A sampling below of some recent letters about my columns or issues I’ve written about.
From our ‘great minds think alike’ department, I couldn’t have said it better than this reader:
Heard all this liberal tripe before
The recent Opinion page column by Gene Lyons on the Bush "police state" is a perfect parody of the current talking points of the Democrat Party. It would be very funny, assuming the general public had sufficient information to be able to recognize it for the outrageous demagoguery that it is. Sadly, a lot of people may fall prey to the rhetoric.
We are a nation at war. Most Americans recognized that the minute the second jetliner hit the Twin Towers. In wartime, the president has the exclusive prerogative to gather intelligence, provided by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. After the Vietnam War, Congress tried to mitigate that authority through the Wars Powers Resolution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) that introduced an element of oversight.
However, every single Justice Department since then, including Bill Clinton’s and Jimmy Carter’s, has stated that, this legislation notwithstanding, the presidential prerogative to act independently in acquiring wartime intelligence remains absolute. This is the (extremely abbreviated) legal history and precedent upon which the Patriot Act — passed overwhelmingly by Congress after 9/11 — is based. Despite the partisan caterwauling to the contrary, President Bush has upheld, not violated, his Constitutional oath.
For those who don’t want to slog through the Constitution or FISA or the Patriot Act, there are two big clues to why the Lyons column should not be taken seriously. One is that neither Gene Lyons nor the ACLU nor People for the American Way nor MoveOn.org nor the Democrat leadership can document one legitimate case of abuse under the Patriot Act.
Fact No. 2 is that none of these champions of liberty — certainly not Gene Lyons — raised so much as a peep about the well-documented abuses of the former administration, including but not limited to, the illegal holding of hundreds of FBI files in the White House, and the use of both the IRS and the FBI to harass private citizens — all without the slightest pretense of defending the nation.
Clearly, Gene Lyons’ sensitivity to civil rights abuses blows both hot and cold.
That we keep a beady eye on civil liberty in the context of national defense is a very good thing, crucial, in fact, to the free society we all hold dear. But these debates should be reasoned and responsible investigations of law, history, precedent and fact, not hysterical firebombs of partisan propaganda.
Members of the Pennsylvania legislature who are tinkering with a watered-down tax relief plan better wise up. Taxpayers want the total elimination of property taxes. Period. Nothing short of that will keep them from voting out most incumbents. Here’s a few examples of what area residents are saying about the matter:
Abolish the property tax
Regarding property taxes, it seems our Democratic governor, Ed Rendell, wants to give us up to $272 toward our school taxes and he thinks it is a good deal. What a joke to a family that pays $2,000 to $5,000 a year. We need more people to complain and the way to do it is to cancel the tax payments on their houses that they put in escrow. That way, they would have to come up with the $2,000 to $5,000 at one time just like the senior citizens have to.
All the days in the last three months that the lawmakers went to Harrisburg cost the taxpayers at least $124 a day. That sure put a lot of taxpayer money in their pockets. The people need a paper like The Mercury to keep after them to abolish the property tax.
We deserve real tax reform
I am very disappointed in the latest House plan to reform property taxes. In fact, it does not reform the property tax system at all.
This plan allows the property tax system to remain in place. This will allow our property taxes to be increased in the future and we’ll inevitably be back in the same sinking boat we’re in now. And partially replacing the school property tax with increases in both the state income tax and the local earned-income tax is purely a slight of hand. This approach has fundamental problems — it increases taxes that already penalize hard work and achievement, and it will further reduce real income growth in the state.
There is a sensible way to bring true tax reform to Pennsylvanians: the Commonwealth Caucus plan for a lower, broader state sales tax. This plan is based on a consumption tax that is pro-growth and is a fair means to totally eliminate the school property tax while providing equitable funding for schools. Mindful of low-income workers and rising health care costs, the plan allows for exemptions from the sales tax.
An independent analysis confirmed the plan’s viability. In its initial five-year period, the plan would create over 139,000 new jobs in Pennsylvania. Seniors would finally be free from the ever-increasing burden of school property taxes. Family-sustaining jobs would be created. Now wouldn’t that be nice for our senior citizens and families?
Pennsylvanians deserve real property tax reform. Call, fax, e-mail and write your state senator and representative now and tell them you want true independence from property taxes by totally eliminating them. Tell them not to allow an increase in the state income tax or the local earned-income tax. Tell them to support the pro-growth Commonwealth Caucus Plan and get Pennsylvania back on the right track.
ERWIN B. JENSCHKE JR.
Politicians always forget the voters
Once again those whom we have elected have forgotten who they represent. In Washington, they seem more interested in the welfare of those in Iraq and those south of the border. Free trade means we freely give them our factories and they give us their needy. They tell us that the illegals who cross the border only work the jobs that Americans will not do. Why then were two busloads of illegals taken from a construction site for Wal-Mart?
In Harrisburg, they know how to pass slot machine laws (and later allow themselves to invest in the slots). They know how to repeal a safety helmet law and how to pass an illegal pay raise. Why, then, is it so hard to pass fair tax relief for homeowners?
I do think it is time to dump the incumbents.
Here’s an idea: the next time one of the parties calls for a campaign donation, pledge $1,000, but then tell them that you will apply that to your own campaign to pay for your school taxes.
Another elected official who has forgotten the taxpayer is your local school board who feels it necessary to outbuild the neighboring school district by building schools that would be the envy of any college campus.
And then you have Kool Aid drinkers like this poor soul, who wouldn’t remember to breath unless Howard Dean told him to…..
U.S. has never been a Christian nation
Tony Phyrillas, in his column on Dec. 25, calls Christians to fight for their right to public school Christmas pageants and to purchase consumer goods only from those merchants who aren’t sensitive to the real and rich pluralism that is our nation.
I am grateful to live in a country where I and all others may worship, or not, as we see fit. I thank God also that, by and large, our institutions continue to grow in their exercise of restraint when it comes to those who fear their faith is meaningful only if everyone else bows before their god.
Mr. Phyrillas says we are a Christian nation overlooking about 300 years of history (and a Constitution) that says otherwise. It was freedom to worship not as the crown demands that brought many of our forebearers here. We have never been, nor hopefully will we ever be, a Christian nation, or an Islamist, Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu nation.
Speaking not as a secular leftist, but rather as a deeply committed Christian, Lord help us if we ever become a "Christian" nation. There never has been a Christian nation on the face of this planet, nor can there ever be one. Nations belong to the realm of principalities and powers, not the Kingdom of God.
People usually fight and demand their "rights" when they are afraid. Mr. Phyrillas, with his call to arms, mocks the Gospel that says "Fear Not."
Try it Mr. Phyrillas. Fear not. You might become a Christian.
ROBERT A. WADE
Last time I checked, 85 percent of the United States was Christian, making this the most populous Christian nation on Earth. I guess Mr. Wade is living on a different planet.