Tag: #coloradopolitics #republicans #conservativethought #mikecoffman #colorado #flipflop

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!”

Mike Coffman and The Deplorables

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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.