January 11 - January 17 2007 

changing course?

President Bush has said repeatedly that we are fighting the War on Terror in Iraq to prevent the loss of more "innocent American lives." He is referring to the innocent lives lost in the attacks of 9-11-01. Ask yourself, what's more innocent than a new recruit? We are currently preventing the loss of innocent American lives, to the tune of 20-25 more soldiers killed each week. We have doubled the number of Americans killed on 9-11. The current administration seems to be guessing, at best, as to what to do next. Since we aren't sure, let's pick the option that protects more American lives. Sending 20,000 additional innocent Americans into Iraq doesn't seem to accomplish that. There are 6 million people in Iraq, give or take. We have just 15,000 troops there now, to stabilize the place. Do the math. For comparison, Boise State had over 30,000 fans at the Fiesta Bowl. Will another 20,000 innocent young Americans in Iraq make a difference? 50,000? 75,000? If we reinstate the draft, and send a half million of our sons and daughters into harm's way, on purpose, will we stabilize Iraq? Only part of that country's population is currently represented in the newly formed Iraqi government. That's why they have a civil war raging.Political solutions are more in order, it seems.

Obviously, 9-11 was unbearably painful. Not so obvious is the fact that the conflict in Iraq has kept the wound open. It's time to start healing the country, Mr. President. This country. Let's stop the (preventable) loss of more American lives. It's time for those brave young Americans to come home and protect our ports and coastlines.

Or go to a football game.

--Paul Peterson,


The president's proposed troop escalation in Iraq ignores the advice of key advisers, career military officers, and the clear will of the American people. Rather than sending more troops to Iraq, the U.S. should be engaging in regional diplomacy and preparing for a transition to Iraqi control of the country's security. More than 25,000 U.S. troops have been killed or injured in this war, and as many as half of a million Iraqi civilians have died since the invasion. I join with many other Americans in saying bring our troops home now, support an Iraqi-led reconstruction, and assure the American and Iraqi people that there will be no permanent U.S. bases on Iraqi soil. Lasting peace in Iraq will come by investing in reconstruction and diplomacy, not further investment in a war whose costs are already too high.

--Kevin Padden,


So, President Bush has now come to the conclusion that there needs to be a sizable increase in our military forces. Those skeptics out there, who do not comprehend the complexities of this brilliant military mind, probably don't realize that he has the vision to conceive concepts few others would even dream of. With his determined and steadfast leadership, nothing is unachievable. Based on the success of his domestic initiatives, think of the possibilities he could come up with for prosecuting the war in Iraq: outsourcing of military operations, privatizing strategic war planning, guest-soldier recruiting, veterans' retirement savings accounts--the possibilities are endless.

Of course, the cost of bringing our military up to the strength levels needed will require countless more billions of dollars. Not to worry. Our President will solve that problem just as he has with all other appropriations--more tax cuts!

--Paul G. Jaehnert,

Vadnais Hts., MN

da vinci fiction

I have enjoyed getting to more thoroughly read your periodical in light of my recent surprise retirement from the Flipside Cafe. This free time has afforded me opportunity to pick up a current religious mystery novel entitled The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Admitting that I've read this is not my proudest moment, but I felt I should mention your winning story in the Fiction 101 and how it caught my literary eye. Much of the short story is incredibly familiar to the novel by Brown, including the exact lines "So dark the con of man" [pg 138, an anagram for Da Vinci's Madonna of the Rocks] and "you've got to be kidding me," respectively. I'm not positive if this constitutes plagiarism, but for such a short piece and a pretty hefty sum of reward money, I would have happily submitted my short story on how I feverishly pursued a white whale symbolizing Christianity and then died without resolution atop my ivory leg and all. Ahoy.

--Andrew Haffner,


Trapped parents

The work of Cathy Young (BW, Parent Trap, January 3) stimulates desperately needed discussion around the issues of divorce, separation, custody, family courts, and child support collection. The facts are that 86 percent of single-parent households are headed by a female. Forty percent of those admit to subversion of the relationship a child would have with its father. By any term, Hostile Aggressive Parenting, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Systematic Parental Alienation, or some other name, this activity is real and is epidemic. One question we should ask ourselves is what role does the government and its systems and programs, welfare reform act of 1996, domestic violence laws (VAWA), family courts, state attorney child support collection divisions, zealous and misguided advocacy groups play in teaching and supporting this behavior?

--Robert Gartner,


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