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Sunday, October 15, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

Brinksmanship

Teetering on the precipice: our one-sided representatives

Editor, The Times:

North Korea just announced that it has successfully tested an atomic bomb ["North Korea claims successful nuclear test," Times, page one, Oct. 9].

I can't wait to hear Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the White House press office explain why this is Bill Clinton's fault and how it proves that we need to re-elect the same Republicans who allowed this to happen to two more years in power.

I sure am glad those unserious Democrats haven't been in charge of our national security; they might have allowed us to become less safe.

Right now, the only thing that's keeping us on the West Coast even a little safe is the fact that North Korean missiles aren't any more dependable than our anti-missile shield is.

Isn't it about time we elected a Congress that actually believes national security involves making the country safe and not just in steering contracts to campaign contributors?

The Republicans have failed us in every possible way. It's time for them to go.

— John McKay, Seattle

Doomsday talk

It's long past time to abandon all hope in the two-faced opposition

Has anyone out there noticed the dichotomy the Democrats have provided for us, or is it just me? When President Bush invaded Iraq, he was a "cowboy," he had a "go-it-alone mentality," he had a "preemptive mindset," and they bemoaned his "unilateral approach."

Now, with North Korea flexing its nuclear muscles, muscles mind you, that were provided by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former President Clinton and, last but not least, former President Carter, the Democrats are whining that President Bush hasn't engaged North Korea in one-on-one talks, instead of the six-party talks that we are currently engaged in.

Could it be more obvious why Americans don't trust Democrats with national security when all they can do is play political games with it.

— Thomas Ancich, Seattle

Hot air into annealed steel

What "Now test diplomacy" [editorial, Oct. 10] should have said is whatever the Bush administration is doing is wrong and it should be doing exactly the opposite.

Any reasonable assessment of the situation will say that direct one-on-one talks with the Koreans was not effective. They made an agreement and violated that agreement before the ink was dry. So why would we negotiate with a country that does not live up to its agreements? If any talk is going to be effective, it will be driven by the Chinese.

Maybe we should try something really unique in diplomacy. Say what we mean and mean what we say. Give the Koreans public notice of our intent and follow through on it. If that means turning their country into a glass factory, so be it.

The same is true of Iran. They invaded U.S. territory when they took our embassy by force and held Americans captive for a year. There is nothing to talk about with people like that. Tell them the consequences of their actions and follow through.

Conventional diplomacy is a waste of time and money. It allows a few people to strut around and act important but it accomplishes nothing.

— Gary Williams, Snohomish

Topic mushrooms

Ignoring a situation is not working from a position of strength. Refusing to speak to the opposition results in having no say in that party's thought process ["Bush: No talks with North Korea on nukes," page one, Nov. 11]. Regardless of one's opinion of our previous administration, at least it talked to North Korea and was thus granted access and monitoring rights.

Our president has stated that he does not listen to opinion polls, which are now showing his approval rate as being in the mid-30-percent range. The polls represent the desire of the people who elected him. So just whom does he work for?

— Eric Ramsing, Seattle

Poor aim

As President Bush opens the way toward more international strife by asking for sanctions against North Korea, I would offer that sanctions harm only the poor and accomplish nothing.

Threats are not the way to deal with an unreasonable leader. I pray Bush will rethink his foreign policy.

— Toni Beetham, Black Diamond

Equal and opposite reaction

It's time to look beyond the government and media propaganda about North Korea and understand who the real threat to peace is: the United States government.

Why does the U.S. government get to choose which nations can or can't have nuclear weapons?

North Korea and Iran can't have them, but Israel, Pakistan and India can?

Which government is developing new "bunker buster" nukes and has threatened to use them?

Which government has actually used nuclear weapons on an innocent civilian population?

Which government routinely invades and bombs sovereign nations?

Why did the U.S. government invade Iraq? Because they had nukes, or because we knew they didn't?

As long as the U.S. continues to act as the globe's cop and bomb and invade nations that don't bend to our economic and political dictates, then other nations will continue to seek a deterrent against U.S. aggression.

— Nicholas Hart, Seattle

Mutually assured construction

Now that North Korea has announced its first successful test of a nuclear weapon, there will be renewed calls from some quarters for the United States to reverse its existing policy and enter into official unilateral talks with the regime in Pyong-yang.

In a way, however, this is an opportunity for the Bush administration to back away gracefully from the perceived unilateralism represented by U.S. actions in Iraq.

In this case, the U.S. should reaffirm its support for Japan and South Korea and its commitment to promote regional stability.

At the same time, America should encourage/pressure Russia and China (which bear partial responsibility for North Korea's behavior) to do the heavy lifting, under the stewardship of the U.N. Security Council and the new secretary general.

Both countries want to demonstrate their influence in the international community. This is a perfect opportunity for them to step up to the challenge.

— Keith Everett, Seattle

Reap the kimchi

It's pretty clear why North Korea's deranged leader chose this particular moment to set off his blast heard 'round the world: to cause maximum embarrassment to George W. Bush, who has dismissed Kim Jong Il as the "Pygmy of Pyongyang."

Kim must be beside himself watching W go positively apoplectic with frustration that he can do nothing at all, and this less than one month from the important mid-term elections.

Our president has tied America's hands and feet in Iraq. Kim knows this, and the "Dear Leader" can thus tweak our "Fearless Leader's" nose all he wants.

— William Valenti, Seattle

Duel in November

He means business

I notice that U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick is described as having a "distinctively raspy, thin voice" ["Senate showdown," editorial column, Oct. 8]. Editorial columnist Joni Balter didn't give us her impression of Sen. Maria Cantwell's voice.

If the quality of one's speaking voice is so important in determining a candidate's qualifications for office, then Lincoln, as described by his biographer, David Donald, with his high, Kentucky-accented penetrating voice, might not have been elected president.

In giving the rundown of the differences between the two candidates, Balter leaves out the economy and, more specifically, small business. Considering that, as of 2004, small businesses accounted for 99.7 percent of all employers, generated 60 to 80 percent of new jobs annually and employed more than half of all private-sector employees, this is a significant issue.

McGavick is endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Sen. Cantwell's voting record, as tabulated by the NFIB on six bills important to small business in the 108th Session of Congress, was 0 percent.

— Bob Dorse, Seattle

They bite the dust

Since Mike McGavick hasn't held public office, I looked to his record [as CEO] with Safeco to see if it gave any indication that his cutting salaries because of poor performance idea had any precedent.

When he took over Safeco, he didn't cut the salaries of executives responsible for the poor performance of the firm. He laid off 1,200 staff and cut the dividends of stockholders. There is no evidence that either the stockholders or the laid-off staff were responsible for the losses of the company.

Executive decision-makers were responsible, and McGavick didn't cut their salaries.

So, although the populist proposal to cut congressional salaries sounds appealing in an ad, it isn't consistent with how McGavick behaved as the head of Safeco. There, he cut people and dividends.

— Leon Leonard, Puyallup

Party invitation

Bring your own booster

Editorial Page Editor James Vesely's anti-Libertarian bias screams loud and clear in "Voters' choice: the good, bad and depressing" [editorial column, Oct. 8]. He states that "until the Libertarians are reaching well into the double-digits of voter acceptance, the party remains an afterthought."

Yet state law says when a third party gets 5 percent in a statewide race, it is a "major" party (which the Washington Libertarian Party was, from 2000 to 2004.) Why the arbitrarily high 10-percent threshold when the law says 5 percent?

Vesely also didn't mention that the Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate will be in the Oct. 17 TV debate because he has raised 10 percent of what Sen. Patty Murray raised in 2004 — which is the standard.

Even when we meet the 10-percent threshold, Vesely disparages and ignores us. This shows a provincial mindset that can't handle a third dimension in politics.

— Jeff Jared, Kirkland

Last thing you'd think

We got them all wrong

Yet more evidence that we live in the United States of Irony. In "Air-bomb suspect poses dilemma for U.S." [News, Oct. 8], on the terrorist, oh sorry, I mean the freedom fighter Luis Posada Carriles, who masterminded the bombing of a Cuban airliner and is currently being held in immigration detention in Texas, it was noted that the judge would not allow Carriles to be extradited to Cuba because ... "he may be subject to torture." Sigh.

— Ed Burns, Skykomish

Their really good guise

A new definition of chutzpa: An American volunteer teaching in the West Bank was freed after being held captive for a day. He was released by Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades "who claimed credit for freeing him." So what's wrong with that, one might ask? Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades kidnapped him! ["Al Aqsa claims credit for freeing American," News, Oct. 12].

Claiming credit for releasing someone you have kidnapped? Now that's chutzpa!

— Norman Levin, Seattle

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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