Email letters, June 20,  2013

Make funding firefighting air corps a critical priority

I’ve read the recent letters to the editor calling for a tax increase to fund the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps with great interest. I wonder if these people know that Democrats in the General Assembly passed a $21 billion budget for the year and voted to defund C-FAC so they could allocate that money elsewhere.

Life is about priorities. Democrats chose not to fund the fleet. Yet, I can understand people’s concern about funding such an important program. As we creep out of the worst recession of our lifetime, I suggest my colleagues in the General Assembly show some leadership and courage by working within our existing resources to prioritize spending to address this clear and present danger.

Funding pet projects over priorities is wrong. They shouldn’t tell the people we don’t have the money to address wildfires when we clearly do. I certainly hope that this administration wakes up and smells the smoke in the air. How many more precious lives must be lost and how many more of our forests and homes have to burn before we consider this a priority?

I cannot be more brutally honest in saying that as tragic as the last two years have been for wildfires in Colorado, we have not seen a “catastrophic wildfire” yet … but it is coming. It is time we funded the fleet and prioritized the safety of the people of Colorado.

SEN. STEVE KING
Grand Junction

Military, covert operations regularly conducted properly

I am amazed that almost every time Sen. Mark Udall and his cohorts in Washington open their mouths, it means they are lying or trying to politic their way into looking good to the public. For years the Patriot Act has been scrutinized and checks and balances supposedly have been put into place to stop exactly the kind of overreach that has been in the headlines lately.

Now Udall and his kind want to legislate something akin to what “Thin Thread” and other programs were supposed to be but turned down by liberal legislators.

Military and covert operations are done with protocol, process and end-goal orientation on a daily basis without the public knowledge. This has been done honorably and without oversight, it seems, until this administration saw fit to use these top-secret programs to a political end for something other than what they were intended.

I, for one, have seen things up close in this country that these types of programs are supposed to prevent. Would anyone believe hundreds of Muslims on the street in a major city in the United States of America dancing and chanting “kill the infidels, kill the Americans, the Americans are Satan” for hours on end and not one was questioned or actions taken to defend this nation. I was shuttled away by the police because they didn’t want any trouble? Horse hockey — never again.

By the way, the incident I describe was on 9-11 in the streets on Queen Ann Hill in Seattle, Wash. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Norm Dicks took no action to punish or restrict the “protesters” in any way.

RICHARD BRIGHT
Grand Junction

Wednesday columns sum up two-level debate

 
Two columns in Wednesday’s Sentinel – Thomas Friedman’s “Blowing the whistle on the need to prevent future 9/11 attacks” and Bill Grant’s “Udall should press for legislation to curtail secret NSA surveillance” – cogently summarize a two-level debate.


On a more theoretical level, the arguable imperatives of national security and the abstract civil-libertarian concept of “privacy” are impacting each other like tectonic plates, raising mountain ranges of legitimate but still – absent compelling evidence of governmental “abuses” (like what?, for example)—largely hypothetical concerns.


Meanwhile, as prioritized in its preamble, our Constitution’s purposes would “provide for the common defense” and “promote the general Welfare” before “securing the blessings of Liberty”. Moreover, no “right to privacy” is expressly protected anywhere in that Constitution (but is found – if at all—only in the “penumbra” surrounding other rights), and the Fourth Amendment prohibits only “unreasonable searches and seizure.” Thus, our Constitution is not a “suicide pact” that would sacrifice its perpetuity to “privacy.”


At a more practical level, the crux of the debate focuses on potential conflicts between the purely technological capabilities of comprehensive NSA data collection programs and the statutory structure intended to control the practical application of those capabilities.


Thus, while it remains unclear just how much “NSA surveillance” is still secret, Sen. Mark Udall’s initiative to re-examine and strengthen applicable legal limitations, as well as to insure adequate oversight of the NSA’s compliance therewith, is unarguably appropriate.


However, as Edward Snowden’s revelations suggest, the ultimate balance between security and privacy depends on competent computer system design. For example, requiring more than the current single authority code – e.g., two underlings and their supervisor—to access personally identifiable records would enable the existing access registry to document (and reduce the likelihood of) a prosecutable conspiracy, should any violation be detected, regardless of whatever statutory constraints are eventually enacted.


BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction


Colorado baker was right in denying wedding cake  

Regarding Colorado baker Jack Phillips, the Masterpiece Cakes’ owner who turned down a same-sex “wedding” order for a cake, the ancient and primitive Greeks and Romans crassly valued homosexual relations. But eventually the people wised up and realized that was a mistake, and homosexual activity was again deemed unethical and was basically driven underground.

Now many Democrats and even some Republicans are trying to take us back thousands of years to more primitive and decadent times, despite the fact that thinking people have known for centuries that homosexual activity is immoral and a bad legal precedent. (All the arguments homosexuals use to try to rationalize homosexual activity are seriously flawed.) 

Some decent, moral people are now being legally discriminated against and penalized by those with rather perverse values. What an upside-down world, where we are supposed to cater to the immoral.

It may come as a surprise to you that some universities such as Harvard now have officially recognized student groups devoted to promoting the acceptance of BDSM — sexually deviant bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism. That’s right. If you are a student who likes to smack people around, universities such as Harvard now have groups for you.

He who has eyes to see, let them see. The “logic” of heterophobic homosexuals is rapidly leading this society down a slippery slope to a more and more aberrant and disordered society. Maybe down the line we’ll see “marriage” between straight and homosexual consenting-adult incestuous people! Whoopee!

Anyone who thinks this is progress is deluding himself or herself. Rome didn’t fall in a day. But it did fall.

WAYNE LELA
Woodridge, IL


Sierra Club director indifferent to tough economic times for many

While on his little trip to jam his finger into the eyes of the people of western Colorado in person, Sierra Club Director Michael Brune said only one thing with which most western Coloradans would agree – the view in Garfield
County is depressing.

It’s depressing because a few short years ago the region was booming with vibrant economic activity. More drilling rigs could be seen peeking over the trees here and there, promising good paychecks, children’s college savings, health insurance and retirement nest eggs. Trucks were going up and down the roads; restaurants and hotels were full; and people were happy and proudly providing their neighbors a valuable product.

Today, it is a lot different. Most of those rigs, trucks, jobs and paychecks have moved to other states, where there is more private land and they do not have to be subject to the damage inflicted by the likes of Brune and his people.

Families that have lived their whole lives here have been
faced with the heartbreaking choice of packing up and moving across the country or struggling in the economy that the Sierra Club has helped the BLM create here.

It does not have to be like that; we have enough resources to keep our economy thriving for many years to come, if only they were not tied up in incessant litigation. The Roan is a perfect example – a place where responsible development could be fueling our local economy and helping pay for schools, roads and public safety – but for Brune’s lawyers.

Maybe on his calendar Brune could include pictures of foreclosed homes, boarded-up shops and the faces of people who have watched their livelihoods stolen from them for the sake of a pretty picture and a big donation.

SANDY PEESO
Grand Junction


Sierra Club inflicts worldview on energy workers in Colorado

I saw in a recent Sentinel story that the national director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, made a trip to western Colorado to fly around Garfield County and moan about how awful it was to see all those drilling rigs and gas wells and to gush about how the Roan is “one of those places that you typically see on a Sierra Club calendar.”

I wasn’t aware that the Sierra Club included pictures of areas crisscrossed with roads and that proudly display the signs of the energy development that has been occurring on and off for about 100 years, but more power to them.

I don’t really care much about Brune or his organization. If they want to worship the sun and wind and to weep for endangered beetles, let them go right ahead. What I take issue with is when groups like this use the courts to inflict their primitive worldview on everyone else.

Good heavens, those leases on the top of the Roan were sold almost five [ital] years [ital] ago, and we [ital] still [ital] can’t put people back to work developing them. Why? Organizations like the one this guy heads up are using lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit to force an agenda on us that just so happens to destroy our way of life – all financed by our tax dollars. Worse, the BLM, Forest Service and even our own governor go right along with the scheme, handing these extremists whatever they want.

I hope that it was a solar powered plane Brune took his little flight in and that he only uses about 20 percent of the electricity than the rest of us do and heats his home in the winter exclusively with logs.

Otherwise he would simply be an overpaid hypocrite.

BOB ERBISCH
Fruita

BLM ought to lighten up on motorized use of land

Over the last 20-plus years there has been a systematic erosion of motorized use of our public lands. I understand that much of this policy seems to be dictated through all the laws that must be adhered to when justifying land management decisions. My concern is that, with all the specialists for areas of concern, motorized recreation falls to the bottom when making a final decision.

Some of my concerns revolve around our need to control our planet. As we readily find out sometimes through fires, floods, earthquakes and any other natural form of change to our earth, we really don’t have the ability to control what will happen to our land. The true problem is over population and we don’t seem to have any control over that either.

Consequently, what I am asking is that the staff specialists who review everything and participate in a final decision remember that all is not lost just because we allow motorized recreation in areas that may have some resource or cultural concerns.

I think a more relaxed process might benefit us all in the long run. After all, this planet has survived for four plus billion years and we are really nothing more than ants on the surface. I am afraid that the reality is that we cannot save something that never was endangered.

Lastly, who knows what future generations want or what the planet will be like in the future? We need to focus more on what we have and enjoy this now. The future is too unpredictable. 

JAMES B. SOLOMON
Palisade

Bangs, Rough canyons merit BLM protection

As an amateur photographer, I have a love of nature and wilderness that is enhanced by the remote access and the solitude of areas such as Bangs Canyon. The chance to take a quick or extended hike here makes this a unique place that needs to be preserved.

The wildlife and the plant life I have seen here are important to our Western Slope environments; this place deserves a designation of “lands with wilderness characteristics” for a long time into the future.

I have had the opportunity to hike here with my grandson
and share the specialness of wilderness with him. When the waterholes are the only water around, the multitude of tracks in the mud tells a story of the animal use of this area.

This area is a great place to hike year-round. I have hiked here with snow, mud and dry conditions. Each time I have found a unique experience. In my many hikes in this area I have seen no more than two to three people on each hike.

I believe the Bangs area should and Rough Canyon should be protected in BLM’s final plan.

MITCH FOUGHT
Grand Junction

President, family to take African junket as hospital staffers furloughed

So the president, the first family and the usual entourage are soon headed to Africa. The projected cost to the U.S. taxpayer for this adventure is $100 million.

On the other hand, I read that hundreds of staff members at Walter Reed Hospital are being furloughed due to the sequester cuts. Walter Reed Hospital provides care to some of our most critically wounded service members.

This is beyond outrageous and sad. It is madness!

WAYNE TELFORD
Grand Junction

 

 



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