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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

>Super Bowl singers mangled our beloved national anthem

We have been treated, in recent Super Bowl years, to some of the most abysmal entertainment humanly attainable. This year was no exception. The rendition of our national anthem would have been rejected at an "American Idol" audition. I simply couldn't believe how insultingly terrible and unprofessional the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was.

Our treasured national anthem is an expression of our gratitude and patriotism to our homeland -- its history, its symbolism, its treasures and sacrifices. When we stand as a people during its performance, we focus on the ideals of a country whose love for democracy and freedom underscores our very existence.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was adopted as our national anthem -- not as a rock tune, a rap tune or a country ballad. It should be performed with a sense of respect and gratitude -- not musically distorted for personal gain. Whatever the singers, and I use this term loosely, were trying to do, it didn't work. It's hard for me to believe with all of the musical talent and excellence we have in this nation, that those given the task of bringing this portion of the event to a proper opening could have failed so miserably.

Thomas E. Hoolihan
Getzville

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>Someone should have pulled the plug on this awful duet

As one of eight immediate family members (father and seven sons) who served this country in the military, I am disgusted with the way our national anthem was presented on Super Bowl Sunday. I honestly think that all sports arenas and other establishments where "The Star-Spangled Banner" is sung should have a method of completely shutting off the sound system when anyone acts in a like manner.

Bernard Czaja
Buffalo

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>'The Star-Spangled Banner' should be sung as written

I am sure that Francis Scott Key was turning over in his grave after the treatment his national anthem was given at the Super Bowl. I think that if a singer is going to sing a song, it should be sung as it is written. "The Star-Spangled Banner" was not even recognizable at some points. Complete murder.

Mary Overbeck
Tonawanda

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>Exactly who is running the Police Department?

As a longtime city resident, I've always received excellent service from Buffalo police personnel. A Feb. 12 News article, however, raised and did not answer questions that need to be addressed.

Why, when investigating department policy, did no supervisory police personnel state clearly whether department standards have changed regarding issuance of parking tickets in popular commercial areas of the city? And is it true, as it appears, that supervisory police personnel may not have much control over police officers and their work behaviors? Why was the police union president quoted at all? Does the union create or improperly influence department policy? And if this is the case, does any elected or appointed official have control over the Police Department and its priorities?

The integrity of the Police Department has been seriously questioned, and uncertainty over the issue of civilian control of our officers now exists. Those in positions to resolve these questions are either silent or offering political-sounding nonsense, while those who should have no say in the issue are quoted extensively. I suspect many other city residents would like to know what is going on here.

Steve Evans
Buffalo

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>Linking increase in tickets to wage freeze is ludicrous

The police are here to enforce laws, from arresting someone who steals to ticketing those who park illegally. To say that we Buffalo police officers have any malice toward the citizens of Buffalo simply because we have not had pay raises is simply ludicrous. The control board is to blame for that, and there isn't an officer out there who doesn't understand that.

The fact remains that for too long the little things that create a better city have been overlooked. Last summer, it was cars with loud music. We ticketed and the problem was eased, and the public was happy. Now the public has asked us to step up enforcement of illegal parking. What if you could not pull out of your own driveway due to someone else's careless parking, or were unable to see around a corner into oncoming traffic because someone was parked illegally?

The people who were ticketed were parked where they shouldn't have been and are upset because their own disregard for the law cost them a life lesson. We Buffalo police officers have a job to do and we are out there doing it 100 percent, despite all of the political, social and financial problems in our city. And we will continue to do so until Buffalo returns to the once great city that it was.

Derrick Banaszak
Cheektowaga

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>Ticket blitz will drive more people out of city

Let me see if I've got this straight. Buffalo police officers are issuing more parking tickets due to their low morale because they did not get pay raises. They are going out of their way to harass visitors and citizens who seek to spend money in Buffalo. As a result, fewer people will come into Buffalo to shop or go to the theater, causing additional income that might come into the city to drop, thereby decreasing sales tax and other revenue for the city, along with business and job growth. The union thinks less revenue to Buffalo will result in a pay increase for officers when there is a decrease in money coming into the Buffalo's coffers. Now I get it. Just don't ask me to explain it.

Ralph Cessario
East Amherst

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>It's great to see police penalize lawbreakers

In regard to the Feb. 13 article, "Motorists questioning police ticket blitz," I don't understand why lawbreakers feel they shouldn't be penalized.

Increasingly, drivers ignore traffic safety and run red lights or roll through stop signs. Inconsiderate drivers park illegally in handicapped spots, ignore meters, stand in fire zones or park and leave cars running even with children or pets in the vehicle. I think it's time that the Buffalo police crack down on these offenders; wrong is wrong. Expecting drivers to obey the laws is not above reproach. If I were ticketed, I would not be upset with the officer, but with myself for my stupidity in breaking the law.

I wish that more departments would take a proactive approach. First, save lives and ticket drivers not stopping for red lights and stop signs. And ticket those parking illegally, especially in fire zones. This is a hazard in the event of an emergency and to pedestrians crossing between the vehicles. If everyone obeyed the laws, or were cited for disobedience, we'd be a safer society.

Nadine M. Brinkworth
Cheektowaga

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>Parker went too far in attack on Clinton

I didn't like Kathleen Parker's Feb. 6 column on Sen. Hillary Clinton. Why does Parker have to dissect Clinton in such a vile manner? Who cares about the shade of her lipstick at the State of the Union address? Try watching the men, who read or ignore what goes on. Also, that silly applauding every few minutes is ridiculous. Why not criticize that?

I recently called Clinton's office about a problem and, boom, my problem was solved. I had been trying to solve it for three months and couldn't. So I know she has Erie County problems on her mind.

Parker called Clinton "cold and bloodless, like the ancient vampires." She also said Clinton "isn't human, gracious or humorous." Wow! Seems to me those vile words are more befitting to Saddam Hussein or the terrorists.

Clinton has plenty on her mind. She's intelligent enough to be considered for president. I'm sure she works long hours. She does look tired sometimes. But she is dedicated to her job. Nothing Clinton has done is deserving of such wrath.

Gloria A. Tylec
Alden

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>Clinton's body language reveals a lot about her

While reading the Feb. 6 letter on Sen. Hillary Clinton's body language during the president's State of the Union address, I was reminded of Clinton's appearance during the president's address to Congress following 9/1 1. She looked bored! She appeared several times on TV and gave every appearance of wanting to be somewhere else. The biggest city in the state she was elected to represent was attacked, and Clinton gave the impression that she couldn't care less.

I hope those scenes are shown over and over whenever she campaigns, because she doesn't care for New York. To her, it's just a steppingstone.

Thomas Pawelczak
Alden

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>It's time for Democrats to develop clear message

I'm a registered Democrat who is lukewarm on the prospect of Sen. Hillary Clinton running for president in 2008. If given the choice between the two, I most likely would vote for Sen. John McCain of Arizona, for the simple reason that I view him as one of the only politicians in Washington with a non-partisan agenda in mind.

But Clinton really hit the nail on the head in standing up to Republican attackers portraying her as "angry" for being so vocal with her criticisms of the Bush administration. Democrats everywhere should follow her lead and stop letting our party identity be incorrectly shaped by Karl Rove or any other GOP hatchet-man who is hell-bent on labeling us as weak on defense, sympathetic to terrorists and downright unpatriotic.

Democrats need to stop looking so bewildered in the face of Republican attacks and start developing a clear, distinct message to give to the American people about what the party really is all about. Otherwise, Democrats can forget the prospect of taking back the House this coming fall.

Steve Spillman
Town of Tonawanda

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>Republicans' actions speak louder than words

The Bush administration frequently talks about family values, No Child Left Behind and improving health care. Those are just words that mean absolutely nothing. Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the administration in cutting taxes for the wealthiest in our society and financing it through more cuts to social services, education, medical care, etc., show where their true priorities are. More for the richest; less, much less, for the poorest.

The Republicans talk about people taking responsibility for their own health care. That merely means "pay for it yourself, or go without health care." It is nothing but mean-spirited, uncaring and greedy. Most other countries provide health care for their citizens. We are ahead of other countries in wealth and technology. We should be ahead in caring for our own citizens as well.

Ginger Comstock
Arcade

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>War on terrorism should not destroy local tourism

I'm writing in response to Mary Kunz Goldman's Feb. 6 column regarding border security. It's not that often that a national policy like the one requiring passports or the newly proposed PASS card at the border in 2008 could so negatively affect one relatively small area of the country like ours, but it does.

We live in Buffalo-Niagara, a true binational region. The next time you go to a Sabres game, Bills game, any shopping center, local college, cultural event or festival, notice the Ontario license plates.

There was a time in our history when our geographic location along the east-west corridor was key to our economic growth. In 2006 and beyond, it is our geographic location along the north-south corridor. The Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario have 6 million residents within a short drive of Western New York. This is an economic opportunity waiting to be mined. We must focus our thinking on how we can safely facilitate more trade and tourism, not less.

The United States and Canada share the world's most peaceful, prosperous border. Shouldn't we work together to enhance our security and our economies without building metaphoric walls between our two countries?

We are all supportive of border security, but there are modern technologies that can be deployed to enhance current forms of identification like driver's licenses or birth certificates. If the federal government cannot see fit to change this proposal, it should at least mitigate the costs to the public. Let's not turn the war on terrorism into the war on tourism.

Howard Zemsky
Buffalo

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>Superb photo of Miller was an inspiration to all

The influence of meditation in an effort to do well is, without a doubt, an inspiration to anyone who viewed the picture of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on the Picture Page of the Feb. 12 News. This is certainly an example of strength, force and power to achieve, whether you win or whether you lose.

Mary Frances Jones
Marilla

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