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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

>True state of the union is not a pretty sight

I am 71 years old and have voted in every presidential election since I was 18, for both Republicans and Democrats. Once in a lifetime, an administration comes along that defies all logic. While this one has the enviable ability to elect its own, it has the frustrating inability to govern. This president thrives on war slogans and bumper-sticker mentality.

President Bush's rationalizations for starting the Iraq war have been demonstrated to be invalid, yet he plods on demeaning anyone opposed to this venture. He has no problem spending billions of dollars in a country where we don't belong, but has no plan for investing in the Gulf Coast, where we do belong.

He justifies breaking laws about spying on citizens and mistreating POWs by simply invoking "terrorism." Inherent values such as privacy for women and gays are belittled. He is ignorant of the need to enforce environmental rules. He is guarded and defensive at news conferences, and will address only admiring audiences, applauding on cue.

He plays to our fears from without. But half of us know that our concerns should stem mostly from within, as we lose jobs, benefits, affordable health care, freedoms, our precious men and women in an ill-begotten war and our self-respect. This is the true state of the union.

Leonard Gross
East Amherst

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>Bush's fear-mongering has tragic consequences

During a recent speech, President Bush was asked if he had seen "Brokeback Mountain." The leader of the free world chortled and tittered through an awkward denial. Ironically, I think that he would really relate to the main theme of the movie. It is not just "that gay cowboy movie," as it has been characterized in the popular press. The plot unfolds as a cautionary tale about the power of fear and the tragic consequences of acquiescence to it.

Bush and his surrogates understand this Achilles' heel of the American psyche all too well. Every time citizens begin to question the actions of his regime, his minions raise the specter of 9/1 1 and brand as "unpatriotic" any critics who exercise the rights that Bush swore to uphold. They silence voices of dissent using the ham-fisted tactics of playground bullies.

If Bush were a reader, I might guess that his guide to governance was Orwell's "1984" instead of the Constitution. It's a shame that the opposition party and the corporate press are too spineless to call his bluff.

Bill Heller
Warsaw

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>We need cooperation among agencies, not illegal spying

Our "war" president claims he needs the illegal wiretap information to protect us in the "war" on terror. Let's look at the facts. We now know that before 9/1 1, the FBI knew of the terrorists taking flight lessons, but nothing was done. The 9/1 1 Commission came out with its list of recommendations, yet President Bush did nothing but add another layer of bureaucracy to the mix.

It also has just surfaced that the White House was warned about the eminent dangers before Hurricane Katrina struck, but all the FEMA director worried about was his dinner and choice of shirts. We don't need more illegal spying, just more cooperation between agencies to use the information we already have.

Paul Bernhard Sr.
West Seneca

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>Dissension is inevitable when the status quo is challenged

Amherst Supervisor Satish Mohan may be getting more publicity than he had expected when he started his quest to improve the town's government. He is neither saint nor sinner, but the steward entrusted to responsibly manage the town's affairs.

Mohan is sincerely acting on the promise that he made to Amherst voters, namely, let's take a fresh look at how the town operates and economize where practicable. There is bound to be dissension whenever the status quo is challenged, when long-held practices are scrutinized or when changes are made. Mohan's critical analyses and questions about the current practices will lead to progress and efficiencies.

It is in everyone's long-term interest to understand and support the process improvements that Mohan is advocating. There is no vendetta when a reasonable person asks whether we can do better or use our limited resources more effectively. It is the responsible thing to do. In this case, Mohan is merely asking whether the services that are being provided to the town are fairly allocated and if they are fairly priced. He deserves our support in his performance of due diligence.

Norb Warnes
Williamsville

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>Taxpayers need to show their support for Mohan

I believe the taxpayers of Amherst need to show their support for Supervisor Satish Mohan. He has a mandate from the taxpayers to change the way Amherst does business. Why are all the files in his office missing? Why is the town paying people who are not working? The Town Board members were elected to safeguard the resources of Amherst and now everyone on the board is surprised about what's happening. Did not the county legislators say the same thing about their mismanagement?

If Amherst is serious about change, we need to get out there and support the new supervisor. He cannot do it alone. Councilman Dan Ward is right to expose the previous supervisor, but he and others on the board should not allow folks not working to get paid indefinitely. Perhaps the town attorney could explain the delay in due process. The citizens of Amherst deserve better than this.

Patrick B. Lyons
Amherst

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>Amherst supervisor has priorities in right order

What a breath of fresh air Satish Mohan is for the Town of Amherst and Western New York. Finally, we have a politician who has his priorities in the correct order. He was elected by the voters to bring about change in our community. He is attempting to do that now, with little support from the Town Board and other elected officials. Taxpayers have waited years for an elected official to concentrate on implementing campaign promises. It is rare.

His method of choosing another town to hold up as a mirror to ours is a novel approach to begin conversations about our services, expenditures and quality of life. This is an atypical practice for governments, but standard operating procedure for businesses. We need to run our town like a business: customer driven. The taxpayers have spoken. No more business as usual. Why don't our other elected officials get it?

Andrea and Ronald Stein
East Amherst

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>Drivers should slow down in areas with a lot of deer

I am writing in regard to the Alfred University professor who depicted deer as "four-legged terrorists" and "silent, plotting aggressors" in his Jan. 24 My View column. Does Robert Myers really believe that deer and other wildlife deliberately leap into the path of our cars in an attempt to sacrifice their lives in the hopes of harming us? I drive 60,000 miles a year -- many of those miles put on in the very areas in which the professor hit three deer in two weeks -- and I haven't hit a single deer in 20 years. One doesn't need a PhD to know one must slow down and use more caution during the times and in the places that deer and other animals move about.

Myers also mocks the practice of teaching our children to respect and enjoy wildlife rather than being annoyed and terrorized by it. Surely a professor should be teaching better lessons, and publishing better work. Someone, call campus security, please.

Elise Able
East Concord

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>Comparing deer, terrorists was poor attempt at humor

The Jan. 24 My View from Robert Myers, an educator at Alfred University, was offensive and disgraceful. To trivialize the current circumstances in which our soldiers find themselves by comparing deer with "al-Qaida insurgents" and associates of Osama bin Laden shows very poor judgment.

If he thinks that driving is dangerous and feels his analogy is justified, maybe he should spend a year in Iraq. Please respect the families and friends of the soldiers and ignore these weak attempts at humor. The deer stories have run their course. Let's focus on articles that might bring Buffalo closer to economic stability or the positive elements of what can be a great place to live.

Jim Monteleone
Williamsville

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>Deer continue to be persecuted by man

Everyone professor Robert Myers knows may have "a deer story," but I doubt any of them are as outrageous as the one he wrote in his Jan. 24 My View. He unfairly demonized deer -- animals that are continually persecuted by man.

Deer habitat is destroyed so humans can build subdivisions. Deer have their sex ratios distorted by pro-hunting biologists so as to increase deer populations for hunters. Then deer are blamed for overpopulating.

Rural deer are riddled with gunshot and shafted with arrows while they're resting, eating or mating. Unsuspecting urban deer, enticed by bait, are slaughtered as they dine. Other deer are held captive for use at hunting preserves or to have their urine collected for hunting lures. Hunters add insult to injury by beheading deer and displaying their stuffed, dead-eyed faces for an eternity of ego-boosting praise.

Instead of condemning animals who are just trying to survive in an increasingly unnatural world, Myers should take a close look at our state's wildlife management practices. Then perhaps he will understand who really deserves his disdain.

Frank Goettelman Jr.
Lancaster

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>Pride, arrogance drive attacks on creationism

I believe the relevant question to be asked by Mark Kristal, author of a Jan. 29 Viewpoints story, is: Why does the teaching of creationism evoke such vehement opposition from liberal scientists and others? They are threatened to the point of seeking legal declarations and rulings to silence opposing views.

I venture to guess that the attack on creationism has little to do with Darwinism and evolution and everything to do with promoting an atheistic/deconstructionist world view. Pride and arrogance are the true mechanisms that drive the frenzy to silence the voice of intelligent design. If creationism is so ridiculous, then teach it and expose its absurdity, and thus deem Darwinism as irrefutable.

The theory of evolution has been successfully and scientifically challenged by prominent scientists and teachers, such as Michael Behe, Michael Denton, Philip Johnson and William Dembski. Look at the intricacies of the human body and the passion of the human heart. Which is more preposterous to believe -- that we are wonderfully made by a loving God, or that we are the result of a random primordial soup existing by chance?

Jack Raab
Westfield

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>Opponents of Darwin's theory still haven't landed a punch

I thought the Jan. 29 Viewpoints piece, "Darwin under attack," was well written and balanced, but I must take exception to the portrait of Darwin. Darwin has been attacked, but his opponents have not landed a punch. Although one of the cornerstones of the intelligent design ideology is that "Darwin's theory is a theory in crisis," each new discovery in science ends up adding more support. That is why this theory is held in such high regard.

Darwin's theory of natural selection has had bright, informed people trying to disprove it for more than 150 years and no one has laid a glove on him. Although many disagree with it, not one person has been able to offer a better, testable hypothesis. Darwin's theory hasn't been beaten up. It is still science at its best.

John Zachritz
Buffalo

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>Exorbitant gas prices have many seeing red

I just got my bills for cable and natural gas. The cable went up $3.16 per month for the same channels. Now for the big beef. Our home is small -- 1,300 square feet -- and it's just me and my wife. The unused bedrooms are closed off, our house is insulated as much as it can be, we have new windows, the thermostat is set at 64 degrees during the day and turned down to 57 at night and we wash our clothes with cold water.

I just read that the supply of gas is above normal, and that the temperature for the current billing period was above normal, so why is my gas bill the highest I have ever paid? And I don't mean by a few dollars! Perhaps Julie Coppola Cox would like to explain that to me. If I had any money left at the end of the month, I would buy stock in Exxon Mobil. I see where its profit for the year was a paltry $36.13 billion. I am sure National Fuel did OK also. Can you say "getting raked over the coals"?

Frank Sorrentino
Derby

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>Balanced budget plan makes bill paying easier

There is no doubt that gas bills from National Fuel have skyrocketed this winter. Are these rate hikes justified? I don't know. But I do know that there is a way to pay for these higher winter bills without having the severe spikes in cost that people have complained about. National Fuel has a level payment plan whereby you pay the same amount all year.

It is far easier to plan your budget if you know the amount of your monthly gas bill. Yes, you have to pay the same amount during the warmer months when you will not use as much gas. But it sure lowers my stress level knowing that I'm not going to get a $500 gas bill in the winter.

Jim Bialasik
Springville

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