The Affordable Care Act is taking center stage for several reasons.

The Affordable Care Act is taking center stage for several reasons.

First, Oct. 1 is when uninsured consumers can start shopping for health insurance through their state exchanges. Fortunately in Oregon the stage is set and ready to go. Then on Jan. 1 new coverage begins, and this includes coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Finally, the window for getting coverage if you are uninsured closes March 31.

So is anyone surprised that loud voices in the Republican Party don't want this to happen and are threatening a government shutdown? Wow. Getting out good information is critical since many people don't know about the exchanges and how the health care act rolls out. States have federal funds to do this but also the Republican Party has Koch money and lots more to spread fear and bad information.

Money does buy air time and the messages can affect public opinion. Expanding health care to the uninsured is a good thing to do. Let Rep. Greg Walden know shutting down the government over this issue should be off the table. Support those who are leading the way in Oregon and elsewhere. Push back however you can against the opposition. It matters a lot. — Steve Haskell, Ashland

I have wrestled all my life, trying so hard, to be a "glass half full" type of person despite the ugliness of intolerance and hate that pervades all over the globe, including our country "a shining light to the world."

Listening to President Obama's speech on Wednesday so full of hope and optimism helps to soothe the despair I felt reading the lead letter to the editor in Wednesday's paper, praising a country, Russia, that tolerates and even encourages beating its people in the streets because of their sexual orientation.

I can only hope that the president is correct when he says "there are too many of good will in our country for the people of ill will to prevail. I must believe that history is on the side of all people of good will. I must believe that those ideologies of intolerance and hate end up on the "trash heap of history."

Trying to stay "glass half full." "Just saying." — Ron Shenker, Grants Pass

With all due respect, at 84 years old I feel that I must express myself about the proposed strike against Syria. What can possibly be the outcome of U.S. intervention? Certainly, more death and destruction. How can anyone benefit from that?

History provides no positive answers — only records of tragedy. Surely, we can do better than that.

Congress could send a delegation to both the rebels and to the Assad administration to attempt some form of reconciliation — a delaying action, at the very least; some diplomatic action from the State Department is indicated — attack has to be unthinkable.

I cannot overstress the need, in my mind, and I believe in the minds of many others, that we think through, carefully and compassionately, the consequences of any action that we take. — Mary Lasley, Ashland