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Originally published October 3, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 3, 2007 at 9:58 AM

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"Happy days are here again for Republicans."

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Capitol thrill

It isn't easy to tell who the real clowns are in this two-term circus

Editor, The Times:

Happy days are here again for Republicans.

President Bush has apparently succeeded in extending the war past the end of his tenure. Likewise, he has shifted to his successor's responsibility dealing with global warming, oil consumption, the health-care mess, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the real-estate bubble, the weakening dollar and the budget and trade deficits.

Despite their electoral gains in 2006, the Democrats are in disarray, while congressional Republicans remain nearly united in their continued support for the president's policies. Congress voted overwhelmingly to condemn MoveOn.org's ad critical of Gen. David Petraeus, but has so far failed to condemn the president's policies or end the war.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has requested $190 billion more for the war, but Congress is unlikely to override Bush's veto of SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program).

With all the money spent on the war and on pork, and the money lost to tax cuts, there will be little left for wasteful government spending on health, education, infrastructure, science and conservation.

Meanwhile, the administration is laying the groundwork for an attack on Iran. Republicans must feel proud of their accomplishments.

— Donald A. Smith, Bellevue

All fueled up

Biodiesel is hardly a heavenly product

Regarding "Biodiesel boom?" [Times, page one, Oct. 1], two sentences address the controversy over whether biofuels actually reduce global-warming pollutants.

Not mentioned is the fact that biofuels are so absurdly land-hungry — the same amount of land can feed a Third World family for a year or fill up an SUV's tank once — that the small amount already being produced is putting serious pressure on the world's remaining tropical forests and driving up food prices, thus contributing to malnutrition worldwide.

Biofuel technology has been around since the late 1800s and been generally ignored by the market. The lack of reasonable debate surrounding the adoption of massive subsidies and mandates designed to make this pet-rock of agribusiness fly is astounding.

Large-scale biofuel production won't help our fleet move, but the mindless adoption these incentives will keep historians' eyes rolling far into the future.

— Ed Newbold, Seattle

Don't listen to Kermit; It is easy being green

Thank you for your biodiesel story. I have been driving my 2000 Jetta TDI on biodiesel since I purchased it two and half years ago. I have often been called a hippie and a tree-hugger, but that is OK with me. I love biodiesel and don't mind paying a premium for it.

I look forward to the day that consumers stop their addiction to foreign oil, and believe that biodiesel will gain popularity as it becomes more readily available.

— Rachel Smith, Issaquah

Safety first

Surely, Reichert has 5 bucks available

How incredibly ironic that the young bicyclist shown in Rep. Dave Reichert's paid advertisement for the State Children's Health Insurance Program is not protected by what is arguably the cheapest, most effective insurance you can provide your child — a helmet.

Given that SCHIP is apparently intended to benefit children in situations where health insurance is not available, it is relevant to point out that it is not necessary to spend $50-plus at the fancy bike or sporting-equipment stores for this simple protection. Our three kids have been more than happy using $5 helmets available from our local fire station. In fact, the local crew paid our cul-de-sac a visit one summer day (trucks and all) to provide helmets to the neighbor kids and included detailed fitting instructions to boot.

I don't know if they are still available, but it's worth checking into. Also note that many local cities and counties require children — and adults — to wear helmets. Didn't Reichert used to be sheriff?

— Don Neifert, Woodinville

Holding court

Thomas gets caught in racial undercurrent

It appears that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in his "60 Minutes" interview, peeled back Eugene Robinson's cover and exposed him when he stated that many African Americans chastise him for not towing the racial line ["Get over yourself, Clarence," syndicated column, Oct. 2].

I've read a lot of stories about Thomas since his appointment to the court, and many of the most demeaning caricatures of him have been penned by black authors. The negativity is equally pervasive among whites, usually for the same reason.

I'm not overtly impressed with Thomas, nor with any of the justices, for that matter. For the past few decades the court has been populated with mediocrity, and its decisions, whether I've agreed with them or not, have lacked insightfulness.

But any reservations I have about Thomas are based on his and the court's mediocrity, rather than his refusal to be a clone of Thurgood Marshall (more mediocrity).

Clarence Thomas is his own man. Robinson should credit him for that and reserve his criticisms for the clarity and depth of Thomas' legal thinking, rather than his disdain for Robinson's beloved affirmative action.

— James B. Paden, Blaine

And the cycle continues

In his quest to bash Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, columnist Eugene Robinson engages in racial stereotyping; something we in this country have been trying to avoid.

Obviously, he would be happier if Thomas held the same ideology as himself: a liberal African American who favors affirmative action, gun control and abortion. These are supposedly "black" issues, however, they are issues held by Robinson and others on the left who support this ideological slant.

Robinson's negative view of black conservatives, and particularly his view of Thomas as incompetent, only fuel the racial tensions present in society.

— Lon Scott, Auburn

Airport security

Observe all you want, but it isn't going to help

After reading "TSA taking closer look at travelers' mannerisms," [page one, Sept. 20], I was highly annoyed. Not only is the TSA's new plan to screen by observing facial movements and behavior impractical, but it violates the Constitution. Doesn't the Fourth Amendment state that in order for officials to search an individual, they must have a probable cause?

In 2006 alone, 40,000 people went through extra screening at airports and only 300 of those were in fact arrested for criminal activity, a mere 0.75 percent. With statistics like these, the TSA can't actually think that extending this extra screening to observe people's expressions could possibly be helpful or worth their time.

I believe it will be almost impossible for racial profiling not to become an issue, and hope once this screening process takes effect that the TSA will reevaluate its decision and realize how impractical and unconstitutional it is.

— Kelsey Burnett, Seattle

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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