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Published: Tuesday, 2/14/2006

Be realistic about Bush spying policy

In no way is this an endorsement of President Bush's domestic spying policy, but a look at it in realistic terms. We all remember 9/11, where we were, and our thoughts as to how those planes could be crashed into innocent bystanders of many nations and nationalities. We and the government had no idea who could conceive such a despicable deed.

Normally the government must have substantiated evidence prior to obtaining a court order to wire tap. In this situation it had to quickly throw a blanket over our communication network in an effort to determine where, who, and what.

We need to understand the government now monitors conversations of all of us, too many to be translated/interpreted if necessary. Thus, it's done by key words. They're not interested in your grandmother's chocolate chip cookie recipe; it codes in certain words such as bomb, terrorist, etc. If those words are used, the conversation is recorded.

The argument today seems to be more about whether President Bush had the authority, or overstepped his authority, and not about the circumstances after such a horrendous incident not experienced since Pearl Harbor.

If anything, the government should have gone back to Congress for a better clarification/notification of the law. On the other hand it may have tipped our enemies on how we were gathering needed information.

Let's get real and off the political agenda. Congress could put an end to this issue quickly if it truly felt it was in the best interest of the American people.

Peter L. Romstadt

Shoreland Avenue

Some recent letters and editorials support the current administration's efforts to "eavesdrop" on what it claims will be limited to international communications with known or suspected terrorists. I believe the attitude of "well, if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about" is dangerously shortsighted for two reasons.

First, as vast databases of intercepted phone calls, e-mails, Internet usage, and even Google searches are compiled, they can be accessed by anyone who has clearance and by determined hackers. We've all witnessed just how easily "secret documents" are made public. Add to this the changes in Washington brought about by elections, and it is apparent that new eyes will see sensitive information on a nearly constant basis.

Second, the enemy we feared yesterday is not the enemy who concerns us today, so it is reasonable to believe that those who threaten us in the future will change. Yesterday's Germany and Japan are today's al-Qaeda and Iraq. But what if some future administration determines that the NRA, UAW, or some other group is the new enemy?

Also, is it impossible to imagine that the party in control would find it unethical or illegal to look into communications of a popular rival during a political campaign?

We might want to trust that our elected officials wouldn't do such a thing, but they are absolutely not behaving in a way that deserves that trust.

Our forefathers and most administrations that followed understood that "eavesdropping" on our own citizens could be so easily used for purposes that could destroy this country much faster than any foreign army or terrorist group could ever dream of. Wisely, they made provisions to protect privacy.

If we don't stand to protect our right to privacy, we are putting ourselves and future generations in great jeopardy.

Robert William Russ

Oregon

Thank you, President Bush and members of Congress, for the cuts you made to Medicare and Medicaid. These cuts forced my son's nurse to cut back her hours with him to seek higher paying hours elsewhere. Mr. Bush and Congress, my son, Brian, has muscular dystrophy and I have epilepsy. We have had the best care through the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Without MDA, we would be at the mercy of the government and everyone knows you cannot depend on the government!

We as Brian's parents never once asked for any assistance from state, local, or national government. Only when Brian's lungs collapsed, at the age of 21, and he was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator did we begin to receive Medicaid and SSI assistance for durable medical equipment and nursing service. Six hours, five days a week, and now even fewer hours due to the government cutbacks, so that the rich can get richer and our government can spend more on that god-awful war in Iraq and homeland security.

If any Washington folks are ever in the neighborhood, they're more than welcome to drop by for dinner. They should bring a blanket and flashlight; the thermostat is set at 68 degrees; not many lights are on, and we'll be serving generic soup and bologna sandwiches.

Judy Helsel

Hoops Drive

Many Toledoans totally agree with the Forum writer who questioned how Carty Finkbeiner can refer to the Owens Corning headquarters as a high point of his first term.

Hard-working Toledo taxpayers subsidized the building's construction and continue to make up the difference that O-C evades in taxes. It's been a while since anyone checked, but the last report I recall put the cost of the O-C tax writeoff to Toledo Public Schools alone at $875,000 a year.

In addition, city income tax coffers suffer from huge O-C job cuts since the subsidized headquarters opened. Aren't tax abatements contingent on a certain level of jobs? If so, who's checking? If not, let's make it so.

The primary reason for public support of O-C was the company's deep Toledo roots, which were insulted by the "new" Owens Corning. O-C executives hurt Toledo's economy by rewarding out-of-state businesses with work (and tax resources) that contributed to the Toledo economy for decades.

While the first Finkbeiner era was achieving its Owens Corning high point, our marketing communications industry was ravaged by a carpetbagger mentality.

If Carty does not scare Costco away, maybe some former account executives, graphic artists, writers, and photographers can find new work in retail.

Dennis P. Beck

Eastwick Drive

I was shocked and saddened to read that several states are considering laws to protect health-care workers who do not want to provide certain types of care or to certain groups of people.

I was under the impression that when someone decided on a health-care profession, it was generally based on caring for humankind and the desire to use his/her talents and skills to help those who needed them.

I readily understand decisions not to perform certain procedures that conflict with moral, ethical, and/or religious beliefs. However, when the decision is based on the "type" of patient, that's entirely different. There was a time when people of color couldn't get medical care in many hospitals; our laws have decided that's wrong. Now we are looking at sexual orientation, religious orientation, etc. Where would it stop?

We are all sinners. The Bible doesn't rate one sin worse than another. Caregivers and those needing care are all alike in that manner. So what gives anyone the right to choose not to treat other human beings because they are gay, Muslim, black, a convict, young, old, etc.?

Pretty soon, Jesus Christ himself would not be treated if he appeared in an emergency room. Someone would find something wrong with his long hair, beard, and dark skin.

These laws are just another excuse for continuing prejudice, judgment, and self-righteousness. If you can't go to a church and not be judged and you can't go to a hospital and get basic medical care, what has our nation become?

Dawn Balduf

Curtice

I hear that Toledo weather forecasters are being considered for positions in the Bush press office. After all, anybody who can miss a winter weather prediction by that much would be a perfect fit (i.e. WMDs, prescription plan costs, size of budget deficit, and so on).

Michael Watkins

Bowling Green



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