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Disturbed in Durango

Dear Editors,

I have spent the past nine months trying desperately to convince my best friend in this world to come down to Durango to live with me my fifth (and final) year of college. I did my best to fill her head with images of a happy little mountain town with a wicked sense of community and responsibility; to describe to her the utter chillness that is Durango, complete with its gorgeous scenery and lovely, socially conscious people. It was a hard sell, seeing as how my best bud has just graduated from college and there’s this whole wide world out there just begging for her to explore it ... alas, my awesome powers of persuasion, coupled with the fact we’ve known each other, been there for each other, since we were wee-uns in high school, did indeed convince her to come kick it down here in D-town for my remaining academic career. Apparently, she’s my best friend for good reasons. This past Saturday, bummin’ around Main Ave., drunk and sloppy, minding our own business, lost in conversation about insignificant and random things, something so lame and undeniably shitty happened, that it made me, for a brief instant, appalled and embarrassed that I could call this here town “home” for so long. Walking on the corner of Main and College, some car filled to the brim with (obviously) cranky and insecure boys screamed “DYKES!” out the window as they passed us.

Ouch and ya know – this is not original. I’ve heard it before, she’s heard it before, any queer, lesbian or bisexual identified chic has heard it before. However, no matter how unoriginal, it never ceases to be a total and utter slap in the face. And maybe, if we were in, oh ... I don’t know, some small-ass, hick town, if we were at a Focus on the Family rally, if we were out to make a statement with picket signs and catchy chants, I would be expecting it. I’d be able to laugh it off, dismiss the whole incident in a bout of rolled eyes and bitchy comments about the surrounding area and how obviously screwed everyone who lived there was. But we weren’t anywhere else. We were here. In Durango. In a place I have come to love, to trust, to believe in as a good and solid location that harbors a basic humanity, a basic respect for fellow human beings.


So, I’m wondering if something happened? If in my nine-month absence traveling in different countries and kickin’ around Denver, some sort of blight of arrogance and closed-mindedness affected the town. It’s makin’ me wonder where do I live? Is theresome evil force lurking, undetected, under a facade of a peace-lovin’-live-and-let-live-cool-kid mountain town?

Man, I hope not, and honestly, I don’t think so. I believe (I have to believe) that this here ugly, sad incident was an isolated one. That those cats, who are so threatened by their own lack of masculinity (true masculinity, the kind of masculinity that, fer sure, will get you laid by righteous, intelligent, badass women) just don’t know how shit’s done here. That they’re just, to put it simply, clueless.

But who knows?

Durango. We’re better than this. So let’s rock it hard and open. Let’s remember everyone’s got blood and breath, cuz honestly, I don’t want my best friend to question my word. Not after I spent so long tryin’ to convince her to come down here because it’s such a chill and friendly place.

Thanks fer listening.

– Kati Harr, Durango

The War in Iraq is not WWII

Dear Editors,

Ken Salazar is a moderate Democrat who, along with John McCain of Arizona and a dozen other senators, has tried to reach across the aisle and find common grounds in the most acrimonious Congress in history. In calling on the administration to fire Donald Rumsfeld, Salazar is not alone in Washington. There are more people all the time questioning how this war was waged.

Donald Rumsfeld has frequently compared the War in Iraq to WWII. He has also said: “You don’t go to war with what you wish you had but the army you have.” In 1940, Roosevelt signed the bill creating America’s first peacetime draft in an election year when America was still trying to stay out of war. At that time, the American Army was smaller than Romania’s army. Rumsfeld has the largest, most powerful military force in history.

America and the allies defeated Germany and Japan in three years and eight months after Pearl Harbor. Five years after 9/11, Rumsfeld is still stalling on a war that more and more people think was a mistake in the first place. If he were more competent, shouldn’t it be over? The administration rushed to war because of alleged imminent threats that Iraq posed. Germany had completely conquered Western Europe except for Great Britain in 1942 and was deep into Russia. Stalingrad stood fast against an overwhelming force and eventually prevailed. The Allies waited more than two years to make the cross-channel, counter invasion (D-Day 6 June 1944) in order to ensure success because it took that long to make all the preparations. The Americans also listened to their allies who were already in great peril and secured North Africa and Italy first. American strategy was fight Germany then Japan, but the American Navy and Marines carried on a very active campaign of “island hopping” to keep Japan in check.

VE Day, 9 May 1945, did precede the victory over Japan after the bombing over Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war in Japan, 2 Sept. 1945.

– James P. Mooney, Durango

Time to dismiss defense secretary

(Editors’ note: The following letter was sent from United States Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., to President Bush last week in response to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s speech before the American Legion.)

Dear Mr. President:

I respectfully ask that you dismiss Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Yesterday the Secretary of Defense claimed that those who criticize the Administration on Iraq suffer from “moral and intellectual confusion.”

I strongly believe that our foremost solemn obligation as a national government is to protect our Nation against the dangers that confront us including the escalation of terrorism around the globe. We should not now, nor ever, shirk away from protecting the people of America. I have no confusion about this principle.

The Secretary of Defense has once again missed the point that the nation stands united in the fight against terrorism. For him to make the statement that those who question the Administration’s efforts on the war are giving in to the terrorists and are suffering from “moral and intellectual confusion” is yet another example of the Secretary’s long trail of mistakes and misjudgments about the American people.

I have boundless respect and admiration for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. They honor all of us with their service. As federal officials we have a solemn responsibility to develop policies worthy of them and the sacrifices that they make on our behalf. They also deserve a Secretary of Defense who is a leader and statesman.

I am deeply disturbed by the recent remarks of the Secretary of Defense. It is a grave insult to suggest that Americans who question Secretary Rumsfeld’s mismanagement of the conflict in Iraq are somehow not fully committed to standing up to terrorism.

The Secretary of Defense has engaged in a long history of misjudgment and incompetence in the Iraq conflict. For example: In 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld indicated that he expected the cost of operations in Iraq to be under $50 billion. To date, the Secretary of Defense requested and received more than $300 billion for the nation’s operations in Iraq, and it is anticipated that the cost will exceed $500 billion. That is a 1,000 percent increase in projections on the cost of the war effort, and a gargantuan error by the Secretary of Defense.

In 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld stated publicly that he doubted the conflict in Iraq would last as long as six months. To date it has lasted 3½ years.

Against this backdrop of missing the mark, Secretary Rumsfeld should admit his huge mistakes and help move forward in developing a success strategy in Iraq and the Middle East. Instead, he has chosen to lash out at his critics in a manner completely devoid of the statesmanship we should require in our Secretary of Defense. It is therefore necessary for new leadership at the Department of Defense during these very difficult and contentious times for our Nation. That requires the resignation of Secretary Rumsfeld and the appointment of a successor who can gain the confidence of the American people.

– Sincerely, Ken Salazar, United States Senator