Rather than successfully discrediting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's critics, it seems to me that Jack Kelly's Dec. 18 column helps to support their arguments.
Mr. Kelly rightly points to CIA intelligence failures as a major component of our problems in Iraq, but Mr. Rumsfeld knew (or should have known) that the intelligence was weak because we'd had no reliable operatives on the ground in Iraq for more than 10 years and there was (and still is) a serious shortage of Arabic speaking translators on U.S. payrolls.
Mr. Kelly cited the Clinton administration for reducing the size of our Army, but again, Mr. Rumsfeld knew that and yet he still supported going ahead with the invasion and occupation of Iraq without adequate forces properly equipped and trained.
Let's face it, this administration came into office in 2001 with the burr of Saddam Hussein and the first Gulf War under its saddle and it was bound and determined to invade Iraq regardless of the size and condition of our military forces and without much thought to the consequences of our actions.
Democrats and conservatives upset with the Bush-Cheney administration failed to vote them out of office in November, so now they've turned their sights on Mr. Rumsfeld in the hopes of at least getting rid of someone who bears some responsibility for getting us into the Iraq mess.
Even if Mr. Rumsfeld goes, I fear that we and the Iraqi people will continue to pay a heavy price for this ill-conceived invasion for many years to come.
ROBERT A. KELSO
It becomes more apparent daily that the U. S. abuse of prisoners is accepted policy going to the very top of this administration. When an illegal, immoral, pre-emptive war is carried on, it does not seem to be a large step to play by one's own rules, seeing the Geneva conventions as "quaint" or inapplicable.
With all the cabinet shuffling, the one who should leave, Donald Rumsfeld, doesn't have the decency to resign. President Bush, barely elected again, must be pressured to remove him and Paul Wolfowitz.
As to switching horses in the middle of the stream, if your horse is taking you into deep water, you look for a better one.
Shouldn't individuals of conscience and all faith groups be boldly expressing their shame and outrage at this inhumanity?
Your Dec. 14 editorial supporting newly passed Senate Bill 80, limiting victims' rights and compensation, says, "It's not perfect, but the legislation could at least help end the concept of 'deep-pocket justice'."
The new law not only isn't perfect, it's seriously flawed. It attempted to fix things that weren't broken while ignoring things that are broken. Judges already have the experience to identify and the authority to dismiss frivolous cases. Judges already have the authority to review a jury award that might seem out of line.
The phrase "deep-pocket justice" is an insult to every victim who has had only two choices: accept huge monetary and emotional losses or try to sue. Instead of learning from the accurate, objective articles of your own Statehouse reporter, Jim Provance, you speak from your prejudices and lack of information about lawsuits. They are not get-rich-quick schemes. They burden a victim with a complex, expensive, time-consuming, energy-draining process after already suffering the expensive and energy-draining experience of being injured.
What's really broken is insurance law. If liability insurance had to cover a policyholder's liability, and if health insurance had to cover a victim's medical bills the same as it does any other policyholder's instead of getting all its money back, victims wouldn't need to sue in the first place. And because of insurance law, an attempt to sue can be in vain because there's no one to sue. No one is legally responsible for the losses.
A very bad bill is becoming a very bad law by means of a very bad process.
I thought the recent change in the banking rules was a good thing. Because checks are processed in one day, the number of bounced checks should decrease. Hopefully, fewer problems with this would result in lower fees charged by banks.
But wait, on a recent return trip to a local retailer, I found that I could not return my item until an 11-day waiting period was up. Supposedly, by then they would know if my check was good. I believe turnabout is fair play. The bank has the money. It should notify the retailer and not use people's money for a week and a half before releasing the check. I suppose this is its way of recovering the fees lost on the other end. It's time for the banking industry to treat its customers fairly.
MARTIN F. O'CONNELL
As your senators and representatives were leaving Washington, D.C., for their end of the year holiday, they were in a generous mood. So generous, that they spent $388 billion for mostly pork-barrel projects to benefit just about every congressional district in the country.
There was one problem: They didn't have the money! No matter, they just charged it to the soaring national debt. When added to the more than $7.6 trillion already owed, we should hit $8 trillion sometime in January of 2005. Approximately $8 trillion divided by about 294 million people works out to more than $27,000 or every U.S. citizen! If you are a married couple with two kids, you owe more than $100,000 as your share of the national debt.
As a working adult and small-business owner for 35 years, I have contributed a great amount of my own money to the Social Security Trust Fund. I have always believed that at some point my retirement would at least be partially funded by this tax.
Now, as retirement looms ever closer, Social Security appears to be in trouble. However, in this time of shared sacrifice, I am confident that President Bush will lead the way to a permanent fix.
First, I thought he would promise never to spend another dime of the Social Security surplus, thereby keeping all future receipts out of the general fund. Alas, such a plan would make his huge budget deficits even larger, so this plan has not been offered.
Then I thought Mr. Bush might roll back some of his tax cuts in order to preserve needed money for Social Security. Such a notion has never entered his mind. Perhaps the President might offer to increase the income limit that is taxed for Social Security. Yet such a plan would be a tax increase on wealthier Americans, which is anathema to Mr. Bush. Finally, I had hoped the President would make serious budget cuts in order to bring his deficits down. Not surprisingly, this does not appear to be happening.
True to the ideal of shared sacrifice, the President instead has recommended a 6 percent cut in payments. Hopefully for the current leadership the silent majority will remain silent and ignored.
If Mr. Bush has the courage of his convictions, he should cut payroll taxes for Social Security. As he has often stated, this will give all of us more money in our pockets and give business more money to invest in jobs, thus stimulating more economic growth and solving all our problems. Let's finally have a tax cut for the little guy.
"Not for profit" health-care organizations are showing "excess of revenue over expenses" in the millions of dollars? Hospital executives making six- and seven-digit salaries in addition to benefits while having lawyers harass the working poor without health insurance over unpaid medical bills?
What's wrong with this picture? The IRS needs to take a long hard look at these "nonprofits" and ask questions as to how they operate and determine whether they truly deserve the "not for profit status" they enjoy.