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Thursday, December 30,2010

Letters | WikiLeaks and Ward

WikiLeaks and Ward

(Re: “A Nobel Prize for Assange?” Danish Plan, Dec. 16.) What do Roman Polanski, Richard Nixon and Julian Assange have in common?

The Wikileaks saga illustrates the fact that just because somebody does something worthwhile (make brilliant films, open relations with China, expose murder) doesn’t mean that all of their acts are noble or heroic.

Julian Assange’s exposure of the infamous helicopter footage was (despite his Michael Moore-esque editing) a laudable act. The release of the Iraq memos was more questionable; while it revealed questionable behavior by U.S. and Iraqi forces, some of the exposures were at best reckless and at worst sociopathic. An ironic situation for somebody who cloaks himself in the mantle of righteousness.

Now with the diplomatic leaks, we really have to wonder about his motivation. Did those cables contain any indications of illegal or even unethical behavior? As Paul Danish points out, those leaks embarrassed the U.S. and probably set back diplomacy, with no discernible benefit. I’m all for transparency and accountability in government, but smiling at Putin while calling him names behind his back is hardly a crime against humanity. Mr. Assange was either too lazy to do the work of curating the trove, or he is merely on an anti-U.S. vendetta, driven by his own megalomania. Or both.

Speaking of megalomania, what of Mr. Assange’s attempts to spread his seed, without consent of the recipients? If governments are pursuing rape charges with extra vigor because they can’t nail him on espionage ... well, Mr. Assange might want to have a chat with Ward Churchill. The lesson for would-be antagonizers of the Establishment is: Keep your nose clean because they will looking for ways to get you. But that doesn’t mean anti-heroes should be exempt from all laws.

As for those claiming Mr. Assange has been framed, I’d be curious to find out if those same people defended Clarence Thomas 19 years ago.

It is entirely possible to support some of WikiLeaks’ earlier actions, despise vermin like Rush Limbaugh, question the recent leaks and condemn rape ... all at the same time.

“The phenomenon of dusk does not invalidate the difference between day and night.”

David Rea/Boulder

Cannabis cash

(Re: “Skunky money,” cover story, Dec. 9.) My wife and I are considering entering the industry and found this article more than interesting. One question on the banking is that the state has taken in millions from owners and patients alike. How are they handling the depositing of these monies, as wouldn’t they also be scrutinized under the same banking laws causing the dispensaries so much hassle?

Kevin Reifenschneider/Westminster

Loko not the problem

(Re: “Finding Loko locally? Good luck,” news, Dec. 9.) I work at Central Washington University, and read your article on Four Loko. While I thought it was a nicely written article, your facts are not entirely accurate regarding the Roslyn party. If you read the Cle Elum-Roslyn Police Department report from that night, there is clearly something else going on. Additionally, the girl passed out in the grocery store parking lot that night did not even have any Four Loko. Neither did at least one more person of the nine hospitalized.

We are so quick to pass judgement on Four Loko, yet it wasn’t the problem at the Roslyn party. Underage drinking (all were minors), along with hard alcohol and poor choices, were more the culprit. While Four Loko is a potent and harsh drink, it seems that it shouldn’t be blamed for this problem. Of the nine hospitalized, from my understanding, not one of them solely drank Four Loko that night. They were pouring hard liquor into the Four Loko, drinking other beers, smoking marijuana and taking other drugs.

Just like to clear the air a bit on this issue, since it has gotten so blown out of proportion and no one seems to know the facts.

Andrew Caveness/via Internet

Democrats lack cojones

Obama’s tax compromise with the Republicans is a betrayal beyond measure. First and foremost, the Democrats legitimized Republican blackmail and hostage-taking as a respectable negotiating tactic. Taxing the super-rich while holding the middle class harmless should have been a no-brainer. Yet the Dems paid the ransom and the ransom was us.

This travesty comes atop of a raft of unholy Dem capitulations regarding nearly every important issue arising over the past two years. The most recent deal twice cuts taxes for the super-rich (the income and estate taxes), increases taxes for the poorest workers by eliminating the Making Work Pay tax credits, and compromises the Social Security tax base by reducing the payroll tax for one year, which the GOP, with likely Dem acquiescence, will make permanent.

Pork thrown in, to sweeten the deal, is paltry compensation for the massive long-term costs to the government’s revenue base and accelerated debt accumulation. I expect the Dems will also go along with a permanent cut for the super-rich two years from now. Down the road, the Republicans will use the bloated deficits and national debt as an excuse to gut valuable domestic programs, again with likely Dem acquiescence.

Perversely, 99ers, those whose benefits have lapsed after 99 weeks, were left out of the unemployment insurance part of the deal. For those who still qualify, meager UI payments will last a paltry 13 months, compared to two years of massive cuts for the ultra-rich. I expect those payments to end permanently when Democrats and the Republicans forge yet another “compromise.”

In summary, the tax deal is a piece of sewage that should have been flushed the moment it floated to the top of the legislative cesspool, yet Democratic pols ate it up like a funnel cake at the carnival.

With that said, I am ending my role as a Democratric Party activist. This is not the first time I have hinted at quitting party activism. Despite my growing disgust, I have dutifully pounded pavement and made phone calls on behalf of the party and its candidates. No more.

My attention will turn to community projects and support for progressive candidates; including progressive primary challengers running against incumbent Dems in Colorado and elsewhere. I might even support a credible primary challenge against Obama.

The way I see it, the Democrats have willfully cut people like me loose. I no longer have a reason to support Dem candidates just because they are running against Republicans. The differences are just getting too small to bother, George W. notwithstanding.

I am well aware of what has transpired over the past two years. I also understand what the word “compromise” means (Obama’s condescending use of that word to belittle progressive positions pisses me off, so he can just shove it). Rather than compromise, I characterize the past two years as a litany of premature capitulations demonstrating a complete absence of principles and a pitiable lack of cojones. The tax deal was the last straw for me.

And too bad the public has been hoodwinked into accepting the monumental shaft job they have been given.

I believe perceptions will change by 2012, as the weak stimulative effect of the tax deal is barely noticed, the bankers get richer and more arrogant on Obama’s watch, his wars spin out of control and a variety of problems beset the nation as Democrats continue to bend over and spread ‘em for the Republicans.

Ken Bonetti/Boulder

More on body art flap

Thank you for Elizabeth Miller’s excellent article “Body Art Battle” (cover story, Dec. 23). She did a lovely job of condensing tons of information into a very clear and concise piece of journalism. That being said, I would like to illuminate a couple of points.

We (Enchanted Ink) were, indeed, open by appointment only on the day that we were cited for refusing inspection. The key point, however, is that we were not open and operating for tattoo or piercing appointments. We see clients (not for body art) on a highly confidential basis for another business which we work with.

We told the inspector numerous times that we were not operating as a tattoo business on that day, yet she insisted that we were, even though she had no evidence to base that on.

Now you tell me, if you were a confidential client and a government inspector showed up, how would you feel if she came traipsing through the business? We were simply trying to protect our client.

To another point, I would like to thank the inspector, Melissa Ellis, for her memorable quote in said article regarding why some businesses get cited for certain violations, while she gives others a pass. She said, “I’ve had other businesses say to me, ‘Melissa, this is a really bad time, so I’ve left … but this wasn’t a nice request.’” Bless her, out of her very own mouth she proved one of the main points that we were trying to get across: That the inspections are not consistent and that the inspector uses her own biases in doling out penalties. Since when is it acceptable to cite and fine a business because the inspector perceives that they weren’t nice? Isn’t that rather subjective criteria?

Until the Boulder County Health Department hires and trains inspectors who actually know what they are doing in our businesses, there will only continue to be problems. We are only asking for competency and accountability in exchange for the exorbitant fees, which continue to rise.

Is that too much to ask?

Tara Gray-Wolfstar/Boulder

Go vegan in 2011

This has not been a good year for the meat, dairy and egg industries.

In January, ABC News provided extensive coverage of cow abuse by the dairy industry.

The BP oil spill in April called attention to an even larger Gulf “dead zone” caused by the massive amounts of animal waste dumped every day by the Mississippi River. A month later, a U.N. report urged a global shift towards a vegan diet to reduce world hunger and climate change.

In June, the FDA asked factory farms to stop routine use of antibiotics that lead to drug-resistant bacterial infections in humans.

August witnessed the largest-ever recall of more than half billion eggs harboring Salmonella.

Finally, this month, President Obama signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to replace fatty animal products and other junk foods in school lunches and vending machines. According to the School Nutrition Association, 65 percent of U.S. schools now offer vegetarian lunch options.

For a New Year’s resolution, we should all consider following suit.

I found a great website at www.LiveVegan.org with recipes and tons of other useful info.

Rudolph Helman/Boulder

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Hell yeah Rudolph! 2011 will be the year of the vegan... and to any naysayers: no, no one is trying to force you to do anything, nor take away your rights. We're just a group of forward-thinking people, inviting you to be an early adopter: adopt a life of kindness witha softer, healthier footprint for 2011. Go Vegan, for the People, for the Planet, for the Animals!