by Inlander Readers

Put It Into Perspective

About the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt told Americans: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." That's what John Kerry should say about terrorism.

What Kerry should say: "Turn off your TV, turn down your emotions and give your brain a chance. Learn why the most important thing we can all do together to end the terrorism hysteria is to just quit worrying."

If we look at raw numbers (not TV pictures or hypotheticals), it becomes apparent how little a threat terrorism really is. Not to downplay the horrible tragedy of 9/11, but if 9/11 happened annually, terrorism would still kill fewer Americans than Lou Gehrig's Disease. Islamic extremists have raged against America for 25 years, since the 1979 Iranian Embassy crisis. During that time, there have only been three Islamic terrorist incidents on U.S. soil; 9/11, the killing of two CIA agents and the first Trade Center bombing that killed six.

An army larger than that of most nations illegally crosses U.S. borders annually to harvest crops and clean hotel rooms. Serial killers stalk many American cities. If the government can't stop them, how realistic (and truthful) are politicians who promise to eliminate well-trained, well-financed terrorists. Ask the Israelis, the British in Northern Ireland, the Indians in Kashmir, the Russians in Chechnya.

In a recent New York Times interview, John Kerry said, "We have to get back to the place where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance... As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. We're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day and fundamentally it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."

Kerry didn't say whether terrorism must fall from current levels to become only a nuisance, or whether the current threat is what he considers a nuisance, and that our current worries result mostly from media and political hype. Being a good politician, he let everyone find their own meaning in his words.

I found hope. In a separate interview, Kerry's national security advisor Richard Holbrooke supported my view that today's terrorism threat (while perhaps more than a nuisance) is much less than a war. Says Holbrooke: "[The war on terror] is not really a war. That's more of a metaphor. It's like the war on poverty."

In a charitable mood, I convinced myself Kerry and Holbrooke came as close (as practical politics permits) to telling the truth about terrorism.

President Bush has never told the truth about terrorism. He hyped terrorism hysteria and war fever continuously from the day after 9/11, then exploited the resulting fear and anger for votes.

Robert Stokes

Spokane, Wash.

As Liberal As They Come

Being neither Republican nor Democrat, I know whom I am not voting for this fall based on the last four years. I have noticed that most Republicans cannot speak about Democrats without contemptuously attaching the word "liberal." But the top-ranking Republican, George W. Bush, seems the most liberal of all. He is liberal with:

4 Our tax dollars -- skyrocketing our nation's debt to the largest ever in our country's history;

4 Our environment -- loosening restrictions on big corporate polluters and opening lands for development;

4 Outsourcing our jobs -- perpetuating slave labor in other countries, leaving many Americans without incomes;

4 His education policies -- causing many schools to be federally controlled or to close altogether under his unfunded "No Child Left Behind";

4 Our constitution -- trying to amend it to make personal issues into political issues;

4 Our borders-- allowing terrorists to infiltrate our country and do us harm, and legalizing illegal aliens;

4 His power -- flaunting it before the world community and planning unprovoked, pre-emptive invasions of other countries despite what our allies and the United Nations recommend;

4 The lives of our men and women in the military -- sending them to a war that was false from the outset.

Jeri Lynn Cabbage

Prosser, Wash.

Say Cheese!

"I think it's 'no smiling' now," the clerk said tentatively. His co-worker clarified: "No smiling. They want a more natural look," she affirmed. I said, "How about if I roll my eyes? That would be pretty natural for me right now."

Americans standing for U.S. passport photos are no longer allowed to smile. I know we were permitted our grins not too long ago, since my husband's 1998 passport shows him smiling from ear to ear. Now, however, the Department of State's Web site helpfully defines the appropriate natural expression. "In passport photographs, the subject's expression... should be neutral (non-smiling) with both eyes open and mouth closed. A mile with closed jaw is allowed but is not prefferd."

Americans must look naturally neutral when standing for passport photos. By extension, we will need naturally neutral expressions when traveling, even though airports are miserable, uncomfortable places.

Our officially required naturally neutral expressions will also be very useful in many other contexts. What is the appropriate facial expression to adopt during an illegitimate war? Naturally, neutral. In the event of election fraud? Neutral, of course!

Help put an end to a naturally neutral America. Take your joyful, disgusted, hopeful or concerned fact to the polls and vote for John Kerry.

Laura L. Phillips

Spokane, Wash.

Post-Debate Spin

I have watched every second of the three debates between John Kerry and George W Bush. What surprises me most about these three debates is nothing about the debates themselves, but the political "analysis" that begins directly after the debate. It would seem as though the people analyzing the debate, didn't actually watch it. In the first debate most of the "analysts" said that if it was not a tie, Kerry MIGHT have had a slight edge. Now, even the "analysts" are saying that it was a very poor showing for Bush. Likewise, in the second and third debates public opinion shows clearly that hundreds of thousand of people that tuned in to watch, and cared enough to vote on it, thought Kerry won. The "analysts" called these two as ties. What are they doing, just saying whatever they want directly after the debate and then waiting to see what the majority of us "dumb folk" think before making up their minds? We might be better off to get someone off the street in there to "analyze" the debate and give an accurate depiction of the events that transpired. Just another example of the So-Called Liberal Media.

Greg Young

Spokane, Washington

Long-Term Investing

Few things are more heartbreaking than a 5-year-old who goes off to kindergarten already behind. She's the one who doesn't recognize letters, who sometimes has to skip breakfast because her family can't afford groceries, who hasn't seen a pediatrician in years.

We, at the Children's Alliance, hear such stories all the time. There are thousands of Washington children who start kindergarten far behind the starting line.

For more than 20 years we've been fighting to improve the lives of Washington's children. We certainly haven't reached the finish line yet.

That is why the Children's Alliance has endorsed Initiative 884, the Education Trust Fund. We know that the state can and must do better to give every child the educational opportunities they so desperately need to succeed.

Today, half of all low-income children who are eligible for preschool assistance are being turned away. We have some of the most crowded classrooms in the country. Per student funding for K-12 education has actually declined when adjusted for inflation, placing Washington more than $1,000 below the national average.

It's not acceptable.

By increasing the sales tax by a mere penny, Initiative 884 would bring $29,195,700 per year in NEW funds to the school districts in Spokane County. It would open 1,500 new slots in the Community Colleges of Spokane. And, it would make critical preschool programs available to hundreds of low-income children. It would give our young people a fighting chance.

We've been waiting for years for the legislature to find the money needed to adequately fund the state's educational system. It hasn't happened. I-884 is a chance for us--as parents, as grandparents, as concerned citizens--to take control and give our all of our children what they need. I-884 establishes a dedicated Trust Fund available only for improvements in education.

We know education is one of the wisest investments we can make. Better schools mean good jobs. More education means greater earning potential.

I-884 offers all of us a unique opportunity to invest in our children and our future. Let's not let it slip away. Vote yes on Initiative 884.

Linda Stone

Eastern Washington Director

The Children's Alliance

Publication date: 10/21/04

AAPI Heritage Day @ CenterPlace Regional Event Center

Sat., June 12, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
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