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Liston on the loose

"OK sweetie, you're pretty and all, but you don't know a thing about this game."

As a 16-year-old high school senior, I was somewhat shocked when state Rep. Larry Liston of House District 16 said this to me in the Mann Middle School neighborhood. Apparently, Oliver Cook ("Attention, shoppers," News, Oct. 2) is not the only one who has faced the wrath of Mr. Liston.

Several weekends ago, I spent my Saturday afternoon knocking on doors for Sen. Barack Obama's campaign in House District 16. As I was walking down the street, a gold SUV pulled up beside me and the driver said: "Hey young lady, are you taking a survey?"

When I told Mr. Liston that, no, I was canvassing for Sen. Obama, he engaged me in a heated discussion about my "misguided beliefs." After about 30 minutes of debate on earmarks, corruption and Abraham Lincoln, Rep. Liston rolled up his window, told me I was pretty, and drove off.

Any government official who thinks he can assault citizens trying to improve their country might not be the best representative of House District 16. I'm only 16, so I personally cannot vote against Larry Liston, but when the citizens of House District 16 go to the polls, I urge them to consider not only the policies, but also the character of their representative.

Becca Siegel

Colorado Springs

True mavericks

During my childhood I loved the James Garner TV show, Maverick, about a riverboat gambler who was nice enough but not someone you'd vote for, since he didn't really like to stick around or make long-term commitments.

The term comes from a real person, a Texan, wouldn'tcha just know it. Samuel Maverick (1803-70) was a cattleman in the rough-and-tumble era of pre-Texas statehood and early statehood. He apparently didn't like the work of ranching as much as the rewards. Sam didn't brand his cattle and therefore any unbranded cattle became known as "mavericks." There was a nice added benefit: Any unbranded cattle he found he could and did claim as his own. It benefited Samuel Maverick to be lazy.

We've been told by Sarah Palin that she and John McCain are a "couple of self-proclaimed mavericks" who want to run our country. Would that really be such a great idea? Like the TV character, they may be less than honest and kinda fast and loose with the truth.

Isn't it interesting that McCain and Palin adopted the brand of "change" from Barack Obama when it looked like that was the best brand? The mavericks have played a little bit of Sam's game in reverse, having all the cattle branded similarly for possible confusion at the stockyard, er, voting booth.

Mavericks don't believe in consensus to get things done, but go tearing off on their own because they don't want to be branded with an "R" though they fully believe in all of the Republican party ideals. They don't want to be branded "R" since it isn't popular.

McCain and Palin may really be trying to tell us in code that they are riverboat gamblers wanting to shoot craps with our nation's future. Maybe we should believe them when they tell us they are mavericks.

Bobbie Bowen

Colorado Springs

Reverse engineering

In the debate, Sarah Palin used the phrase "redistribution of wealth" to attack the Barack Obama-Joe Biden tax-relief plan for Middle America.

She's confused. What the plan attempts to do is stop the massive transfer of wealth from the dwindling middle class to the wealthy. The McCain-Palin-Bush plan will serve only to keep us all spending our lives working to power the economy, so those fortunate few can enjoy lives of leisure.

Max Clow

Colorado Springs

Palin: no piddling

It's a shame what the Republicans are doing to Sarah Palin. She's their newest toy. She's being treated like a new puppy. The debate was nothing but a chance to show off what the new puppy has learned in two weeks. Her only original statement was when she asked Joe Biden if she could call him Joe. From then on, everything she said was learned in front of a podium under a tree at one of McCain's many houses.

After two weeks she was leash-broke and ready to face Biden, where she put on quite a show. She was real good at regurgitating the Republican propaganda. There was no piddling; therefore, the paper training was a great success.

Richard Folks

Colorado Springs

Hail Hammill

Thanks for Bill Forman's interview with Peter Hammill ("Dark passage," AudioFile, Oct. 2). He might be the best-kept secret in the songwriting world as many musicians, especially in the U.K., know about him, but hardly any in the U.S.

I have followed Hammill's career from the late '60s and his band, Van der Graaf Generator, until his latest CD, a journey of music of almost 40 years. The odd combination of many styles of music brought me to VDGG, but Hammill's deep words pulled me into his career and its many twists and turns. He's always edgy in either words and/or music, not mainstream per se but more in a "progressive pop" way. I have seen him live five times, and each has been an incredible experience, as his voice goes from a whisper to a scream in passion. His words are always moving ... of love, of life in many stages, personal or with social commentary.

That such a gem has escaped notice in America is sad, but thanks for bringing a bit of a spotlight to him. It says a great deal that he is almost 60 and has not sold out his principles and is still writing material that is vital.

Stan Jaksina

Watertown, Mass.

Compassion and courage

Everybody has a opinion on the biggest financial con job in history. Whatever happens, our workers and their families are in for an extended rough patch financially. Local and state governments are already feeling the pinch.

The fatal flaw of our local government's main revenue stream, sales and property taxes, is the dreaded economic downtown. If the 1 percent sales tax increase passes, I will be surprised.

Colorado Springs, with five military bases and the accompanying military industrial complex, is in a unique and very fortunate position to weather the storm. I wish we could limit growth and let all our many new neighborhoods mature and sell out before building more.

We need to come together as a great city, working together to help the less fortunate worker or retiree. If you have the time, volunteer at a senior center or food bank. Sincere compassion and a caring hand breed strength and courage in the toughest of times.

I do not envy city and county officials, making the toughest decisions of their political lives. It's going to hurt. Some job is better than no job.

Please don't let our city get run down. Ask for volunteers. Try to be creative. Good luck!

Karl Knapstein

Colorado Springs

Our turn to serve

I urge voters to reject government meddling in paychecks of public employees. Vote no on Amendment 49, an outright attack on employee organizations in the workplace. This attack is coming from well-funded groups outside Colorado. Voting no will help to safeguard the rights and voice of middle-class workers who protect and serve our communities: firefighters, police, teachers and nurses.

Don't buy into this deceptive attack on Colorado's middle class. Please help protect the rights of those who serve us by voting no on Amendment 49.

Michael Stahl

Colorado Springs

Show your heart

The measure of a society is in how well it treats those in need. This election, Colorado voters can express this highest of values. By approving Amendment 51, Coloradans will help thousands of families caring for children (both growing and adult-age) with significant disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

Because of shortfalls in state funding, 10,000 people with disabilities do not receive critically needed services such as direct care and supervision, therapies, nursing services and places to live. An average 10-year wait for services has literally created situations such as an 85-year-old woman who still cares for her 63-year-old son with mental retardation, wondering what will happen to him when she becomes infirm or passes away.

By approving a nominal tax increase, Colorado voters can change these conditions permanently.

Disability is equally selective in the families it affects: Republican and Democrat, wealthy and poor. What these families have in common, however, is the challenge they have embraced of providing their loved ones the care and dignity they deserve. What they need from Coloradans are the resources and support to perform this important work.

This election's plethora of proposals will provide voters many opportunities to speak their minds. One enables them to express their hearts: Amendment 51.

Eric Patterson


Simple questions

Who's going to bail out the bailer-outers? Then who's going to bail out the bailer-outers of the bailer-outers?

Jim Inman

Colorado Springs

Seen this before

Ultimately, there would be little to differentiate the presidency of George W. Bush and a John McCain presidency. Bush's administration has abused its power and taken advantage of the American people's trust.

In what was an obsessive, secretive agenda all along, it compromised our economy, foreign policy, the science of its own government scientists, the Constitution and environment. Not only has the public had to suffer through all of the Bush presidency's ongoing indiscretions, we've had to endure all of the subterfuge and obfuscation that came into the bargain; and now, an entourage, the likes of which enabled Bush, is backing McCain in his desperate, anything-goes campaign.

In addition to being painted with the same political Republican brush, Bush and McCain share some troubling character traits as well: an inordinate hunger for power; an impulsive, angry temperament; and a juvenile tendency to bully and ridicule. The last thing our nation needs is to be blindsided by an unpredictable McCain who seems to have some old, personal axes to grind.

What we do need is a leader who is calm and rational, someone who has the aptitude for anticipating consequences of actions that can impact the whole world, a responsible figure who considers the well-being of all Americans, a president we can trust: Barack Obama.

John McVay


Turn to page ...

"Life begins at conception" is a religious notion, not a scientific fact. As a standard textbook, Developmental Biology by Scott F. Gilbert, points out, there are many scientific positions on when life begins, and none of them is universally accepted. For instance, the metabolic viewpoint states that life begins at no single moment because the egg and sperm are already living tissue.

The neurological viewpoint asserts that since our standard definition of death is loss of EEG (electroencephalogram) pattern, life begins with the acquisition of EEG. The ecological viewpoint says life begins with viability, when an organism can exist separately from its maternal environment. And so on.

If biologists don't have a definitive answer of when life begins, politicians certainly do not. So Barack Obama was honest in his answer at Saddleback Church whereas John McCain, who is certainly no expert on biology, pandered shamelessly to the religious right.

Why in the world should we confer constitutional rights on a fertilized egg, technically known as a zygote? A zygote is nothing at all like a fully developed human being. It has no organs, no feelings, no memories, no aspirations, no EEG. It's a single diploid cell. To put things into perspective: You can't even see it with the naked eye. In the name of science, reason and women's rights, vote against Amendment 48 a transparent attempt to impose an unscientific religious viewpoint on the rest of us and to strip women of reproductive rights.

Allan Burns

Colorado Springs

Deduction deduction

In the article and the subsequent letters concerning Amendment 48, I notice no one has broached the subject of the tax deduction that could become possible if this initiative passes. As the father of five sons and with their birthdates situated within the calendar years as they are, I would have had the opportunity to add another deduction each year before each of them was actually born, given the fact that this initiative would give the same full rights of any other person.

But then, would I have to show medical proof of when each child was conceived in order to not be accused of lying on my income tax? In addition, how about the man who donates his sperm? Since it's his sperm that would fertilize an egg, does he have a right to seek a tax deduction with the woman involved?

How many custody cases would have to go to court? How would we do the national census if this became law for our state? The federal government, however, would probably not allow such a deduction nor allow us to count the unborn as actual citizens, which would ultimately lead to a court decision thus dictating to us again how we live our lives.

The more we create laws to decide or determine how we live our lives, the more we give up our constitutional right to privacy. Amendment 48 is just another example of some people telling other people how to live.

Bill Arrick

Cripple Creek

Spread the word

I just finished reading "The egg and I" (cover story, Sept. 25), regarding Amendment 48. First of all, thank you for publishing this story. I truly hope that it will open the eyes of Colorado voters to this extreme measure.

I am genuinely concerned that only 52 percent of voters surveyed are opposed to such an irrational proposition. This means that up to 48 percent of voters are OK with having their human rights stripped away, even if it means endangering the lives of innocent mothers.

Sure, it sounds nice to say a pronuclear embryo has the same rights as you and me, but in reality this could never be true. There are reasons children aren't allowed to vote. One is logic, and that same logic should be applied to this so-called Personhood Amendment. Outlawing hormonal contraception is essentially setting back women's rights, telling us we have no choice but to be government-approved procreating machines.

This is a selfish amendment, and at the end of the day I will not allow the government or anti-abortion extremists to tell me if or when I am capable, prepared or willing to have children. It's my choice!

Lindsay Olson

Colorado Springs

Filtering the issue

Regarding Fr. Bill Carmody's note ("'For the sake of the planet,'" cover story package, Sept. 25): While I do not doubt hormones are getting into the water, which maybe means we should look deeper into water filtration, there are large problems with water in the U.S. and declining fish populations.

There is a dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi, plus about 8,000 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico, and roughly 40 percent of the mainstream of Chesapeake Bay is completely lifeless because of hypoxia. Hypoxia is when there is not enough oxygen in the water to support life. This is caused by nitrates and phosphorus in fertilizers used on America's crops, which run off and damage rivers, then wreak havoc on our oceans.

Father, have you looked into this issue? This is seriously hurting our environment and fishing industries. In areas where the water is not correctly filtered, it becomes toxic, even deadly, to those who ingest it. So while I am completely sad to hear about fish losing fertility, I believe they have larger problems that, if addressed, would benefit their survival tenfold. As mentioned, maybe we just need a better filtration system.

As for Amendment 48 in general, while separation of church and state is not a law and is only mentioned in the Federalist Papers, I believe the separation is necessary! Believe whatever makes you happy, but do not push your beliefs onto those of us who do not choose to believe in your religions. Agree to disagree.

Ashley Epperson

Colorado Springs

Catholic response

I write this as a Catholic, nurse, mother and wife. Fr. Bill Carmody's letter ("For the sake of the planet," Sept. 25) reads like an empty rhetorical move. He continues to pull particular church teachings out of the whole, which is their context. The pope and bishops advocate a seamless garment of respect for life, which includes workers' rights and a critique of capitalism, immigrants' rights, access to health care as a human right; opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the nuclear arms race, and environmental stewardship.

While Carmody still can't figure out if global warming is caused by humans, the Vatican strives to become the first carbon-neutral state and asks its faithful to turn from the sin of pollution.

His appeal to environmentalists feels false. Is he asking parishioners to carpool, bus or bike to Mass? Has he turned his parish lawn into a vegetable garden?

My challenge to Fr. Carmody is to act, and stop talking. Make your parish carbon-neutral, then do the same in the diocese, and in the homes of all Catholics. Announce that any parents who can't raise their children can leave them at your church, no questions asked. Announce that any pregnant woman who needs help and a home will find one with you or one of your parishioners.

Then you will be further from having a handy class of sinners to judge and a fundamentalist's reading of church teachings, and closer to the holistic and nuanced view of the church that calls us always, always to humility and mercy.

Elisabeth Almond

Colorado Springs

First things first

Let's wait on Amendment 48 until we have evidence that those who oppose birth control and abortions scoop up all the unwanted, uncared for, abused children and give them a secure and loving life, their Right to Life.

Then we will no longer have the little ones who are undernourished, abandoned, beaten, raped or murdered by a parent who never wanted them or can't protect them.

Then we can turn to arguing about the exact moment when life begins.

Nancy Howard

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: Because of the volume of letters coming to us, primarily focusing on the presidential race and Colorado's ballot issues especially Amendment 48 we added space this week to reduce our backlog of letters worthy of inclusion.

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