Letters to the editor
A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
All the right moves
A page from GOP's playbook
Editor, The Times:
Heavens to Betsy! It appears that the political party that was promising to protect core American values has been coddling pedophiles within its own flock! ["Lawmaker quits after suggestive messages to teens," Times page one, Sept. 30.]
The same congressional leaders who have insisted they are the only viable conduit to the Almighty have been turning a blind eye to child predation within their own ranks!
If Democrats are the "cut and run" bunch, is GOP now an acronym for "groping our pages"!? Of course not.
Just as the "cut and run" labeling is a cheap, cynical attempt to avoid substantive dialogue, the temptation to tar and feather all Republicans with Florida's former Rep. Mark Foley's transgressions is a disservice to the real victims, young men who have been violated by a sexual predator.
In November, voters should consider which candidates are sticking to the issues, offering clear solutions and answering their questions directly and honestly. Anything less is an insult to those citizens still interested enough to believe their involvement will make a difference.
— David Arntuffus, Shoreline
Evening the score
The zeal to win makes us suspicious of everyone's tactics
Editor, The Times:
After reading "A House crying out for ethics" [editorial, Oct. 5], I wholeheartedly agree [the Mark Foley fallout] should in The Times' words "... not subside until those who looked past or covered up his conduct are held accountable."
This isn't just Foley and/or Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Not only those who covered up his conduct need to be held to account, but anyone who had this information and didn't notify the authorities immediately should be held to account. That includes ABC News and any member of Congress, Republican or Democrat.
Why does this need to be pointed out? Because when these "October surprise" scandals come out with five weeks to go before an election, I have to be suspicious. Did a political adversary of Foley's know about this information and perhaps hold onto it for some time until maximum political damage would be inflicted? The instant messages [from Foley to a 16-year-old House page] reported by ABC News were dated April 2003.
Not that they were necessarily known at that time, but I hope a thorough investigation will reveal the entire timeline of "who knew what" and all parties are held to account.
Foley for sure should be locked up, but anyone else sitting on this info while Foley continued to harm more kids should be in the cell along with him.
— Doug Kilishek, Seattle
So many fumbles
The Republican leadership in Congress has supported the Bush administration's immoral war in Iraq, fumbled to provide aid in the Hurricane Katrina disaster, approved domestic spying and torture in the name of national security, indulged in the most wasteful spending in our history, pandered to the Christian right for votes by opposing gay marriage, and now is shown to have covered up the sexual predation on children of one of its members.
Anyone who still thinks Republicans deserve your votes in November probably believes the Holocaust didn't happen and that Richard Nixon was not a crook. It's time to get rid of these mis-representatives in the coming election before they do any more damage to America at home and abroad. The Mark Foley scandal should be the last straw.
America has never been uglier. It's time for a change.
— Alan Moen, Entiat
Spirit of fairness
Much has been said and written about former Congressman Mark Foley. While his actions cannot be condoned as appropriate behavior, and should not be, there is culpability to be shared by more than Foley alone. He has taken full responsibility for his transgressions, and rightly so.
It seems to me that we as a society should also take responsibility for being a part of this problem. Foley's having revealed that he is a gay man certainly does not excuse his actions, yet it brings to bear responsibility for a society that drove him into a closet in the first place.
Foley has lived in a world in which most churches condemn his identity and exclude him; he is a member of a political party that has openly harangued gay men like him and spent countless hours and millions of dollars driving them back into the closet; and he has spent many of his 52 years hiding his real self from all of us for fear that we, too, would reject him.
I hope Mr. Foley can find some comfort in knowing that God's grace and forgiveness are bigger than his transgressions.
— Rev. Vincent Lachina, Seattle
Leveling the defense
Those liberals are flaming again, this time against Republican Congressman Mark Foley and his minor indiscretions. Isn't it obvious that they are manipulating the media again, trying to take the voters' eyes off the real news: President Bush's success in the war in Iraq.
— William Phillips, Seattle
Time to go home
We've seen enough
U.S. death toll reaches 2,730 ["Baghdad push takes deadly toll on U.S. troops," News, Oct. 4].
As the death toll of United States soldiers reaches nearly 3,000, the war in Iraq continues to show no end. How long does President Bush plan to keep this going? How high must the death toll rise before the president decides to pull out? Bush himself has said that he will adhere to his commitment toward the war on terror until justice has been brought to those responsible for 9/11.
It has been five years since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and we have yet to see the capture of the leading members of al-Qaida. How is it that the strongest military organization is losing to men hiding in caves, waving their guns at the "bully" standing outside?
It's time to begin withdrawing our troops from the Middle East as we set in stone, the final securing of the Iraqi government and military.
— Josh Aranda, Everett
The 10-year feud
I truly enjoyed your thoughtful two-part analysis of Initiative 933 ["Initiative 933: Don't trash Washington," Joseph W. Tovar guest commentary, Sept. 24, and "Initiative 933: It's about fairness," Bruce Ramsey editorial column, Oct. 1].
For me, one of the biggest problems with I-933 is its "retroactive to 1996" component. In 1997, we bought property on the "rural" side of the Growth Management Act line specifically because we felt there was some assurance that the rural character would be protected.
Ironically, if I-933 passes and those protections get compromised and adjoining parcels are developed at higher densities than they are currently zoned for, the value of our property (to us) is reduced. So by the standards of the initiative's sponsor, we should be compensated.
No one wants to see 73-year-old grandmas left destitute because they can't subdivide the family farm but let's not throw everything into litigious chaos to solve the hard case. Instead, let's provide a streamlined appeal process to correct the obviously wronged individuals. It's about fairness, but let's not trash Washington.
— Don Armstrong, Fall City
Going back to Adam
Essentially, I-933 is about whether people — citizens — have the right to come together, through democratically elected representatives, and enact laws, rules and regulations for the common good.
Backers of I-933 call this tyranny; I call it civilization. Backers of I-933 are absolutists who would say that private property rights represent the deepest and most sacred principle of society, a shibboleth that should not be modified in the slightest for any reason.
I say property rights are relative and subject to common-sense restrictions, like the venerable free-speech exception of yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater where there is no fire. Backers of I-933 exalt individual rights exclusively, as if the realities of a polyglot, crowded society provide no legitimate counterweight.
I say I-933's intent to bribe individuals not to harm the common good is in direct contravention to that which makes us most human, the recognition of humanity in others.
— Joel Schwartz, Seattle
We'll love new work
Editorial Page Editor James Vesely's "The region: a refresher course" [editorial column, Oct. 1] is fine as far as it goes, but there is more to consider.
Take a look at Parsons, the engineering company chosen to build the Alaskan Way tunnel. Its track record on high-profile construction projects is questionable. The company didn't know in advance that its construction of the Third Avenue bus tunnel would kill businesses along that corridor. It advised the architects of Boston's Big Dig tunnel project to skimp on the number of bolts holding ceiling panels in place, causing one to fall on a motorist, killing her. And its participation in the reconstruction of Iraq has been abysmal.
Save Seattle from further urban planning and construction disasters. Replace the viaduct with a boulevard. New York City did it with State Route 9A and it has worked out just fine. Project costs were lowered significantly, environmentalists were appeased, real-estate values skyrocketed, and the waterfront was reopened to recreation, waterborne transit and small-scale commerce. What more could you ask for?
— Thomas G. Lunke, urban planner, New York, N.Y.
Allies of the Lord
I read that the ACLU was hosting an event at the Kirkland Performance Center at which dramatic readings will be presented from literary works such as "Lord of the Flies" and "Whale Talk." The event is part of what's billed as Banned Books Week, in which literary works that have been threatened with censorship through the years will be celebrated.
I guess we can expect quite a few readings from the Bible.
— Tom Davidson, Redmond