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Friday, 22 September 2006 08:56

BuzzFlash Mailbag for September 22, 2006

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Subject: What's this ruckus about Habeas Corpus?

Dear Buzz,

For more than 400 years, the Writ of Habeas Corpus has been one of the most sacred legal protections we in the English-speaking world have had; it is a centerpiece of our liberty.

What is it and why should it matter to us?

Put simply, Habeas Corpus means "have the body"; it requires a jailer to bring a defendant into a courtroom where the accused can hear the charges against him. Its supreme significance to all of us is that it protects us from any president who thinks he has the power -- on just his own whim -- to scoop us up from a sidewalk or from our homes, ship us off to a secret prison and refuse to tell us or anyone what the charges against us are.

Secret prisons. Unknown charges. Torture. All of it.

Although most Americans feel confident they will never need the protection guaranteed by the Writ of Habeas Corpus, they should at least be aware that it is one of our most fundamental protections against police states and despotic leaders. Which makes it all the more curious that even as our president trumpets democracy and freedom around the world, here at home, Mr. Bush is trying desperately to remove the protection of Habeas Corpus from our Constitution and laws.

Bush says he needs to be able to "detain," for years or a lifetime, anyone -- including American citizens -- whom he, and just he, says is an "enemy combatant."

We should all care that Mr. Bush wants to do away with Habeas Corpus so he can assert the power of ancient kings to jail anyone, any time, who disagrees with him.

A BuzzFlash Reader

Subject: Chavez calls Bush "the Devil" at the UN

In case you haven't seen the clip, here it is:


From the reactions of the talking heads at obCNN and FauXNews, you would think Chavez assassinated Bush. Why is Latin humour lost to most Americans? Hey, didn't our president refer to nations as an "Axis of Evil" at a State of the Union address? In any event, I think Chavez's comments are pretty humorous, and tame, particularly given that he endured temporary imprisonment, if not near death, during a CIA-backed coup attempt under Bush's watch. There's a great documentary on that coup attempt, produced by the Irish Film Board and called "The Revolution will not be Televised".

Here's a link to it on YouTube:



Redford, MI

Subject: Hugo.....Barbara´s Minute

Someone needed to say it to the world who actually knows it but is afraid to say it....you go hugo!

Barbara, even c rice has better taste.

Mariam Russell
Chat., TN...San Jose, Costa Rica

Subject: Re diverting attention from the fiasco in Iraq

I'd say a story that the CIA was delicate and soft and squishy about secret prisons doesn't fit the paradigm by focusing on the fiasco in Guantanamo.  Trust me, this topic diversion is not going well.

Between what the Red Cross will do next week and the fact that the Senate is actually getting hip to the seriousness of this issue, and the fact that the public is far more uncomfortable with torture than you might assume (although not uncomfortable enough as far as I'm concerned), Bush is walking into a buzz saw.


Subject: Um..........Mr. Buchanan

I'm no member of mensa but, wouldn't it behoove us as a nation to take a good look as to why an elected leader of another country felt pushed to the point he felt he had to refer to bush as the devil? (which is a far cry better than what my father calls him :):):)

shouldn't we try and figure out why the audience applauded with such joy, why so many people around the world are saying "we like the American people but hate the American president." Shouldn't we be asking these questions? I mean can we really drop bombs on the whole world because bush thinks they are evil if they don't like him? I also think bush should see a psychiatrist.

Kate in FL

Subject: On the Warner, McCain, Graham Military Commission Legislation

The alternative military commission legislation proposed by Senators Warner, McCain and Graham is now in circulation: [Available in pdf. form here: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2006/09/warner-optimistic-about-military.php ]

“The language of some parts is still being negotiated, [sources] said, but the section on defendants' access to the evidence against them is settled.”


The primary virtue of this alternative legislation, in the eyes of its crafters, seems to be that it might pass judicial scrutiny. As Lindsey Graham puts it:

"How many more times do we need to create legislation that's defective, that's going to confuse people, that's got not a snowball's chance in hell of passing Supreme Court muster?”


There is much to be concerned about in this proposed legislation.

(See: http://gadflyer.com/flytrap/index.php?Week=200637#2980)

However, since “the section on defendants' access to the evidence against them is settled,” let’s look only at it. In the draft legislation at 949a (2) we find:

“…the procedures and rules of evidence in trials by military commission under this chapter shall include, at a minimum, the following rights: (A) To examine and respond to all evidence considered by the military commission on the issue of guilt or innocence and for sentencing.”

That seems unequivocal, and consistent with Senator Graham’s public pronouncements:

“…if you're going to put somebody in jail, they need to confront the evidence against them. And that is what I stand for. That's what the military lawyers stand for. And that's the way we've been doing it for 200 years.”


"I don't feel good about telling someone - no matter who they are - `We're going to execute you next week, but I'm sorry, we can't tell you why.'"


The draft legislation details how the accused will be allowed to confront the classified evidence against him:

949d (4) (B) Classified information shall be protected and is privileged from disclosure if disclosure would be detrimental to the national security. This subparagraph applies to all stages of proceedings of military commissions under this chapter.

(C) After the original classification authority or head of the agency concerned has certified in writing that the evidence and sources thereof have been declassified to the maximum extent possible, consistent with the requirements of national security, the military judge may, to the extent practicable in accordance with the rules applicable in trials by courts-martial, authorize --- (i) the deletion of specified items of classified information from documents made available to the accused; (ii) the substitution of a portion or summary of the information for such classified documents; or (iii) the substitution of a statement admitting relevant facts that the classified information would tend to prove.

It seems plain to me that in none of these options is the defendant allowed to know “all evidence considered by the military commission on the issue of guilt or innocence and for sentencing.”

In option (i), the classified evidence against him is excised from what he sees; in (ii) the accused sees only a non-classified summary, which, by definition, must not be the classified evidence itself; and in (iii) the accused sees only a non-classified statement of the non-classified inferences which may be drawn from the classified information.

Option (iii) seems especially egregious and contrary to any reasonable understanding of a fair trial. To see the problem with (iii), reword it slightly: “the substitution of a statement admitting relevant facts that the classified information, IF TRUE, would tend to prove.”

Because the defendant will never see the information, he can never challenge its truthfulness. Because his counsel, who has seen the classified information, may not discuss that information with his client, he will never be in a position to learn from him facts that might falsify the information, or impeach its source. Since mere classification as “secret” is no guarantee of truthfulness, what (iii) allows is the introduction into evidence AS FACT inferences that may well be drawn from FALSE information.

(i) and (ii) are, self-evidently, options that do not provide the accused with the right to know all the evidence against him: In (i) classified evidence is withheld completely; in (ii) he is given a non-classified summary, that, by the very fact that it IS non-classified, does not reveal the classified evidence “considered by the military commission on the issue of guilt or innocence and for sentencing.”

Lindsey Graham professes himself squeamish about executing someone based on evidence they will never see. But that is precisely what this legislation allows. An accused may go the gallows knowing only that someone accused him (“we can tell you that this person is a valuable national security asset whose identity is protected and that he says he knows you’re a terrorist”); of something punishable by death ( “we can tell you it’s 950ddd: ‘an act terrorism in which civilians were killed.’ We can’t be more specific about the act in question, because to do so would allow you or others to identify our sources and methods and so jeopardize national security.”) And so on.

This is an un-American law, if not in letter then in spirit. In addition to its parody of the right to know the evidence against you, it denies an accused the right to challenge the legality of his detention or treatment in any US court. It allows only sham judicial review limited to the issue of whether or not these Kangaroo courts followed there own rules in depriving an accused of life or liberty. It protects their keepers from being held accountable in any US court for torture or other violation of the Geneva Conventions.

And yet, somehow, the authors of this travesty retain their flag-draped gloss as defenders of the American Way. In a fawning Newsweek Q and A: “What America Stands For” http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14890882/site/newsweek/ Lindsey Graham (in addition to repeating, unchallenged, lies about the need to deny the protection of the Great Writ to detainees so they can’t complain about “the food, TV access, all kinds of crap,”) has this to say: “… I can’t sit by and watch a guy be tried and, even though I may hate his guts, he never gets to see the evidence against him…You know what I’ve learned from this? I can see how easy it was to put all the Japanese in jail [during World War II]. The temptations are great to lash out and fight back. But history tells us, in the long run, the way we’ve tried to live our life as a nation is the best way, that the higher purpose of our reason to exist as a nation always serves us better than going the low road ... The bottom line—why does Lindsey care about this—I don’t love the terrorists, I just love what Americans stand for.”

I don’t recognize the America he says he loves. I hope his proposed legislation will not become law, but I feel sure that it will. And when it does, another little piece of what the America I grew up in stands for will disappear.

Albert Clark

Subject: Gene Lyons: Right on the Mark

Mr. Lyons is so insightful, he could be Dubya's shrink. Of course George wants prisoners tortured. He's on a power trip worthy of Vlad the Impaler. If memory serves, wasn't this the same rich, spoiled little plug-ugly who signed a woman's death warrant in Texas, and then turned it into a dinner table joke? And why not? It was Karla Faye Tucker who was getting shot full of potassium chloride, not George Bush. And it's not George Bush who's getting waterboarded. The man lacks any capacity whatever for empathy or pity. You have to be human first, and George has precious little in the way of humanity.

The only point I question in this brilliant piece is Mr. Lyons' characterization of Bush's press conferences as increasingly embarrassing. I'd go considerably further. I believe the palpable stress and snide sarcasm we're seeing more and more of from the Chief Exec who probably thought that all he had to do as President was more of the same schtik as Governor of Texas, only with better suits, is a good deal more ominous. I think it's Act One of "Long Day's Journey Into Night," and George is a male version of Mary Tyrone...he doesn't need the morphine as long as he's got Iraq and the D.C. press corps. So I say, Go get the bastard, Big Dave!

Gene Lyons: "Generally speaking, the more people tell you how tough they are, the harder they're working to convince themselves. George W. Bush is no exception. The president's authoritarian impulses, on display during an amazingly petulant Rose Garden press conference, so clearly derive from his own fundamental weakness of mind and character that it's become increasingly embarrassing to watch him perform." 9/21

Ellie Remore
Monroe, NY

Subject: The BuzzFlash World View

There must be something to it, being that its reflection is in every Mailbag letter - The way it is, as seen through the life and experiences of each BuzzFlash Reader. And considering that our site has 180,000 viewers daily, it's not a leap to say that our world view may be widely held. Just how wide? Wide enough for us to win big in November, that's how wide.

Which begs the question, what is this so-called BuzzFlash world view? It goes something like this - "Since staying the course is what got us here in the first place (trapped as we are on a Doomsday Express that's heading towards a dead-end straight ahead), then the only out is for us (we the people, that is) to change the world,"

Will it work? Depends upon how dominant our survival genes turn out to be. Aided and abetted, of course, by our collective spirit.

A BuzzFlash Reader

Subject: The Philosophical Basis For Repairing Bush's Wreckage

As Bush was plotting his unprovoked attack on Iraq, Colin Powell cautioned him, "If you break it, you’ll have to fix it." Well guess what; like a brat throwing a tantrum Bush "broke it" - big time! He destroyed an entire society, decimated its infrastructure, killed over 40,000 of its citizens and, to no one’s surprise, is utterly befuddled as to how to "fix it".

A consistent theme among Republican apologists for Bush’s war in Iraq is that Democrats criticize, but offer no solutions. Actually Democrats have offered several alternatives to Bush’s shoot-‘em-up tactic, but Republicans dismiss these plans as not sufficiently belligerent.

Let me suggest that the details of any approach to a solution flow from its philosophical foundation and it’s that foundation that’s at the heart of the political dispute.

Despite his claim that Christ is his favorite philosopher (yes, he really said that in 2000) Bush’s policy of starting wars and torturing captured prisoners is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, whose "philosophy" involves loving others as yourself. He is more properly described as a disciple of Machiavelli, whose two major works, "The Prince" and "The Art of War" are concerned with an all-powerful leader’s acquisition and maintenance of political power by whatever means he may deem necessary (a unitary executive).

As one liberal American citizen my view on relationships among people and nations is reflected in John Donne’s "For Whom the Bell Tolls" - "No man is an island, entire of itself" and "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."

Starting from a recognition of our common humanity we can hammer-out the details of building a livable world. The current Machiavellian path is a treadmill to oblivion.

Robert R. Regl
Hattiesburg, MS

Subject: Torture

It has always puzzled me as to why we still use torture to extract information from un-cooperative international criminals. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are a variety of chemical concoctions that will put any man into a submissively delirious state making all his dirty secrets spill.

Us Democrats could trump Rove with a simple proposal for decency, while at the same time being more effective when interrogating suspected international criminals.


George Bush will always be known in history as the torture president.

A BuzzFlash Reader

Subject: and that darlin'....is frightening

Whether one believes what Chavez said was over the top or not really doesn't matter. What we should be more concerned about is why the rest of the world reacted the way they did to what he said. Based on media around the world, print, tv and radio, the statements by chavez were greeted with much glee and agreement. His speech did not make him a cartoon character around the world, his statements have made him a hero, and that darlin' is very frightening.

Katie Johnson
Tampa FL

Subject: The torture hearings

I watched the entire thing last night, until early this morning...and the democrats did not go down easy. In fact, one said that they could, for all we know, be covering up for previous torture...

I think we all think that!

Shirley ... St. Louis

Subject: A fence along the border....

Let me understand this. The Grand Ol' Party wants to fence us is. This is the same party that assails such government undertakings like the Big Dig, yet they want to build a big ass fence out in the middle of hell's half acre??

Let's assume this fence is built. Who patrols it looking for holes? Who fixes the holes in the fence? Will it be Halliburton or some government employee not even making a living wage protecting our border from a twenty something year old kid hoping to work a job making less than the federal minimum wage?

Oh, yeah, volunteer American citizens are still dying for a fake war.

Me and god love us some 'merica

Philip Joseph Chavez

Subject: Pelosi-Rangel Defend the Devil

What's up BuzzFlash? No headlines about the idiot Democrats (Pelosi, Rangel) who came out swinging in defense of the Devil and condemning Hugo Chavez for speaking most beautiful truth to power? Repugs didn't even need to defend the Evil one - they let the Dems do it. Rove must be laughing himself silly over these idiots. Viva Chavez! Viva Ahmadinejad! They speak for most Americans if you check the polls.

A BuzzFlash Reader

Subject: BuzzFlash Note On Elitist


I read your comment in the mailbag yesterday:

[BuzzFlash Note: Good one, but watch out ... you're confirming the other side's image of us as elitist!]

I decided to look up the exact definition of the word.

Elitist Noun 1. Someone who believes in rule by an elite group.

I think it would be a safe conclusion to draw that it is the other side that is elitist. They control the house, the senate, the WH, the media, you name it, they control it. Now through proxy they even want to control a set of tubes which is not like a truck - the internet for those you who have not seen/heard/read the hilarious commentary courtesy of Senator Ted Stevens, and it is the rest of us who are elitists in their book. Reminds me of a little word called hypocrisy, especially since they are supposed to be the average salt of the earth commoner variety (the have's and the have mores perhaps!!).

Akhil Bhardwaj

Subject: Elitist My Foot

A BuzzFlash note in the Mailbag on the 21st got my blood boiling.

If we have to be careful how we define ourselves lest we give the Republican Noise Machine words to beat us over the head with, we're doing their work for them. We’re allowing them to define us and who and what we are.

We can no long call ourselves liberals, got to call ourselves “Progressives” cause the Republicans have managed to make Liberal a dirty word.

Democrats should stand on the capital steps and shout out, “Damn right I’m a liberal. You can thank your lucky stars we are. Liberals gave Americans Social Security and the Republicans want to take it away. Liberals gave us Civil Rights. Southern Democrats who fought Civil Rights became Republicans and are to this day.” Should tell you all you need to know about Republicans unless you're a bigot too.

Liberals have always fought for the average man and woman in this country. Yet somehow we are letting ourselves be defined as “Elitists.” What a bunch of hooey!

There are more blue-collar liberals then there are “Elitists.” John Kerry was defined as an “Elitist” while allowing little Richie Rich George Bush to strut around pretending to be an Average Joe. And note to tough guys, it is much harder to windsurf than it is to ride a bicycle.

I am from Wisconsin, not exactly a hive of “Elitist” activity. You’ll find most liberals in the Midwest are more moderate than some other places, but still liberal and proud of it. However when you let the “Smear and Fear” tacticians like Karl Rove take away a label we have proudly worn for generations, you award them the right to define who we are.

Some Liberals are very smart. Are we now to say that being smart is elitist? Do all liberals have to dumb it down so as to appeal to the fools down there in Bush’s base?

Day after day we see and hear someone yelling that Democrats need a backbone, a spine, some guts. But be careful about saying something some damn dunce of a Conservative finds offensive. Can’t have it both ways folks, and we shouldn’t even try.

I like Van Johnson’s message. I think it portrays quite succinctly and honestly the difference between Bush’s base and most Liberals. If they don’t like it, tough!

Subject: General Impression

Progressives are alike because they think; conservatives are alike because they think alike.

Van Johnson
Gordonsville, VA
[BuzzFlash Note: Good one, but watch out ... you're confirming the other side's image of us as elitist!]

Marjorie L. Swanson
Kenosha, Wisconsin

Subject: I'm So Disgusted

... with the GOP, the Democrats and the media! I NEVER thought there would come a day where the government of the United States would be debating whether it is right or wrong to torture people. Any human being capable of torturing another human being, regardless of the reasons...is sick and twisted!

You can't call yourself civilized and be in favor of doing something so despicable, so vile, so inhumane that it puts you on the same level as the terrorists.

Bush is endangering the lives of our troops, because he's opening the door for leaders of other countries to ratify the rules.

GWB is one of the most destructive human beings on the planet. He steps on the Constitution, disregards the Bill of Rights, and now he wants to toy with the Geneva Conventions.

Meanwhile the Democrats are silently standing by watching. What the hell is wrong with these people, Don't they see the urgency here?

I'm tired of Bush and his evil Klan getting away with breaking the rules. I've had enough! I doubt that the Democrats will win the mid-term elections, because it's hard to win, when your opponent is unscrupulous and will do anything to beat you. Including: lie, cheat and steal. Democrats must be willing to be as dishonest, devious and just plain lowdown as the corrupt GOP.

I love this country and all she once stood for, but things have changed and the corruption goes so high I don't think we can ever get back what we once had. I'm talking about our democracy, our prestige, our moral standing, our pride. Thanks to GWB, that has all gone away.

Folks, the choice is yours. We can choose to live in fear and continue to let this corrupt administration chip away at the Constitution in the name of ("protecting us"). Or we can live up to the principles of "the land of the brave and the home of the free." Once we lose those principles the terrorist have won.

Kimberly D.
New York

Subject: Gonzo dangerous

Gonzales Wants ISPs to Save User Data (sfgate)

But...it's for the children! And that is the only thing we need it for! If you don’t support this, YOU SUPPORT CHILD RAPE!

The above message, in various turns of phrase, should seem eerily familiar.

Gonzo [Alberto Gonzales] is a very dangerous man...and he gotta go.

John L. Johnson
Laingsburg, Michigan

Subject: 30-second spots:


“They (Republicans) are trying to produce a vote that is translated into a 30-second ad that defeats a Democrat. That’s what this is all about. Some of our (Democratic) colleagues…feel hard pressed and I understand their predicament.”


I think this would also make a great “30-second spot” summarizing what happens when the government is allowed to “drown itself in a bathtub” by, among other things, gutting the FDA and all other vestiges of regulatory clout it holds, just so a couple of donors can make an extra billion this year.

John L. Johnson
Laingsburg, Michigan

Subject: States say new IDs could cost billions (AP/Yahoo)

The states ask who will wind up paying for this? It will be the citizens of this country. The cost will most likely be passed on to all of us.

This Republican government that is supposedly for less government sure likes to pass laws that act like Big Brother.


Subject: Bush's Enabling Act

The 109th Congress will be remembered as the congress that created legislation allowing an out of control executive to endorse the torture of people not charged or convicted of any crimes other than being Islamists.

The attorney general of this administration at this time will be remembered by history as the man who drafted memos instructing this president how to avoid the sanctions meant for those who violate the Geneva Conventions and domestic US laws against torturing or mistreating prisoners.

Judges at the highest levels of the federal judiciary will be seen as enablers of these monsters just as the members of the legislative branch - the ENTIRE legislative branch - will be seen as complicit in each illegal act this administration authorizes and implements.

It is time for the Democrats to show some balls. Stop the silliness of trying to "work with" these monsters.

It is evident that the GOP through its devious strategist Karl Rove plans to steal or otherwise corrupt the coming midterm elections either by using hacked Diebold machines or by means of disenfranchisement worthy of the worst Jim Crow practices.

If there is even the slightest whiff of electoral improprieties which keep control of the congress in the hands of these ideologues, the time has come for the Democrats to get up out of their seats, en masse, and walk the hell out of the legislative chambers. Just walk out. The GOP wants to run the country by whatever means necessary, let them do it. Let them run the country right into the ground until the mouthpiece media has to sit up and take notice; until the millions of Americans, who actually think this form of governing is good, stop and see what has become of our country.

It has come to this - The Busheviks want to run America as their own little banana republic? Let them.

Let ignominy forever be associated with the name of Bush in American history so that no other member of this crime family can ever legitimately serve in any elected or appointed office in even a local government.

When Bush and his cronies started appointing people who had been pardoned for crimes that they were charged, tried, and convicted of people should have raised their voices and said "No!"

But this is America, we are supposed to give people a second chance. Like the second chance felons who have served their sentences have been given by this administration and by the state of Florida, among others. Their only weakness is that they don't have the same friends as Halliburton, Bechtel, SAIC, Blackwater Tactical or any of the other war profiteers who are gorging themselves at the trough that was the US Treasury.

It's time to shut down this sham that people insist on calling a government of, for, and by the people. It is a government of, for, and by the Bush Crime Syndicate and the sooner the Democrats extricate themselves from its grip the better for everyone involved.

Matt Carmody
Cornwall, NY

Subject: Alternative Media Our Only Hope To Information Blackout of Mainstream Media

The uneven coverage of recent community events in the only major newspaper in Central Florida is more than a little disturbing and shows why so many people are seeking information through alternative media, such as BuzzFlash. Despite numerous calls and sending out press releases before and after a recent Rollins College event featuring experts debating the war in Iraq, there was no major media coverage of it. However, an event the same week at UCF was deemed worthy of a lengthy article.

At UCF, general discusses 'new NATO' (Orlando Sentinel)

One has to question whether the contents of the forum at Rollins failed to pass some sort of political test with the editors of the paper. Unlike the forum at UCF, where the top NATO commander was calling for more troops in Afghanistan, the forum at Rollins was seeking to start a much needed dialogue on an exit strategy from Iraq.

Peter Galbraith, former Ambassador to Croatia and author of "The End of Iraq," along with Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration and co-author of "Strategic Redeployment," provided intelligent insight to the problems our country faces in trying to implement the Bush administration’s strategy of imposing democracy in Iraq. Dr. Korb, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Senior Advisor to the Center for Defense Information, articulated his plan for redeploying our troops out of a no-win situation to more effectively ensure our country’s security. Even more disturbing, he also recently reported in the Washington Post that our active Army has close to zero combat-ready brigades in reserve. In addition, two local academics participating in the forum covered the real cost of the war in terms of lives and money and the political background of the Middle East.

The large crowd, in spite of heavy rain, was testament to the priority the majority of Americans place on finding a solution in Iraq. The enthusiastic comments from the audience after the event focused on the knowledge of the panelists and the satisfaction and hope of knowing that legitimate plans for an exit strategy exist, whether Congress wants to acknowledge them or not. In addition, a call to action was issued to contact members of Congress and ask them to sign HR 543 and begin debate on an exit strategy.

Almost 70% of Americans want an end to our occupation in Iraq. It’s too bad the mainstream media refuses to publicize community forums attempting to discuss viable plans. Now, more than ever, our country needs the information that alternative media like Buzzflash provides.

Many Thanks,

Jerry Bell
Winter Park, FL

Subject: Politicizing the Irrelevant

It is, unfortunately, the practice of most politicians to pounce upon about anything they can in denouncing their opponent. This, particularly, seems to be the penchant of the Republicans in a "no-holds-barred" Rovian type of strategy. Whether it's sex in the White House and exaggerated moves to impeachment, a "right to life" pronouncement of the righteous, or the denouncement of the gay life style -- all seem to be subject to political gamesmanship.

Now the Republicans seem to be attempting to politicize a war psychology, mostly against the Arabs and their Islamic religion in the Middle East. It is, indeed, a most regrettable commentary that such often meaningless issues are the ones put forth for debate or derogation of adversaries, rather than the ones most relevant and urgent for the welfare of the nation and its citizens. The issues, for example, affecting us all, and not merely to divert our attention to irrelevant personal degradation, include:

*The consequence of the trend in global warming.

*The loss of our civil liberties to little or no purpose.

*The need for jobs at a livable wage.

*The practice of torture and human-rights abuses.

*The ideological-free qualifications of appointed judges.

*The importance of the separation of church and state.

*The growing poverty and homelessness in the nation.

*The increase in assault weapons on the street.

*Soaring budget deficits, and the insurmountable national debt.

*The collapse of our social-security system

*The legitimacy of preemptive wars in the name of national security.

*The readiness to meet national disasters such as the hurricane Katrina

*The unbalanced distribution of the nation's wealth.

*How best to secure the nation's vulnerable targets such as chemical plants and ports of call.

*How to control and overcome corruption among our nation's leaders.

These are the type of discourses with which our national interests should be concerned, and not the irrelevant minor political ones in which we are all taken in at our peril.

John Burgess
Syracuse, NY

Subject: Rangel's comments

I was surprised and sickened by Rep. Rangel's comments about Hugo Chavez' speech to the United Nations. Certainly Chavez had every right and every reason to speak as he did about Bush, even though he was in "our country". However, our country is no longer our country - it has been taken over by the extreme right wing and is now a different land. And Bush has never been "my president" - he was not elected. Has Rep. Rangel forgotten?

A BuzzFlash Reader