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September 27, 2010
Speaker John Boehner?
I sincerely hope that Representative Boehner will place the good of the U.S.A. before partisan winning if he becomes the speaker of the House [Editor’s Note, September 10]. I hope that debates would be couched in terms of benefits for the future, not just the next election. I also hope he will have new ideas: cut out unneeded earmarks as a way to balance the budget instead of just raising taxes, raise Social Security retirement age to 68, pay for unpublicized needs such as the new locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., instead of wasting money on the cause of the moment. Mainly, I want the next speaker of the House to consider the future strength of our country, not his or her political party. [See where Boehner gets his campaign money.]
BETH GALLOWAY Maggie Valley, N.C.
As one of those supposedly sought-after independents, here’s my take: Both Boehner and [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell come across as deserving of the criticism as “the party of no.” Among the most prominent examples was the performance during the healthcare “summit” hosted by President Obama. Obama’s repeated appeal to find and act on common ground was summarily dismissed. Their mantra of “start over” sent a negative message loud and clear. A willingness to work together was diminished by their negative attitude. I have grave concerns about government spending and the devastating impact on my children, grandchildren, and beyond. Like many citizens, I’m incensed over the partisanship that has only intensified, despite the hope that seemed possible with Obama’s election. My impression is that Boehner as speaker will only serve to continue the partisanship. As with the populist Tea Party movement, more than anger is needed. Continued divisiveness is not productive.
RICHARD PALZER Clarendon Hills, Ill.
As a lifelong moderate Republican who has moved toward independent because of the Republican Party’s strategy of “No,” I expect Mr. Boehner to at least get something done on positive programs with a “new” House. The people expect their leaders to accomplish something. Being the opposing party shouldn’t allow members to squander power on rhetoric and empty nigglings. It’s time for real deals and real programs, and for them to be role models for the general public.
JIM BERRY Campbell, Calif.
Christine O’Donnell Can Win
Those who believe that Christine O’Donnell can’t win the Senate seat in Delaware just have to go back 38 years in Delaware history to when a 29-year-old man took on a sitting Republican senator in a year in which Richard Nixon would carry 49 states in one of the biggest landslides of all times [“Tea Party Groups Push GOP Right,” September 17]. The senator, James Caleb Boggs, was a moderate whom everyone liked. But with determination and lot of work, the young Democratic challenger named Joseph Biden won by 3,000 votes—and 38 years later, he is vice president of the United States. Yes, O’Donnell can win. If the Republicans throw her under the bus, they deserve to get their butts kicked.
GARRY DeMANTY Stockton, Calif.
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September 20, 2010
Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress argued in favor because he supports the 14th Amendment; Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation says it needs clarification. Your feedback:
U.S. citizenship is not automatic for someone born here. Just take a look at the children of diplomats who happen to be born in the United States. Those children are specifically not U.S. citizens. They are citizens of the country their parents are from. Why should it be any different for children of illegal aliens? The first sentence of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment spells out who is covered: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” The phrase “and subject to the jurisdiction” says that if you are a citizen of another country, then you are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States but rather the country of citizenship.
ALLEN ROGERS Vancouver, Wash.
The confusion over birthright citizenship is illustrated by the introduction to Two Takes, “Under the 14th Amendment, any child born in the United States is a citizen, even if the parents are not.” That statement depends upon the interpretation of the clause, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” In arguing for “no,” Mr. Spalding discusses the background leading to the language in the 14th Amendment, including the intent of the drafters that the meaning of the clause included “not owing allegiance to anybody else.” Simple legislation could limit citizenship by birth to a person born of parents, one of whom is a citizen of the United States, is an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or is an alien performing active service in the armed forces.
DONALD NORDEEN Gaylord, Mich.
For those here in the country legally going through the process of becoming citizens, their children born in this country should qualify for birthright citizenship, but not the children of those who enter our country illegally.
PATRICIA CARAVIELLO Pepperell, Mass.
Change the 14th Amendment? No need to change it, just enforce it as written and intended. Everyone knows the intent was to ensure citizenship of slaves and their children. There's no mystery in this amendment. Misinterpretations since its inception are the problem.
FRANKIE MOHLENGRAFT Twin Peaks, Calif.
The anchor baby issue isn't about kids who grow up here to voting age but rather the reluctance to deport families who have a citizen child. Our country has tacitly accepted illegal immigrants by not enforcing immigration laws for generations. Sure, they were aware they were breaking a law, but it was a law well known for not being enforced. The solution is to enforce not hiring immigrants except under green card laws and temporary worker agreements. That will limit the influx. Children born here to illegal immigrants, being visitors, would thus be excluded from automatic citizenship.
TOM KARASEK Longview, Wash.
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September 13, 2010
Numbers can be good to measure many things, but you must be very careful on cause and effect conclusions you extrapolate from that data. In the article [“Presidents by the Numbers,” September 3], it is said that President Clinton is good because the rate of abortions went down the fastest when he was president. But clearly such things don’t change in a year or even four years. For a rate to change, it is driven by numerous factors, not the least of which is what happened before the measure was taken. So, it is likely that the president before Clinton initiated some program, which in turn paid dividends in terms of the abortion rate that was evidenced during the Clinton presidency. Seems to me the authors are drawing conclusions that are unwarranted and extremely misleading.
MIKE BALL Spring, Texas
Enough with the gerrymandering [“Boundary Hunters,” September 3]. It’s absurd and we let the craven politicians get away with it. It certainly isn’t at all what the Founding Fathers envisioned.
JAY BURZAK Salem, N.H.
The Mosque Fallout
Why are we worried about what other countries think of us [“The Shouts Heard ‘Round the World,” August 27]? Don’t we know what a great country we have and how proud we should be of our freedoms here? Let’s take care of ourselves first and stop worrying about what other countries think of us.
JULIE STRANGES Chatsworth, Calif.
When the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the American Jewish Committee oppose the unconditional rights of Muslim-Americans to build their mosque, they oppose the religious freedoms of all Americans and the Jewish values you all share. I call on all Jewish leaders to pause and reflect. As you start a new year, I ask you to join in reaffirming a shared commitment to confronting Islamaphobia and anti-Arab racism with the same determination you have when facing anti-Semitism.
FRANK BELCASTRO Dubuque, Iowa
The U.S. image overseas has deteriorated ever since we have tried to become the policeman of the entire world. Why do we continue to try to impose our beliefs on the whole world? We step into everyone else’s business. Whether it be Iraq or Afghanistan, we always fight for what we think is right without regard for the people who live in those countries. Having been in the military and in Vietnam, I saw firsthand how we screwed up over there and continue the same mistakes time and time again. No wonder most of the world is sick of the big bully America.
JANET BAUMAN Amelia, Ohio
Yes, I am very concerned by the rhetoric concerning the building of the mosque in New York. Gosh, hasn’t religion caused enough wars and conflict in the world already? I get E-mails from others frequently showing how intolerant of a people we really are.
JIM JORDAN Warren, Ohio
Will the protests over the Islamic center near Ground Zero hurt the U.S. image overseas? Given the objective of Islamic leaders to turn the United States into an Islamic country and the world into an Islamic world, any protests that hinder that objective are likely to hurt our image in the Islamic world. However, protests that oppose the in-your-face disrespect for the hundreds of innocent Americans who died at the hands of Islamic radicals at Ground Zero will meet with general approval by the rest of the world.
BRENT JOHNSON Orem, Utah
No, I am not concerned that the protests will hurt the U.S. image overseas. The only ones being hurt by the protests are the Muslim community and their intolerance for our freedoms to protest as well as our freedoms of religion. I have several close friends in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom who have written multiple times about the risks of creeping Islam in their societies. Mr. Crowley [State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley] and the Obama administration should stop apologizing for the U.S. policies and start defending the USA against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
JOHN ORTH Grafton, Wis.
Too Much Tea?
The hypocrisy makes my gray hair grayer [“A User’s Guide to the Tea Party,” August 27]! Government interference in “our” lives? What about their stance on abortion and gay marriage? Is that not interference? Don’t touch the Constitution! OK, how about you not messing with the 14th Amendment! What they really mean is that it’s OK when it’s something they are “for” and not OK when it’s something they’re not for. Their wish is that everything be Christian oriented—but their brand of Christianity. However, don’t mess with their Social Security or Medicare. Doing what’s right has neither a left nor right, Christian or not, orientation. It is just that—doing the right thing.
MARILYN MUELLER Alpharetta, Ga.
Amending the Constitution
There are some items that do need to be added to the Constitution, such as congressional term limits, anti-lobbying (giving of gifts, promises, etc.), and yes, repealing the 17th Amendment [“The GOP Targets the Constitution,” September 3]. Obviously Mr. Schlesinger doesn’t understand that the intent of the Founding Fathers was to give states a voice in Congress. The people already have a voice in Congress, the House of Representatives (although as of late that apparently isn’t much of one). I’m not a big fan of the GOP; they have done about as much to derail the Constitution as Democrats, but I am in favor of limiting the power of the federal government.
MIKE LARSON Gardner, Mass.
We have moved from the “Father of the Constitution’s” reality to that of Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat, who said, “The federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country.” [See who supports Stark.] A contributing factor to the growth of national government power was the 17th Amendment. The Constitution established a federal government based on checks and balances not only between the branches of government, but also the national government, the states, and the people. The states appointed their representatives to the Senate and the people elected theirs to the House. The 17th Amendment removed the states from the equation. Now, senators are nothing more than at-large House members serving six-year, rather than two-year, terms and the states have no say in decisions that affect them. As a result we have states struggling with unfunded mandates, challenging healthcare reform in the courts, and trying to enforce national immigration laws. The 17th Amendment was a mistake and should be repealed to restore checks and balances as the Framers intended.
RICHARD LAWRENCE Clinton, Utah
Mr. Schlesinger misses the real problem as he attacks the Tea Party movement and other conservative groups. This discussion would not exist if the courts had simply ensured compliance with the 10th Amendment, which essentially froze the powers of the federal government to those granted by the Constitution and earlier amendments at the moment it was ratified. Thus any expansion of federal power after that date is unconstitutional unless granted by an amendment. This includes all of the Roosevelt era’s New Deal programs (including Social Security), the Great Society programs, and finally Barack Obama’s seizure and redistribution of private property along with his healthcare program. Strict interpretation of the Constitution, using the dictionary and views of the appropriate time periods, would have prevented the implementation of such illegal laws and will do so in the future. The Constitution was intended to change, but via the amendment process, not by the passage of unconstitutional laws and expansive court decisions.
KARL HAMMERLE San Antonio
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September 7, 2010
Sen. John Kerry argued in favor of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, saying that it would keep America safe; Sen. Jim DeMint said it would weaken national security. Your feedback:
Come on, Mr. DeMint. Are you serious? The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty doesn’t limit tactical nuclear weapons because it is a treaty intended to limit strategic [long range] nuclear weapons. The Obama administration has quite clearly, and rightly, stated that tactical [battlefield] nuclear weapons will be dealt with in subsequent negotiations. However, if you and your Senate cohorts are incapable of pushing through New START, there won’t be any follow-on negotiations to push for tactical nuke cuts. This failure would be a severe blow to global nuclear reductions and a safer world.
RICK WAYMAN Santa Barbara, Calif.
I think there are a lot of potential verification problems with the treaty and, as DeMint points out, it doesn’t restrict the large number of tactical nukes that Russia has targeted on Europe. That said, there are potential advantages if we don’t do things stupidly. The current plan is to reduce the number of warheads on submarine-launched ballistic missiles from eight to three, thus basing a total of 1008 warheads on 14 subs. We could maintain the same number of warheads by keeping eight warheads per missile and using just nine of the 24 missile tubes per sub. This would permit the Navy to convert the remaining 15 tubes per sub to use for cruise missiles, as has been done with four previous ballistic missile submarines, or to outright convert four to six of the SSBNs [ballistic missile subs] to the resoundingly successful SSGNs [cruise missile subs] and install cruise missiles in the surplus capacity on the SSBNs. Why do this? It would be a very cheap way to counter the Chinese naval and cruise missile buildup in the South China Sea and the new anticarrier ballistic missile they have developed. This is no small issue, as we have just parked three of our four newly converted SSGNs in striking range of China. We’ll see if the secretary of defense, the chief of naval operations, and the president wake up to this possibility.
JAMES REFALO Los Angeles
Senator DeMint’s arguments against START dodge three related questions: 1. If the treaty is bad for the U.S. nuclear posture, why did seven of the last eight commanders of our strategic nuclear forces write to senators urging them to ratify it? 2. If it threatens missile defense, why did Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, director of the Missile Defense Agency, testify that it does not? 3. If it is bad for U.S. security, why did Defense Secretary Robert Gates declare that it has the “unanimous support” of the U.S. military? Either the senator has unique knowledge that our military leaders do not possess or he is calling them liars. Which is it?
PETER FERENBACH Laytonville, Calif.
I read both your articles on this subject. To me there is no question of the necessity for the U.S. to have at least the equivalent of Russia’s missile capability. Nuclear devices on small [tactical] missiles are just as deadly as on large ones.
MARIAN CRANFORD Homewood, Ala.