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Why burn the flag'

The very fact that you live in a country where you have the right to burn its flag without fear of retribution from government and law officials should tell you that country is the best place to live. Therefore, why burn its flag? ' Mary Lewis, Medford

Echoes of Vietnam

To the woman in white who supports Bush's proposed war and has a grandson in the service:

Over 58,000 American servicemen and women died in the war in Vietnam. Some 20 years after, the architects of that war, the president's men, declared it was a mistake and should not have happened.

That war was also promoted by the U.S. government because of fear of what might be. ' Jonathan Landes, Ashland

Heston needs no help

In your article on the Ashland forum on media violence, Rabbi David Zaslow is quoted as saying, It was inexcusable violence to edit the film to portray (National Rifle Association president) Charlton Heston, who has Alzheimer's, as a fool. It was intellectual violence against those who disagree with him (Moore).

Using the word violence to describe Mr. Moore's treatment of Mr. Heston is hyperbole at its worst. Perhaps it was a clumsy attempt by Zaslow to provide some balance in the viewpoints at the forum, and the Mail Tribune chose to include the quote in order to inject some journalistic balance into the story.

This so-called violence is nothing compared to the very real violence inflicted by guns every day in this country. Moore's movie provided more than a few graphic examples of the difference between an interview and gun violence.

While I have empathy for Mr. Heston, I also reserve the right to disagree with the public statements he has made and continues to make as president of the NRA. No one likes being portrayed as a fool, but Heston and the NRA do not need help from anyone in order to look foolish. ' Gregory Ventana, Jacksonville

U.S. already at war

The U.S. is already at war with Iraq illegally. The 1990 Security Council Resolution only authorized the use of force to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

Since 1990 the U.S. and Britain have unilaterally bombed Iraq almost daily without permission from the U.N. Over half of Iraq is designated a no fly zone and if the Iraqis try to defend their territory they are bombed. These bombings, together with 11 years of sanctions, have caused the deaths of a million and a half Iraqis, half of them children, a war crime of monstrous proportions!

Saddam was a staunch ally until shortly before the Gulf War. He became evil incarnate overnight due to propaganda.

Similarly, the Taliban in Afghanistan was subsidized by the Bush administration until a week before we bombed Afghanistan but was also turned into evil incarnate overnight after 9/11. And Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11!

Likewise, Powell's recent evidence is propaganda and lies. Look into the eyes of your children. We will not make war against Saddam Hussein but mostly against children and other civilians!

Jesus said: Inasmuch as you have done this unto the least of these, you have done it unto me. ' Robert Jones, Ashland

Destroyed from within

We don't need to worry about terrorists from foreign countries. Our country is being destroyed from within by American terrorists. Enron, foreign bank accounts, (Howard Prairie, Fish Lake, Hyatt Lake), Mount Ashland, etc., etc.

Why doesn't President Bush declare open season on all American terrorists? He could even put a bounty on them like we used to have on predators. If you really want something to worry about you should consider all the possibilities that could happen from the food and clothing we get from foreign countries. ' Louis Arnold, Central Point

Leave the flag flying

I hope and pray I do not have to see such a disappointing picture on the front page of your newspaper ever again.

I believe in the right to disagree with current policy. The flag burner forgets how many have fought and died to protect his right to protest. The flag represents all of our country, pro and con, and it is disgusting to see it so maligned. I note the second protester has his or her face covered. Ashamed? Cowardly?

Protest away, loudly or whatever, but leave the flag flying high over our country. ' Joyce Fast, Medford

Not about national security

The impending attack on Iraq is not about national security. It will do nothing to make America safer. It would likely cause more, not less, acts of terror and murder. It will do our country far more harm than good.

This impending attack is about oil, ego and re-election. It is about buying allies and bullying those who seek a more peaceful solution.

It is also about death and destruction, both for our children and those of many nations. Let the inspectors do their work.

I say this about the president, he is consistent. When it was his time to fight for our country, he was willing to let other sons and daughters go in his stead. He is still willing to send our sons and daughters in his stead. ' Jim Bond, Gold Hill, combat vet, Vietnam

Use nuclear deterrent

In past history it is recorded that any country who strikes first is always the one who has the world against them, and always the one which loses the war. To name a few: Mussolini and Italy, Hitler and Germany, Tojo and Japan. We cannot be the first to attack!

The answer to the Iraq situation is as follows: Send the message to the world that if any country uses any weapon of mass destruction against any other country that the United States, within hours, would use its arsenal of atomic bombs on every city in that country, and that everyone in those cities would be vaporized.

I believe this deterrent will stop any country from initially using such a weapon. It stopped Japan in World War II.

We should then withdraw all of our forces from foreign countries, with the exception of small garrisons to guard our foreign embassies from terrorist attack. We should not ask any country to change their policy about anything because we think they are wrong. They may be right in their policies, who knows?

Let every country rule themselves as they see fit, but if any attack with a weapon of mass destruction they are doomed. ' Don Cramer, Medford

Self-serving distortion

As a former Christian seminarian, I comment on the new and improved Christianity that I often encounter among some of my neighbors.

Christ espoused humility as well as concern and benevolence for one's neighbor. Christ did not advocate expansionism, materialism, large vehicles, oversized houses, or a disproportionate use of the world's resources.

Christ would find it foreign to have the words I have been blessed used as an expression of material well-being. Somehow this self-serving distortion has proliferated in our well-to-do culture ' a rationalized salve to ease our selfish consciences.

This Christianity gone amok is no better depicted than in the Jacksonville Presbyterian expansionism that seeks to create a huge monument in a small town dedicated to historic preservationism. Again the distorted, self-serving thinking ' the bigger the expansion, the better.

Presumably when we Christians exhaust the planet's resources, we can then move to Christianity on Mars. And added to this, Pastor Jung thinks it's great that a technicality allows his attorney to move swiftly to prevent his neighbors from challenging his monument in an unbiased court.

Me, I'll take Christ, and leave Pastor Jung to the new-age Christian expansionists who feel they have improved upon Christ's message. ' Eric Morrell, Jacksonville

Confederates were patriots

A recent letter to the editor expressed a horrendous rewriting of history by stating that the leaders of the Confederate States of America were traitors, hated America with a passion and were equal to Hitler and Bin Laden.

What motivated the Confederates was patriotism and love of America. They were fighting to preserve the Jeffersonian republic created by the founding fathers. A weak federal government with strong sovereign states. To symbolize their continuance of the Spirit of '76, the Great Seal of the Confederacy pictured George Washington on horseback.

When the forces of centralized empire defeated the grandsons of the American Revolution, not one single Confederate leader was tried for treason. The chief justice of the Supreme Court and the U.S. attorney general rightly concluded they would lose any such trial.

The leaders, people, and especially the soldiers of the Confederacy (which included Blacks, Jews, American Indians, Hispanics and Chinese) were the embodiment of American patriotism. Great American heroes fighting for freedom. ' Robert K. Stock, commander, Medford Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Medford

Impressed by opinions

I was very impressed with two editorials in Sunday's paper, Les AuCoin's Sucking sound, and Phillip Newton's on Oregon's unfair tax system. It was like a drink of cool water after reading the biased article on PERS.

I am so sick of people bashing public employees and their retirement system, of course how can we blame the public when that's what the press continually feeds them? Why can't the press ever get to the heart of the issue like Newton did?

Our real problem is our Republican Legislature doing everything possible for Oregon corporations and protecting CEOs with six- to seven-figure incomes. Instead of taking from the very poorest, or bashing public employees, let's ask why not deal with unfair and mostly corporate tax breaks?

This alone would erase our budget problem. Or why not equalize corporate income tax rates with personal income tax rates? Instead of all these letters screaming no more taxes, why don't we get with it and scream fair taxes?

Businesses also need to pay their fair share of property taxes. People ask why all these new homes, and we still are short; you need to look hard at what big businesses are paying ' very little. ' Bernie Alexander, Medford

Reactive, not preemptive

So War is a necessary evil? Let's take a look at what this necessary evil produces.

Let's ask Ireland how it's going, or Israel, or practically any country in Africa who, by the way, hate each other. All these locations practiced killing for generations and haven't managed to make one iota of progress for the peace they say they deserve. The only thing they have all accomplished is the mass murder of thousands with no ability to stop any of it.

I think we should think of the lives of the innocent who will suffer at the hands of the suicide terrorists when we embark on this preemptive strike. They will be responding to an attack on their country, as well they should.

Remember, this is a president that couldn't even find one man and bring him to justice, so now he's trying to turn our attention to another? Are we willing to turn our homes into killing fields to satisfy a vindictive, frustrated president?

Remember, no amount of so- called security will stop someone from performing suicide killings, just ask any law enforcement official who was assigned to the East Coast sniper attacks. I vote for a reactive strike, not a preemptive one. ' Wendy Grammatica, Central Point

Truckers inconsiderate

In regard to the Feb. 18 story the Mail Tribune published concerning the woes of the trucking industry: Perhaps the public would be somewhat more sympathetic if these truck drivers actually drove with any consideration of others.

I drive I-5 regularly, between Medford and Eugene. I cannot recall any time I saw a truck driver obeying the posted 55 mph limit for trucks. Instead they barrel down the road at all speeds.

On hills, they slow traffic down by attempting to pass each other at speeds as low as 25-30 mph, trying to regain a few precious seconds. On downgrades they attempt to make up for lost time by speeding as fast as 70 or more.

In inclement weather the problem worsens. Many times I've had trucks pass me, then pull into my lane directly in front of me, blinding me with their spray. (Where are the police when this is happening? A pulled-over truck is a rare sight.)

While I acknowledge the need for the transport trucks deliver, the drivers need to understand the freeway does not belong to them. The cars on the road support maintenance at least to the extent trucks do. Again, a little consideration, and perhaps better training, would go a long way. ' David Walker, Medford

Sound familiar?

The following 57-year-old quote is chillingly fitting to our current situation:

Naturally the common people don't want war, neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are going to be attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country. ' Field Marshall Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials, a few months before he was executed in 1946.

Does this sound familiar? ' Karen Salley, Ashland

All the facts

Regarding double-dippers: It happens within all aspects of retirement; we all know about people who retire with Social Security, then take other full- or part-time jobs; and military people, many of whom retire in their early 40s who turn around and work other government (local, state, or federal) jobs. They retire again, thus having two retirements on our tax dollars.

The advantage that the state/local governments have in rehiring these retirees is that local schools, fire, police, cities, and other government-related employers, do not have to pay them benefits such as insurance, vacation pay, sick pay, and assorted benefits such as PERS. In most cases where an employee must be replaced, it is cheaper for the agency to use a retiree.

The employee still pays Oregon and federal taxes. Does it matter whether we save at the local end or the state end?

Yes, I am a PERS retiree. No, I have not double-dipped. And, my PERS retirement has gone down each year since I retired in 2001. Let's give the public all the facts, and make PERS adjustments that help everyone as much as possible. ' Shirley A. King, Medford

What country is this?

Hello? On Feb. 11, I called Sen. Gordon Smith's local office (no one answered at his Washington office) and had the following approximate conversation with the woman who answered the phone (sorry, I didn't tape it):

She: Hello, Senator Gordon Smith's office.

Me: Hello, I'd like Congress to rescind the blank check for the war on terror and insist on a vote on whether to attack Iraq.

She: Well, I don't think they can do that since the right to declare war belongs to the executive branch.

Me: No, it doesn't. It belongs to Congress.

She: Well, that's your interpretation.

Me: No, it isn't. It's the Constitution. Jeez Louise, man ...

And then I had to hang up before I had a heart attack. Reality check: Are we all living in the same country here? ' Sarah Withers, Ashland

Change ourselves, not others

If we spent a fraction of the energy, time and money trying to change ourselves that we do trying to change other people, this might be a better world.

We send missionaries out to tell people that their religion is no good. Try ours. But we don't practice what we preach. We demand that they go for a true democratic form of government. Ours is not and never was.

We tell them to adopt our economic system. The big dogs feast upon the little ones. Not much different from theirs. We want them to pass a lot of laws protecting the people and their environment. They don't have to obey them any more than we do, but it will make them feel good.

When they look at us they see a people who are dishonest, corrupt and debt-ridden. They see a people who use more of the world's resources than any other group and after having used up its own, want to use up theirs.

Why should they like us or want to be like us? We don't have much to offer except arrogance and stupidity. We have plenty of both. ' Donald W. Kitchens, Medford

Picture disturbing

Today's front-page picture really, really disturbed me. Burning the American flag, that is the symbol of America's freedoms, that millions have fought and died for?

Maybe I'm from another time zone since I'm 72 years old, but I've been raised to salute the flag, raise it at sunrise and lower it at sundown. Not to let it fly in rainy weather. Not to destroy it except when it's tattered, then to carefully fold and burn it, respectfully.

Our enemies burn our flag. I've just one thing to say to this person: If you don't like America ' move.

Let him do it in front of the soldiers leaving on war duty. ' Jean Albertson, Medford