How distressingly predictable that the character assassins would sharpen their knives on Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. The latest example is the letter by Kael Yriarte on June 18. In that letter the writer claims that Michelle Obama spends her time "hating America." Not only is that sort of charge incredibly inflammatory, but it is also totally dishonest. Making it even worse, the writer implies patriotic superiority. There are many wonderful things about America. None of them are on display in a charge that is both reckless and untrue. Patriotism at its best inspires and unifies. At its worst, it is used as a weapon to divide and anger.

How distressingly predictable that the character assassins would sharpen their knives on Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. The latest example is the letter by Kael Yriarte on June 18. In that letter the writer claims that Michelle Obama spends her time "hating America." Not only is that sort of charge incredibly inflammatory, but it is also totally dishonest. Making it even worse, the writer implies patriotic superiority. There are many wonderful things about America. None of them are on display in a charge that is both reckless and untrue. Patriotism at its best inspires and unifies. At its worst, it is used as a weapon to divide and anger.

In November, we will vote for Obama not because we lack respect for McCain, but because we agree with Obama on the issues. That is enough. We don't need to invent evil where it doesn't exist. — Ken and Jan Chapman, Applegate

Who can get the message through when the power is off or when the telephone circuits are overloaded and fail?

For many years, volunteer amateur radio operators have filled in with their own equipment. Right now they are backing up communications in the Midwest floods and the California fires.

Locally, the Rogue Valley Amateur Radio Club plans to test field radios on June 28 during the annual ARRL field day. We have permission to set up at Berkeley Hills near the corner of Berkeley Way and Spring Street in Medford. Visitors are welcome.

Toll-free info: American Radio Relay League, 800-326-3942. — Bud Larson, W7LNG, trustee, Rogue Valley Amateur Radio Club, Medford

As the Bush administration forges ahead with an agreement reported to include 50 long-term bases, Iraqis are giving Americans a democracy lesson.

Earlier this month, 31 parliamentarians representing a majority of Iraq's parliament wrote to Congress saying that they would reject any agreement not linked to a "declared timetable and without leaving behind any military bases, soldiers or hired fighters." An Iraqi public opinion poll released this March showed that 84 percent of Iraqis want all U.S.-led forces withdrawn from Iraq within a year (Channel 4/ORB survey March 2008).

As Congress prepares to fork over some $160 billion to pay for "Operation Iraqi Freedom," why don't we take a look at the country with the highest concentration of Iraq experts in the world? There, thousands are protesting on the streets of Sadr City, its elected representatives are calling for a timetable, and numerous opinion polls of the people who live and breathe the consequences of (ours and their own) politicians' decisions are telling us what must happen for one of the most dangerous countries in the world to experience freedom: The U.S. must commit to withdraw for any "security agreement" to be worthy of its name. — Kate Gould, Ashland

Barack Obama, the liberal, socialist candidate for president, is most qualified to turn the U.S.A. into a socialist welfare state.

When he is elected these will probably be the MT headlines:

"Commander-in-chief BO claims victory in Iraq."

"BO claims Iraq the greatest military victory since Dunkirk."

"BO legalizes immigrants." Illegal immigrants get U.S. citizenship, qualify for Social Security. Medicare, food stamps and Oregon PERS and get three "get-out-of-jail-free" cards. They don't even need to pass go.

"BO orders ban on all weapons." Citizens must turn over firearms, knives and sharp pointed sticks to the Sierra Club.

"BO revises tax code." All citizens' pay above minimum wage to be forwarded to the IPS. This includes corporate executives but not government workers or entertainers.

BO is all for "change," the change in your pocket, the change in your purse and your piggy bank. — C. Andrew Beck, Medford