Below are excerpts of e-mail responses to the Feb. 16 “Twin Pack” questions (an abbreviated version of “Half a Six Pack” and “Six Pack to Go”). Each question has five responses from readers. (Sorry, but Russ serves as the “gatekeeper” — he determines the five answers to accompany each question.) In order to make this a reader-friendly feature, some lengthy answers submitted by readers may have been shortened.
1) From a reader: Who is scaring Americans more — Iraq, North Korea, or our own government? Our own government, by a wide margin. I think “W” has a hidden agenda and that scares me to no end. I realize that some of it is oil, but a large part is the President and his vision of his duties. If we go to war (which looks more likely every day), there are estimates that 1,000,000 will die or be injured. Wow, that's a big price to pay. North Korea by far! They have weapons of mass destruction and they have a crazy leader who is desperate. Worse yet, they are in a region of the world that has experienced a general level of peace in the past 10 years (not withstanding the occasional flare-ups between China and Taiwan). They are surrounded by key allies of South Korea and Japan, both of which have made a point to not develop nuclear weapons. That will change if North Korea goes full nuclear. The Middle East is already messed up. … I think of Iraq as a minor rogue nation that has done little in the past 10 years to threaten anyone. … The Bush administration is being quite disingenuous to the American people when trying to distort all bits of evidence to justify our actions. I find it highly ironic that President Bush, as the leader of the free world, can be so adamantly against Saddam continually ignoring world opinion, while he intends to go it alone, launching an attack on Iraq in the face of ever-increasing world opinion against such a tactic. What part of “NO!” doesn't he understand? Bush claims that a U.S.-led war would be focused upon regime change, but he doesn't seem at all concerned that innocent civilians will be caught in the crossfire. Who does he think he is to demand a change of regime, considering his regime (administration)? Iraq and North Korea both scare me. The arguments can be made that Saddam is a modern-day Hitler. We allow Hitler to work his country into a frenzy, attack neighbors, and kill Jews. By the time we finally did decide to take him on, we had to deal with D-Day to eventually destroy him. The USA will not stomach another D-Day. The North Korea thing really scares me. I see a comparison to what we did to Japan prior to Pearl Harbor, and the pressure we are putting on North Korea today. In both cases, we treated them like wounded animals backed into a corner — you know they're going to strike, it's just a matter of when they've had enough. I am a longtime faithful reader of your column but had never responded directly. The first question, from another reader, just caught me off-guard. I was hoping that I was the only one nervous about the direction our governments are taking us — not just the federal, but state and locals also. War, government debt, more government-spying on its citizens, personal/business bankruptcies, higher state and local taxes, corrupt business leaders appear to be just the beginning. Being from a small town, a lot of old-timers are nervous. When they get nervous, I get nervous.
2) Knowing that Georgia's old state flag — which featured a big Confederate emblem — was adopted in 1956 in the midst of Southern segregationist defiance, isn't it outlandish that the state's governor would propose a referendum to bring it back? I don't know why anyone in the South, let alone anywhere, would want to resurrect the Confederate emblem. In addition to the obvious insensitivity to African-Americans, it also glorifies an attempt by those states to secede from the United States. Is this something they still want to do? Unbelievable is more like it. It will be very interesting to see how voters in Georgia will react to such a referendum, should it ever come to pass. I'm in total disagreement with you on this one. I grew up in the South (well, Louisville IS the Gateway to the South). I don't believe for a minute that a state flying the Confederate flag in any way demeans any person of any color. … I just don't see how that flag relates to anything even remotely racist or segregationist. Now I'm gonna hold my breath and stomp my foot! Maybe Georgia's governor should attend some classes and see that the South lost the Civil War in 1865. In these difficult times, we want to bring people together … not drive a wedge between them. Yes. Incredible that Georgians, with all their non-Southern transplants, would even run this one up the flag pole to see how many would salute it.
You are so right about Southwyck. I can't imagine the owner neglecting the mall. What a great neighborhood it is in — yet in order to go to a great mall, you have to travel to Westfield Shoppingtown. I would say that if Southwyck was rejuvenated, and had two good anchors, people would come back. It would give Westfield a good run for the money. Mayor Ford has not kept a commitment to do something about this, and we need to address this issue. Are you the only voice in the wilderness speaking up for the businesses in that area? It sure seems that way. I agree with everything you say. My parents live at Swan Creek, which is just around the corner. I cringe every time I see another business go under. Surely Toledo can support two viable retail corridors — and, yet, all the traffic goes to Westfield Shoppingtown. I heartily agree. It is time for action at Southwyck — not a charade and words that seem to be little more than unkept promises. I think that Mayor Ford and the current owner are both at fault. I feel with the right management/ownership, Southwyck could be the catalyst for a great deal of renewal and business activity. It would also cause the Mall at Fallen Timbers to be quite obsolete, as far as need is concerned. A lot of people would be happy about that. If Southwyck's neighbors are in limbo, it's because Mayor Jack Ford and Southwyck owner Sherman Dreiseszun are dancing a pretty good mambo. Both continue to spin and dance around the issue, much better than Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers could ever do. How great an abatement "bribe” does Driseszun expect before he moves? Nothing is going to happen until the voters in that part of Toledo put the heat on their City Council members and the mayor to fish or cut bait. I have to hand it to you on this one. While I rarely agree with you, your primary “beef” about Toledo (there's no sense of urgency, particularly among elected officials) hits the nail on the head. In most areas of life (and business), you need to take some positive action to impact the things you want to make happen. However, in Toledo it often seems that just talking about it is enough. … The bottom line is that action requires risk, and risk means potential for failure. Talk allows for “good intentions” (something Carty is often given credit for), which is much easier to defend and less risky from a political perspective.
From an area resident who recently flew to Portland: Wow! Downtown Portland is everything Toledo wishes it was and much more. What a gem of a town. It has great stores, modern buildings, modern streetcar-type transportation, restaurants, a great plaza, sidewalk traffic, and, of course, residential towers. All I can think of is, it would be impossible to achieve such a turnaround here. Once a city has lost “the package,” you just can't get it back. OK, never say impossible — but, realistically, even with the most progressive city government, it seems out of reach. For a future question, how about asking your readers what type of contingency plan they have for their families in case of some type of attack on northwest Ohio. I am curious to hear what others are thinking. I personally would feel fairly safe if we didn't have the nuclear power plant up the road. If you go to Iraq and chain yourself to a bridge and be a human shield, you should be deported. That's my opinion. I hope I am badly mistaken, but I am very disenchanted with the direction I think the President and his majority are taking us. You must have written the comment that stated, “You're not one to pull punches when it comes to touchy subjects.” Time after time, you prove to be a politically correct lemming.