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Liars and charlatans

I didn't attend last Saturday's Republican Assembly because I'd already quit their party and withdrawn from the HD 16 race. The Republican Party has lost its way. It stands for anything but its own platform; and respects nothing, including its own bylaws. The corrupt manipulate the befuddled while the blind lead the blind.

My Republican experience was a baptism by fire whereby God gave me occasion to know liars, thieves, charlatans and fools. They were in my life because I let them in. To remove them, I simply removed myself. Yet within that gathering were a precious few who respect all of our Constitution all of the time, and I thank them for that. Sadly, too many "rock solid Republicans" prefer to deceive and exploit the muddled masses and engineer "fiscal train wrecks." Those who profit thereby can make it to hell without my help. I wash my hands of them, their minions and overlords.

-- Bill Jambura

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: The author is a former candidate for the House of Representatives in District 16 seat, currently held by Rep. Bill Sinclair, who is term-limited from office this year. For more on the assembly, check out the Outsider on page 8 and As the Village Turns on page 14.

Representing the people

The following is my response to the rude and acerbic letter directed at me, which you published from a 14-year-old boy named Taylor Delph in your last issue.

Most of his letter needs no comment since his preference for personal attacks and conjecture in lieu of actual evidence speaks for itself. However, he did pose one pertinent question that I'd like to address: "... if you were an atheist, would you send a welcome letter to a Christian convention?"

Though I would not expect an atheist among the general population to go out of his way to "welcome" a Christian convention against his own "private" beliefs, it would be quite a different matter if this same atheist were an elected "public" official, paid by public tax dollars, and constitutionally mandated to represent all the people, not just those whose views he shares.

In this case I would indeed expect the atheist to welcome not only Christian groups but any other group of law-abiding citizens wishing to bring their convention (and their revenue) to our city! Mayor Lionel Rivera is a public servant, not an arbiter on matters of conscience. In fact, if the atheist proved incapable of setting aside his own biases in order to accomplish this basic public duty, then he should either repose himself from making such distinctions all together, or step down.

Contrary to Mr. Delph's assertion that the "goal" of our politicians is to represent "the majority" opinions of the people, when it comes to civil liberties and the Constitution such "majorities" do not apply. This is precisely why the constitutional premise of "majority rule, minority right" exists -- to prevent the majority (whatever it may be at any given time) from imposing its will on the minority.

Those who would scoff at such an idea would be advised to take heed of a famous quote from Thomas Jefferson: "It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own."

It may be true that Mayor Rivera's (and Gov. Owens') refusal of "welcome" is only a small injustice --"c'mon, atheists, grow some skin!" Right? -- but history is replete with examples of "small injustices" that compile and fester into something larger and more explosive. And if you are willing to look past this "small" incident, then how much more will be tolerated next time?

-- Bruce Monson

Colorado Springs

Seeds of exclusion

I wonder, how does a religious sect such as the Taliban, with all its oppressive doctrines, even get started never mind take over a government?

The comments from some of our community's Christian majority and the remarks from our governor and mayor following their snub of the AAI cause me to understand; a little.

Left unrestrained the seeds of exclusion, discrimination and patriarchal Christian Supremacy grow quickly. The misfeasance of superseding secular law with Christian doctrine and the dark efforts of Christian organizations to establish religious and political dominance are insidious and raise an opaque barrier to their motives. I detect little of Christianity's true message of hope, salvation and brotherhood.

The harbingers of Christian tyranny, long suppressed by true secular patriotism, are again stirring and left unchecked will burst into full blossom just as sure as when underwriting the Crusades, the Inquisition and Conquistador hordes.

As for the Taliban: there, but for the constitutional separation of church and state, go we.

-- Richard Baker

Colorado Springs

Bring criminal charges

As we read reports of the religious right-wing trying to curtail women's right of choice and gay rights and attempting to force their belief system on the rest of us, the mere fact there is widespread controversy surrounding these issues shows that these are matters of belief, not of fact. The government is explicitly restricted from legislating religious belief by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

I would like to start seeing criminal charges brought against legislators or other government officials who violate the Constitution by trying to make laws intended to establish a state religion.

Anti-abortion, gay marriage, tax support for faith-based organizations, prayer in schools, and so forth are clearly outside the purview of the government to legislate as long as large percentages of the populace disagree adamantly on "the facts."

It is time for government officials to be held criminally accountable, probably as traitors, for intentionally undermining the Constitution by attempting to transform their religious beliefs into mandates upon the rest of us.

-- Monroe (Moe) Poteet

Via the Internet

Divine prophesy failure

According to Bob Woodward's new book, Bush said that God told him to invade Iraq. Fine. But, this brings up some troubling conclusions.

For instance, I'm sure "Thou shalt not kill" is one of the 10 commandments, and if God told Bush to invade, God should have known that people would be killed. If not, that means that Bush's God is not all knowing, and therefore, not the true God.

Or, on the other hand, the 10 Commandments are not really commandments, but merely suggestions. Or Bush might have experienced a divine prophecy failure. In any event, I thought we were chasing a spoiled rich religious fanatic -- not being led by one.

-- Brent Koleno

Colorado Springs

Invest at home

I just wish to say that if we took the same amount of money that we are spending in Iraq, now in the billions plus, and placed this money into our own production, energy-efficiency programs, job creations, alternative energy sources programs, factories, education of our youth, etc. we wouldn't even have to be in Iraq in the first place.

The investment would be right here in our own country and without the side effects and derivative expenses of caring for our injured soldiers post war. Let's not forget the psychological impacts on their families and cost of programs implemented to try to help them and the disruption of their valuable lives.

-- Theresa Nielsen

Via the Internet

Tosches has a backbone

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to see Rich Tosches back in print in Colorado Springs! His columns are the absolute best! He is a brilliant writer with a backbone to stand up and tell the truth about this community. BRAVO! Keep it coming!

-- Heather Eller-Gilman

Via the Internet

No more Ed

I am thrilled that Rich Tosches has joined the Independent! When the Gazette cancelled his column, I took great delight in telling their publisher they can stick their paper where the sun don't shine (not quite in those words) and cancelled my subscription.

Thank you for giving him back to this community.

No more Ed Bircham. I intend to have a coming out party!

-- Susan Hall

Colorado Springs

Come on home

In a recent issue, Ralph Routon was suggested as a positive addition to your staff. I agree, and would add another Gazette "alumnus" -- Karl Licis. The last I heard, he was working for the Pueblo Chieftain. Having Karl on your staff would get you many more readers, both hunters and fishermen -- the Gazette's Outdoors section has never been the same since his departure.

-- Mike Fatiuk

Colorado Springs

Tell the truth

I have written to our City Council to tell hem the truth about our local economy. But, will they listen? The answer to this question is yet to be determined.

How many more times will we hear that the economy is improving when there are still people who are unemployed and getting discouraged because they keep hearing from a prospective employer, "Thank you, I will let you know" or "I'm sorry, all positions have been filled," as they have heard for the last six months to one year.

Wouldn't it be a miracle if our politicians told the truth about our economy instead of sugarcoating it?

-- Ed Billings

Colorado Springs

Literary bedrock

I doubt if I'm alone in avoiding Borders, Barnes & Noble and other book chains over the years to support The Chinook Bookstore. It has been a literary bedrock of the downtown that I thought would never crumble. My guess is that Chinook has weathered other economic storms and survived to maintain its unique presence in the city.

I find it more than a touch arrogant that the Noyes's don't feel anyone else could maintain their high standards of excellence. I've always been impressed by the quality of the store's staff and ask, "Why not an employee-owned enterprise?" And it would be a boost for capitalism, the democratic way.

-- Richard Van Scotter

Colorado Springs

Dangerous precedent

For better or for worse, the debate within the Roman Catholic Church about who can and cannot receive communion has touched an American presidential candidate and emerged into the secular media.

The question reminds me of a lesson I learned years ago from Bishop Richard Hanifen but that apparently his fellow bishops have not learned.

As a young, naive liberal, I argued for withholding taxes as a matter of conscience during President Reagan's and Ollie North's illegal war against the duly elected government of Nicaragua. Bishop Hanifen said the practice, while perhaps morally admirable on a purely philosophical level, could cause more harm than good in practice. "What is to stop others from refusing to pay taxes for other issues," he asked. "And what if their issues are contrary to yours and their numbers are greater? If you support the right to refuse to pay taxes, you must support it for every person of conscience, whether you agree with them or not."

He was right, of course. I became an older, wiser liberal and paid my taxes that year and every year since but forgot the lesson until the Vatican and a handful of U.S. bishops recently spoke out about communion for Senator John Kerry.

If the church can excommunicate a politician because he or she opposes outlawing abortion, even if he or she has never had or participated in an abortion, it sets a precedent as dangerous as withholding taxes out of conscience.

Once that precedent is set, how can the Vatican, or any individual bishop, limit excommunication to conservative issues and not extend it to politicians who favor the death penalty, the building of nuclear weapons or equal rights for women, all issues that the church officially opposes on moral grounds?

Hanifen is retired now, but his influence in our region will certainly outlive his term in office, probably his lifetime. It would be a shame if that influence were limited to a few aging liberals like me.

-- Tim Rowan

Colorado Springs

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