WONDERFUL MEET AND GREETS IN WOODLAND PARK AND CRIPPLE CREEK!
A special thanks to all the folks who stopped by our Meet and Greets yesterday. We hosted them at Starbucks in Woodland Park, and at the Cripple Creek Ace Hardware. A big thanks to Levi at Starbucks and Maurice Woods, the owner of Ace Hardware.
With the coming wildfire season, some people asked about my work on the Teller County Wildfire Committee, which I've been attending since January 2019. Those efforts focus on coordination among multi-jurisdictional agencies, from the US Forest Service to the State Forest Service, CUSP, and regonal-local emergency response agencies. Meaningful progress is being made to reduce forest fuels.
People also talked about our roads, and the importance of strengthening our relationship with CDOT. I spoke with those people about my attendance at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governance (PPACG), meeting key transportation officials at CDOT, and getting a detailed understanding of the complex relationships. See my Letter to the Editor in next Tuesday's Mountain Jackpot on this issue.
Below are some photos our time with citizens, which was thoroughly enjoyable.
PLEASE SUPPORT SB 20-077 – PROTECT LIFE
New Legislation in Colorado has been advanced to protect the life of a new-born baby after a failed abortion.
Senate Bill 20-077 "Establishes a physician-patient relationship between a child born alive after or during an abortion."
This bill is headed for the "kill Committee" on Monday February 3rd at 1:30 PM at the State Capital. The Progressive Democrats are in favor of the physician being able to leave a new-born baby, after a failed abortion, alone and without any care from anyone. In the end, this means the baby will die, alone, after birth.
If you’re in Teller County your elected officials at the legislature are Rep. Mark Baisley firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-866-2935, and Sen. Dennis Hisey email@example.com, 303-866-4877.
Please contact them and support this critical legislation.
THIS MIRACLE CALLED LIFE
We naturally take breathing for granted. But what were the first organisms on earth that breathed? Andrew Wendruff, senior author on a study that was published in “Nature Scientific Reports” reports it was scorpions that crawled the earth 400 million years ago.
Wendruff, an adjunct professor of paleontology and biology at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, said these creatures, found in a Wisconsin, are from the Silurian Age, a period in the Paleozoic Era between 443 million and 416 million years ago when shallow waters and abundant sunlight led to colorful reefs and other ancient life.
Remarkably, these arachnids were sufficiently well preserved that researchers could study their internal anatomy. They were stunned, as are we, to learn that they had cardiovascular and respiratory systems and were therefore air breathers.
Joanna Wolfe, a researcher at the organismic and evolutionary biology department at Harvard University, said the Wisconsin quarry holds a treasure trove of marine fossils, so they are “definitely not fully terrestrial, but they are older than the oldest truly terrestrial body fossil of a millipede- like [organism] 427 million years ago.”
Not unlike interstellar space, contemplating time on earth that long ago taxes the imagination. But it’s a reminder that the miracle of life God has given us is both astonishing and precious.
LIBERTY KNOWS NO POLITICAL PARTY
Our campaign ads this week focused on something that is too often overlooked in Teller County. That is, the importance of reaching out to those whose voices and views have been largely ignored.
Although I’m a conservative, I routinely engage with friends and family members who are Democrats or consider themselves Independents (“Unaffiliated” voters). I do that to learn about what they consider important and I’m nearly always surprised at some of their ideas—they too value things like Liberty.
Therefore, I am interested in ideas that preserve and protect our liberties, without regard to who advances them. So, during my campaign I want to hear ideas and concerns from all county residents. And, as I said in those ads, I pledge to serve everyone, without regard to political affiliation.
RED FLAG LAW: THE ABUSE BEGINS
In a textbook example of how the Red Flag law can be abused, on January 9 Susan Holmes filed a petition in Larimer County against a Colorado State University police officer under the new Red Flag Law. In 2017 the woman’s son was killed by officer Phillip Morris, and Holmes signed the petition under oath and penalty of perjury.
However, the shooting had been deemed justified by the by the district attorney, who noted that Morris tried to deescalate the situation. Ironically, Holmes did not seek an emergency removal of the weapons so no action will be taken until after a judge considers it during a hearing on January 16.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith called Holmes’ petition, signed under oath and penalty of perjury, a fraud and said authorities were investigating what charges she could face.
In the section of the form where Holmes was asked to describe her family or household relationship with Morris, she checked the box for having a child in common with him. Holmes said that the language of the law can be interpreted in different ways but declined to elaborate ahead of the court hearing.
Morris does not share a child with Holmes, said Dell Rae Ciaravola, a spokeswoman for Colorado State’s police department. She said he remains with the department and has been “consistently honorable and professional” since being hired in 2012.
Just by completing a form this law enforcement officer with a sterling record has had his reputation besmirched and his life thrown into chaos. The list of potential abuses, with far more profound consequences is limitless, which is why this law must be repealed and rewritten.
WHEN GOVERNMENT THINKS IT KNOWS BETTER
A January 2nd article in the Gazette on Denver's new minimum wage mandate appeared in the same publication as an editorial on the self-correcting ingenuity of free-market capitalism.
The article on the wage hike described the various options restaurateurs have to deal with an imposed overhead increase, some of which are inventive and reflect their obvious motivation to stay in business. But for many the only viable option will be to reduce the number of employees.
And it's these inevitable downstream impacts that will in no way economically disadvantage Denver Mayor Hancock and Councilwoman Kniech, the elected officials who arrogantly believe that politicians have a right to dictate wage rates to proprietary businesses.
The article also mentions another well-intended but profoundly misinformed champion minimum wage earners, Rhiannon Duryea, political director of the Denver Area Labor Federation. She fervently believes in collectivizing the adverse impact of people's employment decisions to "make sure that Denver is a city that works for everybody.”
Suddenly it's everyone's economic responsibility to correct for unavoidable income disparities, not those who willingly accept an employment position they are fully aware can't meet their needs.
Ironically, the editorial on how the free market system is correcting these disparities is apparently inadequate for these social justice crusaders who at once throw small businesses into economic chaos and smugly eschew any accountability for their wrongdoing. It's deplorable.
TRUST: MY WORD IS MY BOND
You’ve probably heard political candidates talk about trust. They sound convincing but after being elected many seem to conveniently forget about the pledge they’ve made. That results in decisions that make you shake your head.
For the seven years I served on Woodland Park City Council the public trust was always front and center in my thinking. During contentious moments it would have been easier for me to loosen the bond of my trust with the people.
I can say with complete candor and honesty that I never did. Today I make the exact same pledge to you, the voter, if I am elected Commissioner.
It’s difficult to discern when civility began its downward trend, but it’s clear that it’s in the verge of extinction. Significant blame can be attributed to social media which seems the reflexively bring out the worst in human nature.
But, it’s important to remember that it wasn’t always this way. There has always been a political divide in America but the debate across our nation was far more civilized and respectful. This is reflected in historical leaders such as President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill.
They were political opposites, but as O’Neill’s son wrote in The New York Times in 2012, “While neither man embraced the other’s worldview, each respected the other’s right to hold it. Each respected the other as a man. What both men deplored more than the other’s political philosophy was stalemate, and a country that was so polarized by ideology and party politics that it could not move forward.”
Other examples of political opponents treating one another graciously were Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Democratic President Bill Clinton. Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and conservative former justice Antonin Scalia had a deep friendship and confessed to learning from one another during legal debates.
I think the key to civility in discourse is a measure of humility and an abiding respect for differences of opinion. It needn’t mean that we forfeit arguments or give up the passion that we bring to them. But it can lead to a healthy exchange of ideas in an atmosphere of civility.
The more antagonistic and bitter people are the less meaningful communication happens, and that undermines the chances for real progress.
TRANSPORTATION PLANNING AT PPACG
A major focus at last Wednesday’s Pikes Peak Area Council of Government’s (PPACG) meeting was transportation planning. Eric Pihl of the Federal Highway Administration’s Resource Center, presented details concerning their Transportation Modeling Improvement Program (TMIP).
Although he conceded it’s a complicated, data-driven system, the goal is to provide regions such as ours with meaningful information to ensure transportation planning is as sophisticated as possible.
PPACG benefits from this kind of professional assistance as it drafts long-term transportation planning documents in conjunction with CDOT.
I look forward to the opportunity to actively engage in this process as a Commissioner, which will be a direct benefit for Teller County.
FOREIGN POLICY: LESSONS IN RESPECT
You will recall that one of President Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy principles was “Peace through strength.” It’s a simple concept but one that has been forgotten by some recent presidents.
The reason that approach has a strong record of success is that it begins with the intuitively correct notion that a demonstrated willingness to exercise military power is respected worldwide. In that formula the critical question is the circumstances in which it should it be used.
Therein lies the rub because history also shows that leaders have made serious mistakes in that regard. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs is a modern example, but there are many others. Despite the nearly uniform condemnation by the left and media for President Trump’s decision to eliminate a military leader with American blood on his hands, given Iran’s measured response thus far, it appears to have been another example of Reagan’s principle.
What the Mullah’s cherish most is their self-perpetuation, and they are acutely aware that a disproportionate response to Trump’s action might well have resulted in their demise. Therefore, they chose a decidedly limited response, and Trump responded by commending their decision to “stand down.”
Criticisms of Trump’s actions were unfounded and politically motivated, and the fact that he decided to let the Iranians’ tepid response stand is a sign that he does, in fact, understand when to strike, and just as importantly, when to exercise restraint.
THE RED FLAG LAW IS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED
You may recall that in April 2019 I wrote a column in the Pikes Peak Courier on the Red Flag. The Democrat-controlled legislature initiated the bill and Gov. Jared Polis signed it into law.
As part of that column I interviewed Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell, who has said he would risk being jailed before he would enforce a court order to seize a person’s guns without due process.
As he said, “This has a number of serious problems, starting with who substantiates the allegations of the accuser? We have family members who come in and make allegations which often turn out to be false. Judges will be required to make decisions based on an accuser’s perception.
And, with this law, the accused has no representation or recourse.” In addition, the sheriff talked about the financial burden of an accused who must hire a psychiatrist and an attorney to defend himself. “That can cause significant financial hardship for someone merely facing an accusation. And, what if my deputies are searching for guns and find apparently illegal drugs?”
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville says the bill would discourage citizens from seeking help because of the stigma associated with mental illness. “No one should feel they have to choose between their guns and getting the help they need,” Neville said in a statement.
We certainly must address the glaring problems in our mental health system, but the focus should be on how best to provide timely services to those suffering from this debilitating illness, not a law that undermines our rights under our Constitution.
THE RISKS OF A STATE-MANAGED HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
You may have heard about the task force that emerged from Colorado’s 2019 legislative session to study a family and medical leave program and the health insurance public option. The results should be alarming to everyone who is concerned about access to affordable health care.
The task force will submit its findings to the General Assembly to define how the program should be structured. The results predictably reflect the progressives’ aspirations, but the Colorado Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, thankfully also registered their strong concerns.
AMI Risk, an actuarial firm, provided an analysis of a state-run program with “low-benefit” and “high-benefit” options. The report demonstrated that the state costs would exceed the original estimate from the 2019 legislation by more than $200 million for the low-benefit program, and more than $1 billion higher for the high-benefit option.
The Colorado Hospital Association submitted a letter in October stating that the plan “prioritizes lower premiums at the expense of patient access and choice.”
As someone who spent 35 years in the health care industry, on both the insurance and physician side, it’s abundantly obvious to me that the plan is intended to undermine the free-market system, which will increase patient costs and restrict access. Stay tuned for updates.
THE POWER OF BAD
A book by John Tierney and Roy Baumeister titled, "The Power of Bad," describes how negativity bias creates filters in our perception that transform otherwise benign events into manifest threats. It helps to explain how positive perceptions are occluded by those we sense are threatening.
Particularly intriguing is the authors’ argument that we instinctively yearn for the "glories of yesteryear," which they call the "Golden Age fallacy." Indeed, our retrospective eye instinctively views history in an exquisitely selective manner, producing the faux cultural nirvana that satisfies our yearnings.
But the question is whether the negativity that inventors, innovators, and leaders perceived may have encouraged them to confront dire probabilities, leading to the legacy of a far better world than would have otherwise been the case.
That leads to the vexing Black Swan conundrum: how best to discern the real antagonisms from those generated by 'negative bias.' Paraphrasing Shakespeare, "Tis an outcome devoutly to be wished."
KILLING SOLEIMANI: REVISITING MORAL CONFUSION
Although public opinion regarding President Trump’s decision to eliminate an Iranian military leader responsible for the deaths of 600 Americans is divided along party lines, what’s most remarkable is that it recalls a time several decades ago.
In the 1930s and for years thereafter the American left expressed a similar moral confusion concerning another despot, Joseph Stalin. A recent book titled “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century,” outlines in well-researched detail, precisely how the left confused good and evil.
Today, many on the left argue that Trump should have consulted and received the approval of Congress, despite the fact that presidents for the past century routinely flouted Congressional authority as commanders-in-chief. Both parties are guilty of selectively using that argument against presidents with whom they disagree, which makes it immediately suspect.
There will undoubtedly be reprisals, but two world wars last century should be ample evidence that appeasing dictators is not a viable strategy.
THE CHALLENGES OF TRANSPORTATION
A brief article in the December 31st Mountain Jackpot highlighted significant anticipated growth in Colorado Springs and its probable impact on our county.
I recently met with elected county officials and Woodland Park City Manager, Darrin Tangeman, and Planning Director, Sally Riley, to discuss infrastructure and transportation issues. As these are regional concerns, they tie in with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) meetings I’ve been attending since May 2019.
Studying these issues and becoming informed demonstrate that I am committed to investing my time and energy to learn how I can be the most effective Commissioner, starting on day one.
A NEW YEAR, A NEW BEGINNING
Although I’ve always considered myself an optimist, I also check oncoming traffic or headwinds to adjust for the realities that make you revise your strategic thinking.
It’s not that you no longer have that positive attitude that’s at the core of optimism, but that you’re trying to think a few additional moves ahead on life’s chess board.
That’s how I feel regarding my campaign for County Commissioner. The chess board has changed and so I must reconsider prior strategies based on new variables.
For some that’s daunting but for me it quickens my thinking and draws on internal resources that were in the shadows of my mind—and that is what makes life so intriguing. It’s unpredictable, in areas where we least expect it to be, which actually brings an internal smile to my life.
In addition, during this more active phase of my campaign I’ve met more people, folks who believe in my candidacy and what I’ve fought all my life for—liberty and the rule of law.
I’ve also met people whose political positions are different than mine, but who are intrigued by the fact that I want to represent their interests with the same passion as anyone else’s.
That’s what I pledge to bring to this New Year. A redoubling of my optimism, informed by a prayerful confidence in the possibilities that life holds, and a real belief in the goodness and decency of all people.
May God bless you and may you have a safe and prosperous New Year.
JUST SAY NO TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRATIONDid you see the brief article in the December 24th Mountain Jackpot that described Sheriff Jason Mikesell’s ongoing battle against illegal immigration?
It described the sheriff’s involvement with the 287b federal program which allows local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. It seems like common sense, but it prompted state legislators to draft a bill to make such arrangements illegal.
Defending people who brazenly break our laws isn’t what we should be about. I agree with what President Obama and VP Biden said: if you come here illegally you should be sent back.
FEWER PEOPLE ATTENDING CHURCH SERVICES
As we’re in the Christmas season it’s a good time to reflect on the growing trend of Americans who no longer attend church services. The obvious observation is that there’s a generational trend, with younger families who are have stopped attending, or, perhaps, never did attend.
But in order to better understand what’s happening below the surface we must look at how our culture has changed religious beliefs. In the 1950s there was a widespread and authentic agreement that weekly attendance at church services was a vital part of one’s life. Besides deepening one’s community ties with fellow parishioners, it provided a sense of spiritual identity which sustained people during life’s unavoidable stresses and, in particular, its tragedies.
The iconoclasm of the 1960s began to erode the certainty of religious beliefs, and our public education system fell blithely into line by obliquely, and sometimes, directly emphasizing the secular over the religious.
In the ensuing decades, the role of parental modeling clearly began to fail. Parents blamed the complexity and strains of modern life to justify their decision to let church attendance drop. But at the core of this trend has been the slow but steady degradation of certainty regarding God in our lives.
The tendency today is to look at history and our own lives through the secularist’s lens and ask how a beneficent God could allow so much suffering and evil. That lens purposely filters out the notion of faith, which is at the center of religious belief. Coupled with the decline of religious teaching in the family, and, of course, in our schools, it’s not surprising that young people fail to understand the crucial role that a strong faith plays in our lives.
The notion of moral absolutes is also in play in the slow decline in church attendance. To many today, those absolutes, which provided moral guardrails that helped raise children in an amoral world, seem antiquated. In their place is the absolute known as moral relativism. Coupled with its close relation, the prohibition on judging others’ behavior, we’re on a kind of spiritual and moral glidepath to a largely secularized nation.
Problems of this magnitude can’t be easily solved because they’re so deeply embedded in our cultural landscape. But this Christmas those whose faith forms a vital core of their lives should reach out to those who no longer hear the voice of God in their lives. Conveying to those people how that loving presence in our lives lightens the burdens of this earthly journey, is the most reliable antidote.
Blessings to you and yours in this holy Christmas season.