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Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006 11:16 am

Letters to the Editor

In and around Springfield

art3562
This maze of wires and towers lies west of the intersection of Madison and 11th streets, by the railroad tracks, in the heart of the city. To see more of Eugene Knox’s work, go to jeromeprophet.com.
We welcome letters, but please include your full name, address, and daytime telephone number. We edit all letters for libel, length, and clarity. Send letters to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

A REAL SOLDIER’S STORY
The Doris Chambers story was such a touching and inspirational article [Dusty Rhodes, “Lucky number seven,” Oct. 19]. Hopefully this article will encourage more people to take on such humanitarian challenges to help our vulnerable and suffering youth. The world would be a much better place to live if we had more people with a compassionate and loving heart like Doris Chambers.

This wonderful individual sacrificed much by taking in seven children, all of whom lacked a stable, healthy, and loving home environment. Such an act is definitely a community investment when we reach out to our children, who are our future. Sadly today, our society seemingly concentrates disproportionately on situations where individuals attack or inflict pain on others because of greed, jealousy, self-satisfaction, or differences of opinions.

I commend and thank Dusty Rhodes for highlighting Doris Chambers, who is a real soldier for helping others unselfishly.
Janet Woodson
Springfield

CARTOON RIDICULED ABSURD PROGRAM
Like Jeff Davis, I felt disgust at Ted Rall’s “Plastidad” Oct. 12 cartoon, though for a different reason [see “Letters,” Oct. 26]. “Plastidad” is based on “Flat Daddy,” a real program offered by the Maine National Guard. Using pictures provided by families, the Guard produces life-size foam-board cutouts of their loved ones — “Flat Daddies” and “Flat Mommies.” The idea behind the program is to maintain a soldier’s presence at home even while he or she is on deployment.

While I applaud the Maine Guard’s efforts to support families of servicemen and women, I find the “Flat Daddy” program absurd. A two-dimensional cutout propped in a chair cannot ease the pain of separation. Life-size models do not kiss a sleepy cheek, hold a hand, or read a story.

The cutouts serve essentially the same purpose as other types of photographs. In addition to framed pictures, some loved ones display their soldier’s image on T-shirts, mouse pads, [or] computer desktops and [in] other creative and meaningful ways. “Flat Daddy” cutouts bring a silliness, a flippancy to the issue of deployment that is simply rude.

The Maine Guard program was voluntary, and only about 200 families initially requested a model.

Jeff Davis missed the point of Ted Rall’s cartoon entirely. Apparently Mr. Davis did not realize the cartoon was based in reality. He interpreted it as an anti-war cartoonist’s attack on soldiers. Instead, Mr. Rall attempted to highlight a ridiculous and insulting program.

After redeployments, extended tours, and more than 2,800 American deaths, soldiers and their families should be treated with infinitely more respect. “[Do] not trivialize a soldier’s misfortune,” Davis wrote. “To think a family can substitute a plastic cutout of a loved one is very poor taste!”

On that, Mr. Davis, we agree.
Emily Chase
Springfield

GLAD TO HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE
Regarding one reader’s distaste of the “Plastidad” cartoon being published in Illinois Times, get over it! Do you want IT to become the State Journal-Register? I don’t. I find it to be the “alternative” that it claims to be and am glad that they push the envelope more often than not. We have found out about news in this town and elsewhere because of IT, and for that I am grateful. If it were not for the trailblazers, we would be just another Third World country, suppressing our citizens’ right to free speech.
Julie L. Becker
Springfield

WHY DIDN’T HE WRITE ABOUT SHIMKUS?
Enough already! Why must we read another idle Rich Miller musing about the poll numbers in the Illinois governor’s race [“Thinking Green?” Oct. 26]? I agree that the numbers are difficult to understand, but Miller’s coverage of this race is hardly informative or newsworthy. I would greatly prefer that he collect the data he believes are relevant and then summarize them for a special postelection column, perhaps published in the Nov. 9 issue. Exit polls will probably shed a great deal of light on the enigma he cites, permitting him to treat his readers to an insightful analysis of these preelection polls in light of the actual vote tallies.

I am looking forward to reading such an analysis. In the meantime, I imagine a large number of Illinoisans will reelect Gov. Rod Blagojevich because of the excellent legislative measures he has promoted and signed into law, remembering that he has neither been indicted nor convicted of any wrongdoing and is innocent until proven guilty, as we are all taught starting in approximately the second grade.

If Miller wishes to offer his readers valuable preelection political insight, why doesn’t he do a story on what it takes to get noticed by the news media as a major-party candidate seeking a major office? Danny Stover, the 19th District Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, seeking to unseat Congressman John Shimkus, has been railing against the incumbent for 10 months because of Shimkus’ failure to exercise required oversight of the Bush administration, of a mismanaged and ill-conceived war in Iraq, and the adoption of unnecessary perquisites for members of Congress while the needs of the American people go unmet. Then, only when Shimkus exhibits an additional failure to oversee a simple House-page program of which he is chairman, the news media cluster around the congressman and challenger for a mere two weeks. Shimkus’ failure to investigate U.S. Rep. Mark Foley’s activity with House pages is entirely consistent with Stover’s accusations of incompetence, but most media in the 19th District fail to inform their readers on the issues in the Foley scandal relevant to this election, including Illinois Times.
Eric Fisher
Springfield

PARTY OUT OF BOUNDS
There are two types of lies: lies of commission and lies of omission. Green Party gubernatorial candidate Richard Whitney told little green lies of both types when Terry Martin of the Illinois Channel asked him two direct questions during a recently televised interview: “What is your history? What party have you identified with over your adult life?”

To these questions Whitney replied: “I’ve always been independent-minded. I’ve never been a member of the Democratic or Republican parties. . . . I actually have been a Green for over 10 years now, because I helped found . . . our local in 1996 . . . . I’ve been always very much involved in third-party kind of politics in trying to get us out of this stranglehold of the two party system.” (Watch the video at http://www.whitneyforgov.org)

Fact is that the 51-year-old candidate and 10-year veteran of the Green Party belonged to the Socialist Labor Party for 18 years, from 1975 until 1993. There’s nothing wrong with being a Socialist, at least I don’t think so. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind about being a Socialist. However, there is something wrong about a candidate asking for your trust while concealing the truth when asked: “What is your history? What party have you identified with over your adult life?”
Green and yellow really do go together.
Robert Bills
National secretary
Socialist Labor Party of America

VOTE TO BRING THE TROOPS HOME
Thanks to Meg Evans of Grab-A-Java, Kate Hawkes of Trout Lily Café, and Neil Calderon for their comestible contributions during out “Get Out the Early Vote” efforts last Saturday. And thanks to the voters who braved early-morning chill winds to vote yes on the Nov. 7 referendum to bring the troops home.

In these days before the general election, more citizens are voicing serious concern about the human, economic, and moral expense of the Iraq War. We are told about homeless servicepersons and inadequate medical and psychological services for those who have put their lives and careers on the line in the line of duty.

On Oct. 27, ABC News published an article on active-duty military who are legally calling for “An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq,” which states, “As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.”

That’s what you can say, too, when you vote yes on Nov. 7. Bring them home now. Take care of them when they get here.
Diane Lopez Hughes
Springfield

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