Letters to the editor
In and around Springfield
We welcome letters, but please include your full name, address and a daytime telephone number. We edit all letters for libel, length and clarity.
Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
HEY, WE WEREN'T THE RUDE ONES
I'm the host of Drinking Liberally in Springfield. I noticed the letter to the editor that accuses the group of not welcoming a couple who visited recently ["Searching for friendly liberals," Sept. 1]. That week Drinking Liberally did not meet on the patio at Boone's. The group of people the couple mistook for us was, in fact, composed of House Democratic staffers, who were not there to liberally drink. The DL group was inside. Unfortunately, Boone's had a large party that night, which forced DL into a hard-to-spot corner of the bar. Two other people had trouble finding us that night as well. I regret that it was difficult for people to find us that evening, but it was beyond my control, and we were certainly not the rude group the writer referred to.
DEFENDING OUR WAY OF LIFE
I recently watched The Constant Gardener and was reminded of Mother Teresa's comment that "it is a poverty that a child must die for you [us] to live as we choose." What's this mean? It mean that when the hacks and pundits tell us we're hated for our way of life, the American way of life of leisure, comfort, and ease, they're right. For American consumerism, gross overconsumption and materialism to thrive as part and parcel of the American way of life, there must be unlimited slave labor and raw resources.
As much as we may hate to say it, George W. Bush defends our way of life when he sends bombers to Baghdad to control, by way of proxy government, the vast untapped oil supply there. When Pat Robertson urges the assassination of the noncompliant leader of an oil-rich country, the faux preacher stands up for American interests and our ability to function as we do without sacrificing anything meaningful — just our values and morals. And the conflict in oil-rich Sudan continues unobstructed, thanks largely to the big oil companies' persuading the big governments that the profits to be made from working with the murderous Sudanese government are more important than human rights. Profits before people.
Therefore the problem is that when we defend our materialistic way of life, we impoverish, disenfranchise, and kill others, whether they be in Nike sweatshops or victims of our oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That may be OK, but only if you're unconcerned and selfish. Sacrifice is anathema to modern America; that's why most politicians avoid the topic, even with soaring gas prices dominating the news.
We can either change the way we live and start caring about others around the world or go on living as we do. We just need to stop being liars about our righteousness and morality.
Michael P. Ziri
PROTECTING TEENAGERS FROM TATTOOS
Gov. Rod Blagojevich thinks anyone under 21 does not have sufficient judgment or perspective to get a tattoo. On Aug. 10, he vetoed the provision of HB 29 that would have reduced the legal age for getting tattoos from 21 to 18.
So why does the governor think teenagers of any age, even preteens, have sufficient judgment and perspective to get an abortion? Consider his logic. He stated, "As a parent, I don't want my daughters to rush to get tattoos on the 18th birthdays. At that age, most kids are still in high school and don't have the judgment or perspective to decide on something as permanent as tattooing your skin," Blagojevich said. "Teenagers may not realize getting a tattoo is a decision they'll live with, and potentially regret, for the rest of their lives. That's why I refuse to support legislation that allows teenagers to get tattoos."
Just replace "tattoo" with "abortion" at each occurrence above and then ask again, why does the governor think teenagers of any age have the judgment and perspective to get an abortion? Which decision do you think is more likely to be "a decision they'll live with, and potentially regret, for the rest of their lives"? Why does Gov. Blagojevich oppose even parental notification before an underage girl can get an abortion?
Executive director, Illinois Right to Life Committee
CLOSED PORT THREATENS OUR SECURITY
The impact of Katrina goes well beyond the hiccup in oil refining and human tragedies that the media has so far focused upon. The loss of the port can shut the U.S. economy down, and we need to treat it as a national security threat of the highest order.
The Ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans are the largest port in the United States by tonnage and the fifth-largest in the world. It exports more than 52 million tons a year, of which more than half are agricultural products — corn, soybeans and so on.
Nearly 17 million tons comes in through the port — including not only crude oil, but chemicals and fertilizers, coal, concrete and so on. Most of our rivers flow into the Mississippi: It is a major highway, maybe the major highway. Its security and operation is vital to us.
The oil fields, pipelines, and ports required a skilled workforce in order to operate. That workforce requires homes. They require stores to buy food and other supplies. Hospitals and doctors. Schools for their children. In other words, in order to operate the facilities critical to the United States, you need a workforce to do it — and that workforce is gone. Unlike in other disasters, that workforce cannot return to the region, because they have no place to live.
The port is not destroyed, and the river is still navigable. The people who operate the port are gone, though. We need a major task force to reopen and operate it, as we did in Iraq. Steel is not being unloaded to be barged north to make airliners and washing machines. The harvest is starting here in the heartland, with no way to ship the result to the rest of the world that relies on American wheat and soybeans. This is genuinely frightening.
WORRY ABOUT FUEL INSTEAD OF SMOKING
Instead of being concerned about smoking in taverns and eating places, the City Council should do something about the high cost of fuel. First of all, no more take-home cars and pickup trucks. The police would be exempt. This along would save a lot of money. Also, the city could starting using natural gas, like some of the buses are doing. And for electricity, the founding fathers should have invested money years ago so that garbage, limbs, leaves, and grass [could be used] to generate power. It seems that the government always waits for a crisis to happen before it wakes up.
THANKS FOR SUPPORTING CAMP COCO
Because 104 children were able to attend this year's Camp COCO (Children's Oncology Camp Organization), it is with sincere appreciation that we thank everyone who helped make camp possible. Kids from southern and central Illinois who bravely face an array of diseases, from blood disorders to cancer, were able to enjoy the wonderful camp experience this summer at the Easter Seals Timber Pointe Outdoor Conference Center on Lake Bloomington. Camp COCO is a project of the pediatric hematology/oncology division at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. With the continued dedication of community members, along with the financial assistance from donations, the Camp COCO golf outing and other fundraisers, we were able to accommodate every camper who applied this year. The physical activity and peaceful environment that camp affords these kids is very important to the healing process.
We extend a big thank-you to the individuals, organizations, and businesses that support our camp and the many volunteers and medical staff who gave their time helping our campers. Anyone interested in attending Camp COCO next year or supporting this ongoing project can contact SIU's pediatric-oncology staff in Springfield at 217-545-7377.
Again, thank you for your support.
Gregory Brandt, M.D.
Director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
School of Medicine
Southern Illinois University
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., recently made an official inquiry to determine whether Congress may impeach a high-ranking administration official such as presidential advisor Karl Rove. Recent letters to the editor [Aug. 18, 25] incorrectly said Frank has called for the impeachment of President Bush.