The working marriage of liberty and democracy

In regard to Daniel Schorr's Aug. 30 column, "Uncivil liberties": He is on target in pointing out a clear abuse of power by the executive branch. In support, I offer the following quote: "There is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers" (Henry Middleton, President, 1st Continental Congress, "An Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec," 1774).

Compare the spirit of that statement – the American spirit – with the "legalese" being used by Attorney General John Ashcroft to deny rights to American citizens. The Founders would be appalled at this outrage.
Joseph Wetzel
Dunnellon, Fla.

Regarding Daniel Schorr's column, "Uncivil liberties": The person being detained, Yaser Esam Hamdi, is an enemy soldier and the civilian courts have no say!

He turned against his home country and has given up his constitutional rights. Like John Walker Lindh, if he is found to have harmed or attempted to harm Americans, he should be dealt with accordingly.
Rich Radke
Las Vegas

In his Aug. 26 opinion piece, "How democracy is preserved," Amitai Etzioni claims that when the government intrudes on our civil liberties, it is only responding to the demands of the populace. In other words, the government violates the Constitution because the public wants it to.

Unfortunately, a constitutional democracy doesn't work that way. We have a Bill of Rights specifically because our Founding Fathers realized that some measures should be off limits to government, no matter how overwhelmingly the public votes for them. Democratic elections do not excuse violations of our civil liberties. The public may want these measures, but under our laws, it has no right to ask that they be carried out.
Amy Phillips
New York

Keeping family out of business

In your Aug. 27 editorial, "Not all in the family," you have aptly pointed out favoritism, nepotism, and cronyism as some of the root causes for the recent epidemic of corporate fraud. Your hope that these practices in the business landscape will dissipate is merely wishful thinking.

While the New York Stock Exchange corporate-governance rule covers board members' immediate families, it does not cover the cronies of executives or board members. It is easy for corporate executives to create a board that is beholden to them, rather than the stockholders at large. Individuals bent on helping themselves and their families and friends will find ways to circumvent rules, old and new.
Felix Rajan
Somerset, N.J.

Fat kids are parents' responsibility, too

Thanks for your fine Aug. 30 article "A farewell to fizz from LA lunchrooms." The quote in the article that resonated most for me was from Carmen Navarez: "Kids need to learn from an early age what is good for them and what isn't ... and parents need to know they are training the palates of their kids in ways that will last a lifetime."

For many people, obesity is a lifestyle problem. Since parents pass on their habits by example, they, too, should be accountable, not just schools. With all the educational efforts at cultural diversity programs, at least one school program should reflect healthy eating.

Perhaps a school potluck featuring healthy dishes, with the best ones featured at the school cafeteria, would get the attention of some of the parents and kids.
Edward Bickford
Charlottesville, Va.

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