Recognitions


Orlando Sentinel best letters to the editor of 2015 - No to War - Noel J. Munson



Letters and Op-Eds

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72– DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, January 7, 2016
A CLIMATE SCARE
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71 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, November 9, 2015
PYRAMID OF DISBELIEF
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70 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, August 8, 2015
QUIT COMPLAINING – ACT TO CURB ABORTIONS
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69 – ORLANDO SENTINEL, MY WORD section, JULY 14, 2015 

NO HAPPY ENDING, BRING TROOPS HOME

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68 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, March 19, 2015
HOAX IS WEARING THIN
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67 – ORLANDO SENTINEL, March 11, 2015

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66 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, December 6, 2014
RUSH TO JUDGMENT
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65 – ORLANDO SENTINEL MY WORD section, October 22, 2014

LET THE MIDEAST DO ITS OWN FIGHTING
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64 – ORLANDO SENTINEL MY WORD section, August 8, 2014
OVERPOPULATION FAST APPROACHING NONFICTION
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63 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, April 23, 2014
MONEY UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY
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62 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, April 19, 2014
CAMPAIGN-CASH, RICH
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61 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, February 9, 2014
GOOD REASON WHY OBAMACARE'S A MESS
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60 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, December 8, 2013
SYMBOLS OR SUBSTANCE
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59 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, November 4, 2013
REPUBLICANS ONLY CRITICIZE
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58 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, September 24, 2013
REGULATION REALITY CHECK
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57 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, August 20, 2013
THE NEXT GREAT EXTINCTION
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56 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, July 16, 2013
RESIST ALL FORMS OF BIGOTRY
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55 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, June 5, 2013
POLITICAL STORM WARNING
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54 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, April 9, 2013
IF WE ALL CARRIED GUNS
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53 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, February 24, 2013
SENATE SHOULD DO ITS DUTY
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52 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, January 19, 2013
GET REAL ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE
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51 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, December 8, 2012
GOODBYE TO WOULD-BE SECEDERS
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50 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, August 21, 2012
IN DISCOURSE, REASON ALWAYS BEATS INVECTIVE
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49 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, August 3, 2012
OPINION DISGUISED AS FACT
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48 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, June 28, 2012
STRIKE REGULATORY BALANCE
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47 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, June 28, 2012
IS IT GUNS OR PEOPLE
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46 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, May 15, 2012
STRIKE REGULATORY BALANCE
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45 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, April 5, 2012
UNDERSTANDING COMMUNISM
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44 - ORLANDO SENTINEL MY WORD section, April 2, 2012 
FOUNDERS HAD THEIR TIME, THIS IS OURS
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43 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, February 29, 2012
OUR COUNTRY'S FUTURE PLAYS SECOND FIDDLE TO IDEOLOGY
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42 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, January 10, 2012
RELIGION'S PLACE IN POLITICS
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41 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, November 20, 2011

RICH WILL FEEL THE EFFECTS IF THE MIDDLE CLASS DECLINES

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40 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, September 1, 2011
AMERICA IS PAYING HIGH COST FOR DEMOCRATS' NAIVETE
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39 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, July 28, 2011
STANDOFF CAUSES MIXED EMOTIONS
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38 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, January 6, 2011
TAKE THE LOSS TO STOP THE WAR
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37 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, August 20, 2010
TERM LIMITS A GOOD SOLUTION

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36 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, May 3, 2010
HEADS IN THE SAND
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35 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, February 27, 2010
FAIR AND BALANCED DUMBING
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34 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, December 31, 2009
PATRIOTISM VS. POLITICS
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33 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, December 1, 2009

SENIORS, STEP UP

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32 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, November 2, 2009
WISHFUL WARRING
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31 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, September 15, 2009
LESSON OF AFGHANISTAN
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30 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, August 23, 2009 

WHEN WINNING IS EVERYTHING EXCEPT RIGHT

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29 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, August 5, 2009
POLITICS OF CRUELTY
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28 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, July 20, 2009
TWO PARTIES OR ONE
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27 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, June 28, 2009
OFF THE WALL
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26 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, June 16, 2009
HUMBLING HUMANITY
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25 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, April 11, 2009
WALL OF IDEOLOGY
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24 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, December 30, 2008
HARDSHIP WITHOUT GAS TAX
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23 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, September 12, 2008
AT OUR OWN PERIL
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22 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, July 8, 2008
NEWS-SPEAK ON OIL DRILLING
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21 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, May 28, 2008
NEGOTIATING, BUSH STYLE
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20 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, April 12, 2008
WHAT PRICE DENIAL?
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19 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, February 17, 2008
ENERGY 'POLICY'
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18 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, November 18, 2007
BEWARE OF SLEEPING GIANT
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17 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, June 30, 2007
RELIGION AND STEM-CELL RESEARCH
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16 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, May 8, 2007
ERR ON WHICH SIDE?
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15 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, March 17, 2007
CONVENIENT REASONING AND FIRINGS
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14 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, January 19, 2007
TRUE THREAT TO WAY OF LIFE IN U.S.
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13 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, November 17, 2006
RESPECT FOR PRESIDENCY BUT WITH EYES WIDE OPEN
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12 -DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, October 8, 2006
HELPFUL OR HURTING?
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11 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, September 26, 2006 

TWO SIDES TO UNDERSTANDING

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10 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, August 27, 2006
AMERICA LOSING SCIENTISTS
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9 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, June 24, 2006
DEMOCRACY AT WORK
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8 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, April 29, 2006
U.S. OWES IRAN A FIRM WARNING
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7 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, March 1, 2006
U.S. DIDN'T SIGN ON FOR CIVIL WAR
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6 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, December 11, 2005
TIME TO CHECK, CHANGE
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5 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, Sept. 16, 2005
WEEPING MOM'S POTENT MESSAGE
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4 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, Friday, July 22, 2005
THE KEY TO KARL ROVE'S SUCCESS
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3 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, May 22, 2005
BLAME ON BOTH SIDES
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2 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Community Voices, March 17, 2005
THE FAULT, DEAR BRUTUS, LIES NOT IN THE STARS, BUT CLOSER TO HOME
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1 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, February 12, 2005
CHURCH, STATE SEPARATION

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RECOGNITION

Orlando Sentinel Editorial Staff  

…The art of writing letters is thriving despite the tug of social media. … We've singled out 18 letters that were particularly notable.


NO TO WAR: Noel J. Munson  -  Orlando Sentinel best letters to the editor of 2015

March 11 — It would appear that Middle Eastern countries are finally coming to accept that President Obama has no intention of putting American troops on their ground, that they will have to defend what is clearly their interests not with our troops but with theirs.

 

Egypt has called for a coalition of fellow Arabs to stand up to what has become a serious threat to their collective survival, and many Middle Eastern countries are responding.

 

The more militant among us, those who respond more quickly to pride than reason, fail to recognize how counterproductive (and dangerous) their advocating of greater American intervention is. Illogical as well, in that Muslims fighting Muslims is a much different situation than Muslims fighting Americans. One is people of common interest battling savagery and religious distortion, while the other is Islam standing up to the hated crusaders — which is how our "boots on the ground" would be presented to the vulnerable minds of potential ISIS recruits.

 

Restated: With a commitment of local troops, the danger of ISIS might finally be overcome, while American troops would only encourage more of the easily persuaded to take up arms against us and whatever Middle Eastern country permits us entry.

 We should continue to take the position of no American troops on the ground and reject those voices that would lead us deeper into a quagmire of senseless and never-ending wars that serve only to weaken our nation.

Noel J. Munson of Ponce Inlet bought a vacation home in 2000 and moved here full time in 2003. He and his wife, Carol, team to write books under the names Noel Carroll, John Barr and N.C. Munson. Retired from business in 1985, they sailed the Caribbean each winter until 2000. He is moved to write letters by political missteps and perceived dangers to our way of life. “My feeling is that answers to our nation’s many problems lie in compromise, that neither side has an answer that could not use a touch of the other side’s wisdom.”

 - Return to Op Eds List -

 

LETTERS AND OP-EDS

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72 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, January 7, 2016  

A CLIMATE SCARE

 

I cannot believe Pope Francis has joined the ranks of those misguided “hoaxers” who have the temerity to believe climate change is really a threat. Sad, but true. Reflecting on his hope that the Paris summit on the environment would produce results, the pope said, Every year the problems are getting worse. ... If I may use a strong word, I would say that we are at the limits of suicide.”

 

Is the pope not aware that just about all scientists backed by, or in the employ of, the fossil fuel industry consider climate change nothing more than a scare tactic perpetrated by thousands of the world's scientists, all of whom will readily sell their reputation for a federal grant? Has he not heard of Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe's powerful demonstration on the floor of Congress, where the senator threw a snowball to the Senate floor? (That alone should have ended the matter, and forced all skeptics to hang their heads in shame!)

 

What next? Are we to live in fear of the forward-thinking bastions of morality on the right giving in to such nonsense — for example, radio and TV hosts admitting climate change is real and potentially harmful to not only our country, but to humanity itself?

 

Say it ain't so, Mr. Limbaugh!

 

Noel J. Munson Ponce Inlet

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71 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL, November 9, 2015  

PYRAMID OF DISBELIEF 

 

Dr. Ben Carson might be brilliant as a pediatric surgeon, but he demonstrates a poor understanding of science in general. Even as he at one time could watch bacteria evolve under a microscope, he does not believe in evolution. And even as most of the world's scientists believe climate change is real, he still falls in with the side backed by the fossil fuel industry.

 

And now he offers his belief that the pyramids of Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain, not deceased pharaohs. His fellow Seventh-day Adventists (and most other people of faith) do not agree with him, yet he sticks to this belief. In this he overlooks some critical (and obvious) facts:

 

The Great Pyramid took some 20 years to build. The concept of seven (as in seven years of famine) is vague in the Bible, but it seems reasonable that timing is not on Carson's side.

 

The pyramids were colossal structures but contained little room for storing much of anything. All those years and all that material to store but a tiny amount of grain?

 

The pyramids were designed to allow an inner burial chamber with narrow paths to it that were substantially destroyed after burial to keep thieves from stealing the treasures within. It didn't work, but what sense does it make to seal grain within the pyramid, then attempt to keep starving citizens from getting to it?

 

I like Carson personally, but it is frightening to think that a thought process that invents truths then passionately pursues them with little apparent thought, could be anything but damaging to our increasingly fragile nation.

 

Noel J. Munson Ponce Inlet

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70 - ORLANDO SENTINEL, August 8, 2015   

QUIT COMPLAINING – ACT TO CURB ABORTIONS  

Abortion opponents too often ignore what might work to reduce abortions, while welfare opponents too often ignore what might work to reduce dependence on welfare.

The state of Colorado has had in place an aggressive — and successful — family-planning program for the past six years. It offers teens and poor women free intrauterine devices and other implants that prevent pregnancy. It has reduced both abortions and welfare, more than 40 percent reductions in both.

It is, however, unlikely to be seen as a solution by the intractable — those set in opposition to any form of birth control. Such people, so it would seem, would rather complain than cure, in particular when it rubs up against their religious assumptions.

What sense does it make to reject a workable program like this when such rejection invites unwanted pregnancies (and the welfare this engenders) plus the inevitable abortions that accompany so many of them?

Go figure.

Noel J. Munson Ponce Inlet

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69 – ORLANDO SENTINEL, JULY 14, 2015  

NO HAPPY ENDING, BRING TROOPS HOME:  MY WORD

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By Noel J. Munson 

Columnist: Let the barbarians in Iraq fight it out among themselves.

 

Our Iraqi "allies" run away from battles, leaving behind U.S.-supplied tanks, artillery and other weapons for use by our common enemy. We back officers who are corrupt and incompetent and troops who show little willingness to fight for their country — this after more than a decade of U.S. training.

 

And now we are going to send more American youth to "train" them? And spend more money that we do not have?

 

How much longer should we bother? Of what value is our going in to do their fighting for them? None but the willfully naive believes American troops will not be involved in the fighting and dying.

 

We would be backing one side of a thousand-year-old war, a side we don't particularly like. It is a Middle Eastern version of our old Hatfields and McCoys, in this case fighting an endless battle over what kind of Islam should be considered more Islam than the other. Our presence there is a recruiting tool for an enemy eager to promote us as the dreaded crusaders.

 

Yet congressional hawks (and ambitious politicians seeking the presidency) would have us waste more lives and wealth on a senseless battle that is unlikely to ever produce a situation to America's liking. I wonder how many of these brave hawks would hold to their views if it involved committing their loved ones to the slaughter? Or themselves.

 

Weaken our country through a Quixotic effort in the name of what? American exceptionalism?

 

President Gerald Ford showed a wiser side of American exceptionalism when he allowed South Vietnam to fall rather than send in more troops. Had he not done this, we likely would still be fighting in Southeast Asia — assuming we had any young men and women left to do the fighting.

 

This venture into Middle Eastern affairs will end badly no matter what we do. Bring the troops home. Let the barbarians fight it out among themselves. It is their nightmare, not ours.

 

There will be time to deal with what is left of the area after the worst of these fanatics have left the scene.

 

Noel J. Munson lives in Ponce Inlet.

Copyright © 2015, Orlando Sentinel

 

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68 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  March 19, 2015

HOAX IS WEARING THIN.  

Congratulations are in order for those politicians and industry spokesmen who are proving so successful in convincing an easily-conned public that climate change is not something that need concern them. “The jury is still out,” they say, “You can all relax (and, of course, continue to support fossil fuels).” 

These parasites will likely live their lives never knowing (or perhaps never caring about) the condemnation that will be heaped on them by the young of today, those who will come to realize that these spokesmen are as morally bankrupt as were executives of tobacco companies who swore before Congress that they did not believe smoking is harmful to human health. The jury was not still out then (except for those who wanted to believe they could continue to smoke with impunity), and the jury is not out now regarding climate change. It is happening as we speak, and the consequences (including cost) of doing nothing about it are increasing. 

A good sign: We don’t hear “Drill, baby, drill” so much anymore. Perhaps the “hoaxers” have been infected by a touch of reality.

Noel J. Munson  Ponce Inlet

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67 – ORLANDO SENTINEL: March 11, 2015

REASON MAY WIN OVER PRIDE IN “NO TROOPS ON THE GROUND DECISION”: Say no to more war. 

It would appear that Middle Eastern countries are finally coming to accept that President Obama has no intention of putting American troops on their ground, that they will have to defend what is clearly their interests not with our troops but with theirs.

Egypt has called for a coalition of fellow Arabs to stand up to what has become a serious threat to their collective survival, and many Middle Eastern countries are responding.

The more militant among us, those who respond more quickly to pride than reason, fail to recognize how counterproductive (and dangerous) their advocating of greater American intervention is. Illogical as well, in that Muslims fighting Muslims is a much different situation than Muslims fighting Americans. One is people of common interest battling savagery and religious distortion, while the other is Islam standing up to the hated crusaders — which is how our "boots on the ground" would be presented to the vulnerable minds of potential ISIS recruits.

Restated: With a commitment of local troops, the danger of ISIS might finally be overcome, while American troops would only encourage more of the easily persuaded to take up arms against us and whatever Middle Eastern country permits us entry.

We should continue to take the position of no American troops on the ground and reject those voices that would lead us deeper into a quagmire of senseless and never-ending wars that serve only to weaken our nation.

Noel J. Munson Ponce Inlet

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66 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  December 6, 2014

RUSH TO JUDGMENT

Michael Brown should not have died. That he did suggests something went drastically wrong, that reaction to his behavior was extreme.

This does not mean, however, that Brown was in the right, or that he should be held up as an exemplary black man who, through no fault of his own, suffered a gross injustice. This large man was a bully, one who — on camera — intimidated a man half his size for daring to protest the thievery of that small man’s property (the cigars).

And if the testimony and physical evidence presented to the grand jury are to be even partially believed, this young man accosted a police officer — certainly verbally, but likely physically as well. That the police officer might have gone too far in his reaction forgives none of that.

Then we have a few football players, all black and all deciding to take sides without giving real thought to the evidence. How can we ever have a meaningful conversation on race (coupled with real change) if people allow themselves to decide based entirely on personal bias? Racism is racism, regardless of the color of the perpetrator. A lot of wrong happened in Ferguson that night, but it was multicolored.

Perhaps equally important, how many of these angry Ferguson citizens — people who are in the majority in this city — voted in the last council election, voted for leaders who appoint and supervise the police force? Those who didn’t have no right to complain about an all-white council.

Someday we will gain control over our bias and think justice, not black and white. We will consider facts when someone is harmed by another, not automatically side with color. If this does not happen, justice will not be served, and a stubborn problem will perpetuate.

Noel J. Munson

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65 – ORLANDO SENTINEL  MY WORD section, October 22, 2014  Let the Mideast do its own fighting: My Word

By Noel J. Munson 

 

 

It's time for America to get out of the Middle East's way.

 

U.S. Sen. John McCain keeps repeating that we had the Iraq war won. But did we? McCain sees a battle (the "surge"), in which we pushed both sides of a 1,000-year war far enough apart to temporarily stop them from trying to destroy one another.

 

Sunnis and Shiites are determined to wipe out one another, and the presence of Americans makes them want to kill the infidel crusaders who dare get in their way. Had we succumbed to McCain's myopic vision of success in Iraq and left a large force in that country, we would have had to cope with the loss of American lives and treasure for our lifetime and the lifetimes of generations of Americans to come. Some victory.

 

It is time to remove us from the equation, get out of the way and let these dangerous fanatics fight it out among themselves. At the very least, leaving would eliminate us as the jihadist's favorite recruiting tool. They do not like us, do not want us there and will turn against us in a flash once we are no longer useful to them. These are not people easily persuaded by American protestations of freedom and liberty. Had we not tried to "free" them from Saddam Hussein, we would not be in this mess.

 

Iran arrogantly proclaimed that "we will not fight America's war for them." I say let us test this. Let us keep troops, equipment and money out of Iraq and watch what happens as Iran's enemy approaches Iranian borders on its way to destroying what Iran had hoped would be a fellow Shiite nation. Take this a step further, and we have Iran protecting itself and its Shiite pals in Iraq from extermination using money Iran had hoped to put toward a nuclear program.

 

Then watch the Saudis, arguably the biggest of the region's troublemakers as far as financing jihad goes. Let them and all who lend them support exhaust themselves in their neverendingSunni and Shiite wars. When the smoke clears and all sides are exhausted, there will be time then to consider whether any action on the part of the United States is warranted, or even useful.

 

As part of this strategy, we need finally to come to grips with the dangers in relying so heavily on such people for our energy needs. As we should have done in 1973 (the first oil crisis), we should initiate a crash campaign to get off oil, similar to the effort to beat the Russians to the moon. Our continued reluctance to do so is resulting in American dollars financing wars against Americans. That should be somebody's definition of insanity.

 

Noel J. Munson lives in Ponce Inlet.

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64 – ORLANDO SENTINEL  MY WORD section, August 8, 2014

Overpopulation fast approaching nonfiction: My Word

 By Noel J. Munson  

 

Dan Brown, in his novel "Inferno," suggests a world population growing so rapidly that it must lead to the extinction of the human race. The intent of the antagonist is to dramatically reduce the population through a contrived pandemic and thus save the species.

 

Fiction, but uncomfortably close to possible. The world currently accommodates some 7 billion souls, with predictions of up to 10 billion before this century ends. Since Earth is not growing in proportion to its most destructive residents, this means more oxygen-producing land must be cleared to make room for them and the food they will need to survive. It also means faster depletion of animals and fish, each already threatened by an attitude that imagines they will always be there, that we can consume today and consider the consequences tomorrow.http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/images/pixel.gifhttp://articles.orlandosentinel.com/images/pixel.gif

 

Consider the air all these additional people will need to breathe, air to which we daily add more of the products of civilization — carbon dioxide and methane. Additional contamination is an inevitable consequence of additional people, reflecting not only their needs but their desires as well, desires that demand manufactured goods even as such products do further damage to the atmosphere. Contamination leads to climate change, and climate change threatens farmland and property, bringing drought to areas where water is badly needed and storms to areas already flooded.

 

Notwithstanding the certainty of failure should we allow world population to go unchecked, there are attitudes, mostly religious, that continue to encourage growth. Often these same attitudes discourage birth control, not only of the severity of abortion, but of simple family planning. It is as if such people believe God is a parochial thinker, slow to catch on to the dangers of continuing to flood his world with people.

 

Will Brown's novel prove to be prophetic? Can we humans only be saved by a massive pandemic (or whatever else might serve to dramatically cull us)? Or will we awaken in time to the inherent dangers here and act to safeguard ourselves and our species?

 

Considering the level of disagreement in the world today, not only abroad, but here in the United States where ideology narrows one's sense of cooperation and reason, acting in time does not seem likely.

 

Noel J. Munson lives in Ponce Inlet.

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63 – DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: April 23, 2014

Money undermines democracy.  by Noel J. Munson

 

Allowing money to influence politics is not only eroding our once great democracy, but is bringing the rest of the world to look upon us as strong on rhetoric but weak on substance. There are some who applaud the latest Supreme Court decision equating money with free speech, not yet realizing that such “free speech” will ultimately work against them as well. One wonders how quickly their smiles will disappear as finally they come to realize this.

An example of undue influence recently occurred in the state of Georgia (a gun rights state) where a vast majority of its citizens made it known in advance that they did not approve of a gun law proposed and subsequently passed by legislators fearful of the NRA. Restated: Special interests vetoed people’s interests —our government is apparently less “ours” than theirs.

Then there are the forces of denial, where we take comfort from those who say what we wish to hear: “Climate change is a hoax,” and “We have the best medical system in the world.” (The World Health Organization shows us first only in cost. It ranks us 37th in benefits — what we get for that high cost.)

We wave banners and proclaim ourselves the envy of the world, even as we slip ever further into the kind of careless disregard that brought down the empires of the past. Naivete and arrogance are corroding our democratic system. What was once a great democracy is easing more and more into the realm of wishful thinking.

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62 - ORLANDO SENTINEL  Letters to the editor: April 19, 2014

Campaign-cash, rich.  by Noel J. Munson

A while back, the Supreme Court decided that corporations were people and, as such, enjoyed the same right to freedom of speech as humans. The result was a flood of money into political campaigns, little of it benefiting our democracy.

The court has now, by a 5-to-4 decision along party lines, taken this a step further. The court has declared that an aggregate limit on an individual's contributions to political candidates and parties will no longer apply.

Now the ultra-rich will have free rein to flood our eyes and ears with whatever they believe will influence us to vote in a manner most beneficial to them. And whether their claims are true or not will matter little.

Enough of us will fall for their misrepresentations to cause the U.S. government to represent them more so than us. "We the people" will have an entirely new meaning.

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61 - ORLANDO SENTINEL  Letters to the editor: February 9, 2014

Good reason why Obamacare’s a mess.  by Noel J. Munson

 

In business, when a major decision is to be made, a good chief executive officer will listen to arguments from both sides, then make a decision.

At that point, everyone — including those who opposed the idea — is expected to get behind the decision and make it work. If the employees spend too much time criticizing — or worse, act to sabotage — it, they are invited to search for employment elsewhere. Such unity is necessary if anything of consequence is to be properly done.

 

The Obamacare mess is the result of politicians who operate in a contrary manner, where the victorious side is left to work out the problems (and enjoy the spoils) by themselves, while the other side retreats to the sidelines to spend time and effort, not in getting behind the decision and helping to make it the best it can be (read: best serve the people), but trying to make it fail.

 

Is it any wonder that this piece of legislation is in such a mess? With a political system such as ours, is it any wonder that our country is in such a mess?

Obamacare is a mixture of incompetent, self-serving Democrats and mean-spirited, self-serving Republicans. And while the politicians battle for favor and position, the people they are supposed to serve are left to suffer.

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60 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: December 8, 2013

Symbols or substance?  by Noel J. Munson

“Patriots” are storming the palace doors! Brandishing such an honorable title, how can we refuse to let them in? What harm is there in doing so?

Perhaps considerable harm. 

Borrowed words do not make a patriot. Nor do they suggest the claimant understands what real patriotism is. Claims of “patriotism” and “freedom” are all too often tools used to cloak extreme views. Let these people in, and you might have a problem getting them to leave when their real intent surfaces.

Patriotism is not about wearing a flag in one’s lapel or flying a star-spangled banner outside one’s door.

Wearing or flying flags does not entitle one to ignore what those icons of freedom stand for. Patriotism is substance, not symbols, and it is by substance that groups or individuals should be measured. 

This is a bipartisan issue. The illusion of wallowing in patriotism invades the assumptions of both right and left. What, for example, does “return to the constitution” really mean? Return to my preferences while restricting yours? That you are less “patriotic” if you choose your interpretation over mine?

And what does Moveon.org mean? Move on to what? More crushing debt, more expensive and unmanageable ideas that have the capability of smothering our economy? (Why do we think God will protect us from the consequences of our overindulgences? What country of this world has ever managed to escape hardship as their manageable debt grew to unmanageable proportions?)

Are self-proclaimed patriots reasonable people thinking reasonably? The odds are better than fair that they are not.

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59 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: November 4, 2013

 REPUBLICANS ONLY CRITICIZE, by Noel J. Munson

I read with a sense of irony a recent comment by an opponent of Obamacare. It said simply, “It is really sad that people can’t even be truthful to themselves.” The irony was in arguing only conservative points, much of which have more to do with spin than “truth.”

Closer to “truth” is the way Obamacare, which admittedly has flaws that must be addressed, is being attacked. It is mostly politics, with the far right pushing whatever point, large or small, might help their desperate attempt to deny this president a signature legislative success.

The problem of health care in this country is huge and needs to be fixed, and the right’s refusal to participate (other than to pick apart anything the opposition proposes) proves once again that government of, by and for the people is not their primary concern.

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58 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: September 24, 2013

REGULATION REALITY CHECK by Noel Munson

 

There is too much regulation in the United States. There is too little regulation in the United States. Both statements are true.

We have all felt the draining effects of unnecessary bureaucracy, but we have also all felt the effects of too little control, for example, over the financial industry, when laxity led to the financial collapse of 2007-8 and is still a concern today. The lesson here, which will likely be ignored by those seeing black or white with nothing in between, is not that “regulation” is bad and therefore we should swing the pendulum hard the other way. It is that corrections need to be made in both directions.

But meaningful corrections can only come from honest brokers, people who don’t systematically reject anything contrary to what they have decided to believe.

What we need is not passionate cries of “deregulate now,” but real patriots willing to work together to install or remove regulation, based on our country’s best interests.

Here is a test of whether such patriots can be found: How many of us are willing to admit the problem is as much ours as the other guy’s?

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57 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: August 20, 2013

THE NEXT GREAT EXTINCTION by Noel Munson

Two hundred million years ago, God rubbed his jaw in thought and decided he had grown weary of the creatures populating his Earth (apparently it wasn't the first time he did this). A few well-placed supervolcanoes and three-quarters of Earth's creatures were wiped out. That opened the way for the dinosaurs. But after 136 million years, God again rubbed his jaw and, presto, the dinos were out and we were in. With the way we are managing our affairs down here, and considering our poor attention to the maintenance of his Earth, would it really surprise anyone to discover that he is again rubbing his jaw?

(I wonder what kind of creatures will come next.)

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56 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: July 16, 2013

 RESIST ALL FORMS OF BIGOTRY by Noel Munson

I am deeply offended by the cries of Jesse Jackson and the NAACP for civil action against George Zimmerman because a basic right of Trayvon Martin (i.e. life) has been denied. Where were these people when the basic rights of the two human beings O.J. Simpson was accused of killing were denied? If the outrage over Martin is due to perceptions of injustice, why now and not then? 

Passions rise on both sides of the argument when the subject touches even lightly on race. As is unfortunately necessary when discussing this subject, in particular when the argument does not follow "politically correct" opinion, the speaker (or writer, in this case) must defend himself against suspicions of bigotry. In that regard, I offer the following: My father was a strong supporter of civil rights, even in the 1940s when it more reflected conscience than conformity to a trendy movement. I was thus immersed in the concept of civil rights from birth, at times too willing to forgive errant behavior once I learned of the perpetrator's dark skin. My final maturity came after the O.J. Simpson trial. There the verdict more reflected resentment of police errors (and bigotry) than revulsion at the brutal slaughter of two human beings. 

Our fear of attaching nasty brands to ourselves makes us ineffective in tackling the problem. Racism of any kind is wrong. When someone makes a decision, good or bad, based on the color of one's skin rather than the content of one's character, they are racist. This applies to all races, including those suffering more than their share of injustice. 

I was taught to hate racism, but that to me meant hating it wherever I found it, and regardless of the race, religion, color or sexual preference of the person practicing it.

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55 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: June 5, 2013

 POLITICAL STORM WARNING by Noel Munson

The problem with sincerely-held beliefs is that people proclaiming them imagine that only they are allowed to have them. But regardless of which side lays claim to sincerely held beliefs, opinion voiced with passion has a tendency to blind one to reality, as horse blinders limit the vision of these less-obnoxious animals. 

The fanatics (in this case from the far right) are blindly pushing their party toward self-immolation, uncaring or unknowing of the damage they do. And the few voices calling for caution are branded (as am I) as RINOs (Republicans in name only), or as something else suggesting traitors to the "cause." Try to imagine the damage such narrow thinking will do if it worms its way back into power. 

A perfect example is found in the issue of climate control, where any rhetoric that dares to deviate from the conservative ideological bible is branded as heresy. I have heard conservatives on TV invent science then broadcast it as indisputable fact, such as when an anchor on "The Five" (Fox News) announced that more powerful storms are not associated with global warming. His comment, "So that issue is dead." Having proclaimed it, he (and many in his audience) now assume it to be fact, which I, as a Republican, am supposed to get behind. Restated: I should surrender my sense of reason to fanatical ideology. 

The science in the more-intense-storm issue is elementary. Warm air holds more moisture, transferring energy and water vapor to the atmosphere, which results in more intense dispensing of that energy and water; i.e. storms. Sandy was a shocker, but it will not be the last one.

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54 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: April 9, 2013

IF WE ALL CARRIED GUNS by Noel Munson

If we all carried guns, the homicide rate in this country would rise dramatically. This might more easily be seen through the use of extreme examples: Picture elementary school kids coming "packing" to class (which some argue they have the right to do under the Second Amendment); young men carrying their "peacemakers" into bars on Saturday night; or those experiencing road rage carrying their anger to extremes. This is not a matter of the weak protecting themselves against the strong; it is people with temporarily inflamed emotions having the means to carry out fatally flawed decisions. 

The signs point to Americans continuing to die by gun at a rate that horrifies more civilized countries. And continuing to point fingers at all but the obvious, that we have an unrealistic attitude toward guns, that we place their acquisition and brandishing above domestic tranquility. 

I cannot imagine any god wanting to take credit for the likes of us. We are so easily deceived, most often by ourselves as we seize on weak logic that aids what we wish to believe. We are like lemmings heading for a cliff and convincing ourselves, as we run, that we will learn to fly before we get to the edge.

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53 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: February 24, 2013

 SENATE SHOULD DO ITS DUTY by Noel Munson

There are important posts in our courts and in our government that remain unfilled, this notwithstanding an urgent need to do so. There is no explanation for this other than it happens to serve the interests of individual lawmakers, who appear once again to be giving only lip service to their oath to serve and defend the Constitution. With all the negatives of politics so recently exposed, one would think they would at long last feel shame. The Constitution calls for the Senate as a body to "advise and consent" on presidential nominations, from judge up to secretary, yet one senator can hold up any such nomination for any reason, declared or undeclared. And there are 100 senators, each with a different agenda. Is this what our founding fathers intended?

And did our founding fathers intend "advise and consent" to be a license to pressure an administration to act on an unrelated matter (as in the case of Benghazi)? 

To those claiming Obama is walking all over the Constitution, don't you see a bit of hypocrisy in this?

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52 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: January 19, 2013

GET REAL ABOUT GUN VIOLENCEby Noel Munson

A friend sought to admonish me for my "unrealistic" approach to gun control, stating that he will not allow me to stand behind him as he defends himself against a madman firing into a crowd. That got me to thinking. I thought of the Aurora, Colo., movie-theater massacre, of the 12 people killed and the others either wounded or exposed to an irrational shooter. If my friend had been there, would some of those 12 have survived? 

Maybe, but at what cost? 

Picture, if you will, a dark theater and a madman opening up on the audience. Then picture hundreds of people exercising their Second Amendment rights by carrying loaded guns into the theater. Finally, picture these people reacting to gunshots and screams by pulling out their guns and firing at the madman (or at least his gun flashes, since it was too dark to see clearly). Since it is likely no one in the theater was expecting this, it is fair to assume some confusion. 

You have hundreds of people firing at a madman, or at least thinking they are. In reality, they are confused at best and firing at gun flashes. Hundreds of Second Amendment advocates shooting off deadly bullets in a crowded theater, without knowing for sure who they were shooting at! And this is without taking into account that the Aurora shooter set off a canister of what might have been tear gas before beginning his rampage, thus making it virtually impossible to know bad guy from good. 

It seems fair to say that more than 12 people would have been killed. 

More "good" people carrying guns will not make us safer. Quite the contrary. It will put all of us, good and bad alike, in greater peril.

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51 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: December 8, 2012

GOODBYE TO WOULD-BE SECEDERSby Noel Munson

Some deep-thinking people in Texas have found a way to lift us from our post-election blues. They have offered to leave the union. 

Think of it: No more Rick Perry, no more cruelly distorted science textbooks, no more hip-shooting with gut-feel replacing reason — the list goes on and on. Securing the border would be more difficult (installing a fence between us and Texas, so they could not come across without proper documentation), but we would no longer have to worry about the boundary between Texas and the nation touching its southern border. And we would have fewer complaints about their former American colleagues not following the Texas interpretation of the Constitution. They can devise a new one, and re-interpret it daily. 

There's more: If we handle this correctly, like making it look attractive rather than an idiotic overreaction to not having gotten their way in the last election, we can rid ourselves of far-right extremists from other states, the type who wrap themselves in American flags, clutch Bibles and guns and give themselves deceiving names, like "Patriots" and "Freedom Fighters." For this, we can rent billboards all over the country, filling half with assurances of how much we would hate to lose them, and the other half with giant pictures of Obama. 

Think about it, a Solid South that might begin thinking beyond one issue. 

I caution that opportunity can be as quickly withdrawn. To keep this from happening, we need to act quickly. A good start might be to apply the same methodology as they are using: Petition the president and urge him to agree quickly lest they withdraw the offer. Use common sense, however. Millions of Americans calling the Oval Office at the same time could cause a system breakdown.

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50 - ORLANDO SENTINEL - OPINION SECTION: Letters to the Editor August 21, 2012

In discourse, reason always beats invective  By Noel Munson

It is true that even the most extreme voices can offer serious argument that should be considered. That is, considered by people with a sense of reason that exceeds their bias.

The problem with any such rhetoric is in the way it is presented. When practically every line offers more vitriol than fact, it drives all but the choir away from the writer's point.

How much more effective would a right- or left-wing host be if he came across as reasonable rather than as an unapologetic, impossibly-biased windbag?

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49 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: August 3, 2012

 Opinion disguised as fact  By Noel Munson

We seize on the Bible and the Constitution to "prove" that what we want to believe has divine or founding-father backing. When people yell "Let's get our freedom back!" what they really mean is "Let's accept only my interpretation of the Bible and the Constitution!" 

Our gun laws are ridiculous; the entire world looks at us with either alarm or amusement. Yet we permit our Wild West culture to go on and on, debating the subject for only a short time after something like Aurora, Colo., happens. 

It is the nature of denial to ignore hard evidence.

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48 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: June 28, 2012

 Strike regulatory balance  By Noel Munson 

In discussing voter eligibility in Florida, we talk around the problem rather than addressing it head-on, most of us taking an extreme view that all but ensures that the real issue will not be part of the debate. 

Few will disagree that only American citizens should be permitted to vote, but there is a very big question about how to ensure this. Both sides show more concern for their ideology than in protecting either our system or their neighbor's right to vote. 

The Republicans are tainted in both timing and motive -- they have pulled this stunt in earlier elections. Their timing is convenient -- they bring it up so close to an election that many legitimate voters will be unable to find their way to the polls. And if they succeed, they will all but ensure that the Democrats' base will be weakened, due to people being too confused or too discouraged to vote in November. Restated, with a little work and some clever oratory spin, support for their opponents will weaken. 

The Democrats, on the other hand, are too intent in excusing (or ignoring) those who would take advantage of a weak system to vote their own interests. Restated, Democrats are too ready to be politically correct in the face of illegal/improper behavior, in large part because the product of this behavior will benefit them. They are equally as conniving as the Republicans. 

As I read each side's argument, I become ever more fearful that our country will not survive these bad (and getting worse) times and that fewer and fewer of us will take even a baby step toward understanding the other side's position. Indeed, more obvious is that few of us are all that interested in even understanding the problem.

Reality, however, is that the intractability of the players is pushing that "perfect world" further away.

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47 - ORLANDO SENTINEL - OPINION SECTION: Letters to the Editor June 28, 2012

Is it guns or people?  By Noel Munson

Those worshipping at the feet of the National Rifle Association are believers in the slogan: "Guns do not kill people; people kill people."  Yet, to serve the NRA's ideology of the moment, it professes that the Fast and Furious guns are what killed that border agent, not the drug lords who wielded them.

Truth bends so easily when it comes up against ideology.

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46 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: May 15, 2012

 Strike regulatory balance  By Noel Munson 

Ideology puts blinders on those who too heavily rely on it to guide their lives. Reason becomes secondary, if even that. This mess with JPMorgan Chase's multi-billion-dollar loss, with what it suggests for the possibility of another of history's financial "panics," proves some regulation is necessary. The danger, however, is that this could swing the regulatory pendulum, not to the center where it belongs, but to the opposite extreme. While too little investment invites disaster, too much regulation stifles the economy. 

The left now feels strengthened in their argument for more regulation, while the unrepentant right is redoubling their efforts to prove regulation is closer to the problem than the solution. The truth, however, if ever we can calm the rhetoric long enough to consider it, lies somewhere in between. 

In a perfect world, men and women of reason would sit down to honest debate over how much government regulation is best for each situation. In a perfect world this would exclude undue influence from party, religion or lobbyists. In a perfect world, we would develop solutions that help more than hurt, solutions that bring balance to economic health vs. disaster avoidance. In a perfect world, those ideologues who consider themselves reasonable and moral would admit a flaw in both, admit that they push for extremes that their head and heart warn against. 

Reality, however, is that the intractability of the players is pushing that "perfect world" further away.

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45 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Letters to the editor: April 5, 2012

 Understanding communism  By Noel Munson

Left or right, we lose our argument when we take liberties with the facts. All this talk about progressives taking us down the slippery road toward communism shows no understanding of history. Communism was not the end result of "creeping socialism," it was revolution prompted by too large a disparity between the haves and the have-nots. 

Russia in 1917 and Cuba in 1959 are good examples of what can happen when too much of a gap develops between the privileged and the less so -- violent revolution, then a painful period of anarchy. In the West, it happened in France and England. 

The widening gap between "job creators" and the middle class is a threat to the American way of life, and if we are really concerned about a drift toward communism, we should focus more on this. Should that gap continue to grow, history tells us that the system we expected would last forever will be in serious jeopardy.

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44 - ORLANDO SENTINEL - OPINION SECTION: April 2, 2012

 Opinion - My Word: Founders had their time, this is ours By Noel Munson

In attempting to guide the present, we tend to place too much emphasis on the past, as if those who lived before us got it so right that it obligates us to forever model our behavior after theirs.

But those who truly want to understand and profit by history can easily see the flaw in this. Our Constitution had to endure a violent beginning, with much shouting and threats attending the rhetoric.

Our Founding Fathers demonstrated even worse bipartisanship and disagreement than we see today, and it was only the importance of the moment that forced upon them the compromise that endures today.

Kudos to them, but that in no way justifies elevating them to the status of gods, where everything they say or do is to be forever revered and never criticized.

They were human like we, and they demonstrated much the same human flaws that we see in our leaders today. That was their time; this is ours.

New constitutions around the world used to imitate ours. No longer. Most now recognize that what was perfect for its time has failed to keep up with new ideas and new demands. Thomas Jefferson appears to agree. In a letter to another founder, James Madison, he said every constitution naturally expires at the end of 19 years, that the Earth belongs always to the living generation.

This does not mean to suggest that we should abandon rules currently in place. The Constitution is meant to protect us from ourselves, from acting too quickly or while wrapped in the heat of emotion. It is more that we should treat it, not as a sacred bible, but as a governing document built by humans to protect what they saw as valuable to their lives.

I believe Jefferson would agree that it is now our lives that this document should serve.

We should appreciate our founders' service, but then build without hesitation or remorse on what they accomplished. Failing to do here what we readily do in every other meaningful endeavor (such as medicine, space, electronics) would forever confine us to a past that few living today would want to trade for the present they currently enjoy.

Noel Munson lives in Ponce Inlet.

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43 - ORLANDO SENTINEL  Letters to the editor: February 29, 2012

Our country's future plays second fiddle to ideology

With both the left and the right constantly maneuvering for votes in elections that increasingly contribute nothing to America's future, the issues that really matter go unattended. We focus on such nonsense as wearing a flag in the lapel or whether our president's birth certificate is flawed, and through it all, our beloved Rome continues to burn.

Is there no one out there who cares more for their country than they do their intractable ideology? Are we so locked in uncompromising beliefs that the success of our country becomes only a secondary concern? Is there at long last no willingness to consider an idea on its merits rather than whether its author comes from the right or the left?

And does anyone really think the next election, regardless of which ideology prevails, will really make a difference?

Noel Munson Ponce Inlet

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42 - ORLANDO SENTINEL  Letters to the editor: January 10, 2012

Religion's place in politics

Rick Santorum makes no secret of his intent to impose conservative Christian law upon America. He apparently thinks it is OK as long as it is his religion and not the other guy's.

Where does the right get such people? People who base strong principles on narrow views, which, to the extent they are taken seriously, all but ensure violence and discord among the people. People who focus on one side of an argument and feel so strongly about what they see that they block out all other views.

The greatest irony is our arrogant assumption that we humans (and in particular we Americans) are God's chosen. Why would a God capable of creating hundreds of billions of solar systems within hundreds of billions of galaxies be impressed with what is leaking out of our tiny piece of the universe?

Noel Munson Ponce Inlet

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41 - ORLANDO SENTINEL  Letters to the editor: November 20, 2011

Rich will feel the effects if the middle class declines

According to a recent government study, the number of people living in either an affluent or a poor neighborhood has doubled in the past four decades. Restated, the middle class is in decline. In reacting to proposed solutions to this, you can argue class warfare or redistribution of wealth, but you would be arguing against yourself.

It is the bottom line that should command the bulk of your attention. We need the purchasing power of our middle class if we are to avoid a serious downturn in our economy with its accompanying effect on our lives.

Left or right, it is important that we recognize in time the importance of restoring our middle class. This country was made great by its strong economic engine, and permitting the cylinders of that engine to deteriorate, for ideological or whatever other reason, is somewhere between foolish and criminal neglect.

For sure, it is not a formula for continued success. Other countries are starting to flex their muscles while we sit on the couch and revel in our scrapbook of past successes. We fiddle while Rome burns. The deterioration of the middle class will even affect the rich, when fewer people are able to buy houses and cars and other profit-building products.

Will the need to restore the middle class be recognized? Perhaps, but more likely ideology will trump reason once again.

Noel Munson Ponce Inlet

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40 - ORLANDO SENTINEL  Letters to the editor: September 1, 2011

America is paying high cost for Democrats' naiveté

Few would deny that our country is in trouble. Not surprising considering that we have a government composed of unrealistic dreamers matched against schemers who are little bothered by compassion.

There has been a perceptible shift to the right in this country, and the Democrats are slow to realize this. They continue to promote an easier life for all without considering the unintended consequences: too many taking too much from too few. In their zeal to push their sweet-sounding philosophy on the public, they fail to note that this same public is awakening to a great unfairness negatively impacting their lives. This is not the rich but the hard-working middle class. These workers do not appreciate others receiving so much of the fruit of their labors.

In addition to negatively affecting those genuinely in need, an unfortunate result is that it strengthens the only alternative, an intractable Republican Party that is clever at winning gullible minds through sound bites ("job-creators" instead of "the rich").

Unless Democrats begin to understand and accept the shifting of public sentiment to the right, and to accept that what they continue to promote may sound good in theory but has been a disaster in practice, the next election will entrench these less-compassionate politicians in power. And they will apply their version of "fair and balanced" in ways that will not be appreciated by those same hard-working Americans who voted them in.

Noel J. Munson Ponce Inlet

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39 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: July 28, 2011

 Standoff causes mixed emotions

Alarmed, as many of us are, and finally awake to the damage we cause by mistaking intransigence for determination, I have communicated with my Republican representatives in Congress, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Sandy Adams. 

My wife and I are registered Republicans who are immensely disappointed with the intractability shown by Adams, Rubio and others whom we thought might represent an improvement in Washington. We did not send them there to represent Grover Norquist; we sent them there to represent us. We definitely did not send them there to do further damage to the American economy. 

As much as we would rather not vote Democratic during the 2012 election, we will do so if default is permitted to happen. Regardless of the spin GOP leaders try to attach to it, we will rightly attribute this disaster to them, and to those others equally as naive about what default means to this nation.

NOEL and CAROL MUNSON 

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38 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: January 6, 2011

 Take the loss to stop the war 

 

The execution of the war against Iraq and Afghanistan has admittedly been badly lacking, but what we need to do now -- and what is critically important to our country -- is to conduct a realistic appraisal of where we are in both countries and what we might expect in the future. These are primitive societies who are far from good candidates for western-style democracy. What we see is what we are likely to get, well into the future. Continuing to deny the reality of this will do harm to us and little or no good to them. 

Drawing on my business background, when a division or even a company is performing poorly and shows little promise of turning around within a decent time frame, you do the best you can to minimize the loss -- but you take the loss. Not to do so would weaken your ability to survive as a viable concern. Not taking the loss now in Iraq and Afghanistan is threatening our survival as a viable country, certainly as the country of our fathers.

NOEL MUNSON 

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37 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: August 20, 2010

 Term limits a good solution

(Brackets are sections of original document omitted by the Journal editor.)

 

It is said that term limits attack a symptom, and not the problem. Perhaps, but remember that legalizing alcohol in the roaring twenties attacked a symptom as well, but enacting it into law caused the "symptom" of associated crime to disappear.  Likewise if we establish term limits, the symptom of "anything goes to get re-elected" will disappear as well. Great good can come out of eliminating the incentive to do for oneself, rather than for the public he or she is supposed to serve. 

Benjamin Franklin, upon being asked what kind of government the Continental Congress decided upon, replied: "A republic, if you can keep it." 

We are rapidly nearing the tipping point, the point at which the "if" will be decided one way or the other. And considering how long this slide toward national oblivion has been taking place, the solution is not simply to replace the people who disappoint us now with the people who disappointed us before. We need a change in thinking. 

We can start by not reacting to a politician's cliché-ridden rhetoric with cheers, as if he or she said something important. Better to greet it with the kind of silence that tells the speaker that [it is not enough, that] "we the people" are no longer willing to settle for rhetorical nonsense in place of unselfish action. 

Term limits are a must if we are going to survive this serious test of our democracy. We need citizen representatives, not a permanent political elite.

NOEL MUNSON 

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36 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: May 3, 2010

 Heads in the sand

 

We Americans have a tendency to argue with the messenger rather than consider seriously what that messenger is trying to tell us. 

Our country seems destined to face serious challenges to our very existence in the not-too-distant future, yet we devote the greater part of our energy to inventing reasons not to act. "Not 100 percent proven," we say. "Our economy can't afford it." We write poems, wave banners and shout slogans about how devoted we are to protecting "the great American way" even as we simultaneously rebel against any suggestion that we must work (and, heaven forbid, sacrifice) to keep it. 

We have had, since the oil crisis of 1973, to come up with a way to protect ourselves against blackmail from the Middle East. Yet, the loudest voices of today cry out not for a crash campaign to develop a cheap and reliable source of the kind of energy needed to keep our economy strong, nor for a surtax on gasoline to promote conservation. No, the loudest voices of today cry, "Drill, baby, drill." (We cheer each time some opportunistic politician raises his or her hands and sings this to the crowd like some mythical Greek siren luring sailors to their death.) 

But then, it is so much easier to go along with the easy fix rather than face reality. Reality is something we can leave to grown-ups.

NOEL MUNSON 

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35 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: February 27, 2010

 Fair and balanced dumbing

 

I am underwhelmed by the devotion of Fox News to fair and balanced reporting on a matter both controversial and critical to us all. 

Global-warming scientists have stated for all to see (except, apparently, Fox) that global warming refers to a year-to-year warming of the planet, and that the unfortunate results of this will be more frequent and more intense weather events. The storms we are seeing throughout the United States at present are consistent with this prediction. This is what we should be teaching our young minds about weather and how it relates to life on this planet. 

But Fox News would rather these vulnerable young (or gullible) minds see a man dressed in shorts and T-shirt standing in deep snow, making fun of Al Gore's book, "An Inconvenient Truth" (while the program's anchor smirks in agreement). The inference (which, I assume they would like young minds to believe) is that if it is snowing heavily outside, global warming must be a myth. 

In addition to showing no recognition of fact, Fox is not even logical. In Australia and other parts of the globe now in summer, it is terribly hot. Until this week, it has affected Vancouver, where, in preparation for the Winter Olympics, the area was so hurting for snow that it spent millions trucking it in. 

Watch Fox News if you must, but please do not do so when innocent children are close enough to see. We do not need a further dumbing down of America.

NOEL MUNSON 

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34 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: December 31, 2009

 Patriotism vs. Politics

Ever since the Democrats took control of Congress during the Bush administration, my party (Republican) has practiced a policy of obstructionism under the theory that any Democratic success threatens its return to power. Its suggestions and counterproposals have been nothing more than attempts to take the starch out of anything the Democrats proposed. 

Health care reform, first proposed by Teddy Roosevelt then tried again by Bill Clinton and now close to success under Barack Obama, includes nothing offered in good faith by the "loyal opposition." Indeed, the same falsehoods, fear tactics and obstructionism used to try to block Social Security and Medicare are now being applied to health insurance reform. (What kind of an argument is it that must rely so heavily on deception?) 

Yes, the polls are showing uncertainty with respect to health care reform, but how much of this is because of such tactics as Republican legislators staring into a camera and saying in regard to seniors, "You'll just have to plan to die sooner"? How much better might this current legislation be had Republicans taken more of an approach of serving the people rather than their political ambitions? 

My party has wound up on the wrong side of history many times in the past yet feels comfortable in trying again (even the reluctantly passed "Prescription Drug Plan" was more of a bone to the pharmaceutical industry than to the elderly). Republicans fought Social Security yet lately pretend to be great defenders of Social Security. Republicans fought Medicare, yet lately pretend to be great defenders of Medicare. In addition to being incredibly hypocritical, this assumes the public has no memory. 

Is the Grand Old Party arrogant enough to believe that, by using such tactics as GOP-contrived tea parties, shout-down-the-speaker town meetings, and gross distortions designed to strike fear into the hearts of the elderly and the weak-minded, they will con enough Americans to carry it off this time? 

With health costs becoming a real problem to our country, not only to an increasing number of its people but to the economy we all depend upon for survival, what pray tell do these people hope to accomplish by sabotaging reform? Do they really think our nation can continue on its current course and survive? Is it enough to be back in office, captains of a sinking ship? 

NOEL MUNSON 

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33 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: December 1, 2009

 Seniors, Step Up

I am by anyone's measure a "senior." This does not mean, however, that I agree with my fellow antediluvians when they argue with a strong sense of indignation that the government should "keep their hands off our Social Security and Medicare." Even worse when they add, "we did our part!" Whatever "part" they speak of, they neglected to pay the bill. 

We took but we did not pay (and the political graveyard is filled with politicians who dared to suggest we should). We lived off a credit card most of our years, yet somehow feel comfortable in handing the bill to our children. Further, we insist they work harder and incur even more debt to insure that our final years are as comfortable as our irresponsibility permitted our earlier years to be. Adding insult to injury, when at the beginning of the 21st century we had a surplus, rather than apply this to our past sins, we took the money and ran. 

Some sacrifice will be needed if we are to bail our country out of its many nation-threatening perils. And we seniors should be first in line to contribute, not last. 

NOEL MUNSON 

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32 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: November 2, 2009

 Wishful Warring

It is likely that the Obama administration will send more troops to Afghanistan even as the emphasis changes to targeting terrorists rather than involving ourselves more deeply in what is increasingly a civil war. The Taliban -- while as evil as humans com -- were never our real enemy. 

But increasing troops for any reason is a halfway measure that will only prolong the inevitable. It continues the waste of lives and wealth, acts as an al-Qaida recruiting tool and stands a good chance of being endless. There is simply no way our war in Afghanistan can end as the "winning-means-everything" mentality would like. 

We are operating under an illusion, the illusion that we can take on an inexhaustible supply of guerrillas using conventional forces. Attempting to do so ignores the fact that we "infidels" are the enemy's best recruiting tool and that while we focus our efforts in Afghanistan, our 21st century enemy has the ability to move from country to country with relative impunity. 

In Lebanon, when we realized we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, President Reagan summarily withdrew our troops. That was humiliating, but it was the right thing to do. It is time to take the high road again and admit what our enemies already know, that we are too impressed with our might and our successes of the past to effectively wage the wars of today. What we need now are political leaders who, like Reagan, see the world as it really is rather than how we would like it to be. 

NOEL MUNSON 

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31 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: September 15, 2009

 Lesson of Afghanistan

The French did badly in Vietnam. We Americans scoffed. Yet we failed as they did. 

The Russians did badly in Afghanistan. We Americans scoffed. They stayed for 12 years; so far we have been there for eight. Our success, however, has been no better than theirs. 

We are not doing our country any good by fighting such wars. We are not doing our country any good by listening to those who shout out brave slogans and speak of "victory" as if this were but another American sport. We must come up with a more mature (and more realistic) national attitude, one that is less inclined to inflame our neighbors and which will make us better able to deal effectively with those who would be our enemy regardless. 

NOEL MUNSON  

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30 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: August 23, 2009

 When Winning Is Everything Except Right

There is a trend in this country by both left and right to consider ideology over substance, even when this is not in the best interests of our country. Those out of power and seeking to get in, in this case Republicans, are trying to score political points by inventing fault in any health care suggestion proposed by a Democrat. It matters little what that suggestion is, only that it presents an opportunity to find (or invent) fault that can, if properly presented, sway public opinion in their favor. Arguments are stretched to the point of malicious deception, such as in the "death panel" invention that had nothing to do with deciding how the elderly should die. Even those "patriots" aware of how false and even malicious this rumor is, try to keep it alive in the hopes of scaring the elderly away from making informed health care decisions. 

If the Right succeeds in torpedoing health care reform, what will it really have achieved -- it proposes no viable alternatives, only business as usual? Do those on the right think this will put an end to the spiraling health care costs that threaten our economy? Or is it enough that they will improve their chances of regaining office? Certainly the latter is a consideration, but is that what their ideology is all about, being at the helm of a sinking ship? 

As American industry falls more and more victim to staggering health care costs, unable to come to agreement on what it will take to turn it around, will those who blocked improvements respond as they did prior to the biggest financial meltdown our country has suffered since the Great Depression? Will they put on a supercilious, know-it-all face and assure us less ideological folks that the market will save us all? 

NOEL MUNSON 

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29 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: August 5, 2009

Politics of Cruelty 

Politics is one thing, but intentionally frightening seniors by presenting a distorted picture of what health care would mean to them is, as the AARP put it, "just plain cruel!" It is not surprising that extreme right-wing news sources would engage in such shock (and schlock) journalism, but how could the leading Republican in the House, John Boehner, and the Republican Policy Committee Chairman, Thaddeus McCotter, take part in this? A strategy to regain office that includes creating fear in the hearts and minds of the elderly through intentional distortions is crossing the line big time. 

You might think reasonable people would scoff at such illogical trash, but a senior during a recent town-hall meeting with Obama publicly voiced her belief that the government would send someone around to tell her when to die. Obama, perhaps foolishly, made a joke of it, but this lady (and other seniors in the audience) really believed this was part of the system being proposed, so distorted was the information they were receiving from Republicans in government and their highly prejudiced news outlets. Feeling good about creating stress in the elderly is the personification of Bush's old "Axis of Evil." 

NOEL MUNSON 

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28 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: July 20, 2009

 Two Parties or One 

It is healthy for our country to have a two-party system. A dominant party permits too much power and, as the saying goes, "power corrupts." The Republicans drifted too far to the right when they had power and the Democrats show signs of doing much the same now that the situation is reversed. Neither side yet realizes that extreme views, if they sell at all, are as quickly rejected by a public weary of extremes. 

Years ago I suggested the country had taken a perceptible shift to the right. This is still true today, even as the extreme right grossly misinterpreted the swing and because of this lost support. It behooves the Democrats to learn from this, to understand that in the last election the public was not looking to shift left so much as it was reacting to the disaster created by ideologues on the far right; i.e. the public will not look kindly on attempts to read the last election as a mandate to shift from one extreme to the other. 

The Republicans, on the other hand, have to reject the extremes of their party, including promoting an unsuitable candidate for high office simply because she satisfies the extremes of an increasingly unrealistic faction of her party. 

NOEL MUNSON  

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27 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: June 28, 2009

 Off The Wall

Things are happening around the world, important things. Iraq, the situation in Iran, a monumental change in the way we look at health care, how we regulate our financial markets. Yet the networks on all sides of the political spectrum are focusing almost full time on Michael Jackson's death. A sad event to be sure, but hardly an earth-shaking event. 

The pictorial scenes, played over and over again, include pictures of the distraught milling about with pained breath and hot tears desperate for another snatch of news. Gratefully, no one has reported seeing Jackson with Elvis. At least not yet. 

Putting aside what happened to this singer, who other than entertain contributed nothing substantial to our lives (other than titillation to the star struck), why should how he ended his life command more of our attention than things that really matter? What hope do we as a species have when we demonstrate with such poignancy our collective superficiality? 

NOEL J. MUNSON

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26 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: June 16, 2009

 Humbling Humanity

My wife and I recently passed a humbling block of time in one of the nation's most picturesque national parks, Bryce Canyon, Utah. Humbling due to the vast amount of evidence revealing to even the skeptical billions of years of Earth's history, years in which we humans played no part. The painstakingly slow carving of these canyons and the sculptures that remain after millions and even billions of years of erosion, point to this incredibly advanced age for our planet that one denies only at serious risk to one's reputation. 

Were we to revisit this spot 100 or even 1,000 years from now, we would likely see no difference, so slow is the process of erosion. But it is happening. We humans practice the conceit of imagining that this is all for us, even as we have been witness to such sculpturing for only a tiny, tiny fraction of the time the wind, rain and water have been carving it. 

Creatures have come and gone during this time, some after hundreds of millions of years of existence (compared with our hundreds of thousands of years). And the way we are going -- overpopulating, polluting our nest, constantly bickering with each other with oftentimes deadly results -- it is unlikely that the next of Earth's many recorded mass extinctions will exclude humans. 

If so, it will be a matter of complete indifference to the Earth. Millions of years from now, new creatures will view this scene, likely dissimilar in appearance to us but perhaps, like us, convinced that Bryce Canyon was created just for them. If it could, the Earth would respond with a chuckle. 

NOEL MUNSON 

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25 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor: April 11, 2009

 Wall of ideology

I vaguely recall that President Richard Nixon, with great fanfare, established a commission to investigate the drug problem of the day (which is also the drug problem of today). When this blue-ribbon commission reported among its recommendations that certain drugs (marijuana, for example) should be legalized, Nixon, in a huff, dismissed the commission. These learned people studied the problem, came to a conclusion then bumped into a wall of ideology. 

As with Prohibition, we take a long time to come to reality, delayed on the way by unrealistic perceptions of what does or does not constitute morality. Putting aside that we cannot legislate morality, common sense should have told us even as long ago as Nixon's day, that we were fighting a battle we had no chance of winning. 

Instead of facing facts, we invent them. For example, we claim that a generation of kids will be lost if we legalize drugs, but we completely ignore that this is happening now because profit-driven drug dealers are seducing children as early as elementary school in order to have hooked customers for the future (General Motors could learn from how well these people look to the long term.) If we eliminate the potential for profit from such despicable acts, we eliminate the despicable act. We will then have only the foolish becoming hooked, and they are inclined to do so anyway. We also eliminate the high cost of policing this despicable act. And we eliminate the greater part of the burglaries, muggings, heists, etc., committed by those desperately trying to get the means of their next fix. 

Finally, we eliminate all the violence on the border. Recognizing, as certainly we should, the human misery we encourage by inaction, the reasonableness in us should react, not with more of the same, but with policies that actually work. There is an inherent contradiction in claiming it is moral to ignore human misery in the name of morality. 

NOEL MUNSON 

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24 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Opinion: Tuesday, December 30, 2008

 Hardship without gas tax

Regarding the suggested raising of the gas tax to curb usage of oil products, we must consider that in a nation of 300 million people, any plan will create hardships for some, but that to focus on those "some" rather than the good that will come of this or any other controversial plan will all but insure that nothing ever gets done. There are ways to provide relief where relief is deserved, but only when other remedies have been exhausted. Which is to say, rich and poor, we are too careless in this country, in our car choices and in our driving habits, and our country suffers as a result. 

To insist on business as usual is to permit the energy crisis to grow in severity. And that is suicidal, both in the destruction it will do to our economy (and thus our way of life) and in the danger it invites upon ourselves as Middle Eastern, oil-producing countries take our carelessly spent dollars and turn them into bullets and bombs. 

NOEL MUNSON 

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23 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for September 12, 2008

 At Our Own Peril

 

My fear, and I think there is little chance we will escape this given our penchant toward parochial thinking (on both sides), is that we will come to see that slowing down stem-cell research will not make us a healthier society, that "letting the market decide" will not prevent financial turmoil with its terrible impact on all levels of society, that preaching abstinence and limiting a woman's choice will not lower either pregnancies or abortions and that looking at the energy situation with little regard to reality (e.g. "drill now!") or recent history (from 1973), will mean that, however much we wear flag pins, or wave bibles, or shout out our feeling that we are the greatest nation in the world, there will come a day when someone from a nation more steeped in reality will knock on our door and say, "no you are not, nor have you been for some time."

 

NOEL MUNSON 

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22 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for July 8, 2008

 News-speak on oil drilling

There is so much deceit coming out of the Bush administration that it brings one to wonder two things: how this administration can toss out obvious fiction and think the public will fall into lock step behind it and how anyone can fail to realize that he is being conned. 

Bush is now pretending that he has been fighting Democrats all along to lift the ban on coastal drilling. It was Reagan (a Republican), however, who introduced the ban, and it was vigorously upheld by George H.W. Bush as president and Jeb Bush as governor of Florida (both of whom were Republicans). So transparent a deception, but would anyone like to place a bet that this Bush news-speak will not only be accepted but perpetuated? 

We cannot use the inconvenience of $4 gasoline to justify stealing our children's future. Yet in insisting on short-term solutions to a long-term problem, we do exactly that; we sacrifice morality in the name of momentary gratification. We caused this problem by our inept management of energy and by failing to recognize 35 years ago that this day would come. And having caused it, we should solve it; i.e., it is we who should be inconvenienced not our children. Bad enough that we are living on money we have no intention of paying back. Bad enough that our children's rite of passage to maturity will include being greeted with a dept so huge that there is little hope they will be able to handle it. 

Bush is questionable, but Sen. John McCain is smart enough to know that offshore or Alaskan drilling is at best window dressing. But then, McCain is running for president, and that has corrupted the morals of many a person. 

NOEL MUNSON 

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21 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for May 28, 2008

 

Negotiating, Bush style

President Bush stated recently in a speech in front of the Israeli Knesset (and thus the entire world) that we should not abide "appeasers," expanding the definition of this to mean those who would hold talks with their enemies. To clarify, he added, "As if some ingenious argument will persuade them they had been wrong all along." 

This explains quite a bit about the lack of success the Bush administration has had in negotiating with foreign powers. Bush apparently considers success in negotiating to be an all-or-nothing proposition, that the goal should be not to work toward an agreement both sides can live with, but to insist that those on the other side admit that "they had been wrong all along." 

That he believes this can be seen in his constant assurances that he is ready to work with both sides of the isle in Congress. He merely neglects to add, "as long as the Democrats admit that they have been wrong all along." 

NOEL MUNSON 

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20 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for April 12, 2008

 What price denial?

Sen. John McCain has commented on the "stain on our character" that would come from a "reckless, irresponsible and premature" withdrawal from Iraq. (Perhaps equaling the "stain on our character" that has come from our "reckless, irresponsible and premature" entry into Iraq). We have grabbed a tiger by the tail, and now McCain's strategy is to hold on no matter what. 

How long before our arms tire? How much damage will we bring to our national body while we await the inevitable, for surely we cannot continue as is, hoping to convince our critics that a temporary lessening of violence in Iraq's capital vindicates our militant stance? 

Wiser is to let go of the tiger and do the best we can to escape the anger we provoked by our earlier foolishness. We have given the warring factions of Iraq ample time to get their act together and have suffered great losses as we waited in vain for this to happen. 

Their bad is if their country suffers as a result of what we will some day come to realize is irrepressible intractability among its citizens. Our bad is if we fail to realize that this intractability is 1,000 years in the making and will continue regardless of what a naive superpower might choose to do in defense of what it regards as its honor. 

NOEL MUNSON 

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19 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for Sunday, February 17, 2008

 Energy 'policy' 

Whatever slithers into power next January, Republican or Democrat, has to come up with a better energy policy than we have at present. We have lost another eight years of planning while at the same time let stand a situation whereby our rapidly increasing energy dollars are not staying in the United States to help stimulate our economy but are moving on to the Middle East to fund weapons and fanatics to throw them against us. 

Worse, this senseless war in Iraq is costing us the kind of dollars it would take to fund a mass effort to wean us off oil (and through this to defeat the Middle Eastern terrorists). 

What possible twist of moral reasoning would permit our oil-biased leaders to consider the current "policy" to be in the best interests of their country? 

NOEL MUNSON

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18 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for Sunday, November 18, 2007

 Beware of sleeping giant 

Our status of "superpower" no longer impresses. We have demonstrated quite effectively, through our efforts in Iraq and through careless disregard for foreign opinion in what we do and how we do it, that we are vulnerable, that we can and do make mistakes, and that we are as "human" as the rest of the world in our inability to instantly heal a perceived wrong.

In so demonstrating, and in so encouraging the terrorists that they have more of an opening than before, we must expect an escalation of violence. Having revealed our limitations and our vulnerabilities, it is likely that the terrorists view us as more of a "paper tiger" than a "sleeping giant." It is also likely that many nations around the globe (and many Americans) see us the same way. 

But what they (and we) have to realize is that we truly are a giant, and that we will be awakened should the din around us reach such a level that we will finally say, "Enough." When that happens, the giant will forget his manners; he will react in a way the fanatics did not expect. A man being smothered beneath a pillow will use any means available to save his life. Such will be the case with us. 

When faced with no alternative other than surrender to a dark and primitive force, the sleeping giant in us will fight back using whatever is within our reach. Like a bear called out of hibernation early, the dark side in us will emerge with terrible consequences both to the enemy and to our conscience. This might well involve weapons that will live in infamy in our hearts even as we feel relief that the action we took saved us from imminent suffocation. 

NOEL JOHN MUNSON 

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17 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for Saturday, June 30, 2007

 Religion and stem-cell research 

Re "Bush vetoes stem-cell research bill: President encourages 'ethically responsible' study," article, June 21: 

I suppose our only hope is to require of a prospective president that he show some willingness to represent all of us, that he not be so intractable in his beliefs that he negatively affects his fellow Americans. 

There is a real possibility of gain for humanity in stem-cell research, and we have lost years of promise (thus far) because of one leader's inability to separate his spiritual beliefs from his duty to his fellow citizens. 

Why isn't it equally as valid to assume, not that this stem-cell breakthrough is some kind of test of our morals, but that it is a hint from God that we should employ our (God-given) brain, our curiosity and a promising opportunity to further the cause of his humanity? 

When Ben Franklin went to England to represent the colonies, he was surprised to find people singing on the Sabbath, something that was not permitted in many parts of his own country. Yet nothing bad was happening to these people. Ben said of it, "I am beginning to suspect that the deity is not nearly as angry at the offense of breaking the Sabbath as your average New Englandmagistrate." 

The point is, religious beliefs can vary to the point of absurdity. Our founding fathers recognized the deep resentment that could stem from one group's imposing the finer points of its spiritual beliefs on those who did not share those beliefs. Best for the leader of a free country such as ours that he or she moderate his or her thinking to the point where it does not inadvertently become law imposed upon disbelieving others, which this "reluctance" to conduct research on to-be-discarded embryos has become in a de facto sense. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson) 

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16 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for Tuesday, May 8, 2007 

 Err on which side?

I have spent years trying to decide for myself what to believe and what to doubt about global warming (as opposed to consulting the ideological bible of my party to see what is proper to believe). I have expressed that ambivalence to my friends. Where I am now, however, is doubting the doubters more than the advocates, and as more and more evidence appears to slide to their side of the equation, I become more and more concerned. 

Not for me, since my years will protect me from the worst of our environmental abuses, but for those I leave behind. And I have increasingly fewer doubts that those left behind will someday look back at us with "how could you" contempt. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson) 

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15 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for Saturday, March 17, 2007 

 Convenient reasoning and firings 

The Democrats, embarrassed at being caught conducting U.S. attorney firings during the Clinton years (the same firings they criticize today), are hard at work trying to differentiate "then" from "now." Not a commendable exercise, even as they point out that the authority their Republican counterparts sneaked into the Patriot Act (the one that allowed President Bush to bypass Senate confirmation for "interim appointments") was an evil step above their evil step. 

In a perfect world (which neither party seems anxious to achieve), this practice of trying to shape law through manipulation of prosecutors would be regarded as indefensible. This is but another example of convenient reasoning, where a carefully coifed, perennially smiling politician waves the American banner of freedom even while contemplating abridging that freedom however it best suits his or her ideological purpose. 

Benjamin Franklin, when asked what will our new government be, a kingdom or a republic, answered, "A republic, if you can keep it." Step by tiny step we are proving ourselves incapable of doing so. Proving that even a nation "so conceived and so dedicated" can be lost through cynicism and neglect. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson) 

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14 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for Friday, January 19, 2007

 True threat to way of life in U.S. 

In 1973 we were alerted to the fact that energy as we know it can no longer be regarded as secure, that increasingly we must rely on uncertain others to satisfy our energy needs. 

Thirty-three years later we express indignation over the suggestion that we should restrict our enjoyment of energy-wasting SUVs. Or, for that matter, anything else that our freedom-loving minds insist is a God-given right. 

Even now, with our energy lifeline increasingly in monstrous hands, we show little recognition of the danger facing our nation. We speak of Iraq, of democracy, of gasoline prices that appear to be better for the moment; but seldom do we speak of what it is that truly threatens our nation and our way of life: our unconquerable complacency. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson)

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13 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for November 17, 2006

 Respect for presidency but with eyes wide open 

It has been suggested that we should respect the office of the presidency. I agree. That office means something to Americans and in a sense personifies us all. It has also been suggested that we need to come together as one people with one voice while we fight the war in Iraq. This also makes sense. 

The problem, though, is that the parts to these dogmas do not so easily fit. In Richard Nixon's day, for example, should we have respected the office of the presidency by lowering our eyes and our rhetoric when confronted with his excesses? And should we now agree to further commit our nation's blood and resources solely to present an illusion of unity? 

Such are the weighty matters that keep people of conscience up until the wee hours. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson) 

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12 -DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL OPINION, October 8,2006

 Helping or hurting? 

We advocate staying the course in Iraq in the name of necessity, the need to guard our flanks against the growing threat of terrorism. But is there any chance that what we are doing there will serve this purpose? Daily we discover that the opposite is more likely, that by insisting on maintaining what was a poor approach from the start, we weaken our ability to fight the real enemy, Islamic extremists. 

If a large corporation saw disaster where once it saw hope for a brighter corporate future, it would not hesitate to cut its losses; to do otherwise would be to breach a fiduciary responsibility to its stockholders. It would not try to hang in there simply to con those stockholders into believing it had not made a mistake, that the ongoing drain on company resources is necessary to keep competitors from moving in. I had always thought Republicans were business-savvy. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson) 

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11 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  Letters to the editor for September 26, 2006 

 TWO SIDES TO UNDERSTANDING 

Regarding the Pope's unfortunate reading of Islamic history, I have since seen Muslims rioting, others burning Christian churches. Then I read about their vowing war against "worshipers of the cross." 

What in this disproves the notion that Islam is a religion tainted by violence? What is the logic of our calling for understanding of these fanatics while failing to insist in an equally loud voice that they try to understand us? 

JOHN BARR (Noel Munson) 

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10 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL  OPINION  Sunday, August 27, 2006

 America losing scientists 

What wonders will yet be denied our world through human minds bent by ideology? 

In Singapore, chewing gum is evil, but cloning embryos for stem cell research is not. In America, we lean toward chewing gum. Perhaps both these stalwart demonstrations of human reasoning can be dealt with. 

With an expanding global economy and with our immigration laws so weakened, a serious chewing gum advocate could come to our country to escape the imposition of unreasoned opinion upon his gum. And (as is happening) our most promising scientists can abandon the United States for Singapore's more reasoned approach to stem cell research. Problem solved! 

The thing is, though, that the immigrating chewing gum advocate might benefit our country, whereas the vanishing scientists will definitely not. With them will go all the benefits of their inventions. How many times in history has progress been delayed because the human psyche is so fearful of change? And so certain that the forces of nature and of nature's god will strike them ill for considering it? 

A solid example is the history of smallpox vaccination (1700s). The scientist involved was condemned by clerics as immoral and blasphemous. The concept of vaccination usurped God's power to decide the beginning and end of life. Vaccination was a tool of the devil. How many people died of smallpox as a direct result of such narrow thinking? How many will either die or live less promising lives because such minds still influence matters today? 

I agree with whoever said the administration's policy on stem cell research will keep American science locked in the past. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson) 

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9 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL June 24, 2006

 Democracy at work 

Regarding the recent congressional debate on the war, could it be the real concern of our "leaders," on both the left and the right, is the image they present: somber face, wrapped in a flag and waving a Bible, their most-favored profile turned to the camera as they shoot visual darts at their misguided adversaries? On one side, we have pathetic denial; on the other, a gleam in the advocate's eyes that takes little stock of the lives and resources sacrificed on the path to this brief political advantage. 

Ain't democracy wonderful? 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson)

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8 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL April 29, 2006

 U.S. OWES IRAN A FIRM WARNING 

On Oct. 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy spoke to the nation about the missile crisis in Cuba. One decision in particular stood out to me as difficult for the other side to misinterpret: "It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union." 

The man currently leading Iran is a fanatic weaned on unchallenged propaganda perpetuated by religious despots. We should harbor no doubt that he is capable (and very willing) of inflicting pain and suffering on all he considers Allah's enemies, everyone except Shiite Muslims. The radioactive material he boasts of having developed will find its way to our shores, whether through a nuclear device (still some years off for Iran) or through a "dirty bomb" (which, by Iran's recent announcement, is available now). Bad timing for us, considering the Iraq quagmire we have permitted ourselves to fall into, but we cannot point to this as a reason for ignoring a very real threat to our future, and perhaps to the future of civilization itself. 

It is time for another Kennedyesque promise to an incautious enemy. We should loudly proclaim to the population of Iran that, "it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear material determined to originate in Iran and delivered in any manner to the shores of the United States as an attack by Iran on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory nuclear response upon Iran." 

I do not know the extent to which we can identify the signature (fingerprint) of Iran's uranium, but the danger to Iran will only increase if we have to guess. If it quacks like a duck, if it promises monumental harm to our country then "quacks" as if it is in the process of fulfilling this promise, then we are entitled to regard it as a "duck" and act accordingly. We must give these irresponsible fanatics ample warning that the United States has had enough; that, for us, business will not be as usual; and that we will react quickly and decisively should they cross so much as one toe over this critical line in the sand. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson) 

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7 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL March 1, 2006

 U.S. Didn't Sign on for Civil War 

In response to recent scenes depicting Shiites bombing Sunnis in retaliation for Sunnis bombing Shiites, my wife made the comment that the U.S. military should begin packing its bags. In thinking about it, I realized she had a point, that this could be a way out. 

I recall that during the '60s and early '70s the often-repeated comment that we should declare victory (in Vietnam), then leave. In that spirit, why not climb back on our aircraft and ships and announce over our shoulder as we do so that we did not sign on for an Iraqi civil war, that if this is the best these people can do with their new-found freedom from tyranny and oppression, then they can damn well do it alone. 

This war will not end well no matter what we do, and our inability to bring ourselves to admit this (which is to admit failure) will only add to the final bill. Our leaders (and some of us as well) made a colossal mistake, one that is costing us dearly in resources, in lives and in hopes for a secure future. 

We and much of the civilized world, have for some time been suffering the wrath of illiterate and intractable religious extremists, closed-minded people trained from birth to be tolerant of no thoughts other than their own. Our poorly conceived and poorly executed actions in Iraq, rather than vanquishing the evil they represent, have encouraged and empowered these people, pushing them ever deeper into religious extremism and psychopathic behavior. Every day more young minds are taught hate and murder in fundamentalist Islamic schools and mosques.

Trapped as we are in Iraq, and unable (or unwilling) to attack this at its roots, it is only a matter of time before a new flood of evil joins that already knocking at our shores. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson)  

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6 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Sunday, December 11, 2005

 TIME TO CHECK, CHANGE 

The Democrats must wake to the need for both organization and change. They have to get together and speak with one voice (or at least one theme), and they have to drop the portion of their dogma that no longer sells. There has been an overt shift to the right in this country, and failing to recognize this will doom the Democrats to yet another failure at the polls and the country to a further deterioration of what got us here. 

The electorate is fearful of U.S. Sen. Teddy Kennedy and anyone who looks or sounds like him, as was proved last year when a fresh Democratic nominee could not unseat a seriously weakened president. 

Whatever one's leanings, right or left, one cannot fail to understand and appreciate the value of the middle class in this country. Its members are fading, and with them will go their spending power and its positive effect upon our economy. (That affects the more affluent as well. What value is there in owning stock if fewer and fewer people can buy the company's products?) 

Rather than couple the loss of jobs with a rededication to education (which could create higher-level jobs), we practice political correctness and lower the educational expectations of those whose cultural and/or economic background puts them at a disadvantage. We think it unfair to make them work harder, even when not to do so practically guarantees them a lesser place in society. 

Then we top this all off by proclaiming our new world to be of one religion, tolerant of all the lesser beliefs, to be sure, but worthy of our proclamation because, in this country if not the world, "we" are in the majority. (For the record: There are hundreds if not thousands of Christian groups in this country with none holding a majority.) 

This new world we create in innocence and ignorance is in reality a speedy trip to the past, to the time of the haves and have-nots, to larger and larger pockets of ignorance and the desperate and often distorted ideas (and actions) that stem from this ignorance. And to what has been throughout all of mankind's recorded history, highly destructive and totally senseless battles for supremacy, one religion vs. another. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson)  

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5 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Friday, Sept. 16, 2005

WEEPING MOM'S POTENT MESSAGE 

The loss of a son or daughter in combat strikes me as almost impossible for a parent to bear. Surely more than one life is affected (if not destroyed) by not only the fatality but the sense-lessness of the event. What logic is there in one set of human beings trying so hard to mortally reduce the numbers of an opposing set of human beings? What brass ring of the moment justifies the proud waving of the winner's superior body count? 

Yet I am plagued with the thought of what we might have become had the parents of World War II the same access to publicity as is available to the mother who was protesting in Crawford, Texas. Four hundred thousand of our soldiers died during that horrible conflict, exponentially more than we have lost in the current madness in Iraq. Regardless of one's opinion of the war, consider for a moment the effect of so many mothers exposing their anguish in a way that cannot fail to impress all 300 million of us. 

Consider what the course of events would have been had access to our homes and hearts been so effortless during one of the worst crises we have ever faced. Absorbing a daily dose of passion from 400,000 mothers in rightful anguish, would we have done what was necessary to protect ourselves from the madmen we faced at the time? Would we have thrown our young people into Tarawa, the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa? And in North Africa, Normandy and even Germany itself? And in not doing so, would we have lost the war, maybe "compromised" with Hitler, let him kill only half the Jews and keep only half the world? 

Will we ever be able to face an enemy again, even a real one such as we faced then? Will each set of weeping eyes weaken our resolve that much further? Along with so much else that troubles our conscience these days, this is something we must think about. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson)

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4 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL Friday, July 22, 2005

 THE KEY TO KARL ROVE'S SUCCESS 

Re presidential adviser Karl Rove: Ultimately, it is we the people who must take responsibility for what our political leaders do or say. We are the "Johns" seduced by what they are selling. (Or we are naive about the ability of our democracy to endure complacency.) 

Rove is an exceptionally gifted politician, and he is listened to by many, in particular those who wish to stay in office and are not particularly disturbed by what it takes to keep them there. By definition, though, Rove is exceptionally gifted only when we are exceptionally responsive to his persuasion. Or restated, when we are exceptionally slow in recognizing devious rather than responsible argument.

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson) 

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3 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL May 22, 2005

 BLAME ON BOTH SIDES 

Is the other guy blameless? Newsweek magazine made a mistake; no one argues with that. In declaring this to be so, then exploiting it, social pundits argue "responsibility" (or, in this case, lack thereof). They point to the riots that ensued, the death and destruction that resulted from Newsweek's error. No one can argue with this either. 

But what logic dictates that responsibility is one-sided? Why is there no outcry about the uncivilized behavior of so many thousands (perhaps millions) of people so quick to demonstrate the ease at which they can be inflamed? Why are their actions overlooked, with the blame for the death and destruction they bring to their own people passed on to Newsweek? 

Why do we not share with them our own outrage? Why do we not point out how hypocritical it is that they insist on tolerance of their beliefs while seeing no need to be tolerant of ours? Hypocritical that they view with indifference (or pleasure) the sawing off of a Westerner's head, yet rise with an inflated sense of injustice when a Westerner forces one of them to appear nude in a photograph? Beyond hypocrisy, this demonstrates a set of values that, to our Western eyes, borders on barbarity if not out-and-out evil. Certainly there is nothing there that will aid our efforts to provoke a higher level of civility among the citizens of this crowded world. 

Responsibility is a two-way street; the rioters in the Muslim world are responsible for what they do, not Newsweek magazine. If advocates of Islam (or any of the world's many religions) are so lacking in control of their emotions and so reluctant to educate their people to other than their own point of view, then it is they who must assume the lion's share of the blame. It appears at the moment that they are getting a free ride, that those in the media are fearful of pointing even a tiny finger of evenhandedness their way. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson)

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2 - Community Voices DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL March 17, 2005

 THE FAULT, DEAR BRUTUS, LIES NOT IN THE STARS, BUT CLOSER TO HOME 

By NOEL CARROLL

Federal budgets are rocketing out of sight, with ramifications to our economy that are absolutely frightening, for ourselves as well as for our posterity. How is our government able to pursue policies that openly ignore this? Is it possible that the "informed" electorate, from whom our government receives all power, has its eye on the wrong ball? 

The phrase "weakening of our dollar" may sound esoteric and command little of our thinking, but if this weakening happens too quickly, as now appears likely, it will bring disruptions in jobs and prices throughout America. Many of the items we enjoy today come from abroad, and a weaker dollar will drive up not only the price of imports, but the price of American-made competitive products as well (as the pressure of lower prices from abroad is eased). 

The problem is that we are asking foreign countries to buy more and more dollars to support our debt, or restated, we are asking them to pick up the bill for the spending excesses of Americans. Is it so surprising that they are, at long last, beginning to say no? With our spending habits those of a college student enjoying his first credit card, can you blame them? 

How important is this to the electorate? In the last election the weakening of the U.S. dollar ranked well below the issue of same-sex marriage. 

Interest rates are poised to rise significantly, not only to combat inflation, as the Fed is determined to do, but because of increased competition for dollars between business and a government that needs more and more to cover its debt. Very few of us will escape the results of this. Prices will rise, as will unemployment. Jobs, those needed now and those needed as our children mature, will not be created -- when money is tight and its cost is high, businesses do not invest and jobs are not created. 

How important is this to the electorate? In the last election, keeping "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was deemed more important. 

We have a rapidly growing fuel crisis in this country, and in ignoring it we feed the very people who publicly vow to destroy us. Yet we, the electorate, dare any politician to get in the way of enjoying our gas-guzzling SUVs or suggest higher gas taxes to encourage conservation. Clever politicians, wishing to remain in office and correctly measuring the mood of the people in this, smile obsequiously at our excesses rather than employ the "bully pulpit" to gather us together in a nation-saving cause. 

How important is this to the electorate? In elections since the crisis began in 1973, flag burning was more of an issue. 

An increasingly favorite tactic among politicians is to seize upon issues that require little thought but generate great emotions. The above suggests the electorate accepts these lighter and more transient issues as reason enough for making a voting decision. Such issues are easier to understand; they are promoted by important faces, those of movie stars and rock singers. And who can vote down a person who so strongly defends mother, apple pie and baseball? 

There is a serious stew of problems brewing in our country, and the electorate appears either not to notice, or, if a tug of recognition has begun to leak through, not to consider it their problem. They say, "That's what we hire politicians to do! If they don't work out, we'll throw the bums out and get someone new, someone young and exciting, someone who will tell us what we want to hear and trouble our collective conscience no more!" 

Aware, as a growing number of people are, that there is a crisis that could threaten everything we have managed to secure for ourselves in the 230 years of U.S. history, how do we respond when it next comes time to choose our leaders. Shall it be more of the same; shall we muddle along with our heads stuck in the sand like ostriches, ignorant of the dangers flying at our exposed bodies? Will we nod in meek acquiescence to a clever campaign manager who once again promotes the petty (but emotional) over the critical (but less emotional)? Would anyone like to bet a nickel on this? 

Yet it is both unfair and dishonest to blame the politicians. Politicians are prostitutes, they give their "customers" what they want. Were we "customers" to revise our preference, the prostitutes would assume a new position. We have the choice, we vote them in, we decide what is important, even if it is not. 

Therefore the fault for the mess we are in "lies not in the stars, but in ourselves." 

Carroll (Noel Munson), an author, lives in Ponce Inlet.

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1 - DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL February 12, 2005

 CHURCH, STATE SEPARATION 

One of the wisest things our founding fathers ever did was to recognize the destructive power in religion, specifically the ready willingness of some to do harm to others (from subtle to mortal) who do not share their opinion. 

With thousands of religions competing in today's world, all of them certain without a doubt that they and only they hold the key to the truth, there exists a great potential for conflict between individuals, between groups and between nations. Our founding fathers, recognizing this, wisely elected to declare a separation between that which we can handle and that which we clearly cannot, as history to that point had proven. In a stroke, they removed the impediment for banding together, none of us any longer having to resent his neighbor for being forced to take note of a religious opinion not his own. Restated, we were able to advance our country and the democratic concept without the constant drain of internal turmoil. 

To the extent we forget the past (and indeed, the present, since much of the fighting around the world reflects one religious belief battling another), we sow the seeds of our own destruction. Countries come and go, and to keep ours going, we have to seek the same penchant for wisdom as those who brought it into being. If we do not, then we have only ourselves to blame if, step by tiny step, it begins to crumble. 

NOEL CARROLL (Noel Munson)

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