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Letters to the Editor - May 29, 2009

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By The Staff

A divided nation

Many of our leaders throughout history have told us that as a nation, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

There is no doubt we are a seriously divided nation. How did we get in this deplorable state?

Many of us can remember the events that united us during World War II. Victory was never in doubt as many youths combined to make a military force unequalled in recorded history. Civilians laid aside their normal lives and made up a work force to produce the weapons of war with unbelievable speed. We accepted inconveniences we had enjoyed, even down to white oleo!

A search for reasons we have become so divided can start with our elected officials. Often campaigns are crafted to demean opponents by using a vocabulary that is akin to gutter talk, and pinning liar labels on each other all too often without a scintilla of proof, scoffing at opponents’ beliefs and/or past actions, delving into personal matters usually better left unsaid and planting fear of what would face the public if a foe is elected.

Factions today number in the dozens.

We have race differences, pro- life or pro-choice, sexual preferences, genders, political beliefs, liberals vs. conservatives with independents in the mix. There are those who want freedom to own guns and those who want them banned.

There is little doubt honest disagreements can actually be beneficial to a healthy society. But the almost total lack of civility exhibited while discussing differences will not create a united nation; indeed, the opposite is true.

Civil dialog without mean-spirited attitudes has become a rarity. Late night show hosts are often downright nasty. Friendships can and often are strained when debates become abusive and heated.  Tolerance for an opposing view is all too rare. Calm demeanor during a debate is a rarity. Adult behavior has become filled with vitriol, hate, and finger pointing.

The media fill their pages or TV hours by fanning discussions with verbiage that all too often is designed to further their agenda and enhance their ratings.

This brings us to the question: how can we possibly move on as a united nation, considering the attitudes so prevalent in modern discourse?

Good healthy civil debate contributes to the success of any endeavor. However, when even a modicum of civility is absent, keeping our nation united becomes less and less a possibility.

Stephen Carter in his fine book, “Civility” points out that civil listening is as important as civil talking. He goes on further to observe that if we are open to what others have to say, it means we acknowledge the possibility that they may be right and we are wrong. Such an approach might even lead to a peaceful resolution of our differences. He asks, “Is an uncivil victory better than a civil loss?”

What can we as individuals do to unite our homeland to realize a happy and a more civil existence?

Perhaps a stanza from an old hymn will give us a clue as a starting point.

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!”

Don Pixley

Ocala, Fl

Not the way to fix the budget

I read in the paper recently that the State of Florida’s budget reveals a broken system in establishing their expenditures for the year. The way that the Florida State legislature is trying to fix our budget shortfall is like a doctor arriving at a train wreck with a single bandage.

The Republicans simply cannot push tax cuts year after year and then all of a sudden realize they do not have the necessary funds to run our state. The state is trying to make it appear that their taxes are levied equally between the rich and poor – but lower income people pay taxes on 100 percent of their incomes while the well-off pay on a much lower percentage of their income.

The state only has so much money to operate its mandated programs such as educating our children. What kind of legacy do we want to be remembered for in not teaching those who will be responsible for our future.

At a time when the state and local governments are laying off employees and cutting salaries for those doing the necessary work, we are treating a select few quite differently. The state legislature has approved and is protecting several thousand employees who are allowed to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in wages and benefits. The state legislature claims that they can’t touch this sacred law of double dipping because it was passed several years ago, and soon it will be their turn.

You don’t have to dig very deep to see the high regard that the state legislature thinks and feels about themselves and who is protected first by their actions. I hope we remember these actions at the ballot box during the next election period.

Jerry Segovis

Ocala

Why did Pelosi

pick a fight?

In a recent news conference, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), charged the CIA with lying to her about the use of waterboarding in questioning terrorism suspects. Pelosi said she heard about the interrogation technique from fellow Democrats who had attended CIA briefings. Republican congressional members and the CIA quickly refuted Pelosi’s charge by noting that Pelosi had attended a CIA briefing in 2002 and one of her top aides had attended another one in 2003.

Waterboarding was supposedly discussed at these briefings. The Pelosi-led Democrats are charging these techniques were torture and in violation of international treaties. They are calling for criminal investigations, by the Justice Department, of the members of the Bush administration who authorized their use.

Since the Democrats won their congressional majority in 2006, Pelosi and Senate Majority Reid have been using ‘blame Bush’ for every problem they have encountered, created or dreamed up. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary have revived the Democrats’ technique, from the 1980s, to ‘Blame America First’ in our foreign policy. Both have trotted around the globe telling friends and foes to be patient. American taxpayers will gladly pay, with interest, for any harm or discomfort the Bush Republicans caused. Just give the Democrats time to make the arrangements.

Pelosi, a House member for 22 years, was elected as Speaker in 2007. Since then she has made continuous attacks on Bush and anything Republican. In 2007, she visited Arab states and offered her power to help them obtain a favorable settlement in their continuing war with Israel. The Arabs ignored her. They knew our constitution only gives such power to the president and his State Department. In 2008, she filed a suit in a federal court, proclaiming the Capitol building and all congressional office buildings as Legislative Branch property and, by the balance of power assignment between the three government branches, all were beyond the reach of any Executive Branch investigators, i.e. the FBI. The Washington district court agreed and the Supreme Court refused to review the case, so all congressional members gained a safe haven to hide any damning evidence of corruption. The ruling halted the prosecution of a Louisiana House member who hid $90,000 of suspected bribe money in his home freezer.

Between 2007 and Obama’s inauguration in 2009, Pelosi had the House consider bills to cut off funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and to remove Bush as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. She is currently protecting a fellow female House member, from California, who’s suspected of passing secret information to Israeli agents in return for their support in her attempts to become chairperson of the House Intelligence Committee.

Pelosi, like the other 534 members of Congress, is well versed in the use of half truths, full lies, gamesmanship and the pursuit of power. So why did she pick a fight with the CIA? Is it a ploy to move the media spotlight off the White House while some nefarious activity occurs there or is she committing the power of her office to the total destruction of the Republican Party? If she continues as the Democrats’ attack dog, then any chance of reviving bipartisanship will be gone and we are in for a long term run of blood for blood politics in Washington. Probably right up to the bitter end.

Bill Farthing

Ocala

Stop financing

Israel’s ways

I and, hopefully, other Americans will continue to speak out against the decades of Israel’s brutality committed with impunity: the gross violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people; occupying and illegally expropriating their lands and waging campaigns of aggression that constitute slow-motion genocide. We all have the right to speak out to our elected officials telling them we are no longer willing to tolerate Israel’s lawlessness.

This week President Obama ushered in a new era of “tough love” toward Israel which is long overdue. Stop any new settlements, acknowledge the fact that there will be a separate Palestinian state, resume sincere efforts at negotiating peace with the Palestinians, stop the blockades and attacks and end the occupation, now. And sign on to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty with the ultimate goal of no nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

The fact that the Bush administration’s propaganda machine and the complicit media cleverly erased the heart-rending news of the violence Israel’s military is doing to Gaza and other Arab nations does not mean that it isn’t happening! Most Americans are not aware of this violence as a result — yet one way we can advocate for peace is to find our news at online news services and to get involved with groups such as Jewish Voices for Peace. BBC World News is a reliable unbiased source; don’t bother with U.S. network and cable news — the truth cannot be found there!

The number of casualties on the two sides tells the true story: while ten or 12 Israelis perished over a period of months, over 1,400 innocent Gazans — mostly women and children — died and many more were maimed over the three weeks of bombing raids carefully timed just prior to the end of the Bush era. While the whole world watched silently, Israel used white phosphorus against Gaza — a violation of international treaty. Israel, to make matters even graver, committed a humanitarian atrocity by blockading food, water and medical help from injured and dying Palestinians!

All of these actions I find intolerable; I sincerely hope that more citizens will inform themselves not with AIPAC/Pentagon propaganda which whitewashes the historical facts. Tell your senators and congressmen that you don’t want your tax dollars financing Israel’s aggression against the Arab states; that we must now insist on a civilized two-state solution to this bloody feud, and that Israel must agree to an independent Palestinian state or risk alienating the U.S. We will no longer arm their aggression and subsidize this evil to the tune of $12 billion a year! There is a way for Israel and Palestine to live peacefully side-by-side and ensuring this happens is the proper role for the president and Congress — nothing more!

As a method of resolving this conflict, several days ago the Russell Tribunal on Palestine was convened to apply international law, to hold Israel accountable for its crimes, with the objective of settling this conflict. Evidence will be presented in tribunal sessions beginning in late 2009.

Janis Lentz

Ocala