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The People's Attorney

Power to The People's Attorney

Last Thursday (June 7), I attended a debate that took place at Pueblo Community College between the two democratic candidates, Bill Thiebaut and Jeff Chostner, who are vying for the position of Pueblo’s District Attorney. Both candidates are veteran politicians who have devoted the bulk of their lives to public service. I had hoped the debate would help me learn more about the candidates as individuals, their views on crime and justice, and, most importantly, would also help me decide which candidate would be better suited to serve as Pueblo’s next District Attorney. I am pleased to report that the debate did not disappoint. Since both candidates are Democrats one might assume that Bill Thiebaut and Jeff Chostner are interchangeable. Not so. Apart from the fact that they are both members of the same political party, each candidate emphasized throughout the debate that their views about criminal justice, the state of public security in Pueblo, and the manner in which the DA’s office ought to be managed differ in practically every respect. Bill Thiebaut is seeking his third term as Pueblo’s District Attorney. During his two terms as DA, Thiebaut has implemented a “Smart Justice’ program. According to Thiebaut, the best way to fight crime is to prevent it. Though over the years, DA Thiebaut has certainly prosecuted an enormous number of criminals, Thiebaut’s Smart Justice program employs an innovative social intervention strategy that is intended to aggressively discourage criminality. Without doubt, this is a much smarter way to fight crime. Rather than passively standing by while criminals victimize the community, Thiebaut’s Smart Justice program enhances community security by nipping crime in the bud. The logic of Thiebaut’s Smart Justice program is simple. Fewer crimes = Fewer victims and a safer, happier community. Jeff Chostner is running for DA because he says that crime is rampant in Pueblo. Not only did Chostner assert on multiple occasions during the June 7 debate that, in recent years, violent and property crimes have escalated in Pueblo anywhere from 20-30%, but Chostner also claimed that Pueblo has become “the crime capital of Colorado.’ Indeed, at one point, Chostner even suggested that crime has become so rampant in Pueblo that, “when criminals in Colorado want to commit crimes, they come to Pueblo.’ In short, Chostner painted a picture of Pueblo as a city where crime is utterly out of control. According to Chostner, busy thoroughfares, such as Fourth Street, have literally become unsafe for law-abiding citizens to traverse. Chostner even described his own experience as a driver on Fourth Street who, when required to stop at a traffic signal, fears to turn his head either to the left or right because of the criminal elements that he is convinced are hemming him in. From Chostner’s perspective, criminals have taken control of Pueblo and they are breathing down the necks of law-abiding citizens. In contrast to Bill Thiebaut, Jeff Chostner was of the opinion that the only way to fight crime in Pueblo is for the District Attorney to prosecute a higher number of criminals. In many municipalities, district attorneys measure their success by one single criteria: criminal convictions. During the debate, Bill Thiebaut pointed out that the easiest way for DAs to pad their conviction rates–and, thus, create the appearance of being “tough on crime”–is to pursue convictions against those who are least able to defend themselves: the poor. To his credit, Thiebaut insisted that he never had, nor would he ever, artificially inflate his conviction rates by disproportionately prosecuting the poor. On Bill Thiebaut’s watch, the DA’s office will remain dedicated to applying the law equally to everyone regardless of how large their bank accounts happen to be. Time and again, Jeff Chostner dismissed DA Thiebaut’s Smart Justice program as ineffective. As Chostner addressed the standing room-only audience at Pueblo Community College, he repeatedly prefaced his comments by stating that “everyone in the audience” had had the same experiences as he and would, therefore, share his perspective that “Pueblo is the crime capital of Colorado.’ On that score, I am afraid that I must emphatically disagree with Jeff Chostner. First of all, it is one thing to say that crime has increased, and it is quite another to prove it. Whereas Bill Thiebaut cited specific, authoritative sources for all of the key points in his argument, Jeff Chostner relied upon hyperbole. According to Jeff Chostner, crime has increased in Pueblo because he says it has. No further evidence required. Even more, Jeff Chostner insisted that every member of the debate audience shared his jaundiced view of justice in Pueblo. However, in making that claim, Jeff Chostner said something that was patently untrue. Whether Jeff Choster intentionally spoke untruthfully or not is for him alone to say. My point is that my experience with crime and justice in Pueblo is very different than Jeff Chostner’s. I disagree strenuously with Jeff Chostner’s statement that “Pueblo is the crime capital of Colorado.’ Not only does that statement ring false with Colorado crime statistics, it also rings false with my experience as a proud citizen of Pueblo, Colorado. My wife and I chose to raise our daughters in Pueblo because we believe it is a safe and beautiful city. Further, I believe that Pueblo is safe and beautiful because I encounter abundant evidence of that fact every time that I walk, drive, or ride my bicycle across Pueblo. My city is not the crime capital of Colorado, and Commissioner Jeff Chostner should be ashamed of himself for saying that it is. Indeed, I would like to take this opportunity to demand an apology from Commissioner Jeff Chostner on behalf of the city of Pueblo. Frankly, I expect a two-term Pueblo County Commissioner to hold a more charitable view of Pueblo. Further, if as Commissioner Chostner suggests, Pueblo has gone to the dogs in recent years, then it has done so on his watch as a Pueblo County Commissioner. If, as Jeff Chostner implies, he has failed so miserably as a Pueblo County Commissioner, then why on earth should voters believe that he would be successful as Pueblo’s DA? It only stands to reason that anyone who, ...

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Modern Misogyny – A personal review

A fascinating excurses on the gendered, and often misogynist, nature of our popular culture and the fantasy life we all buy into. Like zombies we walk this earth playing out our programmed gender roles. Wake up, wake up wherever you are. There is no benefit in "the game.' It leads only to misery, oppression, and a slow and depressing descent into the prozac haze of our modern world.

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The NRA and Polarization in the Gun Debate

Today’s political landscape is deeply polarized. From liberals to conservatives, there are serious divides that are pervasive throughout politics. One group that has used the Internet and email in particular to contribute to and sustain an environment of polarization is the National Rifle Association (NRA). This paper examines how Wayne LaPierre as spokesperson for the NRA has used the rhetoric of polarization to address the gun debate in emails to members and potential members of the NRA.  Before discussing the emails that were sent, a brief history of the NRA is provided followed by an explanation of the rhetoric of polarization.

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Bad-war

The Big Lie – Are Wars Inevitable?

War!? What is it good for? Taking stuff from others. Say it again. Oh, ah. Well, enough with the homage to Frankie who was in Hollywood in the 80s. War is another one of those ideological hot buttons, like greed, and competition, and our "inner nature" (see other articles in this series), there's all sorts of excuses and justifications. But in the end justifications for war, just like justifications for competition, or greed, or just that, justifications. They are not based on any kind of valid social or natural research, and they often just ape (no pun intended) the special interests who benefit from war, etc. What side of the fence are you on? Better be the right one 'cause Billy's got a gun.

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