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Laurel and dart

Saw (in your movie review section) that Tree of Life was given four "excellent" ratings out of five different reviewing publications. Rushed out to see it last night. After about half an hour, I noticed a few people walking out. Later I sort of wished I'd joined them.

Some brilliant photography. But way too "artsy" for me. When I got home I looked at that review again. The only dissenting review was from the Independent. From now on, I'm paying a whole lot more attention to movie reviews by the Independent!

Have to disagree with Ralph Routon (Between the Lines, June 30) when he says that the Gazette's Steve Pope hasn't made a difference in that paper's editorials. Before Pope it was very rare that you'd see a left-leaning column or letter to the editor. Since Pope has been the publisher they have run several of my very-left letters to the editor. Now it's pretty common to see David Sirota and other left-leaning columnists on the Gazette's editorial page. Pope has made a big and positive difference.

— Joseph Mitchener

Black Forest

Advice for writers

I am writing in the naive hope that some of your uninformed letter writers (Re: Joan Christensen, Marshall Hunziker, Letters, June 30) may learn to think for themselves rather than regurgitate the fabrications fed them by whatever "news" source they choose to consume.

Joan, don't you remember just as the financial crisis hit when Karl Rove opined that it was caused by the congressional incentives to encourage lower-income people to buy houses? It was an obvious attempt to divert people's analysis of the situation from the real causes (greed, conservative economic policies, financial gambling including CDOs, etc.), and it stuck with you and other non-analytical types. Do you really believe that program could possibly have caused so much financial disruption throughout the world?

I recommend you attempt to educate yourself from multiple sources rather than relying on political operatives. Matt Taibbi's book Griftopia is a good, concise analysis of the series of events that led to the crisis, including the partial repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, passed by the then-Republican majority House and Senate and signed by President Clinton.

And Marshall: You mentioned, among other blather, that President Obama has not been able to put together a budget for over two years. Have you already forgotten that the Republicans have blocked (threatened filibuster) most legislation in the Senate with the goal of embarrassing Obama? Your faulting Obama is not constructive, nor is it even minutely analytical.

Unfortunately, many conservatives in Congress and the public serve their party before the interest of our country. It will result in more crises like the financial crisis, which was caused by conservative policies. (I include conservatives of all political affiliations.)

— Daniel Brendle

Pueblo

 

Bundle of trouble

While I agree with Ms. Christensen that Congress ultimately caused the recent financial crash, I disagree with her reason. Banks were not forced to make bad loans. Financiers were not forced to bundle sub-prime securities and give them AAA ratings. Wall Street was not forced to make billions of dollars being a valueless middleman. But they did it anyway.

Congress removed the regulations that moderated Wall Street (i.e., the private sector), and it allowed them to go on a loaning and bundling binge that no one seemed to be able to track and manage. Even today, in the aftermath of that binge, Congress shows no interest in protecting the American people from the ravages of free-wheeling financiers.

Common sense isn't all that common, and global economics isn't as simplistic as Ms. Christensen makes it out to be. I would suggest she study some of Krugman's and Stiglitz's economic models as well.

— Jack Heneghan

Colorado Springs

Swapping stories

Joan Christensen asserts: "Wall Street didn't crash our economy and cause mass unemployment!" But I'm afraid she's totally wrong. Wall Street and its moneymen leeches were almost singlehandedly to blame for creating and circulating a noxious form of derivative — called a "credit default swap" — which they then allowed to be buried in collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and sold as Triple-A rated bonds (thanks to the same credit agencies like Standard & Poor's now trying to assess U.S. credit worthiness).

I suggest Christensen get hold of the October 2008 issue of Fortune magazine and the article: "The $55 Trillion Question." Therein she will find author Frank Partnoy's take:

"The big problem is there are so many public companies, banks and corporations, and no one really knows how much exposure they have to CDS (credit default swap) contracts. You can guess how Wall Street's cowboys responded to the opportunity to make deals that: (1) can be struck in a minute, (2) require little or no cash up front and (3) can cover anything."

Wall Street's investment banks realized that the CDS bets as such might not grab the interest of the mainstream banks that they needed to buy in to them. After all, the banks could lose on many of these bets, and it would be to their unending detriment. Thus, the Maul Streeters took the CDSs and repackaged them along with regular mortgage securities — with CDOs, into what they called "structured investment vehicles" or SIVs.

These were then sliced and diced and sold to Main Street's banks and state pension funds as "safe securities." To make this "kosher," so to speak, bond rating companies were asked to give a bond rating, and preferably the safest (AAA), to signal to the mainstream banks these were A-OK purchases.

— Phil Stahl

Colorado Springs

Angry liberals

Regarding Mr. McCullock's flaming "Read my lips" (Letters, June 30), it begs the question: "Why are liberals so angry?"

Come on now, you have the presidency, the U.S. Senate, universal health care, the governorship and most of the state. Why aren't you happy and mellow instead of burning with hatred and disgust for those whom you believe to be intellectually and morally inferior? Surely, pity and compassion would be more appropriate.

And by the way, according to dictionary.com, the definition of "bigotry," a word that Mr. McCullock uses to describe Republicans, is "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief or opinion that differs from one's own."

Seems to me that the shoe fits, and that he should be wearing it.

— Geraldine Russell

Colorado Springs

click to enlarge letters.jpg

The debt ceiling war

I'm King of the World, Grover Norquist cries; using Republicans like model planes

Robotic and mindless they follow the leader, destroying whatever's in range

Medicare and Unions, our rights in the crosshairs; the GOP cocks and aims

Intent on stealing individuals' rights, and appropriating money for gain.

Rich men hoarding, an act of indifference, let the Middle Class pick up the check

For the country's ills that the Bankers inflicted, while reporting fraudulent specs

We'll never accept more bank regulation, the Minority Leader proclaims

While people forced to live on credit, are screwed by their predatory ways.

The Koch Brothers join their Republican friends; and spend millions to further the cause

Buying Washington Bureaucrats with campaign donations, through newly enacted laws

God deliver the wealthy from paying taxes; special interests the GOP's stand

Surely Billionaires deserve a much better tax-rate, than a Mechanic or Garbage Man.

It's all about manipulation; behind the Speaker of the House, Cantor hides

Knowing failure to raise the Debt Ceiling will trigger our market's demise

Republicans aren't interested in fairness, sharing burdens or helping the poor

They worship only the Corporate Cross; and respect Wealthy Americans more.

If your welfare depends on Republican charity, my guess is you'll probably be dead

There's no profit in Medicaid or Medicare; and nary a tear will be shed

Remember to vote next election: Take heart — those whose earnings have dipped

Democrats will be fighting for Medicare; and Republicans still demanding breaks for the rich.

— Janice Sterling

Colorado Springs

Sexist slip?

I am a regular reader/subscriber to the Indy.

In reading the article about Ms. Sarah Anderson ("Anarchy in the GOP," cover story, June 23), the paragraph starting "feisty, ambitious, intelligent and pretty" struck me as something I would not expect. If the author had been describing a male, would he add "handsome" and show a somewhat-sexy picture of the guy's body? I have come to expect good journalism from the Indy ... don't deviate from that, please.

Having lived here since 1948 and having to put up with the other paper, sorrowfully watching the demise of the Colorado Springs Sun, I welcome Thursday mornings with the "rest of the story." Keep up the good work but no more "pretty" — we have enough of that thrust on us with pretty Palin and lovely Bachmann.

— Luanne Buzbee

Colorado Springs

Solution for shame

To Ralph Routon, thank Buddha for your article: "The real Steve Pope story" (Between the Lines, June 30).

I don't see how the Gazette authorities could have said what you did, or even: "We were snookered by a con man whom we had failed to check out."

But, one thing they could do — every responsible one of them — is contribute $100 to the Independent or to you personally.

That would not wipe away the shame of their being scammed, but it would make me feel a hell of a lot better.

— S.G. Huskey

Colorado Springs

AARP issues

Congress is considering harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

But these proposals would place arbitrary limits on federal spending, requiring cuts that could dramatically increase health-care costs for people 55 and older, threaten their access to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes, and reduce the benefit checks they rely on to pay bills.

Most older Americans agree that changing the rules in the middle of the game isn't fair. It is important to remember that Social Security is the principal source of income for nearly two-thirds of older American households receiving benefits, and roughly one-third of them depend on Social Security benefits for nearly all of their income.

We want all members of Congress to start making the right decisions about our nation's future priorities. We want Congress to adopt a better way to begin reducing the deficit — beginning by cutting tax loopholes and special-interest tax breaks for companies that make billions but pay little or no taxes. Estimates are that all tax breaks and loopholes cost the federal government about $1 trillion each year.

The promise of Social Security has endured since 1935, and the promise of Medicare has endured since 1965. In Colorado alone, we have more than 1.2 million people who rely on these two programs. Those promises embody our deepest values as Americans — our obligations to one another, our obligations between generations, between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, between those in retirement and those at work, between the able-bodied and the disabled.

At AARP Colorado, we're committed to working with both political parties to help ensure Medicare and Social Security remain strong for today's seniors and for our children and grandchildren.

— Morie Smile

State director, AARP Colorado

Denver

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