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Everybody's Column

Political satire urges independent thought

Just as the American Library Association concluded "Banned Books Week," a concerned reader found the Sept. 28 episode of the "Opus" comic "immoral, disgusting and insulting" and condemned it as unfit for publication in The News. A trip to the library revealed that one frame involved the penguin's reminiscence of "a magical Wasilla evening after the post-prom moose shoot with Sarah Palin."

The political satire found in "Opus," "Doonesbury" and "Pearls Before Swine" is part of an American tradition that includes Thomas Nast. Nast was involved in the election of seven presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and Andrew Johnson.

The exposure of corruption was so effective that Boss Tweed sent Nast a bribe of $500,000 to "stop those dammed pictures." He added, "I don't care what the papers write about me -- my constituents can't read, but damn it, they can see pictures."

While illiteracy may be less common today, ignorance, vulnerability, greed and corruption still exist. Rather than banishing political satire from "the warmth of our homes," it should be seriously examined as a method of encouraging independent thought. It is not meant for young children.

Albert Sterbak



Knox helped develop appreciation of nature

Friends at Buffalo Audubon Society's Beaver Meadow Audubon Center were saddened recently to hear of the passing of Lucetta Knox. She and her late husband, Northrup, played key roles in helping to raise funds for the expansion of Beaver Meadow's Education Center in the late 1990s, and Lucetta stayed on as a valued member of the Beaver Meadow Future Fund Committee, attending meetings and helping to raise funds to endow the center's nature programming for children and adults long after it was easy for her to do so.

The board of the Buffalo Audubon Society and the staff, volunteers and many friends of Beaver Meadow would like to express our appreciation for her generous spirit and her commitment to inspiring a deeper appreciation of nature amongst the children and families of Western New York.

William L. Hudson

Executive Director

Buffalo Audubon Society


Nation is now suffering effects of one-party rule

I have to laugh when I read letters blaming the Democrats for our economic collapse. Obviously these people are ignoring our recent history. The Republicans have been in power in Congress for the last 10 out of 12 years. Democrats have had a majority the past two years, but have been virtually powerless because they do not have a majority to override a Bush veto. Whatever the Democrats do, Bush has to be complicit in.

Most of the economic damage was done during the Republicans' "rubber stamp" majority from 2000-2006. Almost everything proposed by Bush was passed and in return Bush signed legislation containing all kinds of pork and deregulation from the Republican-led Congress. Remember also that economic policy is set by the executive.

The results of majority rule are staggering. The United States started an ill-advised war that drains billions of dollars a week, the national deficit is more than $10 trillion and deregulation of everything from imports to our financial system has left us in an economic recession unmatched since the Great Depression. As unhappy as I am with Republican rule, I believe that we could be headed for more majority rule. Because of all of their failures, it looks as though we might end up with a Democratic president and a Democratic majority in Congress. I do not look forward to the dominance of one-party rule, no matter which party is in power. We need a "loyal opposition."

John W. Kowalski



County commissioners don't deserve pay raises

It takes gall for County Executive Chris Collins to give his political commissioners, Anthony Billittier and Michael Weiner, a raise at the expense of the customers and taxpayers through a property tax hike. As a News editorial rightly stated, his tax hike is wrong. Not only does Collins want us to pay more for our homes, he also wants us to pay higher retirement salaries for his people.

Last year, the Legislature approved a $30,000 hike for Billittier on top of this year's increase. If the Legislature approves this budget, the health commissioner's salary will have jumped a whopping 25 percent in a year. Not bad for commissioners in the political arena who basically make their own work schedule and don't have to sign in and out daily.

Pasquale V. Lopatriello



Ranzenhofer has led fight against tax hikes

I just saw an ad from the "Friends of Joe Mesi," and the premise of the ad is an outright lie. It attempts to attribute tax increases under the previous Erie County administration to Mike Ranzenhofer. Of all the county legislators we've had in recent memory, Ranzenhofer has been a leader in consistently fighting against all tax increases. He has long recognized that city and county administrations of both parties in Western New York do not spend our tax dollars wisely, and until they do, no tax increase of any kind is justified. Who would have thought that our favorite fighter would intentionally hit below the belt?

Joe Isom

East Amherst


When will Clinton get to work for New York?

You have to love Hillary Clinton. She wants to be the best senator she can be. I have read this at three different times. Well, with New York virtually at the bottom of the heap in darned near every category, we can certainly use all the help we can get, especially since when she came on board as an outsider, she was going to get the job done for good old New York.

It seems every time I turn on the news, she is out fundraising for someone in some state other than New York. Would someone please tell our junior senator that charity begins at home.

John Lincoln

East Aurora


Maybe now we'll focus on Christmas' meaning

On the "Today" show on Oct. 12, statements of doom were made. The program anchor went so far as to ask: "Will there be a holiday season?" Stores are having early sales, and there is talk of retailers losing money because consumers might not buy as much. Perhaps for once people will reflect on what the Christmas season -- not holiday season -- means. It is about the birth of Jesus Christ, not sales at Wal-Mart and other retailers.

Deborah C. Pawelczyk


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