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The recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating has caused a great deal of hand wringing and consternation. I received this email message from my father: “Standard and Poor’s just lowered our credit rating for the first time in America’s history and it comes under Obama’s watch. You know, I think he’s probably happy. He wants to downgrade America anyway. Ah yes, change!” Needless to say, my father and I have some issues.Standard and Poor’s (S&P) is owned by McGraw Hill. S&P also owns McGraw Hill Education, one of the largest beneficiaries of No Child Left Behind legislation; Platt Energy Information Services, a gas and energy information agency whose biggest client used to be Enron and who has been involved in lawsuits over market manipulation; and J.D. Power and Associates.The CEO of McGraw Hill is Harold McGraw III, also known as Terry. The McGraw and Bush family friendship goes back over three generations to the 1930s. Terry McGraw was one of the first visitors to the White House after President Bush was elected – thus the national No Child Left Behind connection.When the markets crashed in 2008, there was no ratings downgrade threat. In fact, S&P continued to rate all kinds of things AAA for Wall Street. As the Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 2, 2008: An internal email has one S&P staffer writing, regarding an issue, “We should not be rating it.” The email received a reply contending, “We rate every deal. It could be structured by cows and we would rate it.” S&P made billions of dollars from its ratings service.This year the Securities and Exchange Commission was in the midst of a series of proposed rule changes and potential investigations of Standard & Poor’s role in the economic collapse. The Coburn-Levin Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report April 13 saying the credit ratings agencies were a “key cause” of the financial crisis. The subcommittee recommended the SEC use its authority to “hold credit ratings agencies accountable in civil lawsuits for inflated credit ratings.” I say hold them accountable for our deflated credit rating. Dare I say conspiracy?Craig S. ChisesiRifle

I am another American concerned with the direction our country is heading. I am concerned that it is the direction chosen by the Tea Party. We are being led by these true believers to the brink of further economic collapse through fear, greed and ignorance.Examination of the full spectrum of political and economic opinion shows clearly that the major immediate threat to the American economy is unemployment. The federal deficit, indeed an massive problem, is of secondary importance. Both problems will take years of work to bring under control.Seventy percent of our economy is consumer-based. The unemployed, the underemployed and those fearful of joining them have tightened their purse strings. Large corporations are sitting on record amounts of cash, waiting for increased demand so they can justify increased hiring and expanded production of goods and services. Massive cuts in federal expenditures in the current economy, in the opinion of most reputable living economists, is a recipe for a snail-like recovery or even a double-dip recession.The recent debt-ceiling hostage crisis, manufactured because of extreme conservative ideology, has endangered the well-being of the middle and lower economic classes. The Republican Party remains hostage to the extreme elements, as evidenced by the members chosen to represent it in the Group of 12. The Republican presidential candidates continue to cater to the Tea Party hard-liners.Independent, thinking voters hold the key to American economic recovery. They must choose wisely in 2012 to prevent a return to the policies which led to the collapse and to correct conditions leading to unfair economic disparities.David SchroederNew Castle

We the people are often influenced by nomenclature, which often determines our first impressions. Consequently, it’s important whether the newly established congressional coalition be referred to as the Super Committee or as the Gang of Twelve. Since our always objective, fair and balanced national media haven’t yet decided for us what term we should use, I get to make my own choice.In reviewing the credentials of the chosen 12, it’s certainly a stretch to associate the word “super” with any of them, regardless of party affiliation. Therefore, I suggest that the “gang” reference is most appropriate. According to Wikipedia, gang often carries a “negative connotation defining itself in opposition to mainstream norms, as a statement of identity or defiance.” Let’s face it, these political pundits have a very common alliance. Whatever they do, it’s all about them rather than about us.We the people, who have been around long enough, know that these committees merely create hope (and change?) rather than produce results.To their advantage, we have no fond expectations regarding their task. Like other congressional committees, they will accomplish nothing of immediate value, but merely prolong the dire problems of our nation’s economy. I question the compatibility of this group. Using ratings of zero to 100 from the American Conservative Union indicates that gridlock can be expected. The Democrat ratings range from 2 to 14, while the Republicans range from 72 to 96. Does that raise much hope for agreement or compromise?We certainly deserve some positive, productive results from our elected representative in Washington, but I for one do not expect anything worthwhile from just another committee.Richard DoranParachute



I am not sure that anyone who is not a native to the Roaring Fork area has any right to decide that one of the peaks on Mount Sopris needs to be named John Denver. J.P. McDaniel claims to have 3,000 signatures. Which street corner in Carbondale did she stand on to get those signatures? How long did it take her to get them? I don’t remember hearing anything about her trying to do this. I guess I could take time to put together a batch of clipboards at each and every business in Carbondale and or the Roaring Fork Valley to put a stop to this nonsense. What a waste of energy and time to try and change something that you are not even associated with. I suggest that if Ms. McDaniel has that much time and energy, she devote it to getting Congress to agree on a balanced budget that all of us can live with. That’s better time spent than deciding that a peak that John Denver was never associated with needs to be named. I was asked to write this letter for many people who live in Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley. Please, everyone, write a letter, even if it’s only two lines, saying you are against the name change and send it.If these people have 3,000 signatures to add the name of John Denver to a peak known as Mount Sopris, then I want to see the list of names and addresses and so do the Perrys and several others here in Carbondale.Jane SpauldingCarbondale

Yes, we want two chickens in every pot. We have to be deeply concerned about the economic future of our country. The economy will get most of the attention in this coming year due to Obama’s dismal failure to understand that socialism is not the answer to a financial crisis; it just adds to it. Making wild promises is not the answer. That simply creates bigger government, which is part of our current problem. Our government can barely fund itself any longer. Private sector jobs have increased by 1 percent while government jobs have grown 15 percent. Now, aside from the economy, are other critical issues, which are largely ignored by the media. It is a shame that President Obama will likely not be held accountable for his radical and arbitrary family policies; policies that affect marriage, our armed forces, rights of the unborn. He has never hidden his disdain for Christianity. It was Obama who cancelled our National Day of Prayer and later hosted a prayer day for Muslims in Washington, D.C. Does anybody care that Obama joined with Mexico in filing a lawsuit against the state of Arizona for wanting to protect its own citizens? What has happened to right and wrong? Where are we going with our personal and social values? When the social structure of a country is torn down, when values are dismissed, that country is subject to destruction. Check your priorities.Carol Abbott Parachute



THEN”First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”Martin NiemllerAND NOWThey took over Congress and the presidency, but I didn’t speak outMy life stayed relatively the sameAnd they fought pure air and pure water regulationsSaying it was good for business,And again I didn’t speak out loudly enoughAnd they blamed each otherAnd they blamed the poorAnd they conducted wars to protect their own interests,And my family personally suffered,And we spoke of peace and love and no-war,But not loudly enough.And they continued in their game.And we lost rights, and vision and sight of the truth,We tried to make changes, knowing something was wrong,That big business and big government were one and the sameThe one in charge was named $,But we were fragmented,For our every move they had three,And then one day they told usCheckmate.Rick DavisGlenwood Springs


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