuing to have its way.  And that Israel is back in the position to which it has long been accustomed: “We’re number one!”

On Behalf of a Grateful Nation

national anthem at a football game

national anthem at a football game

The NFL.  Or, the National Felons League.

The Veterans Memorial Day Tribute is an organization run by and for the benefit of American patriots.  Although I can’t claim to know the entire story of how it began, I know for sure that Louetta Smith has spent countless hours well behind the scenes to make sure that it comes off flawlessly every year.  Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night has prevented Louetta and her small, but intrepid, band of volunteers from honoring Colorado veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our nation’s various wars.

When I first began attending the observance several years ago, it took place in Civic Center Park at the Veterans Monument just west of the state Capital.  Then, perhaps because of our unruly May weather, it was moved into the nearby Pillar of Fire Church on 13th and Sherman Street.

It’s a solemn, moving ceremony.  Accompanied by the slow tolling of a bell, the names and ranks of the fallen are read.  Then, family members are presented with an embroidered pennant recognizing their loss by a ramrod straight member of the armed services who moves through the sanctuary with measured, deliberate steps.

Now that the “War on Terror” has dragged on for more than 16 inconclusive years, some of the names, such as Navy Seal Danny Dietz’, have been read repeatedly.  Lamentably, new names are added with each passing year.  I’ve also noticed that Sergeants are disproportionately represented among the fallen, something that a cursory search of the internet seems to bear out.

This past Memorial Day, I happened to be sitting close enough to a family that was given a pennant so that I was able to overhear the service member lean forward and, in a hushed voice say, “On behalf of a grateful nation, we honor your family’s sacrifice.”

I can’t speak for other members of the audience, but if mine were a good measure, there were few dry eyes in sanctuary by the time the ceremony was over.  The mournful wail of the bagpipes closed the service.  When I emerged from the church, into the glare of a hot May afternoon, I was as emotionally wrung out as an old piece of drift wood.

And now we’re treated to the spectacle of our favorite faux warriors, NFL players, taking a knee during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner to protest racial injustice.

Like, I suppose, the injustice of the average salary of NFL players, about 70% of whom are black, being a cool $1.9 million.  And, yes, I’ll concede that NFL players suffer more than their share of the dings about which football fans endlessly hyperventilate. But their pay still compares pretty favorably to the average salary of something less than the $30,000 that a sergeant in the U.S. Army pulls down.  Especially given the risk those sergeants run of the “ding” that leaves them without one of their limbs.  Or, even worse, a wife without a husband. Or kids without a father.

But even the NFL’s spoiled knuckle draggers know that they aren’t underpaid.  No, these protests are about the alleged racial grievances of which we hear no end.  So, yes, let’s talk about those beefs.

How about police brutality against blacks?  If the somber, black faces on the Sunday TV screens are the measure, it must be horrific.

But what if I told you that that in 2015 a cop was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer?  And that ratio has undoubtedly gotten worse given the 53% increase of gun murders of cops in 2016-committed overwhelmingly by blacks.

So, yes, read ’em and weep.  But not for the NFL phonies shedding crocodile tears for black criminals.   But for the shattered families and colleagues of the multitudes of police officers who have been cut down by those criminals.

But, at least these players know of what they speak.  While studies show that the NFL’s pampered millionaires aren’t committing property crimes at a rate higher than the population at large, when it comes to violent crime, they’re MVPs.  You know, the “little” things like murder, manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault, sexual assault, rape, battery, domestic violence, child abuse and kidnapping.

Some may be offended that I am even drawing attention to this information.  In their minds, this kind of data qualifies as “hatefacts.”  And anyone who unearths it in government crime statistics and points it out is guilty of the Orwellian thought crime of “noticing.”

I mentioned this post about the NFL controversy to my personal trainer, Mike, the other day.  He responded that another client “Predicted that the NFL will be gone in 10 years.”

“Really,” I answered, “why does he think that?”

“He believes nothing that can be done about the traumatic brain injuries caused by the game. It’s not the bit hits that do the damage, it’s the constant small ones.  And, yes,” he conceeded, “they’re constantly improving the helmets, but there’s really nothing they can do to prevent concussions when you have those huge men running into each other.”

You can probably imagine that it wouldn’t break my heart to see the NFL go the way of the dinosaur.  Or, for that matter, Division I college football.  What, after all, is big time college football other than a farm league for the NFL?  Both are profoundly corrupt.  And, as our equivalent of the Roman Empire’s bloodthirsty gladiatorial games, inure us to violence. And coarsen our culture.

Think about this for a moment.  Is it really the best use of your time to sit in front of the TV and watch a bunch of thugs knock each other down into the wee hours of Monday night? And Thursday night? And pretty much all day Sunday?

Just asking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight

navy chief petty officersWe were recently on a family vacation in Cape Cod.  And when I say family, I mean family.  There were 10 of us in a house we rented a few blocks from the beach.  A lot of togetherness.  But we still had a great time-although when it came time to leave, I was ready.

Marleen and I had flown into Boston a few days ahead of the rest of the crew to take in some of the city’s sights.  One of the things we did was walk most of the Freedom Trail; a sidewalk tour that takes you past many of the locations where key events that led to our break with the Mother Country occurred. Well worth doing next time you’re there.

An unexpected bonus along the way was to witness snatches of the advancement ceremonies for an incoming class of Navy chief petty officers.  At intervals, we would see men and women in uniform, sometimes in formation belting out a spirited rendition of Anchors Aweigh, sometimes lounging around waiting to move on to their next rally point.

Prominent in the news when we were in Boston was the most recent of the four sleek Navy ships that have been involved in collisions with lumbering commercial vessels.  And which have resulted in the deaths of numerous sailors since the first of this year.  The latest incident, involving the destroyer the John S. McCain, resulted in the Navy ordering an “operational pause” for the entire U.S. fleet of 277 vessels to review safety procedures.

uss constitution

I ruminated on this alarming record during our remaining days in Boston, which included a visit to “Old Ironsides.”  Officially known as the USS Constitution, the beautiful three master looked her best, having just come out of dry dock following a two year restoration.  By then, our son, Byron, had joined us as we toured the ship.  Byron is our “Navy guy,” having served with distinction during his eight year career helping to run the reactor aboard the ballistic missile submarine, the USS Nebraska.

By the time we got to the beach on Cape Cod, we were joined by our son-in-law, Haden, who is the family’s “Marine guy.”  He did two tours in Iraq; the second was agonizing for our daughter, Lauren, who was all but engaged to him during his deployment.  “All but” because Haden is the kind of guy you would want your daughter to marry; he called and asked my permission when he got home.

At one point on Cape Cod, when the three of us were together, I asked Byron about the Navy chief advancement ceremonies Marleen and I had seen.  “I don’t know a whole lot about them,” he answered, “but given that they were going around seeing the sights in Boston, I expect that they have something to do with naval heritage indoctrination.”

“I’m sure,” I continued, taking the conversation in a different direction, “that you guys have seen the news about all Navy vessels that can’t seem to keep track of where they’re going and run into merchant ships.  I’m thinking of writing a post on my blog and calling it ‘The Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight.'”

“I wouldn’t do that,” said Haden.  “With all the wars and deployments the military is stretched pretty thin.  I wouldn’t want to be in the military right now.”

I could have guessed what Byron would say:  “I agree.”  By the time his commitment was up, he couldn’t wait to get out.  In addition to the frustrations of military bureaucracy, exhausting, long watches were a way of life, even in the reactor space.

But despite their qualms, I decided to go ahead.  If the news stories are right about the military being overextended, and I don’t doubt they are, shouldn’t it be talked about?  Especially since, as it so obviously is, a life and death issue?

And, yes, the title of this post may be irreverent.  But is it inaccurate?  Despite spending trillions of dollars, has the U.S. military been on the winning side of a major conflict since WWII?  You decide.  Korea?  Seventy years on and it’s threatening to explode into an unprecedented calamity.  Vietnam?  You’re kidding.  Grenada?  I said “major.”  The Cold War?  Perhaps.  Unless we “succeed” in provoking Russia, a nation with a vast nuclear arsenal, into a shooting war. As so many of our warmonger Washington politicians seem to want.  Afghanistan and Iraq?  Out and out disasters.

Dwight Eisenhauer, President and Supreme Commander of Allied forces in the last major war we won, warned the nation in his farewell address of what he called the “military industrial complex.”  It’s an iron triangle of defense contractors looking for lucrative arms deals, Congressmen who want to bring home pork barrel projects for their districts, and a top heavy military bureaucracy out to aggrandize itself.   In 2015, the U.S. spent more on the military than the next seven nations combined.

Judging, in short, by this record, the U.S. military seems better at spending money-than winning wars.  Perhaps not too surprising.  Since when did “complexes,” rather than armies, win wars?

When we got home, I discussed the Navy’s problems again with a friend who, over the years, has repeatedly astonished me with the depth and breath of his knowledge; he may be the closest thing to a polymath that I know.

“You know,” he said, “there is another problem in the Navy that’s been largely buried.  It’s not just that tired sailors are falling asleep when they should be standing watch.  There’s a lot of sleeping around since Obama mandated that the Navy go coed.  Pregnancies are way up. That means ships are short handed.  And,” he continued, “it’s a politically incorrect thought crime to even notice it.  Obama did his best to deep six the story.

– – – – – – – – – –  – –

I attend a men’s Bible study most Wednesday mornings.  We’re currently making our way through the books of Samuel in the Old Testament.  A central figure is King David; one of the episodes in the book, known to most school children, is that of David and Goliath.

Our gifted teacher, Rich Pilon, (a Navy vet, by the way) has said repeatedly that a central theme of the story is, “Leadership matters.”  There are abundant examples in the book of the disastrous consequences of poor leadership at the highest levels:  corrupt priests whose selfish miscalculations result in slaughter and national humiliation.  Lustful kings, including David himself, whose misdeeds shatter families and nations.

The problems in our military aren’t, for the most part, caused by the Navy chiefs that Marleen and I saw along the Freedom Trail in Boston.  Like so many others in our all volunteer force, they are no more than cogs in the wheels of a dysfunctional military Borg.

Our political leaders too often see these sailors as tools to allow them to brag to the folks back home about all the jobs they’ve brought to the district.  And use them as petri dishes to try out misguided social experiments in the cause of political correctness.  And then abuse them by entangling our nation in endless, futile wars at a terrible cost to our soldiers and their families.

Defense contractors and lobbyists look on them as little more than a justification for their fat, steady paychecks.

And our top heavy military brass?  Well, I won’t say it.

 

 

 

 

Into the Swamp

Capital Washington DC

I had breakfast with Joe Rice last winter; it had been quite a while since we had seen one another.  We served together in the Legislature for two years.  While we didn’t always see eye to eye-he’s a Democrat-Joe was a good legislator.

But he was also, perhaps, foolhardy at times.  He sponsored the bill to raise car registration fees for highway improvements.  It was an end run around TABOR, the provision in the Colorado constitution that requires voter approval for tax increases.  Drivers-voters, in other words-hated it.  So they threw Joe out after only one term.  I never quite figured out why Democratic leaders allowed Joe, who represented a very competitive district, to carry the bill.

But, then again, Joe’s a Colonel in the Army who’s done several tours in Iraq.  I don’t imagine that angry voters put much of a scare in him.

Over breakfast, Joe suggested that I apply for the 2017 Capital Conference in Washington.  I did, was accepted (I suspect that Joe had his thumb on the scale on my behalf), and so, I  recently found myself in the D.C. swamp.  When they describe the place as a swamp, it’s both literally and figuratively true:  while the temperature was in the 90’s during the conference, with the humidity, the heat index said it was in the 100’s.  By the time we finished the three block death march from our downtown hotel to the Capital, men were sweating through their suit coats.

The figurative swamp is harder to describe.  Let alone understand.  And that’s just what Washington politicians and bureaucrats, no doubt, intend: like mushrooms, they do their best to keep the rest of us in the dark and under a pile of manure.  Nonetheless, here are a few thoughts.

The event was co-hosted by Colorado’s two U.S. Senators, Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner.  At the opening reception, we got a load of happy talk by members of our Congressional delegation about how bipartisanship guides “the important work” of what gets done in Washington. While I’m sure that many of those at the conference like to think that’s how things operate, I suspect that a good deal fewer really believed it.  Especially given the toxic nature of politics in our country these days.

Questions about “why can’t Washington get anything done?” were common.

For my money, Senator Bennet gave the best answer:  “It’s supposed to be hard to get things done,” he replied.  “That’s the whole point of the separation of powers and the checks and balances set out in the Constitution.”  I expect what attendees really meant when they asked the question is, “Why aren’t they passing the legislation want.”

Conspicuous by their absence were questions about how much longer we are going to be fighting bloody, costly wars all over the world. Wars that, if nearly 20 years of futility is long enough to judge, we aren’t going to win and which are doing little more than kicking over more hornets’ nests.

Madeline Albright, the former Secretary State, was one of the speakers.  It’s not infrequently that I suffer from delayed intelligence.  And during the brief Q&A following her talk that the syndrome hit me again: I didn’t think of asking the war question of someone who was pretty well qualified to address the issue until the opportunity was gone.

But during a break I did have the chance to pull Senator Gardner aside and ask him, “How much longer are we going to be fighting all these crazy wars?”  I have a bit of an in with Cory; he and I served two years together in the Colorado House.  “I’ve talked,” I told him, “with several other people here at the conference and we just don’t get the point of these endless wars.”  Although I didn’t mention it to Cory, a couple of the people at the conference who agreed with me was a prominent Denver businessman who has made a fortune selling furniture and a Fountain rancher whose missing finger tip was mute testimony to his work around farm equipment.

“Spencer,” Cory responded, his face clouded over with its characteristic intensity,  “if you knew what we know, what we hear about in our secret briefings here at the Capital” (he gestured vaguely to his left), “you would understand.”

No, I’m sorry, I don’t understand.  Our government has had us continuously fighting wars for over 16 years and they can’t tell us “Why?”  Preposterous is not a strong enough.  Given the staggering costs in terms of broken bodies, minds, and families, inexcusable is probably more like it.

Unfortunately, however, the hits just kept on coming.

On the next day, we were addressed by the South Korean Ambassador to the U.S., Awn Ho-young.  He touted, of course, the warm relationship between his country and the U.S.  He highlighted the bloody price American G.I.s played in saving his country from communist aggression when the North swarmed across the 38th parallel in 1950.  “When we were invaded,” said the Ambassador, “we were the poorest country in the world.  We badly needed your help.”

It got creepy, therefore, when Mr. Ho-young to told us how important it is that the close military ties between his country and the U.S. be continued.

“Now,” he boasted, apparently not recognizing how weird his argument was, “South Korea’s GDP is just behind Japan’s-and we’re gaining on them quickly.”  But if that’s true, why do we still have nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea?

Is the ambassador anticipating a military confrontation with Japan?  Hardly.  It’s North Korea’s nut job dictator, Kim Jong-un, as we hear in the news almost daily, that’s rattling the saber.  But by comparison with North Korea’s 90 pound weakling economy, South Korea’s is now a muscle bound Charles Atlas.  And the same is true when you compare the two nations’ populations, military expenditures, and per capita GDPs.

The signature campaign issue that propelled President Trump to a stunning upset victory was his promise to build the Mexican wall to defend the U.S. border.  Not defend a Korean border half a world away from our shores.

Would it make sense for this county to have a robust missile defense system to protect the continental U.S. from the North Korean dictator’s insane threats?  Absolutely.  But the 30,000 U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula probably look like no more than a tempting target to the mad man.  Especially given that the newly elected South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, has suspended the deployment of a U.S. antimissile system in South Korea that could defend our troops.

How weird is this?  Putting thousands of American lives at risk for a country that refuses to give them the tools to defend themselves?

For my money?  Come home America.  And quit letting establishment political hacks in the Washington swamp, both Republican and Democrat, keep dragging us into costly, bloody, futile wars.

 

 

 

Mike Coffman and The Deplorables

coffman 650x400

Since I began blogging recently, I have spent a good deal of time at coffee shops.

One of them is Solid Grounds on South Broadway at Arapahoe.  It’s a shambling, multi-level store that shares a large parking lot with the South Fellowship church.  Given its “.org” domain name, I suspect it’s associated with the church.

I owe Solid Grounds a lot.  Back when I was campaigning for office, my manager, Wes Skiles, often convened strategy meetings at the store.  And we never lost.  So, in much the same way that the crowing cock makes the sun rise, Solid Grounds must have made me a winning politician.

But it’s not just the location and domain name that makes me think that Solid Grounds has a Christian connection; it’s not uncommon to see pastors and other folks I recognize from current or past church affiliations.

One of these, Charlotte Smith, came into the shop the other day.  Charlotte still has the blond, wispy hair I remembered from the days we worked together on the Missions Committee at Grace Chapel.   Her complexion is fair to the point of being pasty.

“Charlotte,” I said, “great to see you.  Long time. How have you been?”

“Good, she replied. “Are you still in the legislature?”

“No.  But it’s a question I get a lot,” I replied.  “I was termed out a few years ago.  Do you still go to Grace Chapel?”

“Yes, we’re still there.  Where do you go?” she asked.

“We go to Greenwood Community.  How’s your family?”

“Good.  I still teach at a Christian School.”

Charlotte is faithfully committed to seeing the Gospel preached throughout the world, especially in the Philippines.  In 2001, when we were on the missions committee together, she was the one who first became aware that New Tribes missionaries, Martin and Gracie Burnham, had been taken hostage by the Islamic terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, in the Philippines.  Charlotte, as I remember, had a personal connection with the Burnhams.  After a standoff that lasted a year, Martin was killed during a rescue attempt; Gracie was shot in the leg.

“Our son is at West Point,” Charlotte continued.  “Mike Coffman helped him get in.”

“That,” I replied, “is a quite an achievement.  I just hope we’re out of all these crazy wars in the Middle East before he has to go.”

“Well,” she replied, never one to back down, “if we’d just finished the job the first time, we wouldn’t have to worry about it.”

I hoped she didn’t mean that we should have turned the desert to glass, but I left it at that.

“Our daughter,” she continued, “got married recently.  She owns her own house painting business.  And her husband owns a business repairing sprinkler systems.”

“That’s good,” I replied, but was thinking that was a somewhat unconventional career choice for a woman.  “I hope she’s careful.”

“She is,” Charlotte replied. “She’s very good at what she does.”

To describe Charlotte and her family as “salt of the earth folks” is an understatement.  They’re also the kind of people Democrats like Barack Obama are likely to dismiss as “clinging to their guns and Bibles.”  And, truth be told, many establishment Republicans probably feel the same way; they just don’t say it out loud.

Of course, I’m pleased that Charlotte’s son has been accepted at West Point; he has the opportunity to get a great education.  But if he’s killed or maimed for life helping the American empire pursue its imperial goals in distant wars that should be none of our business, I would consider it a tragic waste.

But despite that, I’ll concede that Mike Coffman may have done Charlotte’s son a favor.  I certainly hope it turns out that way.

But I can guarantee you he hasn’t done her daughter or son-in-law any favors.

I was a delegate at the 6th Congressional nominating assembly where Coffman was nominated  for his 5th term in Congress.  The venue was the large auditorium at the Heritage Christian Center in Aurora.  When Mike took the stage to accept the nomination, it looked like he was running for Secretary General of the United Nations-rather than the US Congress.  The platform was packed with every conceivable ethnic group, including women in hijabs.

At the assembly, Coffman had all the money, all the organization, all the years in D.C., all the support of the Arapahoe County Republican establishment.

But despite this, his acceptance speech got a tepid reception.

Coffman’s opponent at the assembly, Kyle Bradell, was a 20-something, completely unknown newcomer who took the stage with exactly one supporter-who also gave the nominating speech.

In his acceptance speech, Bradell basically talked about one issue:  ending illegal immigration. And how Coffman has flip flopped on the issue to keep his cushy job as the district has gone from being solidly Republican to hotly competitive with redistricting.

In sharp contrast to Coffman’s speech, Bradell’s fiery address got a rousing reception from the rank and file Republican activists in the seats.

And the proof that Bradell’s support was more than just applause deep?  Despite Coffman’s apparently overwhelming advantages, he managed to keep his long shot, wildly underfunded opponent off the August primary ballot by a mere 3% points.

I voted for Bradell with a clear conscience.  Why?  If you can’t trust what Coffman says on immigration, how do you know when you can believe him?  In my estimation, he’s most likely to be looking out for just one person in the Washington swamp: himself.

But maybe, you say, things changed as the 2016 moved into the fall and Donald Trump secured the Republican Presidential nomination.  And Coffman locked up the nomination for the 6th.

Well, yes, they did change.  But for the worse.  Mike Coffman was the first Republican member of the House to release a paid ad claiming he would “stand up” to Trump if he were elected.  Here’s what he said about Trump in his TV spot that ran in English and Spanish:  “Honestly, I don’t care for him much.

Funny talk from a guy who, before his district became competitive from redistricting, sponsored legislation in 2011 to make English the nation’s official language. And suggested that voters who couldn’t read their ballots “should pull out a dictionary.”  And now he’s stooped to running bilingual campaign ads.  And making a big deal of learning Spanish by watching Spanish language soap operas.  If this isn’t pandering, what is, for heaven’s sake?

But what does all this mean for Charlotte’s daughter and son-in-law?

Just this.  A house painter or a sprinkler repairman were never going to be wealthy in this country.  But they were honorable, blue collar occupations that gave their practitioners, with hard work, the opportunity to enjoy a middle class life style and raise a family.

No longer.   The unprecedented waves of immigrants, both legal and illegal, currently washing up on our shores haven’t hurt attorneys, CPAs, Wall Street money manipulators, and others like them at the top of the income distribution.  Their incomes are rising nicely, thank you.

But those relatively low skill, low income native born American workers, like Charlotte’s daughter and son-in-law, are falling ever further behind.

Does Mike Coffman care?  If asked, he would no doubt say that he is “fighting” for small businesses like those owned by Charlotte’s daughter and her husband.

But, as is true with everything, actions speak louder than words.  What actions would really help native born individuals like Charlotte’s daughter?  Limiting immigration-of both the illegal and legal variety.

But what is Coffman actually doing?  More pandering.  Putting up bilingual websites that tout his efforts to sponsor legislation granting citizenship to illegals who are doing jobs that would otherwise go to native Americans like Charlotte’s daughter and her husband.

I have no idea how  voted Charlotte in the 2016 election.  Heck, maybe she voted for Hillary-but from what I know of her, that would be far out of character for her.

But I do know this.  Charlotte’s family fits the profile of the The Deplorables that supported President Trump and which Hillary Clinton so contemptuously referred to during the 2016 Presidential campaign.

Again, Mike Coffman is unlikely to repeat the mistake of saying out loud what Clinton thought of people like Charlotte’s family.  After all, you don’t survive nearly 30 years as a career politician by making foolish mistakes.

But Mike doesn’t have to say it out loud.  Just look at what he’s doing.