Congressman Bart Stupak‘s views on the $87 billion proposed for Iraq by the President Bush administration are likely shared by many U.S. citizens (re: “Iraq Spending Must Be A Shared Sacrifice,“ 11/6). The results of an ABC-Washington Post poll showing that 51% polled do not approve of the Bush administration‘s approach in handling Iraq‘s situation is evidence of this.
Where is the justification in proposing an aid package totaling $87 billion when millions of American‘s lives are greatly impacted by many serious factors related to our economic situation? The reality of millions of U.S. workers losing their jobs partly due to many jobs being sent overseas is one of the most obvious problems. Since the start of the recession in March 2001, there are 3.2 million fewer private sector jobs. This is the largest job contraction since the Great Depression. Consider the following: President Bush during a recent visit to Ohio factory employees claimed his tax cuts are the reason for new economic growth. Meanwhile, since he took office, unemployment in Ohio has risen from 3.9% to 5.8%. Nationwide, unemployment is 6.1% and manufacturing jobs are down by 464,000 this year.
Another significant problem is a stagnant minimum wage level that is unchanged since 1996. This is a serious impediment for millions attempting to earn a living wage. The Economic Policy Institute states that 60% of wage earners in low-income homes would benefit by a minimum wage increase from $5.15 to $6.15. Adults comprise the largest share who would benefit by an increase. 68% of workers whose wages would go up are 20 years and older. Meanwhile, thousands of lawmakers vote healthy pay raises for themselves.
Particularly disturbing is the fact that 31 million here in the U.S., including 12 million children, live in food-insecure households, thereby regularly experiencing hunger. This is shocking in a country with such a diverse setting for growth and progress.
Clearly our elected officials need to seriously work on reality-driven solutions that incorporate more citizens input and support to address the problems here in our country first. This should be absolutely foremost on the U.S. agenda before huge commitments to other countries.
Michelle White via email
Bush & the bin Ladens
Re: The Bush- bin Laden connection (Random Thoughts, 10/30). There has been no outcry because our nation is an immature, self-righteous energy hog. It‘s our God-given right to consume as much energy as we want, didn‘t you know? It‘s one of the Ten Commandments that we have cheap oil.
The self-righteous will never admit they made a mistake. How could they? They are right. By the same token, they will never change. Why should they? Their way is the only way.
The immature follow the crowd, never think for themselves; therefore they never gather data, analyze it, make an evaluation, or decide a change is necessary. Why should they? The majority is always right.
Shame on you, Robert, for criticizing our president; after all, he exemplifies all of the above attributes.
Until our country matures, the only way we will change is when a crisis forces us to change -- our history doesn‘t indicate otherwise or offer much hope.
If we don‘t get our act together soon, we will crash our economy and it will make ‘29 look like a Sunday school picnic. I don‘t want our economy to collapse because it would increase the possibility that our nation would collapse.
We must change our way of thinking and our lifestyle before it‘s too late.
Richard R Riker Mackinaw City
The word is out
I first heard about the Bush family, bin Laden and the 9/11 connection from Greg Polast of British Broadcasting (BBC) back in the fall of 2001. I have since seen it published in the “Populist“ and the “New York Times,“ but have not heard about it from the regular media. I commend Robert Downes for bringing this important news to Northern Michigan.
Nancy Hayward Mission Peninsula
Coming together on Iraq
Regarding “Coming together on Iraq“ (10/23) by George Foster in Random Thoughts. Surely Foster is not totally serious in his position. Perhaps he is attempting to stir up debate amongst readers of the Express.
This president and administration deliberately planned and carried out an unwarranted and unnecessary war on Iraq to benefit its own agenda. It deliberately used false information and propaganda to justify its position. The implementation of this war costed and continues to cost the lives of hundreds of some of our best young men and women. Thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens have also lost their lives and their homes.
We spend and continue to spend billions of American taxpayer dollars. We have alienated people around the world against the good people of this wonderful country. And what is Mr. Foster‘s conclusion? In essence, he simply says, “Forget about it!“
There are other alternatives than just “packing up and going home,“ as Mr. Foster states. We need to work together, yes, to put “the real evildoers“ out of office, and we need to work together within the U.N. to repair the terrible damage we have inflicted on Iraq and its people. Finally, we need to realize that, as much as democracy works for us, at this time, the people of Iraq reject it -- especially when it is rammed down their throats militarily.
If we think democracy is good for Iraq and the Middle East, we need to bring it about through peaceful means.
Michael Kearns Northport
(I didnt intend to imply that we should forget about it when analyzing our reasons for war in Iraq -- I have serious questions myself.
My point is, at this critical juncture, the divisiveness of dwelling on the motives of the Bush administration for the invasion should take a backseat to the rebuilding of this devastated country. -- GF)
War on terrorism
The United States “war on terrorism“ as it is being waged today will fail. While there have been a few short term successes - notably no successful domestic attacks here since 911 - the evidence mounts daily around the world that our policies are actually unifying our most radical adversaries, and radicalizing many in the moderate Moslem world against us. The very beast we have feared is now ever more vibrant and defiant, gathering strength daily to stalk us and strike us anywhere in the world.
How can this be? Violence has come to haunt us, and the Bush prophecy of pursuing “endless warfare with terrorism“ is proving to be self-fulfilling.
National Public Radio (10/28 morning edition) featured interviews with Afghan villagers on the border with Pakistan where Taliban forces are resurgent and conducting daily attacks on coalition forces. How do these villagers feel about the revival of the Taliban?
A merchant: “I will raise money now to buy rifles to kill U.S. soldiers and to support the resistance fighters. The resistance fighters are our heroes. What right does the U.S. have to come here and tell us how to live? Women now go to the graves of our resistance fighters and gather dust there, using it as the dust of saints to heal their children‘s wounds.“ These words should be heeded. These are people of great pride we are offending, people who will not shirk at sacrificing their lives and fighting to the death for their beliefs. We ignore their message -- and the human pride behind the message - at our own peril.
The United States -- now the most militarily powerful nation in the world - is failing miserably in its efforts to control the sentiments and destinies of nations. It is failing just as the Soviet Union failed before us. Why? A very simple law of the human spirit: no matter what your intentions are, you cannot ultimately win through force and violence. You cannot win over the human spirit through coercion over the long term. And coercion has been this administration‘s most relied upon tool. President Bush and his supporters have shown an extraordinary level of immaturity in achieving their goals -- whether you support these goals or not. They have consistently placed more faith in using our superior weaponry and in arm-twisting our allies than they have in any kind of real or equitable negotiations. The fatal flaw of the Bush administration is that has believed in its own values too fundamentally to give proper credence and respect to the values of others.
We had all better heed the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and select our next leadership with greater care:
“Violence brings only temporary victories; violence, by creating many more social problems than it solves, never brings permanent peace. I am convinced that if we succumb to the temptation to use violence in our struggle for freedom, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to them will be a never-ending reign of chaos.“
Jim Norgaard Petoskey
Misguided peace group
Just read of the seven members of the “Traverse for Peace“ group who are now traveling in Israel re: the “Road Map to Peace“ (Express 11/6). The caption under their picture told of their hoping to interview Palestinians and Israels on the street -- but didn‘t say exactly where they would be doing this. Could this possibly be in a pro-Palestinian city such as Hebron or Bethlehem? Or in Jerusalem, where they would find an entirely different point of view??
I wrote this same letter many years ago when another peace group traveled to Israel (there is NO such country as Palestine at this time) and pointed out then -- if numerous, knowledgable world leaders cannot effect peace, how in the world does this group feel that by putting themselves -- and others -- in harm‘s way, would accomplish anything at all?
I have personally taken tour groups to Israel 10 times and I am fearless, but not foolish, and certainly would not go there at this time despite the beliefs that I might have. I have found over the years that those who live there, be they native Israelis or otherwise, certainly are not enamored of those who come there, thinking they have the answers to peace and attempting whatever it is that they are trying to prove. The mind set of Middle-Easterners is entirely out of sinc with Americans.
Let trained personnel -- professionals in the quest for peace -- handle what needs handling. And while I admire their zest for peace, I personally feel that others should stay home and Shaalu Shalom Yerushalayem
pim Dodge Frankfort
(A recent report from the Traverse For Peace group is on page 7 of this issue. -- ed.)