Letters to the Editor:

EDITOR'S NOTE: The volume of Letters to the Editor we receive is very high, and we are unable to publish all of them due to time constraints. Following are recent representative letters. Please send your letters to editor@baltimorechronicle.com.

On Economic Injustice

I loved Jason Miller's comments in his article, "Economic Injustice: America's New Leading Export." What struck me most were his comments on 'Big Oil.' As one of the world's most profitable companies, ExxonMobil has the power to move the world toward a more sustainable energy future. Instead, the company has acted consistently to move our country backward on energy policy. Global warming is without a doubt the most serious environmental issue of our time and yet ExxonMobil pays think tanks to create false science to "prove" that global warming is not real. ExxonMobil is also closely tied to the White House. Many people don't know this but ExxonMobil just hired Philip Cooney, who resigned from his position at the White House after it was revealed that he had "edited" government reports on global warming, or was he working for ExxonMobil all along?

The actions we take now to curb global warming will determine the future of our planet, and a large part of the responsibility falls on the US’s shoulders. Home to only five percent of world population, the U.S. is responsible for 25 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. When Oklahoma is beachfront property, consensus regarding global warming will have come too late. We can no longer let our government get away with equivocating over climate change. We must re-engage in the Kyoto Treaty and demands that 20 percent of our energy needs are met with renewable, non CO2-emitting sources of energy by 2020.

Sincerely,
Anne Havemann
Washington, DC 20001
A Slap in the Face of the Confederacy

I cannot argue much of what Jason Miller wrote except this quote:
Slapping the 650,000 black residents of Missouri in the face, Mr. Blunt decided to allow the Confederate flag to fly at a Higginsville, MO historical site in June. While one can argue that the flag has multiple meanings, to most black Americans, and to many others, it is a symbol of hatred. The designer of the flag was a South Carolina Congressman who advocated secession from the Union and was an ardent supporter of slavery, one of the most evil institutions in mankind's history. Just as Bush has little regard for the rights or interests of black Americans (other than social conservatives like Condoleezza Rice or Clarence Thomas), Governor Blunt has shown his lack of concern for this segment of the population. Would slapping the face of the some millions of the citizens of Missouri who agree with flying the flag be preferred? Please try to explain to me why it is all right that the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. Why should their hurt feelings trump the pride in heritage of the majority?
The flag represents to the majority, Southern pride based on their heroic fight against what they perceived to be tyranny against their homes and families. And they turned out to be right. Witness the war against American civilians that the yankee armies did. Witness the atrocities they committed against the civilians. Burned out of homes, watching their loved ones executed for no reason at all, other than to instill terror. You should know what you write of before you make such sweeping false statements.

The Confederate Battle Flag represents to those "many others" that you quoted--bravery, courage, fidelity, honour, self-sacrifice: traits that we demand of our fighting forces today. Therefore, the CBF should represent to everyone these qualities of our armed forces.

Thank you and most cordially,
Jimmy L. Shirley, Jr.
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Confederate Flag Is Not About Slavery

Hey, You're out of touch and you are dead wrong when you make comments about a flag that has a right to fly over Confederate graves. My ancestor fought for the Confederacy and didn't own one slave. You do some research and you might learn something. God Bless Dixie, and I will make my stand and defend her. They were Americans too.
Ken Lewellen
Publishing without Fear

I must admit to being impressed with the ability to publish what people actually think, unedited. I remember when Canada was our staunch ally; perhaps that has changed. I do not believe so, but debate is essential, so here we go.

.....I confess America is not worthy of dominating the world, but as a few have pointed out, we may well have been able. I shall state only a few facts, and that only about navies of the world. The US has 12 full-sized aircraft carriers, 8 always deployed with the surrounding fleet. The US has 18 Ohio class subs, cut to 14 by SALT II (I will not comment on the Virginia class, or other classes). No other country has one. We share most of our technology with the allies, and they share with us. Our biggest concern is that some radical position will be imposed on our own country. Done legally, this is what Jefferson, and to some extent Madison, demanded: that no government become so secure that it supplants the people. (See Bill of Rights.) This is why we have constant elections. (See Constitution and Federalist Papers.)

Now I come up with what your author correctly finds wrong--we lost the Constitution to...less pensive people than those who wrote it. Under the Constitution, there will be no income taxes, but that changed. Under the Constitution, the right of the government to foray into taking control of the people is resoundingly rejected (ergo, Social Security is not constitutional).

I can only consider that Americans do not read or write, and can never understand politics, so of course they follow leaders like pigs with rings in their nose. We have become simply in denial, and in need of government. It's a far cry from what our founders intended, but we are not lost, yet.

Bob Keahey
Bush Administration Rides Again

From the President to Karl Rove and on down the line, the Administration is "gunning-down" the remnants of America's middle class. Apparently, there is little that taxpayers can do about it. Legislation strewn with hidden clauses is taking more money from the majority of Americans and is being applied to satisfy special interests.

Perhaps the only protection for the abused middle class is to take a page from the administration's own safety measures. The middle and poor classes could buy sheets of plastic and rolls of duct tape to wrap around themselves. Being "mummies" in duct tape may be the only form of protection taxpayers will find.

Peter Stern
Driftwood, Texas
Re-inventing Government

One of the ambitious proposals put forth by former Vice-President Al Gore was the "re-invention" of government. While the Clinton Administration may have made some progress towards promoting greater efficiency, the result was that government actually grew in size, mainly because of bureaucratic self-perpetuation. No one in the United States would disagree that the reduction of government waste should be given top priority. However, before tackling such a problem, one must examine the root causes and not merely treat the symptoms.

When our founding fathers wrote the Constitution, they deliberately left out the "structural path" of elective office but were very clear on names of offices, branches of government, duties of elected officials etcetera. However, what they failed to foresee was the need for elective offices to follow a required path. For example, take the leader of the executive branch; if a person wants to be elected president of the United States, that person must first serve as mayor of a city, commissioner of a county and then governor of a state. The two-term limit (eight years) should also be extended to include these lower chief executives as well.

The legislative branch should have a similar path. If one wants to be elected United States senator, they must first serve as a U.S. congressperson from that state. Before serving as a congressperson, they must serve as a councilperson of a city, representative of a state and then as a state senator. The two-term limit should apply here as well.

As for the judicial branch, a United States supreme court justice must serve as a municipal court judge of a city, common pleas court judge of a county, circuit court or district court judge of a state, appeals court judge and state supreme court judge. The two-term limit would apply here also.

Furthermore, the education of these candidates-to-be should entail the equivalent of earning a bachelor's degree, master's degree and a doctorate in philosophy degree. These degrees must be earned prior to running for elective office. Besides providing a focused academic training, it will promote a greater maturity in our candidates before they experience the rigors of their first elective office.

Few could doubt that this path would provide good practical training for those seeking higher office while at the same time establishing a track record that voters could more easily analyze and understand. The two-term limit would allow greater participation because the office would be wide open every eight years. This would force the elected official to properly execute his/her duties and not be as influenced by the various special interest groups.

Government today is often seen as part of the problem rather than a solution to the problem. Perhaps if the United States would consider a path of development for its "philosopher kings," public trust would return and something may actually get done.

Joe Bialek
Cleveland, Ohio
We Cannot Wait for Bush to Withdraw

We cannot wait for the invader George Bush to present a withdrawal plan for obvious reasons. So far even the anti-war movement has produced none. Such a plan is way overdue. Following is the backbone of what I call the Goodwillie Withdrawal Plan. It is called ‘Goodwillie’ because it is based on Goodwill Revolution principles outlined in my recent book, Boycott Money and Save Your Soul--Launching the Goodwill Revolution. So here is the Goodwillie Withdrawal From Iraq Plan.
  1. Withdrawal Plan Conference of Iraqis
    1. Identify leaders for all Iraqi groups including hunted leaders of insurgents to participate in the withdrawal plan conference.
    2. Guarantee the safety of all participants and also utilize video conference techniques to eliminate fears of capture or ambush of participants.
    3. Only Iraqis will participate and no US or coalition countries
    4. Negotiations will be televised live
    5. All decisions must be unanimous
    6. All participants must take a 'Goodwillie' pledge beforehand to work not just for peace but to also create goodwill among all Iraqis.
  2. Withdrawal
    US and Coalition forces and their contractors shall withdraw from Iraq within 3 months of the successful completion of the Conference. Rationale: To expect invaders to receive the trust and confidence of Iraqis is ridiculous.
  3. Interim Peacekeepers
    The conference shall decide on replacement foreign forces as peacekeepers under the UN until Iraq is able to re-establish law and order without outside help. Rationale: To expect invaders to receive the trust and confidence of Iraqis is ridiculous.
  4. Ceasefire
    US and coalition forces will withdraw from Iraq, provided that all Iraqi groups agree to a ceasefire during the 3-month withdrawal period. Rationale: Rebuilding is impossible with suicide bombings and other acts of violence which could torpedo the entire Conference agreement.
  5. Rebuilding and Reconstruction Costs
    US and coalition forces shall pay for the reconstruction of Iraq for the next 10 years an annual amount equal to one half of the cost to keep their troops in Iraq. Rationale: These forces destroyed Iraq and their continued presence would cost twice as much and result in more killings and maimings of their own soldiers and increased ill will.
  6. Amnesty for all
    All provisions outlined above will be contingent on amnesty for all, including insurgents, all war prisoners, and all American soldiers convicted, even those serving time in the US. Rationale: Fair trials will be virtually impossible. The trials themselves will keep the fires of hostilities burning at the expense of rebuilding and reconciliation.
Michael Phillips
How Rove will get away with outing a CIA agent

The Fantastic Four have been at it again. Karl Rove, also known as "The Human Torch," should have been in big trouble after flaming CIA agent Valerie Plame. Exposing a CIA agent is a felony and an act of treason--a crime worthy of Doctor Doom himself. "Not to worry," to paraphrase Rove on this matter. "Nothing will come of it. The storm will pass over. I'll get away with this one too."

And Rove is right. All he has to do is play "Invisible Girl" for a week or two until the press and the bloggers either move on to the next Rove-generated crisis or are accused of not supporting the troops.....

With Bill "Mr. Fantastic" Frist ruling Congress with an iron hand and the Supreme Court presided over by Antonin "The Thing" Scalia, just exactly WHO is going to prosecute Mr. Rove? Not you and me.

Face it, America. Rove OWNS the USA....

Like "The Thing," the Rove administration has also become "a hideously misshapen monster with superhuman strength." You can bet on it--there will be no resignations, no impeachments and no jail time for this fantastic foursome. Why? Because Rove has torched all of our executive, legislative and judicial checks and balances. But setting justice on fire is not Karl Rove's only super-power. While he is busy being invisible, he can also render other objects invisible too--such as our Bill of Rights (not to mention the economy).

Yes, we can expect the Plame incident to go the way of the 9/11 Commission, in-your-face election fraud, Gannongate and Downing Street.

Jane Stillwater
Berkeley, Ca.
jpstillwater.blogspot.com
Needed: Equal Treatment Under Law (Karl Rove vs. Martha Stewart)

God only knows What Federal Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald already knows about the Bush administration’s culpability in outing the CIA agent Valerie Plame/Mrs. Joseph Wilson, but there is already a legal precedent for sending Karl Rove to Federal Prison right now based entirely on facts now known.

That precedent is the Martha Stewart case. Consider this lead paragraph from March 5, 2005 CNN about the Martha Stewart conviction--

"NEW YORK (CNN/Money)--A jury found Martha Stewart guilty Friday on all four counts of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a well-timed stock sale,... " Note what this paragraph does not say anything about insider trading or stock fraud. And regardless of what anyone wants to think about Martha Stewart, she was never found guilty of insider trading.

Martha Stewart served six months in jail for "obstructing justice and lying to a Federal investigator." To re-state this in plain English--Martha Stewart went to jail for lying to a Federal investigator--nothing else. There were no other charges proved against her.

By the logic of the Martha Stewart case, regardless of who leaked, confirmed or even spoke about this information--It is already established that Karl Rove lied during a Federal iinvestigation into a criminal act. In 2003 Mr. Rove declared to Federal agents that he had no information whatsoever regarding newspaper stories that named Joseph Wilson’s wife as an agent of the CIA.

Recent memos from reporter Matt Cooper allege that he and Mr. Rove spoke about this matter at the time of the original event. and Mr. Rove’s attorney (Robert Luskin) has confirmed that memos authenticity by claiming that Mr. Cooper was the source of this information and that Mr. Cooper somehow knew more about the CIA than a top White House insider.

Regardless of how Mr. Rove’s attorney and supporters try to spin this, the fact is that Mr. Rove did not tell the truth to Federal investigators during a criminal investigation—just like Martha Stewart.

You can make what you want of this law, but the law is clear— it is a crime to tell a lie to a Federal agent when being questioned in relation to a criminal investigation.

If Mr. Rove is to be held to the same legal standard as Martha Stewart he can now get six months in jail even if the case came to a screeching halt right this very moment, even if no further information was ever learned regarding this case.

It is already fair to ask if Karl Rove will be helpd the same legal standard as Martha Stewart regarding Federal law. Both are wealthy celebrities who can afford the best legal counsel.

Regardless of what one thinks of Karl Rove or Martha Stewart, the question is already about equal treatment under the law.

Robert Millman
Through the Lookinglass

Cui Bono? The latin phrase for "Who Benefits"? is the first question any good criminal lawyer will ask, and what we, as free-thinking American citizens, should be asking ourselves about the London bombings.

With public opinion turning decisively against the Iraq war and Blair having already announced withdrawal plans for their troops, WHY would Al-Quaida want to stoke anew the fears and rhetoric that would justify continued Occupation? This security failure doesn't make Blair look good, either, so shortly before elections.

Clearly, it is only Bush & Co. who benefits: Distract us from the Downing St Memo , the scandals engulfing him, and Delay, Rove, etc. Re-justify War in the Middle East, and push the "Patriot" Act and the Police State further down our throats to stifle dissent, not to mention bolstering his plummeting popularity through the familiar device of FEAR.

No, my very well-honed political instincts tell me it was probably another FBI or CIA operation, as I believe many of the bombings in Iraq that kill mostly Iraqi civilians and foment division have been.

Sadly, I 've been right about my political instincts for over 40 years now, mostly by going on the assumption that, If YOU can imagine it, THEY have already DONE IT!

It's a very deep and ugly rabbit hole indeed, and we'll need a very bright light.

Bia Winter
Mount Vernon, Maine
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This story was published on August 5, 2005.