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Thursday, June 1, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

Power outage

The day Congress' sudden enlightenment burned the Constitution

Editor, The Times:

Nothing shows this Congress' ability to serve itself rather than the public more than its uproar over the seizure of Louisiana Democrat Rep. William Jefferson's documents by the FBI ["Justice Dept. defends raid," Times, News, May 31].

Do Republicans and the ever-silent Democrats think that raising the red flag of constitutional violations now that they are affected is anything less than screaming hypocrisy? After all, this Congress has actively turned its back on constitutional violations no matter how obvious. It formed committees to investigate, waved their paper swords, then disbanded the panels with no action.

As long as only citizens were the subject of constitutional sleight of hand, a president who trampled on the Constitution was to be protected. The president's power was never to be challenged in a court of law, only in the court of media, where the terms "al-Qaida," "war," "9/11" and the rest of the bag of diversionary rhetoric rule.

So now we see a president and a party that religiously attack, demean and dehumanize Democrats and liberals, stand up for the rights of one allegedly corrupt Democrat.

Do they think we don't notice the flaming absurdity?

The Constitution is but a feeble piece of paper in the hands of men unwilling to stand for its principles.

— Marc Sterling, Olympia

Alarm system defeated

The Supreme Court's ruling denying protection to internal whistleblowers is a chilling precedent ["Supreme Court limits free speech in workplace for public employees," page one, May 31].

Government managers are now free to punish those who speak up when they recognize wrongdoing.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito voted with the majority in this case. These justices were appointed because they supported "the unitary executive" concept which, as I understand it, means that the president is above the law. This is an ominous sign of what's to come.

— David Pfeifle, Lynnwood

The dark side

The executive branch is breaking and entering the homes and offices of members of Congress, illegally wiretapping American citizens, and threatening to lock up journalists who report its illegal activities ["Attorney general says reporters can face charges for stories," News, May 22]. And it is keeping people in jail around the world, without charging them with crimes, without allowing them contact with family or lawyers, and hiding them from the Red Cross.

At the same time, it is insisting that the public has no right to know what it is doing. It has shut down or stonewalled investigations into its own behavior, from day one.

How is it, in this land of the free, that the government, which works for the people, feels free to violate the Constitution and the privacy of its citizens, and feels justified in hiding from the public (for whom they work) what it is doing? It does not make sense in a democracy. It is what we used to complain about in totalitarian governments like in Russia, the Evil Empire.

We are truly becoming an evil empire on our own.

— Doug Selwyn, Seattle

Effective writing

Advice from the pros

Reader Charles Pluckhahn lobbed all sorts of charges at Focus on the Family in his recent letter ["Sincerely whose?" Northwest Voices, May 31], none of them with much stickability.

Calling it "willful deception" for groups like ours to help readers write letters to the editor is ludicrous; all we offer readers like Elisa Baggenstos is the assistance of a professional communicator to put what is in their hearts into publishable form.

If it's unethical for someone to sign his or her name to a letter largely written and/or edited by someone who writes and/or edits for a living, then where's the outrage over commentaries that appear on this page under the name of a congressman or senator? Certainly, Mr. Pluckhahn is aware those pieces aren't written by the congressman or senator him/herself, but by a staff member who helps compile the lawmaker's convictions into a well-written whole.

Ditto any time The Times quotes from a speech by President Bush (who had someone else write it for him). It makes them people who accept help in communicating their ideals in the most effective way possible. There is nothing fake about that.

— Gary Schneeberger, director, media and constituent communications, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Auditing the books

Budgeting for dummies

Re: Eric Devericks' "Tax $: 'It's all you can eat, boys,' " [editorial cartoon, May 28]:

Yes, everyone knows that money grows on trees and the longer you wait to get something done the cheaper it gets.

It is hard to feel sorry for taxpayers when common sense is delayed by their cheapness.

— Jim Morris, Renton

Rich add, poor add

While substitute-teaching for a math teacher, I read about Mayor Greg Nickels' plan to ask for $1.8 billion for city transportation projects. "$1.8 billion surprise: Nickels beefs up street plan" [Local News, May 23] described the tax effect as a $180 annual tax bill for a $400,000 house, to slightly increase annually for six years.

That didn't sound too bad, but then I did the math in a different way — dividing this tax bill by the number of residents in Seattle. At 563,000 Seattleites (the figure given on the city of Seattle Web site, which also mentioned that the city eliminated its demographer in 2005 due to budget cuts), this tax bill averages $3,197 for every man, woman, and child in Seattle.

Is this too much, on top of current property taxes, city sales taxes, and other city taxes? [See "Transportation taxes: Here's how much you already pay," Local News, May 27.]

I suggest that the mayor and other city officials do the math in this way on every aspect of major city expenditures, in order to see if we can truly afford them.

— Debra Davis, Seattle

Circular construction

It ends where it started

"Tale of 2 arenas revealing" [Local News, May 29] gives us very useful guidance about how to keep the Sonics in Seattle. We need a bigger arena, one that can also host another professional sports team in the non-basketball season, as well as concerts and other special events. All of these would bring in much-needed revenue and help the stadium pay for itself. Such a stadium would have a long and useful life in our community.

Of course, this new stadium would need a snappy new name, one which would help to identify it as part of the fine county we live in. Maybe we could call it the "Kingdome."

— Andrew Taylor, Seattle

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