The power of money in the Iowa straw poll
Thank you for your Aug. 10 article, "Iowa GOP straw poll: what to watch." As an Iowan, I feel obligated to let those who may not be familiar with the Iowa straw poll – and who may think that it is a legitimate test of voter preferences – know that it is nothing but a dog and pony show. This Republican exercise is totally staged, bought, and paid for to trick those in the party.
Candidates bus voters in, paying the admission fee of $35 and providing them with food and drink in exchange for their votes. They cherry-pick the attendees, and there are plenty of questionable voters. It is likely that some of the participants are not even from Iowa. Candidates such as Mitt Romney have spent millions in Iowa on media spots and other campaigning, including this straw poll. He spent thousands at an auction for the most desirable spot for his campaign tent at the poll. Money definitely talks at this event, and even buys votes.
Iowa City, Iowa
Solving Ethiopia's issues peacefully
In response to the Aug. 9 article, "In Ethiopia, elders dissolve a crisis the traditional way," – about the Harvard-educated Ethiopian scholar Ephraim Isaac, who led a "council of elders" to broker a high-stakes political deal – I can say the article is the first in the West to give a balanced description of the new development in Ethiopia.
However, the one thing lacking is that Mr. Isaac was advising all Ethiopian diaspora scholars and politicians for the past 50 years to focus on the reality on the ground. Unfortunately, none of these individuals seems to take his advice, and hence the failure of all their previous four revolutions. Allow me to remind critics such as Al Mariam that the US did not beg any foreign involvement in their early stage of democracy.
Overreacting to Hillary's wardrobe
In response to the Aug. 9 Opinion article, "Hillary in the pillory," about judging Hillary Clinton on her looks, I think there is not an issue at all. Every candidate who runs for political office contends with problems associated with image. The US has women in both houses of Congress, as state governors, and in state legislatures – among other offices. Gender is not the factor it once was. If Senator Clinton becomes president, the US will join Israel, India, Britain, Canada, Germany, and Chile as countries that have had a woman hold their highest political office. It is no big deal except in the media, and I definitely think the American voter is way beyond this.
Responsible nuclear policies
The Aug. 10 Opinion article, "America, stop waving the nuclear threat at potential adversaries," makes four excellent suggestions for delegitimizing nuclear weapons. I have an additional suggestion: Renounce intentions to develop new nuclear weapons.
Recently, the Bush administration released a statement threatening to resume nuclear testing if Congress does not fully fund the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. The administration's position is irresponsible and dangerous. Resuming testing would invite every other nuclear-weapons state to do the same. Building RRWs would demonstrate to potential nuclear states such as Iran that the US is not serious about nonproliferation. Congress should send a strong message to the administration that neither resuming testing nor funding RRWs is acceptable. This would signal to all nations that the US is committed to responsible nuclear policies.
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