Defending the defenders
Michael de Yoanna's article ("Mercenary watch," News, Sept. 7) regarding privately hired security contractors brings ambiguity to the distinction of war-fighting operations.
I've dedicated the past 22 years of my life to the security of this great nation as an active-duty Army soldier. Maybe Brian X. Scott has been disconnected, aside from his continued antagonism of our elected leaders, from the increasingly complex missions that challenge today's ground operators.
The security companies and personnel that represent facilities access and countless other levels of security are there to provide our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen with the relief of double duty. And having spent 22 out of 34 months operating inside Iraq, I can attest to the time-saving benefits these private security contractors provide.
Our job as soldiers is to pursue this war according to the orders and directives assigned by our commanders and leadership. During all of Operation Iraqi Freedom I and most of Operation Iraqi Freedom III, individual units had the primary responsibility of internal base security. This presented unit leaders and soldiers with the additional manpower requirements necessary to secure the palaces, airbases and facilities now utilized by U.S. forces while still conducting offensive operations.
Contracted security personnel hardly qualify as any of Webster's four definitions of the term "mercenary."
Michael de Yoanna is notorious for his efforts to present the U.S. military in a negative aspect. The contracted security personnel in Iraq are a blessing to the men and women who may spend countless hours outside "the wire." None of these "guns for hire" move away from their posts, let alone "give chase," as Scott and de Yoanna would encourage readers to believe.
Mercenaries among us?
Brian X. Scott is campaigning for the reduction of "mercenaries," private security guards, in Iraq. His arguments lead me to ask: Are there large numbers of these "mercenaries" employed in the U.S.? If so, this could be a very dangerous practice. At what point will "mercenaries" be taking over for police and sheriffs?
A "mercenary" is, in some cases, not operating under the same controls as the police. Will they be allowed to operate against political demonstrations? Will they form a "secret police service"? Will their activities be concealed behind "need to know" policies?
The practice of "mercenaries" must be closely monitored. There are those who will work toward increasing their numbers and duties. Be on the alert for this practice.
Upper Kedron, Queensland, Australia
Stories and legends
Your Sept. 7 issue was superb. From Cara DeGette's interview with the evasive Pastor Brendle ("God in the details," News), to the thorough and thoughtful research on the religious right wing by Cate Terwilliger in "Right cross" (cover story) to the profound piece by Janet Brazill in the Freethought Views space, this issue was one of your best.
Our friends at New Life Church, Focus on the Family, etc., seem to be operating on two false premises. First, that there is anything at all that is bad about homosexuality. There isn't. Nothing at all.
Homosexuality is minority behavior, not abnormal behavior. Like being left-handed, or playing golf, or being red-haired is minority but not abnormal, so it is with homosexuality. Let's not confuse "abnormal" with "minority."
The second false premise used by our religious friends is that any supernatural god of any kind can be proved to exist in the first place, to tell us what to do about anything at all, including homosexuality or gay marriages.
There is a religious taboo in one ancient religious text, the Bible. This is one of many ancient religious books, and they all were written by superstitious men more than a millennium ago.
No shred of evidence exists that any of them is based on anything except baseless claims by supernaturalists writing supernatural stories and legends. These were men who could not have known any of the discoveries by science in the past 500 years. They did not even know the world is round. How could they?
So now come our religious friends, using one of these ancient books, trying to put the ideas in that ancient and supernaturalist text into our laws. Not a good idea.
God is listening
I have been reading the pages of the Independent over the years and I notice a recurring theme. That is that most of the ills in Colorado Springs, in society and even in the entire world, according to your readers, are due to the Christian. In other words, Christianity is part of the problem rather than the solution.
Well, surprise, surprise, I disagree with that assessment. I mean, those absurd Christians, how dare they take part in our constitutional republic by voting for candidates they think most reflect their views?
And the nerve of this bunch of Bible-thumpers. They actually try to persuade others to come around to their way of thinking. I mean, the pure audacity of these people in the "red" states trying, by rational discussion, to convince people that their political and moral philosophy is seriously lacking in objective coherence, or even in common sense.
For example, when a Christian points out the totally absurd position of saving the whales, or the trees, on one hand, and sacrificing 40 million of the unborn on the altar of convenience, on the other hand, he is accused of wanting to "force your morality down our throats."
Enough of the insanity. People are wondering why the world is in such a horrible condition and seemingly spinning out of control. Why are kids killing kids? Why do you have to lock your doors at night?
One reason, I believe, is that society has insisted that we take God out of the schools, out of the public square, out of the courtroom and, well, out of our lives. Let us be free to do our own thing, let us be the captain of our ship, the master of our souls. I think God has been listening and has granted our wish and withdrawn.
Regarding the letter to the Indy titled: "Taking sides" (Letters, Sept. 7): Is David Fernandez for or against the Pion Canyon Expansion? He states that "two million acres of land is an insanely small sacrifice for the purpose of simulating and conducting war games," but later goes on to say that "by the year 2050, we can visualize Colorado grasslands and wildlife to the point where tourists viewing herds of bison, elk and pronghorn, historical sites or petroglyphs, would earn more money for the state."
If the government takes the "insanely small sacrifice" of land, wouldn't that include the "grasslands and wildlife" (including the "bison, elk and pronghorn, historical sites or petroglyphs")? Isn't this where the state will "earn more money"? So, once again, is Mr. Fernandez for or against the Pion Canyon expansion?
La Junta City Council
Stuck with us
I note that reader Michael Adams is concerned enough about why I read the Independent to write a letter ("A career in fiction," Sept. 7), and that the Independent is, in turn, concerned enough to print it.
Since you asked:
I moved here from Portland, Ore., a politically diverse city. Portland has conservatives, progressives and every flavor in between.
Colorado Springs, by contrast, is a conservative echo chamber. Writers and pundits here tend to preach to the choir, reinforce one another's prejudices and stay oblivious to what their ideological opponents are actually saying and doing.
When one lives in an echo chamber, it's easy to get shallow and shrill; to demonize one's opponents; and to fail to engage their ideas and assume one speaks for all right-thinking people.
To act pretty much the way the Independent does, in other words. Which frankly surprises me. I've never understood why the Independent sounds as if it's located in, say, Berkeley; or like Jonah Goldberg addressing an National Religious Broadcasters convention, with that overconfident, snide, protesting-too-loudly tone that all too often passes for civil discourse these days.
I read the Independent in search of the rare nugget of original progressive thought.
Occasionally, you surprise me: The interview with Rob Brendle was a good step in the right direction, for instance. Generally, though, I don't dislike the Independent as much as I'm disappointed by it.
In short, I treasure intelligent progressive-conservative debate. Otherwise, it's all too easy to avoid challenging myself; to not confront or wrestle with the tough questions about my own ideology; to keep from reaching across the aisle and finding grounds for respect and communication with articulate, thoughtful people with whom I happen to disagree.
And while there are plenty of sources like that to choose from on the national level, the Independent is, unfortunately, all I have to choose from locally.
After watching Bush's speech Monday night, I felt like I'd been raped. I felt so filthy just watching the man that I wanted to shave off the top three layers of my skin and burn them.
The mind-boggling gall of this man, to go on TV and tell America to unite behind his "War on Terror," which is, at best, a serial failure, is a tremendous kick in the crotch to America in general and, in particular, all those who lost friends and loved ones in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.
To have this brain-dead hack hawking his insane brand of politics on a day that should have been spent in quiet reflection and mourning is the most shameless peddling of fear I can imagine. Shame on you, George W. Bush, shame.
A poem for Pluto
Now they've de-listed Pluto
The scientists mandated it.
Now they've demoted Pluto.
Don't know if I can handle it.
Pluto a planet with attitude.
The smallest, the furthest out.
Booted! How's that for gratitude?
What's left just to orbit and pout?
Shrugged off with a cosmic shoulder.
I shed a little tear.
Space just got a little colder.
No Pluto to bring up the rear.
What's next there was no Thrilla
Down by Manila Bay?
We didn't evolve from gorillas?
There was no Ground Hog Day?
Want to de-list a planet?
De-list this Earthly ball.
If you were to cat scan it
You'd see it's terminal.
You can't just go down-size it.
You ain't even been there.
How to un-memorize it?
It's hard-wired in there.
WE WANT PLU-TO!
WE WANT PLU-TO!
Re-name it a planet, or else
We take Pluto,
And make it a planet ourselves.