Email letters, February 26, 2013

Fracking movie co-producer’s insults marred persuasiveness

Sunday night I went to the Avalon Theatre to see the movie “Fracking Nation” with my two teenage kids. Their science teacher had emailed us about it and said that the kids would get extra credit for going.

I don’t know a lot about hydraulic fracturing and thought it might be good to see what the documentary had to say.

However, I did not get a chance to learn more, because in the first 10 minutes of introducing her movie, co-producer Ann McElhinney was so insulting that my kids asked to leave. By calling people who drive Priuses “stupid” or people who care about the environment “idiots,” she missed her chance to educate my family and me about her movie and possibly win an ally to that method of drilling.

I label people such as McElhinney “Squealer” after the big-mouthed, runty pig in “Animal Farm,” whose role was to spread falsehoods to the sheep and other animals on the farm.

McElhinney comes from Ireland, which is famous for its sheep, but also has a law that requires 20 percent of the country’s energy be derived from clean renewable resources. Which is she more proud of, I wonder?



GOP guards loopholes for rich as sequester squabble goes on

Once again we are heading into another self-inflicted economic wound. This one, called sequestration, was enabled by the Budget Control Act. The idea was to put the leaders of Congress in a room with the threat of consequences so severe and irrational that they would have to negotiate something better.

Naturally, it did not work. The results will unfold like a slow-motion car wreck, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs. None of these needs to be. No outside force causes this blow to a fragile economy

Republicans cry that the president has no plan, but a simple Internet search reveals what should be common knowledge. The president’s plan closes some tax loopholes, such as for corporate jets and moving businesses overseas, while targeted cuts are twice as large as tax increases. It also provides for improving infrastructure.

So far the president has cut discretionary spending by $2.5 trillion, the biggest deficit reduction since Eisenhower. His plan also cuts social programs while sequester does not. Many Democrats think the president’s plan goes too far, but it does provide a framework for negotiation.

We hear, “Washington has a spending problem,” a lot from the GOP, but loopholes also represent spending. The GOP has never really been against spending. They just believe government money should go to the wealthiest instead of consumers.

Consequently, infrastructure crumbles, food safety is compromised, travel becomes more difficult, teachers and other public services are let go and even defense suffers.

The GOP was for closing loopholes in the presidential campaign, but now loopholes are an excuse to walk away. The GOP needs to forget its fictitious messaging and actually help the country.

Grand Junction

Tipton wrong about Colorado having no federal police officers, firefighters

I am exceedingly dismayed at the apparent lack of knowledge attributed to Scott Tipton in today’s Sentinel.

Tipton is quoted as saying Obama’s comments are a “campaign scenario of fear.” Tipton apparently further told Sentinel reporter Gary Harmon that no federal police officers or firefighters are in Colorado.

Surely Tipton knows that there are FBI and DEA officers in Colorado. Also, all or nearly all of the Park Service, National Forest and BLM districts have highly qualified law enforcement officers. And who, pray tell, funds the three federal hotshot (20 person) firefighting crews that are stationed in Colorado?

Additionally the BLM and Forest Service have many firefighters and equipment that are funded by the feds, along with grant dollars to state and local fire and law enforcement agencies.

Don’t forget the federal funds from FEMA and other federal agencies to aid in the event of huge and costly fires such as those we experienced in the state last year.

I think Tipton, the Sentinel and Gary Harmon owe us readers a retraction and clarification, along with an apology.


Grand Junction

Dismissal of Palisade High School football coach seems dishonorable

We are writing in regard to the dismissal of Palisade High School coach John Arledge. It was sheer disappointment to learn of this; therefore, we feel compelled to write this letter.

We have had first-hand opportunity to see Arledge transform many boys into respectable, outstanding young men, as our son was a member of his football program for four years.  We believe his motto, “Strength, Character and Love,” is not just a motto, but also a way of life.

Some say that he has been “too hard” on the boys. We feel he has done nothing of the sort. He has taught them some very valuable life lessons to survive in such a cruel world of which we live.

How is it justified that a man that has given so freely of himself and built what we believe to be the finest football program on the Western Slope with an impeccable winning record be dismissed?  It in no way, shape or form makes any sense to those of us who know Arledge. 

He has sacrificed time with his family, money from his own pocket and countless hours, not for personal gain, but for the love of the boys in his program along with his love of the game.

We have to question the motive behind this decision. We cannot help but believe that there is some hidden agenda.  We are quite simply ashamed of the school district and those behind it. We feel it is a dishonor to Arledge, as well as to future members of the Palisade football program.


Local VA hospital unlikely to be hurt by sequestration

An easily missed item in Saturday’s Sentinel—“Boehner:  Veterans’ claims system broken”—has a direct bearing on the well being of many local veterans.

While it is indeed unfortunate that Gen. Shinseki has been unable to shrink the backlog of pending claims during his four-year tenure as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and while Speaker Boehner is well justified in demanding a formal explanation from the Veterans Administration VA for this “shameful” situation, no one should forget the origins of the problem.

As reported by Michael Isikoff and David Corn in “Hubris: the Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War” (2006), in February 2003, Mitch Daniels, President Bush’s chief budget adviser, and Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defense Secretary, testified to Congress that the Iraq War would cost at most $20 billion – after Lawrence Lindsay, Bush’s senior economic adviser, was fired for estimating that cost at $200+ billion.

Consequently, there was no plan to ramp up the VA to process (much less, pay) the claims of an estimated 16,000+ (of 32,000+) wounded U.S. military personnel – whose long-term care and disability benefits will eventually exceed $1.2 trillion.

One portent of Republicans’ pervasive fiscal irresponsibility was the widely publicized Walter Reed scandal in 2007, which revealed that horribly wounded warriors were being housed in woefully substandard conditions – after the Army was directed to “outsource” critical hospital maintenance (to a former underling of Dick Cheney at Halliburton).

Since 2009, President Obama has annually requested increased funding for the VA – from $93.7 billion in Bush’s last budget to $140.3 billion for 2013. However, even this 50 percent increase in funding has been “too little, too late” to unclog the system.
Fortunately, our local VA Hospital remains among the nation’s best and – reportedly—neither its staff (including volunteers) nor its quality of care will be adversely affected by the impending sequestration.

Grand Junction

Senator asked to ‘quit spending our grandchildren’s future’

An open letter to Sen. Udall:

I know you are a member of the Udall family, with a long record of public service. Looking at this country after your family’s service and what your family has done, I’m thinking we would have been better off without the Udalls and more Kennedys. Prove me wrong, sir.

Since you asked, let’s talk about the sequester. If any program gets cut that is important, then the House/Senate can correct it. Right? In the meantime, all federal agencies will take the internal review that all American businesses and families have had to conduct over the last five years. What’s wrong with that?

Most working Americans just got hit with a 2 percent or more cut in their 2013 income because of the increase in income and Social Security taxes. Right?

To think that the federal government cannot absorb one half of a 2.5 percent reduction in 2013 income is ludicrous. I know as well as you do that even with the sequestration reductions, the federal government will still spend more in 2013 than it did in 2012.

Quit with the firefighters, police, teachers and kids’ lunches. Quit with the “It’s Bushes’ Fault,” The bank bailouts only occurred once and were approved by the majority of Democrat senators. Ending the Iraq war, in accordance with Bush’s agreement with Iraqi leaders, is pretty much completed. You cannot claim to not spend money that was not going to be spent in the first place.

In spite of your most fervent illusion, most of us are not stupid. Quit spending our grandchildren’s future. Quit it now!


Second Amendment rights predate the Constitution

Mr. Cook asks some relatively easy questions to answer.

John Lott Jr. published a book a few years ago titled “More Guns Less Crime” That book may be too difficult for too many Americans to understand.

But the “World Health Organization recently published statistics of gun violence around the world, per 100,000 citizens—and it appears America is down at the bottom at 4.2 percent per 100,000 Cuba at 5.0; Pakistan at 7.8; S.Africa 31.8; Uganda at 36.3; Jamaica at 52.2; el Salvador 69.2; and Honduras at a whopping 91.6 per 100,000.

Add to these the apparent fact that gun violence has been on the decline in America since ‘92. The media still loves to profit from the loss. But it seems other than taking advantage of any crisis for political gain—there is no need for more gun control. Oh. I agree with a former secret service agent (Dan Bongino). It’s not gun control—but people control.

As to concealed carry, those who have such permit ought answer for themselves. It seems reasonable, however, that the move to concealed carry was made to accommodate all those who have been led into the ignorance of neglect.

Those who choose to not carry now fear guns. If it makes my neighbor uncomfortable to see me with my guns, why make him uncomfortable simply because he or she is afraid?

As to the “militia,” the term has been defined in the U.S. Code annotated. It has not changed substantially since the mid 1950s. The militia in essence is every citizen capable of carrying arms for the common defense.

In U.S. Public Law it is defined as males between 17-45, but exceptions can be made. The militia is either the organized Militia National Guard and Reserves and unorganized, as pretty much everyone else.

The weapons its members carry are pretty much what Thomas M. Cooley noted in 1880—and what the courts have found reasonable since. The weapons allowed are pretty much whatever can be used in the common defense.

But the right recognized in our Second Amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights, adopted Sept. 25, 1789, by Congress and by the state Dec. 15, 1791, was unaltered by any court until after 1940.

So, if it is the constitutional judges in every state who swear to defend—and others —then let it be the Constitution, not the metaphysical refinements nor tests of logical skill that can make everything mean anything or nothing at will.

Our Second Amendment rights predate our Constitution—even America. For Christ on the night He was betrayed told His disciples “...Let him that has no sword, sell his cloak and buy one.”

Seems Christ knew a people that reject him are a very dangerous people indeed. And that truth is lost in our country today.



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