Update, Friday, Sept. 21, 10:35 A.M.: Never mind.
Chick-fil-A has apparently decided that "kiss-ins" and protests are more disruptive than backing from the former governor of Arkansas is, uh, good, so the Georgia company — or, rather, its nonprofit WinShape Foundation — will no longer be giving money to hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage and, yes, Focus on the Family.
Of course, all this is coming from a press release issued by the Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBT advocacy group that says they received a letter from WinShape's senior director of real estate, who wrote, “The WinShape Foundations [sic] is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”
When the actual Chick-fil-A company was asked for comment, they were so excited about the new direction that they wouldn't confirm anything, only referring reporters back to its generically supportive July statement.
The whole affair apparently stems from negotiations taking place with Chicago alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, who had earlier said he would not support a Chick-fil-A in his ward. The statement is, I guess, meant to be a new direction for the company, but as the Chicago Tribune points out: "The company made nearly identical pledges in a July 19 Facebook post that went up even before Moreno took issue with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's opposition to gay marriage."
Four people died in the attack on the American embassy in Libya. And while we still aren't clear on exactly who was behind the attack, or what the motivation was, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has taken this as an opportunity to criticize the president.
Cause what else would the partisan congressman from our 5th Congressional District do?
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed in Libya. This was an evil and unjustified act of violence. Like many Americans, I am concerned about the Obama Administration’s policy of leading from behind on world affairs. The American people deserve stronger leadership from the White House. We need an administration that will project strength even into troubled areas of the world.”
Nowhere in the press release does Lamborn give even a hint of what leading from the front on foreign affairs would look like.
This is a big moment for Congressman Doug Lamborn.
Certainly the Republican has seen many of his bills pass through the Republican-controlled House, but this is the first time that one actually stands a chance to make it through the Democrat-controlled Senate — thanks to the Senate sponsorship of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
From the press release:
H.R. 4073 is supported by the Colorado Springs City Council, the Manitou Springs City Council and Mayor, the Colorado Springs Mayor, and the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company.
“This bill will remove a centuries-old legal cloud that has been hanging over a portion of the popular hiking trail. Hikers will be able to use it confidently knowing that the trail's safety and beauty will be protected. It will ensure that the Forest Service can professionally manage and maintain the trail. The Manitou Incline is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in the country and loved by locals and tourists alike. It is a treasure unique to Pikes Peak and we want to ensure it is kept up for generations to come." — Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
H.R. 4073, is technical and narrow in scope. It specifically addresses a right-of-way issue with the railway company. It allows for the U.S. Forest Service to accept the railway's relinquishment of their right-of-way. This is necessary based on an 1875 federal law.
Senator Michael Bennett has introduced companion legislation on the Senate side, S.2341. The bill must pass both the House and the Senate and be signed by the president to become law.
Lamborn explains the need for the bill:
Well, congratulations, as today is an auspicious day in the career of Dr. No.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the Texas Republican's bill to increase the transparency of the Federal Reserve. With bipartisan support, the measure passed 327-98.
For Paul, the path to getting his bill approved in the House has been a long, and often lonely one. He first introduced the bill to a skeptical House a decade ago. While his efforts were ignored at the time, the call to audit the Fed has gained support from mainstream Republicans and Democrats.
Our own Rep. Doug Lamborn voted in support of the measure, H.R. 459. He issued a press release trumpeting the vote:
Congress has the constitutional authority over the nation’s money supply, which it has delegated to the Federal Reserve. However, under current law, Congress is prohibited from looking into how the Fed manages that delegated authority.
“Since the beginning of our nation’s current financial crisis in 2008, the Federal Reserve has tripled its balance sheet through an unprecedented series of bailouts and economic interventions. Much of the Fed’s activities are off limits to Congress for review.
“This is unacceptable. H.R. 459 will open up the Fed’s books for a thorough audit. The American taxpayer deserves to know what is going on with their money.”— Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
But does the bill's passage through the House mean it's destined for the president's pen? It's got to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate first, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, appears unlikely.
A senior Democratic Senate leadership aide said there are no plans to bring the bill up in the Senate, but didn’t rule out an attempt by Republicans to seek a vote on the measure as part of another piece of legislation. The Senate would be almost certain to defeat it given the Democratic majority in the chamber.
As if we needed another lesson in just how damningly accurate a certain expression is — the one about things "spreading like wildfire."
Boise's KTVB reports that Colorado Springs resident and Waldo Canyon Fire evacuee Krista McCann had been heading to her father's home in Oregon when she lost control of her Subaru on Interstate 84 in eastern Idaho. After salvaging whatever belongings she could from her burning car, McCann told KTVB she noticed the adjacent field was burning.
"I was pretty devastated," McCann reportedly said, rather understandably. The subsequent wildfire burnt 2,000 acres before being declared fully controlled last Wednesday.
You can take in KTVB's full story here.
With Rick Santorum out of the race, what other option do they have?
From the Christian Post:
An Internet evangelist who is advocating that Christians vote for Jesus as a write-in candidate says he has more than 200,000 people who have committed to do so. However, a political science expert believes the evangelist's demonizing rhetoric about both candidates is not Christ-like.
Bill Keller, who runs LivePrayer.com and offers a daily devotional read by more than 2.4 million subscribers, said Christians face a difficult dilemma this November.
Keller says his answer to the election is to have Christians write in the name of Jesus for president. He believes that this is "a real opportunity for Christians to take a stand for their faith, say no to Satan's two choices for President by voting for Jesus, and make a statement to the nation that the problems in this nation aren't political, they are spiritual, and the only answer is to turn back to Jesus and Biblical Truth."
I wonder if Sen. Kevin Grantham is scared of these extremists?
Here's Keller "debating" Oprah.
Written during the High Park Fire, the letter urged lawmakers to change a policy that kept wildland firefighters from accessing health insurance. Of course, shortly after that letter ran, those same uninsured firefighters were here in Colorado Springs, fighting the Waldo Canyon fire.
Thankfully, our heroes will be rewarded for the risks they've take on our behalf. The federal government plans to offer them health insurance.
Bennet, Udall Praise Decision to Provide Health Benefits to Firefighters
Many Federal Firefighters are Temporary Employees, Don’t Receive Benefits
Washington, DC — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall today released the following statements praising the joint Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Department of Interior announcement that temporary federal firefighters, many whom are fighting or have fought the recent wildfires in Colorado, will have access to the same health care benefits federal employees receive.
“This is excellent news. Federal firefighters may be temporary employees but they leave a permanent mark on the families whose lives and properties they save. All too often, their grueling, life threatening work requires many more hours than the relatively comfortable and safe jobs so many of us hold,” Bennet said. “It’s unacceptable that these heroic men and women did not have access to health care benefits. Its symptomatic of a Washington that has a focus so far removed from the rest of the country. In Colorado, we watched them willingly risk their lives to fight fires across the state, including against the two most destructive fires in Colorado’s history, both of which affected so many of our friends, family and neighbors. We all owe them a debt of gratitude, and health care benefits are the least they deserve.”
“I have been working to provide these heroic firefighters with access to health insurance benefits, and am glad to see the President has used his authority to expedite that work,” Udall said. “During this severe fire season, Coloradans have seen firsthand the great work our wildland firefighters do and the sacrifices they make to protect our homes and lives. It is only fitting that we do everything we can to support them.”
Many federal firefighters are considered temporary employees because they are only employed for part of the year. As temporary employees they were not previously eligible for benefits such as health care and retirement pensions.
# # #
Avast, ye scurvy lubber! International Talk like a Pirate day has just come over the horizon, and is but a handful o' fortnights away — Sept. 19, same as always.
Lucky for your sorry aft, the Pikes Peak Library District offers free subscriptions to the Mango language learning tool. Mango recently announced a special course in Pirate to polish your skills. All ye need is a district library card! The software is available at most PPLD branches, or even on your Android or iOS device. The Mango website has a mapping tool to find the Mango-powered library nearest your port-of-call.
Easiest of all, Mango is offering its courses in Pirate for free on its website (for a limited time). So you've got no excuse for not participating this September. Bully!
The campaign for Robert Blaha, the businessman who is challenging U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the upcoming Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District seat, is none too happy about a recent campaign ad.
From a message directed at Lamborn:
We are writing to urge you to take down the undignified and false attacks on Robert Blaha and his extensive business record. Of particular outrage to all of us is your attack on Integrity Bank and Trust, which your campaign commercial described as one of the “worst in the region”. The advertisement leveled against the bank shows mean-spiritedness and indifference to the challenges that businesses are facing in these difficult economic times.
A campaign ad that trades in undignified and false attacks? I'm speechless. I'm without words.
The Blaha campaign even started a petition, urging Lamborn to take down the ad. You can be among the other hundred-plus people to sign it, here.
According to the Denver Post, the ad features accusations that are not quite true. The Post dissects the two claims in Lamborn's ad: “Eight of his businesses ruled delinquent by Colorado for failure to file an annual business report 26 times,” and “The bank Blaha co-founded ranked among the worst in the region, fined by the FDIC.”
What the paper found?
"We are giving this campaign ad a 'leans deceptive' rating for its misuse of data and playing with semantics."
Read its analysis, here.
Today, my email features dueling press releases from the Republican primary candidates for the 5th Congressional District.
In the one corner, we have an email from Catherine Mortensen, the spokeswoman for Doug Lamborn and his campaign, that links to a clip of Blaha explaining why he hasn't voted in primaries for years.
That clip is from a segment Blaha did with Grassroots Radio, and you can see it, here.
And in the other corner, from the Blaha campaign, we have this ad that paints Lamborn as an aggressive bully, calling him "a career politician with a long history of spewing outrageous and untrue negative attacks against anyone who dares question him."
"The real scandal in Washington isn't what is illegal, it is what is legal."
That's the response from the campaign of Robert Blaha after finding out that its complaint over U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn's use of taxpayer-funded mail was dismissed.
Blaha, the businessman who is running a Republican primary against Lamborn in the 5th Congressional District, lodged the complaint last month over a mailer that, he claimed, had violated federal regulations.
Today, the Lamborn campaign sent out the word that the complaint had been tossed. Catherine Mortensen, spokeswoman for Lamborn, is taking this opportunity to stomp on Blaha: "As we said from the start, this was an unfounded allegation made by an individual who shows stunning ignorance of the most basic operations of Congress. It was an unfounded, mean-spirited attack. "
Blaha's spokeswoman, Ashlee Springer, responds:
We are not surprised that the congressional commission is protecting their own instead of enforcing the rules. Doug Lamborn campaigned on the public dime and didn't follow either the letter or the spirit of the rules. The real scandal in Washington isn't what is illegal, it is what is legal. Doug Lamborn plays the game well, and the franking commission and the good ole boys have got his back. But the voters won't.
In the decision letter, forwarded to the press by Mortensen, there is a rundown of Blaha's four allegations, as well as the findings — such as this explanation of the acceptable amount of times a mailer is allowed to use "personally phrased references":
The first allegation is that [Lamborn] exceeded the allowable number of personally phrased references by using the words "I", "my" or "me" in the constituent mailing. However, the Commission does not count possessive pronouns such as "my" as personally phrased references. Therefore, the number of references complies with Franking guidelines.
Blaha repeats criticisms that he made to the Indy during last month's Q&A, such as Lamborn's inability as a lead sponsor to usher legislation through Congress. He also promotes his own business savvy as a solution to Washington's ills.
From the site:
Robert Blaha, Republican candidate for Congress in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, has released ads that will contrast his qualifications with those of his opponent, incumbent Doug Lamborn.
“As voters continue to learn more about the contrasts between me and my opponent, we will keep sharing facts they need to know about to make an informed decision at the ballot box,” said Blaha. “I have the experience it will take to revitalize the 5th Congressional District.”
“Since we are running a transparent, fact-based campaign, we will provide relevant data to the general public and the press in order to support our radio and TV ads,” continued Blaha. “I commit to this same transparency once I become the US Congressman from the 5th CD.”
With all respect to mindless sayings, sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree.
According to the organizers' website:
The Reason Rally is a movement-wide event sponsored by the country’s major secular organizations. The intent is to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society… and having a damn good time doing it!
Having the senior Phelps' son speak at a rally in support of the secular lifestyle and the LGBT community is certainly fascinating, but shouldn't be surprising. As the press release notes, "Nate Phelps severed ties with his family on his 18th birthday, and now calls his father's actions 'evil.'"
The whole release:
Washington, DC - Nate Phelps, son of Pastor Fred Phelps of the notorious anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, has agreed to speak at the March 24th Reason Rally in DC - even as his family's church plans to picket the event. Nate Phelps, an atheist and outspoken supporter of LGBT rights, is the latest addition to the event billed as a celebration of secular values. He joins a lineup featuring prominent nonreligious speakers and entertainers including Richard Dawkins, comedian Eddie Izzard, and the band Bad Religion.
The Westboro Baptist Church, famous for protesting at soldiers' funerals with signs reading "God Hates Fags" has announced they will attend the Reason Rally. Nate Phelps severed ties with his family on his 18th birthday, and now calls his father's actions "evil."
"Nate Phelps brings a powerful voice and story to the rally," said Reason Rally organizer David Silverman. "He shows us all that if you can come out as an atheist in that family, it's possible anywhere."
The Reason Rally, billed as the largest gathering of the secular movement in the nation's history, is a free event on the National Mall with the intent to "unify, energize, and embolden" nonreligious Americans to gain legislative and social equality.
More information about the rally can be found at ReasonRally.org.
Guess what? The veterans of World War I may finally get a commemorative coin and a proper national memorial to their sacrifice.
I know this, because the press release I received this morning told me so.
Really, if I hadn't gotten that e-mail I would have never guessed that America hadn't done all that stuff already. I mean, this is a world war we're talking about. Millions of Americans served. It seems crazy that our country never bothered to acknowledge that. America has a national memorial to Robert E. Lee, for crying out loud. A guy who fought against the United States.
Now, I guess this latest move is supposed to be good news — because America hasn't forgotten its history. But what is there for us to be proud of, really? The last American World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, died last year. And that means not a single vet from the "Great War" will be able to appreciate this honor.
Depressing, isn't it?
ANA encourages members to support efforts to create a World War I commemorative coin
The American Numismatic Association is asking members to support legislative efforts to create a commemorative dollar coin honoring World War I veterans.
The United States has memorialized the Civil War, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War on U.S. commemorative coins, but no coin honors World War I veterans. ANA Numismatic Educator Rod Gillis is working to correct that oversight.
“It was really surprising to me that World War I veterans were never honored with their own coin,” Gillis said. “This legislation will help give these veterans proper recognition.”
More than two years ago, Gillis launched the effort to create this commemorative. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) agreed to sponsor H.R. 4107, the “World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act.”
Under the proposed law, the coin would be minted in 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s participation in World War I. The United States formally declared war against Germany and entered the conflict in Europe on April 6, 1917. More than
4 million U.S. men and women served in uniform during World War I, and more than 2 million American soldiers served overseas.
For every coin sold, a surcharge would go to the World War I Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C. This group was founded after Frank Buckles, the last surviving American World War I veteran, visited the District of Columbia War Memorial on the National Mall in March 2008.
Buckles observed that this memorial — dedicated in 1931 to the 499 District of Columbia residents who gave their lives in that war — sat neglected and in extreme disrepair. Noting that there is no national World War I memorial, he issued a call for the memorial’s restoration and re-dedication as a National and District of Columbia World War I Memorial.
“The new memorial will honor all World War I veterans and make Frank Buckles’ dream a reality,” said Gillis, who is currently working to secure a sponsor for the bill in the U.S. Senate.
Please contact your Congressional representative and voice your support. Contact information can be found at www.house.gov/representatives/.
If you have questions about this effort, please contact Gillis at 719-482-9845 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.
This has been a heck of an eventful day. Doug Bruce is going to the slammer. City Attorney Chris Melcher just let Council know that the only way they can force the mayor to spend money on a specific item is if it's considered a "major legislative budget determination" (whatever that means). And Budget Director Lisa Bigelow has been put on a 30-day adminstrative leave — with Chief of Staff Laura Neumann assuring this reporter that the move has nothing to do with the fact that Bigelow released an inflamatory e-mail revealing the mayor's apparent attempt to sidestep Council authority. Hmmm.
Why then, am I thinking about Whitney Houston?
In a way, it's inexplicable. I was never a huge Houston fan, though I always thought she had a fantastic voice. But since hearing of her death over the weekend, I find I haven't been able to stop thinking about her.
Today, while sitting in a City Council meeting, it occurred to me why my thoughts kept circling back to her. Back in the early 1990s, at the height of Houston's fame, I was in middle school in Denver. I walked to school from my home in a quiet neighborhood, but most of the kids at my school were bused in from the inner city.
They were tough kids — far tougher than I was used to, far tougher then most kids I see today. This was around the time of the Summer of Violence, a time in which 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds were routinely being given life sentences for brutal murders.
Even in my neighborhood, there was a shootout between rival gangs in a nearby park. Plenty of the kids I went to school with were in gangs. Most were minorities. Most were poor.
While I was bothered by the violent tide sweeping over my school, and the nation as a whole, I could also sense the desperation in my peers. There just wasn't much for them to look forward to. Not a lot of opportunities. Not a lot of hope.
The press portrayed the young gangbangers as monsters, but the truth was, these were just kids looking for guidance and love. And here's where Houston came in — the singer was reprieve for my classmates, especially the girls. It wasn't unusual for a young girl to start wailing out the notes to "I Will Always Love You" on the playground. Completely at random. Completely full of joy.
Houston represented something amazing at that time. A black woman who was powerful, but also vulnerable. A woman who realized her sexual powers, but didn't exploit them. A person whose talents had made her a movie star, and one of the biggest names in music.
Whitney Houston gave these girls a dream to chase after in an otherwise bleak world.
I was disappointed to see Houston waste away on drugs. It seemed like such a powerful irony that she would succumb to the very devils that my school pals admired her for rising above. When I heard that she had ruined her voice with the drug use, the dismay dug deeper. A God-given gift, tossed away.
Now, thinking of her lying lifeless in a bathtub at 48, I shudder. Not just for Houston, but for the dream that died with her. For the girls who tracked every twist of her acrobatic vocal cords with glee, with determination, and with a sense that perhaps all wonderful things are possible.