Paul's Letters to the Editor

The following letters I wrote appeared in Pittsburgh newspapers.

Bush-Cheney Decisively Wrong

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Saturday, July 17, 2004

If George Bush and Dick Cheney are decisive, they're decisively wrong. In his Pittsburgh speech on Monday night ("Vice president goes on the attack," July 13), Cheney accused John Kerry of "trying to rewrite history" on the war in Iraq. Cheney is clearly in denial.

Cheney is one of the leading hawks who got us into the mess in Iraq. Apparently, the vice president would rather pick nits with Kerry's reasonable votes on war funding than talk about last week's Senate report on massive CIA intelligence failures -- intelligence that he solicited and amplified.

Or about how the elective war in Iraq fomented more terrorism. Or about how Osama bin Laden got away. Or about lining the pockets of his Halliburton pals and Kenneth Lay while the poor and middle class suffer. But that's just Cheney being decisively wrong, again.

It's time for the American voters to be decisive, too, and replace the Bush-Cheney scoundrels with Kerry and Edwards, who stand the best chance of cleaning up this mess.

Paul Heckbert, Edgewood

Reagan's Damage to America

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Regarding Ronald Reagan's death, Colin McNickle quoted an observer who said "it is as if a giant redwood has fallen in the forest" ("A redwood falls," special section on Reagan, June 6). Yet Reagan is the one who famously said, in disregard of environmental issues, "once you've seen one redwood, you've seen 'em all."

While some mourning for Reagan is appropriate, it is depressing to read the undue praise being heaped upon him. Reagan inflicted immense damage on our country: He sold us the simple-minded story that government is bad and tax cuts are good. He tripled the deficit.

He took from the poor and gave to the rich. He made it a sport to blame the gays for AIDS and the poor for poverty. He pumped up fear of communism and squandered billions on military spending. He fed intelligence and bioweapons to Saddam Hussein to use against Iran, and gave weapons to Osama bin Laden and the Afghan mujahedeen to fight the Soviet Union. And then there's Iran-Contra.

And yet, apparently because he was such a smooth con man and pandered to America's insecurities and ignorance so well, he is remembered as the president who made America "stand tall again."

It's doubly depressing because, in George W. Bush, we have Reagan redux, though clumsier, meaner and more ideological. This time the tax cuts are more reckless, the deficits deeper, and the exploited fear is terrorism, not communism.

Have we learned nothing?

Paul Heckbert, Edgewood

Bush Administration Puts Ideology Ahead of Reality

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday, May 16, 2004

It was a brief but welcome change of pace last week to see Bush and Rumsfeld show a bit of contrition in response to the Iraq prison abuse story ("Iraq scandal leaves White House reeling", 5/9), but today it seemed like the White House was back to business as usual. Since Friday, Cheney lauded Rumsfeld as "the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had" and Bush said that Rumsfeld was "doing a superb job".

It's a catastrophic flaw of this administration that it always puts ideology ahead of reality: Even though his massive tax cuts for the rich create a massive national debt, Bush proceeds with more of the same. Even though it is Al Qaeda that attacks the US, not Iraq, Bush diverts forces from Afghanistan and bombs Iraq. Even though the generals tell him that a small force can't secure Iraq, Rumsfeld proceeds with a small force. Even though a Palestinian state is a top issue to Muslims everywhere, Bush throws salt in the wound by backing Sharon. Even though Rumsfeld and Cheney sold war with Iraq using lies about WMD, and brought our country's international reputation to its lowest point in many decades, Bush keeps them on!

What does this say about Bush?


What Did Bush Learn from the Vietnam War?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday, February 22, 2004

Why should we care if John Kerry and Jane Fonda appeared together in a photo taken of the audience at a 1970 anti-war rally? ("Kerry's Anti-War Record Attacked" (Feb. 13). Instead of wasting time on such superficialities, why is your paper not asking deeper questions such as: "What lessons did the candidates learn from the Vietnam War? And from the Iraq war?"

So far, Kerry has spoken eloquently on such issues: He has shown that he understands the seriousness of war, has made wise statements about the importance of multilateralism, has shown caution about launching unprovoked wars and asks intelligent questions such as, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

President Bush, meanwhile, has shown an ideologue's closed-mindedness, has exploited 9/11 fears to hype an unprovoked war in Iraq, has covered up war costs from the public, has abandoned diplomacy for bullying, has lowered the moral standing of our country in the eyes of the world and has alienated our allies with statements such as, "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror."


Sticking up for Paul O'Neill

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Thursday, January 15, 2004

Please tell us more about what Paul O'Neill said in his book, "The Price of Loyalty." In your story on the former Treasury secretary ("'Secret' O'Neill papers probed," Jan. 13) and your editorial ("Flapping gums: O'Neill's disloyalty," Jan. 13), you concentrate on minor allegations of leaked secrets and excoriate O'Neill for disloyalty.

But I would like to hear more about O'Neill's recollections of the workings of the White House.

Bush's presidency has probably been the most secretive in my lifetime, with the possible exception of Nixon's. He holds very few press conferences. The voters deserve to be better informed about the decision-making process for Iraq, the budget and other issues.

You say it's unbecoming of O'Neill to criticize his ex-boss. Perhaps O'Neill regards his role as public servant for the citizens of the United States as a higher priority.

Paul Heckbert, Edgewood

Bush is Squandering Our Money

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Saturday, May 31, 2003

Across the country, states are facing financial crises, shrinking bus schedules, and cutbacks and early closures of schools, yet the rich are getting a tax cut and we're concluding an unprovoked war. Something is wrong with this picture!

Iraq war expenses are estimated at $100 billion to $200 billion, and nationwide public school debt at $50 billion to $80 billion. We could have skipped the former and paid off the latter.

Instead, we've watched President Bush squander our country's money and its global reputation while permitting public schools and services to go down the tubes.


Note: the editor of the Tribune-Review is Richard Mellon Scaife, a secretive ultraconservative, and financier and zealot behind the impeachment of President Clinton. That's one reason I really enjoy getting letters printed there.

Paul's Politics Page,
Paul Heckbert.