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Dave Perry: Preoccupations

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


Four years later, we’re still arguing whether some vestige of southern segregation has a place here in Colorado and America.

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the case of whether the religious rights of a Lakewood wedding cake decorator allows him to refuse service to gay customers.

No, is the short answer to a longstanding problem in America.

By refusing to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling, the state’s high court in effect reinforces past rulings that ensure public businesses cannot cite religious beliefs to justify discrimination.

Every time I see historical photos of “whites only” signs in southern shops, restaurants or at water fountains, I marvel at what could possess someone to justify and defend bigotry.

I can remember hugely passionate speeches from the 1960s where Alabama Gov. George Wallace and others argued that it was God’s will the races be separated. He and others invoked previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings upholding segregation and bigotry. Among them was the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, a case trying to resolve whether blacks could be refused business and government services and treated lesser than whites.

“The object of the [Fourteenth] amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to endorse social, as distinguished from political, equality. . . If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.”

And that is where the mystery of this problem begins and ends. Ruling whites had learned and believed that black Americans were somehow inferior to whites, justifying segregation.

And here we are again. Instead of hanging “No Negroes” signs, businesses like the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood want to be able to cite their religion as justification for putting “No Gays” placards on the door. Actually, owner Jack Phillips has said he doesn’t want to do anything so offensive as advertise his bigotry on the front door of his business. He prefers to keep his discrimination quiet and private, seeing how it’s just among him and his god and the two men he refused to make a wedding cake for in 2012, because the Bible tells him so.

But his religion makes clear to him is that homosexuals are inferior to heterosexuals as judged by society, the law, his peers and his maker. It’s no different than the 20th Century U.S. Supreme Court — and for generations after all over The South — ruling that their beliefs justified seeing blacks as inferior to whites, and that the government was righteous in segregating them.

I’ve never been able to understand how Judeo-Christian types decide which parts of the Bible to take seriously, metaphorically, historically or with a pillar of salt. I’ll stipulate that the Good Book has advice on homosexuality, but as many enjoy pointing out, the Bible insists on killing, maiming or snubbing people for things like sassing the husband, talking crap to your mom and dad, adultery and accommodating those with flat noses.

Those age-old “Bible-says” arguments were settled by federal courts and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court long ago. Why can’t we get over it?

In a spate of rulings, such as Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, Atlanta Motel Inc. v. U.S. and Katzenbach v. McClung, and Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court has been consistent in ruling that there are no reasons public entities and public businesses can discriminate. None.

Hats off to the Colorado American Civil Liberties Union for fighting off the newest attempt to wrap religion around bigotry.

Of course you can believe anything you damn well please. Those who think a blasphemous state supreme court has tromped all over the First Amendment refuse to understand that you have the freedom to practice any religion that suits your fancy, as long as you’re not fancying imposing your view on others, usurping their rights, or outright directly abusing someone. That’s the kind of thing that sets us apart from places where Sharia Law calls for stoning to death mouthy daughters and men who have a thing for other men.

Critics of the entire lawsuit say the ruling should go the other way because these two gay men could easily have found someone else to make a cake to celebrate their same-sex nuptials. That would mean that we should allow businesses to go back to hanging up “Whites Only” signs on businesses, as long as blacks and other minorities have other options at hand.

No. Those of us who know just how seriously wrong that is must help those who don’t understand that homosexual Americans are not inferior to heterosexuals, the same way America helped The South move beyond it. But until everyone in America gets it, we have to have laws and court rulings to fill in the gap. And here in Colorado, that’s what we’ve done.

From Monday’s Associated Press

Colorado court: ruling stands that baker can’t cite religion

DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press

DENVER | The Colorado Supreme Court refused Monday to take up the case of a suburban Denver baker who would not make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, letting stand a lower court’s ruling that the Masterpiece Cakeshop owner cannot cite his Christian beliefs in refusing service.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the development.

“The highest court in Colorado today affirmed that no one should be turned away from a public-facing business because of who they are or who they love,” Ria Tabacco Mar, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project who argued the case, said in a statement. “We all have a right to our personal beliefs, but we do not have a right to impose those beliefs on others and discriminate against them.”

Tabacco Mar had argued on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who had been refused service by baker Jack Phillips.

Attorney Nicolle Martin, who represents Phillips, said they had not yet decided whether to accept the ruling, ask Colorado’s highest court to reconsider, or approach the U.S. Supreme Court. Martin says she is surprised the Colorado court would not consider the case.

“This is a matter that affects all Americans, not just people of faith,” Martin said.

Phillips declined to make a cake in 2012 for Craig and Mullins, who were married in Massachusetts and planned a celebration in Colorado. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which ruled in December 2013 that Phillips discriminated against them and ordered him to change his store policy against making cakes for gay weddings or face fines. The Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled against him.

Phillips, who referred questions from The Associated Press to his lawyer on Monday, has said he has no problem serving gay people at his store, but that making a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his Christian beliefs.

Such issues have been considered by courts and legislators across the country. A new North Carolina law prevents local and state government from mandating protections for LGBT people in the private sector or at stores and restaurants. The law suffered a blow when a federal appeals court issued an opinion that threatens part of the law requiring students to use bathrooms in line with their gender at birth in public schools and universities.

Colorado lawmakers introduced a bill in February that would have blocked the state from taking any action that may burden a person’s religious freedom unless it was the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. A House committee indefinitely postponed discussion on the bill.

Critics say the legislation that has been proposed in states across the country to protect those who — due to religious beliefs — decline to employ or serve certain people are aimed at the LGBT community and are discriminatory.

Sure they can.

Aurora Dem and former state House hopeful Nancy Cronk took to Facebook this week to ensure rules are followed and rat out right-wing gunners trying to jimmy the system at a local Department of Motor Vehicle office. Her son went there to do driver-license stuff and noticed that outside the office was a table set up with volunteers, collecting signatures for those who want to see a pro-gun-rights initiative make it to the statewide ballot.

Nancy clearly would not.

The volunteers ask folks if they want to sign, and if the answer is “yes,” they give up the John Hancock right there. And if they’re not registered voters, a requirement to sign a ballot petition — well, how convenient. Just step that way, register to vote, come on back and sign.

If they have no interest in signing the petition, or get squinty about Colorado already having way too many guns and gunners, well, see ya.

Legal?

Sure, according to election officials. Nothing in state or local laws precludes petition gatherers from using busy public property for such a thing, and props to someone clever enough to know that county DMV and clerk’s offices can register the willing but unable.

You don’t even have to ask, said Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Matt Crane. “You can just set up shop.”

Anybody can, he said. Gun rights activists, anti-frackers, potential political candidates, bleeding hearts and conservative curmudgeons alike.

One complaint about these petition gatherers focuses on whether they were asking people if they were Republicans.

“I don’t think there’s anything illegal about it,” he said, although he questioned the wisdom, diplomacy and ethics of asking people their political persuasion, potentially putting off a potential signer.

As to the image of the Arapahoe County Sheriff at the DMV, it’s a poster of Sheriff Dave Walcher sporting the county’s snazzy new black uniforms, which have replaced the deputy blues they’ve worn for decades. It’s part of a campaign to educate residents about what the county cops now look like. Walcher’s term doesn’t come up until 2018, and he hasn’t said publicly whether he’s running for re-election.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher

As to creepily watching stuff, well, they do that for a living.

Here’s the Facebook post:

My son went to the Arapahoe County DMV to renew his driver’s license. On the premises was a table and a volunteer who asked him if he wanted to sign a pro-gun rights petition. (A friend also told me they have a similar table at the County Clerk and Recorder’s office, inside the building, on County premises). When someone answers yes, they are directed to a table where they are given the opportunity to register to vote, if they are not already registered. If they say no, they are not.

Is this legal? Would the Republican Secretary of State do anything about it? Would the Republican Clerk and Recorder in Araphaoe County do anything about it if it were illegal? Also doubtful.

As if that weren’t enough, a few feet away is a lifesize, labeled photo cutout of the Sheriff (R) who is running for re-election. The photo does not reference voting — it just appears to be monitoring the area in a creepy way. Welcome to Arapahoe County CO, folks.

Sometimes I get confused whether I’m asleep and dreaming or awake and hallucinating. Not that it’s an advancing middle age kind of thing, it’s the weirdest damned presidential political cycle I’ve ever seen in my increasingly long lifetime.

I was there in front of the TV for Nixon’s famous “Checkers Speech,” although I really only remember duck-and-cover scares and the assassination.

But I don’t ever remember anything like this cycle’s election. Late on Tuesday, I realized this:

The wife of the Democratic president who was famous for not having sex with that woman — not that woman, the other woman, only he did  — finally beat the elderly socialist enough to make it look like she’s going win like we all thought she would win. So now, it looks pretty certain that she’s  running against the billionaire Republican fascist who used his reality TV-star persona to snatch the GOP nomination from the religious extremist, Canadian-born Cuban senator from Texas, who’s the most hated man in congress and suspected in Florida of being the Zodiac Killer.

And here in Colorado? Republicans vastly preferred the Lone Star Canadian Zodiac Killer’s Sharia Law proposal over the orange fascist’s final solution for Mexicans and Muslims. Supporters of Sen. Smug have been gloating over how stupid billionaire Trumpah Lumpah and his gang is because they didn’t know GOP presidential caucus rules for this state and that party during this cycle allow the sneakiest candidate to steal all the candidates while the looooooserrrrr watches.

Colorado Democrats leaned toward drinking up Grampa’s Commie-Lite Kool-Aid punch, and not so much for the woman candidate that women don’t like. And now, everybody says they’re a winner and pretty much assured a White House victory.

Wake me up when it’s really all over.

The gloves didn’t exactly come off Monday in the anticipated mega-battle between state Sen. Morgan Carroll and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman for Aurora’s 6th Congressional District, but the race’s first video ad spilled onto the Internet.

State Sen. Morgan Carroll, left and Congressman Mike Coffman, right, battling in 2016 for the 6th Congressional District seat

Carroll, who unsurprisingly clinched the Democratic nomination unanimously this weekend at a statewide party confab, doesn’t jab at incumbent Congressman Coffman but rather pokes gently at the need for someone in Congress offering “real” representation.

It’s essentially a “how d’ do” video, letting people know Carroll —formerly state Senate president, then minority leader, and longtime Aurora activist and labor lawyer — is well connected and imposing on Coffman a serious battle to keep his seat. Takeaway newspaper headlines keep marveling over how Morgan is a “top tier” candidate.

Two years ago, top-tier candidate former Democratic state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff struck out big taking the then three-term Republican incumbent on. Since then, Carroll has been systematically building a case and battle plan against Coffman.Dave Perry

She’s succeeded in getting the backing of top-level national Democrats, earmarking the race for cash.

In a time and place where political civility has evaporated on the national and even state level, this race has so far been almost spookily tame and polite.

Coffman has launched a couple of verbal eye-rolls Carroll’s way about where she stands on closing Guantanamo Bay and bringing inmates to Colorado prisons. Carroll has fired campaign spit wads at Coffman trying to tie him to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Coffman’s campaign missives have been almost solely about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi personally wanting him out and choosing Carroll to do her political dirty work. Carroll has focused mostly on a do-nothing C0ngress that she says she can change.

Anything resembling serious political differences and mud is being handled by proxies so far. There, local operatives have been pounding Coffman for his allegiance to GOP policies on abortion, equal-pay legislation and ties to conservative-extremist candidates and causes. Coffman allies have fired away to bind Carroll to Pelosi, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, big government, deficit spending and a smattering of hot-button conservative causes.

So meet Carroll on her video here. Her website is here. 

Camp Coffman’s website is here. All you can see so far is a nice picture of Mike, a form to sign up for email missives and a link to give money. No specific video yet. Officials in his campaign weren’t available right away to say what’s next or if voters can expect a premier video roll soon as well.

Given the huge stakes for him as well as the Democrats and the Republicans, it can’t be long before all this politesse gives way to some the familiar partisan punches.

Follow the 6th Congressional District race on Twitter with @AuroraPols. Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook.

At the top of the list of the myriad things I’m thankful for is that the digital age wasn’t not around in the 1970s to document my extreme adolescent folly.

Being a parent of a college kid now, I cringe in parental sympathy when I hear the tales of teenagers busted for taking naked or lurid selfies and sending them out as some kind of oh-my-god-what-in-the-sam-hell-were-you-thinking flirtation.

I’m one of those parents who agonized over having the “stranger danger” talk with my daughter. Should we protect kids from what plenty of us are sure is a planet-full of perverts, all hoping to accost them? Or does that “protection” only make them jaded humans like me, who see people talking to my kid as potential suspects? In full disclosure I cut her grapes in half until she was 17, intent on avoiding the choking hazard.

I know I’m not alone. It’s people like me who were well meaning when they took “sexting” seriously, seeing it as an easy way for pedophiles to make our worst nightmares a reality.

Unfortunately, rather than keeping naked pics of our kids out of the hands of malevolent creeps, we’ve snared thousands of our kids who aren’t bad guys — they’re just stupid guys, and girls.

They’re stupid like the law that snags them. The law says that if you send someone a picture of a provocatively naked minor, you are a sicko felon and we’re going to brand you as that, possibly for life. The law is stupid in that it potentially makes you a sicko felon for life, even if the nastygram was of yourself expressing your 16-year-old stupidity and herd mentality. It makes you a potential sicko felon for life if you’re 17 and your also-teen boyfriend sends you his proudest moment pic and you keep it on your phone.

Keep in mind this is all perfectly legal but equally as stupid for two 18-year-old kids to do. Or, say, a growing list of high-profile inadvertent political celebrities. State officials say that although there have been a handful of over-the-top sex-offender charges filed against minors, none have been convicted — yet. That part of the problem is worse nationally than here. But there are still herds of stupid kids tripped up by this inadvertent law, many ending up in city, county and district courts.

For a while, we just turned a blind eye to the horror stories about kids dragged in as criminals for stunts that don’t meet that criteria under any concept of the term. Lots of sympathy and tongue clucking over devastated lives that lots of people figured were just messes the kids brought on themselves.

That all changed last year when practically all of Cañon City High School in southern Colorado got hauled in because practically everybody was doing it. There were so many kids foolishly passing nudes back and forth that the sheriff of those parts said it would be ridiculous to do anything but give the kids scoldings instead of court summonses.

We were wrong when we took this so seriously. Not that it isn’t stupid, but it’s really not much more stupid than streaking was in the 70s, and it certainly registers about the same or even less on running afoul of felony sensibilities. It’s not nearly as dangerous as passing around trays of magic mushrooms or LSD at concerts. So I’ve been told.

It turns out our society, our media and our digital prowess have created an uncomfortable social problem that we’ve wrongly turned into a criminal problem.

This week, Republican state lawmakers wisely turned back a well-meaning Democratic-led effort to create a new misdemeanor crime of texting your junk to your teenage pals and significant others. The idea is we could get the courts to swat at kids for their inanity, but in a way that is erasable, unlike the Internet.

Just undo this part of the problem. Start with decriminalizing nudie selfie incidents for minors. What we risk in facilitating a genuinely sick 16-year-old, we gain back by realizing the vast majority of kids should never be dressed up as criminals. We just have to find a way to persuade them dress before they hit “post.”

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

And from today’s “no-limits” political saga, a shot rang out across the Colorado Twitterverse when GOP state Sen. Tim “Dead Eye” Neville tweeted a picture of himself, gun in hand — safety off his sense of judgment — looking like an NRA poster boy for everything that scares the crap out of middle and left America.

Today’s controversy is part of the Republican drive to push Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet out the door on Election Day this fall. Neville is part of a large pack of Republicans running to be the one to take on Bennet after a June primary election.

Dave PerryIn the picture, Neville is sporting a sporting grin, a jacket emblazoned with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners — a group so unnerving even the NRA disavows them — a Trump-like hat that says, “American Patriot,” and he’s holding what looks to be an AR-15 with what a good friend calls “some sexy tactical furniture.”

The picture appears to be taken at a firing range, or possibly the family Tin Foil Hat Hotel and Bunker in his Jeffco basement. He looks to have fired a couple dozen rounds into a copy of an editorial by the Colorado Springs Gazette he didn’t like. Mind you, the legal limit for newly purchased magazines in Colorado is 15 rounds, but who’s counting? Not TimmyBadger.

The Sunday editorial is a warning to Republicans to vote for just about any GOP U.S. Senate hopeful other than Neville, because of his politically dangerous stance on guns and association with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Unlike Neville, who had a few shots wander way off to the right, and who knows how many out into the parking lot, the Gazette didn’t miss their target. Saying that Bennet is extremely vulnerable and that just about any of the more popular GOP candidates should be able to take him out, so to speak.

“Neville’s potential nomination poses Bennet’s best hope,” The Gazette wrote.

Ouch and ouch. The editorial pretty much says the paper was inspired and obligated to take aim at Neville because he’s a straw-poll favorite to make the ballot at a statewide confab this weekend. They clearly had no idea that Neville would lock, load and fire back.

Tim Neville TweetPainful to Neville is a famously conservative newspaper saying he’s just too extreme for their tastes. Mind you, this is a town that has happily produced the likes of Douglas Bruce, Doug Lamborn and Colorado’s infamous bible-thumping, gay-hating, liberal-lashing YouTube preacher-cum-lawmaker Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt.

According to the op-ed deciders at the Gazette, Neville doesn’t fit the bill.

So aiming for the editorial but apparently hitting his own foot, Neville fired away with the camera snapping, thinking this was as good or better an idea than all of the gun giveaways he’s been doing as part of his election campaign.

I would say, no. The tweet plays like a political ad paid for the committees to elect Michael Bennet and erstwhile GOP establishment favorite, Jon Keyser.

A few months ago, we were all cautioning the country’s political hopefuls to “stay classy.” Now, we’re hoping that they stay sane, or something close to it.

Shooting at unflattering newspaper editorials while dressed like the Ducks of Hazzard and showing folks what a marginal shooter he is does not inspire confidence in his judgment nor his prowess. No need to write a letter to the editor, make him or her realize bad things can happen when you take on the TimmyBadger.

Think pathetically creepy yet comically menacing. The only disappointment was that he didn’t take the shot as a selfie, making me worry that someone else also thought this was a good idea.

Pretty easy to see for yourself, it was not.

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

You’re probably going remember Robert Blaha when this is all over.

Whether you vote for the Colorado Springs businessman to win the crowded June primary race to be the GOP candidate to take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, he’ll make an impression.

Dave PerryBlaha is one of a least a dozen Republican candidates certain they can win back the Senate seat from Bennet this November. He and three other candidates — John Keyser, Jack Graham and former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier — each decided to spend the $25,000 or so it takes to get the 10,500 signatures needed to bypass the messy state convention this weekend.

In a field so crowded that just half of them is too many to keep track of, it’s hard to set yourself apart from the conservative herd.

If you’re from Colorado Springs, like Blaha, you may remember him from a couple of years ago when he ran an unsuccessful campaign to supplant Doug Lamborn as CD5’s congressman.

Otherwise, Blaha could be as unique as the college athletic director who wants to be senator. Or one of the county commissioners. Or one of the state lawmakers. Or a city councilman, businessman, political junkie and on and on.

Blaha set himself apart early on this year when he launched his campaign with a video taking shots at Bennet as an accomplice to Obamacare. The spot dark-comically depicted Obamacare as a prostate exam and threw serious shades of an age-old sexual fetish that makes most folks cringe. And there were some bobbleheads.

Totally got my attention. Since then, Blaha — a human resources consultant and motivational speaker — has been toting bobblehead dolls of Bennet around the state and taking cheeky shots to post on his Twitter account. A recent one has the doll in front of a Phillips County sign and says, “No, Michael, this isn’t where they make the screwdrivers…”

Robert Blaha
Robert Blaha

The bobblehead has become a centerpiece in his campaign that, like all of the other Republicans in the race, is all about pushing against Bennet and not each other.

In the four or five forums I’ve seen so far, every candidate agrees that 1. Obamacare must go. 2. Gitmo must stay 3. Bennet has never done anything right. 4. Any gun control law is a bad gun control law. 5. Hillary Clinton is the worst thing since Barack Obama. 6. Repeat. 7. Repeat again.

Since the litmus paper comes out of their mouths with almost the exact same color, the herd is looking for ways to persuade voters they’re all as different as they appear to each other. It’s not easy so far, in part because — unlike the woolly herd of GOP presidential candidates that just can’t say enough bad about each other, each other’s spouses, bathroom habits, genitals, intelligence, mental illness and other pertinent presidential issues — these candidates stampede all over each other to say pretty much the same thing and never, ever, ever anything remotely bad about each other.

Well, sort of. Blaha stopped by the newsroom Friday for some spirited discourse with the shamelessly liberal editor of this editorially liberal news unit.

He said right off he’s working to keep the campaign civil in light of so much nasty politics these days that is anything but civil. He said he’s different than the rest of the herd because he says it’s fruitless and just wrongheaded to vilify political opponents. Instead, he says he wants to listen hard and maybe learn something new.

“Just about every middle-ground voter in the state will be happy to hear that,” I told him. And when I pressed him to recall something he’s learned from liberals that changed his mind, or something he would laud Bennet for, he said, yep, that’s exactly what he’s talking about.

But after a lot more prodding, I don’t recall anything resembling something specific. He said his adult daughters do have strong opinions about the gender pay disparity issue, but I never heard any support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act or anything like that.

He went so far as to say that he doesn’t allow his elbowing GOP brethren and one sisteren — El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton — to just say they want to a) close the EPA b) close the Department of Education c) close Gitmo d) close Obamacare and make that their policy statement, he says he’s forcing them to say, “how.”

“You have to tell voters how you’ll make it happen,” he said.

But when I pressed him to say how he would handle a) closing the EPA b) closing Gitmo c) closing Obamacare et al, I got pretty unspecific specifics. There would be lots of study and attention to attrition at the EPA. Gitmo would pretty much stay the same and Obamacare would be replaced by a competitive insurance marketplace that would allow for interstate portability, except it wouldn’t if a deregulated, free-market insurance company didn’t want to sell in a state you’re moving to.

What I didn’t hear was a dogmatic reaction saying Democrats and all they’ve done was stupid, it was just wrong. The U.S. Senate is filled with honorables from both sides of the aisle readily accusing their opponents of being wrong and stupid.

Neither Blaha nor any of the Colorado GOP gang has so far attached themselves to a policy or a position that sounds any different than anything GOP leaders in the Senate have been trumpeting loudly. That was until Trump started trumpeting some of that stuff, too.

Despite an essentially cloned list of policy positions, Blaha says he can make a difference where the others can’t because it’s his family’s motto — one daughter even has it as a tattoo — and he means it. He doesn’t want to say he’d exactly compromise with Democrats in Washington, D.C. He acknowledges that in a world where the tea party base of the GOP has pushed Trump to where he is right now because he noisily says he will refuse to compromise, suggesting such a thing in a primary battle seeking to court those voters isn’t workable even in Colorado. Maybe especially in Colorado. So instead, he says that he’ll listen to the Democrats and then be so persuasive that his ideas on forcing local police to be the first line of defense against illegal immigrants, fighting against gun control and supporting limits to or ending abortion rights will compel the political opposition to climb on board.

His enthusiasm and passion for meaning it is compelling for sure. But his argument? We’ll see.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com. Follow the Colorado U.S Senate race on Twitter @AuroraPols through Election Day.

Chalk up another victory for Islamic terrorists and give the credit for this battle won where it belongs: Colorado politicians.

In an exemplary show of craven populism, fear-mongering, hypocrisy and short-sightedness, Gov. John Hickenlooper Tuesday joined the embarrassing crowd of NIMBYs desperate to avoid the international blight at Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.

Hickenlooper, in sad company with Sen. Cory Gardner and even the usually level-headed Sen. Michael Bennet, turned against the non-plan being floated by President Barack Obama to close the horrific blot on America’s human-rights record. Hick said he, too, does not want Guantanamo prisoners sent to Canon City super-prisons. He said he opposes what is so far a pretty unlikely and totally theoretical move because folks in Cañon City don’t want it to happen.

Oh, please. Let’s start with Gardner and other shrill GOP members of the Senate who are the ones leading the opposition to a potential move of prisoners to Cañon City or somewhere else. When the controversy started, Canon City folks shrugged their shoulders and pointed out that this has been the home of Supermax and a long list of international terrorists and the country’s worst bad guys for decades. They weren’t afraid of squat before Gardner took this on as the latest partisan wedge issue and drove it deep into the Florence community.

Colorado’s junior senator was joined by a populist bandwagon brigade made up of congressmen Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn, those famous war hawks who now fashion themselves after more skittish backyard birds when it comes to taking care of the mess we’ve created at Guantanamo Bay.

And then along comes Bennet, a Democrat. He’s the target of the biggest-ever field of GOP candidates drooling over his Senate chair. I lost count at 13 Republicans who want a piece of him. Bennet stood firm in the past to close that damned prison because it’s one of this country’s greatest shames, an arguable marketing point for ISIS and similar anti-American terrorist goons. He opposed it, just like GOP Sen. John McCain, because it’s the antithesis of all that is American and a genuine danger to American troops here and abroad.

The political winds could blow trouble Bennet’s way if he backed Obama on landing Gitmo detainees in Colorado, which he doesn’t. Since 2009, he’s said Colorado prisons are the wrong place to put the badass criminal types, who actually already live there. The right place, he says, is a military prison, which Colorado conveniently doesn’t have.

So now Hickenlooper has climbed on the populist bandwagon, saying he won’t support issues that communities don’t want in their backyard. Oh? Like fracking? Beyond the industry’s hired guns themselves, Hickenlooper is the chief force behind preventing communities from controlling that backyard political mess.

The fear itself is irrational. Are they afraid these prisoners are going to escape, El Chapo-style, with a mile-long underground railroad under the prison? Do they think that a handful of already forgotten suspected marauders would be a far more attractive target for terrorists than say, subways in New York City or LAX? There are more people at any one time in a metro-area Walmart than you could ever find in one place in Cañon City at the same time.

The entire argument is nothing but an effective distraction from the fact that our little cesspool on Guantanamo Bay is a giant human rights violation, the very kind of thing we bang skulls for in places like China, North Korea, Iran and a growing list of other places ranging from unpleasant to unbearable.

It’s all a distraction from the fact that we have rounded up hundreds of people that military officials suspect are terrorists or enemies of the United States and locked them up for what, forever? Who knows? Although there were once more than 600 prisoners there, about 90 still remain. After almost 15 years, they haven’t been charged with anything. They haven’t been to court. They have been afforded less justice than suspects held in the darkest dungeon in Soviet Russia.

It doesn’t matter where these prisoners ultimately go, or if they stay, legally, in Cuba. They must be afforded due process. They must be charged, allowed to face their accusers and present a defense. If they’re guilty, they’re guilty. They have to be sentenced to prison or even death along the lines of how the United States has sentenced similar criminals. And when their sentence has been fulfilled, they must be released. That’s it. We have no choice — unless we want to disregard several hundreds years of human rights law that culminated in the creation of the United States.

Bennet has at least offered up an alternative to housing these prisoners in super-secure prisons in Colorado and across the country, even as implausible as it is. Why put these “detainees” in military prisons? They’re not members of the U.S. military, which is who lives in those facilities. But Gardner, and a long list of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the House, are all about what Obama can’t do, but nobody’s offering up a way to restore America’s besmirched honor and reputation.

They just don’t care enough to do anything. That kind of arrogance is far more dangerous to Americans all over the country and the world than housing a handful of bad guys in Florence. Our blatant human rights violations against these detained despicable terrorists will continue to incite the kind of violence that killed 14 people in San Bernardino last year.

These elected officials see the Guantanamo morass as a political problem and not a military, diplomatic and human rights debacle. We made this mess. It makes no sense to bang the drum for a war against ISIS and other heinous terrorists across the globe and then hand them the weapon for our own undoing.

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

What fools we mortals be.

Scads of state and federal lawmakers, playing God with people’s lives, have struck out against Planned Parenthood in states like Texas, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and even here in Colorado. The ploy is to try to undermine that organization as part of a reckless effort to scuttle abortions for poor and middle-class women.

I’ll generously say these legislators and governors are seriously misinformed, misled and mistaken. Feeling less generous, more realistic and alarmed, I’ll say they’re fiendish fools.

Not only have many of these lawmakers been waiting for an occasion like the one that beset Planned Parenthood last year, but they’ve been anticipating it, planning for it and, as the story plays out, complicit in it. This latest misguided attack against hard-fought abortion rights comes from an unscrupulous gang of anti-abortion activists deceptively calling themselves the Center for Medical Progress. They sent actors pretending to be medical officials out to “meet” with officials regarding donated fetal tissue. Then they doctored surreptitious videos of the meetings to imply that Planed Parenthood was doing something illegal in fetal research programs it had a part in.

The videos caused a firestorm of controversy, even after it was revealed that the “Center” had purposely deceived the public by editing and fudging the productions. The attack led to investigations in seven states, none of which found any wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. And in Texas, a grand jury that was asked to find a crime in Planned Parenthood’s dealings instead found corruption in the malevolent attack videos.

Like most Americans, I understand and sympathize with how most people object to abortion. Despite what many anti-abortion-rights activists say in their weird Facebook memes and tweets, I don’t know anyone who thinks abortion is cool or ever takes it lightly. But what they’re absolutely wrong about is that the government, or anyone else, should ever dictate reproduction to a woman. Ever. Abortion is a protected right of privacy between a woman and her physician.

But what these activists are even more mistaken about is that Planned Parenthood is only about abortion, and that promoting these exposed lies in defunding schemes will somehow dramatically turn the tide against abortion rights.

Just how alarming all this can be was made clear this week when GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump politically set fire to himself when he said he would work to outlaw abortion and punish women who obtain one.

These activists are utter and dangerous fools. In another life, I worked for a teen pregnancy program in Denver’s Five Points, long before there was anyplace gentrified and chic to visit near there. I had a front-row seat to how poverty, racism, ignorance and apathy regularly crushed the American Dream out of generations of mostly black and Hispanic teenage girls and boys. It was the sheer lack of quality sex education, accessible birth control and community support that perpetuated generations of babies having babies, and everything overwhelming that comes with it.

I’m not talking just about 17-year-old girls and boys not being able to go to college or finish high school because of pregnancy. I’m talking 13-year-old and 14-year-old boys and girls becoming parents, often with their own parents being no older than about 30.

Those days have finally begun ebbing in metro Aurora and all over the country in a very large part because of Planned Parenthood and similar programs. Not because of the increase in abortion, but because of the increase in cheap and attainable birth control. Once America got past the ludicrous days of thinking we could persuade kids to “just say no,” we were able to get them to see that they had to say “no” unless they had protected sex. And for the past couple of decades, we have increasingly done just that.

If you care about someone other than you and yours, you’re happy to know that millions of lives have been improved by reducing teen pregnancy and the rate of sexually transmitted disease. The lives of these kids have been made exponentially better than those who weren’t so fortunate.

And if you couldn’t care less about what poor strangers do, you are probably happy that billions of taxpayer dollars were not spent on health care and welfare programs for these teen parents and their often medically and financially troubled offspring.

Nobody loses when America partners with programs like Planned Parenthood to provide programs offering reproductive health care for people who can’t get it someplace else. And there are millions of those people, mostly poor and middle class women from all backgrounds.

Well, we’re losing now. The assault against Planned Parenthood by anti-abortion activists has moved from Congress to state legislatures. States that were easy prey to the Planned Parenthood schemers fell fast, such as Texas. Now Florida lawmakers and governors, too, think restricting funds to Planned Parenthood is a good idea for them politically. That kind of pandering hurts real lives.

In an Associated Press story Monday, Diego Espino, a vice president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, said the cut would not force the organization to close any of its 28 health centers in the state. “We’re not going away,” he said. “But this will deprive thousands of women of very essential services.”

Colorado has so far been able to push back against the Center’s fabrications and the anti-abortion activist lawmakers trying to make ill-gotten gains from the controversy.

The reality in those suckered states is that abortion, birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease protection services are still available to men and women of means. It’s the poor and middle class being forced to either forgo it, a dangerous plan with increasingly deadly consequences, or make huge sacrifices people in thoughtful states don’t have to make.

The final hypocritical argument being tossed out by these activists is that sexually transmitted disease, the detriments of teen pregnancy and out-of-wedlock births can be diminished or curtailed by persuading people to “save themselves” until married and to stay faithful once they are.

Good advice they have no business dictating to others, especially when so many of their peers and prefects banging the drum for that daydream do just the opposite. Consider Jimmy Swaggert, Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, John Ensign, James West, Bob Livingston, Mark Sanford and Mark Foley, to name a famous few of America’s most flagrant hypocrites.

Until that perfect world materializes, groups like Planned Parenthood must be able to continue to deal with reality.

We all know what’s at stake here, and when the public pays attention, these anti-abortion schemes evaporate when they’re exposed. What activists are counting on is your apathy.

It may just not seem that important right now. But it’s critical to all of us. Planned Parenthood and similar programs have changed millions of lives for the better and continue to do so. And these programs save all of us the massive expense and heartache of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

If you ignore what these activists are doing now, you won’t be able to when it comes back to haunt us.

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

Who loves you, Colorado? Not state Sen. Bill Cadman.

The Republican state Senate President made that perfectly clear this week when he responded to increasing pressure by Democrats and even members of his own party to have a real and full discussion about avoiding hundreds of millions of dollars in looming state budget cuts caused by Colorado’s whacky constitution chaos.

Cadman, channeling another tea party favorite, Donald Trump, blasted the pushback, chucking his promised bipartisan and cooler-heads leadership overboard. Instead, Cadman is now acting like and telling people he has some kind of powerful Republican tea party mandate to jeopardize Colorado’s schools, roads and growth.

“The people of Colorado took authority back from (Democrats) in November 2014, after (their) 10-year reign of error,” Cadman told reporter Charles Asby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Perhaps they should save their buckets of artificial righteous indignation for their re-election campaigns.”

Dude, your mandate is between your ears. Republicans won control of the state senate after the 2014 election by accumulating one more seat than Democrats — one single seat. Democrats still control the House by a much larger margin. And Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper still holds the pen to sign or veto any bill.

Cadman’s polemic dia-Trump stems from an argument over Colorado’s constitutional tax provision that requires voters to approve tax increases. There is no tax increase at issue here. The problem is the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights creates an arbitrary and convoluted budget baseline. If tax revenues grow past a certain point, even without a tax increase, money must be “refunded” to state residents. When Colorado expanded its federal Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act, it also created a hospital fee to help offset that, a decision that enjoyed bipartisan support, because it made sense.

Now, some Republicans want that hospital fee, collecting about $350 million a year, to be counted as taxes, forcing a taxpayer refunds and a massive hole in the state budget.

Even though Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has said her office does not take issue with continuing to label the hospital fee as a fee and not tax revenue, and even though members of Cadman’s own party want to spend that Medicaid fee to pay the state’s Medicaid bills and avoid massive budget cuts, Cadman and a handful of tea party elites continue to hold the rest of Colorado Republicans hostage with the same kind of tactical fear and extortion that has elevated Donald Trump to the top of GOP presidential ticket.

He hasn’t done it alone. He’s had the help of the infamous right-wing extremists from Americans For Prosperity clan, the partisan political hammer of the dreaded brothers David and Charles Koch — the billionaire cash behind the tea party movement.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel illustrated just how low-ball this ridiculous battle for common sense has become by revealing how Americans For Prosperity began attacking Alamosa Republican state Sen. Larry Crowder for saying that he wants the hospital fee issue to come to the state Senate floor for full discussion. He and others don’t want Cadman to surreptitiously scuttle it in a Senate committee, which is exactly what he intends to do. For Crowder’s courage and honesty, he was rewarded with typical tea-party Trump treatment. And he told the GJ Sentinel he’s not afraid of the tea-party grip on his party here in Colorado.

“You honyocks at AFP want to pick a fight with me?” he said in a tweet, according to the GJSentinel. “Then get after it.”

You go, dude. I hope the rest of your party has your nerve and your back, because Cadman clearly doesn’t.

Senator Mandate just went further in showing how really out-of-touch and beholden he and his fellow tea-trump-eters have become.

“It’s astounding that the same group of Democrats who generated historic recalls of their own members, who incited a lawsuit against the state of Colorado from 55 of our own sheriffs, who caused nearly a dozen counties to seek secession from Colorado, and who pushed multiple billion-dollar tax hikes rejected by Colorado citizens, think they should be given the authority of the majority when it comes to bill assignments,” Cadman told the GJSentinel.

Wow. This is what you he thinks of Colorado Democrats, the millions of residents who elected them and the rest of us who have to suffer hugely damaging state budget cuts because, why? Because Cadman likes the insane political gridlock in Washington, D.C., so much he wants some of that for all of us here in Colorado?

No way. I don’t want Cadman’s tea-party politics any more, and neither does the rest of his honorable Republican colleagues who have grown weary of being bullied and bludgeoned.

Cadman needs to take his one-seat majority under serious consideration and rethink his obstinance. And if Sen. Mandate is unable to just get a grip, then he needs to pass the gavel on to someone more responsible and responsive to what really matters most here in Colorado: us.

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

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