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I applaud Master Sgt. Stitts.

In 1990, I was one of 50 Vietnam vets that visited the pre-breakup Soviet Union to help it establish veteran programs for its 10-year, unsuccessful war in Afghanistan. One aspect of the Soviet Union jumped out at me. It had invested so much of their money in military hardware/support that its infrastructure was crumbling. Roads, buildings, hospitals and almost all things needed to keep a modern country healthy were eroding.

In some respects, I felt I was in a Third World country. Sadly, I see much of the same happening to us now as I saw in the Soviet Union two decades ago.

When I was young, an old preacher once told me, "Son, the secret is, paint a picture of hell, offer the alternative, sing a hymn and pass the collection plate." This same process can be applied to all facets of a society. Fear will motivate people to OK anything to reduce the anxiety. Afghanistan is a money and soldier black hole.

As the cartoonist for Pogo stated during Vietnam, "We have met the enemy and he is us." — Larry Slessler, Medford

Bill Kettler's recent article nicely covers the modus operandi of many of us who regularly travel outside the U.S. for medical treatment, but no one thus far has any insurance coverage for this. Since it's getting so popular, in that good ol' entrepreneurial spirit of the insurance providers, in our free-market system, where's the medical evacuation insurance from the United States? — Richard Stanley, Ashland

Regarding your article "Health Care without Borders" ... you support Obama, and this insidious health care plan of his, and everything else he happens to think about. That's fine. We get it. But how about holding back a little, especially on these support fluff pieces?

I am getting to the point where I no longer want to read the local news from you, due to the bias you slip in there at least once an edition. I am a diabetic already, and some of these articles you dream up about the current administration pose a serious health risk to me.

And by the way ... Obama Care wouldn't cover that. — Mark Bowen, Sams Valley

On Nov. 20, the tools at the RVCDC Rice Park low-income mutual self-help housing project were stolen. The tool storage shed was broken into with a crow bar and $10,000 worth of power tools belonging to the nonprofits RVCDC and Youth Build were stolen.

These nonprofits have no insurance on the tools. They are hoping for any donations of power tools including but not limited to power saws, chop saws, nail guns, air compressors, power drills, staple guns, jigsaws, drill bits, etc. Cash donations can also be made at Ashland/Ace Hardware and Home Depot in the name of Rogue Valley CDC/Rice Park and Youth Build. RVCDC will also pick up any tools you'd like to donate; just call 734-2355. Donations are tax deductible. Web site: www.RogueValleyCDC.org.

Applications for low-income homeowner opportunities are also now being accepted for Phase Two of Rice Park. Youth Build, the second nonprofit whose tools were stolen, is a program for young adults 16-24 who earn money acquiring construction skills as well as earning their GED. Youth Build is sponsored by the Job Council and federal grants. They are also accepting applications and tool donations at this time. For more information, go to www.jobcouncil.org, 541-842-2566. — Cathy Freeman, Ashland

The $740,000 federal job training grant that we taxpayers awarded the unemployed in Jackson County is mostly wasted money. Now, before you tear up my words, I am for increasing a person's job skills, unemployed or not.

The fact is, because of the Obama economy, there are few jobs available. This administration has frittered away its time on an unaffordable, government-dependent health care bill instead of focusing on helping the private sector create jobs.

Obama and his socialist/fascist Democratic Party have purposely done everything possible to create dependency on government for every phase of our lives. In the process, many people are unemployed with little prospect for a bright future.

You folks who voted for Obama, how's that hope and change working for you? Are some of you finally realizing that his agenda is all about control? His means to accomplish that is to keep as many people as possible economically miserable and dependent on government largesse.

Government has never created one private-sector job.

Please folks, get the emotion out of your thoughts and take a long look at what socialism means for you, your family and America's future. — Richard Gyuro, Sams Valley

It is that time of year again, for planning celebrations in the month of December. It is also when we decide whether to refer to the 25th of December as "Christmas" or "holiday."

This year, there is concern that shoppers will spend less due to the economy. It is ironic that with the transformation of Christmas into "holiday," all associations with Christmas being "holiday," there is dismay about a decrease in spending. People don't buy "holiday" gifts, they buy Christmas gifts. By toning down Christmas, maybe sellers are doing us a favor.

Perhaps divine providence is at work here. Should we move away from the mall and back into our churches or homes with the people we love? Is society giving Christians an unwitting opportunity to understand the difference between Christmas and "holiday"? — Kathleen White, Ashland

My hat is off to Cafe Dejeuner for their first "Give Back to the Community" free Thanksgiving dinner. I am sure it meant a lot to the folks that received a free meal in a nice restaurant. I hope we see more restaurants doing the same next year. — S. Weagel, Medford

The 2009 Southern Oregon Book & Author Fair would like to send a big thank you again this year to the Rogue Valley community of readers who visited this year's fair at the Ashland Springs Hotel on Nov. 21. The authors all had a great time talking with all of you and autographing books.

I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the wonderful venue and services of the Ashland Springs Hotel. Plus, thank you to the Mail Tribune, Daily Tidings, Grants Pass Courier, Ashland Chamber of Commerce and Ashland Resource Center for providing such magnificent publicity prior to the event; Southern Oregon events require the PR provided by these organizations in order to ensure public awareness that leads to a successful event. Book & Author Fair organizers and authors are grateful that you felt us worthy of such great coverage! — Claire Krulikowski, Talent