Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Accident as a Metaphor

On Monday, December 19th, I went down to the Colorado State Capital to witness the Electoral College vote as a reporter for My wife, Gaye, my friend, Tony, and I went down on the light rail to beat the traffic and avoid the exorbitant cost of parking.  It was late afternoon on the drive back from Lincoln Station.  

By the time we made it to Elizabeth, the sun was going down.  It was frigid cold as we headed south on County Rd. 17-21 south.  When we got to the intersection of County Rd. 102 and 17-21, we came upon an accident that just happened.  To say that the scene was surreal would be an understatement.  It was absolutely still and before us were two totally destroyed vehicles with no signs of life.

Oddly enough, when we were going up the hill from where County Rd. 106 crosses 17-21 a couple of cars passed us heading north.  They blinked their lights and we shared amongst ourselves that it was probably a deer or a police vehicle up ahead.  Of course it was not.  They had just seen the accident and did not stop.  To their credit they at least alerted us that something was there to watch out for.  

When we saw the scene @ CR 17/21 and CR 102 we stopped and jumped into action.  There was never the slightest hesitation on our parts.  This had just happened and we all assumed that someone was probably severely injured or dead.  It was just that gruesome.  A huge grain truck had t-boned a small pickup and essentially cut it in two.  The large grain truck had rolled onto its side (driver’s side facing skyward) and was rapidly leaking fuel.  Tony ran to the pickup, Gaye started calling 911, and I headed for the semi. The next fifteen minutes will be indelibly etched in our minds for the rest of our lives.  That is about the time it took before Elbert County rescue workers on the scene. Considering everything, that was a very good response time and we were extremely thankful to see them all arrive.

The purpose of this blog is not to extol our actions at the scene of a devastating traffic accident.  Am I proud of my wife, my friend and myself?  Damned straight I am.  When it was all over, we had not only treated all three of the people for their injuries to one extent or the other, but we had made the emergency call to get professional help.  While we were first on the scene, we were not the only ones who eventually stopped.  Perhaps because others motorists saw regular citizens providing aid it gave them permission to join us. One retired gentleman, (who I would love to meet again just to shake his hand) had paramedic experience and he jumped right in with us.  Before it was all over, there were four or five of us covered with the blood of the accident victims. 

In today's world, our actions might be labeled cavalier, but in hindsight, everyone of us took that risk for our own personal reasons. Of course the professionals come prepared and had the necessary protection. For Gaye, Tony and me, who discussed it after we headed home to clean up, it was just this simple: none of us were willing to  stand by and let a young man drown in his own blood from broken ribs and a collapsed lung or let the truck driver wander aimlessly, clueless in shock, and half-blinded by blood, across the meadow.  Those three victims needed help and we felt, we knew,  it was the right thing to do.
There may have been twenty people at the accident site before we left working in concert with one another to help the victims, whom they may or may have not known, survive a tragedy. Everyone there, with the exception of the EC sheriffs, were volunteers, and even some of the sheriffs were off- duty.  Not once was anyone heard to ask if the victims were Catholics, Jews or atheists.  Nobody checked to see if anybody who was providing assistance voted for Clinton, for Trump or Calvin Coolidge for that matter. Nobody cared at that moment whether they were members of the NRA or 

The reason that nobody asked such questions at that crucial moment was because nobody was being controlled by the media, a political group, a lobbyist or anyone else for that matter.  For that brief period of time this group of people had a common purpose.  We sat aside any differences that may have otherwise divided us for the common purpose of helping three injured people at the side of the road in crucial, life-threatening  conditions that we may have never even known existed some fifteen minutes earlier.  We were being humans first...and pawns in a game second.

The sooner this nation comes to its senses and stops letting divisive forces keep us from our true values, the better we will all be.  Let this accident serve as a metaphor.  All that should really matter is that we treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated.  Be empathetic in the moment and trust your moral compass when the need arises.  In my opinion, we will all be better for trusting in the goodness of the human heart.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I’ll Take "Questions that are answered, 'Hell Yes!' for $500, Alex."

I’ll Take "Questions that are answered, 'Hell Yes!' for $500, Alex." 

Is the Pope Catholic? Do bears crap in the woods? Did Vladimir Putin’s interference in the 2016 general election tip the scales for Donald Trump? 

About 70,000 votes in three key states sent Donald Trump to Washington.  Hillary conceded even knowing that she had significantly beaten Trump in the popular vote.  That is the way it works, because the popular vote does not win the United States presidential election.  The Electoral College picks our President.  Mr. Trump got 306 electoral votes and broke the threshold of 270 needed to win the prize.  End of story? No, just the beginning, actually.

The United States C.I.A. has determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that Vladimir Putin, in combination with state-sponsored hackers and Wikileaks, conspired to insert themselves into our election in an attempt to get Donald Trump elected president.  Our president-elect says that that is deceptive and untrue.  Nothing could have swayed his landslide victory!  

Trump is a real estate tycoon with no credentials in US or foreign intelligence.  He does not even want to be annoyed with pesky intelligence briefings, and yet he says with certainty that the C.I.A. is full of bogus information.  What kind of ego-driven man takes his own hunches as gospel over the entire intelligence agency of the most powerful country in the world?

So let’s cut to the chase and look at why I believe that the election was handed to Trump by Putin:  

•128 million people voted in  this election;
•Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a little over 2% or roughly 2,800,000 votes;  
•HRC lost the electoral college vote based on a victory margin of 70,000;  
•If you divide that number (70,000) by 128,000,000,  that means that the margin of victory was by a mere .054 of 1% of the population;
•If distributed with a slight modification of 1/500 of 1% it would have meant Hillary Clinton would have won the presidency.  

Granted, it was a larger margin than that in the three swing states Clinton needed to beat Trump, but it is ludicrous to say that the Russian government, traditionally viewed as our archenemy, spent all that time, money and human resources, to garner only a tiny fraction of 1% of our total voting population for the guy they wanted to win.  No, they went in as hard as they could and swung for the fences.  They knew that tarnishing Hillary Clinton with false information and fake news to, among others, partisan players at the FBI, would stir up trouble and further divide the Democrats, some of whom thought Bernie Sanders should have won the nomination.  And it worked

Trump has not been shy about trying to butter up the ties between the Russians and the USA.  He relentlessly went after Clinton on the emails that never materialized and he even called upon the Russians in public to search for them!  It was reported early on in the campaign that Trump had a relationship with Putin...and then he denied it.  Of course there are the verifiable details that Trump has selected his cabinet members who have deeply troubling financial ties to Russian oil. There are a plethora of remarks on the record of Trump praising the leadership of Putin.  He has even gone on the record as saying that Putin is a better leader than his own President, Barack Obama.  There was a time, presumably back in the days to which Donald Trump wishes us to return, that a remark like that would be regarded as treasonous. Suffice it to say, while Trump extolls the virtues of this dangerous world leader, millions of people around the world have felt the Russian lash.
These are dangerous times in which we live.  Putin has involved himself in Russia's oil production in such a manner that by some estimates, Putin’s personal wealth is now at $85 billion.  He is not even trying to hide any of this.  This is the man Trump views as a strong world leader worthy of praise.  

Putin’s critics, the band  Pussy Riot, went to jail for three years for being critical of their praiseworthy leader.  How many of you reading this would have enjoyed watching Obama jail those who questioned his birthplace or calling his family members monkeys?  The precedent (or "president," if you spell like our president-elect in his Tweets) of embracing the values of Vladimir Putin, the man who our entire intelligence community say personally directed an attack on our recent presidential race, is frighteningly misguided. 

So Alex, “HELL YES!” Vlad helped the candidate he wanted to become president to win the prize and no, I did not put that in the form of a question.  You know why, Alex? Because diluting American values downward toward the values of a Russian despot is not a game I wish to play. 

Mr. Baca Teaches a Lesson on Courage

On Monday, December 19th, I went down to the State Capital today to watch the nine electors for the State of Colorado cast their votes for for the US President.  Before it was over nine votes were cast for Hillary Clinton, but it was not without some drama.  You see, before the proceedings even took place, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams had stated that if any of the electors broke rank and decided to vote for a candidate other than HRC, they would be dismissed and replaced with someone who would. He even went so far as to draft a new oath for the proceedings to highlight the fact that if they did not vote for the person who won the popular vote that the person would be committing perjury.

Let that information sink in for a moment:  Williams, a Republican, interceded on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton, who has not contested her loss, would have opposed the actions of SOS Williams even though it meant she would have received one less electoral vote.  

And then, up stepped a true American patriot. One brave, twenty-four year old, former  Marine Micheal Baca, stood his ground to defend his right to vote his conscience and proceeded to vote for Governor John Kasich. This was the first time that had happened in Colorado history.  Baca became the first electoral college voter to cast his ballot for someone other than for the winner of Colorado’s  U.S. Presidential contest. 

Despite his stand, Mr. Baca was admonished by Secretary of State Williams who then dismissed him as an elector and called for a replacement.  Almost as if it were planned (It was, by the way.), a volunteer, Celeste Landry, stepped up and was sworn in by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Nancy Rice. Williams did this as the huge crowd of citizen witnesses, (almost all of whom were Democrats who voted for Clinton), loudly demanded that he (Williams) either resign or face recall. 

Unless you understand the insider politics of the Electoral College, this all probably seems a bit odd.  What Mr. Baca was trying to do was to reinstate the notion that electors could remain unbound and vote for whomever they chose.  That was the way the Founding Fathers believed that the American people could keep a despot from stealing the office of the President.  When Colorado, or any state, binds its Electoral College delegates to vote in lock step with the popular vote of the state, it reduces the meaningfulness of the Electoral College vote to a useless charade.  Why even have the vote at all  if voters can only choose what has been chosen already?  This makes no sense whatsoever. And, if that is the case, why not scrap the thing all together? 

We have just witnessed an election where the loser won the popular vote by nearly a 3% margin.  I get it.  Hillary did not garner the electoral tally of 270 votes, and so she lost.  I am not saying give it to her, nor were the hundreds of people in attendance at the Capitol yesterday.  We all knew about the electoral threshold going in and HRC did not clear the mark.  

But what purpose does the Electoral College serve if we continue to strip electors of their choice to pick whomever they wish to become President of the United Stated? The Electoral College has become a tool for political strategists to undermine the popular vote…period. The will of the majority be damned.  Just find the right path to electoral votes and you do not even have to win the popular vote.  Lock the electors into having to vote "winner takes all" and it makes this a sure thing that cannot be challenged.  

I leave you with this final thought:  If we are going to continue to use this adulterated system of electing our United States President that has long strayed from its origins, can we at least make it entertaining?  What about dressing the electors in lavish costumes and have them sing outlandish show tunes during the ceremony.  At least we would be entertained once every four years.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

This is the Dawning of the Age of Nefarious

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Elbert County Christmas Carol Development Style.