Letters for December 20, 2001

Soldiers’ rights
As a patriot of the USA, I’d like to comment on the errors of Pete Dunning’s piteously foolish, anti-American letter [“America-haters, go home,” Dec. 6].

Our soldiers are citizens of the United States and merit the same kind of freedom that they are fighting for. Hundreds of thousands of patriots have died defending our country and the way of life it provides. Those who love America and the Constitution should be horrified that someone would want to take away the rights of our brave soldiers, like the right to not be religious, which is covered by the First Amendment.

According to Dunning’s letter, two cadets originated the complaint, not the ACLU. I say stop bashing our troops, especially in a time of war. Wanting every soldier to praise God is insufficient reason to take away the liberty on which this great country was founded.

This country is full of patriots who will not back down under coercion, whether by killers like Osama bin Laden or authoritarians like John Ashcroft. Having a different opinion and expressing it is not the same as terrorism. Folks who believe in taking away freedom care only about destroying America! They should take their tired fallacies to a theocracy like Afghanistan, where religion is mandated by the state. Indeed, it is time to expose America-haters like Pete Dunning, whose pathetic protests will not beat us back.

Petey Figueroa

The real threat
I feel compelled to respond to Pete Dunning’s wretchedly misguided letter. I support our troops’ civil liberties as American citizens. Any true patriot should cringe to hear liberty confused with tyranny. Any time the majority tries to trample upon the rights of a minority, defenders of constitutional freedoms need to be vigilant.

People who actually read the Constitution know that the First Amendment includes freedom of religion and freedom from establishment of religion. Admittedly, the exact meaning and power of this clause is open to legal interpretation, but Dunning’s claim that there is no such provision anywhere in the Constitution lies somewhere between ignorant and disingenuous.

Even some Christian groups are against public displays of piety. According to the Bible, Jesus himself spoke against it. Citizens are free to be religious and say prayers, whether or not in school or the military. However, freedom from is just as important as freedom to.

The sole purpose of the ACLU is to defend the Bill of Rights. Over the last century the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments have been under attack. I see no reason to reduce hard-won civil liberties, regardless if the justification is war on another country or war on something nebulous like “drugs” or “terrorism.” Even so-called “national unity” is inadequate cause to undermine our precious freedoms.

Ross Hertzog

Can’t see the forest
Rep. Wally Herger has revealed his true colors once again. This time he wrote a letter, and got 30 other representatives to co-sign, to the Office for Natural Resources and the Environment. He claims the Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth (a conservative appointed by Bush) wrongly supported the Sierra Nevada Framework, a master plan for managing national forests in the Sierra. The Framework plan is based on science, not politics.

Herger falsely implies he knows more about forest issues, forest fire control in particular, than do the hundreds of scientists and Forest Service people who researched and wrote the Framework plan over the past several years. He is guilty of “forest fire fear mongering.”

By this action Herger shows that he is the puppet of big-timber corporate interests. Big timber wants to cut down more trees than the Framework plan allows. Big timber already costs the taxpayers more than a billion dollars a year in subsidies (mostly to build roads in the national forests). In other words, the government is already paying big timber to take away trees from our national forests. Herger’s contributors want even more, so they jerk Herger’s chain and he writes a letter on their behalf.

The Sierra forests desperately need help; that’s what the Framework plan seeks to do. Herger is willing to further endanger the forests so big timber can make more money at taxpayer expense. He is playing dirty politics, plain and simple, and his actions need to be exposed.

Al Braun

No Iraq attack
I am writing to join European and Middle Eastern leaders in their opposition to any further military action against Iraq. There are many in the Bush administration calling for unspecified plans to punish Iraq. I am concerned that, as a result of U.S. actions, more innocent children will die.

For the children of Iraq, and for the anti-terrorist coalition, a U.S. attack on Iraq would be a disastrous move. I urge readers to write to the president and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to express their views.

Patricia Feldhaus
Local Leader Grandmothers for Peace–Chico

No kangaroo courts
I urge a no vote on the Bush administration’s effort to implant a tribunal of any sort on the American People or our enemies.

Everyone I know, including historians, TV commentators, journalists and neighbors, fears this kind of trial system. Military lawyers are angered by the perception professed by the top White House lawyer that tribunals are likened to courts-martial. Not true.

Restricting liberties of Americans, or foreigners, would likely not have prevented the terrorist attacks. People with no rights are not safe from attack. Americas have always-condemned kangaroo courts, alias tribunals.

What kind of an example would we set for the world? And in the past when tribunals were used, we later regretted the results.

A few years ago on a network TV documentary we saw an underground prison built for political prisoners. The structure was entirely underground, without interior sunlight. All walls were painted refrigerator white. This facility was located in Virginia and was fully operational. I can assume that suspected terrorist and other political undesirables of past, present, and future are and will be incarcerated therein.

This doesn’t sound like America to me. Think, if you will, how annoyed Ashcroft, Bush, and his cabinet would be if the Democrats had of come up with this hare-brained idea. This must be prevented!

Lloyd M. Downs

Rain check, please
Ran across this Internet posting that cleverly explains the fallacy of providing tax refunds to those who have not paid their share of income taxes:

If you don’t understand the Democrats’ version of tax cuts, think of a baseball game that was rained out. The Democrats’ plan for sending out refunds says that, in the interest of “fairness,” people in the $10 seats should get back $15. People in the $15 seats will get back $15. People in the $25 seats will get back $1 because they’re rich and don’t need a refund. People in the $50 luxury seats will have to pay another $50 because they have way too much cash anyway. And the people loitering outside the stadium will get $10 each, even though they didn’t pay anything in the first place, because they need help.

Joe Canzoneri