Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2005
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Letters to the Editor
Reckless driving is biggest cart problem
Let me say first that about 90 percent of the path users (pedestrians, bicyclists and golf cart drivers) are courteous and considerate of others.
I couldnt care less if a golf cart owner jazzes up his vehicle, as long as he obeys the laws and is not driving recklessly. I also doubt that a higher-than-standard golf cart running into an underpass would damage it; the golf cart would certainly be the loser on this encounter.
One of the biggest problems is teenagers and adults who speed without regard to others, dont give an inch when meeting another cart and just plain think they are the only ones on the road.
But the worst offenders are usually young mothers with a young child next to her and another small child on their arms, speeding around corners and on the sometimes deplorable paths that one wonders how those children are able to hang on.
The extra money the city wants to charge for the registration could be used to supply us with additional small tags with the registration numbers for the front and the rear. It is just about impossible to get the registration number of an offending driver while trying to avoid a collision.
Walter K. Schoch
Boothby didnt reflect S. Fulton Chamber view
A few days ago, a letter was published to the editor and the author of the letter was John Boothby.
As chairman of the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce, I submit to you that Mr. Boothby was not acting in an official capacity on behalf of the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
The comments expressed in the editorial were not authorized or approved by the Board of Directors of the Chamber, and was the personal opinion of Mr. Boothby.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce, we apologize for any misunderstanding.
Please be assured as chairman of the board, I would like to express our desire to partner with Mayor Brown, the City Council and the citizens of Peachtree City as they embark on growth and development in South Fulton County. We look forward to building an even stronger relationship with the community of Peachtree City.
Marrion Heflin, chairman
Whats Leo Mullin doing on BellSouths board?
I was amazed to find that Leo Mullin, the former CEO of Delta Air Lines, is on the board of BellSouth. One would think that a man who certainly had a hand in bringing this fine airline to its knees would be far away from the Atlanta business scene.
Why would a company want a member of their board to be the caliber of a man who gave bonuses to his cronies and protected their pensions, when the airline was beginning its fall?
I will be changing my affiliation with BellSouth to a company who, hopefully, would want someone with scruples and morals in their business place.
County commissioners are protecting Tyrone
I was quite impressed when I attended a Fayette County commissioners meeting. Not only were they very informed on everything that came before them, they were very compassionate and polite to every citizen who spoke.
I feel we are very lucky to have them. They seem very committed to controlling the new growth coming into the county and making sure the current residents are not trampled by the developers.
Tennant: Sell off PTC Tennis center to private business, settle debt
The Peachtree City Tennis Center in Planterra Ridge is truly one of the finest facilities of its kind in the nation. We all should be proud of it, even if you dont play tennis.
The tennis center was first built with an impact fee credit of $500,000 to Equitable 15 years ago. The idea, of course, was to create a gem in the community that would bring in more residents, tournaments, and give us something to be proud of. I believe those goals have been achieved, but not without substantial unrest.
The Development Authority of Peachtree City was charged with running both the Tennis Center and the amphitheater, as it was a separate legal entity. As we all know by now, both are now run by the Peachtree City Tourism Association, even though both are city-owned facilities.
While the amphitheater is a marvelous venue that the entire community can enjoy, we must recognize that the tennis center serves a much smaller part of the population, namely, tennis players. We must also recognize that the city owns and operates numerous tennis courts throughout the city, to say nothing of the private courts that exist at Flat Creek, Planterra, and Braelinn.
The questions that should be asked are these: Do we really want or need to be in the tennis business? Is that a vital role for this local government to play? Does the ownership of the tennis center make it valuable, or is the tennis center a jewel of its own, regardless of ownership?
In my view, the tennis center is like a 5-carat diamond ring; its just worn on a finger that doesnt fit optimally anymore.
I believe we should seriously consider having the tennis center appraised, selling the tennis center to a private entity, and get out of the tennis center business altogether. This should be done only if (a) we can get our minimum asking price, (b) tennis center members are not negatively affected, and (c) there are no legal entanglements that would make the plan unfeasible. I dont know what, if any, those entanglements might be, because I am not an attorney, but I want to be realistic here.
But well never know until we at least research the matter thoroughly and invite public participation in the process.
I happen to believe that private business can operate almost anything more effectively and efficiently than government can, tennis centers included. Otherwise, why not as a city own and operate golf courses and bowling alleys and hunting grounds? Obviously, that is not the proper role of government.
If we were to sell the tennis center, of course, that frees up a lot of hotel/motel tax that can be used for other purposes, albeit with certain legal restrictions. The sale also would likely result in several million dollars, a portion of which should be paid in a negotiated settlement to Peachtree National Bank.
That is the morally right thing to do, since the money was used at least to some extent to make improvements to city-owned facilities. We need to get this issue behind us once and for all, and bring an end to the constant bickering, lawsuits, and deep-seated bad feelings among many parties.
There are many other things the money can be used for that benefits the entire community, not just tennis players. Three examples are the expansion of the Gathering Place, which was put on hold several years ago, the building or purchase of a facility for our citys youth to at long last call their own, or even cart path investments. Again, these decisions would have to be subject to legal restrictions.
Leadership, among other things, means taking a stand. There will never be a perfect solution to every problem, but my idea is one that needs to be seriously explored.
Dan Tennant, mayoral candidate
Former DAPC board members defended
[Mayor Steve] Brown has spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to defame and discredit several former members of the Development Authority (i.e., Tate Godfrey, Robert Truitt, Douglas Warner) and others associated with the development of the Tennis Center ( i.e., Virgil Christian and Thomas Farr).
For those unaware, these former members of the Development Authority were selected and appointed by the City Council. They are private citizens who were giving of their own time and energy in the service of their community. They had no financial interest in the growth and development of this facility.
If Mr. Brown had any evidence of such, Im sure he would have informed the GBI. Contrary to Mr. Browns accusations, these mens sole purpose was to create a world-class facility for the citizens of Peachtree City at a minimal (or no) cost to the taxpayer (a goal they had virtually achieved prior to Mr. Browns intervention). These gentlemen deserve our utmost commendation for their service and effort.
Mr. Browns accusations and inferences regarding Mr. Farr are unconscionable. Mr. Farr was the kindest, gentlest and most ethical man I have had the pleasure to know. As president of Peachtree National Bank, his goal was to facilitate the growth and of local business owners and the community as a whole.
To infer that any dealings he had relative to the loans to the Development Authority was for personal gain is at best preposterous and most likely slander. Even if Tom were with us to defend himself, he was such a gentleman that I suspect he would just ignore Mr. Browns vitriol. I, however, am not and would like to say to Mr. Brown that he is callous [and] ignorant.
I know them all for what they are: honest, hard-working and successful, traits that are not attributable to Mr. Brown.
Timothy J. Kaigler, D.M.D.
Thompson plans to tax every PTC home sale
Dar Thompson, candidate for mayor, compares PTC to Hilton Head Island, and wants to raise our taxes.
While doing research on our mayoral candidates, I read on Thompsons Web site his desire to apply a new, creative tax model used on Hilton Head Island.
In one paragraph, Thompson criticizes our current mayor for allowing property taxes to rise, and in the next paragraph, proposes a whopping tax increase of his own.
From Thompson, on his Web site:
Thus, I am proposing that Peachtree City pass a real estate transfer fee ordinance which requires buyers to pay one quarter of one percent of the purchase price of the home.
This sales tax is more than an entire years worth of city property taxes for the privilege of buying a PTC home ($625 for a $250,000 home, $1000 for a $400,000 home and a lot more for those in Bradford Estates).
Thompson wants you to believe that only people outside PTC buy houses in our city and that only buyers will pay his tax. However, his logic is false on both counts:
First, Thompsons tax will directly impact all current residents who desire to move from one house to another within the city. A significant number, if not a majority of PTC buyers, are current citizens moving within the city to upgrade or downgrade.
Second, Thompsons tax will indirectly impact all current residents attempting to sell a house to newcomers. Thompson fails to recognize that there is competition for quality homes all around Fayette and Coweta counties. As Thompsons imposed transfer fees are applied to PTC homes, prospective buyers will compare the total cost of homes in PTC with alternatives around our border. This proposal will negatively affect our selling price, and will be an indirect tax on all PTC sellers.
Our current renting residents should know that their PTC home ownership dreams will be significantly more expensive under Thompsons leadership.
Thompsons proposal also adds a new line-item opportunity for our government to tax our residents. We do not need new, creative ways to raise taxes in PTC.
Our current city council has already bought new, more effective paving equipment and has expanded the budget to deal with our aging cart path system, which Thompson seeks to fund with his new tax. The improvements as a result of these investments are in process. We dont need to pay for these improvements twice.
Of course, there will be a significant cost to administer Thompsons tax, and for our local real estate industry to comply. Doubt we will see many Realtors for Dar! signs during this election cycle.
Note to Dar Thompson: Peachtree City is not an island, and the logic for your tax proposal is disingenuous.
Logsdon lacks customer, communications skills
Harold Logsdon, where are your customer service skills?
Mr. Logsdon, you stated, I want to bring better business practices to our government structure. What are these better practices? Could it be reversing the ban on smoking in public places?
You also stated, I want to use my experience in financial planning, blah blah, to manage the budget. Do you realize the the public sector practices fund accounting and that Peachtree City has a finance director whose job is do what you say you want to do? What are you suggesting?
Additionally, if you are so dedicated to the citizens of Peachtree City, answer my e-mails. If you are not answering e-mails as a candidate, what will it be like if you are elected?
You understand that a mayor must also have customer service and communication skills? Get a grip; in my opinion there is nothing more important than responding to citizens.
Voters in Peachtree City, listen up. The average citizen needs to be heard; do not put anyone in office that will ignore the average citizen.
Mayor Browns performance: Check out the sorry state of PTC roads
Steve Brown said that he thinks that the election for mayor of Peachtree City should be about his performance. I agree, I definitely agree.
Lets look at one example. Whats been his performance on our roads? That should provide us some visible results to tell us about what is really happening and what is smoke and mirrors.
Steve can claim this or that or whatever he wants and I am sure he will. And, as we know, he has. But anybody can see results or the lack of results. Any of us can see quite easily: is there a road or isnt there a road?
His performance has been to start off with talk, saying, We need to address this problem, etc. Then, when somebody begins to address it, he sows objections, doubts, suspicions, misgivings, hostility, roadblocks, and alterations leading to delays.
He has worked his magic on roads several times, so far. Starting on the south end of the city, Rockaway Road is a dangerous intersection that ties up traffic. Nothing has been accomplished here.
Next, moving north, is the TDK extension. This is another road which is needed to improve our secondary road network to address congestion. After spending hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars, nothing has happened here either. There is no road.
Moving a little further north, we come to MacDuff Parkway. Steve has spent some more of our money here and has plans to spend more. For the safety and transportation quality of Peachtree City residents, this should have been fixed years ago. But, it still remains a figment of imagination that serves no one.
Now, with great publicity, Steve is leading efforts to fix the intersection of Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 74. This is a very important intersection for many Peachtree City residents. But its not in Peachtree City. Its not even in Fayette County.
Its the intersection of a state highway and a federal interstate. But the mayor of Peachtree City is going to fix it. Because he cares about those who have to use this intersection. What a silly man.
Perhaps, before he pretends to fix another road, he should at least begin to fix one of the problems that are in Peachtree City. That is what he was elected mayor to do, isnt it?
Youll notice that I skipped a couple of roads on our way from south to north. The widening of Hwy. 54 from Hwy. 74 to Coweta County, and the widening of Hwy. 74 from Hwy. 54 to Hwy. 85, are moving forward. And the mayor did nothing to help them move forward. He only attempted to put his usual blocks and delays here as well.
The only difference is that others were able to overcome his tactics and were able to accomplish something here.
He is taking credit now for money coming in to the city to enable many road projects to be accomplished. This money comes from one of two sources: state and federal funds through the ARC or SPLOST money from Fayette County. Steve has had nothing to do with the successes getting state and federal funding through ARC (DOT, etc.)
Steve fought the passage of the SPLOST that is bringing financial help to local traffic problems. If Steve had supported the passage, and had done a halfway decent job of negotiation, he could have brought more money to help fix Peachtree City traffic problems.
And, I will remind you, the voters of Peachtree City were able to see through and ignore his nonsense and supported the passage of the SPOST. Thats the real reason for this success.
This fits with his usual performance on other issues. Hes going to fix this problem and hes going to fix that problem. Only trouble is, going to never arrives.
Thats the truth about his performance in office. Lots of talk (oh, my, unending torrents of it), spending lots of our money (check it out), no positive results and excuses why its someone elses fault.
I do not write as a county commissioner but because Im very concerned about the future of the city where I live. I am a long-term resident of this city who has been active and involved in the community for many years. I am also one who knows about Steves performance, accomplishments and antics because I was there.
Lenox: Brown has often impeded road projects
It was pretty obvious in reading Mayor Browns letter about TDK Boulevard last week that he had little or no knowledge about the history of this project. I particularly liked the part where he said some previous council should have built the road so he wouldnt have to worry about it. Here is an historical timeline and the salient facts about this road:
From 1997 through 2000 no new roads were allowed to be built in the Atlanta metro region as a result of a court order in an environmental clean air lawsuit. This meant no widening of Ga. Highway 54 or Ga. Highway 74, and no building of TDK Boulevard.
When the court order was overturned in 2000 the city immediately began work on TDK with the goal of building it before the widening of Hwy. 54 West.
Peachtree City agreed with Coweta County to pay for the design and engineering of the entire road because it was cost-effective to do so, it was going to save a lot of time, and it gave us control over the project.
The original design met then existing FAA regulations and with prompt action by the city the road could have been built to these original plans.
When Steve Brown took office on Jan. 1, 2002, the design and engineering work was virtually complete, all the necessary right-of-way was either in hand or committed to the city at no cost, the city had the necessary financial resources to build the road, and it was estimated that the road could be completed and opened to traffic by July 1, 2003.
For the next two years Steve Brown personally stonewalled this project. You dont have to take my word for this. Pick up your telephone and call Greg Dunn, Fayette County Commission chairman, or any member of the Fayette County Commission. Call Ken Steele, mayor of Fayetteville, or any member of his council. Call Mitch Seabaugh, our state senator at the time. Call Lynn Westmoreland, then our state representative, now our representative to the U.S. Congress. Call the chairman or any member of the Coweta County Commission.
Ladies and gentlemen, building a road nowadays is an arduous and complicated undertaking that can easily take many years. Getting it done means that many good people must stay the course over many years.
Unfortunately for us it also means that stopping it requires only one bad or incompetent person who fails to do the job when necessary.
It is not often in government that you can clearly find the culprit when things go wrong, but in this case every one of us who has worked for years to make TDK Boulevard a reality knows that Steve Brown stopped it.
Congratulations, Mr. Brown. That was your goal when you took office and you did it. I hope you feel proud.
TDK will get built some day when competent leadership returns to our city. It will cost us all hundreds of thousands of unnecessary dollars and it will, of course, be far too late to take the pressure off of Hwy. 54 West during the widening.
Our industrial park will continue to lose jobs and not be able to replace them. The Braelinn Road business community will continue to suffer. It is amazing the amount of harm one bad person can do.
Lenox to blame for Hwy. 54 congestion
I am writing in response to letter from former Mayor Bob Lenox in your Oct. 5, 2005, edition. How can Mr. Lenox blame anyone other than himself for the development leading to traffic congestion on Ga. Highway 54 West?
Does he forget the standing-room-only meeting at Peachtree City Council chambers the night he forced the vote on the Home Depot and Wal-Mart issue?
At the meeting, it was disclosed that earlier that day Mr. Lenox attended a private meeting with the developer unknown to anyone else including City Council members.
The plans being voted on had changed just hours before the council meeting and not even the council members were properly briefed.
Every Peachtree City resident who spoke during the public hearing (except for one senior citizen who wanted to get his prescriptions from Wal-Mart) opposed the approval of this project.
There was strong public opposition and even Council wanted to postpone the vote, yet Mr. Lenox forced the vote. A lot of the opposition was logically related to the anticipated traffic congestion and the two-lane railroad bridge and highway.
Mr. Lenox has no room to point the finger or blame others for the development and traffic congestion on Hwy. 54. He should look no farther than in the mirror.
Christy A. Dunkelberger
Thompson: Next mayor should increase business
I would like to announce that if I am elected as mayor of Peachtree City it will not be business as usual. Or should I say no business as usual.
Although most citizens are aware that Peachtree City is almost built-out residentially as per the citys plan, did you know that we have only reached about 75 percent of the citys business model?
You may ask, Why is this important to me? Due to the fact that we are almost built-out residentially, our tax base will no longer significantly grow from additional new homes. There will be no impact fees for new homes and the amount of money the city raises on permit fees for new home construction will decrease.
As the city ages, money has to be spent to maintain it. This will cost money, tax money. This can only mean an increase in taxes; but only if things do not change.
Currently, 10 of the top 15 businesses which pay taxes in the county are located in Peachtree City. These 10 companies add over $3.4 million in tax revenue to our tax base and make up 8.3 percent of our total digest. While this is a good start, this is simply not enough. Ill explain.
We have built a planned community with almost 90 miles of tree-lined golf cart paths, a beautiful amphitheater, a world-class tennis center, and a top-notch aquatic center. Our public recreational facilities are some of the best in the state. This was by design.
Besides adding to our wonderful quality of life, these amenities help entice quality companies to locate their businesses in Peachtree City. The presence of these companies adds to the tax digest and helps defray the residents tax burden. That is a critical part of our planned community.
This all sounds great, right? Who would not want quality companies locating in our town?
The current mayor has failed to bring in even one large company into the business or industrial park. Not one. Other than Wal-Mart or Home Depot, not one business with more than 50 employees has located to Peachtree City in the last four years.
Remember, we are at only about 75 percent of the citys plan for business. This is inexcusable.
There are over 235 acres of available land use in the industrial park. Lets do the math.
The land use ordinances permit about 8,000 square feet of usable space per acre. If we multiply 8,000 by 235 acres, we have 1,880,000 square feet of potential usable space to construct buildings and other improvements.
These improvements are taxed and add to the tax digest of our community. Also, the businesses located in these buildings bring with them additional jobs and other sources of tax revenue.
I believe a conservative number of employees for these new businesses is about five employees per 1,000 square feet. If this is the case, completing the business development per the city plan would add about 9,400 new jobs to Peachtree City.
These companies and their employees increase our tax base and help reduce the current tax burden placed on all of us.
In addition to the increased property tax digest, the increase in jobs helps in other ways. The additional employees will surely spend money in our restaurants and shops, which results in more sales tax revenue.
More businesses also means more overnight stays in our local hotels with an increase in the hotel tax revenue. Plus, since the residential portion of Peachtree City is virtually completed, these revenues should come without the increasing our city population.
Peachtree City needs a mayor who is a businessman and who understands business. In less than seven years I, with the help of an outstanding general manager, Kim Hershey, operation managers, and staff, have been fortunate enough to open three health clubs and buy out six other clubs along the way.
We have to create and maintain a positive environment for over 9,500 members. My business employs over 135 people. Managing such a payroll requires strong fiscal management and control.
I also know and understand that my success is simply due to the fact that I have been blessed with exceptional employees. It is to their credit that we have accomplished such growth and national recognition.
As with my companies I will work with the citys staff by giving them the tools, resources, and support to use their talents to reach their potential for the citizens of Peachtree City.
I have the business skills to lead Peachtree City and Ill start by working to bring in more quality companies to our city. Ill work everyday to see that businesses know about our great city. With this plan we all win.
Young people must get involved in PTC elections
Why would young people want to become a part of effecting change in Peachtree City government? Maybe its because you feel your parents frustration and you want to help eradicate the Brown-Rapson weed.
Youre adults now. Youve listened and youve heard how people are discontent and dissatisfied with the way Brown, Rapson, and Weed have conducted the citys affairs the past four years.
Theres just been too much smack talking meant to character-assassinate anyone who [has] taken part in the citys decision-making process before the Brown-Rapson weed took root and began to spread.
Youre a new political block. Youre between the ages of 18 and 24. Its possibly your first time voting, or maybe four years ago was your first chance, but you just didnt get around to it. Please listen.
How do I describe Peachtree City? Its always been a small town, and always will be, but it was founded and built by people with a big time vision.
Peachtree City needs elected leaders and management employees who can communicate with professionals throughout Georgia and the nation, and who have the ability to make our small town big time again.
The most repulsive thing to me thats occurred over the last four years is the endless diatribe against so many wonderful people who have had an impact on the citys history.
Were led to be suspect that anyone who came before the Brown, Rapson, Weed social experiment have either been crooks, or have acted primarily for self-indulgent purposes. Well, those accused may have been your parents, your grandparents, your friends, or your neighbors.
With six people running for mayor, its quite possible we could find ourselves in another runoff election in December. If voter apathy produces Brown as one of the two top vote getters, we could get stuck with him for another four years.
Remember four years ago when Brown got into a runoff election for mayor? One month later, an apathetic public, myself included, failed to come out to vote in the runoff election.
Our nightmare began that day when only about 12 percent of those eligible to vote turned out, and Brown got more than half of the paltry vote count. This nightmare scenario could happen again.
There wont be a runoff with Rapson. There are only two candidates and that should make a decision to vote for his opponent simple.
Weeds bowed out of the race, thankfully, which will have an immediate, positive effect on our towns political environment.
So Im asking the youth voting block for your vote against Brown and Rapson. They have had their shot for the last four years. It hasnt been pretty, and as of today, four weeks from the election, all we can expect from them is another four years of the Peachtree City Civil War.
Please mark your calendars now and plan to vote in the city election in November. I can understand and empathize how many of us in your parents and grandparents generation have become apathetic and disenfranchised towards local politics.
Thats why it is so important that we come together this November and make a commitment to remove the pall thats been covering our city for the last four years.
Please help to eradicate the Brown-Rapson weed.
Parents can help too. If your children are temporarily living away from home, now is the time to help them receive an absentee ballot and register their vote. Make them feel theyve been a part of what can be a great civics lesson. It takes each and every vote to oust an incumbent. Lets get this done now.
Logsdon followed rules
I want to set the record straight regarding campaign yard signs and the article posted in Free Speech last week.
The election rules for 2005 are posted on Peachtree Citys official Web site and they state the following: Campaign signs can go up at the close of qualifying (4:30 p.m. Sept. 16) and can stay up until a candidate is chosen (through the election, or through any necessary runoffs for that candidate).
The first Harold Logsdon for Mayor sign was placed at 4:40 p.m. Sept. 16, 2005, in my front yard.
If the citizens of our great community are tired of the constant bickering, backbiting and lack of leadership displayed by the current administration, I urge you to vote for Harold Logsdon for mayor on Nov. 8.
Allis an angel on a bike
After reading about Dick Allis in last weeks Citizen, I was standing on the street in front of Hampton Inn with a flat tire, a blow out, and was unable to reach my husband by either home phone or cell phone for over an hour. It was 85 degrees and I had recently suffered a torn cartilege and torn ligiment in my left knee.
An angel appeared on a bicycle and stopped, saying, Lets see what we can do here. I opened the trunk, Mr. Allis pulled the spare tire and jack from my trunk and had the tire replaced just as I was able to reach my husband.
He embodies the spirit of Peachtree City that prompted us to move here 14 years ago. I wonder if Mr. Allis would consider running for mayor?
Iraq and the embedded fishhook principle
Ever really look around you at a favorite fishing spot and notice bobbers and lures hanging from tree limbs or power lines?
That might mean that I had been there, trying my luck, before you. I am perhaps the worlds worst fisherman. What is the bumper sticker? Women want me; fish fear me. I dont know about the first part, but, in my case, the latter half should read, Fish mock me.
Heres my best example. A few years ago, I was fishing a pristine trout stream up north, using a lure with a treble hook. One of my casts overshot the narrow stream and tangled in the branches of a small bush on the other side.
I tugged hard on the line to release it. Big mistake. The lure shot back across the stream like a bullet and caught me in the left calf. One of the hooks sank in deep, well up the shaft beyond the barb.
I cut the line, leaving a shiny lure hanging from my leg, like some bizarre punk rock adornment. I tried to imagine walking into the urgent care center in this condition, but did not relish having doctors and nurses joining the fish in a chorus of mockery.
Of course, there was no backing the hook out, not with that sharp barb, designed precisely to prevent such an exit, buried as it was in my flesh.
So I did the only thing I could: I grabbed a pair of pliers, pushed the hook in deeper, then around until it made its exit a half inch from where it entered. Pushing it out until the barb was clear, I snipped the end and then backed it out. Then I packed my gear and headed home in disgrace.
Sometimes the only way out of a situation is to push on through. It applies in all sorts of cases. For example, I decided early in my college education that philosophy was my thing. I wanted to spend my career thinking about and teaching philosophy, and could not imagine doing anything else.
But, of course, no one teaches college with an undergraduate degree, so I went on for a masters degree. But the job market in philosophy has been saturated for a very long time. I would have had a better chance of turning into, say, a pheasant, than landing a teaching job armed only with an M.A. So when I finished, I forged ahead into doctoral studies.
Did I grow tired of being a professional student? You bet! But I realized that I couldnt stop unless I wanted to sell Flair pens at the drug store or flip burgers for a living. The only way out was to push on through. Its the Fish Hook Principle.
Our nation is at war in Iraq against a stubborn insurgency. As of today over 1,900 American soldiers have been killed and, according to Antiwar.com, over 14,000 have been wounded. Understandably, the American public recoils from such news, and there is a growing outcry to withdraw and bring our troops home now.
For the sake of argument, lets grant everything that has been said by those who have opposed the war. Bush lied about WMDs. He attacked Iraq because Saddam tried to kill his father. He and the Vice President wanted to get their grubby hands on Iraqi oil fields. Or he attacked Iraq because, bumbling idiot that he is, he couldnt think of anything else to do. Our invasion of Iraq was illegal by international standards, and immoral on any reasonable theory of Just Warfare.
Still, the current clamor to Stop the war now! is sheer foolishness. Henry Kissinger, speaking of the Nixon administrations policy regarding Vietnam, said, Of course we wanted to end the war. But it was not like a television that you could just switch off. Nor is this war. The Fish Hook Principle applies here as well.
Clearly, the fledgling Iraqi government is not ready to be left to itself. If Cindy Sheehan (God bless her) and those of like mind had their way and we began an immediate withdrawal, we would leave a power vacuum that would most likely plunge that nation into a bloody civil war, further destabilizing the region and possibly resulting in the rise of a militant, Anti-American theocracy and safe haven for terrorists.
We already have a history of not finishing what we started in Iraq, with disastrous consequences for those Shiites and Kurds who, emboldened by our presence, dared to oppose Saddam. When we withdrew in 1991, Saddams crackdown resulted in a bloodbath, the details of which will soon be in the news with Saddams trial.
Now, with Saddam gone, many Iraqis are cautiously optimistic of a democratic form of government that will guarantee freedoms and secure rights that they have never before enjoyed. Democracy in Iraq is a precarious thing even with our support. It will have been but a passing fancy if we withdraw anytime soon.
A wise professor of mine once said that if we as a nation truly value freedom, then we should be willing to fight, and even die, for it, regardless of whose freedom it is. It is a form of moral myopia that says that only direct American interests are worthy of our protection.
Those clamoring for an immediate withdrawal remind me of the guy who decided to swim the English Channel. He got two-thirds of the way across, realized that the whole thing was a bad idea from the start, turned and swam back.
Imagine if Iraqi troops patrolled Fayette
Earlier this year I was jogging through downtown Indianapolis waging my stalemate of a battle against the expanding waistline. As I headed southwest toward the Motor Speedway, I passed a work of graffiti that stopped me. It was an almost life-size outline of a Soviet T-62 tank with its lollipop-shaped turret. And scrawled beside it was a simple, yet pointed statement: Imagine tanks on your street.
For two and a half years now our forces have traveled throughout Iraq in an effort to secure WMDs, remove a heavy-handed dictator, spread freedom, and win the war on terror.
As all but the least read of war-supporters know, the first item was nonexistent and the last two have been quite elusive.
But our situation begs these questions: Were we ever asked by a domestic uprising with direction and leadership to aid in an Iraqi renaissance? Did we seek to know the Iraqi people religiously or culturally? Have we ever defined what winning the war on terror means?
Domestic disputes can be perilous even when an involved party summons help. If you arent asked to help in a dispute, but attempt intervention, one or both parties will likely turn on you.
Our actions in Iraq have, quite predictably, caused over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilian casualties directly and indirectly.
The Iraqi people did not ask to be put in harms way, but now we demand them to step up?
Imagine tanks on the streets of Fayette County; unannounced; uninvited; the thousands of casualties being American citizens caught in the crossfire of an external regime change. With each door we kick in searching for weapons caches, an Iraqi family feels less liberated. And when they bear arms in resistance, insurgency is born.
I have spent all of my adult life studying and participating in the art of war as an Air Force officer and attack aircraft pilot, and war is an art to be studied before its undertaking. We must know our enemy to defeat him or her. And we certainly must know our enemy to know if they are actually our enemy.
In Iraq we targeted the Sunni Muslim Baath party because it was the party of Saddam. In reality the Sunni Muslims (the majority of Kurds and Baathists) are the most westernized people in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. Sunni Muslim women have no requirement to cover their faces or drape their bodies.
Conversely, the Shiite majority in Iraq, Shia majority in Iran, and Wahhabis (or Muwahhidun) in Saudi Arabia are staunchly fundamental in their interpretation of Islam. They feel any political leader must be a prophet as well, and that the prophets instructions must be followed even when in conflict with the constitution.
There is very little chance that westernized Baathist Sunnis, politically hated by Kurdish Sunnis who have killed and been killed in attempted coups, and theocratic Shiites who feel a constitution is only valid where it is in line with the Quran, will agree on a unified document. And in a majority-rules democratic vote, women will lose wholesale.
And finally to those who feel we cant stop fueling an Iraqi campaign until we win the war on terror, realize that this is a war much like the war on drugs, or crime, or poverty.
It is a euphemism to soften the blow of the more accurate, never-ending war on terror.
No matter how many brave souls are lost and dollars spent, we have no more chance of finding and killing every potential terrorist than we do of ridding the earth of termites.
Rather than honoring the dead with more dead, it is time to declare victory in Iraq and begin a systematic withdrawal of troops.
We cant rid the world of those with the intent to do us harm, but we can secure our borders, screen our passenger manifests, inspect our cargo, and focus the full fury of the U.S. War Department on the Osama Bin Ladens who have actually caused us great harm.
But its time to remove ourselves from Iraqs affairs. We must give them the opportunity of successful self-determination or failure.
The next time you look out the kitchen window, imagine tanks on your street, and you will see through the eyes of Iraqi citizens.
Parker letter descends into personal insult
Reformed Democrat, Bush-worshiping, putrid pandering, ignorant, close minded: Mr. Parker has made the point of my last letter.
I said then that no matter how literate and erudite, once you descend into the realm of personal insults, you lose the argument. That has been the case for just about every letter he has written.
Now please allow me to dispel some of his accusations;
Old kind that opposed anti-lynching laws, and filibustered the civil rights act.
Mr. Parker, I was not born in this country, I was born and grew up to age 17 in Latin America.
As cruel as the Spaniards were, there was one legacy we inherited. Right or wrong, they mixed with people of all races to the point that we are all different shades of skin colors. From the blackest to the blonde-haired green-eyed Latin and all of the in-between shades, we are equal. When is the last time you read of a race riot in the South American continent or the Caribbean?
Whatever shade we are, we identify ourselves not by our skin color, but by our citizenship, i.e., Cuban, Venezuelan and so on, not by black, yellow, or white.
When I first came here to attend Georgia Tech there were still separate baths, drinking fountains, etc. I wondered about how that situation was allowed. I could not believe it existed nor did I agree with it. There again, I was not a citizen and could do nothing about it; Marvin Griffin was governor at the time.
The President understood and acted. Mr. Clinton acted by using only air power and later ground troops without seeking approval from Congress, but nothing was heard from the same people that now are complaining about Mr. Bush.
Frankly I cannot understand the pure hatred expressed towards this man. The lack of response to the U.S. embassies in Africa, the Ethiopia debacle, the bombing of the Cole, the Khobar Towers, sent al Qaeda a clear message that we were weak and 9/11 was the result.
By the way, Mr. Parker, a Chinese company has named one condom after Mr. Clinton and one after Monica; maybe this is a way to thank him for giving them the technology to launch satellites by Loral and Hughes.
In case you did not know, China is expanding into what is called nano satellites. This technology allows them to launch a great quantity of the same satellite, only smaller, thus making it virtually impossible to knock out all of them out. As I check the news in my former countries I see that the Iranians and Chinese are already signing contracts with Cuba and Venezuela; in other words, they are trying to encircle us, preparing for a war that will take place sooner or later.
As far as the death of 1,900 of our valiant heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan, just think how many people would have died in our country had it not been for their sacrifice. Have you forgotten the deaths of 9/11?
I e-mail some of our soldiers and one of my neighbors is in the Middle East now. They all are proud of what they are doing and are shocked to see what the dominant print media and television news feed our people. There is not a report of the good that happens there, but they are sure to report the deaths and bombings.
In other words Mr. Parker, there are people here in our country that delight in the death of our armed forces because they can use it to belittle Mr. Bush. How low can they go? In the state of Georgia there are over 1,600 traffic deaths a year. Do you want to stop that, too? How?
Finally, Mr. Parker, I dont slobber over Mr. Bush. He has the class to ignore all the hate coming from people that want him to sink into oblivion. I admire him, but I assure you that there are a lot of silent majority of citizens that are just as shocked as I am [about] the vitriol dished out by the radical left wing in this country against not a perfect man, but somebody that is trying to do what he believes is right for our country.
Copyright 2005-Fayette Publishing, Inc.