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January 25, 2011
The Arizona shootings have spurred debate about today's political tone. David Brock argued that incendiary political rhetoric is dangerous; Ernest Istook argued that such concerns are misplaced. Your thoughts:
The [accused gunman] wasn't left or right. He was crazy. I can't believe there is even somewhat serious talk about banning harsh rhetoric. If we hold [Sarah] Palin responsible for what this paranoid schizophrenic did, why don't we finish by hanging everybody in Germany because of what Hitler did?
AARON COHN Harlingen, Texas
We have to face the fact that these "celebrities" are being well paid for being offensive, rude, and un-American with their irresponsible, crude, and disgusting (to me) remarks. Apparently listening to this meets some deep-seated need of the audience, whomever they are. It also meets the needs of the networks and advertisers.
PHYLLIS HOYER Frederick, Md.
Has political rhetoric become too extreme? Absolutely. Is Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin responsible for a madman's actions? Absolutely not. Mr. Brock would have us believe that if only all his previous warnings had not been ignored, the tragedy in Tucson would not have happened. Where has he been when for decades the conservative right has objected to pornography and violence in films, video games, and other public domains? The view that this has led to abuse of women and children and more violence in our communities has usually been ridiculed by the left, but now, when it suits their political purposes, they use the very same argument against conservative talk shows.
BEV WILEY Coulterville, Ill.
For me the question is: What did we do, if anything, as a community to prevent these events? Are we doing enough? Are we living up to the expectations of our kids' desires for a better country? I believe we have fallen very short. Why are guns so easy to get by mentally ill people? Why do we allow extended magazines? Why are we fixated with guns? And finally, why are we systematically demonizing good Americans that just happen to think differently than us? I hope we use free speech with great responsibility, with the intent to discuss our ideas to make a better country, not to destroy our adversaries.
JUAN MIRET Shrewsbury, Mass.
Based on his notes, YouTube messages, etc., [accused gunman Jared Loughner] definitely had it in for government officials, especially the congresswoman. He obviously wasn't a serious student of government, so where did he get his notions that he should do something about it? Hardly from musical pieces.
CARL JOHNSON Washington, Pa.
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January 18, 2011
Bickering About 'Bickering'
Alex M. Parker, writing on the congressional shift of power, noted that "familiar congressional bickering followed almost immediately" after Nancy Pelosi handed the gavel over to Speaker Boehner ["A New Era in the House," January 7]. "Bickering?" Congress legislates on issues that affect the lives of over 300 million Americans. Dismissal of efforts to reverse Obama's healthcare takeover and address the continuing financial crisis as "bickering" goes far to degrade our politics. It is something properly relegated to the editorial page. Your news pages should not advance commentary masquerading as "news."
W. JAMES YOUNG Montclair, Va.
The Key to a Housing Revival
Mr. Zuckerman's editorial on the housing market ["New Year, Same Troubled Housing Market," January 7] was right except for one thing: He missed the effect of jobs on housing. I am a Realtor on the West Coast and can say in all honesty that people are afraid to budge because they either can't find a decent-paying job, or don't know if they will keep a job they have. Jobs are the key. Once people have money in their pockets and feel confident that a job will not disappear in a year or two, they will be back—however hesitantly—into the housing market.
ROBERT MALCHOW Portland, Ore.
Reconsidering the Filibuster
A filibuster, done correctly, is a safeguard against a rushed decision or a massive push by a small group to make a controversial law ["Dems Push Senate Reform," December 31]. But there is absolutely no good reason for that process, or any other, to be secret. Our Constitution allows for a secret ballot, not a secret legislature. It's time both parties start practicing actual transparency, not just griping about the other side.
KENNY KNOWLES Summerville, S.C.
Flood of Money
I see all the articles about how much money is spent during election time by the various candidates, and some are astounding ["The Year of Spending Furiously," December 31]. I wonder who gets all this largess? I can see printing companies getting some, as well as radio and TV companies, but the amounts listed seem to be very outsized.
BOB BISHOP Stone Mountain, Ga.
God and the Founders
Mr. Kidd's book tends to miss the fact that religious freedom is intended to accept neutrality not just among various sects, but between religion and nonreligion ["In God They Trusted," December 24]. Madison explained that because God gave us our right to freedom of religion (think Martin Luther), then no human institution can interfere. It never ceases to amaze me that those who are most vocal against big government and government intrusion into private matters seem to be willing to let government meddle in religion.
JOHN RAGOSTA Charlottesville, Va. Author of Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped to Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty (Oxford University Press, 2010)
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January 10, 2011
The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Michael Zaneis argued that “Do Not Track” rules would harm e-commerce; Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said they would help consumers. Your thoughts:
Shouldn’t individuals have the option to opt out of online behavioral tracking, just as they can opt out of hard-copy mailings and phone calls? If the advertising industry wants to continue to track people online, there should be something in it for the people. The “benefit” of targeted, personal ads isn’t truly a benefit to us—the advertisers paint it that way, but who really wants to be bombarded with ads, personal or not? As it stands, behavioral tracking is one-sided: It’s a massive benefit to the advertisers and a hindrance to the users.
SARAH PARADISI Cambridge, Mass.
These rules are absolutely needed. Mr. Zaneis’s position is so self-serving as to be laughable. He states, “Stop that sharing and you put a stop to the Internet as we know it.” The Internet we have needs radical reform that not only stops tracking, but also requires all websites to stop sharing any information with anyone, including affiliates. I am very tired of businesses being able to tell me what I cannot stop where sharing is concerned and what piddly, meager information sharing I can stop. When is this country going to get the guts needed to reverse the rules and tell business to not share anything with anyone, be it affiliates, third parties, or anyone else, unless the customer gives explicit permission for each party involved? I do not care how business is inconvenienced, the cost burden, or how many people may become unemployed. The interactive ad industry can claim it supports consumer privacy, but it requires consumers to take steps to try to stop tracking. Some tracking cannot be stopped; it depends on what the websites and companies decide they want to allow the consumer to stop. Web tracking and information sharing are both dirty, low-life business practices.
GERALD GIBSON Spring, Texas
I would not appreciate having my daily activities tracked, and I see no reason why my Web meanderings should be any different. Advertisers have a very solid idea who visits ESPN online, and they can target their ads appropriately. If I step out of character and shop for a vacuum cleaner, I can use Google to find relevant sites, and I don’t need any tracking mechanisms to direct me to sources of vacuum cleaners.
PHILIP NAMY Spartanburg, S.C.
With Google as one of its largest competitors, [adding a “do not track” feature to its Web browser] is a strong strategic move on Microsoft’s part. As [Microsoft] has a large portion of the Internet browser market, I see this as a retaliatory movement against Google, which is now coming close to releasing Chrome operating system.
DAVID T. ELLIS Binghamton, N.Y.