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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Where were warnings of financial disaster?

As a retired union member and Democrat, I have grudgingly admitted that Republicans and their entrepreneurial cohorts did some things very well. They managed businesses, which delivered goods and services of high quality at reasonable prices.

Until the current financial disaster, business people could especially be seen as very wise indeed with money, securities and similar matters. Now it appears that they aren't very good at all at dealing with our money.

To be sure, those of us who have ridden this economic binge over the last 20 to 30 years are partly to blame. We should have known better and the banks and business leaders who did know better should have warned us that we were headed for catastrophe.

To me, the real tragedy is the business community's trashing of the regulations that were supposed to keep us economically sane. If it had been harder to borrow, tougher to buy things we couldn't afford, we might have been a bit sluggish economically, but we wouldn't be facing a calamity right now.

We can't solve these problems on Election Day, but we can make a start toward reasonable government by putting the Republicans back on the bench -- horrors, not the judicial bench, but the one for those who aren't good enough to play, and giving my guys a chance. It can't be any worse!

William R. Wolfers

Lancaster

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Shrinking middle class takes yet another hit

Privatize the gains, socialize the losses and bail out the financial institutions, if they are big enough. But don't you dare bail out manufacturing, unless you are one of the Big Three auto companies. Manufacturing, the very backbone of our country, has been allowed to fall, while Washington and Wall Street encourage more private and commercial debt to be packaged and sold overseas. Selling this debt was thought to be minimizing risk, but when failure came it was foreign powers pressuring Washington to prop up the big losers.

AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not officially nationalized and the conservative mantra of "the less regulation the better" has been exposed. The multimillionaire executives walked away with hundreds of millions while thousands of their employees walked away with a cardboard box of personal belongings from their desk to a home they wonder how long they will be able to keep.

Turn to the Democrats? They court the lunch-bucket electorate while wearing a pin-striped suit and filling their coffers with the same filthy corporate-interest largess flowing on the other side of the aisle.

The horse is out of the barn, my friends. Despite the rants, neither side of the aisle in Washington has a clue. The ever shrinking middle class takes the hit again. Are we surprised?

Timothy Malek

Lake View

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Why aren't the bigwigs ever held accountable?

If Martha Stewart went to jail for inside trading, why aren't the guys and gals responsible for the financial debacle also being held responsible for their actions? Why aren't their assets seized to rebuild Wall Street? We little people have little to lose. It's the big guys who should bear the crash of Wall Street. They manipulated, laundered and hid their unlawful transactions under the guise of free enterprise. Guess what? There is no free ride. We middle-class people pay every day, in every way. We are never bailed out. We work, we pay, now we pray for financial justice.

Patricia Butler

Williamsville

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Palin needs to answer key questions for voters

Recently, the McCain campaign made a remarkable statement concerning Sarah Palin. She would not meet with the press until they "treated her with respect and deference." My goodness, I thought she was a politician! We treat the Dali Lama with respect and deference, our politicians get hard questions, even gotcha questions.

Here are several questions that could be asked to the absent Palin. In your convention speech, you spoke with a sneer about "reading their rights" to suspected terrorists. Are you turning your back on the 800-year tradition of Anglo-Saxon law that gives the jailed the right to challenge the jailer before a neutral judge, a right written into our Constitution?

In the ceremony sending your son to Iraq, you spoke of his going over there to fight the people who brought us 9/1 1. Now, Vice President Cheney may still believe this, but the rest of the world, including President Bush and Sen. John McCain, have long since concluded that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/1 1. Do you disagree with your own presidential nominee on this issue?

And finally, the gotcha question. It's now known you agreed with the "bridge to nowhere" taxpayer fiasco before you disagreed. Dare we use the term flip-flop?

Carl Jacobs

Tonawanda

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Palin's credentials pale in comparison to Wilson

A recent letter writer's comparison of the credentials of Sarah Palin, like Palin herself, lacks depth. Woodrow Wilson, like Palin, attended several schools, however, he continued to work on advanced degrees. He graduated from Princeton University, after which he graduated from Harvard Law School. Not satisfied with that, he went on to obtain a doctorate from Johns Hopkins, at which point he became a renowned professor of political science. Of interest, the progressive party he represented stood for states' rights, not unlike what many in the Republican Party of today claim.

The writer's glossing over Wilson's esteemed academic career and position does not give the reader of this column a fair view. The credentials and experience of the governor from Alaska pale in comparison.

Elisabeth Zausmer

Buffalo

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'Qualified' and 'eligible' are two different things

In a letter that appeared in Everybody's Column on Sept. 21, headlined "Palin certainly is qualified for the job," the writer cites the requirements set forth in the U.S. Constitution that a candidate must meet in order to be deemed "qualified" to be president or vice president. He then unequivocally concludes, "It is quite clear and unambiguous that Sarah Palin meets these qualifications."

There's just one problem with the writer's reasoning: The word "qualified" appears nowhere in the relevant portion of Article II, Section 1. The word that is used -- twice, in fact -- is "eligible." That Palin is eligible to be vice president -- along with tens of millions of other Americans -- is undisputable. Whether she is qualified to be vice president is an entirely different question, and certainly not one to be dealt with in a smug, dismissive, overly simplistic manner.

"Qualified" connotes a combination of character, intelligence, education, experience and judgment that equips one for this country's highest offices. Palin might be eligible to be vice president, but is is far from "clear and unambiguous" that she is qualified.

One final observation: A literal interpretation of just about anything is fraught with peril, all the more so if it proves not to be literate.

Robert W. Fortenbaugh

Orchard Park

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Abortion devalues life, contributes to tragedy

In the Sept. 24 News, Donn Esmonde asks, "A newborn found dead in a tote: Why?" Certainly a question to which we may never know the answer, but perhaps part of the answer lies in the fact that to many in society today, children are seen not as a gift, but rather as a burden or a problem to be eliminated.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, from 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions occurred (mostly for non-medical reasons) in our country -- 45 million innocent babies killed. Studies also indicate that more than 80 percent of prenatal Down syndrome diagnoses end in abortion. Is it not likely that society's acceptance of such practices has resulted in the devaluation of human life? Are newborn killings a shocking crime? Yes. Should they come as a surprise? I don't think so.

Debra Andriulli

Lockport

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Esmonde has no idea what woman was facing

I am writing in response to Donn Esmonde's commentary regarding the young woman accused of leaving her infant to die after giving birth alone. It must be nice to type at one's computer, sip a cup of coffee and judge a 19-year-old woman who obviously had been in denial of her pregnancy for the past nine months. Until Esmonde gets a clue about what it might be like for a girl or woman to endure an unplanned pregnancy under any circumstances, I would hope that he might spare us any further such helpful commentaries.

In contrast, I would like to commend News reporters Aaron Besecker and Maki Becker for including in their front-page article quotes from University at Buffalo social work professor Diane Elze that provided valuable professional insight into possible causes of this heartbreaking event.

Lauren Breen

Buffalo

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Country won't survive four more years of this

Has there been a more incompetent, corrupt administration in U.S. history? We wage an unnecessary war while Osama bin Laden goes free. Our troops and their families are recruited to pay the ultimate price, yet denied the weapons and protection needed, then denied decent medical care when they return home.

An inherited surplus is squandered; bridges, roads and other infrastructure are ignored; and the budget deficit soars. We see tax cuts for the wealthiest and a lowered standard of living for everyone else. American jobs are exported with tax breaks; and U.S. companies are undermined by unenforced trade agreements.

We see unprotected borders; illegal immigration that undermines American workers and drives up the cost of medical care, education and other social services; and shameful energy policies. International conduct denigrates the respect won with American blood in two great wars.

Eight years of Washington scandals involving moralistic "family value" conservatives -- the sound of silence from the religious right that helped elect them is deafening -- and now an unprecedented financial crisis, demanding $700 billion to bail out Wall Street. Can anyone seriously think of voting for them again, disguised as a "maverick" and a "hockey mom"?

Ray Volpe

Amherst

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Obama must fight back against onslaught of lies

For too long Democrats have done little or nothing to defend themselves against the onslaught of Republican and Conservative lies. Barack Obama should not let himself be "Karl Roved" like past candidates have been. It is my belief that Obama is made of stronger mettle.

The Republicans are running on emotional non-issues that obfuscate the real issues that if they are elected will turn our country into a "banana republic." I love America but I am not proud of actions taken by our present leaders. If you love America then you know that it is our responsibility to uphold the Constitution and all the ideals that America stands for. It's time to start being America again.

I will turn 89 this December and this is the first time I've contributed money to a political party and written a letter to the editor.

Janet M. Stoner

Orchard Park

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