Letters to the Editor
Readers write about US-Turkey relations, raising taxes against tobacco, US vulnerability to terrorist attacks, and complexity of Harry Potter's character.
The US needs Turkey as a broker in the Middle East
The July 24 Opinion article, "Time to heal US-Turkey wounds," is a timely and urgent reminder that the US must act soon to restore good relations. The US needs friends in the Middle East. Since Ataturk's rule starting in 1923, Turkey has moved slowly toward democracy. It is a member of NATO and has applied for European Union membership. The EU has postponed Turkey's entry because it wants more concessions. But wait much longer and Turkey may follow Saudi Arabia and Iran and cease to be a secular state.
The US needs Turkey as an ally to help broker peace in Iraq. It has a strong influence in the region. EU membership is a good start down the path of reconciliation.
Higher tax on tobacco will backfire
In response to the July 20 article, "Prospects dim for popular health bill," the article addressed how the Senate Finance Committee voted to raise taxes against tobacco to fund the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP. While I understand the desire to keep SCHIP funded and available, doing so on the backs of the tobacco industry does not make sense.
Why should a health insurance program depend on sales of a product considered bad for one's health? Such funding efforts are counterintuitive to smoking cessation. To provide money to expand SCHIP via a tobacco tax, the tobacco industry has to maintain sales. Members of Congress should find another way to fund SCHIP, or find an alternative means of support. Using the monetary gains from taxing an unhealthy product to fund a children's health program is not what the US government should support.
Harry Potter's moral crisis
In regard to the July 25 Opinion article, "Missing from 'Harry Potter' – a real moral struggle," I opened the book with Harry in mind and I closed it preoccupied with the character Snape.
I thought Snape was fascinating and so much of his character was revealed in the final book – his love for Lily, and all of his inner crises. Harry's character experiences similar crises as well. The article states that the final Harry Potter book has no internal moral crisis and that is unacceptable. I learned a lot from the Harry character – such as his innate goodness. It is not necessary for the protagonist to teach a reader everything.
Problems in US security
In regards to the July 20 article, "Security officials look ahead to '09," the article opens with a statement that the transition to a new president in 2009 could make the US vulnerable to attack. The article summarized that the vulnerability exists at this moment – many positions are unfilled in the Department of Homeland Security. There are 30 agencies or departments within the DHS that apparently do not know yet how they actually operate and interact because they are only now producing memos on this topic, spurred on by the coming transition in 2009.
The real point of weakness in our preparedness is the DHS itself. The creation of this department was a terrible idea. Its subsequent politicization and that of the Department of Justice under the current administration highlights the real problem with our security. Even if the DHS existed in 2001, we probably would not have been likely to pick up warnings of terrorist plots.
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