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The search for America

Dear Editors,

The latest political distraction is now slowly being brought to boil. Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the latest controversy concerns an Islamic community center being built two blocks from Ground Zero. It would include a gym, swimming pool and performing space that could be used by anyone, as well as a mosque that could be used by Muslims who live or work in lower Manhattan. This would be like a YMCA, or the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. Nearby is a strip club and a McDonalds. Not exactly a historical district.

The very First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Seems pretty clear and most Americans take this very seriously. According to the Islamaphobes, “This is one of the freedoms the terrorists hate us for.” If you’ve been following this “Mosque Debate,” you’ll know that two thirds of Americans surveyed are against the Islamic community center being built so close to “hallowed ground.” Ironically, an even larger percentage of Americans strongly support the First Amendment. How can that be?

Since conservatives don’t have any practical solutions to the many very serious issues that face this country, they’ll do what they’re good at – stoking the flames of hate, fear and ignorance for political gain. It’s been done before and it works. Look at how we ended up in Iraq. 2012 presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said on Fox

News, “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington.” So Newt equates Muslims with Nazis. The usual propagandists also chimed in on cue, reading from the same hate-filledscript. This is not helpful. We have troops, some of them Muslims, fighting for our freedoms in Muslim countries. With more than 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide, we would be wise to avoid pissing them all off.4Why don’t we instead embrace this “Mosque at Ground Zero,” sticking our chests out as Americans and say, “Look at how great our freedoms really are?” Or is it freedom of religion as long as you’re a Christian or a Jew? OK, maybe the location is not the best choice, but that’s not the point. Yes, there are Muslim terrorists out there, but what the Zionists are doing to the Palestinians is also evil. Remember Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols? They were U.S. military vets and Christians. Should we indict an entire race or community for the actions of some extremists? If a Catholic church was to be built near a playground or school would we see the same uproar? “Pedophiles! Child Molesters! Not in my back yard!” Is that a fair reaction?  

Could it be that the voice of reason came way back in 2002 by, amazingly, George W. Bush? He said, “All Americans must recognize that the face of terror is not the true faith/face of Islam. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It’s a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It’s a faith based upon love, not hate.” Well said George, you get a pretzel.

– Thanks, Bill Vana, Durango

Revving up the local economy

Hello Telegraphers and motorcycle fans:

I am pleased that there will be a parade downtown on Sunday, Sept. 5. I will be riding my six-cylinder Honda Valkyrie between Ignacio and Mancos during “Bike Week” and also to take in some folk music in Pagosa as well as ride in the motorcycle parade in Durango. There will be thousands of motorcycles and riders in the area. It is great that this year there will be a parade of classic and hot rod cars in a parade downtown on the same day. The point I wish to make is that all this activity is fantastic for the Four Corners’ economy and in my opinion, a lot of pleasure for a lot of people. However, I always worry about accidents if riders and drivers drink too much alcohol and ride or drive our country roads. Nothing spoils a rally more than the deaths of motorcyclists and or drivers who are just out to enjoy a great ride. Please drink responsibly. Gas and alcohol are a deadly combination. Ride free. Ride safely. Let’s all enjoy an accident free “Bike Week.”

– Mac Musick, Hesperus

Who is Lord Monckton?

Dear Editors,

There’s an exciting brouhaha going on within the Global Warming blogosphere these days. Every bit as heated and implication laden as ClimateGate was a half year ago. Not surprisingly, big media isn’t covering this story. Just as they seem to be ignoring the exposure of the fabricated charges and nonexistent sins scientists supposedly perpetrated in “ClimateGate.”

This saga concerns the lowly academician who dared question the darling of the “Man Made Global Warming is a Hoax” community. You see, one John Abraham, a professor of thermo sciences, sat in on the now-infamous Sept. 14, 2009, lecture by Lord Christopher Monckton for the Minnesota Free Market Institute. What Professor Abraham heard so disturbed him that for the next few months, he put all his spare time and energy into investigating specific claims Lord Monckton made and then created a presentation of his own: “Abraham v Monckton.” Google it.

It is a beautiful piece of scientific video debate. Item by item Professor Abraham calmly points out ... how should I put it ... distortions, misrepresentations, meaningless distractions, fabrications and avoidance of existing contrary evidence in Lord Monckton’s 90-minute presentation. Please, listen to it. I’ll bet you agree that “Abraham v Monckton” sounds like a serious professor talking to a class and expecting folks to do some homework.

Lord Monckton, never one to allow criticism – and never one for a focused point by point, head to head – has retaliated with a withering 48,000-word missive, containing among other sections, 466 questions for Professor Abraham’s 126 slide presentation, plus a demand for $110,000 in damages. Reading through Monckton’s endless words, I kept being reminded of the punch line to some old joke: “baffle ’em with bullshit.”

Notably, in Lord Monckton’s missive: the man refers to himself “pluralis majestatis,” that is, in the royal third person. Consider the implications of such a conceit. It implies one believes they are ordained by God from up on high ... personal like! Historically, that’s how kings maintained power, they were God’s appointed and anointed and superior to all their subjects. The further unavoidable implication is that Chris Monckton actually believes his own words are “infallible.” That would explain why he’s so livid at Professor Abraham and has so loudly, theatrically even, threatened impossible legal action.

I am not misleading about Monckton’s presumption. To prove it one only needs to look at Lord Monckton’s opening slides. The first one is Monckton’s brand, I guess he’d call it a “royal seal.” In the Viscount of Brenchley Lord Monckton’s case it looks like jail bars bracketed by lengths of chain, over arching all is a regal crown. In this first slide it’s superimposed upon an infrared image of the sun. Orwell couldn’t have made up this stuff, but you only need to look up Monckton’s power point to see it happening.

But, it’s the second slide that really gets my goat. It is Lord Monckton’s brand flanked by crossed American and Canada flags and the good lord’s proclamation: “Christopher Monckton of Brenchley Dominion of Canada and United States of America.” Come on4

Chris! What the heck? “Dominion over the USA?” Just who do you think you are? Distressingly, during his presentation, these salt-of-the-earth Minnesota Republicans are applauding this guy like he’s the second coming. Wouldn’t proud Americans be appalled and demand: “How dare you slather such nonsense in our faces?!”

It makes me despair at how far right-wingers will go to avoid looking at the real physical planet we are passengers on. The lord claims he is smarter and more honest than tens of thousands of hard working scientists, yet all Monckton showed his audience was a whole lot of partisan political entertainment with precious little science – all the while ignoring tons of down-to-earth evidence. And the crowd was eating it up. Why this need to embrace willful ignorance, when there really is new stuff out there that all of us, including right-wingers, had better start honestly learning about?

– Sincerely, Peter Miesler,


Rules of engagement

To the Editors:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal was replaced by Gen. David Petraeus because of insubordination expressed by McChrystal’s staff to a Rolling Stone reporter.

Although extremely poor judgment was exhibited by McChrystal and his staff in giving the interviews, it appears there is sufficient disagreement between our military in Afghanistan and the Obama Administration on the conduct of the war and the strategic decisions handed down by the White House.

The rules of engagement forced on our troops in Afghanistan appear to inhibit their ability to conduct successful operations in pursuit of the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. As Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret stated in Military, August 2010, our soldiers are encumbered “by bizarrely restrictive rules of engagement which make it easier for the enemy to kill them; harder for them to kill the enemy.”

President Obama shifted the strategic advantage to the Taliban and their supporters when he announced to the enemy that the deadline for starting the withdrawal of our troops will be July 2011. This announcement gave the Taliban a boost in morale, and the strategic knowledge that if they could hold out to the middle of next year, U.S. troops will be leaving Afghanistan. The Taliban can then be in a better position to launch attacks and try to bring down the Karzai government.

As Jack Kelly stated, the Obama Administration has to “rewrite the rules of engagement and drop the deadline for troop withdrawal.”

– Donald A. Moskowitz, via e-mail

A ‘big picture’ candidate

To the Editors,

As someone who has known and worked with Brian O’Donnell, I felt compelled to voice my support for him in his run for Colorado State Representative for House District 59. Three years ago, we were both hired at an organization that was just getting started, and I soon learned what a dedicated and hard worker Brian was, quickly proving himself to be a visionary with the ability to see the larger picture. Brian and I were both new parents when we were hired. Understanding firsthand the challenges of becoming a new parent while balancing a full work load, I was impressed with Brian’s capacity to tackle both. He is very approachable and will listen to all sides of an issue and is very much interested in finding common ground. He cares about the issues we all face, like the economy, education and prosperity for families in Southwest Colorado, and he will work hard to address these issues. Please vote for Brian O’Donnell for State Representative for House District 59 this November.

– Julie Thibodeau,