Assessing candidates, parties: consider actions, not words

In his Sept. 28 Opinion piece, "He feels Democratic but votes Republican," Brian Kantz considers the usual general parameters for which each party is known, and then asks himself what each candidate has discussed specifically that fits within these parameters. He and I both want to see compassion and good intentions for mankind in our candidates. However, more concern should be given to each candidate's career of public service. As a whole, Kerry's record shows strong support for liberal and humanitarian programs. Bush, however, has given to the many huge corporations (via tax cuts), with whom he and his friends are associated.
Bonnie Lief
Hastings, N.Y.

While I generally agree with Mr. Kantz, one point sets us apart. I believe that our "Democratic" government has taken the humanity out of man by deciding who, when, and why we should help those in need. I believe my tax dollars could be spent much more wisely by me personally. I'd also feel better.
Bonnie Larner
Richmond, Va.

Keep in sight the goal of education

Regarding the Sept. 28 article "Cookies and curriculum": In all the debate about education, I have heard little about what we really want our children to get from 12-plus years of schooling. As an educator and a parent, I want my children and students to become lifelong learners. No matter how many tests children pass, if they don't develop an independent drive to learn, they will fail. They must learn to take tests (a subject in itself) because our society demands it. They must also learn how and why to learn.

The truly successful schools do strive to create lifelong learners. This is their goal, not tests, which are a necessary nuisance.
Henry Bareiss
Rochester Hills, Mich.

Enact law for secure borders, not amnesty

Regarding your Sept. 27 editorial, "Kerry-GOP Link on Borders:" Bush and Kerry both promote amnesties and Social Security benefits for illegal aliens, which will vastly increase the number of illegal aliens trying to enter our country. So when I read about their efforts to secure our borders, I am very skeptical. Legislation that would help the border crisis, which was suggested by the 9/11 commission, appears ready to pass in Congress. I only hope that the politicians are sincere about such legislation, and will fund and enforce the law properly.
Bob Allan
Rochester Hills, Mich.

Natural wildfires key fire prevention tool

Regarding the Sept. 21 article "Western states dodged wildfire threats this summer": The right kind of fire, in the right place at the right time, is necessary and beneficial. It is incorrect to say that fire "destroyed" 6.5 million acres in Alaska. Similar words were used in 1996, when fires burned in Yellowstone National Park. Since then, visitors have seen the rebirth of the forest, and wildlife populations are healthy.

Certainly, there will always be a need for aggressive fire suppression. Public safety and the presence of homes and communities require it. However, it is just as true that we must return fire to many ecosystems and use fire to manage fire.

Smokey Bear is a great icon, but decades of fighting all fires produced serious, unintended consequences. Natural fires were prevented from burning brush and other vegetation, thereby allowing these fuels to accumulate and increase the likelihood of severe wildfires. Therefore, the future lies in a comprehensive approach to fire management, ranging from full suppression to prescribed burning and wildland fire use.
Jay Thomas Watson
Sonoma, Calif.
Director, Wildland Fire Program

The Wilderness Society

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