History repeats itself in excellent series

To the editor:

Congratulations on the first installments of your comprehensive investigation into the physical and mental horrors and travails our troops and veterans have suffered over the past six years (“The war back home”).

This is a repeat of what troops have suffered in all wars, but especially in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, along with Congress and its vain attempts to bring justice and fair treatment to our troops and veterans, have not learned from history and are doomed to repeat their mistakes.

Legislative efforts cannot force Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs bureaucrats — some of them, at least — to be compassionate and not circle the wagons when concerns or complaints are made by advocates, relatives or friends of veterans. Unfortunately this extends to veterans service organizations and federal departments with the word “veterans” or “veteran” in their missions.

I am looking forward to the next two installments in your series.




Helmet legislation

To the editor:

Lynne Michels has a good case in support of motorcycle helmet laws in much of her Monday letter.

The problem is that too many traffic laws are set by politicians who do not know how to drive in bad conditions or insist that no one can drive better than they can. They then set limits at their very low capabilities.

Bob Rocco’s Monday letter points out the major problem with legislative lobbyists and coordinators. They try to place their desires into law rather than using an accumulation of all relevant facts and then drawing a conclusion.

Like Mr. Rocco, I also have ridden motorcycles quite extensively — well over 100,000 miles. And although I always wore a helmet, I agree with him that a law requiring them is wrong.

I have never found a helmet that obscured my peripheral vision, although my peripheral vision range is only about 175 degrees. The helmets that I chose always improved my ability to hear other traffic, and they reduced air turbulence and noise. Some helmets increase turbulence and noise. Comfort is subjective, but it is important for safety.

Like Mr. Rocco, I always felt safer riding beside another motorcyclist — and I always avoided riding beside any four-wheeled vehicle.



Obscene salaries

To the editor:

Top executives of large, publicly traded companies have long ignored their fiduciary duty to stockholders by lavishly enriching themselves with large salaries and corporate jet travel (“Bailed-out banks enrich execs,” Dec. 22 Review-Journal).

As bad as this is, at least the stockholders have an exit; they can sell their stock in the company. But now these same executives are drawing their multimillion-dollar salaries at taxpayer expense. This is totally unacceptable. The taxpayer has no way out.

Now that these companies have accepted government funding, they are no longer private enterprises. Where is the U.S. Congress on this issue? Are lawmakers going to let one single company (Goldman Sachs) pay its top five employees $242 million in one year, then grant them a federal bailout, no strings attached? They should sell all the jets and return the $242 million. They now work for the government and therefore should expect to be paid a government salary.

The president makes $400,000. How can anyone running a government-subsidized enterprise expect to make more than the president of the United States?



On vacation

To the editor:

With only three weeks left until he leaves office, President Bush has decided his vacation is more important than the crises in Asia.

India and Pakistan are on the edge of war over the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan is sending troops from the northwest regions, leaving it vulnerable to al-Qaida and the Taliban. And Israel is bombing Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip.

This doesn’t take into consideration the financial meltdown here in the United States. Kind of reminds you of Rome burning while Nero fiddles, doesn’t it?

The man who holds the record for the most time on vacation of any president couldn’t hold off three weeks to make sure the world stayed calm for his replacement and had to spend another week with all the trappings of being the president, regardless of what’s happening all around him.

The Bush legacy tour aside, this is going to go down as the most feckless, self-serving administration in U.S. history. Talk about leadership in a vacuum. Jan. 20 will mark the end of an error.

David Black-Downes


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