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Week of November 30, 2020


Biden Cabinet Picks Aim for Precarious Middle


Appointees Display Race and Gender Diversity, But Some Share Hawkish World View

Few analysts were surprised at Joe Biden’s pre-Thanksgiving picks for his cabinet, though his failure to name a secretary of defense is indicative of the pushback he is getting from many in the Democratic Party for floating names like Michele Flournoy, a consultant close to large military contractors. While some names show a reasonable aim for the middle, like Janet Yellin for Treasury Secretary or John Kerry for climate czar, others show a continued reliance on the “liberal interventionist” model common to many appointments in the Clinton and Obama years.

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for the Department of Homeland Security, is considered a passable moderate and a boon for the Hispanic community, though someone who may be too willing to consider intervention and reinforced national borders. Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State was seen by many as a moderate centrist, not likely to stir up much opposition from liberals.

Avril Haines is on shakier ground as the first woman to serve as Director of National Intelligence – she has pledged to renew the neutral professionalism of the intelligence community by always bringing the White House “frank assessments, whether good or bad,” but many are concerned she shares the hawkish stance of someone like Flournoy. But activists have warned Biden not to nominate Mike Morell to head the CIA, because he was considered a “torture apologist” when he was a deputy director of the CIA under Obama. (The same could be said for Trump’s CIA Director Gina Haspel, who is considered one of the few professionals left in Trump’s cabinet, but is similarly too tainted by apologizing for torture to be considered as a holdover for a Biden administration.)

In a Nov. 29 story, The New York Times revealed that Blinken, Haines, Flournoy and other campaign advisors all have ties to WestExec Advisors and Pine Island Capital Partners, two consultancy and hedge-fund groups with ties to drone and weapons manufacturers, and to the intelligence prime-contractor giant Booz Allen Hamilton.

Some potential appointees also could face resistance from Republicans in the Senate, who could block nominations. Sally Yates has been considered a key candidate for Attorney General, but she is despised by the GOP because, while an assistant attorney general in the incoming Trump Administration in 2017, she opposed Trump’s Muslim travel bans. As a result, Biden could pick Lisa Monaco or Deval Patrick for the top legal post.

These early cabinet picks show that peace activists must be on constant guard to monitor the Biden administration. Nevertheless, it is important to raise one caveat. In 2017, one sector of the peace community actually thought it was better to have Trump as president than to see Hillary Clinton arrive as the harbinger of the “liberal international order.” Such a view is reminiscent of the way the German Communist Party of the 1920s would quibble about the good and bad points of the Weimar Republic, while all the while Hitler was waiting in the wings to wipe everyone out.

In the 21st century, the greatest danger worldwide comes from the global rise of authoritarian populism, which will bring the world a rerun of 1930s fascism. The former liberal international rules-based order (which is unlikely to be revived in any event) was certainly unfair in its globalized capitalism and “Good Samaritan” military interventionism, but it nominally believed in the rule of law. Populists, both the Trump variety and those worldwide, do not believe in the rule of law or even in physical reality through scientific analysis of the facts. They believe in screaming and bullying their way into power, using any kind of Plandemic or QAnon conspiracy theory they can float. Yes, we need to hold the Biden administration to task for any post-January 20 actions taken. But we also should heed the 2017 warning from The Economist magazine that “neither liberals nor conservatives should ever make deals with populists, for populists leave scorched earth, and they destroy everything in their wake.”


City Seeks Comments for Module 2 of Housing Plan


Last week, we told you about the city’s virtual open house on Module 2 of its RetoolCOS plan. Now, the Colorado Springs Pro-Housing Partnership is encouraging members and friends to comment on Module 2, released Nov. 18. Here’s the appeal from COS-PHP:
We wanted to let you know that the city published a first draft of Module 2 yesterday, and public comments are needed to make sure they prioritize affordable housing. Roughly 50 people sent in comments on Module 1 and it prompted the city to revisit their draft. Our goal is to get more than 50 on Module 2. These comments don’t need to be more than 2-3 sentences.
Module 2: 
Module 2 deals with development and design standards—the elements of the zoning code that restrict how property owners build on their land. It requires that they have a certain amount of land to build anything (minimum lot sizes), not build on large portions of it (maximum lot coverages, setbacks from the edges of the property, height restrictions), and dedicate a certain amount of it to parking. 
How Module 2 Impacts Affordable Housing:
When these restrictions are too onerous, they limit the amount of land that can be used for housing and make housing more expensive to build. 
How to comment: 
Email and your city council members (email addresses here).
BCC so that we can keep track of how many comments the city receives. 
Emphasize that your primary concern is ensuring that everyone in the city can afford a place to live, which requires that the city do the following:
  1. Reduce minimum parking requirements more than the Module 2 draft already does
  2. Make it easier to build missing-middle housing by easing onerous development and design standards such as minimum lot sizes, setbacks, height restrictions, and lot coverages more than the Module 2 draft already does
  3. Include incentives for affordable housing in the zoning code, such as increased height allowance and lot coverages, and reduced parking requirements
If you’d like to learn more about why these things are so important, and use the information to beef up your comment, click here.

And if you're as concerned about our planet's future as we are, make sure to mention that the electric vehicle charging station incentive should be even bigger than it is.

Finally, if you didn’t comment on Module 1, include a sentence at the end saying that you want to see more permitted uses in single-family zones. If you did, reiterate your support for more types of housing in more parts of the city.
Thanks so much for your commitment to a future in which all of our neighbors can afford a place to live.

Max, Liam, and Elam


As Polis, Broncos Test Positive, Coloradans Should Treat Holiday Season as "Quasi-Lockdown"

We still have not faced the reality of Thanksgiving as a super-spreader event, yet over the weekend, Gov. Jared Polis and his partner both tested positive for Covid-19. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos had its entire quarterback roster out for Covid positive results or exposures prior to a Sunday afternoon game with the New Orleans Saints.

El Paso County health officials say this should give residents a warning that they should treat the entire period through the end of the year as a "quasi-lockdown," similar to the homebound rules imposed on Los Angeles on Nov. 28. Here in Colorado, the state and county are trying to allow retail businesses to remain open through the Christmas season, but residents are urged to stay home unless they are performing essential work, or have important personal tasks. We urge all our members and readers to use caution and kindness this holiday season, to insure all of us can hold out until vaccines become commonly available.

Killing of Iranian Nuclear Scientist Bears Israeli, U.S. Fingerprints

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the Iranian effort to design a nuclear warhead, was killed in an ambush Friday in the town of Absard outside Tehran, an attack branded an Israeli operation by Iranian leaders. Israeli civilian leaders did not deny they were behind the operation, but many pundits in Washington said that the U.S. almost certainly provided intelligence and funding. President Trump had held a cabinet meeting Nov. 12 to consider an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities prior to Inauguration Day, and the assassination was considered an alternative to a more overt attack that could be traced directly to the U.S. military. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with Israel and Saudi Arabia last week, in which it is assumed the assault options were floated.  In either event, the intent would be to sabotage any effort by incoming President Biden to revive the Iranian nuclear pact, and the killing of Fakhrizadeh appeared to do just that.

But it also carries many unintended consequences which will further snarl Biden’s diplomacy. Saudi Arabia announced it was cutting off further peace negotiations with Israel, and the UAE and other Gulf states were expected to follow suit. The European Union called the killing a crime which must be answered for in an international venue. Iran said it would retaliate against Israel “in due time,” and a retaliatory strike against the U.S. may be possible as well. John Brennan, former CIA director under Obama and a man Trump has tried to brand a danger, called the murder of Fakhrizadeh “a highly reckless criminal attack.” It shows that President Trump is capable of doing plenty of damage in the 51 days left before Inauguration Day.


Catch the Nov. 14 Lynching Memorial Online


If you missed the Nov. 14 memorial for lynching victim Preston John Porter at Denver’s Creekside Park, you can view the ceremony at the Colorado Lynching Memorial web site HERE.

Participants in the ceremony  included Rosemary Lytle, president of NAACP state conference; Aurora poet laureate Jovan Mays; Episcopal Church Bishop Kym Lucas; Rev. Tawana Davis of Soul2Soul Sisters; Gov. Jared Polis; Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; and Denver City Council Member Candi CdeBaca.

The marker commemorates the Nov. 16, 1900 lynching in Limon of 15-year-old railroad worker Preston Porter Jr., falsely accused of killing a girl. Porter was one of four African Americans known to have been lynched in Colorado, who are being recognized by the CLM project.

Peak Environment Podcast 65 Compares Travel Eco-Footprints in "Does This Flight Make My Footprint Look Big?"


Dave Gardner, originator of Studio 809, provides a holiday-appropriate look at relative environmental impacts of flying, driving, bus, train, bicycle, on foot, even staycations - What do we need to know to make responsible decisions about the way we move about? This program is based on an Oct. 23 presentation Gardner made to the Pikes Peak Environmental Forum. It includes results of a Lund University study on carbon footprints, a study of green flight bookings, and a discussion on whether physical conferences have a future in the post-pandemic world.

You can hear the latest podcast here:
You can still hear Podcast 64 of Peak Environment, which features speakers from Colorado Springs Utilities, discussing the city’s new energy plan. Christian Nelson and Michael Avanzi of Colorado Springs Utilities share the future of energy production in our community. The Colorado Springs Utilities Board approved an Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) portfolio in June of 2020 that represents a significant departure from the utility’s heavy reliance on coal and natural gas generation. What does this mean for the Pikes Peak region and renewable energy?
This episode was recorded at the Sustainability in Progress (SIP) event on September 16, 2020. Sustainability in Progress is a monthly program of the Peak Alliance for a Sustainable Future. During COVID we’re meeting virtually on the third Wednesday of most months from 8 to 9 a.m.

You can hear Podcast 64 here:
You can also download the PDFs the CSU speakers here:

PPJPC Seeks Interest for Officers of Board


PPJPC is distributing flyers to Colorado College, UCCS, and Pikes Peak Community College to seek student membership on our board. We also welcome board members from the general public. If . If you are interested in nominating yourself or someone else to a board position, contact us at (719) 963-2979, or  

RAWtools Offers "Taking Stock" as a YouTube/Facebook Resource Following June 28 Debut

RAWtools debuted its new poetry video, “Taking Stock: Loaded Words and Bullet Points” in late June to rave reviews. The video features local poets reading works on issues of gun violence. The video was directed and produced by Mary Sprunger-Froese and Lauren Weaver, and includes poems from Jonathan Andujar, former Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Susan Peiffer, NAACP activist Rosemary Lytle, and PPJPC Chair Loring Wirbel.  The video is now on YouTube for viewing at any time, you can find it here:

Pikes Peak Women Launch "Elevating" Podcast Series

Pikes Peak Women expanded their “Elevating” Podcast series with a new series, “Women Making Change,” with the first episode featuring Stephany Rose Spaulding. Elevating Pikes Peak Women covers a wide array of diverse topics and critical issues for local women, hosted by former Mayor and community icon Mary Lou Makepeace. During each episode, local women of diverse backgrounds, ages, and political persuasions explore their experiences, values, and beliefs about local issues that affect the women in our community. Here’s an introductory clip to tell you a little about the PPW podcast.  Our October focus was on Voting Matters, covering topics like the mechanics of voting and how to negotiate your way through the long ballot of issues that are of critical importance to women. Going forward, we're planning episodes on Black Women's Lives Matter, Life in the Time of COVID (including the high rate of women's unemployment and the effect on the family), and Education in the Time of COVID.  We all know that the burdens of the pandemic are falling disproportionately on women, in their roles in the workplace and in the family, so we are looking to women who are change agents and supportive voices to bring us to higher grounds.
The new podcast with Dr. Spaulding is HERE

Thanks to our partner Studio 809, you can easily find and listen to all recent episodes here. The podcast is also available via SpotifyLibsynRadio Public, and Apple 
Do YOU have something you'd like to add to the general conversation? Feel free to contact us with any comments, questions, and ideas at

Mary Lou Makepeace, Marcy Morrison, Denise Abbott, Karole Campbell, Lindy Conter, Susan Davies, JJ Frazier, Kimberlie Griffis, Melissa Marts, Michelle Ray, Cianna Reider, Beth Roalstad, Carrie Simison, Barb Van Hoy, Deb Walker, Kayla Zowada

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