Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


[This letter appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star, Aug. 29, 2007]

It’s 8:55 pm and 106 degrees in Baghdad. The high temperatures forecast for the week in that suffering city will range from 113 to 115. Some range. Lows will reach 86.

Bush and the media refuse to give the public the daily gruesome side of the war in Iraq--no graphic photos, no detailed injury and death reports. So we have the weather statistics to think about.

And after you think about pushing yourself day after day through dusty streets, in body armor, hauling your gear (a total of 60 to 80 pounds worth--click on image) under a merciless 115-degree sun, force yourself to remember the rush to start this disastrous, so-called “pre-emptive” war. But as you walk over and turn the air conditioner up a notch, forget about the lies you were told back then. The bitter lies we chew on each day. The Saddam and Bin Laden buddy stories. The WMDs aimed at the Terre Haute Stuckey's. The candy and flowers and smiles and oil from a grateful Iraqi people.

Instead, recall this. In the stupid and criminal rush to war in March of 2003 we were regularly told that a quick entry meant a quick finish. We would wrap up the job before the heat of an Iraq summer swallowed the war effort. This we were told by the far seeing Bush-Cheney geniuses and a compliant Congress.

Our brave troops in Iraq are now in their fifth summer of broiling heat. Little wonder that so many Americans are experiencing a political heat stroke.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- Ellsworth's War Vote and Even More

[This letter appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star, Aug. 4, 2007]

Ask Ellsworth about war vote

Rep. Brad Ellsworth (Democrat, Eighth Congressional District, Indiana) comes to town every so often. If he will stop talking to the members of the Chamber of Commerce for a minute and have a word with you, ask him about his July 12 vote on H.R. 2956. This bill, the “Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act,” required the Secretary of Defense to commence the reduction of the number of United States Armed Forces in Iraq to a limited presence by April 1, 2008.

Yeah, that’s right, April 2008, not sometime in 2009, or five or 10 years down the no-end-in-sight, bloody, dead-end road Bush is taking us.

In talking with Ellsworth, he probably will not volunteer how it was that he voted “no” on this legislation. In doing so, he voted with the Bush Protection Party, the Republicans of Indiana. The other four Democrats in the Indiana delegation to the House voted “yes.” Even without Ellsworth’s vote the bill passed 223 to 201 – 219 of those “yes” votes were cast by Democrats.

If pressed on this, Congressman Ellsworth may mumble something about giving General Petreaus more time to turn the situation in Iraq around. In other words, Ellsworth supports the “more war in Iraq is the one and only answer” gang.

The leadership of the Democratic Party of Vigo County is always ready with handshakes and smiles for Ellsworth. With only two notable exceptions, I can’t think of any member of this locally dominant political organization who has spoken out on the war – for or against. The rest have outsourced their responsibility to lead and educate the public on the war issue. This is their stance even though there are local heroes dying in the dust of Baghdad and local income tax dollars being tossed willy-nilly into the dry winds of Iraq.

Voters in Vigo County who feel the war for all intents and purposes is over and want to end this tragedy and disaster need to do a lot of re-thinking about Mr. Ellsworth and his slavish support of the war. And our timid Democratic and Republican leaders should be given every opportunity to take a public stand on the war. The local press and media could be a big help with this.

Shouldn’t our elected and party leaders be given a chance to fully and freely express their views on the Iraq war? If they’re not given this chance or fail to provide a straight answer, voters may start getting the feeling that what they are saying to us privately and individually is not quite what they are willing to tell the community publicly.


Since this vote Ellsworth has cast another important vote with the Republican minority, this one on the CHAMP Act. Here's what the AARP had to say on this legislation:

"AARP applauds those Members of Congress who voted for the CHAMP Act. These lawmakers put the needs of older Americans and low–income children ahead of special interests. SCHIP and Medicare are critical for the health care of this country and the CHAMP Act makes necessary improvements to both programs. We look forward to working with Congress to put a bill on the President’s desk before SCHIP expires in September.

"We are disappointed by the Members of Congress who voted against strengthening health care for children and improving Medicare. As Congress leaves for vacation, some lawmakers chose to reject the opportunity to strengthen Medicare and provide health insurance for millions of eligible children who are without health coverage. When SCHIP reauthorization and Medicare legislation return to the floor for final approval, we hope those members will rethink their vote against such a critical bill."

Is Ellsworth thinking about pulling a Joe Lieberman? Maybe he should.