Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 10

Republicans are obstructionists

While watching President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address, it was hard not to notice the smirking, the folded arms, the looks of contempt among the Republican leaders. If these disrespectful legislators were toddlers, I would assume they were going through the terrible twos.

You know the symptoms: The oppositional stance where every utterance is a “No,” and those embarrassing tantrums in public places. Wise parents know this is a normal stage and will soon evolve into calmer days.

However, seeing legislators behave this way is disappointing.

There is a reason the Grand Old Party is now known as the Grand Obstructionist Party. In fact, the 110th Congress with a Republican minority was the most obstructionist Congress in American history. A simple Google search provides current data on the myriad tactics the Republicans use to stall and derail every bill. They have even opposed bills they have proposed.

When a toddler says, “No,” they lack understanding of how their actions affect others. This is normal.

When a legislator, though, says, “No,” one can only hope that he or she is mature enough to realize the ensuing impact on individual American lives.

For now, the Republicans seem more interested in “breaking” Obama than repairing the broken places in our beloved nation.

JANET MEYER, Tumwater

Save ‘sex offender’ label for true offenders

We, as a society, ought to be ashamed of ourselves for allowing teens caught “sexting” to be labeled sex offenders, and charged with a felony.

How do we expect to teach teens and preteens to behave thoughtfully and responsibly when we lose our collective minds and start labeling them sex offenders for using their picture phones in inevitable ways?

In most cases, it is parents who put these phones in their hormonally charged hands!

A 14- or 15-year-old girl who willingly takes her top off in the presence of her 14- or 15-year-old boyfriend is not a criminal, and the fact that a camera phone is sometimes involved doesn’t change that.

Minors who receive such texts and then forward them along are engaging in gossip, and charging them with the distribution of kiddie porn is not only excessive and extreme, it’s sheer societal lunacy. There has to be better ways for us adults to handle this out-of-control sexting situation.

We could start with suggesting parents not provide camera and video phones in the first place. If we really feel the kiddos need to learn a lesson we could come up with a charge that’s not the equivalent of a felony.

Let’s save the term “sex offender” for actual sex offenders – adults who prey on minors.

MARY ANN DURKIN, Lacey

Congressional junket cost taxpayers

Aren’t we blessed to live in the richest country in the world – so rich that we can send at least 106 people from Congress along with a few spouses, a doctor, a protocol expert and a photographer to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in Denmark, costing the American taxpayers over a million dollars!

According to Sharyl Attkisson, the CBS investigative correspondent who accessed filed congressional expense reports, food and rooms for 15 Democratic and six Republican members of Congress for two nights cost $4,406 each.

Although they stayed only two nights, the five-star Marriott Hotel’s policy is to charge for a minimum of six nights. Total hotel charges including meeting rooms and a couple of $1,000 a night hospitality suites costs taxpayers $400,000.

Some House and Senate staff flew commercial at a cost of $408,064 and others flew on three military jets costing $168,351 for flight time.

These costs do not include 60 Obama administration officials who attended the conference.

To her credit, Gov. Chris Gregoire attended the conference without the money of hardworking taxpayers. Instead, her expenses were covered by the generosity of Georgetown University, a Catholic university in Washington, D.C., leaving me to wonder whatever happened to the separation of church and state?

If you would like to read more or see the itemized government report of the expenses for overseas travel, Google Sharyl Attkisson, CBS investigative reporter.

By the way, a staffer mentioned to Attkisson that there would be more of these conferences.

MILDRED KAVANAUGH, Lacey

Better to have opposing views considered

200-plus years ago, that rare group of minds who developed this democracy of ours identified the importance of separation of the powers for each branch of government.

The past 20 years have illustrated that this is also true of our political parties. During the last six years of the Clinton administration we had a Democratic president and a Republican Congress and we had balanced proposals that both sides could accept, resulting in a balanced budget and relative moderation in governance.

For the first six Bush years, the president and Congress were both Republican. The president never used his veto power. We had larger government budgets, unfunded by taxes necessary to pay for the increased spending. Budget deficits soared and the national debt skyrocketed. In George Bush’s last two years, the Democrats controlled Congress but were too busy developing a newly achieved power base to effectively govern.

With our country deeply in debt and a budget that was severely out of balance, the U.S. was poorly positioned to respond to the economic crisis of 2008-2009.

After one year of Barack Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress, we are in a similar situation to the first six years of the Bush administration – one party in control with little regard for the wishes of the public or the opposition of the other party. I believe that the solution is for the electorate to vote for the party that does not control the presidency. This will reduce the concentration of power with any one body.

LARRY JOHNSON, Olympia

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