Email letters, September 2,  2013

Obama administration setting itself up to fail in Syria

The George W. Bush administration set the bar at a low point for unilateral action. Is the Obama administration trying to beat it?

The outrage of someone using chemical agents without judicial proof is opening the door for fraud. This is a more grievous crime than looking for the existence of material and not finding it, but going to war anyway. One is provable in court, the other hidden by denial.

So, the Obama administration wants to set itself up to fail by condemning someone on circumstantial evidence? At least find a “Colin Powell” to feed and string out the links to “prove” that the sad Syrian regime is responsible and not being set up by a third party.

It makes us ask: “Who’s the real sucker here if our president can’t do any 101’s: The Art of War, Machiavelli, or simple diplomacy?”

FRED STEWART
Grand Junction

Sentinel a vital instrument in maintaining a democracy

When we renew our subscription to the Sentinel, we reflect on what it means to have a daily paper, and we are ever so grateful.

Without the Sentinel, we would have no idea what is going on politically at the local level. Without the paper we would begin to think that our views are the only ones and not have the huge benefit of hearing many sides to an issue. We can usually count on knowing what columnists are going to say on a particular issue, and it’s gratifying to know our voice isn’t the only one. Occasionally, we even change our minds… 

Without the paper, we wouldn’t know about our schools, building projects and proposed improvements and expenditures. Without the paper, we wouldn’t know about sales and good bargains, and without the paper, I couldn’t start my day with a smile caused by reading my favorite cartoons. Not to mention, without the paper, we wouldn’t exercise our brains with the jumble and the crossword.

Please accept our thanks to all who make a daily paper possible. It is such an important instrument in a democracy. Whatever your job, you contribute to our local paper and are appreciated.

JAMES and VICKI MADDOX
Grand Junction

U.S. would be unwise to take on Syria alone

I have just watched three ladies on TV casually discussing why we, Uncle Sam, should hurry up and get into the Syria mess with about the same level of concern they might have discussed the sending of kids to play in a volleyball game!  It brought to mind a fairly common comment from back in the very early forties if/when folks mindlessly spoke of ‘getting into the European Fracas’, - - - ‘they outta be the FIRST sent Over There!’
I’d have hoped that, by now, folks might have remembered the difference between the normal hoopla attendant to a basketball game and the gore, tragedy and drudgery of war, so as to not enter-mix their reactions to the two.

The probable use of gas in Syria, I believe, was, indeed, a terrible tragedy. But I also believe that it was also, primarily, Syria’s tragedy. Of course, it should also be concern for the UN, - - - if that organization is to have any meaning at all. IF the UN is to function at all as advertised then a balanced UN force, proportionally representing ALL its members, might be considered for dealing with the users of the gas. But, ever since its inception, it seems to me, ‘UN actions” evolve into U.S. actions with Uncle Sugar providing most of the manpower and dollars.


I don’t know what interest/importance Syria is to/for us, but I have very serious doubts that, whatever they are, they are not worth the costs in blood and dollars for us to take on the problem alone.


RAY LASHLEY
Grand Junction

Much of our local economy depends on nonprofit and not-for-profit endeavors

The Daily Sentinel’s thoughtful editorial (“Time to get creative with cultural amenities”) and Mesa County Commissioner John Justman’s predictable op-ed column (“Free-market policies aid county, not green energy subsidies”) aptly illustrate the schizophrenia that pervades what passes for local “conservative” thought.

To paraphrase Justman, free-market conservatism “has become a religion.”  So much of its knee-jerk opposition to sensible “rules, regulations, and mandates” crafted to protect our air, water, and environment “stem from emotional ideologies with little or no basis in reality.” In fact, the reality is that such governmental initiatives are necessitated by the failure of the profit-driven “free market” to adequately mitigate the problems it causes.

Justman’s example of the Grand Valley Transit Authority – which would not exist without both federal grants and governmental support – illustrates his confusion. Yes, it “makes sense” to exploit the local availability of cheap natural gas to reduce harmful diesel emissions, but “free market policies” did not “aid Mesa County,” governmental subsidies did.

So, “let’s [NOT] slow down; let’s be rational. Let’s learn from Europe’s mistakes” and from our own local experience. Being truly “rational” means harnessing cheap wind and solar energy in areas with fewer clouds and more sun and/or reliable wind than northern Europe – even if that means redirecting subsidies from oil and gas to those cleaner alternatives and mandating that rural electric cooperatives achieve renewable energy requirements.

Rationally, that also means un-begrudgingly admitting that much of our local economy depends on nonprofit and not-for-profit endeavors which make available both medical care and health insurance that the “free market” would not by itself provide.

Thus, like it or not – as both The Daily Sentinel and Hillary Clinton suggest – “it takes a village” working cooperatively with its government to recognize “the economic benefits of cultural amenities” and/or to incentivize private enterprise to develop them.

BILL HUGENBERG

Grand Junction

Mesa Mall’s inefficient use of water should come to an end

Now that summer is coming to a close, I assume Mesa Mall’s experiment for the last five months or so to try and grow concrete and new roadway by daily overwatering has proven to be a failure.

I hope that it now will readjust its sprinkling system to eliminate the river it creates daily on the outer driveway and also save an enormous waste of the precious commodity of water.

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction

Has Obama recognized futility of unilateral action in Syria?

Consider the following:  Our commander In chief makes a strong-man foolish statement by drawing a red line in the sand regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons. He does this without any coordination with other countries to sign on.

He then unilaterally moves military assets (several ships) into the region, for an attack of some kind, to show Assad how serious he is. His attempt to get international support nets only France (France?). He nevertheless outlines what the ships and their missiles will do in an attack.

All of a sudden there is seemingly worldwide condemnation of his plans, including by some of Congress. He keenly notes this, and apparently abandons his claim of “I can do it on my own” and asks for Congress to authorize an attack.

Could it possibly be that our commander in chief has finally recognized the futility of unilateral action?  And now, he can blame Congress for not allowing him to make this “humanitarian” strike, thus getting him out of the corner he has painted himself into.
         
If Congress, for whatever reason, does approve of his plans, and we lose even one single life of an American serviceman, I would vote to expel them all, from the commander in chief on down.


CREIGHTON BRICKER
Grand Junction

U.S. should have adopted Germany’s solar decisions

John Justman’s take on European green energy leaves many critical facts unstated.

For one thing, Germany has frozen subsidies due more to burdening its citizens in unstable economic times than whether “green” is working or not. Also, most people familiar with renewables understand that there will still be a need for some fossil fuels as a backup.

The fact that a country such as Germany went ahead with solar even with moderate sunshine shows a commitment to modern technology and lowering dependence on dino-fuels (much of which come from Russia).

If we had made the sort of rational, moderate commitment to solar etc. in the ‘80s and continued it through today, we would not even be mentioning any of this (and we would not be supporting unfriendly Mideast regimes, either).

TIM PIPE

Grand Junction

Ditch bank access would create havoc for many private citizens

I haven’t walked or ridden a ditch bank for nearly 30 years. And that’s about the span of this argument. I was shut out the Tiara Rado ditch bank in 1971. The golf course, now owned by the city of Grand Junction, still doesn’t allow access.

Trail advocates are actively avoiding the point. No one will ever travel from one end of the valley to the other on ditch banks. Canals don’t travel like rivers. Things get in the way. I’ve traveled the Redlands ditch banks to town. It required more road than ditch.

Advocates keep talking about “other” ditch bank trail systems, so what did it take to accomplish these feats? Are they hiding that information?  They could start by researching the trials and tribulations of building the Riverfront Trail going back to the late 1960’s Greenbelt project. The Daily Sentinel has the whole story.

It seems like I remember Watson Island being a huge controversy. How about trails on all utility rights of way, many of which go through even more backyards?  What about the railroads that do make a beeline all the way across the valley? Do railroads have more rights than citizens?

How would trail enthusiasts react if transients began camping around the Three Sisters?  What if belligerent youth began tearing it up to make it into a skate park? Trends and visions change. Meanwhile, quit asking private landowners to “donate.”  Quit manipulating. Quit finessing. Recognize that you are inviting havoc into many people’s lives and your narrow “vision” is not reality.

I would also suggest the Urban Trails Committee commit to owning this trail system rather than imposing it on taxpayers. That means you buy it, you fund it, you insure it, you police it. Maybe then you will get the point.

EILEEN O’TOOLE
Grand Junction

Obamacare will be great – for those who don’t get sick

I believe the ultimate goal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is to screw up our present health care plans and eventually force us into a single pay system that will be managed entirely by the government. At that time we will have the world’s best health care system, if you don’t get sick!


BOB STRONG
Montrose

Crony capitalism wields undue influence

In introducing Crown family patriarch Lester Crown Tuesday, Walter Isaacson exclaimed it was “the ultimate moment” for him at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival.

The big meeting room in the Doerr-Hosier building was packed with people, including many members of the extended Crown family. Isaacson said Crown “has been the heart and soul” of the Aspen Institute.

“This place exists because of now four generations of members of the Crown family,” Isaacson said, as reported July 3 in the Aspen Daily News.

Constitutional scholar Barack Obama wants to launch tons of cruise missiles into the latest hornets’ nest known as Syria. A wise move?

Wait, it gets better.

Guess who developed the Tomahawk cruise missile, now selling to us taxpayers at 1.4 million each?

Yep, General Dynamics.

Guess who owns General Dynamics? Hint: it’s not “we the people.”

Just as the Crown’s Aspen Skiing banned the Aspen Daily News and the song “Big Money ruins everything” from National Forest, the United States Army has censored the UK newspaper, the Guardian, worldwide.

As Bill Moyers states: Crony capitalism #FAIL

LEE MULCAHY
Aspen

Justman’s column presented a rational opinion

Thanks, Daily Sentinel, for publishing John Justman’s thoughtful piece. It is wonderful to read rational economic opinion.

GEORGE SEELY

Grand Junction

Burning is a necessary fact of life in a rural community


I have put off writing this letter for a long time, and have finally had enough. I am sick and tired of the whiners and complainers who live here by choice or other reasons and cannot handle one of the facts of life living in a rural environment.

I was born and raised in Colorado and have lived many other places over the years. I am a firm believer in “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” When I moved from Durango to Florida, I thought, “What do I know about this place to give them any advice about how to do things they have been doing for over 400 years?”
The annual burning off the fence lines and ditches is not done to make weak people sick. After several months these areas of land collect a large variety of seeds from noxious weeds and very undesirable bugs and their eggs. The burning eliminates many or most of these undesirables, keeping them out of the food chain and our lives, towns and homes.

The other options are to ignore them and let them invade our communities and homes, making people a lot more miserable than smoke two weeks out of the year. Another option is to use harsh chemicals to treat the areas with, thus inserting a worse problem into our lives. If the smoke bothers you, just think of what the chemicals will do to your poor little body.

The West was not settled by weak sickly people (this area is still considered “Out West”). It took hardy people to deal with all the hardships that came with living out here. The people who could not handle it either had the sense to move on, or they perished.

I am fine with either option. I really do not want weak, sickly people as neighbors who choose to live in a truly wonderful place and then gripe about it. As the lady in the most recent complaint letter said, “Stay in the house for a couple weeks, or leave town during the burn season.” Either quit complaining about where I choose to live, or leave and don’t come back. I already mentioned the other option, which also works for me.
Not only do I have no use for weak sickly whiners, but unless these people come up with a truly more viable solution to a problem that affects all of us living here, (the weeds and bugs), I really have no use for all their complaining. If I were allergic to salty air, would I move to Hawaii, Florida or the coast of California? Think about it, you poor sickly people. and make a choice, but leave me alone about your problems and deal with them.

The next time you see a farmer or rancher, shake his hand and thank him for being such a fine caretaker of the land where live.

Cigarette smoking makes me sick, so I don’t do it, but I still live here just fine with the field smoke.
DAVID L. SHRUM
Grand Junction



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By delaying punitive strikes in Syria until Congress reconvenes, President Obama has placed the onus on 535 would-be military and/or foreign policy “experts” to expose their respective renditions of America’s “national interest”.  While military adventurism “by committee” is inherently suspect, so too is our too-toxic partisan political environment.  So, President Obama expressly reaffirmed his constitutional prerogative as Commander-in-Chief to act unilaterally and/or contrary to Congressional consensus—if he so decides.

The moral rationale for punishing the Assad regime’s use of sarin begs the question of why gassing one’s own population is morally more reprehensible than using conventional weapons.  Arguably, genocidal killing with nerve agents is more “humane” (but certain) than indiscriminately killing with bombs and/or bullets (even if some are un-maimed).

The legal question is also problematic, because the Geneva Convention’s protocol (1925) does not prohibit Syria’s use of “asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gasses” within its own borders in a civil conflict.

The unequivocally prohibiitve Chemical Weapons Convention (1993) is now considered “customary international law”—which is presumptively enforceable by the international community (even though Syria has never ratified it).

International legal and moral legitimacy – achieveable only through “due process” – were forfeited by Bush/Cheney in 2002, who hubristicallly ignored Colin Powell’s advice and cynically short-circuited U.N. inspectors while citing deliberately skewed “intelligence”.  President Obama isn’t repeating that “high crime”. 

In 2002, the only unimpeachably legitimate grounds for invading Iraq were Saddam’s violations of 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions—for the U.N. (not just us) to enforce.
Today, the Arab League’s “call for action” may trump Russia’s and/or China’s veto.

Meanwhile, Rand Paul has exposed his application of “libertarianism” to international relations by effectively siding with genocide – because Assad is “protecting Christians” and opposing Al-Qaeda (just as we abrogated international accords in Viet Nam to support Diem, who was aiding Catholics, killing Buddhists, and “fighting communism”)!

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