Regarding P. Amy MacKinnon's Dec. 30 opinion piece "A Democrat breaks with tradition": My political path follows closely that of Ms. MacKinnon. I was raised in a proud Roosevelt Democrat home in the Midwest, and was served egalitarian Democratic messages day in and day out - which I still happen to cherish. I didn't vote for President Bush in 2000 either; I too thought he was just another politician who bought his way to power.
But Sept. 11, 2001, has made this man, as it is remaking this great nation of ours. And just days after Sept. 11 I knew I would vote for George Bush in 2004.
Few of the Democratic candidates show clear signs of personal courage, of an understanding that we have enemies, and of an understanding of the nature of those enemies.
While I admire the initiative of P. Amy MacKinnon to move beyond perfunctory partisan voting, I must oppose the reasoning she uses to drive her election choice.
Ms. MacKinnon trumpets the leadership performance of George W. Bush by invoking a dangerously simplified view of the administration's actions in the Middle East, and allows it to overshadow failures on numerous fronts.
I wholeheartedly agree with MacKinnon that we are facing momentous challenges which demand strong leadership, but unlike her I feel the Bush administration has demonstrated neither sensible appreciation for the pressing issues of our time, nor the principles to lead us effectively to a hopeful future.
Aaron E. Boyle
As a Cuban-born American, I would like to remark on Pat M. Holt's Dec. 31 opinion piece "Castro's New Year revolution still stands 45 years later": It's true Fidel Castro initially appeared, not only to the world but to most Cubans, as a hirsute Mother Teresa in green fatigues, descending on Cuba to fix all her problems. Until then, many Cubans had sighed "poor Cuba, so far from God and so close to the Americans." But the sighing soon changed to "so far from God and now in Russian hands."
As for the embargo, Mr. Castro can buy American medicines from Canada and Mexico at a fraction of the price that American consumers pay in the US. If Castro doesn't buy them, it's not because of the embargo but because he doesn't have the money.
Except for a "nuisance" such as the possibly the worst nuclear crisis in history; a sprinkle of little irritants such as the diaspora of 2 million Cubans; wars in Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and El Salvador; let alone the untold number of Cubans asunder in the Florida Straits; by golly, the whole thing appears rather trivial.
Otto E. Caveda
Regarding the Dec. 29 article "Around the globe, new 'Silicon Valleys' emerge": There is an irreversible long-term cost to competitiveness in America when our infrastructure jobs are shipped overseas.
In 10 years, there will be no need for many companies to be even headquartered in California. They will be eventually run by the much less expensive Indian executives with only satellite offices in America. What will be the incentive for students in American colleges to major in computer science if all the jobs are in India?
The intellectual job hemorrhage to India could spread to any profession that doesn't require proximity: medical research, biotech, accounting, general architecture, mechanical engineering, and so on.
Steve Jones Seattle
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