"Summit Peaceniks’ meet with U.S. congressional aide | SummitDaily.com

"Summit Peaceniks’ meet with U.S. congressional aide

"Summit Peaceniks' meet with U.S. congressional aide

BRECKENRIDGE – U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell’s senior aide Ricardo LaFore usually sees about three people when he visits his boss’s constituents in Summit, Lake and Park counties.

And they’re usually there to discuss problems they’re having with their Social Security checks – not protesting the possible war with Iraq and promoting peaceful reconciliation instead.

Almost a dozen citizens told LaFore they don’t like that President Bush wants to fight a war against the wishes of the United Nations and European Union, that the United States is increasingly being viewed as a war-

mongering, rogue nation, and that the U.S. wants to go to war only to preserve America’s oil interests.

“We are so stuck in this oil economy,” said Green Party member Doug Malkan. “We’re fighting a war over oil, we’re subsidizing oil; oil is a matter of national security, but it’s bound to drive us into a war.”

Some were concerned about how the U.S. is being perceived worldwide, and the precedent of the president, and not Congress, initiating a war.

“Congress declares war, not the president,” said Ruth Hertzberg of Copper Mountain. “Congress has relinquished its Constitutional duty.”

Others wondered why the United States is planning a war on Iraq, when 17 of the 19 plane hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, were from Saudi Arabia.

“There’s a difference between this and a retaliation for 9-11,” said Tom Castrigno of Frisco. “the spin is, “This isn’t about oil; it’s about revenge, it’s about 9-11.’ Government is perpetrating fear as a rallying cry for attacking Iraq. They do want war, because that’s what they’re being fed.”

“I understand this is a complicated issue,” said Sue Carr-Novotny, who organizes Friday afternoon protests on street corners throughout the county. “But the government is giving the impression that it’s a black and white issue.”

Some questioned the cost of war – not only in dollars, but in lives lost, rebuilding Iraq and maintaining a sustainable society there long after the bombs have exploded.

Malkan and others asked LaFore to tell Campbell to pursue legislation to encourage, the use of alternative fuel, including wind power and hydrogen fuel cells – even if it means implementing tax incentives to get people to switch.

“The technology exists; it’s just not being utilized,” Castrigno said. “Corporate interests prevent this. You’ve probably heard a lot about the influence of corporate money in government.”

Those in attendance pointed out that Colorado could be a leader in alternative energy solutions for the nation and that such industry could provide jobs for the tens of thousands in the state who are unemployed.

Castrigno also urged LaFore to encourage Campbell to vote against oil drilling operations in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

“In the 1970s oil crisis, we lowered the speed limit, we were told to turn the temperature in our houses down 2 degrees,” he said. “Have we hard one word about that from anybody? We have the opportunity to take a leadership role instead of an adversarial role.”

Patricia McNeelege, who survived five downsizings before she was laid off from a high-tech firm in August, said Bush isn’t doing enough to help the unemployed.

“I don’t want unemployment benefits,” she said. “I want a job.”

She was also concerned that mental health issues – and subsequently, funds to help those needing them – aren’t given the same priority as physical health issues.

And others said they supported a payroll tax “holiday” of six to nine months to jumpstart the economy, rather than tax deductions from which few Americans will benefit.

LaFore, who took notes about the comments throughout the one-hour meeting, said he’d update Campbell when he sees him Saturday.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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