The end is nowhere

To the editor:

The one question you will never hear the Bush administration give a straight answer to is this: When will we know that it's time to cut our losses in Iraq and end the occupation? They would only say that they "believe in victory," which I would call a pathological and potentially terminal case of tunnel vision.

Violence is increasing in Iraq. A decline in certain types of violence compared with nine months ago is meaningless, because relatively few can face the 106 degree heat in Iraq's summer, not even to engage in sectarian killing. However, as the Aug. 24 NH Gazette illustrated in a detailed analysis, summertime trends of U.S. casualties in Iraq over recent years are going precipitously up.

The political process that Congress and the President once claimed was so critical has gone nowhere. A General Accounting Office report has just concluded that the Iraqi national police are so corrupt that they should be entirely disbanded. Every opinion poll of Iraqis shows they overwhelmingly demand a date certain for complete U.S. withdrawal. Even Alan Greenspan now admits the obvious: "The Iraq war is largely about oil."

The occupation is criminal, failed and based on lies. The real threats are self-inflicted and remain ignored. America's failure to take in the millions of refugees this war has created will earn us lasting enemies. So does our national blindness to Israel's permanent imprisonment of the Palestinian people. And U.S. policies of arming dictators and spreading corporate control over all resources makes a mockery of "spreading freedom and democracy." "The terrorists" hate "us" for the policies we impose on others, not the freedoms enjoyed by our citizens.

Most tragically, the leading congressional democrats are still playing politics with peoples' lives and America's future. Newly armed with these reports of minimal progress in Iraq and continuing erosion of republican support for the war, suddenly the "democratic" party is eager to compromise and drop demands for a fixed withdrawal date. They fear losing the ongoing Iraq disaster as an issue before the next election.

As long as this is always someone else's fault, the price is always paid some other day, and the massive bloodshed is only on far-off streets out of America's view, few are ready to act. We must all take responsibility for ending this before the price is higher than we can pay, and the bloodshed really does come home. Let us spend no more money and lives occupying other countries.

Steven Diamond

Dover



Vote for Obama will be one for strength, rationality and truth

To the editor:

Dear Fellow Citizens,

My faith in Sen. Barack Obama’s leadership increased when I read of his plans to “turn the page in Iraq.” He will immediately begin to pull out one to two brigades each month of our combat troops, allowing all combat troops to be out by the end of 2008. He would call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq which would not end until Iraq’s leaders agree on a political settlement. He would also take immediate steps to address Iraq’s humanitarian disaster and hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable.

Additionally, I am very worried Bush plans to strike Iran. Yes, Iran. Counter to this familiar drumbeat to a disastrous and morally wrong war, a President Obama would initiate diplomacy in the region | and wouldn’t be afraid to use the strength of the Presidency to talk to Iran and Syria as part of that process.

Obama stood up and opposed the war in Iraq in 2002, before it even began and has since worked consistently to bring the war to a close. There was no intelligent debate in the run-up to war — just lies, broadcast from a sleeping press. Today, an intelligent debate on the pull out of our combat troops is needed.

Let us turn the page to one of our most morally wrong, irrational and disastrous chapters written by George W. Bush. Your vote for Barack Obama will be one for strength, rationality and truth.

Fred Bates

Derry



Romney enjoyed his visit

To the editor:

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet dozens of families at Derryfest. It was great to see so many people who support my father and to meet new ones who are considering joining my dad’s campaign.

My dad has attended nearly 200 events all over New Hampshire talking about his vision for a better America by building a stronger military, a stronger economy, and stronger families. He recently rolled out his proposed tax cut for middle income families making less than $200,000, which would eliminate all taxes on income earned from savings, dividends, and capital gains. This tax cut would help more than 300,000 New Hampshire taxpayers save more of their money to spend as they choose | whether it’s for a new house, their child’s education or their retirement.

If you would like more information about my dad’s plan for the nation, visit www.MittRomney.com/Issue-Watch/Strategy; or if you think you want to help out here in New Hampshire, call the campaign state office at 836-0141.

Craig Romney

New York City



Impressed by Obama

To the editor:

I am 55 years old and have never actively campaigned for a political candidate… until now. Like many people I know, my interest in national politics has been stifled by a growing sense of frustration. Our national government has become paralyzed by partisan politics. The Left and the Right blame each other for all that is wrong with our country. In the end, nothing of substance gets done.

While politicians and media members engage in endless name calling, major national issues, such as Health Care, go unaddressed. Health Care is not a red or blue issue. Businesses, small and large, and the vast majority of individuals all stand to benefit from a more efficient, cost-effective system. It is clearly in the national best interest for our politicians to work together, looking for common ground on which to move the system forward. But, this doesn’t happen. The system as it works now, encourages them to be more concerned with self-interest than with national interest. It is their inability, or unwillingness, to work together that gives lobbyists the power to stifle change.

When I first had the chance to read "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama, I knew this was not a typical politician. When I first saw him in person, I was astounded by his intelligence, his subtle understanding of complex issues and, most importantly, his refusal to take the easy, popular way out when answering questions. He dared to tell people what they didn’t want to hear. Most impressive of all, he seemed to have more faith in regular Americans than we have in ourselves. I was inspired.

As a voter, I am less concerned with issues than I am with leadership. I am less concerned with experience in a dysfunctional system than I am in finding a person with a proven ability to work with people across the aisle to solve problems. Barack Obama is just such a person. He is a true leader and, at this time in our history, our country is badly in need of leadership. When he spoke at the 2004 Democratic Convention he said, “There is no Red America and Blue America. There is only the United States of America.” I urge you to vote for Sen. Barack Obama.

Bill Gehling

Londonderry



Some Politicians Don't Have a Prayer

To the editor:

Apparently, some voters want John Edwards to move into the Oval Office a year and a half from now. But, if his own words are to be trusted, he oughtn't be their go-to-guy when looking for God to intervene dramatically in life's on-the-ground circumstances. At the Iowa presidential debate a few weeks ago, the candidate noted, in response to a question posed to him about the power (or lack thereof) of prayer to prevent or lessen bad things: "I pray daily now ...but...I think there’s some things that are beyond our control...[I]t is enormously important to look to God, and in my case Christ, for guidance and for wisdom, but I don’t think you can prevent bad things from happening through prayer." (For the record, Democrat contender Sen. Joe Biden responded similarly).

I understand that, according to contemporary strictures, the only thing worse than talking about God in public is criticizing in public what someone else says about God in public (unless that "someone" is Pat Robertson or Dr. James Dobson). This following point, however, needs stating: it seems that former Senator Edwards, not content with apologizing for his Southern Baptist scruples which make him uncomfortable with "gay marriage," has further seen fit to repudiate a central tenet of historic Christianity: God really does answer prayer.

Politicians traditionally are eager to embrace religion while on the stump | providing it is the toothless variety, a "spirituality" that doesn't expect much from the Creator and doesn't demand much from the created. Edwards, for example, who never tires reminding us of his church-going heritage, is apparently untouched by Biblical/faith principles which would require anything like unbudging defense of the unborn or meaningful support for conventional marriage. Instead, he and so many of his politicking peers, coo over gauzy, feel-good creeds that urge, "Do your own thing | it's all okay with God!" To them, the Ruler of the Universe is pretty handy as a celestial Dear Abby dispensing advice or a heavenly Life-Coach lobbing attaboys and spiritual pats on the back to get us through the tough times. But an involved-in-your-life Problem-Fixer? A righteous, interfering-in-your-business Command-Giver? That manner of Deity doesn't figure into their platform positions.

Hallmark card believers will flinch at what I am about to say, but the on-the-page-facts are that Biblical standards, concerning a number of fundamental issues at least, provide little wiggle room: hell, judgment, right/wrong, good/evil, unyielding do's and don'ts, and impressively answered prayer, are all themes treated amply in those Hebrew/Christian writings which provided a bedrock for our American system, and which our leaders so frequently enjoy referencing.

The Bible is pro-sex (startlingly so to those unfamiliar with what it actually affirms about the topic) | but it denounces homosexuality and sexual intimacy outside of male/female marriage. Imaginative attempts to ignore this 500 lb., exegetical gorilla notwithstanding, that's what the Book teaches, that's what the Christianity, claimed by Sen. Edwards, has long taught. Disgraced former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey | a professing Episcopalian | may glowingly avow homosexuality as, "a gift from God," but that's not the revelation embraced for centuries by his church.

Killing children in the womb? Reshaping marriage to include “same-sex" partners? Casual divorce and remarriage? The sadistic and profane vulgarity which constitutes such an outrageous share of our popular entertainment and culture? Biblically-informed religion simply condemns them all.

I suppose that's the chief problem for so many of our office seekers: excepting a few particularly unfashionable transgressions (racism, greed among the "evil rich," child abuse), the pols don't want to be seen condemning any sin except one, the twenty-first century's "sin" of all sins: intolerance. Intolerance is reprehended with near fundamentalist fervor by those deemed society's most enlightened thinkers, who then go on, incongruously, to tip their berets mawkishly at what arguably is a wonderful, but frequently intolerant, religious book. It's a Bible-as-Linus'-blanket spirituality: psychologically satisfying but, ultimately, irrelevant.

Of course, the American voter bears a share of the blame for this development: a recent Pew poll reveals ballot-casters want their politicians to be "religious" but not necessarily "very religious." A salting of tingly spiritual sentiment is a plus for a candidate, but religious convictions that make a real difference are not required. It's no wonder crusading unbelievers like author Christopher Hitchens mock so much of contemporary religion | in the crunch, they insist, it is all rather pointless; faith doesn't "work." It’s a forlorn conclusion too many cynically Bible-quoting politicians seem to confirm.

Steve Pauwels

Londonderry





Scouting a valuable endeavour

To the editor:

You may have noticed a lot of signs around lately (no, not all the political ones, it’s still a little early for that), these are bright colorful signs encouraging kids and their families to join Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Volunteers from Windham to Derry, Salem to Londonderry and everywhere in between, have been encouraging families to get involved in Scouting.

Why the need for such a concentrated effort? It’s because kids have so many other activities to choose from these days: soccer, basketball, art classes, music just to a name a few. While those are great activities and programs for kids, Scouting’s programs instill values and develop our future leaders.

Just to give you an example, soon you’ll see grocery bags and bins with a logo that reads, “Scouting for Food.” This is a huge community service project which will take place not just in our area, but statewide. Scouts from all over New Hampshire will collect 330,000 food items which will then be distributed to 175 food pantries or agencies statewide, 15,000 of those will come from Scouts in our area.

While this project is taking place, Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops and Venturing Crews will get involved in independent projects throughout the community, including Eagle Projects. Last year, 35 boys from this area earned the high honor of Eagle Scout and many more are on track to achieve this honor this year. To do that, they put in hundreds of hours of community service planting gardens, building ramps for the handicapped, and finding other ways to improve our communities. Most Packs and Troops are also involved in service for their church or service group in addition to participating in Scout service projects.

The activities will continue throughout the year with camporees, Pinewood Derbys and many other community based activities. The kids and their families will have a blast all while doing “Good Turns” for the community, and learning life-skills in building character and leadership without even knowing it. You see, that’s the secret of Scouting; it's citizenship, leadership, personal fitness and character development in one program. At the end of the day, our Scouts are involved in a fun, rewarding program, and character is developed along the way. Consider signing your son up for Scouting, you’ll be glad you did, and so proud of the results. I certainly am!

Michael Tager/Sovereign Bank

District Volunteer Chairman

Nutfield District

Daniel Webster Council

Boy Scouts of America



Belichick case overblown

To the editor:

What do former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, the Rev. Ted Haggard, U.S. Rep. William Jefferson and Sen. Larry Craig all have in common? Each one of them played roles in our Government and each one of them broke the law.

My guess is some of you reading this piece might not even know who some of these people are, so let me give you a brief refresher.

Sandy Berger was found guilty of illegally removing highly classified documents from the National Archives and for intentionally trying to destroy some of them.

The Rev. Ted Haggard is a former Evangelical preacher who routinely participated in President Bush's conference calls. Haggard advised us all on how to live a righteous life and, whoops, Ole Teddy boy slipped up with just a wee bit of an addiction to methamphetamines and a propensity to engage in what he called, "sexual immorality," with a male prostitute.

Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson accepted a $100,000 bribe from an FBI informant, all caught on tape.

Lastly, Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho pleaded guilty recently to misdemeanor disorderly conduct because of he was caught by an undercover policeman in an attempt to solicit sex in a Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport bathroom.

Why did I decide to refresh your memory of these four cons? Bill Belichick; that's right, Bill Belichick. The Patriots' coach broke a football rule. These other guys broke the law, but yet the national news outlets from NBC to CNN can't get enough of Belichick's tape-gate.

I understand that we are fresh off the Sen. Craig story, but do you remember the coverage of Berger, Haggard and Jefferson receiving more coverage than Coach Belichick? What has our media coverage become? Let's get our priorities in order. We can debate whether the Patriots cheated or not. We can be concerned for Brittany Spears' children. Lindsey Lohan, Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton should all probably hire chauffeurs, but let's not report these items with equal or greater vigor and veracity along with items of national importance.

I'm not a flag waving right-winger and I'm not a tree-hugging liberal. I think of myself as a Joe Q. Public kind of guy who wants a little less hypocrisy and a little more levity in our national news coverage.

Wayne Barrows

Portsmouth

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