Enjoys the sound of motorcycle parades
Normally I am not a person to speak out, but I could not let the letter from "Name Withheld" about the motorcycle riders go unanswered.
What are you learning in your church? You should get rid of your negativity and embrace life.
I am not a motorcycle rider, not do I know any of them, but they bring a smile to my face each time I hear them. It is a sound of camaraderie, strength, vitality, joy and a love of life!
During the toy drive, I even asked my husband to stay downtown after church so we could hear the motorcycles arrive! The more, the better! To me, it is a wonderful sound!
MARGIE KAY, Lahaina
Zuwala concert was special
I was reading your paper online and felt compelled to write to you about a concert we saw on Jan. 4 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
I am a huge country music fan, and although most Hawaiians may not know it, Steve Zuwala has a pretty good following on the Mainland. There is a reason why.
His music is great - that's for sure. He has a number of hit singles, but what makes him great is his attitude about his music. At every concert - and I've seen a few - he gives much of the credit for his success to God, his band, his family and friends. He seems to do more benefits than most artists and is proud to do them. Such was the case Friday night. He spent time plugging the Maui Food Bank and asking attendees to consider donating during intermission and after the show. Most of us did!
My point is, I've seen quite a few artists perform on Maui, but most pale in comparison to Steve's generosity and concern for others. For me and my husband, this concert was the best we've seen (even compared to our recent Garth Brooks show), and we left the show singing Steve's song, "Toes in the Sand."
If you ever get the opportunity to see Steve Zuwala live again on Maui, GO! Few shows leave you wondering why it was only $25!
Teachers should be able to carry guns
Hooray for the John Birch Society and the National Rifle Association (NRA) for demanding that our school teachers be armed to protect our children by using their U.S. Constitutional gun rights and armed guards.
If the teachers had been routinely armed in the past decades, it's obvious that the killings and the casualties would have been reduced by at least 90 percent.
However, our leaders and the police wouldn't allow our teachers to be armed, and by doing so, they have directly violated our Constitution that they have sworn to uphold and facilitated the horrible death and destruction.
They should be investigated and prosecuted for such acts against our children. We should support the John Birch Society and the NRA in their efforts to arm our teachers and protect our children, and if the teachers bring their own guns, it will cost nothing.
ED NEMECHECK, Landers, California
Obama's second term likely to disappoint
It's hard for me to vote against an incumbent Democratic president, especially after those eight abysmal years with George W. Bush at the helm. Indeed, it seemed unlikely to me that any sentient creature could vote for a Republican president in 2012.
Despite Mitt Romney's heartless tendencies, President Barack Obama didn't get my vote either. I feel there are certain minimum standards that any president, regardless of party, should be required to meet. Unfortunately, he didn't.
As a veteran who has put his back into advancing peace, to me the foremost of these obligations is to tamp down that worst evil of all: war. Sure, Obama nabbed the Nobel Peace Prize for his "efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation." But he turned out to be just another empire-happy U.S. president.
Like others before him, he's eager to leverage Washington's overwhelming military might to promote Western influence and corporate profit. He let our war for oil in Iraq fester too long. He expanded the war for natural gas in Afghanistan. He essentially started undeclared wars in Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. What was the Nobel Committee thinking?
Our president also flunked the torture test. No civilized nation should tolerate torture for any reason, let alone as a tool of war. Nonetheless, Obama failed to prosecute a single case among America's fat crop of admitted torturers from the Bush administration. This discomforting neglect of the Eighth Amendment (the one barring cruel and unusual punishment) has blackened our country's moral reputation while fertilizing global sprouts of terrorism for which our people pay a hefty price.
Part of that price is the growing web of surveillance. Eavesdropping and entrapment have become the government's routine tools for holding protest at bay. Personal phone conversations, travel records and e-mails are no longer safe to presume private. (If you don't believe me, go ask Gen. David Petraeus.)
Dissenting organizations can't even operate without the threat of infiltrators, harassment and provocateurs.
Whistle blowers, those unsung champions of transparency, are also casualties of this administration, despite the hyped passage of the Whistleblower Protection Act. During Obama's first term, six individuals were charged with violating the 1917 Espionage Act. Prior to his 2008 inauguration, only three had been convicted of espionage in our entire history. Also alarming is the ongoing crusade against heroes of openness Bradley Manning and Julian Assange for revealing the government's dark political secrets.
Nor could I overlook the White House's fondness for drones. Not only has this new weapon become our go-to tool for assassinating foreign targets, but hundreds of innocent civilians continue to be killed or wounded by these unmanned aircrafts. Such misguided efforts to eradicate our enemies have instead turned countless noncombatants in those troubled lands into our bitter adversaries.
There were two reasonable options for voters like me besides Romney and Obama. The Libertarian Party nominated Gary Johnson, New Mexico's former Republican governor. He opposed both aggressive military wars and the War on Drugs. And the Green Party nominated Jill Stein, whose Green New Deal would rein in Wall Street and corporate political money while protecting the environment.
Ultimately, I was one of 1.2 million who voted for the antiwar Johnson, whose presidential bid set a new Libertarian record despite being blacked out by the mainstream media.
WILLIAM A. COLLINS
Vietnam veterans a low priority
The new 113th Congress is now seated. The 112th Congress failed to recognize veterans of the Vietnam War. House Bill HR-3612 and Senate Bill S.1629, to restore the Agent Orange Equity Act, did not make it out of committee. In all probability, these bills are dead and must be reintroduced.
Veterans of the Vietnam War are low priority. We have become a liability for budget dollars. Our quality of life means little to our Congress and Senate. What is a veteran's life worth, who honorably served country and flag? Freedom is not free!
Every day, another veteran falls ill to a disease attributed to the deadly herbicide Agent Orange. Every week, approximately 400-500 sick Vietnam veterans die. The legacy we leave behind is our government does not care.
We advocates for Vietnam veterans must start over to convince our legislators to do what is right. We are groups who volunteer our time to help sick veterans gather evidence required by Veterans Affairs for submission of claims. We do the legwork; we meet with members of Congress and Senate in support of veterans. Our only reward is knowing we helped a veteran. What we do is not enough, unless we have support from the Congress and Senate. We ask all Americans to urge our legislators to pass laws that will provide equitable VA health care and compensation for sick Vietnam veterans, so they may realize a better quality of life.
JOHN J. BURY, Via E-mail