POSTED ON JULY 22, 2009:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
President Obama damaged the CIA when he released memos describing the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on high level terrorists. He weakened the CIA when he said he would release photographs showing abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, but then under pressure he decided not to release the photos.
This is typical flip flop behavior by the Administration: Hold a press conference, berate and expose people for political purposes, profess it is about change and transparency, and then back off and shift positions when called to task for inept decisions that hurt the country.
The weakening of the CIA will have serious adverse consequences for the gathering, analysis and dissemination of intelligence. CIA officers will be looking over their shoulders at blabbermouth Administration officials and Congress, will not trust them, and will be more concerned with covering themselves than doing their jobs. Plus rogue countries and terrorist organizations have gained valuable information from the release of the memos.
President Obama's lack of national security experience, poor judgment, and appeasement philosophy are hurting us. He is undermining our intelligence apparatus and enabling our adversaries, and our country is less safe under his watch.
Donald A. Moskowitz, Londonderry, NH
All over Tulsa there are "yield" signs where there should be "merge" signs which makes me nuts. You need to "merge" when entering the Highway, not yield. The majority of drivers in Tulsa don't have a clue how or when to merge. Makes me want to scream and honk my horn (which I have been known to do).
Oh, and by the way, if you're in the wrong lane to turn or exit, don't slam on your brakes, cut someone off to turn or exit. Be civilized and keep going, get over and then turn around and come back to your turn or exit. FYI: you are not more important than the other drivers on the road!
Much More Stimulating
(In response to "Barack McNamara Obama" in the July 16-22 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.)
Contrary to Rall's Rant last week, President Obama has not only kept his campaign promises, but has done so with steady and smart leadership. He promised to close Guantanamo and immediately announced he will do so but had to determine where the prisoners should go. He announced an end to torture; as the nation's commander in chief, he is responsible for protecting the country, but I trust him more than anyone to do so within the bounds of law and without authorizing torture.
As promised, Obama is carefully but immediately ending the war in Iraq, and has initiated a clear-headed plan to reform the military to meet the realities of warfare. During the campaign, Obama agreed with a broad bipartisan group of economists that helping the larger banks and stimulating the economy was necessary to stem the slide into depression caused by previous government mismanagement.
While the stimulus may not have been large enough and no one likes giving money to the banks, the recession and job loss would have been much worse without it. Obama also promised transparency in delivering stimulus funds, and delivered on that too.
Look at www.recovery.gov and www.ok.gov/recovery to see how the federal and state governments are spending the money transparently and how the federal stimulus funds have already helped fund at least 55 state highway projects in Oklahoma. As promised, the Obama administration is pushing hard for health care and energy policy reform but is running into opposition from interest groups. Finally, the Obama administration handled the decline of the auto industry by averting full GM and Chrysler bankruptcies that would have devastated the entire auto supply establishment and resulted in far greater job losses.
The debt resulting from this spending concerns all of us, but without it we would have been in far greater agony than we are now. And without health care and energy reform, we will have even greater debts down the road. As the economy recovers and priorities are shifted, we should press Congress to ensure that the debt is paid and other government spending is cut in a way that doesn't slow down the economy.
- Adam Kupetsky, Tulsa
Sick and Tired
The big government takeover has to stop. Ever since liberals claimed power, it's been one bureaucratic scheme after another. Their newest target, health care, is the most dangerous intervention yet. Politicians, special interests and central planners should not come between patients and their doctors. We shouldn't have to wait for Washington to tell us if we can have the treatment we need. We shouldn't have to wait in long lines because hospitals are overrun and doctors are in short supply. But that is what could happen if the Obama/Pelosi health care plan is allowed to go forward. Patients must come together now to make sure that our voice is part of the process, before we are forever silenced in the halls of power in Washington.
- Casey McNeill, Independence, KS
The Absolute Best of Tulsa edition was so well done this year. The whole time I was reading it, I thought of how clever the cowboy motif is, and how witty every description is for each category. I was going to let it sit on my coffee table indefinitely and use it as a reference. . . until I got to the "Slowpoke" cartoon at the end. I found it disturbing that you would print a cartoon of a sexual act in a newspaper that can be picked up by kids all over town (not to mention unsuspecting adults who just don't like to have an image like that floating around in their heads). Besides being inappropriate, the modality of making fun of heterosexuals wasn't even funny.
Becky Swegle, Jenks
One Must Ask Himself
Ted's "Rant n Rall" started out great. Having worked in the MidEast for 20 years I constantly ask myself why we are there. His arguments were sound...until he stated that in Iraq and Afghanistan "approximately 2,000,000 civilians have been killed...." And commented that there are "pilotless drones...firing missiles willy-nilly at civilians and guerillas...." The highest number I could find published on the internet for deaths in both countries was approx. 760,000, which included military and civilians of both nationalities as well as casualties of the U.S. and its allies. And drones don't fire missiles "willy-nilly". Hysterical entries like his reduce his tome from pertainent to drivel.
The biggest mistake Bush made and Obama is making is assuming that both Iraqi's and Afghanistani's are like us. Who would have guessed that eliminating a murderous tyrant in Iraq and providing an opportunity for creation of a civil government would have created a situation where petty grievances and religious antagonism could make things worse than before. Or that in Afghanistan that opportunity would have given rise to the vindictive Taliban. Ted does make one valid point: You can't manage a doomed premise (though calling our presence there colonialism says he has no faith in America or understanding of our values). But should we pull out now? Is Ted prepared to accept the consequences of that?
Counting the Days
(In response to "Riverside Restaurateur" by Mike Easterling in the July 16-22 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.)
You have got to be friggin' kidding me? No way this could be built by mid winter. Late spring at best. Why do people even write such silly nonsense? Same kind of thing they said with that QT park on 41st and Riverside. There is just no way, any moron would know that kind of timeline is impossible. lol. Mike, come on pull your head out of it.
Sorry didn't mean to sound so harsh, it's just frustrating to hear people over and over make similar outlandish promises and the media report it without blinking. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. I often wonder why developers and such give dates which anyone in or around any sort of development business would know can't possibly happen? I can understand perhaps wanting to put a positive spin on things to get people excited? But that's still a lie.
And then when it's not completed when it was originally said would have been, and often by a long shot, people find that disappointing or start questioning what's going on, wondering if there are "financial" problems etc. and start spreading negative rumors. We have seen this scenario play out time and time again, and the people reporting on these things going right along with it without question. Which is letting the reader, who would like to trust that what has been said has been thought about and could be true, down. Why not just be honest and realistic right up front?
Democrats Pressure Their Own
In national television ad buys, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is doing something unusual: It's telling its own elected officials how they should vote.
The goal is to convince reluctant Democrats in Congress that they should vote for President Obama's health care overhaul--the one that would raise health care costs and spending and punish individuals and businesses who do not purchase health care insurance.
Although the President claims it will reduce costs, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says otherwise. CBO says it will require hundreds of billions of extra spending each and every year once its provisions kick in. And even at that price millions of people would remain without health insurance.
Faced with public reluctance from many of its own House members and Senators, the DNC first bought ads in eight states aimed at key Senators, and then increased the advertising campaign to cover another 15 cities. They're saturating the hometowns of selected Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which this week will cast decisive votes on the proposal.
Supporters want to pass the bill before Congress recesses in August for several weeks. The concern is that public outcry against more big government--and against another trillion-dollar plus spending plan--will cause support to shrink during the recess.
Despite what happens in committee, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can bring legislation directly to the House floor, where her party holds a 78-seat advantage over Republicans. It would take a rebellion of monumental proportions to lose a key vote despite those numbers. But a loss in committee would be more than embarrassing, because it could embolden other House Democrats to stand up against their leaders.
The vote on the health care overhaul will be the biggest test of "Blue Dog Democrats" who vow fiscal conservatism. This vote will be the biggest test yet of whether that group will stick to their principles or to their party leaders.
In the last two elections, Democrats successfully recruited candidates who disavowed leftward leanings and were elected from districts that usually had voted Republican. The strategy helped swing the majority in Congress from Republican to Democrat. Republican party leaders have publicly questioned where the loyalty lies for this group.
Many of those Democrats have signed letters to Speaker Pelosi in the last two weeks, publicly criticizing the legislation and hinting that they may vote against it. But their votes will speak louder than their words.
- Ernest Istook
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