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posted September 29, 2006

Admit the French were right

If Martha Rainville really wanted to show her independence from the National Republican Party and the $200,000-plus they have already given to her campaign, she could be the first to insist that the French are owed an apology by the Bush administration for not following their advice against an invasion of Iraq.

The French feared that an invasion would destabilize the region, inflame Muslim/Christian relations, remove the secular Shia Muslims who were in control, and create a vacuum in Iraq that would allow Muslim extremists to gather and further their interests in holy war against the United States.

Guess what: They were right. Bush and his cronies were wrong, and the only reason Bush and Rainville need to talk about seeing it through is because the Bush administration blew it big time.

So, how about it Martha, can you admit the French were right or are you also going to mistake Bush’s arrogance for the strength he does not possess?
Mark Furnari
South Burlington

Don’t believe it

A few weeks ago, the Republican candidate for Congress visited our company, Chroma Technology Corp. in Rockingham. Her visit afforded me the opportunity to ask her why she would run for Congress under the banner of the “new Republican Party.” After all, the new Republican Party bears little resemblance to the party of Lincoln, to the party of Eisenhower, or even to that of Barry Goldwater!

Here’s what she told me the new Republican Party stands for: a strong national defense; fiscal responsibility; the power and spirit of the individual.

A strong national defense? This administration has thrown good money after bad at companies like Halliburton and their subsidiaries, sending more than 100,000 troops to that ill-conceived and tragic war while the real perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks continue their evil-doings seemingly unbothered by our “strong national defense.”

I certainly do not feel safer now than I did before the new Republicans took power. Al-Qaeda has more “soldiers” now than before the leaders of a “strong national defense” began their so-called war on terror. The United States has more enemies now than before 9/11. It’s the policies and actions of the new Republican Party that have created those enemies.

Fiscal responsibility? The new Republican Party took a budget surplus and turned it quickly into a budget deficit. They put billions of dollars “off” budget. The off-budget money actually makes the deficit much, much higher than it appears. The new Republican Party gave major tax breaks to the richest among us while allowing the deficit to grow. Would any fiscally responsible person, facing a loss of income, continue to spend frivolously and claim to be fiscally responsible? I don’t think so.

The power and spirit of the individual? Perhaps the candidate forgot that Sen. Jim Jeffords tried to exercise the power and spirit of the individual and the response of the new Republican Party was an attempt to ostracize and silence him. Perhaps she forgot about this administration’s efforts to deny us our individual rights by listening in on our telephone conversations without first applying for warrants. Perhaps she forgot about the attempts by Tom DeLay and others to create one-party rule through their K Street Project. The new Republican Party is devoted to the power and spirit of the individuals who agree with and benefit from their policies. The rest of us have the choice of joining that circle of friends (assuming they want us) or losing our individual rights.

Either this candidate really believes this stuff, which makes me wonder whether she’s read a newspaper during the past five years, or she’s trying to sell us something she knows to be untrue. Whichever is the case, Vermont deserves better. Decent, genuinely independent Vermonters should vote for Peter Welch, as the truly independent Bernie Sanders and the truly courageous Pat Leahy have asked.
Paul Millman

Respect survives

After watching the AARP-sponsored debate between congressional candidates Martha Rainville and Peter Welch, I was pleased to see that intelligent and respectful discourse could still be part of the electoral process. It was a pleasure. I feel I know where the candidates stand and what type of representatives they would be.

Martha Rainville, for example, is a notable public servant who would make a fine Vermont state representative. But she is clearly out of her league as a candidate for the U.S. House, especially next to Peter Welch.

Watching Welch actually gave me something few politicians can — a sense of hope. He is as complete a candidate as I have ever seen and one who is needed to help simmer things down in this very dangerous time. He seems to be the antidote to the reckless spending, incompetence, hubris, and downright felony found in Congress. Rainville seems that way as well, but her time has yet to come and she would do best by trying to convince some of her fellow Republicans to stop behaving like tyrants.

The Rainville-Welch debates offer a chance to see democracy functioning as it should. There are several more planned and I’d urge you to watch or listen to them. No yelling, no attacks, just insight into two honorable people who hope to serve Vermont and the country in the best way they know how and explain how they hope to do it.

I think Welch is the best candidate, but regardless, both candidates are setting an example that makes Richard Tarrant’s insulting treatment of the voters look all the more ridiculous.
David J. Thurlow
East Montpelier
Contributing Editor, Green Builder Magazine

What public process?

Gov. Jim Douglas was quoted recently concerning his energy policy. He said, “The public has to be part of the process.” As much as I agree with this statement, I am astonished by his outright campaign lie.

During the VELCO fiasco, my husband and I tried intently to become part of a better energy solution in Vermont. We went so far as to take part in state energy “Mediated Modeling” seminars on our own time and money. After giving up our business-day hours and traveling long distances from Middlebury to Montpelier, the panel (primarily of Vermont utilities) did not allow us or any other renewable energy-educated citizens into “the group.”

We were instructed to sit in the back and could not so much as speak at the seminars, let alone take part in planning. The lone voice for the citizens was one VPIRG member.

So those businesses that currently control the energy trade in Vermont are planning your polluting-energy future as well. This is the “public” that Douglas considers. Please.

The governor’s idea of an energy policy is digging up dinosaurs and planting power lines. If Douglas truly had citizens in mind, dams would have been purchased, solar panels would dot roofs, Vermont would have a sensible wind policy, and we wouldn’t be questioning whether our children are at risk from 20 percent nuclear power uprates.

Friends warned me during the VELCO process, “Judy, you can’t beat the big guys or stop corporate greed, especially when politicians are in their pocket!” But I continued the work, feeling strongly that incorrect policies were ruling. Now I understand. At times I wonder, why bother writing letters or bother speaking out? However, when the governor uses deceitful tactics, the public should be alerted.

If Vermonters think the Douglas administration (especially its Department of Public Service), is interested in their input, dream on. Sure, you’ll hear one thing at election time, but behind your backs horrific decisions are made based on political party affiliation and the money that drives it. Please don’t perpetuate it by voting for it.
Judy Kowalczyk

Stand up to No Child Left Behind

Thank you, Alis Headlam, for your Aug. 21 letter on No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The agenda of our public schools has never been to truly educate, and NCLB is just the most recent example. Educating is a very dangerous thing to do and certainly our country could not have become what it is today with an educated public.

What it means to educate must be constantly challenged and reexamined and defined. Today, it is very different from 30 or 40 years ago. Today, if we don’t educate with Earth in mind in everything we teach, we are not doing our job. NCLB would not only not understand that — it would not approve.

I urge all who live in Vermont and are concerned about educating to answer the call of the Vermont Society for the Study of Education. They ask “all citizens in Vermont to stand together in creating a movement to resist the usurpation of local control by the federal government and by repudiating the mandates of NCLB.”

For more information, they can be reached at P.O. Box 186, Brandon, VT 05733.
Marion Leonard

Where are Douglas’ laurels?

It’s pretty sad that, after four years in office, Gov. Jim Douglas has no real accomplishments to espouse in his campaigning. Instead he has resorted to a negative campaign focusing on what his opponent might do.

Under Douglas’ guidance, our state has seen the loss of several businesses to other states or overseas. York Capacitor Corp. and Tubbs Snowshoes are among them. In the case of Tubbs Snowshoes, a longtime respected name in snowshoe manufacture, our current lieutenant governor, Brian Dubie, led a 21-person delegation, including a representative from Tubbs, to visit China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Upon their return, Tubbs announced a move to China. What’s wrong with this picture? Shouldn’t our politicians be trying to keep our manufacturers here?
Harold Browne

Vermont’s will(derness)

Gov. Jim Douglas has finally stepped out of the murky shadow of mind-numbing ribbon cuttings and devious backroom deals to show the whole of Vermont the true hideous visage of contempt and folly that has been twisting his policies and contorting his leadership since he first took office.

In a predictable and wholly autocratic move, Douglas has turned his back on the heritage, will, and passion of the state of Vermont and its dedicated communities and has insulted the work of Vermont’s veteran congressional delegation to squirm into bed with leading anti-environmental Republicans, representing corporate neoliberal interests, not Vermont’s interests, to quash the critical and dogged efforts of thousands of sincere Vermonters over countless years to secure more wilderness protection for Vermont’s pride and joy, the Green Mountain State Forest.

Preferring to cut a ribbon welcoming the next insidious box store to blotch Vermont’s perennial natural and wild landscape, Douglas again shows how out of step with reality and the will of Vermont he is.

Vermont’s Wilderness Bill offers vital protection to endangered and treasured wild forest, and is long overdue. I guess the governor realized there is no similar bill that could protect his endangered job. Vermonters have overwhelmingly demanded more wilderness. Vermont deserves her forests protected and cherished. Douglas deserves another job.

Without wilderness, the clean air we breathe, the fresh water threading through its hills, the critical biodiversity: Without it we have nothing, least of all any self-respect. Support the Vermont Wilderness Bill for your future, and vote shame on Gov. Douglas in November.
Michael Feiner

Vermont is not for sale

Rich Tarrant now claims that Bernie Sanders opposes ending the marriage tax penalty. Sanders has always supported ending the marriage penalty and giving tax relief to married couples.

Sanders also has a strong record of fighting for lower gas prices and has called on Pres. George W. Bush to hold an energy summit to address skyrocketing gas prices by holding oil companies accountable, but unfortunately Republicans have voted down his legislation that would drop gas prices by 10 to 25 cents per gallon.

I don’t appreciate Tarrant, who’s big on using his millions to manipulate and distort the truth about Sanders, just to win this election. Tarrant has already put $5 million of his own personal money into running deceptive ads against Sanders, and is on track to spend more per capita than any Senate candidate in U.S. history.

Get ready, Vermont, for a seven-week onslaught of Tarrant mudslinging on TV, radio, and in never-ending print mailings.

Let’s send a message this November that Vermont is not for sale. Let’s send our honest, effective, and hard-working Congressman Sanders to the U.S. Senate.
Trish Johnson

Bernie protects innocents

I was very concerned after watching the latest Rich Tarrant ad accusing Bernie Sanders of favoring rapists over their victims. I checked Sanders’ record and found that Tarrant has wildly distorted the truth. Also since Tarrant obviously favors the bill that Sanders’ voted against, I fear that he cannot distinguish between sound legislation and a bill without balance or control.

Contrary to the ad, Sanders’ did vote in favor of allowing rape victims to gain access to the HIV/AIDS records of the alleged rapist in H.R. 3355, which passed in 1994. The victim needs to show a court that a rape took place and that there was some objective evidence pointing to the assailant. The judge can then order the rapist to undergo testing. This is a fair and reasonable balancing of rights, which is a constitutional guarantee.

It was the second bill, H.R. 3088 in 2000, that Sanders’ voted against. That second bill had crucial differences from the first bill. In it, anyone could allege sexual assault (not just rape) against anyone else and then could force even innocent persons to undergo testing. Even if the alleged perpetrator could prove that he or she was out of the country at the time of the alleged rape, the police could still force him or her to undergo a blood test.

That’s bad enough, but then the results would be made public. If the test result was positive, everyone would then know that not only the rapist, but the victim had HIV/AIDS. Even if the victim wanted that information to remain confidential, he or she could not keep it so.

That’s no protection at all for either victim or assailant. Sanders rightfully objected to it as too broad. That bill was so odious that the Senate refused to even consider it, but Tarrant would support it.

Furthermore, H.R. 3088 did not provide help for victims in any positive way. Although it was supposed to be a bill that would help sexual assault victims, it provided no funding whatsoever for health care service or referrals to help these victims.

While the reasons seem clear to me to vote against this bill, I have to ask why Tarrant believes that it should have been law. Why would he favor legislation that would expose rape victims to more possible abuse and would fail to protect innocent people?

We, as U.S. citizens, truly believe in the concept that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Tarrant would reverse this concept and declare a person guilty based on an allegation without ever verifying the substance of the allegation. I say bravo to Sanders for voting nay on this one. Tarrant’s judgment is fatally flawed.
Peter J. LaBelle

The big lie

Rich Tarrant has been spending vast amounts of money trying to persuade us that Bernie Sanders supports child molesters and rapists. Although many consider Karl Rove the godfather of attack ads, their roots go back to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, who is generally credited with developing the technique known as the “Big Lie.”

This is an assertion so outlandish that people simply can’t believe it could be made up. It takes an issue out of context, twists it into falsehood, oversimplifies it to such a degree that “even the most feebleminded could understand,” and repeats it ad nauseam until people eventually come to believe it — or become so disgusted by the political process that they simply decide not to vote.

Take the Amber Alert, one of the issues which Tarrant has chosen to use in his anti-Sanders offensive. In the business of wielding power, some legislation cynically combines provisions that every reasonable person would support with provisions that are a kind of poison pill to the opposition. In the case of the Amber Alert, a concept that Sanders fully endorses, the legislation would have imposed a system of mandatory sentencing guidelines which Sanders and others considered unconstitutional.

The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist warned Congress that its sentencing provisions could do “serious harm to the basic structure of the sentencing guideline system and would seriously impair the ability of courts to impose just and reasonable sentences.” So Sanders did what all conscientious legislators should have done — but few did — and voted against the bill.

Unfortunately, it takes only 30 seconds to broadcast a big lie but a lot longer to debunk it.

We should protest the best way we can — by voting in massive numbers to repudiate the Tarrant campaign and show that in Vermont, at least, intelligence and ethics are alive and well.
Jo Anne Post

Gutter politics

Republican candidate Rich Tarrant apparently has no conscience. The latest ad is totally unacceptable in a state like Vermont and we should all send him that message loud and clear.

His campaign is Gutter Politics 101. His newest false ad claims that Bernie Sanders supports rapists over rape victims by voting to deny victims the right to find out the HIV status of the attacker. Of course, this claim is totally untrue (vote #416, Aug. 21, 1994, H.R. 3355, passed 235-195).

We don’t want that trash coming out of Republican Tarrant. If he doesn’t have anything positive to contribute, he should remove himself from this race. Tarrant thinks that you are not sophisticated enough to know the difference. To support his horrible and untrue claim, Tarrant points to bill H.R. 3088.

That bill was so poorly crafted that the Senate refused to even consider it. The bad bill was a failed attempt to play partisan politics with a very real and serious issue. Tarrant will soon be guilty of that offense, too. Let’s not stand for this would-be tyrant playing partisan politics with very real issues that face Vermont and the United States. Please stand up together and call for a real change. It’s time to elect Sanders to the U.S. Senate. Together we can change the wrong direction this country is going in.
Dominic Parry

Fear and deceit

After 6 long and sorrowful Bush years, I have no more tolerance for politicians’ use of fear and deceit to gain votes and approval. Richard Tarrant, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, says that Vermonters should know the truth. The truth is that many politicians will say whatever they need to get elected. The truth is that controversial bills are often passed, without appropriate scrutiny, by attaching them to popular bills as amendments. One candidate criticizing his or her opponents voting record must be taken with a grain of salt.

Tarrant’s TV ads related to “protecting our children” are a perfect example. In one, an elderly spokesman with a thick New England accent and an honest face happens to be the Republican County Chair for Windham County. Tarrant knows that Bernie Sanders supports the Amber Alert program and fought to get it fully funded in Congress. Sadly, viewers were only told that Sanders voted against the provision but not that Republicans added the Feeney Amendment which took away the role of an existing independent sentencing commission. These provisions had already been declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court (Boston Globe 5/30/03).

I am proud of Sanders for having the integrity and courage to stand up against these political shenanigans. In my view, Tarrant is a coward for distorting crucial facts necessary for Vermonters to make informed decisions. I was going to vote for Sanders before; now I have more reasons to do so.
Joy Gaine
Thetford Center