Making Sense Of The Surrender Summit

Well, this appears to have been “walk-back” week Inside the Beltway. President Trump says one thing one day about Russian Prez Putin and the lamentable Helsinki Summit only to change direction the next.

Did Trump sell out America and our intelligence community during what has been dubbed the Surrender Summit? Or did he display great leadership by going face-to-face with Putin in a private meeting?

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Since  I doubt that Trump has any plan other than to save his own ass, I’ll go with John McCain on this one.

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Of course, “disgraceful” and “embarrassment” were hardly the harshest descriptors used by the talking heads on MSNBC who were frothing at the mouth 24/7. And even the administration cheerleaders at Fox News appeared to have some difficulty digesting what had actually happened.

So no. I can’t make sense of what happened in Helsinki. And it doesn’t look like anyone else can either. Note to self: I wonder if Mueller works weekends? I digress.

Anyway, I’m convinced that Russia meddled in our 2016 elections and I don’t see any reason why they won’t have at it again in November. And I’m concerned that we are so consumed by political bickering and obsessed with Trump’s tweets that we are taking our eye off the wrecking ball that may be heading our way in the not-so-distant future.

Here’s from Dan Coats, the current (as of today) Director of National Intelligence, from an article on Fox News:

President Trump should have issued a more full-throated condemnation this week of Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum.

But, Coats added, Trump was right to point out this week that Russian interference is just one of many potential threats facing the country.

“I wish he made a different statement,” Coats told his interviewer, NBC host Andrea Mitchell. “it’s undeniable that the Russians are taking a lead on this.

“We’re now learning about the dark side, and it’s pretty ugly,” Coats added. “What we see every day, against our institutions, against our military, against our financial services, against our criticial infrastructure — stretching from those who have major capabilities of doing this, starting with Russia, including China. … Add Iran into that, add ISIS into that.

To twist a line from the Beatles: I read the news today, oh boy.

But wait. Coats has more to say about a looming “Cyber 9/11.”

Still, Coats suggested that the outsize focus on Russian interference risks blinding Americans to other, potentially more serious threats.

“I’m concerned about a cyber-9/11,” Coats said. “Let’s say you shut down Wall Street for a week. What does that do to the world’s markets and people’s investments? … What about an attack on the electric grid in New England in January, that’s sophisticated to take it out for three days. How many people will die?”

Somebody better make sense of all that.

And soon.

 

 

Mamas, Go Ahead. Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Rodeo Cowboys

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about the scoring or technical aspects of a rodeo. It seems to me that if you can somehow stay on a bucking horse or bull for a few seconds and still live to tell about it then you deserve all the praise and prize money you can get.

But, alas, there must be more to it than just the ability to hang on for dear life. So I’ll just leave it by stating the obvious. Those cowboys and cowgirls who compete in a rodeo are tremendous athletes. And attending a rodeo is great fun.

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I saw my second rodeo — the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo — this past weekend in Colorado Springs at the Norris Penrose Event Center. I assume none of the participants are concerned about Medicare coverage. I digress.

Anyway, the rodeo attracts a large and enthusiastic crowd and it is plenty of fun.

And I expect that rodeos are a throwback to the days before the West became increasingly urbanized and when cowboys and ranchers played a much greater role in the economic and social fabric of communities throughout the region.

Here’s from the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame:

Spanish Roots
Rodeo as we know it did not exist until the late 1800’s, but its roots in North America are traced back to the Spanish settling California and becoming cattle ranchers. The definition of “rodeo” is a Spanish word meaning roundup. The skills of the early Spanish vaqueros were eventually passed along to the American Cowboy after the civil war when the frontier territories were heavily expanding. The difference between Spanish rodeo and American rodeo is that the Spanish version focuses on style, while the American version focuses on speed.

Wild West Shows
In the late 1800’s, Wild West Shows began traveling the eastern states and did so for about 50 years. Today’s rodeos are an offspring of these early shows that featured great cowboys such as Buffalo Bill Cody and Bill Pickett, who invented bulldogging. The early 1900’s marked the introduction of the Wild West Show overseas when the shows performed in England and Africa.Casey Tibbs took the Wild West Show to the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium. The cowboys in these shows were paid performers and it wasn’t a contest like modern rodeos.

I have no idea how difficult it is to support yourself and your family by competing in rodeos. Or how long you can reasonably expect your career to last.

But it sure looks like a fun and independent lifestyle for those who have the talent, energy and access to a good back brace.

 

Oh, Please. Not The Danish

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, has a way with words. She also has an incredibly difficult and demanding job, trying to explain the actions of a President and administration that often defies explanations.

I know how tough it is to be in a position where it is expected that you can constantly “polish a turd” without somehow seeing your credibility sink into the crapper. For many years I was the primarily spokesperson for a large American corporation. And trust me. Plenty of turds, cultivated by management, managed to float to my desk in search of a proper destination.

Fortunately, unlike Sanders, I didn’t have to clean up the mess daily, or in front of the national media on TV.

So in many ways I give her credit for her quick — if somewhat laughable — explanation for Chief of Staff John Kelly’s response to President Trump’s tongue lashing to our NATO allies and to Germany in particular this week.

Here’s from USA Today:

John Kelly was annoyed he couldn’t get a “full breakfast” in Brussels on Wednesday.

At least that was the explanation from White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders when asked about the apparently agitated body language displayed by President Donald Trump’s chief of staff during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Sanders told The Washington Post that Kelly “was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.”

A number of news outlets, including the Post, speculated that Kelly’s body language was related to the remarks Trump was making at the time about Germany being “totally controlled by Russia.”

I don’t know. It looked to me like Kelly had just chewed on a shit sandwich. Maybe next time someone could at least offer up a German pretzel.

Or an omelette.

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A Stormy Night In Ohio

Well, it looks like Stormy Daniels will get her day in court after all. But it’s most likely not the one she was expecting, or the one most of the nation is looking forward to seeing.

It appears that Daniels, the retired porn actress who alleges that she had an affair with President Trump and then received a substantial payment to keep her mouth shut about it, was arrested Thursday night while performing at a strip club in Ohio. Note: Of course it was Ohio. Where else in the nation could this possibly happen? I digress.

Anyway, here is the CNN account of the story:

(CNN)Adult film actress Stormy Daniels was arrested early Thursday at an Ohio strip club for allegedly touching three undercover detectives during her performance in violation of state law.

Daniels, who gained notoriety after suing President Donald Trump following an alleged affair, faces three misdemeanor counts of illegally touching a patron, court records show.
She posted a $6,054 bail and was released Thursday morning, and is due to be arraigned Friday morning, records show.
Oh, Stormy. Let’s hope this doesn’t put a damper on the more pressing court appearance with the President.
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Beer And Happy Places

I spent a delightful day last Saturday, July 7, at Breckenridge, attending that community’s annual beer festival. Breckenridge is one of the happiest places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. And since it’s only about a two hour drive from my home in Woodland Park, Breckenridge is a neat little mountain ski town that serves as a delightful venue for a short get-out-of-town vacation.

And sampling craft beer from about 50 vendors from Colorado and other parts of the United States, while being surrounded by mountains at more than 9,000 feet and with music pumping in the background, certainly adds to the experience.

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Since moving to Colorado from Ohio I find I am more inclined to go to these kind of events. I guess it has something to do with the near perfect weather, long stretches of blue sky and sunlight, and low humidity.

Also, the mindset of people living in and visiting Colorado is different. Given the excuse to get outside, they appear all too pleased to take it. Me included.

And when you add beer to the mix, well, it’s a pretty happy place.

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No Farting Allowed

Well, the Fourth of July holiday has come and gone. And this year proved a little different celebration than in the past.

In the extended Woodland Park community, like much of Colorado, a fire ban is in effect that prohibits just about anything that might trigger a wildfire.

And that’s a good thing, since those of us in Teller County had a pretty good scare with the Chateau fire in Florissant burning for a few days, causing evacuations and the loss of homes and other structures. Fortunately, as I write this that fire is mostly contained.

Other parts of Colorado, and throughout the West in general, are still fighting fires, or  residents are keeping their fingers crossed that their community won’t be next. So while the fire bans placed a modest damper on some of the Fourth of July activities, I get the sense that few people — especially those with brains and common sense — are complaining too much.

No fireworks. No problem.

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While you can’t cook outside with propane, charcoal or over an open campfire, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy a meal with friends and family.

And the restrictions are tough with zero tolerance for violators.

So tough, in fact, that you may want to consider not even farting these days near the national and state parks. Or I guess anywhere else for that matter.

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Alaska: The Last Clean Frontier

I spent a few weeks this summer visiting Alaska, called by many “the last frontier.” It is an amazing state, populated by scenic venues and from what I could tell generally friendly people.

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It is also an environmentally friendly and extremely clean state. Everywhere we stopped there were messages about recycling and taking care of and protecting the environment. And I didn’t see any trash anywhere, despite the crush of tourists that head to the state at this time of the year.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about my hometown of Woodland Park and Colorado these days in general. Residents and tourists alike now seem to have forgotten what made this part of the world so spectacular: a clean environment that everyone could enjoy.

These days you can hike or walk in just about any trail or neighborhood and come back with a sack full of trash, ranging from paper wrappers to cigarette butts. And the nearby forests and parks appear to be the dumping ground of choice for used appliances, worn tires and so on.

Yikes.

Locally, groups such as Focus on the Forest do an amazing job with limited resources to call attention to the trash problem and to actually help clean up the mess. Woodland Park holds an annual city-wide cleanup where volunteers canvas the community and make a temporary dent in what seems to me to be a growing problem.

But maybe we need to develop more of the Alaskan mindset. A clean environment is really a resource that we can’t afford to squander. And Alaska doesn’t have to be the last or only clean frontier.

Wildfires and Common Sense

No matter how you look at it Woodland Park, for me at least, is an  ideal place to live. The climate is near perfect, with moderate temperatures, plenty of sunshine and low humidity. And with winters like last one where we netted only around 50 inches of snow, hey, that boarders on the tropical compared to Ohio.

But the downside is that even though we are in the mountains you can argue that this location like other parts of Colorado is actually high desert. So in years like this one where we have had a relatively small amount of snow coupled with thus far virtually no rain you have all the conditions for widespread and disastrous wildfires. Add in the elements of high winds, low humidity and no rain, and well, you aren’t in Ohio anymore and you better be ready to move and move quickly.

That happened right before we moved here in 2012, when the Waldo Canyon fire erupted northwest of Colorado Springs and eventually led to the evacuation of about 32,000 residents, including some in Woodland Park.

The fires start for any number of reasons. Nature plays a role, with lightning strikes prevalent and dangerous. But some are caused by people just not having any common sense.

They apparently don’t know how to douse a campfire or how to conduct themselves in a designated area for target shooting without setting the forest on fire. And I guess being a smoker somehow gives them the right to flick the still smoldering butt out the window while driving or when going to pick up the mail. Assclowns.

Oh well. To quote the great American philosopher Forrest Gump: shit happens.

Unfortunately, so do wildfires.

As I write this post, there is a fire raging (photo above with credit to Colorado Springs Utilities and the Woodland Park Community Facebook page) about 15 miles west of my house near the small community of Florissant, with as of now more than 400 acres burning,  roads closed and some residents evacuated. Here’s praying for everyone’s safety and for a quick resolution. What makes this particularly scary I’m sure for longtime residents is that Florissant is just east of the starting point of the Hayman fire, which at the time in 2006 was the largest in Colorado’s history.

I haven’t heard as yet the cause for this fire near Florissant. Let’s hope it doesn’t fall into the assclown category.

But here are some other observations.

  • In a small community like this, timely and accurate information is golden, but not always easy to come by. By the time the Courier Journal, the local weekly newspaper publishes anything, this fire will hopefully only be a bad memory.
  • On the other hand, there is a system called Nixle managed I assume by local government and law enforcement agencies that sends alerts and updates to your mobile phones and email accounts. It’s a valuable service, widely used, and I’m sure greatly appreciated by those who subscribe at no cost.
  • Television stations out of Colorado Springs and Denver and the Gazette in Colorado Springs do a good job of providing as much information as they can when they can. But I suspect that in these situations most people turn to social media, primarily Facebook, for updates and eyewitness reports. Social media have many flaws, but they also are a tremendous resource when people are looking for immediate information.
  • The community really rallies together in times such as these, and the outpouring of volunteers who are willing to donate their time to prepare and serve food to the firefighters and others and who willingly give their money to purchase supplies is truly gratifying.
  • You better be ready to evacuate quickly and know what you need to take that can’t be replaced, such as important records and documents, medication and so on.
  • Times like these remind us how much we depend on firefighters and other first responders. And we don’t say thank you enough or appreciate their skills, dedication and sacrifices. Thank you.

So while our collective fingers and toes are crossed with this current fire, I guess the best we can do is approach the upcoming Independence Day holiday with a sense of optimism and dare I say it, common sense.

A New Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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For years, while living in Ohio, I got up just about every morning and added my musings to a blog: PR On The Run. Then after punching the publish button I hit the concrete in my neighborhood or trails in a nearby national park for a minimum of a four- or five-mile run, generally with a small group of friends whom I’ve know for the better part of three decades.

Then in 2012 my wife, Mary, and I relocated to a small mountain town near Pikes Peak in Southern Colorado, Woodland Park. It’s called the City Above The Clouds. And at about 8,400 feet above sea level the views are majestic and the weather is generally ideal throughout the year.

And I’m still running, although age and altitude have shortened the distances and increased the times. Still, running (or walking and biking for that matter) in a venue that offers blue sky, almost constant sunshine and low humidity is nearly impossible to beat.

But I stopped blogging, figuring that my brain farts would be lost in the swamp of fake news and the increasing partisan and uncivil discourse that now rules politics and just about all media, social or otherwise. Or said another way, I figured that after years of gingerly putting one word after another first on paper and later on a computer screen that I had run out of things to say.

Now I’ve decided that I’m ready to jump back into the fray and offer my views from this perch high in the mountains above the clouds. Mostly, I’m going to write about matters that interest me, upset me, or that I just plain find unusual, funny or important. And from time to time I’m going to add some content to highlight my hometown of Woodland Park and my adopted state of Colorado.

By the way, the quote above by Izaak Walton was part of the WordPress template.

But, hey. It ain’t a bad reference for beginning a new journey.