Letters to the Editor

LOB ballot question, U.S. torture, foreign policy

Peace Corps stint

On Jan. 9, I turned 66. In a month, I will fly to Senegal to begin two years as a Peace Corps volunteer for the second time.

Let me explain why. Since 1973, working in more than 20 countries, I have seen death, disease and deprivation. I saw some of the 2 billion to 3 billion people in the world who have almost no services, little education and almost no resources — people the world treats as flotsam.

In country after country, it seemed that the U.S. was one of the bigger problems rather than part of the solution (e.g., Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Bolivia). The U.S. government bribed local governments to do our bidding or helped overthrow the ones that didn't.

Private voluntary organizations either were paid to do the U.S. government’s bidding or helped while converting the people to Christianity. That reminded me of the Inquisition.

So I will go personally to contribute my 2 cents for education, resources, respect, and local initiative and decision-making. Given my experience, I don't trust the U.S. government or “voluntary” organizations to help the poorest of the poor.

Hopefully, I am misguided. Unfortunately, since my first Peace Corps stint in 1973-1975, I fear I am just experienced.

Chris Roesel

Roeland Park

President’s no-show

The big uproar over the president not going to Paris to meet with other world leaders and possibly attend the rallies earlier this month was very unfair. After all, don't the critics realize that this is deep winter, and any golf courses in the surrounding areas certainly are closed.

On top of that, there were some really great football games in the NFL. Certainly he didn't want to miss those on TV.

Joe Neuner


Ballot wording

We received our ballots for the upcoming School District 229 “Local Option” funding. My first reaction was that someone in the system wasn’t listening when their seventh-grade English teacher covered sentence structure and punctuation. Then a more significant facet came to mind.

The one-sentence official question on the ballot began with the words: “Shall the Board of Education…” and rambled into a complex sentence that ended with “… and that this authorization be continuous and permanent.”

First, the first opening words of the ballot language, “Shall the Board of Education” frame the sentence as a question. This means that the text must end with a question mark, not a period.

Also, the sentence expresses two different subjects, authority and permanence, which for the sake of clarity really should be separated by a comma before the word “and” introducing the significant aspect of permanence being within scope of the authorization.

But maybe the writer of this convoluted paragraph is smarter than I thought. Within the fractured grammar of this proposition a “yes” vote gives the local schools a $3 million windfall from some unnamed source this year and makes similar awards automatic in the future... with no further vote needed.

Ron McGee

Overland Park

Human advances

I read, with great interest, of the recovery of a 2,000-year-old Antikythera Mechanism (1-11, A22, “Does this compute? Ancient mechanism baffles scientists”). What amazed me most was the surprise revealed in many scientists’ comments. They seemed to suggest that such a mysterious device was all but impossible because ancient men were, well, so primitive.

One need only spend a day at the Smithsonian Science and Technology Museum to realize that man’s ingenuity is not necessarily on the increase. Take away computers, calculators, reference books and even slide rules and how many of today’s engineers or scientists could accomplish anything close to the level of sophistication observed in this 2,000-year-old navigation device? Or, for that matter, many of the other achievements on display at the Smithsonian?

Modern man suffers from a condition C.S. Lewis described as “chronological snobbery” — the arrogant assumption that whatever has gone out of vogue is, on that account alone, discredited. If “primitive” man can create a device that we can neither duplicate nor understand, who is really the primitive?

Vincent Dittrich

Prairie Village

U.S. leadership

The tragedy occurring in Paris is not a regional issue. It is a worldwide issue that needs leadership and a plan to defeat this insidious Islamic extremist group.

In the past it has been the U.S. that was called on to lead the world against such factions. That was when we had an administration that was not blinded by political correctness or concerned about a presidential legacy.

But rather, protecting America against its enemies, which, by the way, is their No. 1 priority. It is obvious that someone else must come to the forefront and lead the world against this growing threat.

The United States under this president has lost its way and now is a joke in the international community and a country that cannot be trusted to fulfill its commitments. It’s time for Russia and China and all of Europe and Asia to join together, drop their differences and lead the fight.

It's a sad day when the strongest nation in the world cannot be counted on and has become a follower rather than a leader. I am very afraid for what we are becoming and pray that we find ourselves soon.

Dave Gerrasch

Overland Park

American torture

The recent movie “Unbroken” makes most of us disgusted if not sick at the way the “bird” tortured one of our men during the Second World War. We wonder how anyone could be so cruel to another human person.

Then we see in our own Senate’s recent report that Abu Zubaydah was water boarded by our operatives more than 80 times. With bubbles rising from his open mouth and when he is finally revived he is incoherent.

But a recent poll shows that if there were a presumption that “actionable”intelligence could be extracted then it is OK. In the past we were a brave country.

We stood up for people. How scared have we become that we will do the most horrible things to another human being on the possible chance that it might help us?

Patrick Sullivant


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