Email letters, December 16, 2013

Bush administration scandals worse than Obama’s scandals

Some conservatives want to label President Obama as an even worse president than G.W. Bush. Let’s compare scandals.

Major Bush scandals: The bogus Iraq War (tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans killed and maimed), Hurricane Katrina (thousands of lives ended or destroyed due to Bush incompetence), the Great Recession (economic collapse
and the many unemployed) and torture of Abu Ghraib prisoners (a humiliating violation of international law).

Major Obama scandals: Benghazi (a handful of Americans died there), NSA spying (no one died and in fact a dozen or so major terror attacks have been thwarted), the failure of the rollout of Obamacare (frustration, sure, but no one died) and the Fast and Furious scandal (unclear how many died but no more than a few hundred, if that).

Obama has had his problems for sure and as a progressive, I’m not a big fan, but his scandals are completely underwhelming in comparison to the incompetency of the G.W. Bush administration. Just on the sheer numbers of Bush’s trail of death and destruction, his presidency was a complete disaster. He was totally unfit to be president. We are still paying the price and will be for years to come.

Grand Junction

Coloradans must recognize psychosis of gun culture

Just another routine Colorado day, another shooting at a school. Was the shooter mentally disturbed? It doesn’t matter. He was in possession of the ultimate equalizer and means of settling grievances, and he took advantage of American society’s seemingly approved implement for just such occasions.
When will Americans recognize that we have a psychological cultural affliction with our gun culture? And, as is true with our governments at many levels, monetary and commercial interests have taken over and spent billions of dollars to perpetuate it.

Does the NRA represent all gun owners? Does it fight for the rights of Americans to possess firearms of any kind? Of course, but the big beneficiary of its efforts are gun manufacturers, and they pull the strings of all the puppets who have been brainwashed into thinking they are some kind of super patriots following their God-given absolute rights under their dubious interpretation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution.
Guns are useful for self-defense — sometimes — and for hunting. But in America, and particularly Colorado, they are the method for making oneself the equal of anybody else. They are the ultimate means of settling any dispute — or hatred. They compensate for any lack of self-esteem or personally perceived social and sexual shortcomings, and they personify our wish to be the equal of anybody in our glorious Wild West self-sufficient hallucinations.
The people of Colorado, collectively, should be ashamed for allowing a minority to have been enablers of the many shooting incidents in this state and for allowing the ridiculous recalls of elected representatives who were trying to begin to deal with our national psychosis, and that’s what it is.

Apparently, “We’re Number One.” That’s what it is all about, isn’t it?
Grand Junction

Russians benefited from American largess

Why did we pay Russia to build $1 billion worth of helicopters for us to give to Afghanistan? Bet that really boosted our economy.

Grand Junction

Stop electing irresponsible politicians

I get so tired of people screaming they can’t make it on $8 an hour. I can’t find a job. I can’t find a job that pays better even with a skill set. Well, I know guys and gals with PhD’s that are working construction to put beans on the table and pay the rent because they lost their houses.

So, if I may make one suggestion to these folks. “QUIT ELECTING JACKASSES THAT RUIN THE ECONOMY WITH THEIR SOCIAL PLANS.” What we have now is an administration that just keeps throwing money at the problems they created.

Wouldn’t you just love to fire your boss when he makes a $642-million mistake and then throws more money at it to fix it and can’t?

You be the judge: Better off now or six years ago? Better off in four years from now? I don’t think so.

In four years we will all be broke, the elite in D.C. will be fine, and you and I will be paying for their mistakes just to make them look good. There may be arrests, riots and all kinds of entertaining things on the news. So, go ahead. Elect another change merchant.

Grand Junction

Dana Brewer’s death a big loss to Grand Valley

It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the death of Dana Brewer. This humble and caring man died doing what many who knew him accept as “just Dana.”  He would help anyone with anything, including locating lost cattle from the air.

There are few doctors, lawyers or other professionals in town who would give freely of their knowledge and expertise the way Dana did. He would aid aircraft owners in troubleshooting problems and lend them tools and the like at no cost just because that is who he was.

Grand Junction airport lost an excellent business when it forced his aircraft maintenance facility out two years ago. But more importantly, the Grand Valley lost a wonderful human being Dec. 12 when he was simply being himself helping others. 

Grand Junction

Tea party a necessary voice in prudent community spending

This letter is in regard to the letter to the editor from Nicolle Bowden regarding taxes, the tea party and spending.

Speaking for the tea party I represent, I would love to take us back 237 years, not just 50. When the Constitution was written, it was about 4,000 words. Those words limited our federal government to what it could do, and everything else was left to each individual state.

Today, our lives are so deeply involved in federal government that it takes many warehouses to store the laws passed since then. Most laws involve taxes, and most of that money will never see the poor working class. Instead, it is designated for many other purposes, most of which involve those who donated to successful elections.

Our infrastructure depends on our local economy. Unfortunately, our local economy is affected by federal decision. Local politicians oversee infrastructure. The city of Grand Junction and the City Council have oversight on North Avenue sidewalks, not the county commissioners.

Earlier this year at a council meeting there was a discussion of city money for the Avalon Theatre and Las Colonias Park and the several millions of dollars each would cost the city. I spoke out against spending money for those projects and FOR North Avenue and renewal of that area.

At least 75 people at the meeting spoke for the theatre; two spoke for North Avenue, for other needed projects and against the theatre. Where were you?

The council voted 5-1 against infrastructure improvements by voting for the Avalon.

I can tell you: This tea party needed your support then and now. Spending those tax dollars wisely, for things needed by all, rather than the splendiferous needs and wants of a vocal few, is what is needed. Not more taxes.

Grand Junction

Those uninsured by employers better understand ‘real world’

After reading the front page article about a Daily Sentinel reporter being in sticker shock over the cost of health care – all I can say is welcome to the real world. Many other people seem to be in the same state of oblivion – totally unaware of the real costs of health insurance.

Those of us who pay for 100 percent of our premiums know that “sticker shock” comes yearly. There are thousands of us – small-business people, independent contractors, artists, farmers, orchardists, and, yes, even doctors. Don’t forget retail workers, fast-food workers and those large employers who keep their employees on part-time status to avoid paying for health insurance.

Even when insurers bundle our individual-combined risk together, we still cannot compete with the larger (employer) groups risk rating, and our individual group premiums are usually higher than an employer group premium. Case in point: Under “Obamacare” my insurance premium will go from $711.54 a month to $529.73. Being in a new risk pool makes me feel, well, giddy.

Is $529.57 expensive? Yes, it’s outrageously expensive. Because it reflects the outrageous cost of health care.

So, the reporter should be thankful that her employer pays 70-80 percent of the cost of her health insurance, and that her portion is only $150 – for two people at that! The next time she wants to do a comparison between the costs of insurance, she should compare the full premium costs, not just the portion she pays.

The reporter should be thankful that she has been and insurable person, for I know people with early onset heart disease, diabetes and cancer who have not been insurable. They have had to pay the full retail costs of health care, not the discounted rates to which insured people have access.

Once again, welcome to the real world.


William Koch greatly contributes to quality of life in North Fork Valley

I wanted to respond to a letter submitted Dec. 13 by Jerry Halpin, but I struggle as to where to begin. When truth is left out of a basis for opinion can one still consider it opinion, or does it become rambling without substance?

To keep this somewhat short I would like to set the record straight with regards to the Oxbow Mine. The Pope, Fox News, and the rest of his ramblings are best left for another time.

Oxbow Mine is not owned by the “Koch Brothers” David and Charles, and they have no association with the Oxbow Mine located east of Paonia. A third brother, William Koch, maintains the controlling interest in the Oxbow Mine. The Oxbow Mine is one of three operating mines located in the North Fork Valley.

William Koch has a long history in the valley, both in business ventures and community contributions, leaving nothing but a positive impact in Western Colorado. Hospitals including St. Mary’s and Delta Memorial have received numerous donations that have allowed them to continue to provide quality care to area residents.

The North Fork Ambulance Association has been supported by Koch providing excellent response and support to all types of health emergencies in the valley. Koch has supported the library funds in the valley, making it possible to build new libraries in both Paonia and Crawford. Donations in Hotchkiss have made it possible to renovate the town’s community center. In short, almost every aspect of activity in the North Fork Valley has been touched in positive ways by William Koch.

The statement about Koch’s lack of care for employees and complete disregard for their welfare is nothing less than absurd. The three operating mines in the North Fork may well be the most challenging mines in the nation. These mines have also been some of the most productive mines in the country.

You need two things in order to achieve success under these conditions. First, the tools to do the job. Koch has never refused requests from the mine for any equipment used to improve safety or productivity or to enable the employee’s ability to excel.

Second, you need a highly trained, dedicated and motivated workforce. You do not build and retain a quality workforce unless your philosophy is driven by respect for employees, their families, and the tough work they do. Miners are a unique group of individuals because their direct safety is dependent upon their co-worker. Not only to they expect to be treated with respect, but also they demand no less.

The closure of a mine is a difficult decision, as with any business, but the very nature of mining leads to the closure of every mine. Once a mine’s reserves are depleted even the best intentions cannot lead to continued operations.

The real challenge, or story, as time moves forward is employment for such a highly trained group of miners and the bread they put on the tables for their families. Their skills have not gone unnoticed. Miners in the North Fork Valley have been sought after worldwide. Miners from this valley are working in Australia, Canada, and Mexico.

The secondary story will be the aftermath in the North Fork Valley. Local business and local governmental operations depend on the revenues generated by the mines and the mine employees spending their wages locally. In addition to the direct jobs lost there are an estimated four support jobs for each mining job. This represents an estimated impact of 1,000 jobs affected by the closure.  The impact will be felt. The mines have subsidized electrical rates in the valley helping keep rates low for area farmers, ranchers and small-business people.

The coal mines in the North Fork Valley touch all in the area in a positive way. Employment, contributions, heath care services, county services and utility costs are just a few of the areas touched by a mining operation like Oxbow Mining.

Instead of looking for ways to criticize, we should thank both Koch and the employees of Oxbow for the 20-plus years of positive contributions that have been made. We are all a better place for this.


Turn those headlights on

Thank you to those who drive in the morning with their headlights on. The sun may have risen, but many of us are driving cars that were not garaged during the night. Although we have scraped off most of the ice from our windows, they are not completely clear.

We often can’t see un-head-lighted cars (especially behind us). Drive without headlights on frosty mornings at your own risk!

Grand Junction

Letter critical of Obama elicited a good laugh

I get so many laughs from the letters of Rick Coleman that I think he might be a liberal Democrat trying to provoke other liberal Democrats for fun. In a Top 10 list of preposterous things published in The Daily Sentinel, I think Coleman would hold at least 30 percent and perhaps half the spots.

So, for him to dub a statement by Valerie Jarrett mentioned in a column by George Will as “preposterous” is, well, preposterous. I could only locate one quote from his “small sampling” of President Obama’s “beauties,” the “57 states” comment from the 2008 campaign which is accurately explained by

It’s comforting to know that fifth grade is his area of expertise, and while “absurd” and “ludicrous” may not be words a fifth-grader would know, I am confident that any fifth-grader can use a dictionary.

If I’m correct above, let me offer congratulations on provoking a response. If I’m not, keep those laughs coming anyway in 2014, when Obama will still be black and president, two words I’m sure Coleman thought would never be used together in a sentence.


Restricting federal control of land not a viable solution

An letter in Sunday’s paper recommended the privatization of federal lands in the West or else turning them over to the states. According to the author, this would improve public access to these lands.

It’s not clear to me how that would work. Members of the public do not have access to private land except invited or paying guests; otherwise, people are trespassing.

In my experience, state ownership results in more restrictive access than federal ownership. For example, the public can only access state lands in Utah and Arizona during an open hunting season and when in the possession of a valid hunting license.

Otherwise the “public” land really belongs to whatever rancher or farmer is in the good-old-boy system. Doing away with our beloved federal lands in the West is not the answer to improving public access.   


Take concrete, affordable steps to fix health care

For those who say conservatives have no health reform plan of their own, I submit that:

1. The complex system of health care in America has a unique impact on rural areas.
2. Small businesses and the spirit of individualism form the backbone of America.
3. Health care works best when individual providers and patients work together in voluntary partnership with minimal third-party involvement.
4. Autonomous individuals have the innate intelligence and moral right to act in the best interests of themselves and their families, and the individual consumer spends health care dollars most wisely.
5. Safety-net programs such as Medicaid, paid for by finite taxpayer dollars, were intended to help protect our most vulnerable, but that these cannot be expanded indefinitely and remain financially sustainable.

Therefore, I propose these concrete, affordable legislative steps for health care reform:
1. Increase opportunities for individual choice and responsibility by minimizing or eliminating centralized government mandates (both state and federal).
2. Foster the concept of health insurance as protection against catastrophic financial loss, rather than a minimum basic services plan of prepaid health care.
3. Strengthen the individual insurance market by encouraging individualized plans and removing barriers to purchase of insurance across state lines.
4. Encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts and “major medical” policies.
5. Reform Medicaid to include a modified Health Savings Account structure, with financial incentives for beneficiaries to restrain spending.
6. Limit safety-net programs to the truly needy.
7. Give the same tax benefit to individuals purchasing insurance with “post-tax dollars” as enjoyed by employees whose insurance is bought with “pre-tax” dollars by their employer.

Pediatric Cardiology
Grand Junction

Monument’s history, resources make it worthy of park status

What’s in a name? Everything! I have been happy to read of the progress toward the possible legislative designation of Colorado National Monument as a national park. I send my appreciation to all who have been working so hard and so long on this worthy initiative, including Congressman Scott Tipton and Sen. Mark Udall. John Otto would be so proud that the incomparable land he sought to see recognized as a national park more than 100 years ago may be a dream about to become a reality.

The potential new designation of the monument as a “national park” is warranted because of the nationally significant natural resources and distinctive history contained at the monument. Those superlatives include geology, paleontology, tangible evidence and history of indigenous peoples, and the incredible work of the men who built awe inspiring Rim Rock Drive, an engineering marvel.

I know there are many great ideas circulating in the community about what to call the new national park. I would like to offer my recommendation based on the 35 years I spent working within the National Park Service, including as superintendent at Colorado National Monument.

In my experience of how to successfully market and promote national parks within the context of the national and international tourism industry – a name that includes the place and attached to the most obvious physical attribute is critical.

Thus, I believe that the name that will best attract national and international travelers and grow visitation to the Grand Valley is Colorado Canyons National Park. Another remarkable fact is that the five canyons that form the most visible topography of Colorado National Monument evolved geologically in ways very different than most other hanging canyons formed anywhere on earth.

These unique and defining canyons elevate the national significance of the Monument. The geologic criteria that justifies the monument being designated as a national park is posted on the gjforparkstatus website

John Otto called this canyon country that he so loved the heart of the world. These breathtaking Colorado canyons certainly were at the heart of who he was and what he was working to promote. I hope that Otto’s dream of protecting and proclaiming this geologic wonder of Western Colorado, the present day Colorado National Monument, will soon be transformed into Colorado Canyons National Park. The world is waiting to discover its magic.

Former Superintendent
Colorado National Monument



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The Daily Sentinel’s Publisher and headline editor should be ashamed of themselves for titling Rick Coleman’s childish letter:  “Obama’s misstatements show grade-school intelligence level” – thereby lending undo credence to Coleman’s laughable critique (see Michael Marquardt’s “Letter critical of Obama elicited a good laugh”).

Thus, a comparison of President Obama’s educational resume with Coleman’s would likely suggest that Rick suffers from acute “penis envy”.  Of course, what the series of gaffes actually illustrates is the stress of continuous public appearances and the dangers of reading speeches from tele-prompters without previewing them for pronunciations.

Moreover, Coleman’s litany of malapropisms – coupled with President Obama’s recent extemporaneous interview on Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” – illustrate just how far (in contrast to Coleman) the President has come since the fifth grade. 

For the record, on May 9, 2008, a fatigued Senator Obama – campaigning in Oregon – referred to “57 states” when he obviously (in context) meant “47”.

On April 4, 2009, President Obama responded to an Austrian journalist regarding the term for “wheeling and dealing” in “Austrian”, when “Austria” would have sufficed.

On May 4, 2009, President Obama opened a “Cinco de Mayo” event (held a day early and attended by the Mexican Ambassador) by saying “Cinco de Cuatro” instead of “Cuatro de Mayo”– but then correctly said “Cinco de Mayo” seven time in his speech. 

On February 4, 2010, the President twice misread his teleprompter in honoring Navy “corpsmen” – wrongly pronouncing the “p” (which, like Coleman, should be “silent”).

On February 16 and September 22, 2011, the President misspoke of the “intercontinental” instead of the “transcontinental” railroad – indicating that his staff failed to correct him the first time and/or to fact-check The New York Times, which made the same mistake four times in 2009-2011.

Apparently, Coleman also forgets why such gaffes are now referred to as “Bushisms”.

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