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Sacred act of beauty

Permit me to offer a comment on John Hazlehurst's Feb. 16 "Up in smoke" column: John and I attended high school in Colorado Springs in the 1950s. We both started smoking back then. John quit years ago. I have continued to smoke for 50 years.

With my many more years of smoking experience, I believe my opinion has at least as much validity as his. To me, smoking is a unique and almost sacred act of beauty, which elevates humanity above the other animals and civilized humanity above the barbarians. For me, a big difference between hell and heaven on Earth is that heaven is the smoking section.

There is little chance that John will ever embrace the truth of my opinion, or that I shall ever accept his. However, Colorado is big enough to accommodate us both. In the absence of totalitarian smoking prohibitions, the market would provide us both with the environments we prefer, if only John and I would each exercise appropriate discretion in where we choose to hang out.

Don Ellis

Colorado Springs

Shedding the cynicism

Wow, Indy, thanks for the double dose of cynicism coming from your star columnists last week. Hefley's gone, andthe Republican ship of foolshas set sail to take his job.

They'relisting to the right ever ignorant of the shiftingwinds. Andlike our president, they are full-steam ahead.But you conveniently forgot that there's a Democratic candidate working to put somecommon senseand some checks and balances back into our government.

Even our Republican friends and neighbors are starting to see the obvious failures ofone-party rule.And I'd like to add a few of my own notes, since Cara DeGette and John Hazlehurst bothforgot there's a bunch ofhard-working progressives hereworking tochange the ship of state. And they all read the Indy!

Note to Cara: I don't forgive Hefley for his deafening silence on the safety of our troops. Have a nice retirement, Joel.

Note to John: I hope your prediction of the coming Republican fratricide is true. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Note to the Indy: Thanks for doing the Gazette's job on this issue. I guess the daily's editorial page editor, Sean Paige, can take the week off. Give him some notice next time.

Note to all the progressives reading the Indy: Don't worry about last week's issue. Cara and John will come to their senses. We've fought

much more difficult battles, and when these twoshed their cynicism, the battles will become that much easier.

Bud Gordon

Colorado Springs

Anderson on Anderson

Thanks to Cara DeGette for "March of the neocons" in last week's Indy. She has the wisdom to inform us about the most important regional election of our time, to replace retiring Rep. Joel Hefley ofour Fifth Congressional District.

As DeGette noted, Jeff Crank and others waited like good Republicans for Hefley to announce his retirement.Crank, aformer employee of the Chamber of Commerce whohas never evenheld any public office, is a Hefley pal.

Anotherman who overslept is state Sen. Doug Lamborn, whoseclaim to fame is condemning legalabortions. Both these guys who wear squeaky black shoes say they havesupport from some of the large, local religious-right groups.

Bothlook likebowls of cold leftover oatmeal thatthe GOPwants to microwave for us, depending on whether we like instant or old-fashioned.

Enter John Wesley Anderson,with whom I share a name but am not related to. Anderson, the former two-term sheriff, formally declared his candidacy on Jan. 10, more than a month before Hefley was compelled by law to announce his retirement.

Whether or not Andersongets blessed by the GOP, he deserves the grassroots support he seeks. He has lived here since 1956 and has more than 30 years of honorableservice at the police and sheriff's departments. His accomplishments include his major roles in clearing the Heather Dawn Church kidnap/murder, the capture of the Texas Seven and the successful reinvestigation of the Columbine shootings.

At age 64, I see our countryfacing insidious forces as never before. I do not want simply some Chamber of Commerce-type representing me in Washington. In his job atLockheed Martin Corp.,Anderson has becomean expert on homeland defense and security.

Hefley is gone, butFort Carson will stay. As for DeGette's fear that "we are doomed," the Fifth District already has been taken over by locusts. Anderson is the best choice to revive the regional economy.

The election likelywill be decided in this summer's Republican primary. I hope my "liberal" friends will cross over, and register as Republicans.

John Edward Anderson

Colorado Springs

Doing good

Thank you so much for the interview with Paul Bremer in the Feb. 23 issue ("Tour of duty," News). Some newspaper articles are confusing or one-sided, but your interview was excellent.

It was clear that Paul Bremer thinks the U.S. needs to be in Iraq and is doing good, both for the Iraq nation and for U.S. national security.

Tom Melancon

Colorado Springs

Foul odor of bias

Duane Slocum concluded his closed-minded letter ("Avid reader," Feb. 23), by dreaming of both political sides being open-minded. This, after his letter dripped of sarcasm and reeked with the foul odorof bias.

Slocum displayed his "open-mindedness" byjust ripping other letter writers, and mockingJohn Kerry, Hillary Clinton, John Hazlehurst and Cara DeGette. He fits right in with the hypocritical arrogance of the Bush administration.

First, he attacked a mother of two military sons for saying "My sons don't believe in the war, either," with an inane comment that her sons were volunteers. Well, hell's bells, as if volunteers can't despise war. In the same vein, he smugly went after John Kerry, predicting that Kerry would have been "cozy" with every pacifist country, and get this that with Kerry as president, terrorist attacks would have just kept on coming. Don't you just love it when "open-minded" partisans tell us what would have happened, even though it never happened?

Then, Slocum "gagged" at John Hazlehurst's health care plan and laughed at Hillary's.This coming from a guy whose party rigged the "pillbill, providing drug companies even more profits while confusing old folks on just how the damn plan worked.

His criticism of Cara DeGette and School District 11 didn't make any sense. 'Nuff said!

Then he found fault with an Indy environmental article even though he admittedonly "skimming" the piece, saying he already knew what was in it. Is this a little bit of Bush insolence? First, he tells us what Kerry would have done as president, then he knows what's in an article without reading it ... reminds me of Bush and his war cabal, knowing where the WMD was in Iraq.

My letter is not"open-minded." I refuse to concede any issue tothose who only see their side of anything. Does anyone believe Bush has been open-minded about tax cuts? Iraq? Katrina? FISA? America's ports? The environment? Uniting Americans?

I thinkDemocrats should be as open-minded as Republicans are. Get my drift?

Phil Kenny

Colorado Springs

What they do best

Mr. Slocum, in responding to my Feb. 9 letter to the editor ("Blame the Boss"), took the liberty of taking part of my letter out of context, but that's what some "righties" seem to do best.

My sons joined the military before the ignoramus in the Oval Office took us to the unjustified war in Iraq, so they do not have a choice. Even if they hadn't joined before theIraq war, they still believe in the war in Afghanistan, since that country actually did have something to do with the attack on the United States.

They believe in defending our country and our Constitution, but they don't believe it's our role to spread democracy all over the world.The oath they took states they will "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America."

I might be mistaken, but I don't believe forcing democracy down the throat of the Iraqis has anything at all to do with the U.S. Constitution.

"All-volunteer military"? Let's ask the troops who have been forced to extend their tours of duty involuntarily if they agree with that statement.

I am proud of my sons, but I was not boasting. Again, Slocum took my words out of context.I was makingthe point that supporting the troops and respecting life is not a conflict, as Peter Brebach stated in his Feb. 2 letter ("No contradiction").

Can you imagine how many of our military men and women (not to mention innocent Iraqi citizens) would have died, or would have been injured or maimed for life in Iraq if John Kerry had been elected? I can: ZERO.

DebJames

Colorado Springs

The short list

In last week's letters, while criticizing "lefty" ideals, Duane Slocum hypothesized on how many terrorist attacks we would have suffered had we elected John Kerry.

This begs the question: Just what is it that George Bush has accomplished? Spreading democracy (as if that were the goal) in the Middle East? Securing our nation by attacking a sovereign entity (with, coincidentally, oil and a strategic geographic position)? The ferocious dismantling of our core liberties at home to stifle dissent?

When the White House announces now (to combat low poll numbers) that a terrorist attack in California was foiled a few years ago, I smell bullshit. Why have there been no color-coded terror warnings since November 2004? They simply aren't needed anymore.

Illegal domestic spying, Geneva violations, rendition to third-party torturers, hypocritically cutting support for the soldiers he's sending to war, tax reductions while bloating the budget, filling (or attempting to fill) high offices with unqualified cronies this is the short list of accomplishments.

The Bush administration has learned since it came to power that if you rile up the gay-bashers and prey upon fear (see: Reagan and the "Evil Empire" rhetoric) you can pass any agenda, foreign or domestic, that you see fit. It has learned that with a same-party majority in Congress that is unwilling to stand against you, no matter how terrible and far-reaching your actions, you can do no wrong.

This is scary.

Dan Wiencek

Colorado Springs

Corrections

In last week's Drink guide,

photographers should have been credited as follows:

p. 51 (Our Bar): Collan

Fitzpatrick

p. 52 (Penalty Box Lounge):

Bruce Elliott

p. 58: Bruce Elliott

p. 59: Collan Fitzpatrick

The Independent regrets

these errors and omissions.

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