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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Time for Bush to stop all the phony rhetoric

We stare into the face of terror daily. Frighteningly, the face is that of our leader. The commander-in-chief is becoming unglued and detached from reality. We and our legislators cannot allow this imperial president to preside over the maiming and deaths of more of our precious men and women, and continuing slaughter of civilians, for a cause that not only is lost, but never was righteous. We were lied to about the threat, the need, the cost and the duration. And we all know about the weapons of mass destruction.

The United States, devoid of allies, is witnessing terrorism on the rise and Israel more at risk. Further, domestic and environmental needs have been sorely neglected, and our treasury squandered. Now, in the face of mounting casualties, numerous tours of duty and shrinking availability of numbers, Bush contemplates sending more of our sons and daughters to the Iraq cauldron. Who among us can't guess why? He will sacrifice anyone in an attempt to save his legacy.

Whether or not grounds for impeachment exist, efforts of both parties should be focused on encouraging this terrible president to resign his office. Stop all the phony rhetoric. Bring home our brave troops and leave Iraq to the Iraqis.

Leonard Gross

East Amherst


Sending more troops will delay the inevitable

As the debate on Iraq continues to rage, it might be helpful to consult history in search of guidance and, perhaps, solutions. In 1961, undersecretary George Ball advised President John Kennedy against increasing American troops in Vietnam. Ball counseled if we went down this route, within three years, 350,000 troops would be stationed there.

Kennedy ridiculed that prediction. Within a few years, the number reached more than 500,000. When Kennedy realized he was moving slowly, but surely, into a quagmire, he consulted Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson on what to do about Vietnam. Pearson told him, "Get out!"

Today, the crucial question is not "whether," but "when" and "how" to extricate ourselves from Iraq with the least possible damage. The general consensus is that we have done all that we can, and it is time to seek an honorable, political exit strategy.

To accomplish a mission, one must first define it. To talk about "decisive victory" is unrealistic and perhaps foolish. Thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have already been killed to the tune of $350 billion with no end in sight. Additional troops will delay, but not prevent the inevitable. It is time to cut our losses and avoid a catastrophe that may engulf the whole region. Bad decisions got us in, but pride may keep us there.

Mohamed M. El-Behairy

Grand Island


President needs to open lines of communication

"To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war," said Sir Winston Churchill, who knew about both. As does Sen. John Kerry, who is visiting the Middle East and attempting actual human communication. Kerry will be criticized; he may say something that sounds inept. But I support his trip, and completely applaud his effort.

How does Condoleezza Rice, our secretary of state, know that the compensation for talking to Iran and Syria will be too high? She says they must figure out how to help bring peace to Iraq -- from her threats and bullying, not from her help and communication. How many more must die before our president figures out the advantages of "jaw-jaw" over "war-war"?

David Gaeddert



Talking with Syria, Iran isn't going to help

The Iraq Study Group demonstrates once again how cavalierly the good old boys of Washington, D.C., continue to handle the debacle in Iraq. And while these good old boys whimsically try on different "styles of shoes," our brave young men and women are dying.

One of the recommendations is to open dialogue with Syria and Iran. Complete idiots! Syria is engineering the collapse of Lebanon. And Iran just conducted a conference, open to the world, questioning whether 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis or whether gas chambers were ever used.

These certainly are not examples of the kind of ideological climate I'd want to hinge the future of Iraq on. I'm no fan of President Bush, but if he snubs his nose at this, I wouldn't blame him. The wisest reflections on how to handle this Iraqi disaster come from Rep. John Murtha, but nobody is listening to him.

Lou Marconi



Premier trauma center at ECMC must stay open

I am deeply troubled by the proposal to merge Erie County Medical Center and Kaleida Health. Several years ago, a similar proposal was made to merge Children's into Buffalo General, with the assertion that a pediatric specialty hospital wasn't necessary for the treatment of children. Any parent who has ever had a child treated at Children's knows there is no place in our area a child should go for hospital care except for Children's. In the end, common sense and the best interest of our community's children prevailed.

The same is true for victims of traumatic injuries. ECMC is our area's premier center for trauma, burn and cardiac care, to name just a few specialties. Why anyone would think that merging ECMC with Buffalo General would be good for the community escapes my understanding. This merger would simply result in ECMC disappearing and the citizens of our region suffering irreparable harm.

I urge all members of the State Assembly and Senate to reconsider the proposed model. Consolidation is necessary, but not at the expense of our premier trauma center.

Karen L. Zakalik



Hospital legislation should require a vote

There is something fundamentally wrong with a proposal or recommendation to be put into law by a nonvote. We spend a great deal of time and money running, electing and maintaining our representative form of government at the state level. All laws must be voted on. Laws can expire by inaction, but should not become law by inaction. Citizens should feel their representative voted their wishes or be accountable for their actions. I feel this hospital plan should be looked at by the courts as to whether it is lawful.

Paul Carroll



Perhaps Albright-Knox should revise its mission

Supposedly it is for the sake of the future of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery that it is planning to sell its antiquities. Using the proceeds to obtain newer art is said to be in keeping with the museum's mission. But what if our beloved museum's future is better secured by holding the irreplaceable ancient pieces whose value can only increase with time? The replacements' future values are speculative, and may later prove to be mistakes.

Buffalo was once one of America's premier cities and built its wonderful collection in a less competitive era. The timing was perfect for what it set out to do. Now there are many more richly endowed museums, and many more institutional and wealthy private collectors chasing art, old and new. With all the new competition, it will be harder to "luck out."

Perhaps it would be wiser for the trustees to enlarge the mission from just acquiring modern art, to becoming Buffalo's metropolitan museum of art. We have no counterpart in Western New York, and deaccessioning would kill that opportunity.

Patricia Akinbami

Grand Island


Art gallery is leaving common man far behind

Much ado has been raised concerning the decision by the management of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to sell items from its collections. The last time I visited the gallery, I left thinking: Why would they buy that stuff?

The Albright-Knox has been turned into an elitist mod-art location, which is gathering more and more "art" that could never be seen on the walls of the average home, because it either wouldn't fit or because no one would want a huge blank white canvas.

An expert has been described as someone who knows more and more about less and less, and in that respect, the Albright-Knox thrives. The curators may feel a necessity to obtain works that the average person does not enjoy or "understand" but I ask: Why should a patron have to attend four years of art college to appreciate what he sees? The Albright-Knox has left the common man far behind and the institution is the less for that.

To me, real art should give the viewer a thrill each time he sees it. That is missing from the Albright-Knox. Granted that some tourists will travel far and wide to view the gallery, but in my opinion it has lost the heart of Buffalo's citizens.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has certainly succeeded in its mission of getting more and more of less and less.

Louis A. Starr



Give casino a chance to turn things around

I am writing in response to the letter regarding the economic ruin that a Buffalo gambling casino would bring. If the main concern of Robert Heffern and the Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County is economic ruin, they should get their heads out of the sand and look around. This area has been in a state of ruin for some time now, with zero growth potential. I can't see how it could get worse.

To add fuel to the fire, they've enlisted former congressman John LaFalce as an ally. LaFalce and a plethora of other longtime service federal, state and county elected officials have done virtually nothing to enhance the economic climate of Western New York.

Perhaps the group could better serve the community by striving for tax reform on all levels to hopefully make this area once again economically competitive.

Richard C. Riederer



Allowing Seneca casino is the least we can do

It's in most of the history books -- they came from Europe, often fleeing religious persecution, and established settlements, and then more and more settlements, and pushed the local populace farther and farther inland.

And when they tried to fight back, they were intimidated and killed with far superior weaponry; they were pushed into smaller and smaller enclaves, and most of their land was taken away. With little outside support, what could they do? This massive injustice is part of history.

Thus, when the Senecas establish casinos in Niagara Falls and Buffalo, and the Mohawks plan one for the Catskills, we should rejoice at their success. True, they cannot reclaim their land, but they can, in a way, reclaim some of the vast wealth which that land has provided to the settlers' descendants. That, in a way, is a modicum of justice.

Daniel Reiff



Don't give Phillips any more attention

For months we heard day-to-day, minute-by-minute coverage of the search for Ralph "Bucky" Phillips. Now that he's been caught, we get updates on all of his court appearances. That's fine. It's good to know that he's being moved along the judicial process so he can be punished for his crimes.

However, is it necessary to show him being escorted into court smiling and joking with reporters? Is it necessary to see pictures of vehicles carrying messages, such as "We love you Buck"? Now it's being reported that he's planning to escape from jail again.

The media are giving Phillips exactly what he wants -- attention. Maybe if he is not shown being openly and publicly smug, then he will stop these antics. What purpose does giving Phillips this attention serve?

It's obviously not embarrassing to him or he wouldn't do it. He's playing to the camera. Why give in to his childish behavior? Report the status of his court appearances and nothing more. Let his 15 minutes of fame finally come to an end.

Jennifer J. Doyle



Let's hope we've seen the last of Phillips

For the five months escaped prisoner-turned murderer Ralph "Bucky" Phillips eluded capture, the attendant news coverage made him a daily presence and a nightly dinner companion in every home in Western New York. When, finally, he was apprehended and brought to some measure of justice, I rejoiced -- not least at the prospect of never having to hear his name or see his face again.

Now that he is in prison, for what one hopes will be a very long time, why does the mere fact that he's now also a braggart entitle him to any more of our attention?

Glen Tate


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