Letters to the editor for March 15

TJ Johnson should follow the law or resign

Councilman TJ Johnson swore to uphold the law when he took his oath of office. His involvement in planning, and planned participation in, civil disobedience as part of the Olympia Port Militarization Resistance is a clear violation of this oath.

Civil disobedience is the refusal to obey certain laws because one disagrees with them. Most of us comply with a number of laws with which we disagree. Calling lawbreaking civil disobedience doesn't change the fact that it is the intentional violation of duly adopted laws.

If Johnson wishes to maintain the moral high ground he continually tries to claim, he will disassociate himself from the planned lawbreaking or will resign from office as he is unable to honor his oath to uphold the law. Failure to do one or the other will qualify him for the dictionary definition of a hypocrite.

Dale Putnam, Olympia

Students need to practice their mathematics skills

I used to be a university lab instructor of statistics and introductory calculus, so I have had practical experience in assisting freshman university students in mathematics. What I noticed was:

1. Some students who had done well in high school math did miserably in first-year university calculus - not because of the calculus, but because they didn't have a good grasp of algebra.

2. Not only did many students not understand algebra, they didn't understand arithmetic. They did not know basic rules of operations.

3. Some students literally could not divide 1 by 10 without a calculator. (Sad to say, I am not making this up). That shows that they did not understand even the base-10 number system.

Some people think that there is no point in assigning more than five math problems of the same type to students. Would they tell a piano student that once he had played a scale five times, he could then ignore scales and move on to Beethoven? Math problems are not ends in themselves, but skills which become building blocks for more advanced problems. As Julie Costin noted in her Feb. 25 column, students need to practice skills many times over a long period of time to get it.

The so-called concept curriculum does not work. That colleges and universities are teaching ever more sections of remedial math classes is testament to that. Students need straightforward instruction and practice not only to learn math skills, but also to become proficient in using them.

Valerie Partridge, Lacey

Give U.S. general a chance to succeed

Once again, it is time to set the record straight.

In 1998, Bill Clinton wanted regime change in Iraq. About three to four years later, Hillary Clinton vigorously supported the same idea.

Saddam Hussein violated 17 U.N. resolutions.

Most nations thought Saddam had nukes. He undoubtedly had at least one other component of weapons of mass destruction. He killed thousands of his own citizens with nerve gas and many Iranians with other chemical weapons.

When we went to war with Iraq, our soldiers were convinced he would use chemicals on them.

A large percentage of Americans are tired of the war in Iraq, but if truth be told, most common sense people with one half a brain do not want us to pull out now or before the end of the year.

President Bush and the Iraqi leaders have stated that significant progress will be made by Nov. 1 this year.

Gen. David Petraeus, one of the finest military commanders in our history, just got to Iraq and the surge, or new mission, has just started. It is not the same old war. New policy and tactics should succeed. Give Gen. Petraeus a chance for success.

Most of our troops volunteered for duty in Iraq, and they want to stay until the job is done.

There are thousands of contractors and embassy personnel who will be in Iraq for a long time. We should protect them with troops.

Give the surge a chance.

Robert Zimmerman, Olympia

Pledge of Allegiance has been amended four times

Hannah Palo's letter pleads to keep the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, invoking historical review.

The pledge, first published in 1892 in Youth's Companion magazine, by socialist and Baptist minister Francis Bellamy, aimed to teach, "Obedience to the state (as) a virtue." He created the "Bellamy Salute," performed during the recitation, which resembled the Nazi salute, and was obviously discontinued during WWII. In 1940, the Supreme Court ruled that children could be coerced to recite the pledge, even those who considered the recitation worshipping false idols. In 1943, the court overturned this, citing that "compulsory unification of opinion" violated the First Amendment. This led to some attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses by pledge propagators.

Schools started recitation, spreading without state intervention. Ministers pushed to add "under God" in 1953, which was absent in the original pledge, under the specious argument that it was in the Gettysburg Address. The phrase "under God" was legally added on Flag Day in 1954, when Eisenhower ratified it. Actually, the pledge was amended four times, lastly in 1954.

Palo's argument dismisses history under the false auspices of its necessity, while relying on a straw man implicating the pledge, at its present incarnation, is and always has been immutable. Finally, I would ask whether a free and open society needed to rely on inculcation of propaganda to its children, or if this practice actually belies the professed liberty of the United States? Peripherally, U.S. currencies read "In God We Trust," not "under God."

Isaac J. Zito, Olympia

Al Gore is a hypocrite

Al Gore needs to put up or shut up.

With the recent revelation about the excessive (obscene?) amount of electricity that he uses at his Nashville home, Gore demonstrates again that America's liberal elites indeed have two sets of rules: one for themselves, and another for everyone else.

It is beyond galling that the former vice president would berate the rest of us about the importance of conservation, while his household uses more than 20 times the electricity of the average American household.

His defense for his wastefulness? He offsets his herculean energy use through the purchase of clean energy credits.

What a cop out. In other words, Gore is too rich and important to be bothered with conserving energy himself, so he pays someone else to do it for him. Is this the next frontier of maid service?

Meanwhile, Gore and his ilk leave it to folks like my wife and me, down here among the huddled masses, to do all of the REAL conservation. While Gore's 10,000-square-foot mansion has no doubt been toasty all winter, we've kept our thermostat at 64 degrees.

If a light isn't needed in our home, it's off. We collect rainwater for our plants.

Recyclable items go in our curbside recycling, and if we have items that our garbage collector won't recycle, we store them up and recycle them at the dump ourselves.

To get there, and anywhere else, we drive fuel-efficient, four-cylinder cars.

We're also registered Republicans.

Jeff Parks, Olympia

Don't waste legislative time on impeachment

I have been reading in the paper over the past couple of days about the drive to impeach the president. What I was surprised to read was that one of those drives is coming from our own Legislature.

I think it is not only comical that members of our Legislature are debating this issue, but a slap in the face to the citizens of Washington.

Our state representatives/senators should be spending time debating the real issues that affect our state, like education for example. I would tell Sen. Eric Oemig that he can debate this resolution ONLY when our teachers get the pay raise they deserve and tuition at our universities stops going up.

For once, I actually agree with the governor.

Nick Schmidt, Olympia