Soap Box

Freedom from tyranny of Trump
06/13/2019

To the Editor,

Our so-called president has a long history of lying, averaging several lies a day since his inauguration. He’s doubled down on lies that have been soundly debunked. Such as that the Mueller Report totally exonerated him of obstruction charges. In fact, the obstruction is ongoing.

He rages against “fake news,” meaning the hated fact-based media that calls him out on all his lies. He calls them the enemy of the people, modeling the likes of Hitler and Stalin.

He’s also well known for accusing political opponents of doing the things he himself does and is, such as “Lying Ted,” “Crooked Hillary” and most recently “Crazy Nancy.” He’s well known for his pettiness and vindictiveness. He’s worked to sabotage our intelligence and national security agencies in favor of what foreign dictators tell him.

Now he accuses those agencies of trying to carry out a coup against him. He directed his loyal minion William Barr to selectively declassify any information that might support that claim.

He’s doing a good job (aided by his Republican minions in Congress) of sabotaging the checks and balances the Constitution set up with three equal branches of government. He’s trying to claim the power to define what constitutes treason and who is committing it – anyone who mocks or criticizes Himself. Get ready Guantanamo. Fortunately, the Constitution actually says what constitutes treason.

Trump and members of Congress have taken an oath to protect the Constitution. But Trump insists that his minions give their first loyalty to him, not our country or the Constitution. They have complied, betraying their oath of office. The biggest threat now is those domestic enemies. The real coup is happening right now in plain sight – Trump’s coup against the Constitution and the rule of law.

So what will you be celebrating this Fourth of July??

– Carole McWilliams, Bayfield

Let facts rule the abortion debate
06/13/2019

To the editor,

It is important to understand the facts before choosing to side one way or the other. With today’s constant use of social media, we have to fact check, look at the evidence and remember that the issues still exist the next day and in the weeks after. Just because you click away from something doesn’t mean you can disregard it. The issue of abortion is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue.

Consider these facts from various sources:

• The population of the United States in 2015 sat at 321 million, out of this, 638,169 women had an abortion. This is 0.197 percent of the population, or 11.8/1,000 women aged 15-44 years.

• Abortion rates have steadily fallen in recent years with the availability of and education about contraceptives playing a large role in this reduction.

• The survivable age for a baby is 24 weeks of pregnancy. Even then, there is only 20-35 percent survival rate. Babies born before 27 weeks are likely to have to fight for survival and go on to live with long-term health problems.

• In 2015, 91.1 percent of abortions were at or prior to 13 weeks, 7.6 percent were performed between 14-20 weeks and 1.3 percent after 21 weeks.

• Miscarriages occur in about 10 percent of recognized pregnancies and often have the same symptoms of an induced abortion.

• Four states have passed “heart beat” bills this year meaning that abortion is banned at six weeks or earlier.

• If these laws go into effect, those who miscarry as well as their doctors will be pulled into legal investigations when symptoms are similar. The rates of illegal and dangerous abortions also will inevitably go up.

• The new abortion law in New York says that late-term abortions (after 24 weeks) may be performed  “when necessary to protect a woman’s life or health” or within the case of a stillborn. This law is not a free for all, nor is it easy or in any way wanted by any woman to get a late-term abortion.

• In general, those who seek abortions later in pregnancy have learned about a major fetal abnormality that will cause the baby to die late in pregnancy, right after birth or experience major health problems. 

• Although few, some abortions take place due to rape or an incestuous relationship (1.5 percent). This is the only form of abortion currently funded by Medicaid.

• About 60 percent of women who obtain abortions have given birth one or more times prior to this decision.

Abortion is not something anyone wants. The name “pro-life” is not a fitting or fair description of those against abortion. No one wants to have an abortion, to see someone they love have to make the decision to have one, to have a pregnancy so dangerous that you have to have an abortion. No one wants a child to have to suffer when they come into this world and to have to fight to live, or a mother to die as a result of ignorance to risks – not “pro-life” advocates or “pro-choice” advocates. The more appropriate name for those against abortion would be “anti-choice.”

You cannot realistically be against abortion and not in favor of the use of birth control. It is far too contradictory. The highest rates of teen pregnancy come from places that teach abstinence only.

Pregnancy and children are wonderful parts of life, however, there is a time and a place. The right to choose this time should not be taken away. And to be raped and forced into a lifetime of remembering is cruel. To make a woman carry a fatally disabled or stillborn baby to full term is cruel. Men are affected by abortion too, and it’s time for us to stand up for each other.

I understand fully that there is a heavy religious influence on thoughts of abortion. You absolutely have the right to hold these values. You absolutely do not have the right to force these values upon anyone else.

This is an ongoing discussion, and people have to participate but at the same time be accepting of the evidence that sits in front of them. And when you log onto social media tomorrow and the next day, keep the conversation going, write letters, participate actively in your beliefs. Don’t let someone else decide for you.

– Grace Cartier, Durango

Russia is a threatening adversary
06/06/2019

To the editor,

Russia continues to be an adversary of the United States and keeps trying to encroach into the Western Hemisphere and create instability in the region.

When I served onboard a radar picket ship in the Pacific during the 1950s, we tracked and reported Russian bear bombers making practice runs approaching the West Coast of the U.S. In the early 1960s, Russia installed missile batteries in Cuba that threatened the United States. We implemented a naval blockade, and Russia was forced to remove the missiles.

Once again, Russia is becoming militarily involved in the Western Hemisphere. It has bilateral agreements with dictator Maduro of Venezuela, which is being expanded. On March 23, two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela carrying 100 special forces personnel to help bolster the Maduro regime.

We have to help the democratic forces in Venezuela oust Maduro so we can get the Russians out of Venezuela. The Russian are a threat to the countries in the region and could threaten the United States and our interests in the Western Hemisphere.

President Trump told the Russians to get out of Venezuela. I commend him for realizing the adversarial threat Russia poses to the United States.

– Donald Moskowitz Londonderry, N.H.

'Up to state' to vote Gardner out
06/06/2019

To the editor,

First Cory Gardner dodged questions about his party’s uncompromising anti-choice laws aimed at challenging Roe v. Wade and became the face of the GOP’s attempt to run from the issue.

Then Gardner admitted to Politico recently that he believes abortion bans like those passed without exceptions for rape or incest are “up to the states.”

Of course, this is consistent with Gardner’s rigid anti-choice record, despite his efforts to convince Coloradans otherwise. As the Aurora Sentinel wrote in an editorial last week, Gardner “dishonestly tried to assure Colorado voters in 2014 that, if elected, he would not permit erosion of women’s reproductive rights” by throwing up a “smokescreen” and insisting Roe v. Wade was settled law.

But in the Senate, Gardner has consistently voted to confirm Trump’s rigid anti-choice judicial nominees. More of these judges are expected to receive votes this week. He has also voted several times to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health services to more than 25,000 Coloradans annually.

Here’s the good news: Coloradans are fighting back. Anti-choice bills don’t fly in the state Legislature and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado says it’s seen a surge of volunteers, calls and emails from people wanting to defend

reproductive rights. 2020 can’t come soon enough. Cory Gardner supported the anti-choice judges President Trump selected to stack the courts, which is exactly why states are now passing strict laws with the intent of tearing down Roe v. Wade. This is another example of how what Gardner promised as a candidate isn’t what he’s done in Washington, and Coloradans are ready to hold him accountable in 2020.

– Alyssa Roberts, Colorado Democratic Party

Guzman LPEA offer is good energy
06/06/2019

To the editor,

In recent LPEA Board elections, a rising tide of voters elected a 9-3 majority in favor of pursuing cheaper, cleaner energy. Thank you, LPEA Board, for performing your obligation by diligently researching our options. Here’s context: our local electricity, which currently comes from wholesale provider Tri-State, costs about 40 percent more than open market electricity. We pay premium prices for coal, which is easily the dirtiest fuel source.

Tri-State does purchase renewable energy, which somewhat dilutes its smoky mix. But about 90 percent of Tri-State’s own production is from coal, earning Tri-State generation the awful distinction of “most carbon released per unit energy, of the top 100 U.S. electricity producers.” Coal is poisonous, as anyone can attest who has directly inhaled its toxic, gagging smoke. Our bodies know immediately.

But reading the breakdown of coal emissions gags one even more. Mercury is a highly active neurotoxin that causes birth defects and cancer, even in minute quantities: 1/70th of a teaspoon makes the fish inedible in a 25-acre lake. Domestic electricity generation from coal spreads more than 45,000 pounds of mercury in a very fine mist throughout our atmosphere and environment. No wonder so many of our lakes and rivers are contaminated and so many of our children are displaying abnormal development and health problems.

Coal generation is by far the leading source of particulate matter, which is alone considered to be the fifth leading ambient cause of death (2015 EPA-funded study) due to its role in multiple deadly heart and lung syndromes. The list of coal toxins goes on – arsenic, cadmium, nitrous oxide – confirming coal to be a concentrated poison  awaiting combustion and release to the wind.

Let’s count it up. About 1 pound of coal is burned to generate a kilowatt of electricity. Roughly, LPEA uses .95 billion kilowatts per year, of which 58 percent is coal-generated. That means that we at LPEA are responsible for the burning of about half a billion pounds of coal per year. That’s a lot of poison released into our air.

Here’s good news: Tri-State recently received a major offer from Guzman Energy, an open market provider. Chris Riley, president of Guzman, said they would “finance the early shutdown of (three Tri-State owned) coal plants, giving Tri-State a substantial cash infusion, in the vicinity of a half-billion dollars, and we would replace the (coal-based) portfolio with in excess of 70 percent renewables.” These three coal plants generate about half of Tri-State’s coal generation (roughly 800 megawatts). Guzman would replace that generation with 1.2 gigawatts of new renewable energy projects.

Many Tri-State members are praying that the deal goes through. Besides getting away from toxic coal, here are more reasons. Rocky Mountain Institute reported that if Tri-State shifted from coal to renewables, it could save up to $600 million by 2030. Guzman’s energy is cleaner and its rates are substantially cheaper than Tri-State’s coalbased costs. So Tri-State’s savings with Guzman could be passed on to members.

For those aware of the environmental disaster created by coal plants, here’s more good news. Part of Guzman’s offer would cover the high costs of dismantling and remediating the three coal plants and could even assist communities affected by early retirement of the units. Guzman is able to make such a generous offer and still make a profit because renewable energy has become so amazingly cheap.

Guzman’s deal would also financially strengthen TriState, which owes $3.4 billion, most in endless revolving debts. And it would solve compliance with new renewable energy portfolio laws in Colorado and New Mexico, which dramatically impact 80 percent of Tri-State’s electricity sales. To survive, Tri-State must make rapid, revolutionary changes in its coal-heavy operations.

Here’s reason five – or is it six? – to want the deal. Allen Best’s Energy News article notes that Guzman would “help Tri-State’s member co-ops build smaller but more dispersed electricity generation” which would “help local communities benefit by using local labor and resources.”

This is one of the issues LPEA member-voters overwhelmingly responded to in recent elections. Currently, LPEA sends $70 million per year out of our area to support jobs in Denver and elsewhere. Guzman’s local industry support keep many of those dollars and jobs here. We need that.

Please ask your LPEA director to urge Tri-State to hold its nose and make the jump.

– Kirby MacLaurin, Durango