Letters to the Editor


December 23, 2003
"WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?"

During her broadcast on December 16, Diane Sawyer asked President Bush about the still-not-found WMDs in Iraq. "What's the difference?" Bush, responded, "the possibility [was] that [Saddam Hussein] could acquire weapons."

Mr. Bush, the difference between a hypothetical "could" acquire weapons versus a genuine "has" the weapons is approximately 400 American lives lost, 4,000 Iraqi civilians killed, and $400 thousand million American taxpayer dollars wasted.

It is unconscionable that the President, the chief steward of the public's trust, would deceive us so gravely. Even worse if the well-coordinated lies from the Administration were actually a colossal, incompetent miscalculation.

While political pundits yammer about Bush's re-election, citizens are calling for his impeachment and incarceration.

Yours truly,

Bruce Joffe
Piedmont, CA
MUSINGS ON CHRISTMAS

The Jesus that I know and love is so filled with compassion that He makes special field trips to Hell, taking pitchers of ice water to those who ignore "Thou shalt not kill" signs to their own peril.

He also brings fruit baskets to the poor.

And He is dead set against corporate welfare too. It's that "eye of the needle" thing. If Jesus had staged His Second Coming last month, for instance, he would have been out protesting in Miami. And Bush, Halliburton, NAFTA and they would have had Him beaten, jailed and sent off to Guantanamo (Jesus was, after all, a Palestinian).

In honor of the birthday of the Prince of Peace, may those of us who would be Christians make a solemn vow to do unto others as we would have others do unto us.

And let's also start to practice what we preach.

In the spirit of Christmas,

Jane Stillwater
Berkeley, Calif.
DOWN WITH THE WALL IN ISRAEL

Israel is now providing more services to more illegal West Bank settlements and carving its massive wall through the West Bank. The wall would be lawful and moral--as moral as the Berlin Wall--if the wall were along Israel's border, the "Green Line," but it is not. It bisects Arab properties, surrounds Arab villages, divides Arabs from the fields that they work, to keep the suicide bombers away from Israel and Israeli settlements.

Israeli West Bank settlements are hilltop garrisons in a hostile land, Masadas-in-waiting. Israeli West Bank settlers vote for their government, but West Bank Arabs have no vote. Israeli settlers travel freely, Arabs must queue endlessly. Arabs have no state safety net, poor jobs, no rights. Israelis have welfare, good jobs, rights. Israel the democracy becomes Israel the theocracy.

Do Israelis expect the Palestinians to disappear, as Israelis occupy more and more land? Unless the Israelis start their own pogroms of the Arabs, or start to taint Palestinian water with birth control hormones, the Palestinians will remain and multiply, and in a few years there will be more Arabs than Jews living under Israeli rule, destroying the theory of "Israeli democracy."

The Arabs must grant Israel the right for the Jewish state to exist, but so too must Israel grant Palestinians their right to be governed by a government they elect.

The wall must move to Israel's borders. Israelis must leave the West Bank. The US must tell Israel these grim truths, or the Intifada will go on and on, with all its costs, monetary and human, for both Israelis and Palestinians, for years and years and years to come.

Without US support, money transfers, weapons, and technology, Israel would still survive, but if these were denied to Israel, perhaps its ears would open.

Israel does not listen to the UN General Assembly, but maybe, just maybe, they might listen to George Bush, if he would act instead of blathering.

The time has come for the US to tell Israel, "Enough!" and embargo Israel as it did Iraq, that other Middle East occupying power.

TomTrottier

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

THANKS

First, let me thank the only people who seem to provide the truth about the events of September 11, 2001, and the current events of today, thanks for upholding my belief in the press and the idea that the fourth branch of government is the press.

After watching the events of 9/11 on television, I was filled with anger of the people who would do such a thing to my beloved country. However, that anger came to be a sheer determination to find out the truth about the events of September 11, 2001. My research has led to see a different side of my government, the more I research, the more I learned that our nation is capable of allowing to happen such an evil act against its own country and citizens, just like the Pearl Harbor event in 1941. FDR knew the day and time Japan was going to attack American forces at Pearl Harbor, but elected to hold on to the information. We lost some 2,600 American lives. Another event showed me another side of my country, when the “Operation Northwood" was created to kill American citizens and blame it on Cuba. This plan was cooked up by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And, in 1968, President Johnson kept the bombing of the USS Liberty secret from that fleet, and thus 244 lives were lost.

Our nation has proven, time and time again, that it has the capabilities to place our own citizens’ lives in danger to advance political or self-serving goals. I believe it's time to put these type of people behind bars--that's where criminals belong.

The deadly attack on American soil on 9/11has proven one thing: our government cannot be trusted to inform or provide the truth to its citizens. This is where the “fourth branch of government" comes in. Collectively, the press has the tools that can provide the truth people need to hear, and provide the information to place the criminals in jail....The American press is the most powerful group in the world, and has the only means to expose the criminals in Washington.

Thanks for keeping the First Amendment alive and well!

Lawrence Pierce
UNASKED QUESTIONS

After 40 years of plain questions that went unasked about the Kennedy assasinations (like how Oswald could have shot Kennedy in the forehead from behind), I would like to know why it is that not once in two years has anyone asked the current president directly to his face, "Mr. President, why did you okay the exodus of Osama bin Laden's entire family out of the United States without questioning them, within two weeks of the destruction of the Twin Towers, and do you believe any of them might have had useful information about his whereabouts?"

Simple question... plain talk. The president likes plain talk. Americans like plain talk.

Then I would ask a follow-up. It would be either "Has the Bush oil business ever had dealings with the Bin Laden oil business?," or "Who arranged the September 2001 Bin Laden family flights back to Saudi Arabia?"

The man or woman who asked this would not be unpatriotic. The questions carry no bias; they carry no hatred. Just plain talk. Two years and two wars later, still no one has asked him.

Someone give me a press pass. I will ask.

David Singelyn
Warner Springs, Calif.
DISSECTING “TARIFF SQUABBLES”

In the usual battle of words that involves the Confederate flag, the writers always tend to start dissecting each others’ "facts" about how the war of northern aggression started.....[one of your writers gave] "tariff squabbles" as a reason we were fighting, and I say hell yes! Can you honestly say that a 70% tax based on your income with only a 33% percent return of services today wouldn’t raise your dander? Do you honestly think the northern industrialist empire was built solely by the hands of poor white northerners? Be honest! [See: “Blacks & the Confederate Flag Don't Mix,” by Ken Morgan]

I would submit that its no wonder that the 95% of poor southern farmers [before the Civil War] only had a hollow dream of wealth and success under those circumstances. Could not that scenario be equated with all wars (with the exception of war with Nazi Germany), because wars are started by rich folk at the expense of the poor?

I don’t recall that the north ever refused tax money from the south that was [according to your writer] money made only by the toil of your ancestors. If that be the case, then don’t you find something just a tad hypocritical about that?

Now, let’s move on to Abe Lincoln. Again, by today's standards, let’s look at the dilemma our current president finds himself in with the war in Iraq. Some say it’s over oil, some say it’s to grant freedom to an oppressed country. Nonetheless, I support our troops because that’s what the US has decided to do--most probably the same predicament the northern troops found themselves in because Lincoln told them the war was an attempt to keep our nation from dividing.

Why did Lincoln take four years to write the Emancipation Proclamation--unless perhaps that document was only his "ace up the sleeve"? Why did he have to systematically shut down 300 Yankee newspapers that disagreed with his policies, suspend the basic right of habeas corpus and issue an arrest warrant for a Supreme Court justice who openly challenged and defied the president?

My point is that your people's plight was no more supported by the average northern citizen, than it was anywhere else,s o please don’t make the northern empire out to be heroes and saviors of your people.

Lastly, with your indulgence, I have always wondered why the black troops that served for the north were treated so horribly, such as the 54th Massachusetts,and the troops that were pushed to their deaths into the crater at Petersburg only after the white troops had been exhausted, just to name a few instances. I so love history of the war that I would request you share the successes of your ancestors: When they were given the 40 acres and a mule as promised?

We as southern people can’t stop the use of our beloved battle flag by hate groups, no more than we can stop them from using the Bible and the American flag. So concentrate your efforts towards those people and realize that I am honoring seven brave, poor white farmers who were fighting against big, intrusive and tyrannical government.

With due respect,

Rick Thurston
Colorado Springs, Co.
IMPROVING AIR TRAVEL SECURITY

I would like to ask your assistance in getting my information about the 25-plus-year-old US Congress-Commissioned “Military Study to Improve US Air Travel Security” into the media.

I took part in that study, and since September 2001 I have been trying to get this into the press but have met only censorship from the US media. So I put online a website that includes letters of support from: the Honourable John McCallum, Canada's Minister of National Defense, Carolyn Parrish, MP and former Vice Chair of the International NATO Executive, Daniel Ellsberg and others to get this into the media.

It also contains a letter from George Bush's church, from a Janet Horman who wanted paper copies sent so she could get them to Sen.Graham-D for the first US Government 9/11 Investigation, as well as other information about my two-year effort to get this into the media. The website is located at codenamegrillfire.com. Please review my material and choose if you would help me to get this information published. The people of the world need to know that the Democratic and Republican political parties conducted this study 25 years before the 9/11/01 attacks and could have physically prevented them just by implementing the corrective actions that the study recommended....

The US government has no legal right to be waging war all over the face of the Earth because they failed to implement the security upgrades and improvements from their own study in the 25 years that they had to do so.....

Tim McNiven
‘YELLOW JOURNALISTS OF THE VICTORS’

In reference to the article which appeared in your newspaper Feb. 6, 1997 “Blacks & the Confederate Flag Don't Mix,” by Ken Morgan: At one time they did mix, until journalists like yourselves spent decades turning that flag into something it was never meant to be. The many black soldiers who served the Confederacy under this flag attest to this but this and many other facts have never stopped the yellow journalists of the victors. So, why should it now?

Billy E. Price
Ashville, Ala.
REGIME CHANGE SHOULD BEGIN AT HOME

Once the administration’s original main justifications for war in Iraq were discredited (WMD, the Saddam-Al Queda connection, etc.) as conspiracy theories without foundation in fact, Bush & Co. recently began promoting the proposition that above all else, Saddam had to be removed because of a moral imperative.

Therefore, it is likewise morally imperative that these masters of the cynical art of realpolitik (Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.) be held accountable for their own complicity in Saddam’s worst human rights abuses, including the gassing of the Kurds.

Furthermore, as terrorism has been around throughout history (think about the KKK in America, for example), and will be around long after the Bush administration’s feeble and misguided efforts to eliminate it have spectacularly failed, what is of primary concern to me is the long-term damage that Bush is inflicting on our political system: If any American president is allowed to get away with starting a war under such conspicuously false pretenses, American democracy is in danger of becoming little more than a hollow façade for imperialist military aggression.

Finally, the Bush administration’s cowboy diplomacy is sending the clearest signal imaginable to the rest of the world: We can invade your country and replace your government at will, because we don’t need to justify our actions to the American people. In other words, you had better get nuclear weapons ASAP if you want some assurance that the US will leave you alone. This recipe for disaster is Bush’s real legacy to future generations of American citizens. Now more than ever it is clear that regime change begins at home.

Dave Goldsmith
Woodstock, Md.
ON PUBLIC SCHOOLS

From a capitalist point of view, some would argue that the purpose of public education is to provide training to enter the work force. The basics of reading, writing and arithmetic are taught to provide a foundation on which to build once a person graduates to on-the-job training.

However, the democratic argument suggests that the purpose is to promote an informed citizenry. Therefore, an exposure to history, sociology, etc. benefits society as a whole because people learn about their roles and responsibilities.

Obviously, both arguments merit equal consideration and should continue to be pursued. Further, no one can dispute that each and every child in this country should receive educational services provided by the public. The most pressing question today, however, is how does government ensure the quality of educational services?

Our public school system continues to fail at educating our children both in terms of job training and citizen awareness. The most powerful country to ever exist on planet Earth continues to lag behind other countries when it comes to the very basics expected of this institution.

The reason is the bureaucratic non-incentives consistent with government waste. Teachers are not held accountable like unit managers in a private corporation are for their units’ achieving objectives. They are also not rewarded financially for the success of their students when it comes to test results. And the biggest benefactor of all, private enterprise, is not required to reinvest in an educational system that provides free training to future employees.

I believe the time for the privatization of public education is long overdue. We as a country need to finally get serious about training and educating our future citizens. It is time to use corporate property tax along with personal property tax as a means of funding schools....

Along with this transition would be the disciplinary environment so desperately needed in our schools today. If a co-worker or boss were struck by an employee, that person would be fired and possibly jailed. The same code needs to exist in schools today.

....Education is a public good no less or more important than national defense, environmental quality, etc. The means of providing that good that most importantly needs to change.

Joe Bialek
Cleveland, Ohio

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This story was published on December 18, 2003.