Junk, obsolete, cheap-shot political terms
Whenever an overzealous Democrat characterizes the Republican Party as "fascist," everyone cries foul. Use of that word is not only archaic, it's the cheapest of cheap shots. Point taken.
So, maybe it's time for overzealous Republicans to discontinue their use of the word "socialist" against Democrats.
Marxist socialism collapsed with the Soviet Union over 20 years ago to be replaced by global capitalism. There are a few strange vestiges of Marxism remaining, namely Cuba and North Korea.
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China is Marxist in name only. Nowadays, Chinese students are attending colleges in the United States are purchasing Jaguars and BMWs. They sure don't look like Marxists.
There is also Fabian socialism in a few places, mostly Scandinavian countries. Tony Blair dismantled the old Fabian socialist platform in Britain 20 years ago.
India practiced this strain of socialism until about 1991. Most Americans don't know Fabian socialism from Marxism, though. It's gotten to be as rare as Marxism.
There are capitalist oligarchies in the world today, like Brazil and Russia. That's definitely not Marxism. So, let's talk about what's going on in this century.
Starting Gate for all
In regards to the Dec. 24 article about the Starting Gate after-school program: Starting Gate is open to all students in the schools where our program is offered.
While we make efforts to reach horse-industry families and children to ensure they are aware of our services, the program is open to all middle-school students.
As the director of the program, I feel that the original article incorrectly states that our focus is only on horse-farm families and children.
The fact that our program is open to everyone is mentioned as an afterthought at the end of the article. Prior to that, there are five different places where the writer states that our program is specifically for agriculture and horse-farm families.
Furthermore, at no time did I mention that horse-farm kids are behind their peers, which is also stated twice in the article. This is not a fair representation of our participant population nor is it an accurate portrayal of our student challenges.
The program actually originated targeting backstretch workers at the Belmont Racetrack in Elmont, N.Y. — not horse farm workers in Belmont, N.Y. These are not the same thing.
Although working with photographer Pablo Alcala was wonderful, and we appreciate the opportunity for others to learn about our program, I am disappointed with the article and how our services were represented.
Starting Gate executive director
Good first step
Regarding Sen. Mitch McConnell's Dec. 26 column about health care reform: What does he propose as an alternative?
The United States is the only fully developed country on the planet without guaranteed universal health care. We spend close to twice as much per patient on average with far worse outcomes. We have higher rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity and infant mortality.
The rest of the developed world sees health care as a right, not as a privilege to those who can afford it.
America has a long way to go to reach universal health care for all, but Obamacare is a good first step, if we would just allow it to succeed.
New York, N.Y.
Flood insurance rising
Annual flood insurance rates are costing as much as annual mortgage payments. Congress, which is considering legislation to provide relief, was not aware of the significant increase in insurance rates for properties in flood-prone areas.
This has affected small-business owners and those with second homes or a primary residence and vacation rental property or long-term rental properties.
While it may be hard to sympathize with someone who has a second home, in this economy some property owners have had to move for employment and have rented out their home that could not be sold. Renting was the alternative to foreclosure.
This is not about high-end waterfront homes; many homes are near small streams and creeks. There are proposed amendments in Congress to reduce the massive increase; however, none of the proposed amendments cover all property owners.
Without a reduction in the flood insurance rates, many homes will be foreclosed upon due to the inability to afford the increase on top of homeowner's insurance.
Those affected by these increases should express their concerns to their senators and representatives.
Harpers Ferry, W. Va.
I am very concerned about the closing of the Florence Crittenton Home. My mother, the late Nancy Clay Kavanaugh, was executive director of the home for 15 years, retiring in 1969.
Although I never knew their real names, I got to know many of the girls and saw firsthand how their lives were turned around.
I do hope that this venerable home and grounds can be used for some purpose that benefits the community.
Joan Kavanaugh Lesueur
Better Baker films
I do not know about the other two films in the Bruce Weber collection that Rich Heldenfeld of the Akron Beacon Journal recommended in a Dec. 27 article.
However the film he gives top billing — Let's Get Lost — is not the best way to learn about jazz genius Chesney "Chet" Baker.
This rather exploitative documentary, made when Baker was on his last legs, is an injustice to Baker who, with no offense to any musician of any color, was the first white trumpet player who could both sing and play.
He changed the way a trumpet could sound; it is magnificent to hear him play.
Baker sang through his trumpet and he predicted that people like Kenny G. would come after — cotton candy for the ears — with much of the ensuing soft jazz first being run through all sound systems and synthesizers now available for recording.
I recommend Candy, in which Baker is interviewed by Red Mitchell and Chet Baker — Live at Ronnie Scott's, which includes interviews with Elvis Costello and Van Morrison. One might want to read Deep In a Dream by James Gavin.
Baker had a lot of problems but he was a gift to jazz, so much so that when he died every jazz club in Paris closed down for the night.
If you are familiar with Baker, by all means see Let's Get Lost, but it is rather judgmental and not much of a tribute to this late jazz genius.