Hagel criticism is out of line

The neocon right-wingers in the Republican Party have acted like sore losers ever since President Barack Obama won re-election last November.

Nothing could illustrate that more than the remarks of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who referred to the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense as an “in-your-face” nomination. Not only did Graham imply that Hagel would endanger national security, but he also claimed that Hagel did not care about Israel’s security, and that the former Nebraska senator was timid regarding Iran.

Sen. Graham deserves to be condemned for those remarks. Chuck Hagel won several medals for his brave service in Vietnam years ago. How dare Graham say Hagel is anti-Israel? Hagel supports that nation but believes in being pragmatic and sensible.

A knee-jerk military action could blow up the entire Middle East. By contrast, Chuck Hagel sensibly believes military force should be a tool of last resort.

And finally, it is time for the neocons to face reality: You are likely to lose this fight. The more bitter you are, the more you come across as sore losers with an ax to grind.

Herb Vermaas, Omaha

High ceiling, low accountability

If your credit-card company says it is raising your limit, what do 95 percent of the card holders do? Enough said. Who does the president think he is fooling?

Ron Feierman, Omaha

Our ever-growing government

This country has witnessed in the short space of 11 years a government that has metastasized; it’s built around fear-mongering that the American people are somehow under serious threat from foreign enemies.

Under the past two presidents, the cost and size of government has doubled, and Washington has added a massive new bureaucracy — the Department of Homeland Security — which has a primary function of bird-dogging the American people.

And to our eternal shame as a nation, it has all been done on a credit card with Asian governments picking up the tab and the Federal Reserve printing money nonstop at the behest of the U.S. Treasury. This money, which has no actual backing, is running up the national debt to unheard of levels while doing grievous damage to the economy.

Greg Weldon, Papillion

A ‘cheap’ trillion-dollar coin

There recently was talk about the U.S. Mint making platinum coins, each with a value of $1 trillion, apparently to be used in “paying” the debt. Although the Treasury ultimately scrapped the idea, platinum would have been far too valuable to use, anyway.

Any trillion-dollar coins should be made of zinc or lead, or a combination of those cheap elements. They would last as long if they were just joined together in the usual way — melting. Another way would be to fuse them using nuclear methods that only a few can work with, and probably not at the Mint. (They don’t literally want a glowing reputation.)

In fact, if you “smash” zinc and lead together, you get ununbium, aka copernicium. Problem is, the coins would have a half-life of 280 milliseconds and would last about 10 half-lives, or nearly 3 seconds — about the same amount of time it takes to add $120,000 to the U.S. debt.

So a zinc-lead alloy looks like the better deal. It won’t burn a hole in your pocket, not to mention your entire body, house or neighborhood.

Daniel R. Olson, Omaha

Don’t get too comfortable

The Nebraska congressional delegation should realize that while they may be very powerful in Nebraska, they are part of a diminishing constituency. Consequently, Nebraska’s future in the political arena will be diminished.

These representatives are in a position of alliance with the radical right wing of the party, which has proved costly to the party overall. Although they may be secure with their current positions as Nebraska representatives, their achievements have been minuscule.

Charles A. Rucker, Omaha

‘The consent of the governed’

A city official in Gretna is convicted of stealing from the city. A state senator is convicted of mishandling campaign funds to feed her gambling habit. Two Omaha city officials — one on the City Council, one the president of the Omaha school board — owe the federal government back taxes.

We have a president who will not stop spending borrowed money, and a “progressive” left bent on disarming law-abiding citizens despite the fact that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that right.

Here is what the Declaration of Independence has to say about that: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

I suspect that I will now be on the FBI’s watch list.

Clark R. Crinklaw, Omaha

Tanning beds can be harmful

I have been following with interest the coverage of Legislative Bill 132, the Nebraska bill aimed at prohibiting use of tanning beds by minors.

My dad, Paul Jessen, died nearly one year ago of melanoma. I would do anything to have him back but will have to settle for trying to prevent other families from experiencing the loss of a loved one from this devastating cancer.

It’s amazing that, with all we know about harmful effects of tanning and the increased rate of melanoma in young women who have used tanning beds, people still use them at all. There is no good reason to subject your skin to these harmful rays — not only will it create premature aging but it can kill you.

Thirty-three states have some restrictions for children under 18, with 13 of those states banning use by minors outright. Does Nebraska want to be a follower in this common-sense legislation or a leader?

I publicly support LB 132 and encourage legislators to do so as well.

Kjirsten Jessen Finnegan, Omaha

Ensure all can get flu shots

Many of the people who are getting the flu have not had the shot. Older people on Medicare do not have to pay for the shot, so most of them get it. Many parents get the shot for their kids even though they have to pay for it.

But many others often skip the shot because they hate shots, don’t have the money to pay for them, don’t know where to go to get the shot or just feel that they are too busy to bother. Or maybe all of the above.

When the flu becomes an epidemic, like it is now, I think the flu shots or nasal vaccine should be readily available at several easily identifiable and accessible places. They should be given for free so that most people will take advantage of it and not just hope that the flu won’t hit them.

I feel this is clearly a case where the city, county or state government should step in with planning and funding in the future.

Judy Vidito, Omaha

Ex-bank exec got off too easy

I find it interesting that an Omaha bank executive who brought a gun into the bank and scared a coworker half to death simply lost his job. Is it not against the law to flash a gun around in a bank? I guess it all depends on who you are and who you know. How sad!

Ann Pickel, Omaha

Those fast and furious firearms

I heard a politician say recently that we need to track firearm sales better. How’s that working out for (U.S. Attorney General) Eric Holder?

Greg Cyza, Columbus, Neb.

Let’s explore bullet control

In regard to the gun issue, everyone should be allowed to own them. However, let’s ban the bullets or at least make them cost a thousand dollars each. Let’s find a better way to keep the ammunition away from the guns — that’s the real killer.

Susan Brown, Omaha

Send in the freedom defenders!

I have been following the fighting in Mali between the government and the terrorists. I get the impression that neither the United States nor the world at large knows how to handle the situation. I’m confused by that because it seems so simple to me.

Why not send Wayne LaPierre and his believers with their arsenal of so-called assault weapons to put them down? After all, I’ve also been hearing that the purpose of those so-called assault weapons is to protect us all.

Who better for this job than Mr. LaPierre and his defenders of liberty and freedom?

Don Nogg, Omaha

Help with flat was a lifesaver

On Jan. 12, I had a flat tire on Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Greenwood, Neb. I was accompanied by a female friend and a frightened chihuahua. It was getting dark and the wind chill was below zero. At 77 years of age, I hadn’t changed a tire in 20 years.

A Nebraska state trooper stopped and tried to help me change the tire, but my emergency equipment was unusable. Our trooper called for help and waited with us until the repair service arrived. He helped the serviceman change the tire in the frigid wind and didn’t leave us until we were safely back on the road.

My friend and I cannot thank these two gentlemen enough for saving us from what could very well have been a life-threatening situation. This was the first time in my life that I have felt comforted by a flashing red light in my rearview mirror.

Don Gappa, Plattsmouth, Neb.

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