by Inlander Readers & r & Dueling Columnists & r & In his guest commentary about Mayor Hession's new administration and the challenges it faces ("Hession's Turn," 12/22/05), Bob Herold cited numerous instances in which government programs or policies went terribly wrong, hurting the persons they were intended to help. One such example was high-rise, low-income housing that was an "unmitigated disaster." As I recall, before he entered politics, former New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan correctly predicted that many of the programs of LBJ's "Great Society" would end that way.

Accordingly, I was struck by the juxtaposition of Herold's commentary with William Stimson's commentary ("Merry Christmas for Whom?" 12/22/05). Do these gentlemen know each other? If they do, how often do they speak with one another? If they don't know each other, perhaps The Inlander could introduce them. In either event, Herold could explain his point about unintended consequences and its implications for Stimson's complaints about taxes, poverty and increased tax funding for government programs.

I suspect that such a conversation would only reiterate what Stimson has already heard. But just in case he hasn't heard it all before, lack of money is a symptom of poverty and not its cause. In most cases, poverty is the result of foolish and self-destructive choices, such as dropping out of high school, having a child or children out of wedlock, seeking out and remaining in abusive relationships and refusing to confront substance abuse in yourself or domestic partners. Taking money from those people who have made good choices (and who can therefore afford expensive cars) and giving it to people who have made bad choices won't induce good choices. To the contrary, as Herold's commentary suggests, it is more likely that negative behaviors will be reinforced and perpetuated, i.e., unintended consequences.

Michael L. Wolfe & r & Spokane, Wash.

The Crying Game & r & Sen. Ted Stevens, the Republican crybaby from Alaska, has invested much time and money in his prot & eacute;g & eacute; from Washington's Fifth Congressional District, Cathy McMorris. This is the senator who threatens to leave the Senate if he does not get "Bridge to Nowhere" pork for his developer sponsors. He threatens to leave the Senate if he doesn't get ANWR drilling pork for his petroleum industry sponsors. He cries, he whines, he beats his chest. Why do they put up with his bullying? Why not just tell him "Ta-Ta, Ted"?

Another question: Does he bully our brand-new congresswoman from Washington's Fifth District in the same way? After all, a bully is a bully. Do you think she gets a pass if she should decide to represent us in Congress instead of Ted? Or does he tell her to expect trouble getting re-elected if she balks? Does she have to keep crybaby Ted happy to keep her job now?

Ted got his money for the bridge. They covered the trail a little bit. It goes into the Alaska general fund and then to the bridge, so that there is no mention of the bridge in the bill. Cathy McMorris voted for that bill. At the top of every on-ramp there is a sign that says "yield."

Glenn Lange & r & Marcus, Wash.

Secret Spies & r & President Bush (and Vice President Cheney) are ripping up the Constitution behind their backs. When the media spots the shreds falling to the ground, their response is to claim the media is endangering American lives. Fear-mongering has worked for them for five years. They could have conducted the same spying by getting court orders, even after the spying. In their imperial arrogance they chose not to -- or else there's something else they're hiding from us.

President Bush claims that since warrant-less spying on Americans has been reviewed by the Justice Department and mentioned to some representatives and senators, it is legal. That is the opinion of some Justice Department officials, mainly John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general (2001-03). This former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that the president can invade countries without congressional approval, can scrap the Geneva Conventions, can order prisoners tortured and, now, can spy on Americans without a court order. Yoo's law school colleagues say that Yoo believes the president is an elected king. Even other Bush administration officials disagreed with Yoo. Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey refused to sign off on the warrant-less spying while Attorney General Ashcroft was in the hospital. From his hospital bed, Ashcroft himself was reluctant to sign off and the program was temporarily suspended. Even President Bush in 2004 said "a wiretap requires a court order." Of course by then he had been ordering wiretaps without court orders for two years.

In the 216 years since the United States Constitution went into effect, its interpretation has been left to the United States Supreme Court, not a misguided, fearful lawyer in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. It is irrelevant that John Yoo said, "The government may be justified in taking measures which in less troubled times could be seen as infringements of individual liberties." It is precisely in troubled times that we must live up to the Constitution. Nowhere does the Constitution say the president can ignore the Constitution because some lawyer claims he has the authority as commander in chief. Remember Nixon spying on critics? Remember thousands of American citizens surrounded by barbed wire and machine guns because they were of Japanese descent, without a shred of evidence of espionage?

No terrorist can take away our freedom. Can your government? President Bush and Vice President Cheney have violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. And the remedy for that is impeachment.

Steve Gigliotti & r & Davenport, Wash.

Big Losers & r & It is not a moot point that America has an obesity issue and that our health is suffering. In fact, approximately 400,000 American adults die every year from obesity-related issues; one in five children is overweight. Children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, previously known as Adult Onset Diabetes. Over $95 billion was spent on obesity-related health care costs in 2001 (National Institute of Diabetes). If you think these numbers are startling, just imagine the statistics when our grade-school children become adults. For the first time, adults are likely to outlive their children. What are we doing about this epidemic? In a fast-paced world, we rarely have time to look at the health of ourselves and our families. I am making a resolution this year to make a dent in the obesity epidemic. I invite you to be a part of the Spokane's Biggest Loser Challenge. Competing county-, state- and nation-wide for cash prizes and learning how to take control of our health and lose the weight permanently. If you would like join me, call (509) 389-9694. Let's make 2006 a healthier year!

Kira L.W. Fagan & r & Reardan, Wash.

53rd Annual Art on the Green @ North Idaho College

Sun., Aug. 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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