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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.

Use DNA Testing Whenever Possible
Editor:

Thanks to the Florida Innocence Project, James Bain was recently released from prison after serving 35 years for a terrible crime that he didn't commit. So far, over 240 people, in our country have been exonerated by DNA evidence.

Congress should pass a law that states that in all cases where DNA evidence exists, any prisoner accused of murder or rape who claims to be innocent should immediately have that DNA evidence tested to see if they are really guilty or innocent. Right now, some judges and district attorneys have the power to block innocent prisoners from gaining their freedom. That is wrong.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Time to Quell Excessive Power of Credit Bureaus
Editor:

During the past several decades in the U.S. , three credit bureaus have become so powerful that they can make or break American lives.

They are Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Any one of them has the capability of causing many sleepless nights of worry for American citizens. On many levels they rival the power and control efforts of the dreaded IRS.

While within minutes any credit company may provide the bureaus with negative financial information or comments on a person that can stay on an individual's credit report for up to 10 years, it may take years for an individual to get an incorrect negative documentation corrected and/or removed.

The god-like power wielded by "the big three" recently caused a woman to be determined unacceptable for a residential mortgage because the bureaus recognized her as being dead. Based on the misinformation provided by the credit bureaus, she was refused a mortgage.

The credit bureaus also may even determine whether a prospective employer will hire you, based on your financial credit report. Why should a person's financial status determine whether he or she is eligible to be hired for a job? Financial hardship should not be the reason not to hire a prospective employee.

It is absurd and unconscionable that entities with such little oversight have such immense power over the financial lives of American citizens. It is time to diminish the extent of that power in the best interests of, and in furtherance of the personal rights of, American citizens.

Peter Stern
Driftwood, Texas
On Obama's "Hesitancy" on Afghanistan
Editor:

An AP article yesterday stated that Obama's hesitancy on Afghan war build-up implies weakness. I wish world leaders had more of that kind of weakness. Clearly, President Obama does not want to send soldiers into harm’s way without a clear goal, a solid plan, and an exit strategy, three aspects sorely missing from President Bush’s military ventures. I know that we Americans are used to Presidents that play cowboy, that say things like “Bring ‘em on” and “Mission Accomplished" without a second thought, Presidents who send Americans into battle on falsified weapons reports. But it seems like our current President understands that you don’t send soldiers into battle without first nailing down what we’re supposed to be doing, and why. So hats off to Obama’s “hesitation.” Soldiers are human beings, not chess pieces. It’s about time we get a President who understands that.

Mark Spivey
Obama And Afghanistan
Editor:

Afghanistan, Afghanistan, what’s a President to do? All his options are bad ones. Raise the troop levels and give the Taliban a run for its money? For what? To support a corrupt aristocracy? Bad idea. So should he keep the troop levels the same? That just places the soldiers already there in harm’s way, and for no good purpose whatsoever. So should Obama withdraw? Then after the Taliban win, Al Qaeda will be free set up shop and plot. You can be sure that Obama will be blamed for anything they do, and called a coward for running away from a fight. The people taunting Obama will be the same crowd currently faulting him for supporting a nation that won’t lift a finger to help itself.

It’s clear why the Republicans sent up Mr. Three Time Loser and Lipstick Queen into that Dog-of-a-Fight in 2008. The winner gets to drown cleaning up various Bush-era quagmires, while everyone else stands aside and watches the funny President wave his arms and pitch pails of water over the side.

Janet Leigh
Let's Have First American Representation
Editor:

I would like to commend President Obama for meeting with over 500 leaders of American Indian tribes. But I would like to know why he hasn't appointed at least one American Indian to be an ambassador, federal judge, or cabinet official. Also, in the entire history of the United States, no American Indian has been appointed to the Supreme Court.

Even today, there are treaties that the federal government has made with Indian Tribes that still haven't been upheld. What a shame. Our ''nation of immigrants'' should make sure that the ''First Americans'' have more representation in the federal government.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
China Should Get No Respect for its Human Rights Record
Editor:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently gave the Dalai Lama a human rights award. President Obama was nowhere in sight. Many of the President's critics rightly accuse Obama of ''kowtowing '' to the authoritarian Chinese regime. Apparently he won't meet with the Dalai Lama until after he meets with Hu Jintao, the '' President '' of the Chinese regime.

I don't understand why the President and Congress won't stand up to China. China is a brutal dictatorship. They still allow child and forced prison labor. They still use forced abortions and sterilizations. They don't allow freedoms of speech, press or religion, or the rights to petition or peacefully assemble. Some of the people who stand up to the dictatorship are tortured and executed. And please don't forget the Tianamen Square Massacre.

It is official: China is a superpower and ''our'' federal government has decided that appeasement of dictatorships is better than democracy and human rights. The U.S. doesn't support independence for Tibet, democracy for China, or self-determination for Taiwan. Supporting Communist China isn't ''change."

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Repeal the Entire Patriot Act
Editor:

President Obama wants Congress to extend parts of The Patriot Act that are about to expire. I think that the entire Patriot Act should be repealed.

George Bush and most, if not all, of the members of Congress who made this law didn't even read it. Many Americans don't know how many rights we lose with this act.

One provision gives government agents the power to enter your home, or business, without a warrant. They can then search and plant wiretaps. Then there are roving wiretaps. And don't forget they can still copy your medical, financial, and library records.

The ''Founding Fathers'' would have opposed the Patriot Act. Benjamin Franklin once said,''They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary security, deserve neihter liberty nor security'."

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Obama and the Indoctrination of Children
Editor:

So let’s get this straight. Obama’s predecessor took America to war under false pretense, citing “weapons of mass destruction” that everyone agrees did not exist, and today’s Republicans don’t want Obama addressing children because of “indoctrination?” Our previous president preached war against Iraq to anyone who would listen, children, adults, young and old, making us partners in his blunder, and the Republicans dare talk of keeping their children safe from Obama’s ideas? What are Obama’s ideas? That the government can be an active partner in change, rather than a nuisance. And this notion is suppose to be bad? The Republican Party seems determined to be “against” everything Democratic.

John F. Stott
Corporations Should Not Be Allowed to Support Politicians
Editor:

I don't think that companies, unions, or any other corporations should be allowed to contribute money to political parties or candidates. Unfortunately the Supreme Court may eliminate campaign spending limits on corporations sometime this week. Corporations shouldn't be allowed to buy elections.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Legal System's Strange Priorities
Editor:

Bravo! The brave State Prosecutor, Robert A. Rohrbaugh, has nailed a terrible criminal. The prosecution of John Paterakis for a minor campaign donation infraction certainly must rank up there with the jailing of Al Capone, the ambush of Bonnie and Clyde, the Watergate caper and other high-profile criminal prosecution successes.

Why should a man who has spent millions of his own dollars to support charitable activities, provide buildings for underprivileged children, and other varied good works get a pass in such a horrible crime as a mistake in giving too much money ($6,000) in a campaign donation to a local politician.

Certainly there must be plenty of violent criminals, gangs, murderers, drug dealers and the like for the brave State Prosecutor to go after. Or could it be that he prefers the front page attention of harassing a high-profile citizen like John Paterakis?

No wonder crime is so prevalent in the United States, with misguided prosecutors like Robert Rohrbaugh on the job. How many violent criminals got off because Mr. Rohrbaugh was spending his time trying to nail John Paterakis?

I’ll tell you what Mr. Rohrbaugh—I’ll take John Paterakis as a neighbor and you can have the Bloods and MS-13 for your friends.

Robert N. Cadwalader
Linthicum, MD
A Little Respect for Washington
Editor:

I remember years ago, during Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign for California Governor, proponents used to say how nice it would be to have a “powerhouse” in office, a hero who could get things done. I used to chuckle at the way they confused the movie character with the man, as if the new Governor could use his laser gun to vanquish a roomful of Democrats. Clearly, in 2008, we Democrats had the same problem, electing Obama the Hero, Obama the Man of History. A few months later, none of our fantasies has been realized.

It’s amazing how deeply we Americans disdain the political process in Washington, the gradual gathering of support for a plan of action, the slow work of building consensus, the need to appear evenhanded and fair while at the same time, trying to expedite a Bill that can actually get passed. National reform is painstaking, very un-sexy, and you don’t get to say “Go ahead, make my day” very often. Honestly, the process should be tedious, unless a President wants to arrest his opponents in the middle of the night and make them disappear. This is why I always chuckle when friends complain about the snail’s pace of politics. I’m thinking, “Be careful what you wish for.”

To achieve national reform, a sitting President must deploy a mixture of sticks and carrots, of fear and friendship, must selectively extend the promise of support or the threat of opposition to more than five hundred elected individuals who don’t see the world the way he does. If he steps over his opponents, he’s accused of bullying and risks alienating their supporters. If he’s too conciliatory, his allies accuse him of watering down reform to the point that there’s nothing left.

Obama wants health reform. Everyone except Republican leadership wants health reform, but the President pretty much has to build it one congressman at a time. It’s no wonder that during the early 1930’s there were calls for FDR to deploy temporary dictatorial powers. Of course, there are those who claim FDR did just that. But then, there are many more who say FDR didn’t nearly go far enough chasing out the fat cats, and that his failure to do so led to the current crisis that is costing us 1.5 trillion and counting.

The best Obama can do is make a clear case for a public health insurance option. He can then hope that people tune in and listen to the facts. His allies say that it’s time the President practiced a bit of arm twisting, cracked the whip, and instilled some serious party loyalty. They’ll point out that the Bush-led White House did not brook dissent from rank and file Republicans. I’d respond that if Obama were a Republican, he’d have vilified his opponents months ago, calling them unpatriotic, immoral, a threat to national security, and associating them with terrorists. That’s not his style, and it never will be.

Remember the movie “Billy Jack?” Where actor Tom Laughlin karate-chopped a whole restaurant full of racists after screaming, “I just go berserk.”? Well, we don’t have one of those. We just have this President who expresses himself quite well, and hopes people listen. Will that be enough? We’ll see.

Mike Platz
No Death Squads
Editor:

President Obama ran on the idea of change. But it appears that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Obama administration recently renewed a contract with the North Carolina company Blackwater USA [Xe] even though the company is banned from operating in Iraq. This comes after it was revealed that the C.I.A, wanted Blackwater to evolve into a ''death squad." Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, there is a security company called Armor Group [Wackenhut] that has been making some news, but that is another letter.

The United States government should never employ death squads.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
The Obama Administration Wants To Compromise—But Why?
Editor:

I hear the Obama Administration talk of getting a health bill passed by compromise. Maybe the so-called public option can be used as a bargaining chip to bring The Republicans to the table. So what do the Republicans say? That Obama is not a U.S. citizen, and has no right to be President, that his plans are socialist and contain death panels, and that they hope the Obama Presidency fails. I cannot think of a single nice thing that a Republican congressmember has ever said about Obama or his plans. Not a one. Can you? Where does Obama get the idea that Republicans want to work with him? They clearly don’t want to.

Jen Park
Republicans and Health Care Reform: It's About Being Willing to Share
Editor:

As one listens to the Republican anger over health care reform, one can imagine an anti-government protester cheerfully paying premiums on insurance policies that cancel you for making a claim, or happily sauntering out of an emergency room that denied them treatment because of a coverage problem. One can imagine a town-hall sign-waver enthusiastically forking over most of their pay to bill collectors after suffering a catastrophic injury, thinking, “Wow, the free market system is great.”

No, Republicans are just as affected by health care inequities as anyone else, especially the working class Republicans who show up armed and dangerous at America’s town hall meetings on the topic. The accounts of denial of health care that were a part of last year’s campaign? It wasn’t only Democrats who talked of losing loved ones due to the shenanigans of insurance companies. Republicans, too, cried real tears at the injustices.

So what’s this all about then? The down-with-government shrieking at the town hall meetings, the gun-toting visits to Obama events, the insistence that Obama’s health care reform is inspired by the devil himself? It’s about shock. The shock of no longer being in power. Every President since JFK has been either conservative or a Southerner. Every single one. These folks have had it their way for decades. And they don’t want to share.

Gloria Elle
We Need Government Healthcare
Editor:

The wingnut scream machine is yelling, "no socialized medicine," trying to scare us with the specter of faceless government bureaucrats deciding our healthcare. Yup, that's scary, but what is far worse is the current situation of faceless corporate bureaucrats deciding our healthcare. Why? Because private health insurance corporations make their profit by NOT giving us the healthcare that we need.

President Obama's health care reform gives us the choice of private corporation or public government health insurance. Without the public option, we're stuck with good healthcare for the rich, lousy healthcare for the middle, and no healthcare for 45 million people with little money or pre-existing conditions.

As government employees, public option bureaucrats are ultimately responsible to us, the people, not to profiteers, for providing healthcare service.

Bruce Joffe
Piedmont, Calif.
Obama's Economic Policy Choices
Editor:

Coming into office, Obama had three choices for handling the economy. First, he could have cut taxes and began talking upbeat even as the economy worsened, hoping that the market alone would sort things out. Ex-President Bush did this, and it didn’t work. The second option would have been to design a stimulus package geared especially towards troubled industries and sectors. This would have prompted accusations that Obama was favoring traditionally Democratic strongholds and ignoring the rest of the nation. Obama chose a third option, which was to design a stimulus package that gave a small lift to everyone, some aid to troubled sectors, and some aid to economies that were not on the ropes. This option gives the President the least political payoff, because even now that the economy is improving, it’s hard to prove that the stimulus had much to do with it. The Republicans claim without evidence that the economy would have improved without the President’s big spending, and since we have no crystal ball to view alternative outcomes, no one can be sure. So as the economy improves, watch for the Republicans to turn up the volume on this claim.

Lars Deerman
Lendman and the dirty truth about Israel
Editor:

It was with a great feeling of hope and gratitude that I read the article you chose to publish by Stephen Landman concerning Israel's hideous and apartheid land laws. As a Jew, born and bred on the slow zionist drip of chicken soup, I have had to have the cold hard facts thrown in my face repeatedly to undo the disneyfied image of the "democracy" that is Israel, that she is a "flower in the dessert," our "ally" in the middle east. It is the kind of information that Lendman reports, the truth and it is ugly, that we must confront and we must weigh in our response to Israel. The tragic thing is that he leaves out a great deal of what is deeply horrific in Israel's anti-Palestinian policy.

Wtih deep gratitude that the truth is being told.

Miriam Cherkes-Julkowski
Ocean Grove, NJ
Guess who's indirectly paying for Israel's land theft?
Editor:

You are to be applauded for publishing Stephen Lendman’s careful and hard-hitting article, “Israel’s Discriminatory Land Policies.” Such description of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians rarely appears in the US press. Traditionally the Hebrew press and academia has been far more open about the brutality with which the Jewish state was established and with which it continues its expansionism. Lendman might have added that every contribution of Americans to the Jewish National Fund, the legal overseer of all the land stolen from the Palestinians, is tax-exempt. This means—given exemptions must be compensated for by increases in overall taxes—that we Americans pay for those donations. We also contribute $3 billion a year of our taxes to Israel, the US’s largest recipient of foreign aid.

Ellen Cantarow
Medford, Mass.
The Ideal America
Editor:

No American government should allow torture, assassinations, kidnapping,overthrowing democratically elected governments, or domestic spying on innocent Americans that haven't broken the law. Some people think our government should participate in these actions under certain circumstances.

Just because the ''bad guys'' do [or try to do] these bad things doesn't mean that the ''good guys'' should stoop to their level. We should have a government that supports democracy, human rights, and civil liberties at home and abroad.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
The Death of Robert McNamara
Editor:

Robert McNamara has died, and some might be surprised at the vitriol surrounding him. What’s he done that made so many people so mad? He was the “Architect of the Vietnam war.” So what’s that mean? He was the originator of the idea that the Viet Cong only had so many people and resources to draw from, and if America continued to bomb them relentlessly, eventually, all the VC will die and the North will have to surrender. He reduced the war to numbers, and ignored factors such as motivation and national pride.

Then, as head of the International Monetary Fund, McNamara originated the idea that nations who borrow money from the United Nations must submit to the most draconian economic policies, or be denied loans. For example, nations receiving IMF funds must slash or eliminate social spending. Again, he was a numbers guy, asserting that such factors as national well-being could be reduced to fiscal prudence.

But the man lived long. Before any of this, McNamara was the President of the Ford Motor Company, and gave the world a car that would last. And last and last. He was the architect of the Ford Falcon. Like the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart, the Falcon was based on the idea that people will buy a car that will never die. Ah, but he forgot the numbers. Yes, they’ll buy it, but they’ll buy it once. He forgot planned obsolescence. Perhaps having committed such a blunder as to give the world a truly reliable car, he decided to make up for his good deed by destroying nations.

Gloria Elle
We're All in this Mess Together
Editor:

I, too, am concerned about the government spending that has been protested by some. But we cannot allow our nation to continue down its dangerous economic decline. As an American, I cannot in good conscience sit back while my fellow Americans lose their jobs, their homes, their health care, and their lives. The "I've got mine, the heck with you" approach is wrong. And if we allow ourselves to have that attitude, it will eventually harm all of us. The greatest threat to us is selfish cynicism.

We tried it the George W. Bush way, allowing corporations to take increasing power with decreasing accountability. And we have reaped what they sowed. Do we want to go through that all over again? Now we are taking responsibility for and paying for the consequences of those mistakes. And hopefully, for our country's sake, we are learning from those mistakes.

We are not simply a bunch of disconnected individuals. We are a nation—the United States of America. We are proud to be Americans who work for and depend upon the well-being of each other.

Doug Long
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
The wrong target
Editor:
Re: "Cheney signs deal to write his memoirs," June 24.

So Cheney is joining Bush in writing his memoirs. These two former draft-dodgers, who lied to start a war for personal reasons and material gain, have never been asked one single question by our so-called representatives pertaining to their crime, shamefully leaving that particular task to Cindy Sheehan. Absent any kind of trial or even inquiry into the decisions that they made, they can now re-write history to suit themselves, without fear of rebuttal by witnesses who are ready and available to testify against them. Meanwhile, our current president, who has never once made reference to the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians killed in Bush’s war (and has in fact effectively absolved him of them), says that he is "appalled and outraged" by the handful of deaths of demonstrators in Iran. Regrettable though those deaths are, his outrage is misdirected. He should leave Iran to the Iranians and seek justice right here, beginning with Bush and Cheney. After all, we are still ahead of Iran in stolen elections, by a score of 2-1.

R. G. Wheeler
Lealman, FL
The Election Crisis in Iran
Editor:

As a citizen of and believer in democracy, I applaud the efforts of Mir Hossein Mousavi. His efforts are similar to what former vice-president Al Gore should have done during the controversy surrounding the United States presidential election of 2000. Gore should have continued to protest regardless of the political risks until all the votes were counted in Florida. Instead, former president George W. Bush was appointed by the United States Supreme Court to effectively overturn the will of the people, and look at what has happened to the United States in the last eight years.

Believe it or not, one thing that trumps capitalism and political correctness in the United States is the right to have one's vote counted. This is the foundation on which our democracy is built. Mousavi should continue to defy Iran's powerful security forces so that Iranian democracy can be preserved. It is not the reformist movement that is attempting to seize power, but rather it is those currently in power who have engaged in fraud to prevent the will of the people from being heard. Why else would they stoop to such underhanded tactics to block various means of communication among the citizens of Iran? Why is the government in power utilizing such political strong-arm tactics as the use of violence and false arrest? Why are international journalists being told they should prepare to leave the country? Why would Mahmoud Ahmadinejad leave the country en route to Russia a day earlier than expected? The world knows he can run but he can't hide from the truth.

The United Nations must be allowed into Iran to monitor this situation up to and including a new election. During the new election, let the call must go forth among all citizens of Iran that your brothers and sisters of democracy from all over the world are with you during every trial and tribulation you may encounter during this crisis. To the people of Iran, the trumpet of freedom beckons you to rise in protest and ensure your vote to preserve your sacred heritage, promote your children's future and obtain the blessings of liberty we all cherish.

Joe Bialek
Cleveland, Ohio
Doing the Right Thing
Editor:

The U.S. Senate did the right thing by passing a resolution apologizing for slavery and ''Jim Crow'' laws. The House of Representatives passed a similar resolution last year. I think the Supreme Court should also issue an apology. Slavery should never have been constitutional in the first place.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
We Need Transparency, Not Hypocrisy
Editor:

Well, so much for transparency and change. In the last couple of weeks, President Barack Obama has decided to keep military tribunals, to oppose prosecution for government employees who committed torture, and to fight the release of photos that obviously show the abuse of detainees by American soldiers. And maybe the prison at Guantanamo Bay won't be closed after all. I want transparency and change, not hypocrisy and the status quo. Human rights and civil liberties shouldn't be put on "the back burner."

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Partisan ignorance on display
Editor:

One letter writer to the St. Petersburg Times on May 19 ends his rant by stating that the office of the president of the United States "deserves respect."

Even when it was held by an ineligible—and therefore illegitimate—thrice-convicted drunk driver who had the office stolen for him twice? Who was the only president in history to be a self-confessed drunk at the age of forty? Who never did a day’s work in his life and owed every position he ever held to his father and his father’s influential friends? Who ignored every congressional edict that he didn’t like, by means of a ‘signing statement’? Who tried to destroy what he and his kind look upon as chump change and greens fees, but what millions of retired American workers are totally dependent upon, Social Security? Who was the only sitting president in history to be persona non grata at his own party’s convention, the party of which he was leader? Who told his staff to ignore subpoenas from congressional committees investigating criminal activity at the White House? Who stands alone in history as the source of a 365-day tear-off calendar with a verbal gaffe on every page? Who actually said “The trouble with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur” and “The majority of our imports come from overseas?” Who played a major part in the collapse of the entire world financial system, with his de-regulatory, banker-friendly, rich-rewarding fiscal policies? Who shares with Hitler the distinction of being the only heads of state in history whose departures led to people dancing in the streets in countries all around the world? And last but definitely not least, who lied to start a war for personal reasons leading to massive loss of human lives?

Anybody calling for "respect" for a record like that is living in a right-wing dream world. Maureen Dowd has more integrity and intelligence in her little finger than Bush has in his whole sorry, draft-dodging body, and if being referred to as ‘W’ is the only indignity he suffers, he can consider himself lucky.

R. G. Wheeler
Lealman, Florida
Open Letter to President Obama
Dear President Obama:

Thank you for re-affirming your intention to close Guantanamo and your statements that torture is fundamentally wrong.

But....You can see by Cheney's antics on the tube after your speech, that they won't go away untill you PROSECUTE them!

Have you noticed, Dick Cheney is still everywhere?

Most recently, this nauseating spectacle of Oily Dick coming on the tube right after your excellent speech to tell everyone once again how "unsafe" you have made us by your intentions to close Guantanamo, and once again recited the same litany of dirty lies we've been told for the last 8 years, with the brazen nerve of a man totally devoid of conscience, and utterly arrogant in his presumptions of impunity. This is especially nauseating because he himself seems to have orchestrated the massive Non-Response from his bunker on 9/11, and it was his administration that repeatedly ignored the warnings throughout that previous summer, busy looking for that "Pearl Harbor-like Event."

Cheney was in the bunker, ordering the fighters to STAND DOWN as they came in to hit their targets on 9/11 (go ask Norman Minetta...he was there, and his testimony is a matter of record) ....

And now Cheney's on the Media telling us YOU are making us less safe!?

How outrageous IS this!?

What we need from you is for you NOT to "Stand down" on US again!

Re-investigate 9/11....Open it up like a can of worms...THEN Cheney will go away!

Respectfully,
Bia Winter
Mount Vernon, Maine
Chicken Hawks
Editor:

It is well known that bullies are afraid of being beaten up. That's why they beat up on younger, smaller kids. Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh exhibit the same kind of braggadocio, as they advocate torturing people under U.S. custody who are bound, gagged and hooded.

We've heard from experienced CIA agents that torture doesn't provide actionable intelligence; it only elicits what the torturer wants to hear. We've heard from political scientists that torture helps terrorists recruit new terrorists. We've heard from clergy (and from listening to our own hearts) that torture blemishes our country's moral character, rendering us undistinguishable from the bad guys.

Yet Cheney, Limbaugh, and their followers continue to advocate torture, claiming the security of the county depends on it. If torture worked, the terrorist Zarkawi wouldn't have been water-boarded 185 times. In fact, he gave information during normal interrogations before water-boarding, and then clammed up when the torture began.

Why do Cheney and Limbaugh continue calling for torture? Is it because they themselves are cowards, so afraid of torture they would start blabbing immediately, who figure that terrorists are equally afraid? Yet, we know that many of our sons and daughters under arms, and frankly, some terrorists as well, have the courage and conviction to resist the torturer's coercion. They'd rather die than betray their country to bullying sadists who reveal themselves as moral degenerates.

There's a reason Cheney and Limbaugh are called "Chicken Hawks."

Bruce Joffe
Piedmont, Calif.
What do we do with the Unemployed?
Editor:

It's a simple question, but....?

There are millions of unemployed Americans.

There are millions of Americans on unemployment insurance benefits.

There are millions of Americans on extended unemployment insurance benefits.

There are millions of Americans who no longer can receive unemployment insurance benefits.

So, where are the jobs or additional extended unemployment insurance benefits for these and the millions more who soon will run out of extended benefits?

What do we do with the Unemployed?

Peter Stern
Driftwood, Texas
Equal Rights for All Adults—No Exceptions
Editor:

Pope Benedict XVI has called for greater respect for women. If he really wanted women to be treated better, then he would allow women to become priests, cardinals, and popes. He should support the '' Golden Rule'' and publically state that women should have the same legal, political, and religious rights as men.

But the Pope doesn't believe in equal rights. He doesn't believe in the equality of Christians and non-Christians,women and men, gay and straight people, or Protestants and Catholics. The Pope should practice what Jesus preached. According to the Bible Jesus said, ''Whatever you do to the least among men, you also do to me."

Religions, governments, and individuals should support equal rights for all adults.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Unemployment to keep wages low?
Editor:

The Labor Department's U-6 measure of unemployment is about 16%. With a workforce of 155 million, this leaves 24 million Americans wanting work. President Obama's approach, so far, is to subsidize education for the unemployed to prepare them for "jobs of the future." But, Americans need 24 million jobs right now. In the future, Americans may need even more jobs, as new births and immigration expand the population. How do we know that more future jobs created will even exceed jobs that will be lost as corporations out-source, cut-back, and re-engineer? We need creative thinking and debate about this underlying problem of unneeded or surplus people. We need a jobs program at least as audacious as FDR's in the 1930s. Our economic leadership has told us for decades that education is the key to more and better jobs—maybe for some, but not for most.

J. Russell Tyldesley
Santa fe, NM
Children shouldn't lose their rights when they are on school property
Editor:

There is a case currently before the Supreme Court that involves a young woman who was strip-searched by her school. A classmate falsely accused Savana Redding of giving her some drugs. So, vice principal Kerry Wilson [a man] searched her backpack and found nothing. For some reason her desk and locker weren't searched.Then she was taken to the nurse's office and ordered to take off her clothes. No drugs were found.

The school didn't call her parents, or call the police to bring in a drug-sniffing dog, or even consider getting a search warrant. It turns out that the student who ''informed'' on Miss Redding made the whole story up. And the terrible drug that they were looking for was ibuprofen, which is basically the same as aspirin.

Children shouldn't lose their rights when they are on school property. Young people should have the same constitutional rights inside school that they have outside of school. Schools shouldn't have the power to strip-search children.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro,NC
Abolish the CIA
Editor:

There has always been doubt as to whether anyone or any institution has control of the CIA. It operated as a private army for G.W. Bush. It operates way outside the U.S. Constitution and international law and on the "dark side," as Cheney so aptly put it. But, does the CIA serve to further U.S. interests? Does the American electorate determine its missions in any way? It's hard to evaluate its efficacy because it is a black box.

One of the theories being advanced for Obama's pre-emptive grant of amnesty for CIA torturers is that the CIA is too vital to our national security to risk harming their morale. Yet, CIA activities during the Cold War produced mixed results at best. Obama resists looking back at the Bush years either for retribution or to examine where we went off track. Another reason might be that it might expose Democratic complicity.

J. Russell Tyldesley
Santa Fe, NM
A Good Month for those who Oppose Death Penalty
Editor:

March was a good month for people, like myself, who oppose the death penalty. The government of New Mexico did the right thing and repealed the death penalty in their state. The New Hampshire state House did the right thing and voted to abolish executions in their state. Hopefully the state Senate will follow their lead. And Governor Timothy Kaine vetoed a bill that would have expanded the death penalty in Virginia.

The death penalty hasn't deterred crime, war, spying, or murder. Innocent people have been put on death row, and I believe that innocent people have been executed over the years. Plus the death penalty appeals process costs more money than sentencing defendants to life in prison.

No government should have the legal right to strap people down and take their lives.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Under-Taxed Cry-babies
Editor:

Republican propagandists, following Senator Judd Gregg, have been criticizing non-stop Obama's tax reform plan to make the very rich pay a more fair share of the cost of running this nation. They wail about how taxing people who make more than $250,000 profit will "hurt small business." Hmmm....where were their voices last year when Bush's administration allocated 700 thousand million dollars to big business, with virtually no strings attached? Did small business get any of those bail-outs? Did Senator Gregg argue against that huge theft, er, transfer of our national treasure?

Now, Republicans are squealing like stuck pigs at the prospect of paying more taxes on their unearned incomes. All those golden parachutes, bonuses, and bail-outs have been class warfare against working folks. It is due time for war reparations.

Bruce Joffe
Piedmont, Calif.
Read It, or Don't Vote on It
Editor:

When a legislator gets a bill that is hundreds, or even thousands, of pages long, he doesn't read it. When an executive gets a contract that is thousands of pages long, he doesn't read the whole thing before he signs it. Those are facts.

I think that, for the U.S. government, all bills should be read aloud before a Congressman votes on it, and before a President signs it. It should be illegal for a legislator to vote on a bill that he hasn't read, or for an executive to sign a bill that he hasn't read.

There should be a better way for the government to create taxes and laws.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Contention vs Cooperation
Editor:

President Obama's administration hoped to find a more collaborative way to negotiate governance of our great country. After the Republicans' "winner take all" steamroller politics, power has now swung to the Democrats. Obama's leadership tried something different: listening respectfully, including Republicans in policy development, and compromising to accommodate Republican concerns.

The final version of the Economic Recovery act has cut proposed spending by over $100 billion over the previous version, just to accommodate Republicans and gain their votes. The act also increased tax cuts for the wealthy in spite of ample experience that this doesn't do much to help the economy. These compromises were made to include Republicans in solving our common problems, yet, only three voted with Democrats to pass the act. Republicans remain obstructionist.

Democrats would be well-advised to use the political power they currently have to fix the massive problems caused by years of Republican hegemony, and not to dilute their cure with Republican snake oil. Collaboration is a two-way street, and Republicans have shown deceit in working toward effective solutions.

In California's legislature, six Republicans are paralyzing the state budget with their stubborn ideology instead of pragmatic governance.

Bruce Joffe
Piedmont, Calif.
Exxon/Mobil A Scrooge
Editor:

Exxon/Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, just posted record profits of $8.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2008 and $45 billion for all of 2008, and it has not participated in distributing discounted oil to Citizens Energy Corporarion.

Isn’t it amazing that Joe Kennedy II, CEO of Citizens Energy Corporation, has to rely on Hugo Chavez of Venezuela through Citgo Petroleum, a Venezuelean company, to provide discounted heating oil to Citizens Energy? This oil is then distributed in a number of states to needy homeowners to heat their homes in the wintertime. States that participate include all the New England states, NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE, VA, IN, MI, WI, and AK.

Exxon/Mobil should stop being a scrooge and give back some of its massive wealth through the distribution of discounted oil to homeowners who cannot afford to purchase heating oil at the regular price.

Donald A. Moskowitz
Londonderry, NH
Fix in the Henhouse: Ex-FINRA Chief Mary Shapiro Heads the SEC
Editor:

I have watched C-SPAN's coverage of congressional testimony by Harry Markopolus. Harry is the fellow who, for many years, was blowing the whistle on the $50 billion Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Regrettably, the responsible(?) regulatory agency to whom he was appealing, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), ignored his thoroughly documented submissions and pleadings. The red flags that he was flying were many, and would be easily recognized by even a casual observer—that is, a casual observer who was interested and awake.

During the questioning, Harry was asked his opinion of another regulatory entity that is supposed to be overseeing and policing the activities of a segment of the financial services industry—broker/dealers. This one is called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). It is a non-governmental organization run by the broker/dealers (think: fox watching the hen house), empowered by the U.S. Congress to do so. Its powers include arbitrating disputes between customers and their broker-dealer members, since aggrieved customers are not usually permitted access to the courts. Supposedly, the U.S. Congress oversees FINRA activities.

Now, Harry was asked to compare the SEC and FINRA. His answer was short and pithy: the SEC is incompetent; FINRA is corrupt. This was particularly interesting to me since I have been the victim of FINRA misbehavior. I was aware that President Obama had appointed one Mary Shaprio to be the new head of the SEC, replacing the clueless Christopher Cox. I also knew that Mary Shapiro's previous job was head of FINRA, where she was paid approximately $3 million per year, plus another $5-$25 million reward for her FINRA exit. So, we have here the chief of a corrupt regulatory body, being appointed to clean house at an incompetent regulatory body. She was UNANIMOUSLY confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

It seems that sleeping is a popular activity in Washington D.C.—both at the SEC and the U.S. Congress.

Bob Gilbert
South Carolina
U.S. Dictator/Decider Paradigm Bodes Ill
Editor:

I too fear the military-industrial complex ("Generals' Revolt Threatens Obama Presidency"), but President Eisenhower may have been the last and only President to call it for what it is.

Mr. Lindorff’s analysis rests on two assumptions. The first is that we have a Constitution that is actually followed. Unless there are serious Constitutional amendments, rather than just new executive orders, the dictator/decider paradigm for the Presidency will still exist even if only in potential.

Can Congress “sub-contract” out its responsibility under the Constitution to declare war? So far, they have. We can parse words and say that Korea and Vietnam and Iraq were not "wars," but this is playing with words.

But, the Constitution has been shown to be merely a political statement, subject to change with the politics of the season. The Supreme Court has radically re-interpreted the Constitution over the years to go with the flow.

The other assumption is that Obama and the Generals are not simply playing “good cop, bad cop.” My observation over the course of many Presidential campaigns and elections is that the people are rarely, if ever, told the whole truth by their leaders. Obama may have as much of a tendency to empire as the generals have. He is simply much better than Bush in selling policy. He will give reasons that appeal to the general public, but the real policy objectives will live in the dark.

In fact, much of the American citizenry probably suspects that they are not getting the real reasons behind policies, but they choose not to object. They hide behind the cloak in order to be able to protest their innocence when things go very wrong. It’s like going to church every Sunday while breaking the Ten Commandments the rest of the week. We get the government we deserve because we have the means to reject bad governance, but we don’t use it. The people are now focused on elites who do not pay taxes (astonishingly enough) and a lady who gives birth to octuplets, while the generals and Congress critters ignore the people and continue to spend billions on wars for oil and countenance amnesty for Wall Street criminals.

Russ Tyldesley
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Will There be a Recovery?
Editor:

I pretty much agree with the author’s conclusion ("Will There be a Recovery?") and the evidence of our weakness is compelling. Of course, we still have the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, and that makes us strong in sort of a negative sense. The problem is that we have created a global meltdown due to our focus on opening trade around the world. Everyone is now dependent on everyone else. When the U.S. sneezes, the rest of the world gets pneumonia.

The “free” movement of capital around the world is a very mixed blessing. For years, Nader has been calling for a tax on all international financial and currency transactions. As it is, when every country is tied together, even reserving the same currency, it is impossible to isolate problems. Unless and until the world of countries can come to better agreements, I think we should retreat from our current global GATT form of agreements, make free trade fair trade, re-institute tariffs on almost all products, and re-build our manufacturing base. We then should have severe disincentives for large corporations to flee to off-shore havens for taxes, lower wages, and environmental degradation.

If we give corporations protection from foreign competition, then they need to be better citizens and should be required to favor labor and customers and community over capital.

This may sound utopian, but there has never been a better time to drastically reform financial and trade systems.

Russ Tyldesley
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Where's the Logic?
Editor:

Republicans in the House teamed up to totally boycott the Democratic sponsored Stimulus Bill. Their logic seems to be that if economic conditions get worse after passage, they will not be blamed. In order for this to make sense one has to believe that Republican ideology, from Reagan to Bush II, was not, in fact, the prime cause of the breakdown of capitalism. Deregulation, privatization, globalization, trickle-down supply side theories, eliminating social programs,under-funding regulatory agencies, ignoring science and the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act (sponsored by three Republican ideologues), have defined the free market theories of this party. They decry spending for anything other than war, and theorize that the lower the tax rates, the more income generated, ergo more taxes paid. They ignore tax inequity. The blatant fact that all these theories have been thrown into disrepute (especially at the Davos conference) seems to make no diffference. They will hold to the fantasies of their own creation.

J. Russell Tyldesley
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Why Is President-Elect Obama Silent?
Editor:

Why is President-Elect Obama silent on the genocide taking place in Gaza?

I didn't vote for him to turn his back on the Palestinians, while silently condoning the atrocities of the Israel state.

Please put pressure on Obama to speak up against the genocide being committed by Israel on the Palestinian people.

This is not the way to begin his "Change You Can Believe In" Administration.

Pat Donworth
Miami, Fla.
No More Government Spending Increases Until....
Editor:

I think that Congress should pass, and the President should sign,a law that states that there will be no increases in government spending, borrowing, salaries, pensions, entitlements, and foreign aid until the national [government] debt is completely paid off. We need to replace ''our'' deficit economy with a surplus economy. If we don't our grandchildren will be really upset with us for leaving them with trillions and trillions of dollars of debt.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC
Middle East Violence Must Stop
Editor:

How many more civilian men, women, and children will be killed by Israel before the U.S. government tells them to stop. I believe in self-defense, and it is stupid for Hamas (or any other group) to attack Israel with ''homemade'' weapons, but this collective punishment is wrong.

Even before 9/11, Israel considered assassinations, renditions, torture, and collective punishment to be acceptable government actions. They also have chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. If any other country did the things that Israel has done in the past, ''our'' federal government would condemn their actions, and possibly cut off their foreign aid ($3-5 billion a year for decades).

The federal government needs to institute a standardized foreign policy. They should treat all foreign countries (Israel/Palestine, China/Taiwan, England/Russia, etc.) by the same standards. We must not forget that 9/11 happened because of our government's multi-standard foreign policy. Our country should respect and encourage the human rights and civil liberties of our enemies as well as our friends.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, NC