I agree with Lowell Duncan ("Bennet's connections," Letters, June 17) about appointed Sen. Michael Bennet's hard work on behalf of Wall Street over Main Street. Besides voting against the Brown-Kaufman amendment to limit the size of "too big to fail" banks, early in his rather lackluster Senate career he took other actions to benefit financial interests. In spring 2009, he voted against the "cramdown" amendment that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to reset mortgage terms in foreclosure when the owners declared bankruptcy. Perhaps this is one reason foreclosures have escalated to record highs, and why so many are losing their homes.
Homeowners lost on his vote, but Bennet made out well. Shortly after joining a handful of Senate blue-dog Democrats and Republicans to kill the "cramdown" provision, Bennet began receiving donations from financial firms, who saw he was willing to put their interests ahead of his constituents. Is this how he accumulated his $6 million-plus war chest? Bennet is rated fifth-highest in the Senate for contributions from the financial sector.
While this may be just "how things are done" in Washington, I want a senator I can count on to be an advocate for Colorado over corporate interests. That is why I enthusiastically endorse Andrew Romanoff for U.S. Senate. He has the track record of leadership and service that we need.
— Cyndy Kulp
Glimmer of hope
I received two e-mails predicting the end of the United States as we know it. One by a former Harvard professor, David Kaiser, and the other a statistical report on how Muslims are taking over the world.
All I can say to both is, "Hello! The world is changing, so let's all grow up and figure out how to get along!"
America has been bought and paid for by big corporations. The only "mom and pop" businesses are in the service industry, and that is rapidly eroding away thanks to places like Starbucks, chain restaurants that serve poison food brought to us by industrial agricultural business, and chain stores that sell us not only us the poison food but all the stuff made in China.
We're fighting wars for corporate interests and our young, brave soldiers are paying for it. We are paying through the nose to protect big oil interests, the military-industrial complex, and multinational corporations that have taken our jobs overseas for cheap labor.
Who are the real terrorists?
Now come the scare tactics that got George W. Bush illegally re-elected in 2004. Why don't "We the People" elect politicians who are not on the corporate payroll! This isn't a Democratic or Republican thing; this is about our country that has become a corporatocracy, and we are merely pawns in the polluted waters.
I met a guy who doesn't take corporate money. Really! His name is Andrew Romanoff. He is real, honest hope. If people like him could get elected, there will be hope for my grandchildren!
— Elaine Brush
HRC: Lessons learned
Although Bill Guman ("HRC not worth the trouble," Your Turn, June 24) provides important historical background about the city's former Human Relations Commission, the past problems do not support Guman's conclusion.
The citizens group involved in reviving the HRC has intimate knowledge of the past board's dysfunction, but that is not endemic to HRCs. The key to success is the people, their ability to work together and mutual commitment to success.
The ongoing success of HRCs around the state and nation offers clear evidence of their worth. Those cities are not disbanding HRCs; they provide important public benefit.
About our past HRC: Knowingly or not, City Council appointed members who did not support HRC's mission of ensuring equal opportunity for all. The problem wasn't that people had agendas; anyone who cares about the community has an agenda. The new HRC will succeed if Council appoints members with a commitment to fairness and equality for all residents, but who are willing to hear opposing views, treat opponents with honest respect, compromise for the common good, and can lose a vote without losing dedication to public service.
That's a tall order, but it can be done. Our new HRC needs a large pool of applicants who care about equal opportunity and fairness, have skills and passion for serving the underserved, and can work constructively with people of diverse opinions on contentious issues. Above all the HRC needs mediators and advocates. The HRC is not a front in the culture wars, it's about helping individuals who have been mistreated and advising the city on how decisions affect disadvantaged residents.
Thanks to the City Council for believing in this mission. When applications are available, please help us find the right people to make the Human Relations Commission a success.
— Barb Van Hoy
Outgoing executive director Citizens Project
Past historical, political and legal precedents give short shrift to Dan Goor's criticism ("Rhetorical fiction," Letters, June 24) of Grace Yenne's June 10 letter. Gaza is a territory not allowed to govern itself, but militarily imprisoned by the Middle East's only nuclear power, and one that imprisons its own citizens when its possession of weapons of mass destruction (still being denied) is revealed to the world.
No one is determined to destroy Israel, as Israel is in the process of destroying Palestine. It is a matter of fact that Israel is destroying itself by submitting to its violent Zionist leaders rather than carrying out its ancient calling to be a "light to the nations." Under human rights and the international rule of law, no one has the right to attack another in international waters under the guise of defending itself. Any blockade imposed by a military aggressor is illegal if it violates such laws.
Since its inception, Israel has been in constant violation of the rights of indigenous peoples, now officially recognized by the U.N. declaration of that title, adopted Sept. 13, 2007. All victims of military occupation, including those without armies, navies, air forces or nuclear weaponry, have a right to resist their oppressors until they are freed, as history attests. Remember Hitler?
The Palestinian Authority, decades ago, accepted Israel's right to exist though its own existence was disallowed over the years and war crimes against it have been committed until the present time. All "holocausts" of the past, Christian, Armenian, Native American, Jewish, Palestinian and many others are now over except for Gaza. We must therefore focus on our own times and sins, seeking their nonviolent resolution, or all will be lost. As Jesus said, "Sufficient for today is its own evil."
— Bill Durland
Doomed by BP
As the Gulf Coast people pray, hold their breath and weep, their world is being irreversibly destroyed; it seems nothing can stop the Gulf oil leak. It's been over two months and a frustrated world still waits for BP to gain control. As wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico continues to slowly die, could all hope of stopping the oil leak be lost?
Is BP still cutting corners and passing the buck? Does anyone at BP know anything but how to cut corners on safety and goof up? Has the world seen the worst of the oil leak? Will visibility at the site, which is under a mile of water, be lost before the leak is capped?
Will the well casing eventually collapse and erode the bore hole enough to crack the geological oil reservoir? Will the two secondary drilling attempts miss their mark, as BP repeats its policy of cutting corners? Does this leak have the potential of destroying all life on this planet?
Engineers are undecided on how much oil lies in the Gulf. Could the oil leak release close to 1 trillion barrels of oil? As a student of Murphy's Law, I fully expect the worst to happen.
Are all oil companies playing Russian Roulette as they drill deep-water wells? I firmly believe President Obama is right to stop deep-water drilling. I believe all deep-water drilling should be stopped immediately! I wonder if BP officials were not only reckless but grandstanding. Why would BP pencil pushers take charge of one of the biggest, most dangerous, and deepest oil wells ever drilled, "right at a critical safety moment"? If BP officials were grandstanding, 11 oil workers died for what? I wouldn't be surprised if a video camera lost below the Gulf waters has footage.
— Donald Slayter
Down on CEOs
A well-known conservative columnist defending the corporate plutocracy (rule by the rich) warns the Obama administration "not to treat corporate executives like terrorists!"
Have any Big Oil execs been kidnapped and secretly flown to some dungeon in the Middle East? Naw. Nor have I read anything about the administration contracting for a Gitmo-style prison on some oil rig in international waters for suspected negligence. So what gives of this "line in the sand defense" for business' aristocracy?
Warning our elected officials not to treat corporate executives as terrorists on one hand might be some rhetorical flourish. But the plutonomy must feel threatened. Why? Wasn't it less than 21 months ago when Wall Street suddenly melted down, threatening to take America deep into the abyss of a second Great Depression? Yet, soon after America's "little people" bailed them out, didn't they feel immune enough to turn right around and reward themselves with billions in bonuses? That behavior doesn't warrant terrorist treatment, merely the same reserved for bank robbers and extortionists.
But now we "little people" are witnessing the full flowering of wholesale deregulation at any risk to the environment with this BP catastrophe. Even the CEO freely admitted the disaster shouldn't have happened.
So when the administration got a reasonable concession from BP to minimally ante up $20 billion for the little people's damages, a chorus of corporate ideologists suddenly exclaimed Obama had performed some sort of "shakedown" on this altruistic corporation. More characterizations proclaimed that Obama was being "un-American to criticize business," creating some sort of "political slush fund."
We should treat those corporate executives no differently than any criminal suspect allegedly involved in mass murder. Let's vigorously enforce our laws seeking justice and asserting our democratically elected government.
That is what the corporate plutocracy might actually fear: blind justice.
— Bob Nemanich
Break up the banks
Congress caved to Wall Street bankers and lawyers by opting to do financial reform through a regulatory system that has already been "captured" by Wall Street lobbyists. Under regulatory capture, these lobbyists influence regulations to the extent that they control the very government agencies that are supposed to control them. The proof? Bank stocks were mostly high the day the negotiated deal was announced.
What's still wrong? Banks are still too big to fail. Banks can still gamble with your deposits. Banks can still use "off-balance sheet accounting" to bonus themselves at taxpayer expense. Banks still get trillions from taxpayers through the Fed, Fannie and Freddie.
What was the alternative? A straightforward change in the banking system itself: Break up big banks. Separate investment banking from commercial banks so banks cannot gamble with our deposits. Do not allow banks to also operate hedge funds and other high-risk derivatives insured by the government (taxpayers!).
How do ordinary citizens end the stranglehold that big corporations and lobbyists have on our democracy? We the People must insist on campaign reform in order to stop Big Money from controlling the government.
— Anne Hegler
Here's a comment about two regular "commenters" on these pages, Larimore Nicholl and Duane Slocum. I'm usually titillated by Larimore's letters, alarmed by Duane's.
So here is my suggestion: Hire Larimore to write a titillating column (maybe once a month) for the Indy and suggest to Duane that he apply for the same kind of position at that other new, free paper.
Also, wow, I can't help but notice the page after page of lacy green leaves pictured in your classified section these days. Is the new medical marijuana law a boon to the Independent's classified pages or what!
— Jan Zeis
Last week's Get Involved featured an incorrectly printed e-mail address. For inquiries on volunteer opportunities at Odyssey HealthCare Hospice, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret the error.