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Regime change begins at home

Dear Editors,

Why Caucus?

Because regime change begins at home.

Many of us seem to be grumpy with our current administration. After years of wandering around with a bumper sticker that said, "Don't blame me, I voted with the majority," I decided that this year I had to take more direct action: I changed my bumper sticker. It read, "When Clinton Lied, No One Died."

Though cute and pithy, that sticker didn't really help, either. It didn't offer any reasonable alternatives to a pretty grim situation. But there is hope: Mike Miles wants to be our next U.S. senator. Never heard of him? Consider that your own fault and the fault of a Democratic Party who seems scared of him, and a local daily that seems oblivious to him. Mike Miles is one of two Democratic nominees fighting for space on next fall's ballot. Unlike Ken Salazar, his opponent (who announced his candidacy mid-March, after Campbell was safely out of the running), Miles has been to La Plata County at least six times in the past couple years, campaigning his heart out.

Miles is great. He's open, honest and approachable. He returns your calls. He sincerely believes that people have a place in this democracy and is pursuing "An America that speaks to our highest aspirations that speaks to compassion over greed, efforts over pedigree, service over wealth, and the common good above all." Unbelievably na`EFve? Maybe, but consider his background before ruling him out.

A graduate of West Point, Miles served as an elite Army Ranger. He returned to civilian life via Berkeley and Columbia, then worked on the Soviet Desk at the State Department, including stints in Russia and Poland in the 1990s. More recently, he's worked near Colorado Springs as a teacher and superintendent. This is a guy who has worked inside the military, inside the Beltway, and inside our school system. And yet he still believes in America. That's impressive.

Ken Salazar has not yet had time to put together an office, a web site, a phone number or a platform of his views all this, just two weeks before the April 13 caucus. His campaign manager told me a few days ago that Salazar is just "really, really busy." What, too busy to tell us his views? Salazar has said that he would be interested in modeling his senate career on Ben Campbell's. The only other thing I know is that, earlier this year, Joe Lieberman was his presidential nominee of choice. Salazar is not a bad man, but he's not our only option. We can choose to pick the moderate, "biege" candidate who is undoubtedly safe, or we can choose a strong, progressive candidate who may actually shake things up. Which would you prefer?

Please caucus. You can directly influence who is on the November ballot as our Democratic U.S. Senate nominee by going to the caucus on Tuesday evening, April 13. A caucus is like a neighborhood meeting, or small town hall. Everyone expresses his or her opinions about candidates for county commissioner, U.S. Senate, the presidency, etc. They also talk about issues important to them local development and growth issues, water, health care, civil rights, the dog park, whatever. It's all open for debate, and it all forms a part of the Democratic Party platform. What's really great is that few people show up to these caucuses, so whatever YOU say will be listened to (assuming you're a registered Democrat, of course, and living at your registered address. Check with the county's Voter Registrar on that, for sure, at 382-6296).

Mike Miles deserves to be a part of that Democratic platform. Go to caucus and support him he needs you to counter the corporate and media interests in the state. If you want positive change in Washington, then support Miles.

I changed my bumper sticker again. The new one reads, "MikeMiles4Senate."

Anne Markward,

via e-mail

Use it or lose it

Dear Editors,

Do you caucus?

If you're reading this, chances are good that you're interested in your community, the state, the nation.Are you also concerned about current trends and the importance of the upcoming election? Are you frustrated at the inability to influence events? Do you like your voice to be heard?If you're nodding yes, then the upcoming state caucus should be of great interest. Every four years, the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties hold state caucus meetings. Basically, they are town meetings one in every single precinct in Colorado, 30 in La Plata County alone. This event takes place Tuesday, April 13, starting at 7 p.m.

Who's invited? Every registered voter who has affiliated with one of these parties. Non-participating observers are also welcome.

Why participate? It's Kerry and Bush? Well, Kerry is currently in the process of learning what issues the people are most concerned about. What occurs at these caucus meetings reaches his desk for evaluation. More importantly, on a local level, there are many offices up for election you can tip the scales. Take, for example, the Mike Miles maverick candidacy for Senate. A handful of participants in each precinct would make a big difference for that race.

For Republicans who are frightened by this president's policies here is your chance to gather likeminded Republicans, go down to the caucus meeting and speak your mind the Republican Party desperately needs alternate balancing feedback.

Are there issues you'd like to influence? Tuesday, April 13, 7 p.m. is the time to go and make your presentation.

Once every four years you have the opportunity to be "given the floor" to speak your mind use it. Cliche or not, it's still true: Democracy, use it or loss it! For your precinct number and meeting location call the County Voter Registrar at 382-6296.

Sincerely, Peter Miesler

Diver Dan disheartening

Dear Editors,

I'm an eighth-grader who runs with the pack in Durango, and I was reading a Dear Diver article ("Ask the Diver," April 1, 2004) and I came across a letter from another eighth-grader in Hermosa asking for help.

Diver Dan said he could relate, ha, ha, ha. The response from Diver Dan was disheartening. The eighth-grader asking for help is so awesome because he's not giving into the smoke and girls deal, like so many of my friends do.

To the writer, I commend you, you took the time to write, and I think that will uphold your ideas. It's so great that you have the strength to do that. No way should you be ashamed.

Heidi Stewart,

Miller Middle School

Stop promoting outlaw driving

(Editors' note: The following was sent to the General Manager at Keesee Motor Company in Cortez)

Dear Sir:

I recently watched a TV ad for Keesee Motor Company on CNN that featured a person in a Ford pickup truck barreling off a plowed road and through a snowbank, complete with someone "whooping" on the soundtrack. This kind of advertising is extremely irresponsible in that it glamorizes driving vehicles "off road" anywhere and anytime the driver feels like it. Operating motorized vehicles of all kinds off of designated routes is becoming a serious national problem that is exacerbated by irresponsible advertising like this.

The ultimate result will be more and more restrictions and route closures as local governments and land management agencies seek to control the resource damage and user conflicts caused by unbridled mechanized cross country travel. Perhaps you should consider altering your advertisements to reflect responsible driving habits, instead of promoting "outlaw" driver behavior, as glamorous as it seems.


Veronica Egan,

Executive Director Great Old Broads for Wilderness

Getting arms around patriotism

Dear Editors,

As a freethinker, patriotism is an evolving self-defining concept that every time it may be easily graspable at one moment, the next time will find a search for other meanings. Yet, with a myriad of definitions, not one of them would be suitable to represent symbolically. After all, if patriotism is an idea that best can be seen through the mind's eye, why bring it down and denote it into the sensible world only to be tarnished with the symbol being subjected to connotations, as well.

However well intended some of these symbols may be by one person, another may not see it the same way. How can this possibly be, you ask? The eyes see the same object, but there is something else besides one's physical awareness that is in operation to help make sense, or non-sense, out of this world we live in. That something is reason, and judgment.

If life only consisted of the corporeal world it would be very mundane and predictable, instead there is an extra layer that is hidden from view. Within this hidden layer reside many wondrous areas to explore, might I even say infinite, and that is where reason and judgment can be found.

It would also be wise to let people explore their own inner expansive thought process to help enable them to realize that every single creative notion was first thought up inside the human mind. If one were to dig deep enough they would be able to locate their unblemished ideal of what patriotism means to them, yet others possess one just as unique, but it may likely vary. It becomes too easy to mix symbols in an innocent way, initially not meaning what the symbol represents, but somehow other factors, such as the historical time and place that a society finds themselves in all play out, and must be considered. All of a sudden this innocent little symbol has morphed itself into some kind of ugly beast that is difficult to control, but is everywhere to be found. Society is its own worst enemy, not terror.

Many of America's symbols are exploited in that way today, a person need not wear certain emblems to show their support, we are not in a gang, but a community. Those that impose this militant style of authoritative coercion may only fall victims to their own historical ignorance and lack of objectivity. It is unfortunate that so many people are willing to degrade their own ideal sense of what patriotism means to them, and rather keep it private, and most cherished within their head, they decide to delude themselves by assuming everyone else must be thinking just like them. Many times what these symbols represent, other than their original intent, is some type of allegiance. The symbol can now be used as a tool to show others whether we are "one of them."

These are the nuts and bolts of society that unfortunately can lead down a path of recognition to false liberties. If America was the first secular government ever to be founded in the world, it is time to consider if this nation is morphing once again before our eyes.

Ted Berlstein,






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