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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

We need to demand universal health care

I watch with growing concern the passionate response to medical reform, which is the best idea since Teddy Roosevelt exposed the need more than 100 years ago. Much protest centers on "socialized medicine," which I think is misplaced resistance to government involvement.

If distrust of government is justified, we must thank our forefathers and Alexander Hamilton for a central banking system, the U.S. Treasury, that manages both our specie and national wealth, which today would fail as "socialized banking."

Honor, too, Ben Franklin, who ensured that education and information in libraries would be part of our national responsibility long before the cry of "socialized information" was raised.

What a bleak landscape the central and Western United States would be without the federal government's role in the railroads. I imagine that Dwight D. Eisenhower would be flabbergasted that his interstate highway system was "socialized transportation."

Let's take a reality check. Government by its size and power does what we, as individuals, cannot. The commerce, transportation and health of the nation are proper for supervision by a central government that is for and by the people. Let us not falter -- demand universal health care with a public option.

Art Klein



Health reform foes are not terrorists

As an American with great concerns over health care reform, I am tired of being relegated to an unpatriotic terrorist. Take the quote from the Sept. 20 front-page article on seniors and the Medicare debate. An Angola woman says opponents are trying to terrorize people. This is yet another attempt by the mainstream media to discredit anyone who has not jumped on the reform bandwagon.

Proponents of reform feel it is OK to tell people like me that we are brainwashed by media outlets like Fox News. That we are fools because we will not just accept their words of wisdom on reform as the truth. Well, I would like to tell those people that I, and others like me, have a brain. We can think for ourselves, collect information and decipher the truth from the lies. And we don't terrorize people in the process.

I have legitimate concerns about health care reform and, just because others don't, it doesn't make me a racist, a terrorist or an idiot.

Melissa Rauen



Americans getting what they deserve

Why do Americans complain over simple issues and money? Do they really believe their representatives are working for them?

I have yet to hear anyone, citizen or politician, say that we want the health insurance companies to lower their premium costs to benefit the people. After all, they have millions of dollars to spend on paying off the politicians, through campaign contributions, and advertising against anything that will force them to compete, driving their cost down.

We have yet to hear anything about the pharmaceutical companies that also spend millions of dollars paying off the politicians, through campaign contributions, and advertising, along with the health insurance companies. They already have provisions in any health care bill that will prevent Americans from purchasing lower cost drugs out of the country. They also have provisions that prevent generic drugs from expanding the number of drugs they can manufacture, to prevent them from competing with them.

We Americans get what we deserve. We have the opportunity to change the way politicians do business. We can spend the time and effort to contact our representatives and senators, insist they put in something to reduce costs, allow us to purchase drugs out of the United States (if need be) and allow generics to compete.

Roger J. Amadori



Power-hungry GOP is behind vicious attacks

Along with two possibly unending wars, the biggest budget deficit in the nation's history and the virtual collapse of the economy, yet another unearned burden awaited President Obama upon entering office; the raw, fevered hatred of that portion of the electorate that didn't vote for him.

Some are still angry about the outcome of the election; some of them are still angry about the outcome of the Civil War. Most, though, are motivated by love of country and are fearful for its well-being. These noble impulses are being manipulated, inflamed and exploited by far less noble interests.

They talk about having lost their country and wanting to take it back. Leading the charge are all the usual suspects; those well-paid, irresponsible cynics from the world of business, media and politics, whose own interests rise no higher than the desire for more money, better ratings, more fame and more power. Individuals who, having once wielded absolute power, will destroy anybody and anything just to get it back.

As for the fantasy that the venom being directed toward Obama is justifiable pay-back for the scorn heaped upon his predecessor -- by the time most Americans recognized the callous ineptitude that defined the Bush/Cheney administration, New Orleans had laid in ruin for two years and more than 4,000 Americans had already perished in Iraq. Although it took them two terms to do it, George Bush and Dick Cheney earned the ill will that we the people came to feel toward them.

Glen Tate



Obama should butt out of our governor's race

Just a comment on the visit to New York by President Obama. The way he treated Gov. David Paterson showed a total lack of class. I personally don't agree with Paterson's actions thus far as governor, but he still is the governor. What gives Obama the right to come into our state, totally dismiss the sitting governor and enthusiastically praise Attorney General Andrew Cuomo? Does he think this is Chicago? I may not agree with the governor politically, but I still expect people to give him the respect the office deserves.

Paterson can stand and give an hour or more long speech, without the aid of teleprompters, as eloquently as any speaker. The president can't get through a simple question-and-answer meeting without preapproved questions, so he doesn't stutter and stammer and dull his polished image as an "inspiring, eloquent" speech maker.

Obama may be the leader of the free world, but he shouldn't come to our state and try to control the choices we have as citizens of New York.

Larry Miller



Gillibrand must be held accountable for her vote

Why was New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand one of only seven U.S. senators who voted against blocking funding for the nonprofit group ACORN, which has recently been exposed as incompetent and corrupt? What was the basis for her vote? This is going to snowball as more and more corruption is found within this obviously politically biased group that got its funding from the federal government through Department of Housing and Urban Development grants.

Gillibrand should take notice. There is a movement starting in this country that is spreading rapidly. It is composed of people who simply want their elected officials to vote the will of the people, not special interests. President Obama is finding this out as his poll numbers plummet even as he tries to ram a public health care plan down the throats of a country that is largely against it. Gillibrand will be held accountable for her irresponsible vote. She must remember that she has not yet been elected to the seat in which she was handed. Another piece of advice for Gillibrand -- she may want to distance herself from Howard Dean.

Jim Mangani



How could 7 senators back ACORN funding?

Just think, Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe have managed to delink ACORN from the Commerce Department's census, cause many staff in the group to be fired and generally discredit ACORN. Considering the president's history with the group, it may even earn a rebuke from him or stain his office.

Two kids (they're only 20 and 26), independent of any political affiliations or parties, did with $1,300 what the entire GOP couldn't do in the 2008 election.

The big question is: What are Sens. Roland Burris, D-Ill.; Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., thinking in voting "nay" to cut funding to the group? What, exactly, has persuaded those seven to believe that ACORN is still a legitimate organization, in the face of such damning evidence?

Such an issue is not in itself partisan -- it should be common sense to vote against giving ACORN federal money. Apparently, our new state senator does not think so. How embarrassing.

Eric Webster



Use of torture should not be a political issue

It's sad how many Americans perceive human torture as a simple case of liberal versus conservative. I wholeheartedly believe it's a matter of basic human civility to not torture other human beings. There are individuals on all sides -- liberal and conservative -- who think torture of any kind is a disgusting act.

We all experienced horrible loss eight years ago, but since when has it become the American way to make others suffer for our losses? We can't turn a blind eye and justify torture because we feel as if it's now somehow owed to us. And since when has it become OK for any civilized nation to condone this kind of behavior from its military and secret police?

This is not a political issue, it's a matter of human rights and civility. If we have to resort to means of torture, then I believe we must ask ourselves: How are we any better than those who are willing to torture and kill Americans?

David Mangan



Obama should withdraw troops from Afghanistan

History records Julius Caesar, in 49 B.C., pausing at the edge of the Rubicon. "The die is now cast," he uttered, and with that pithy comment, he crossed the river, invaded Rome and changed the course of Western history.

President Obama is at a similar juncture in Afghanistan. Will he succumb to the echoes from another distant, misbegotten war, and commit to yet another misguided, massive troop buildup? Or will he keep his pledge to the American people, and put an end to our imperial designs?

I believed that Obama was different. I still cling to the hope that he is. Sadly, hope is not eternal.

Bruce D. Mitchell

East Aurora

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