Letters for June 1, 2017


Remembering those lost on the USS Liberty

Fifty years have now passed into history since the murderous and unconscionable attack on the USS Liberty (GTR-5) in the Mediterranean Sea off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967, the fourth day of what would become known as the Six-Day War.   Israeli fighter jets flew out of the afternoon sun to strafe, bomb and drop napalm on the virtually defenseless U.S. reconnaissance ship.

Three Israeli torpedo boats picked up where the air force left off, strafing Liberty’s decks with machine guns and launching six torpedoes at Liberty.  Fortunately only one found its mark blowing a 39-foot hole in its starboard side, otherwise the ship would have been sunk with 294 officers and crew.

When the smoke cleared, 34 sailors were dead and 171 wounded, including the captain (CDR William McGonagle) who, although severely wounded, refused to leave the bridge.  Only the bravery and resolve of the captain, officers and crew (to a man) kept the Liberty afloat.

Liberty managed an SOS to our 6th Fleet and two aircraft carriers (America and Saratoga) launched squadrons of fighter-bombers but they were recalled before reaching Liberty. When Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis (Commander of America’s battle group) protested the recall, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara responded that “President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.”

For half a century no U.S. President or Congress has attempted to hold Israel fully accountable for this shameless and unforgivable act of aggression.  Israel always maintained it was a case of “mistaken identity” believing the Liberty was an Egyptian freighter, the El Quseir, (which was one/fourth the displacement and looked nothing like the Liberty).  This also despite the fact Liberty was flying the 13-foot holiday flag, the ship’s designation (GTR-5) clearly printed on both sides of her bow and USS Liberty clearly printed across her stern.   The Israelis lied, and American has always been willing to accept that lie.

USS Liberty is likely America’s most decorated warship, earning a Congressional Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, 38 Silver or Bronze Stars, the Presidential Unit Citation and an incredible 205 Purple Hearts. Still, most Americans have never heard of the Liberty (or the attack) thanks to our government in collusion with the national media keeping the matter censored. Even the two largest military organizations (the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars) failed to even mention the incident in their June magazines this year. Seems we prefer, and are determined, to have our middle east foreign policy dictated to us by Tel Aviv supported by the Israeli lobby in our own Congress… shame on us.

I was aboard one of Liberty’s sister ships, USS Jamestown (GTR-3) on that fateful day in 1967. We had just left Singapore to cross the equator before resuming our station off the coast of Vietnam. My battle station was the 50-caliber machine gun, starboard side, aft. As with the Liberty, these four gun mounts would be the first to go in battle conditions.

This will be my last letter regarding the USS Liberty.   It’s for younger generations to try and right the wrongs done to us or that we negligently inflict upon ourselves through our own apathy and ignorance.

It’s been painful for Liberty survivors and the families of those lost never to have experienced satisfactory closure to this unnecessary loss of life. To those who died in battle on June 8, 1967, or who have since passed on, RIP.   To keep faith with them and their loved ones, we who served on the  day that catastrophe occurred think often of the USS Liberty and we will always and well remember your bravery and your sacrifice.


David L. Snell — Franklin, N.C.

President Trump’s behavior ‘not normal’

Sometimes a situation has to get worse before it can get better. A light has to be shone on a dark side to see the imperfections. I am hoping this is what is happening in our country today. Like a nasty, infected splinter that needs to be opened and cleaned before it can get better. It is a painful process, but it can get better with the right care.

Donald Trump has helped to show us the ugly side of America through promoting attacks both physically and verbally on anyone that is somehow different. This is wrong.

He does not tell the truth and is angered by anyone that would dare to call attention to his lies. He says it’s “fake news.”  This is wrong.

He compliments and engages with our adversaries both openly and secretly, while endangering our relationships with our allies. This is wrong.

While traveling this week Mr. Trump danced with the king of Saudi Arabia (the country of 17 of the 9/11 terrorists), shoved a leader to the side to get to the front of the photo opp, and lectured our allies while praising our adversaries.

This is not normal.

And yet, I see and hear Republicans supporting him, all because they are hoping to ride that “trump train” to fulfill their agenda of cutting taxes for the rich, taking health care from millions, reducing coverage of Medicaid and Medicare and hushed plans for destroying Social Security by borrowing trillions to fund wars and failed economic policies.

So how do we clean up this nasty, oozing, pus filled wound infecting our country?

We must:

• Speak up – support others that are being mistreated.

• Be kind.

• Stand strong and go the distance.

• Read and be informed- don’t just take their word.

• Support candidates that have the best interest of the working class citizens in mind.

• Be actively involved in your community and the political process.

• Vote – Your vote matters.

We can be the change that will help our country come back from this “edge of the cliff “moment in history.We can become a nation that is kinder, values all its people, values our natural resources, and most of all values the truth.


Barbara Pangle — Franklin, N.C.

Belief systems colliding with science

Bob Wilson (Religion, politics must come to terms with science, May 25 ) is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own “facts.” He stated that “the Catholic church has accepted evolution some time ago, ” which is patently false. The Catholic Church holds no official position on the theory of creation or evolution, leaving the specifics of either theistic evolution or literal creationism to the individual within certain parameters established by the Church. Then Bob attempts to define what all “creationists” believe, ignoring the fact that creationists often disagree on many of the issues he lists while still believing in creation vs. evolution.

Bob next tells us that “Creationists must turn to magic to explain their belief system,” One could easily say the same for Darwinists, who try to pull rabbits out of a hat when they ask us to believe that their theory, which has never been replicated and for which contrary evidence abounds, is somehow the product of “science” without the requisite evidence required to prove their assumptions. The scientific method traditionally has required experimental observation and replication. The fact that macroevolution (as distinct from microevolution) has never been observed would seem to exclude it from the domain of true science. Even Ernst Mayr, the dean of living evolutionists, longtime professor of biology at Harvard, who has alleged that evolution is a “simple fact,” nevertheless agrees that it is an “historical science” for which “laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques” by which to explain it. One can never actually see evolution in action. And, if “laws and experiments” are inappropriate to explain evolution, what is? Hunches? Assumptions?

Next, Bob fails to mention that the fossil record is completely bereft of “transitional” fossils, which should litter the earth if evolution was a fact. Instead we see different, or aligned species, with no intermediate fossils to support their theory. The entire history of evolution from the evolution of life from non-life to the evolution of vertebrates from invertebrates to the evolution of man from the ape is strikingly devoid of intermediates: the links are all missing in the fossil record, just as they are in the present world.  Other gaps are abundant, with no real transitional series anywhere. A very bitter opponent of creation science, paleontologist Niles Eldredge, has acknowledged that there is little, if any, evidence of evolutionary transitions in the fossil record. Instead, things remain the same! It is a simple ineluctable truth that virtually all members of a biota remain basically stable, with minor fluctuations, throughout their durations. There are many variations of cats and dogs, but no “dats” or “cogs.”

Since there is no real scientific evidence that evolution is occurring at present or ever occurred in the past, it is reasonable to conclude that evolution is not a fact of science, as many claim. In fact, it is not even science at all, but an arbitrary system built upon faith in universal naturalism. A system built upon faith: Bob, that sounds like a religion! The real issue is, as noted before, is whether there is any observable evidence that evolution is occurring now or has ever occurred in the past. As we have seen, even evolutionists have to acknowledge that this type of real scientific evidence for evolution does not exist.

In no way does the idea of particles-to-people evolution meet the long-accepted criteria of a scientific theory. There are no such evolutionary transitions that have ever been observed in the fossil record of the past; and the universal law of entropy seems to make it impossible on any significant scale. Evolutionists claim that evolution is a scientific fact, but they almost always lose scientific debates with creationist scientists. Accordingly, most evolutionists now decline opportunities for scientific debates, preferring instead to make unilateral attacks on creationists. The question is, just why do they need to counter the creationist message? Why are they so adamantly committed to anti-creationism?

The fact is that evolutionists believe in evolution because they want to. It is their desire at all costs to explain the origin of everything without a Creator. Evolutionism is thus intrinsically an atheistic religion. Some may prefer to call it humanism, and “new age” evolutionists place it in the context of some form of pantheism, but they all amount to the same thing. Whether atheism or humanism (or even pantheism), the purpose is to eliminate a personal God from any active role in the origin of the universe and all its components, including man.

The core of the humanistic philosophy is naturalism – the proposition that the natural world proceeds according to its own internal dynamics, without divine or supernatural control or guidance, and that we human beings are creations of that process. It is instructive to recall that the philosophers of the early humanistic movement debated as to which term more adequately described their position: humanism or naturalism. The two concepts are complementary and inseparable. Since both naturalism and humanism exclude God from science or any other active function in the creation or maintenance of life and the universe in general, it is very obvious that their position is nothing but atheism. And atheism, no less than theism, is a religion! Even doctrinaire-atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins admits that atheism cannot be proved to be true. And neither can evolution be proven, even if Bob Wilson accepts it on “faith.”


Richard Moore — Sylva, N.C.

Is healthcare a right or a privilege?

Time is elapsing and before we know it, our current government leaders will be making a decision that will affect millions of lives. We have become ever so more aware of the question “Is healthcare an American right or is it a privilege?”

It concerns me that millions of individuals will either be excluded from coverage or will be given unattainable premium requirements. Why is the Senate secretly developing the AHCA without input from citizens, women or even their Democratic colleagues across the aisle?

My first impression is Medicaid will not affect me.  However, I have had friends being placed in nursing homes, going through their insurance and Medicare coverage only to be met with the necessity of relying on Medicaid to cover their remaining days in a skilled care facility.

Children with long term disabilities often require medicaid resources to assist with child care as the years continue.

I could not wait to “come of age” to get on Medicare where pre-existing conditions did not affect how I was to be cared for.  My monthly insurance premium was $1,700 per month and I could not apply to other insurance carriers because of my past history requiring heart medications.  Medicare has made my life more manageable cost wise.

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to all Americans if we could find a way to spread Medicare to all?

When it comes to tax breaks, are lower income folks thinking those tax breaks will really reach them?  I think not, unless you are the very wealthy who will no longer be required to help defray expenses for those who do not have millions in their pockets.

Women will be made to carry a higher price for being “female,” such as no coverage for contraception, maybe needing to be placed in a high-risk pool if they have pre-existing conditions.  Will previous C-sections be listed as pre-existing?  When Planned Parenthood is no longer available, where will women without insurance find medical care?

For years, we have heard the clarion call to repeal and replace Obamacare.

What exactly are the specific goals for the dramatic change?  When the ACA was initiated, the intent was to provide as much coverage as possible to as many people as possible.  Now, it seems the intent is to give millions of dollars back to the very wealthy, remove care that may be expensive for the insurers and alter tax credits for older age groups.

It isn’t too late for each person to express their concern for the changes that are about to be made that may affect the individual, the family member or the friend.  Many voices can make  a difference.  I ask our senators: “Please, make our existing ACA better, do not start over.  Consider the American individual and how the proposed AHCA policies will affect him/her.”


Marleen Salo — Highlands, N.C.

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