America's




foreign policy is




disastrous




The U.S. government, the people and the news media have created a chaos by allowing their nationalism to carry to the extreme right, without looking at the damage we have created by invading Iraq.




Looking back, Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001. We shifted gears invading Iraq. Saddam Hussein supposedly had weapons of mass destruction, but then so did Pakistan, India and probably Iran. Hussein was Sunni, so we backed a new Shiite government in Iraq, while Iran is Shiite, only making Iran stronger in the region. No sense.




Thirty-five thousand U.S. soldiers are dead, 2 million Iraqis leave their homeland and 650,000 Iraqis are dead. Was this to preserve freedom? For whom? Not the 2 million Iraqis that left or the 650,000 Iraqis dead.




The president of the U.S. invades Iraq with a small force of soldiers on a scale of invasion terms. Why did he not institute the military draft to secure a victory in a short time span? Critics claim he would have lost re-election if he had started the military draft; besides, the American people would have been on the streets protesting the invasion, by the millions.




What is wrong with the American people? They should realize that our economy is being drained by foreign debts we cannot repay. We are borrowing billions from China every week to fight a losing civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites. Are the American people too stupid, lazy and ignorant to get angry and demand accountability?




The news media is watered-down compared to the Vietnam days. We now hear about Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, yet we should be hearing about impeachment trials by Congress in regard to George Bush and Dick Cheney. Who owns the news media now? I wonder if it might be some right-wing corporate elite that profits off war and the stupidity of its people.




On a recent trip with Friendship Force International, I toured Jordan, Egypt and Israel. I have sympathy for so many displaced Iraqis, many of whom have entered Jordan to abandon their war-torn country. Silence is betrayal. Speak up America.




Bill Looney




Shedd, Ore.




Can you feel




the love?




Last week, my wife and I attended the final concert of the season by the Ashland High School choirs. This was Russ Otte's final concert as the choir director, and we expected an emotional program, with tributes and tears. We got all that, and much more. By the end of the evening, the students' artful emotion had carried us to the heart of what it means to belong to a community.




These talented kids, many now on the edge of adulthood, have been in our lives for years as our own children have passed through the Ashland schools. We have seen many of them grow from adorable first-graders to awkward middle schoolers to confident and accomplished seniors. As one after another stepped forward for a solo, displaying their individual natures &

exuberant, soulful, melodramatic, shy &

I was overwhelmed by the privilege that it has been to know them and to witness, even at a distance, the flowering of their lives and talent.




This privilege reflects the close-knit community in which we live. But more than that, it has been made possible by AHS's support for the arts. Without our drama program, our bands, our choirs and our art classes, many of these children would not have blossomed as they have &

and they certainly would not have had the opportunity to show us what they can do.




The evening was punctuated with moments of great emotion, and ended with many heartfelt tributes to Otte, an extraordinary teacher who has made a lasting difference in the life of our community. We must resolve to continue our commitment to the arts in our schools to find ways to assure that, in an often uncomprehending educational culture nationwide, we provide the opportunity for our children to make music, to paint and to sing their way into their best natures.




As the choir swelled to the chorus of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" in one of the evening's concluding numbers, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Love filled the theater &

love for the parents, for our children, for the kids, for themselves, for each other, for the community and for the dedication and skill of Russ Otte. May we never forget that emotion, and what art makes possible in the lives of Ashland's children.




Pepper Trail