The perils of parental prognostications

To the editor:

Last week’s record-setting snowfall in Las Vegas brought back warm memories (“Snowstorm hits Las Vegas,” Thursday Review-Journal).

About 30 years ago, as I read a bedtime story about a snowy day to my 4-year-old in our cozy Las Vegas home, she asked, “Mommy, when will we see it snow in Las Vegas?” I answered — in my all-knowing way that we parents tend to conjure up when needed — “Oh, my dear, we will not be seeing snow in Las Vegas. Where there are palm trees and cacti, like those in the yard, there is never snow.”

It was 6 a.m. when she joyfully woke me with a tug on the sleeve to come see the snow on the palm trees and cacti.

It was at that time, of course, that I lost all credibility with my children.

Happy holidays, Las Vegas.

Diane Wisdom


Something missing

To the editor:

I drove my sixth-grader to school Thursday only to find out it was a “snow day” — school was canceled.

I’m from the Midwest, and I always thought a prerequisite for a “snow day” was that there had to be snow on the ground.

In fairness, I did see snow Wednesday.



Closing Gitmo

To the editor:

In a Dec. 12 editorial, the Review-Journal addressed how President-elect Barack Obama may deal with Guantanamo Bay. You began, “It’s almost as certain (Bush’s) performance will get somewhat better grades than indicated by his current abysmal ‘popularity ratings.’ “

To the contrary, with the passage of time, it will become more and more apparent, even to ardent supporters such as the Review-Journal editorial board, that President Bush’s performance was a disaster of epic proportions.

Guantanamo is but one example. On the same day your editorial appeared, there was an article on Page 14A of the Review-Journal about a report recently released by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which concluded that the leading causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq have been the symbols of Abu Ghraib and the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

In other words, the abusive interrogation techniques (water boarding, nudity, stress positions, etc.) specifically authorized by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others in the chain of command directly led to the recruitment of insurgents in Iraq and to U.S. soldiers being killed or maimed. If these “leaders” had engaged in such activities on behalf of any other country, we would insist on prosecuting them for war crimes. But because they are Americans, many U.S. citizens attempt to rationalize their performance. We do so at our continuing peril, because the rest of the world is watching.

In your editorial, you asked if “the terrorists now held at Guantanamo” will be given trials at which lawyers from Yale and Harvard will demand that Washington prove all applicable laws were followed in their extradition and scheduling of “timely trials.” You conclude by posing, “Why not just skip all the intermediaries and simply give them a daytime cable talk show … or bus fare home?” These are the kinds of statements that have led many Americans to conclude that abuse of prisoners is somehow justifiable.

In the first place, it has been conclusively proved that not everyone at Guantanamo is a terrorist (whatever that means). Many who are held at Guantanamo and other secret torture sites around the world are innocent of any wrongdoing, but we have deprived them of any way to establish that fact. Second, equating “applicable laws” (such as the rights to be free from torture, to invoke habeas corpus, to counsel and to a speedy trial) with a talk show and bus fare is a trivialization of fundamental concepts of fairness and justice which, until now, have distinguished the United States from tyrannical regimes.

It will take a long time for the world to forget how America treated prisoners at Guantanamo under the Bush administration. We need to acknowledge our complicity in this wrongdoing and vow to reverse this disaster so that al-Qaida will be deprived of its No. 1 recruiting tool.



A joke of a report

To the editor:

I see the American Tort Reform Association has released its annual report on the country’s supposed “Judicial Hellholes.” Once again, the report is a farce (Dec. 16 Review-Journal).

The American Tort Reform Association is funded by huge national corporations, and the evaluations are based on questionnaires filled out only by defense lawyers. Even the most basic review tells us this report is worthy of the wide-based ridicule it has received across the nation. Last year, The New York Times dubbed the report as having “no apparent methodology.”

The American Tort Reform Association’s goal of locking the courthouse doors for everyday Nevadans should be rejected. As we have seen in Las Vegas with the recent endoscopy crisis, our system of justice holds an important place in our society. The American Tort Reform Association should be ashamed of itself.

Gerald M. Welt



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