Major Boo-Boo

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I enjoyed learning about the Strategic Downtown Outreach Team [Feature: “The Exiles Among Us,” Oct. 19-25]. I’d love to see this program expanded throughout the city. I hope I can eventually meet this fine group of civilians and police officers. I want to thank them for what they do, and let them know they are making a difference, and how I know the feeling of "another victory.” If more of this city would band together, we would see more and more miracles every day.

I have a great deal of respect for the people working on this team. Even they know that with the lack of services in this community, sometimes all we can offer is a humane "band-aid" approach. I have certainly experienced the lack of resources that often result in that type of approach, and it’s damned frustrating at times. Always rewarding though. Thanks again for being there for this city’s homeless.

The reason we are so often stuck with that "band-aid" approach to the enormous problems involved in working with the homeless is because it is an approach perpetrated by hatred, apathy and indifference, not only by much of the public, but also from those in power, our city councilors and our mayor.

At 9:30 p.m. I was tired. I’ve been physically ill for sometime now. My heart was breaking. I was mad. Mad at the lack of participation. The young people I have worked with were for the most part afraid to come and join us this time.

They remember what happened to me in 2003. They remember how the system and society have abused them. They remember how their rights are violated on almost a daily basis.

I want to apologize for getting so emotional and by no means meant to attack anyone who was not there. Illness, frustration and fear that I will not live to see a difference in the homeless youth population that I—that Youth in Transition—have strived and struggled to serve for over 11 years caused me to let my anger overtake me for a minute.

The arrest and pending trial will hopefully give a forum to publically expose the problem of homelessness in general and the trend toward violation of our First Amendment rights in this city. It was not as simple as the criminal complaint read. I didn’t want to be arrested to prove a point. I was given no other choice. I was told there was nowhere we could go to continue to exercise our rights, to demonstrate. “Move along but there’s no place for you to move along to.” A dilemma the homeless frequently suffer. Thank you, Marisa, for your fair and good coverage.

But I’m still angry. I will probably remain angry until our homeless street youth have what they need.

“The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it is not angry enough."—Bede Jarrett,
The House of Gold

Lacking A Pitcher

Reader Frank Cullen raises some valid points about the Iraq war in his letter [“Super Smear,” Oct. 19-25]. However, his criticism of George Bush or any president for sending troops into battle when he and his civilian leaders haven’t seen combat themselves just doesn’t hold water. Our country has produced distinguished wartime presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt who never served in combat. By contrast, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson both had military experience in World War II but committed us to the disastrous Vietnam War that cost 58,000 lives and was unwinnable in part because of the political constraints they imposed.

I was in Vietnam myself for 18 months, mostly with the First Infantry Division, but never got hung up on the idea that everyone else in my chain of command had to have the same experience to do his job. Altogether different skill sets are needed for a successful president or senior civilian official than for a successful company commander. A president’s personal combat experience (or lack thereof) from decades earlier has no bearing on his success as a wartime leader.

The fact is the president has at his elbow the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military officers with decades of combat experience that far surpasses the breadth and depth and relevance of anything a president or anyone else could accumulate by himself. Of course, it’s another matter as to whether an administration actually listens to the advice of its military experts, but any president who relies on his own narrow and outdated combat experience for vision in handling a modern war is in for a train wreck.

Eating Albuquerque

This is the second year in a row that I have been in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta and to visit a friend. I was thus pleased to read your “Best of Burque: Restaurants” issue and eat at many new places. Because I am from San Francisco, I have no vote as to readers’ choice but was surprised that my favorite place in town was not listed. I would not leave for home without stocking up on the totally unique and delicious green chile bread from the Golden Crown Panaderia on Mountain and 11 th Street NW. My friends would kill me if I came home empty-handed. And the pizza, made on whole wheat peasant dough or the signature green chile crust, is the freshest and best I have had anywhere in the world. Please share my excitement and thanks for being a cool part of my annual outing. Cheers!

No Crime Here

It seems that Mr. Fox in his letter [“Vagrant Park,” Oct. 12-18] is mixing up two very different groups of people: homeless people and criminals. This is akin to the old misperception of confusing criminals and people with mental disorders. Why criminals, who presumably have money from crime, would be frequenting a soup kitchen when they could be eating elsewhere is beyond my understanding. I do agree with Mr. Fox that there may be better ways of helping Albuquerque’s homeless families and individuals. However, being homeless is a catastrophe, not a crime, and victims of a catastrophe should not be punished as if they were criminal.

Medical Advice From The Don

If you go to medical doctors and if you are ever diagnosed with cancer or any other life-threatening disease, ask your medical doctor these three questions:

1) Approximately how long do you think I have to live if I follow all your advice?

2) Approximately how long do you think I have to live if I do nothing at all?

3) What are all the side effects if I follow your advice?

Insist that your medical doctor write down for you the answers to all three questions. Insist that he or she sign it and date it and give it to you.

If your doctor refuses to do so, immediately stop going to that doctor! Take charge of your life and health.

I aim never to go to medical doctors the rest of my life. I have had no medical insurance for over 15 years and I do not want any. Now at age 60 I am in better health than I was at 21. Every day I practice a strong health discipline to prevent and heal disease naturally.

Stand And Fight

In his letter [“True Cowards,” Oct. 5-11], Mr. Mike Hendricks states, “A high percentage of Democrats are unwilling to stand and fight, if need be, for those freedoms.”

This is not true. Many of us—a great many of us—have, in fact, stood and fought for the freedoms “we enjoy in America … and that will always come at a price,” as Mr. Hendricks so aptly puts it. We have done so in Afghanistan, Iraq, the First Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea and World War II. I am one of them.

It is, indeed, important (as Mr. Hendricks asserts) that: “we never forget the freedoms enjoyed within other countries by their citizens will always come at a price.” We veterans, who are also Democrats, have never doubted this concept. We have, in fact, lived by it—some have died by it. Others—Democrats as well as Republicans and Independents—carry life-long, crippling wounds—because we hold this concept sacred just like Mr. Hendricks.

We do not question President Bush’s, Vice President Cheney’s or Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s commitment to fighting terrorism. Also, we believe the respect they show in public for members of the armed forces and veterans is sincere. I, for one, have never doubted it. This does not mean, in and of itself, however, that their planning and execution of the war has always been competent. It has not, and I will say so. We will say so.

Keep in mind, Mr. Hendricks, it is not only Democrats disillusioned with operations in Iraq. There is dissent within the Republican Party and among conservatives over the war in Iraq and other issues. Ted Galen and Charles Pena, both of the CATO Institute, have been critical of the president on Iraq, as has Scott McConnell, writer for the magazine
The American Conservative . George Will has not hesitated to express his doubts either; and Pat Buchanan has publicly disagreed with President Bush not only on Iraq but on trade, immigration and the deficit. Are these men “true cowards” too? I don’t think so. Neither do you.

What I am saying to you, Mr. Hendricks, is that unhappiness with the current administration is not unique to Democrats. I firmly believe President Bush is not above criticism in the wake of the World Trade Center attack on 9/11—and neither do your fellow Republicans or conservatives. This does not make them disloyal to their country or their party, nor does it make Democrats disloyal to theirs. Nor does it make any of us cowards.

It takes courage, in fact, to speak out—especially knowing one will be falsely labeled a coward. Although I do not always agree with Democrats—or Republicans either, for that matter—who blatantly accuse Mr. Bush/Cheny/Rumsfeld of outright lying, I do believe the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was ill-conceived, ill-planned and badly executed. And I will say so publicly, Mr. Hendricks, regardless of what you say about me.


CORRECTION: In last week’s feature, "The Exiles Among Us," Kate Schneier of New Mexico AIDS Services, not Wil Wroda, gave clean needles to a man in Robinson Park. The Alibi regrets the error.

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.

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