The G.J. Sentinel hawks cheap handguns while also wishing readers “a safe and happy holiday”

With ads like these in the local paper, no wonder Grand Junction has such a high suicide rate

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel ran a big ad in it’s Thanksgiving Day paper selling handguns for cheap while on it’s Facebook page it simultaneously wishes readers a “safe and happy holiday.”

Many area residents would consider the ad alone grossly inappropriate in a community that recently reached a record high suicide rate, and which has for years struggled with one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.

In the U.S., the majority of suicides are by gun, and it’s been shown that depression and access to firearms are a deadly combination.

Suicide rates are also higher in places where the rates of gun ownership are higher. A Harvard School of Public Health survey of all 50 U.S. states found a strong link between rates of suicide and firearm ownership. Even Fox News concluded that gun ownership is tied to a threefold increase in suicide risk. The lesson, should we choose to accept it, is that many lives would be saved if gun ownership was less prevalent. 

Not helping

When all this information is considered, it makes ads like the one in today’s Daily Sentinel appear thoughtless, offensive and unhelpful. It also has the potential to exacerbate the local suicide problem, which is of zero benefit to the community.

All this adds up to ads like this being more of a public detriment than a service or public benefit.

The Daily Sentinel cannot at once be sincere in wishing community members a safe holiday while helping market cheap, deadly weapons to households across the valley. It would be more sincere — and appropriate —  for the paper to refuse to run ads for firearms until the rate of gun massacres in the U.S. comes down and the suicide rate in Mesa County drops at least a little bit.  

Trump-linked hate graffiti found at Horizon Drive Safeway

Graffiti left in the restroom at the Horizon Drive Safeway this evening.

An employee at the Horizon Drive Safeway discovered hateful anti-gay graffiti scrawled in the store’s restroom tonight and posted photos of it on social media. The employee discovered the graffiti while changing out of work clothes in the restroom.

One message was “Trump 2020” with a swastika. The other message said “God hates all fags,” also with a swastika.

The vandalism occurred between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. this evening.
Donald Trump’s presidency is fueling divisiveness, emboldening supremacists and radical right wing hate groups and has led to an increase in hateful rhetoric around the country, including in Grand Junction. Trump’s negative comments and punitive policies towards immigrants, transgendered citizens and other minorities are also contributing to an increase in hateful rhetoric directed at these groups.  

Graffiti in the Horizon Drive Safeway restroom

Related post: Grand Junction’s growing hate community

Trump endorses accused child molester Roy Moore for Senate

Newspapers in New York today with stories about Trumps endorsement of accused child molester Roy Moore

In a new low for the country, President Donald Trump has endorsed the denials of Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican senate candidate who has been accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with teenagers. Trump’s endorsement indicates he has elevated the strength of Moore’s denials about the encounters over accounts given by the eight women who stepped forward and graphically described the sexual assaults by Moore they experienced when they were younger and Moore was in his 30s.

Moore made a name for himself as a public Ten Commandments moralizer while he served as Chief Justice for the state of Alabama, but he was twice ejected from his position on the Court for violating federal laws. Despite getting kicked off the bench twice for failing to follow the law and being accused of sexually molesting teenagers, Moore has maintained the support of many Christian conservatives in the state. He now also has the support of President Trump.



What Roy Moore and Grand Junction City Council have in common

Roy Moore

Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican senatorial candidate accused of sexual predation, brings thoughts right back here to Grand Junction, because Moore and Grand Junction have two big things in common.

They are 1) the Ten Commandments, and 2) an eagerness to defy U.S. law.

Moore was twice thrown out of his job as Chief Justice for the state of Alabama for defying U.S. law. After the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage, Moore ordered the state’s probate court judges not to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. A commission charged him with violating federal judicial orders and kicked him off the court in 2016. That was the second time Moore was ejected for violating the law.

Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments Tablet in the rotunda of the Alabama state judicial building

The first time Moore got the boot was in 2003, after he refused to remove a 5,280-pound granite Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of Alabama’s state Judicial Building. Moore had ordered the monument placed there himself. In 2003, a federal district court ruled that having the monument on government property blatantly violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government from endorsing any religion. A federal appellate court affirmed the ruling, clearing up any lingering doubts about whether a Ten Commandments tablet on government property violates U.S. law.

The Court ordered Moore to remove the monument, but he refused, stating

“As chief justice of the State of Alabama, I have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments and the moral foundation of our law. To do so would, in effect, result in the disestablishment of our system of justice in this state.”

Grand Junction refuses to remove its Ten Commandments tablet, too

In 2001, Grand Junction residents sued the City of Grand Junction  (pdf) asking it to remove the Ten Commandments tablet from City Hall’s lawn because it was an impermissible endorsement of religion.

Grand Junction’s “Ten Commandments” tablet in front of City Hall in 2017, with “Big Hunk” candy bars

Five out of seven Grand Junction City Councilors thought, like Roy Moore, that they should fight for the tablet to remain on City Hall property because they were Christian, most City residents were Christian and so Christianity obviously reigned supreme in town, and that’s all that mattered.  But that’s not how our Constitution works, and Council willingly ignored that fact. In the United States, federal law says government at any level can not endorse any religion, no matter who is in the majority in it’s jurisdiction.

Just like Roy Moore, Grand Junction City Council sought to defy the Constitution and get away with it. The City spent $64,000 of taxpayer money to try to disguise the tablet’s message of religious exclusivity by putting it next to the Bill of Rights and the Mayflower compact. In so doing, the City sent a message to the public that it’s okay to violate the law if you have enough money to do it and think your own personal beliefs supersede the law.

It’s a disgraceful message, and not what America or our town are about.

Grand Junction’s effort to keep the Ten Commandments on government property  was spearheaded by our own home-grown religious moralizer at the time, City Councilman Reford Theobold, who felt so strongly about his morality that he broadcasted it by wearing a necktie with the Ten Commandments on it.

Theobold was arrested in 2015 for shoplifting maps and Big Hunk candy bars from Cabela’s at Mesa Mall.

So much for boastful religious morality, and at least the 8th commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”

Maybe after pulling off his Constitutional violation in 2001 in front of the entire town, Theobold felt he could get away with violating even more laws. After all, that was the message the City had sent. Theobold just took it to heart like any good City resident would.

It’s all a shameful embarrassment and speaks poorly of our town and our elected leaders’ integrity.

Roy Moore is a disgrace, and so is Reford Theobold. But what are we going to do to fix it?

Reford "Ten Commandments" Theobold

Disgraced former G.J. City Council member Reford Theobold, shown wearing a Ten Commandments tie at a 2006 event

Some Christian evangelicals are now distancing themselves from Roy Moore by pointing out his erroneous interpretation of Christianity. The Atlantic magazine wrote that “Christian support for Roy Moore looks like hypocrisy to the outside world.”  Reverend Laughton Hicks of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama said November 16 that Moore is “seriously infected with … [a] false Christian religious virus, as are most white males in Alabama.”

In 2001, Grand Junction’s City Council was obviously infected with the same “false Christian religious virus” that currently infects Roy Moore and those who still believe he is fit for office. Moore was wrong to keep the Ten Commandments tablet on public property and lost his job because of it. The only G.J. city council member who urged the City to obey the Constitution in 2001 and remove the Ten Commandments was Gene Kinsey. In return, Kinsey was voted off council in the following election. Kinsey said later he never expected to stay on Council for a long time anyway, and while he personally disliked the idea of having to move the tablet, he knew the City legally needed to move it and it was the right thing to do.

Today, Mr. Kinsey has moved away, but the Ten Commandments tablet still sits in front of City Hall, as a daily reminder that the City of Grand Junction embraced Christian religious superiority in 2001, and continues to do so in 2017.



Rep. Scott Tipton just voted to end many of your tax deductions

Colorado House Rep. Scott Tipton

Republican western slope House Representative Scott Tipton just voted to increase the national debt by more than a trillion dollars and alter the federal tax code in ways that will likely create hardship for many of his constituents. Every Democrat and thirteen Republican House members voted against the bill, but Tipton wasn’t one of them. The vote was a relatively close 226 in favor to 205 against.

Tipton voted to pass HR-1, the Republican “tax reform” bill which ends many of the deductions people have long used to help reduce their taxable income. Here are some of the things the bill will do:

  • Add an estimated $1.4 trillion to the national debt over 10 years
  • Ends the tax deduction for mortgage interest
  • Ends the tax deduction for medical expenses
  • Ends the deduction for alimony payments
  • Ends the deduction for moving expenses
  • Terminates deductions for contributions to medical savings accounts
  • Ends the deduction for expenses incurred to provide access of disabled individuals
  • Repeals the deduction for the cost of professional tax preparation
  • Repeals the deduction for personal casualty loss, e.g. the loss of property due to fire, storm, theft, etc.
  • Eliminates the deduction for state and local income and sales taxes
  • Repeals the student loan interest deduction
  • Cuts taxes on wealthy heirs
  • Makes tax cuts for corporations permanent, while tax cuts for individuals are only temporary

A similar bill is moving in the Senate.

Republicans at every level of government have blood on their hands for U.S. gun massacres

CO Senator Cory Gardner has taken $3.8 million from the NRA and reliably votes against measures to reduce gun violence in the U.S.

Another day, another gun massacre.

Still Republican legislators don’t even lift a finger to address it. “Thoughts and prayers” is their only response, since it holds off action on the insane proliferation of guns in this country, and blocks discussion of what can be done about mass gun violence in the U.S.

There is only one reason why gun massacres are now a common occurrence: America is awash in guns. It’s way too easy to get guns, even extremely dangerous ones, and it has been for far too long. People can  legally amass entire arsenals. The colossal number of guns washing around in the U.S. compared to other countries makes it extremely easy for anyone with even the most petty grievance to use a gun to settle a perceived score by killing people en masse.

And that’s exactly what is happening.

Read the fine print: Republican “tax reform” bill injects religious dogma into the tax code

You don’t typically think of a tax reform bill as a vehicle to push a religious agenda onto the rest of the country, but Trump’s “tax reform” bill does exactly that.

Buried deep inside the Republicans’ proposed “tax reform” bill is a provision conferring rights on “unborn children,” which the bill defines as “a child in utero…a member of the species Homo Sapiens, at any stage of development.” The provision appears on page 93 of the 429-page bill, in a section amending the rules on “529 plans,” which are tax-free investment accounts that allow families to save for a child’s college education. People have long been able to set up 529 plans for children that don’t yet exist, but changing the wording of the law intentionally enshrines recognition of the unborn into federal law, something anti-abortion activists and supporters of fetal “personhood” have long sought to do.

Trump’s tax reform bill is full of tricks

XCel will raise your gas rates every year for the next three years unless you say something NOW!

This is really short notice, but if money is tight in your household you need to know that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is holding a meeting tonight at the Mesa County Public Library to solicit public comments on a proposal by Xcel Energy (pdf) to raise natural gas rates by $139 million over the next three years.

The public comment hearing is today, November 2, at the Mesa County Central Library, 443 N. 6th St., in Grand Junction starting at 4 p.m. and continuing until 7 p.m. You can drop in any time during those hours, or submit comments by snailmail or email.