Sentinel Blogs

Dave Perry: Preoccupations

NOTES ON EVERYTHING FROM THE EDITOR OF THE AURORA SENTINEL  — dperry@AuroraSentinel.com @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook


QUID HAS HEARD that Aurora may yet get the A-Line moniker for its oh-so-cool segment of RTD light-rail. Seems that your faithful hack endlessly takes pleasure in pointing out that A-Town was the perfect place for RTD to launch the A-Line name a couple of years ago. Instead, a group of Denverphiles handed that handy metro-line moniker to Denver’s train from Union Station to Denver International Airport, because “A” stands for “Denver” or Union” or “Station” or “DIA” or “International” or “Oh, I get it.” So A-town, AKA, A-urora, was stiffed once again and saddled with the catchy R-Line tag. They did that because everybody knows “R” stands for “Really?” The deal was not only done, but well done when the University of Colorado decided it was a good idea to pay millions to fill out the train-line’s name with University of Colorado A-Line Denver Airport Train and Kranken Traffic Impediment, or something along that line. Like that first cup of coffee and that last potato chip dipped in peanut butter and jelly at the end of the day, Quid finds few things sweeter than pointing out the University of Colorado A-Line goes nowhere near anything that also bears its pricey name. “Curses,” Quid has screamed while looking at the R-Line schedule. And it seems to have worked, clearly because the A-Line doesn’t. The thing has been side-tracked since Day One with all sorts of technical and logistical problems. Almost daily, and usually a few times each day, RTD faithfully posts the excuse d’jour why they University of Colorado A-Line train is, A: Not Running, B: Running Behind or C: Railing for Dollars. It simply begs the question of the University of Colorado Million Dollar Branding Department, “How’s that working for ya?” Your’s truly sees only two ways forward. 1: CU abandons the side of the jinxed airport train and, instead, graces Aurora’s R-Line, which actually goes through at stops at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine — which is actually in Aurora — and associated Anschutz-a-lopolis. Or, RTD could move the A-Line name to A-town, about the same time they pay Quid to remove the curse off of the Denver operation, renaming it, “The Air Train.” Quid offers a heart-felt A-men to that.

AND QUID HAS HEARD that these times can get weirder. Whodda thunk just a year ago that patriotic Dems would be thumping patriotic Republicans for snuggling up to the Russians and that those flagging Dems would be delirious over the possibility of treasons charges against their captors — for the good of the country?

AND THAT’S ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

I don’t blame Congressman Mike Coffman and dozens of Republicans just like him for wanting to avoid an unflattering spectacle by subjecting themselves to town meetings focusing on the fate of Obamacare.

Coffman was unceremoniously sandbagged at just such a meeting in January at an Aurora Public Library. At what was supposed to be just another town hall confab, dozens of “constituents” showed up ready to roar in protest about repealing Obamacare and a host of other issues Republicans are making hay with since Trump and fellow Republicans won it all in November.

Rather than face a made-for-TV onslaught of protesters as he left the meeting, he sneaked out the back and got caught doing it by 9News cameras.

Totally awkward.

I totally understand that Coffman wouldn’t want to subject himself to a similar made-for-TV public thrashing again, but instead he subjects himself to deserved criticism for offering audiences only to the few and chosen, rather than everyone and anyone he represents in Congress.

With a great deal of flourish, Team Coffman issued releases late Monday that made it seem he was ready to get out and find out from the people affected by Obamacare repeal just what’s what. It’s hard to see how it could happen when you look at the details of Coffman’s  “listening tour.” Coffman said he was going to take the time to meet with Aurora-area patient “advocates” and other health-care professionals. That’s not a bad thing, and Coffman should be commended for seeking out their counsel. But he’ll be doing it at planned, private meetings, not on a dais at a public meeting where everyone can hear what they’re telling Coffman and, more importantly, hear what Coffman tells them.

Coffman will be listening to actual constituents on this defining and critical issue — on the phone. He’s planning virtual town hall meetings via phone conferences. Ever had a phoner? They suck.  Now getting on the horn to listen to people per se is by no means a bad thing, but phone conferences are not unlike contacting your virtual congressional representative, who will offer up a virtual vote on virtual health-care bills.

In kissing and giving someone a piece of one’s mind, virtual is disappointing.

Coffman virtually pulled this public-relations ploy off. A slick and carefully worded campaign missive made it seem the congressman was fearlessly setting out to get the facts and bring Aurora to the promised land of cheap health care for (almost) everybody. It was so slick that a few news outlets around town rewarded the effort with glowing accounts of Coffman’s Listening Tour, failing to point out that Coffman would not be listening to his constituents in the same room.

The whole thing is pretty disappointing and hugely unnecessary. Taking the high-fives as a congressman is every bit as much a part of the job as taking the hell-no’s. It’s not for the faint of heart.

I’m not saying that Coffman or any other Republican or Democratic elected official has to attend partisan ambushes or risk being labeled a sissy. And unruly obstruction at public meetings is nothing short of bullying. If you want to protest, take it outside. But if partisan opponents try and use these valuable town meetings to create political theater then create events that make it hard or impossible. Limit the size of the crowd and allow in only those who win seats from a lottery, handled by an independent agency like the League of Women Voters or a chamber of commerce. Ban protest materials. Set rules for civility, and if someone violates the rules, escort them out. As long as it works both ways for both parties. Tea party protesters have played the disrupter game for years against Democrats and even some Republicans.

Confused? That’s not by accident. With so much contradictory news spun by all kinds of political agencies, entities and personalities, it’s important to make sure the public knows what’s what.

Here it is: Coffman has shown interest in gleaning information about the future of Obamacare. That’s good. He’ll talk to local major players in the industry and have some kind of communal phone conversation with some of us little guys. That’s OK. But he’s not meeting with constituents face to face on this issue, and he’s not directly telling you that. That’s bad.

There are plenty of people who don’t want to write their congressman a letter that they have no idea if he ever reads. There are plenty of people who don’t want to have a virtual conversation that’s as informative and satisfying as trying to get cable TV box instructions from a call center in a country where everyone is mysteriously named “Jeff” or “Veronica.”

We’ve all been sucking it up as we’ve suffered through the very real abuse inflicted by Republican health care legislation, Democratic health care legislation and entities that have wagged both those dogs for decades. Coffman and other congressmen can suck it up and show up at town meetings to get an earful, first-hand about how serious the health-care issue is, and how wrong they might be about how to change it.

It’s not virtually mandatory, it really is.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

In a country that has produced an ocean of shams and scams, the energized, so-called right-to-life movement is dragging us all down with its dense flotsam and jetsam.

Here we are again, paddling against yet a new current of anti-abortion-rights rhetoric, extortion and hypocrisy that serves no good purpose other than to foster ill-gotten political gain.

In all my days of dealing with abortion-rights foes and fans, I have never, ever met anyone who thinks abortion is a good thing or that there should be more of them. What I have confronted endless times are people who do not understand the science of human life, the U.S. Constitution, the laws surrounding abortion, and the court cases that finally resolved this issue decades ago.

It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, science doesn’t care. Those who have or are pushing again in state and federal venues to enact so-called personhood bills — like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and a host of other science-shy legislators — do not understand why the government and courts cannot and should not declare human sperm, eggs, or a collection of cells from their union, a legal person. They do not understand that bestowing such a distinction on a zygote would do what so many have tried for so long: officially require female Americans to become subject to the will of the United States government.

What so many so-called pro-life activists and enthusiasts don’t understand or refuse to admit is that the argument is not, and has never been, about the merits or pitfalls of abortion. Like I said, I’ve never met anyone who thinks the procedure is cool or enviable. The argument has always been whether morally or constitutionally the government can lay claim to the body of every woman in the country. If people were like chickens and laid fertilized eggs in laundry baskets or milk boxes, this would not be an issue. But fertilized human eggs exist inside human females. Numerous courts, the Supreme Court, has found repeatedly that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to privacy when it comes to human bodies, whether you are a man, or a woman. The government cannot compel a man to undergo sterilization, hip replacement or prevent them from seeking out Viagra. As a society, and as a system of government, we have affirmed that nothing is more sacred than the right of self-determination, and it lives in the right to privacy.

Courts and the government have gone to great lengths over the decades to balance that critical right to privacy against the reality of human viability, and arguments over those aspects of abortion are needed and relevant.

But as a new Washington regime is ushered in, chock-full of the mindless push for outlawing abortion-rights, it’s critical that cooler heads insist the bull-crap surrounding this issue be called for what it is right now. This anti-women’s-rights mentality immediately rolled downhill to Colorado, where the small but vocal minority of anti-abortion-rights enthusiasts have lit up like phosphorus algae in a sea of glee over the alt-right taking over in Washington.

These are the people who claim a fearsome defense of human life. They are pro-life except for in the cases of the lives of children abused by parents protected by the law, the lives of refugee children and pregnant women banned from immigrating to the United States, the lives of people wrongfully convicted of crimes and wrongfully executed, and the lives of poor children who will die because they don’t have access to healthcare or food like wealthy ones. For most of these activists, right-to-life is a capricious and contradictory concept.

And for those who now praise Denver judge Neil Gorsuch’s ascension to the Supreme Court, he will almost certainly join a long list of conservative “textualist” jurists that agree that the Constitution protects citizens from the government in controlling their bodies, even the bodies of women, minorities or anti-abortion activists.

The issue isn’t that the Constitution guarantees women to have a right to abortion, it’s that the Constitution prevents the government from controlling the reproductive rights and functions of women.

If you want to see fewer abortions, push for more, not less, funding for Planned Parenthood and Colorado’s program of providing cheap and accessible IUDs to poor, sexually active teenagers. Endless studies have shown time and again that those programs reduce abortions drastically because they drastically reduce unwanted pregnancies. It’s simple.

And just as simple is voting for and supporting state and federal candidates who get this, who don’t pander to the anti-abortion-rights lobby for political expediency. Or call those who fail in that area and tell them support legislation and candidates that keep the government out of the examining room, and out of women’s bodies, violating Americans’ most fundamental right.

It’s about privacy, self-determination and common sense, and nothing else.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

I don’t have to pause for a moment to know the worst part of journalism is the death of children.

Beyond grim, imposing our cameras, our questions and our deadlines into the tragedy of a dead child is viscerally traumatic.

You never forget the stories of children felled by cars, murdered by parents or struck down by cancer. They leave tender scars. That all-too familiar painful knot in the throat struck Tuesday as Aurora Sentinel photographer Gabriel Christus began filing photos of the body of 6-year-old David Puckett being retrieved from the frozen pond in Aurora’s Olympic Park. Puckett went missing New Year’s Eve and was the subject of a massive search. That search ended in the worst way Tuesday morning.

Like any parent, the pain I feel for the little boy is halting. My sympathy for the terror suffered by the boy’s parents is crushing.

And once again, we began the unnerving process of deciding which photos and details to include in the story.

The shots depicted yellow-clad divers on the frozen lake, working to get into and out of the water. One photo showed the rescuers carrying the body of a boy inside a body bag. A small foot was clearly visible. The image made me draw a breath. It brought back waves of revulsion connected to the Chuck E. Cheese’s murder decades ago. It brought back the same feeling as did the story about two Aurora toddlers who died in a house fire while their mom was out partying. Columbine High School. Children killed in car wrecks. Children shot by other children. A baby boy killed when he was flung against a wall by his father.

“Not that one,” I said to another editor as we went through the photos. I felt that uncomfortable flush that I know can become overwhelming and come without warning. When it comes, you have to stop what you’re doing and leave.

Another photo told the story of the end of Puckett’s brief life. The rescuers were carrying a black body bag across the frozen pond. Two rescuers were still in the water, where ice had been cut open so they could descend to a place I can’t imagine ever having to go. Police and rescuers around the perimeter watched the gruesome task.

“That one.”

20170103-David Puckett-Aurora, Colorado

Rescue crews carry what was believed to be the body of 6-year-old David Puckett out of the water Jan. 3 at Olympic Park. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

I knew the phone would soon ring with complaints about how insensitive it was to run such a ghastly picture. And it did.

So I want to tell you that we are far from insensitive to such things, just like journalists across town, and across the globe. I’ve seen far more sickening photos and been forced to stoically ask more revolting questions to get revolting answers than I can let myself recall. And each time I decide which photo to publish or which detail to include, I put myself in the place of the victim’s family and friends. And then I put myself in the place of our readers.

Our job is convey to you in the most cogent way, the good and the bad in our world. It’s one thing to tell someone about how horrible it was that a little boy apparently wandered onto dangerous pond ice, and to show you a picture of how that ended. It’s one thing to describe to you what it’s like to watch a park full of cops and rescuers, most of whom have children of their own, stare as a young boy is pulled from his icy death — and instead let you see for yourself as they follow the body bag being carried to shore.

You need to see the scene to truly understand the story. And everyone on the planet needed to see the shocking photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body lying dead on a Turkish beach in 2015. The Syrian toddler had drowned as his family tried to flee the terror of their war-torn country. You’ve seen the photo, and having only heard about it would not bring justice to the story of the boy’s death and the horror in Syria.

Here, and at newspapers across the globe, we make the unwanted and unconvincing decisions about which parts of tragedy to share with the public. These decisions have been fodder for criticism and introspection since the beginning of newspapers.

There is only one thing I’m certain of, that there are no right answers. Balancing the feelings of those dragged into the horror of losing a child with the very real need to tell the community what they want and need to know is an imperfect philosophy.

Am I sure we did the right thing in prominently running that provocative and telling photo? No. Would I make the same decision now? Yes.

And when my tour of newsroom duty finally comes to an end, I will be glad and relieved that I never have to hear such tragedies nor make such revolting decisions again. And I hope those who do it after me feel exactly the same way and make sure they tell us what we need to know.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

It’s pretty hard to fit all that went wrong in 2016 into a space this small.

Like most of the planet, I’m aghast at recalling not only the front-page tragedies that struck all over the globe, but the seemingly endless list of wrongs that just couldn’t compete with terrorist and war atrocities in the Middle East, American cities, even nightclubs, and public places all across Europe.

The year illustrated the breathtaking ability for humans to bring about their own misery. And no doubt the personification of “that’s just wrong” is Donald Trump.

Not only is it just wrong that Americans would permit Trump to occupy the limelight on the public stage, but then elect him to the most critical job in the country? It’s difficult to see how anything can be more wrong than putting a blustering, dangerous and ill-informed liar in any position of power, especially the country’s most powerful position.

Even more wrong than Trump himself, is the American electorate who voted for a man who’s promised to make life harder for them, for all of us. The biggest wrong of 2016 was an America dumbed down to the point that the masses can’t distinguish between fact and fiction, lies and truth, movies and reality, good and bad, right and wrong. We’ve become a country where elderly people shake their fists and say, “I don’t want the government interfering with my Medicare.” We’re a country of people who no longer have any options for our futures other than Social Security — and who voted for people who have promised to diminish Social Security benefits.

We’re a country of people who depend on the Affordable Care Act to have health insurance to provide life-sustaining drugs and treatment. But these same people voted for others who promised to repeal the ACA, saying that they didn’t think anybody really meant it.

We’re a country of people struggling for housing, education, health care and even safe or adequate food, spending more on defense and military expenditures than the next eight top-spending nations combined — including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and India. And we voted for people who want to significantly increase that bloated budget, meaning we must decrease spending on things like education, medical care, roads and veterans’ benefits. The alternative to that would be raising taxes or borrowing more money.

We’re a country that laughs at our own intelligence agencies when they say the Russians hacked into the email of politicians and political officials for the sole purpose of swinging a presidential election, believing the Russian government instead.

We’re a country of people who voted for people who have continually made it profitable to send manufacturing operations overseas for the sole purpose of exploiting cheaper labor while maximizing tax-savings on increased profits. And the same people then voted for others to bring those jobs back to the United States, even though they won’t change the very tax laws that enabled the exodus.

We are a people who believe mightily in science that we like — science that produces video games, movies on demand, phones that run our lives, cure us from cancer. But we are the same people that discount or scoff at science that  resolutely tells us we are endangering our economies and our very lives by denying our role in global climate change, and that we must address it. We are a people who believe TV stars instead of scientists and our own physicians when they tell us that childhood vaccinations are safe, and ignoring them puts the entire population in peril.

Right here in Colorado we continue to vote for people who refuse to see that Colorado’s rapid growth is destroying the very reasons it’s such an attractive place to live — because we won’t dedicate enough resources to transportation and education.

Right here in Aurora we have all agreed that police transparency is the answer to maintaining trust and peace between cops and the public, yet we repeatedly refuse to create an independent oversight program that can investigate police controversies and deliver a trusted answer to cops and civilians.

No doubt, the year was marred by an endless string of tragedies. But the greatest tragedy of all is how Americans have gone far beyond not taking the time to make informed decisions on matters. Even worse, Americans now form opinions based on lies, distortions, and disinformation — and they don’t know any better, or care.

It would be comforting to believe that the country has bottomed out in 2016, and that we have nowhere to go but up.  But until we wake up and wise up, we are simply leading our own circular parade of fools. History has shown repeatedly that such a reckless march ends only in a very bad place.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

We owe our readers and all of America an apology.

Not just us, but all of the U.S. media have done a grave disservice to our nation’s readers, viewers and listeners during the past few years.

We have lied to you about the 2016 presidential election.

We have lied not in the way that Donald Trump and even the Colorado Republican Party say we have. Actually, it’s worse. We have failed to follow the number-one tenet of journalism: accuracy.

While we, and especially I, have repeatedly blamed the deterioration of the Republican Party and the rise of tea-party activists for making it possible to nominate Trump for president, it is the media that is most at fault.

We were dishonest in that, from the beginning, we treated Trump like any other political candidate, allowing him to say whatever he wanted. On occasion, and often not, we would later in the story or the broadcast add an aside, dutifully allowing competitors or some expert to say briefly that, no, there aren’t countless white people murdered each year at the hands of blacks. No, it isn’t widely accepted that President Barack Obama is a Kenyan citizen and not one born in the United States. No, American Muslims — and actually almost all Muslims worldwide — don’t hate non-Muslims and hope to kill as many as they can or become complicit with Mid-East terrorists.

Just like all of you, we were mesmerized by Trump because he was so laughable and entertaining. Facing almost two years of scores of policy wonks duking it out over partisan talking points looked bleak.

Trump changed all that from the first day. He rode down an escalator with his orange face and comical comb-over and told the world that Mexico sends hordes of rapists and murderers to our country.

It wasn’t until months later, after he rose feverishly in the polls — and his GOP competitors couldn’t yell loud enough or roll their eyes fast enough — that the media began pointing out higher up in the stories that Trump was erroneous about Muslims dancing in the streets as the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. He was erroneous about the Colorado presidential caucus being rigged. He was erroneous about numbers about all kinds of things.

It was well after all of that, after Trump snagged the Republican nomination, that the media outside of editorials and columns began to point out when Trump lied about things. He lies a lot.

But so did we. We were played. We forgot that our most important job is to tell readers the real story, as accurately as possible. We’ve become so accustomed to being what we think is fair to our sources, that we’ve forgotten our first job is to be fair to our readers.

What we should have told you is that a clearly ill-prepared, celebrity billionaire erupted in a shocking racist delusion and announced he would seek the Republican nomination. We could have reserved that fact that he was a pompous lout for the editorial page.

Had Trump been a former state legislator from Idaho or a Midwestern CPA or an Arizona sheriff, that would have been the end of that.

We should have quoted psychologists and pundits, explaining why and how someone like Trump would seek any public office, especially that of the country’s chief administrator. And we should have immediately debunked anything we allowed him to spew into our pages and airwaves. Fact checking — after the fact? That’s a joke.

But we didn’t even do that in the beginning. We allowed Trump to use us to create a vast legion of fearful, paranoid and wretched followers, eager to hear his fantasy about the chaos in American urban areas where blacks only make time to murder whites and themselves, lying about  a massive crime wave that doesn’t exist. He’s created a virtual militia that passionately believe that every Muslim in America is a threat to our security.

We were polite or remiss in not pointing out that Trump is a crackpot, like we diligently point that out about people such as David Duke and Colorado’s own Capitol kook, state Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chapps” Klingenschmitt.

Day after day, week after week, we allowed Trump to gain millions and millions of dollars worth of unfettered, free air time and print advertising, building a massive propaganda machine. It sucked in millions of Americans who now believe that the United States is on the cusp of collapse, and only he can stop it from happening with iron rule. And he’s worked hard to ward off any potential dose of reality that could dispell the delusion. He began and will finish his campaign banging the drum against the media, which he says are corrupt, conspiring liars. Meanwhile, he uses them nearly 24/7 to perpetuate his growing repertoire of fantastic lies, exaggerations and refuted denials.

We are sorry. I am sorry. While I was at the front of the parade warning readers about the clear danger of what seemed then to be merely reckless rhetoric, we, too, have published endless inaccurate wire and local stories. We were complicit in allowing Trump and his followers to perpetuate gross and outrageous lies by not clearly calling them out early in the news pages.

Sunday night, as news that FBI Director James Comey has again cleared Clinton of criminal intent or behavior in a bizarre twist in her email saga, the Associated Press ran headlines of Trump’s reaction, claiming that the FBI is wrong, that Clinton is clearly guilty of something, and that “she knows it.”

It’s a lie. The entire short, miserable political life of Donald Trump is a complete and total lie, and we’re sorry.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

You’re being played.

Donald Trump is successfully creating a delusional world of fear and lies to persuade people who later will know better that he is just a ruthless con.

If you’re buying into the racket that Trump is selling this time, you’re about to get stuck with the worst time-share deal in the history of this country.

I get why about a quarter of Americans would fall for Trump’s scam. Some of these people put their faith into a belief that hard work will always lead to success — only to have their lives turned upside down by industry after industry that went after cheap labor abroad. Some of these people are flagrant or closet racists who live in fear of brown and yellow Americans assuming power and doing to them what, as a nation, we’ve done to minorities for centuries. Some of these people see Trump as a savior to route out a government run not by the will of the people, but the will of big-money interest calling the shots in Congress.

These are people who have bought into the decades-long demonization of Hillary Clinton. Clinton most certainly is guilty. But she’s guilty of being a political animal, just like every other U.S. president, congressman, senator, governor and state legislator in history. And she’s guilty of being a woman.

She’s guilty of being hunted and stalked by alt-right critics like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, who accuse her of being a “pay-to-play” government official. Her alleged crime is giving an audience to wealthy people from here and abroad in exchange for their donating huge sums of money to the Clinton Foundation. The sole purpose of that foundation has been to address problems in disease- and poverty-ravaged hot-spots on the planet that nobody else cares about. Gingrich? He was thrown out of his office after being found guilty of tax-exempt fraud and ethics violations — by his own party.

Donald Trump’s foundation is now shut down in New York and accused of using money he solicits for his business interests. Fraud.

And her GOP critics in Congress? Each and every one spends endless hours giving an audience to owners of big corporations, industries or interests who donate billions of dollars to their campaigns to keep them in office, Republicans and Democrats alike. These fat-cats don’t donate money to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa or feed starving children. They donate money to lawmakers to get votes for their own cash benefit. The entire American political system is based on pay to play, made even worse by the infamous Supreme Court Citizens United decision. Clinton has used it to help wretched people abandoned by the rest of the planet. Trump has used it to build failed hotels, fraudulent-colleges and bankrupt casinos.

Clinton is being pilloried for stupidly and arrogantly using a non-government email system as secretary of state — just like past secretaries of state and other officials have, as well as endless members of Congress and the Bush administration. The FBI concluded after a long investigation that Clinton did not commit any crime. There was no criminal intent. None. But Trump has exaggerated and outright lied about the issue, convincing those who despise her of his own erroneous “reality.”

These are people who agree with or overlook the indisputable fact that Trump has repeatedly made outlandish racist threats and remarks that have caused his own party leaders to strike out at him. They have, unthinkably, endorsed his Democratic opponent. Trump lashed out against a California judge born in Indiana over his Latino heritage. He struck out against the father of a Muslim American killed while fighting for his country. He struck out against a South American Miss Universe winner — whom he had called a fat pig — after the woman publicly admonished Trump for his callous cruelty, spreading fiendish lies about her.

Military officials, defense officials, justice officials, past presidents and presidential candidates — all Republicans — and every single hard-line, reputable conservative newspaper in the country have all adamantly insisted that Trump is not only unqualified to be president, he is a threat to national and international security, economic stability and the very rule of law.

How can anyone be so deaf to something so clear and consistent?

Because they are being played.

Trump has used the media to persuade people that they can’t trust the media. That the indisputable documentations about his lies, are just lies. He’s used the media to persuade people that the media is to blame for women lining up to tell the same story about being sexually assault by Trump — just like he detailed those crimes himself in the infamous Billy Bush video. Just like he admitted to on past radio shows when he got some kind of thrill and celebrity charge out of being a TV sexual bad boy.

Trump’s blinded fans keep calling it “man talk.” They say the growing list of accusers are liars. Bitches. Sluts.

Why do email phishing scams, car-lot schemes, furniture sales ploys, time-share wrangling and a long list of other grifts still exist? Because they still work. Because there are still suckers out there these con men can count on to believe that they really might get a cut of Mr. Baradhuh Hamilton’s fortune in a Swiss bank that he will share if they just provide their own banking information. There are still people who believe that if they don’t sign for a car on the first lot they visit, they’re going to miss out on the best and only deal of their entire lives. There are still people who think that there is a media conspiracy to persuade America that every single, reputable conservative think-tank, columnist, editor, military official, and past sexual assault victim is lying because they don’t want someone else to get to that Swiss bank account.

Trump is a swindler, and he’s the worst kind. And when he can’t deport all the Mexicans and Muslims? And when he can’t kill trade agreements because those industries and companies that truly own Congress won’t let him? And when he can’t deliver cheap and “wonderful” health care because the health-care and drug industry would never stand for it? And when the terrorists strike here in America again because that’s what terrorists do? Trump will say it’s the fault of the media. The Congress. The rigged system.

His believers won’t get what they want, they’ll only be stuck with him.  But not you. You will either say, “I told you so,” or you will realize you’d been played. Or we can all avoid this by voting for Hillary Clinton.

Don’t be played by Trump.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter or Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

Take a slow, deep breath, folks. Nothing’s really changed in the last few days, or the last several months for that matter.

While Trump and his supporters want to make it that the absurd concussion grenade FBI Director James Comey tossed into the election Friday is a game changer, it’s just not.

Donald Trump is the same bombastic, prevaricating, bloviating, conspiracy-spinning, sexual predator and demagogue that he always was. No matter what’s happened during the last few days, Trump has yet to earn the serious endorsement of a single reputable newspaper. Even those conservative newspapers that have never, ever endorsed a Democrat, the message has been relenting and consistent. These newspapers don’t just suggest a better and higher road with Hillary Clinton, they have one by one agreed that Trump is a dangerous, inept, foul, con man who will inflict untold damage on the nation and its citizens.

That is not hyperbole, and it’s not unwarranted. Trump has been gleefully doubling down on his hateful, delusional rhetoric since Comey announced Friday the FBI wanted to see emails on the computer of the disgraced and perverted spouse of a Clinton aide. Comey’s rolling, surreal disaster in how he’s handled the entire Clinton email issue is a problem unto itself, wrongly inflicted on the waning days of this campaign.

But the immediate problem is Trump, not Comey. Trump has repeatedly insisted in the last few days that Colorado’s election system is “rigged” and unreliable. That if is shows any result other than his victory, it’s been corrupted.

His bizarre and repugnant blathering and behavior have washed over the country so long and with such numbing vitriol that dangerous and despicable stunts like that no longer garner the shock and disgust they should.

This inept fool is saying that in a state where a staunch Republican in charge of all elections and an army of equally staunch Republican county election clerks, they are so inept or corrupt that they would encourage or allow Democrats to cheat their way to victory, especially in the presidential race. It’s a lie.

Trump’s spurious and unbridled inanity knows no bounds. He has been that way from the beginning, and he will finish Election Day the same pathetic liar and cheat he began this race, whether he wins the White House or not.

Nothing has changed. And the problem of Donald Trump didn’t spontaneously inflict the United States a few months ago. Responsibility for the monstrosity of Trump lies squarely with the Republican Party. It was GOP rank and file during the first Bush administration that let this ugliness through the door with “leaders” like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. By flirting with this fringe group and using them for new votes and cash, Republicans at first emboldened them. Then they began to embrace them, elevating previously unthinkable extremists to high-profile spots. Extremists like Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton — and Donald Trump — are now the face of the Republican Party.

The new Republicans began their dogged stalking of Hillary Clinton as soon as she became first lady, and they’ve only ramped up their obsessive hyperbole since.

The unbridled exaggerations and outright fabrications about Clinton are without precedence. And as her second run for the White House became imminent four years ago, their witch hunt has reached fever pitch, playing the tell-a big-loud-lie game started by Limbaugh and Gingrich decades ago.

Naively trying to find ways to scuttle their stalking attacks, Clinton has made dumb mistakes, mistakes that have purposely been blown so far out of proportion that to anyone honest and informed, they appear comical. Even dependable conservative media have highlighted that fact.

But in their zeal to stop Hillary Clinton at all costs and appease their festering tea party, the GOP has come undone.

Now, the inmates have taken ruthless control of the GOP asylum, and the rank-and-file and even party leaders are petrified of what Trump’s minions will do. Rather than boldly and courageously denounce Trump for what he is, a fraud, they contrive ways to distance themselves just enough to keep from infuriating his fans — but not draw invective from mainstream Americans for their stunts.

It’s scandalous, given what’s at stake. These same Republicans fear a Trump victory even more than do Democrats, knowing that they dare not “stand up” to a President Trump. If they do, he has made it clear he and his fans will destroy them.

If Trump wins, and when his fraudulence is outed, Democrats will make hay in Congress in two years to punish Trump’s supporters and to try and save the country. All is lost for the GOP with a Trump victory. But worse, all would be lost for all of us.

It’s been that way since Trump road the golden escalator down to announce his run for president, promising to “make America great again” by wrapping the worst of humanity in an American flag.

So here we are, days from an election, fighting the same fights. Never have so many people that so Americans trust from all sides of the political spectrum gone out of their way to warn against Donald Trump. Trump’s allies fighting back include the likes of dubious extremists like Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, Roger Ailes, Andrew Breitbart and the infamous racist David Duke.

Take a deep breath, America. If you can’t see clear of the smokescreen, then look to those you admire and trust. The chances are almost certain that they’re voting for Clinton, even if they don’t agree with her political platform. And most likely, these people will  beseech you to vote for Clinton, too.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

Thanks to Donald Trump and a boatload of downstream political dudes, we now know it really does suck to be an American woman.

Not so long ago, a more polite yet misogynistic society referred to Trump’s penchant for accosting women as the boorish behavior of a “masher.” It was something Doris Day might breathlessly have said in a powder-blue suit while starring with Rock Hudson. Often forgotten and forgiven, it’s just as a guy thing.

Now we can be frank and honest. Trump’s behavior constitutes sexual assault. His victims aren’t coming forward with stories of buyer’s remorse the morning after. They’re women who consistently back up what he bragged about on that now notorious bus-tape with TV personality Billy Bush. He has molested strange women by forcing unwanted kisses and gropes, often just moments after meeting them.

And no matter how repulsive you think Trump’s pursed lips unexpectedly attaching themselves to yours would be while he holds you still for the attack, you can pretty much rest assured that his buds, the rest of the country and even some of your friends just shrug it off, and would expect you to as well.

Locker room banter. Guy talk. Boys will be boys. At least he thinks you’re attractive.

I’ve been just as guilty as Billy Bush at times, laughing off the awkward gaucheries of pals who tell waitresses such winning flirtations such as, “and I’ll take a side of you with that.”

Women hate that. I hate that. But rather than say, “That was rude, dude,” I’ve looked the other way at that and much worse.

I know how awful this is mostly because of my wife. She’s drop-dead gorgeous. I don’t mean stunningly beautiful like every guy should think his wife is eye candy. I mean almost everyone who meets her makes those comments.

I’ve never lied about the fact that it got my attention the moment we met 20-some years ago. But I can honestly say her wit, intelligence, talent, charm, integrity, compassion, hedonism and mutual love of steep and deep Colorado snow make me love her. I thank my lucky stars every day that I won the girlfriend jack pot — except for when she disagrees with me. Which is every day.

And while I appreciate just looking at her all time, so do a lot of men.

She gets marriage proposals while picking apples in grocery stores. Funny? More than once these guys then follow her to her car in the parking lot. It’s a better day when the guys just follow her around the store and then lose interest after a while.

She can’t really go for walks by herself in our totally walkable neighborhood. On several occasions, cars drive by her once, then twice, then slow up and pace her, guys asking for “directions” or just wanting her to get in their car.

Sober men insist she yield her time or at least her phone number. Inebriated men badger her for a “date.” Behind every eye roll women offer against harassment is a worry about how far this guy is going to take it.

And she’s like millions and millions of other American women. She’s expected to just laugh it off, look the other way or spend her time explaining why it’s not going to happen. And when she does? She’s “a bitch.”

And we all just shrug it off because that’s the way things are. Or were.

It’s been this way so long, even though women have seriously pushed back against it for years now, that it seemed it could be no other way.

And it won’t change, unless men make it stop. Instead of being Billy Bush — who not only acquiesced Trump’s molester talk, he went much further by becoming complicit, asking a woman whether she had a hug for Trump — we need to push back against the pack mentality.

Men must tell each other they’re being rude, thoughtless or repulsive. I don’t mean that we can’t have friendly, flirtatious banter among peers and friends who have trust and understanding. But your co-worker isn’t your friend and doesn’t want to know that you think her shoes make her look hot. Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly doesn’t want to hear former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tell her she’s “fascinated” with sex because she asks questions about the effect of Trump’s accusers on his campaign. Women in Aurora don’t want to hear Congressman Mike Coffman say he doesn’t know if allegations against Trump constitute sexual assault. They do. Women want men to stand up to each other because nothing else will make it stop.

If Trump were to mash his mouth against my daughter’s or my wife’s? If he were to run his hands over them like he brags about? I’d call the cops because I know they wouldn’t. They know what happens to too many women who out “mashers.”

And the next time I hear a guy tell a strange woman how she should take a load off her pretty feet and sit on his lap, I’ll tell them they sound as creepy as Trump, making American women grate again.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@AuroraSentinel.com

Clearly this difficult election has been made so hard for Republicans and all of us ornery reporters because we’re just not speaking the same language any more.

“Privacy” means one thing to may Republicans and something completely different to the media world.

Republicans in Aurora and Colorado and, hey, all across the country have been vocal about telling the likes of reporters here at the Aurora Sentinel and other places to quit trying to vote-shame them about whether they will or they won’t be voting for Donald Trump.

Congressman Mike Coffman and other Colorado big-office Republicans are being pummeled by stories about how they let a man who is arguably the worst presidential candidate in the history of presidential candidates to become the face of the GOP. They are tired beyond tears of us asking whether they’ll vote for Trump, and when they decided they wouldn’t, and how painfully they lament they ever heard of the guy. The problem for them is, such contrition would be good for the sole purpose of assuaging angry reasonable people, but such bad-mouthing of the man assured to Make America Great Again enrages the fiery Trump crowd.

When Aurora Sentinel reporters pressed down-ballot folks for who they’re supporting at the top of the ticket, there was chagrin, tap dancing and outright indignation.

At the top of the resentment this week was Republican Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, who sniffed at our question of will-you-or-won’t-you and declined to answer.

“The secret ballot is as much a cornerstone of American democracy as is freedom of the press, and last time I checked, officials and office holders of both parties still enjoy the right of a secret ballot,” Hogan told Reporter Brandon Johansson. He went on to say he didn’t think it was newsworthy to ask elected officials who they were voting for so close to the election. “That just doesn’t feel like reporting news to me. It feels like making news. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it doesn’t feel right,” he said.

That was how Hogan felt until Thursday morning, when the campaign to re-elect Congressman Mike Coffman issued a release saying that Hogan and other Republican mayors in the metro area were only too happy to tell residents they were voting for Coffman, and they should, too.

“Mike has been a strong advocate for Aurora. He has made protecting Buckley AFB, and completing the V.A. Hospital critical priorities during his service in Congress. Mike deserves another term,” Hogan said, according to the release.

Apparently not all ballot secrets are worth keeping.

Hogan isn’t alone among local Republicans only too happy to share their ballot secret about their choice for Congress, but solemnly sworn to not tell a soul about their choice for president.

“All three Arapahoe County commissioners, commissioners Nancy Sharpe, Rod Bockenfeld and Nancy Doty, chimed in to support Mike,” Coffman’s campaign said in the release.

That bell rang flat, however, for Doty. Running now for a state Senate seat in southeast Aurora, Doty maintains that she can’t tell the Sentinel or anyone who she’s voting for president, because of the sacred secret ballot thing.

Of course, I could have this thing all wrong. Being truly secret, it could be that these local Republicans are more like New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who may vote for one candidate while supporting another while circling in regard to an endorsement. It could well be these Republicans talk nice about Coffman in public, but then plan to vote for his Democrat challenger, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, when they get the lead out on the actual ballot. It would be their little secret.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and FaceBook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com