AUSTIN, Texas -- As one on the liberal side of the chorus of moaners about the decline of civility in politics, I feel a certain responsibility when earnest, spaniel-eyed conservatives like David Brooks peer at us hopefully and say, "Well, yes, there was certainly a lot of misinformation about WMD before the war in Iraq, but ... you don't think they, he, actually lied, do you?" Draw a deep the breath of patience.
Judging from the recent spate of high-profile teacher-student sex cases, you'd think America's teachers -- especially females -- are hopelessly lusting after their students. As a mother of boys and witness to the animal kingdom in which they dwell, I confess to being baffled by the attraction, but that's a subject for another day. Meanwhile, what is going on? And what does it mean in our sexualized culture that the lines seem to be increasingly blurred between what is appropriate and what is not. Forget "normal," not that anyone remembers.
As I recall, first it was the Ten Commandments, then the nativity scene on federal property. It proceeded as an objection to the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Constitution as well as the mention of God on our coins. Now the yahoos are taking Christ out of Christmas, replacing it with "Happy holidays." As a result, a group of large retailers have adopted the request and made the switch. Christmas is the holiday celebrated by most everyone.
I'll say "Right on!" to Lavonne Halloran Reller for her Dec. 8 letter, critical of religion's opposition to the theory of evolution. Those who study the development of the species are just as religious as any of us. The more they study and wonder about it, the more they are convinced of the mysterious force (we call God) that has caused us to be so far advanced and less primitive than other life on earth.
Freedom does not come easily in any democracy. The price of freedom is often measured in the distance one travels to cast his ballot. Willmar voters were concerned recently when city leaders were considering consolidating voting locations from 12 to four.
WASHINGTON -- After this week's elections in Iraq, will our national debate be about what the United States should do to salvage the best outcome it can from a war policy that has been riddled with errors and miscalculations? Or will we mostly discuss how politicians should position themselves on the war? Here's a bet on the triumph of spin. Politicians, especially Dem-ocrats, will be discouraged from saying what they really believe about Iraq for fear of offending "swing voters." Slogans about "victory" and "defeatism" will be thrown around promiscuously.
Aspiring stateswomen have few role models on American soil. Thus, it's an invent-as-you-go process for people such as Hillary Clinton, one of only a few women in the U.S. Senate and the most likely Democratic candidate for president in 2008. Can she become the first female commander in chief? A year ago, I would have said "no" simply because she's not a woman most men -- rationally or not -- can stand.
I don't know if anyone does time capsules anymore, but if they do I suggest that a DVD of the George Clooney movie "Syriana" be included. I'm not sure it tells you much about today's America -- not as much as an iPod, for instance, or a clip from "Entertainment Tonight" -- but it sure tells you something about Hollywood and how it never made the transition to color. When it comes to politics, many of its people -- including movie critics -- still see things in black and white.
This is the season for peace on earth. This is the season for goodwill to all. This is the season to make peace. This is the season to spread goodwill. We all need peace; we all need goodwill. Only we can make peace on earth. Only we can extend goodwill to all. June Nelson, Spicer
A letter from Norm Baker in the Tribune on Dec. 8 stated that since 1945 the United States has paid the United Nations $30 billion. That is a period of 60 years. I just looked up on the Internet the current cost of the Iraq war. The figures kept changing in front of my eyes -- it was a running total. The total? $225 billion and counting! Somehow, the cost of war dwarfs the cost of trying to attain peace. The U.S. is underpaying its fair share to the U.N.