To the Editor:
Hedy Weinberg's lengthy letter (Letters to the Editor, October 2nd issue) denouncing Attorney General Ashcroft and his support of the Patriot Act should not go unanswered. For those who cherish (and understand) our Constitution, the linking of that act with John Ashcroft is a mystery. The Patriot Act is statutory law, written and voted for by members of the legislative branch, then signed into law by the president. As a member of the executive branch and chief law-enforcement officer of the U.S., Ashcroft is only responsible for enforcing the law.
Surely the ACLU's executive director in Tennessee knows these facts and knows that concerns about this law are rightly directed at its source -- the legislature. Congress voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Patriot Act, reflecting constituents' support of enhancing the tools of law enforcement in the fight against terrorism.
I respect the ACLU's fight to protect our civil liberties. In this case, they are arguing for the executive branch to ignore the clear will of Congress and the American people they represent. This is extremely dangerous and much more of a threat to our freedom than anything contained in the Patriot Act.
Editor's note: Reader Scott is missing the point. The attorney general is touring the country giving speeches in support of the proposed "Patriot 2" Act, which would broaden the powers of the original Patriot Act.
To the Editor:
The U.S. budget for 2004 is $2.2 trillion. Tax cuts, mostly for the rich, total $350 billion. Defense gets $400 billion and the Pentagon's portion of that is $380 billion to cover ongoing costs of the military, including contracts with Halliburton, Bechtel, WorldCom, and Boeing. This amount does not cover the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has to be borrowed. And the $140 billion in interest on the huge national debt has to be paid every year.
Now the White House is asking for $66 billion to cover the military operations in Iraq, plus another $20 billion for reconstruction (Viewpoint, October 2nd issue). This, too, will have to be borrowed (and we already owe China $290 billion).
Friends of the White House are getting lucrative contracts for the reconstruction in Iraq, and private military contractors have been profiting from handling supply lines for the army, starting last year in Kuwait.
The swelling national debt is taking money out of our pockets. Washington has not fully funded many mandated programs and cut others. The infrastructure in this country is crumbling. Taxes are increasing and jobs are being lost. The costs of this war are high indeed.
To the Editor:
Regarding Bianca Phillips' "Riding for Rights" article (September 18th issue): I've had the great fortune to know several wonderful people who were born in wretched third-world nations. I've watched helplessly as my friends suffered at the hands of thugs and parasites (some masquerading as employers or benefactors) who exploited their desperation, fear, and ignorance, for gain or just plain meanness.
The despicable bastards who prey on these desperate people aren't always thugs with guns. Many are "pillars of the community" who seek out illegals to hire so they can exploit them by paying substandard wages and denying them the protections afforded the rest of us. They view human or workers' rights as an expensive nuisance.
While I sympathize with the plight of the illegals, I feel compelled to speak on behalf of the innocent victims who weren't mentioned in the article. I am referring to the Americans (including legal immigrants) who might need the jobs held by those who are here illegally. The estimates I've seen on the number of illegals here and the number of unemployed are roughly equal. Which suggests to me that if the jobs held by illegals went to citizens, we might have full employment. I feel we must do what's best for Americans, including those who abide by our immigration laws and become citizens legally. We already have enough people who disregard our laws.
Which brings me to the asinine sentiment attributed to David Lubell, to which I say, bovine fecal matter! Among the reasons the terrorists were able to destroy the WTC are our lenient immigration laws. Lubell should get his head out of the sand. If anything, we should tighten our immigration restrictions and enforce them. This would require hiring more people, which would not only increase our security but also help to put millions of people back to work.
Correction: City Council (District 1) candidate W.B. Bates was misidentified in last week's election preview story.
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