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Today's conservatism is not compassionate

The term "compassionate conservative" has always been a source of bemusement for me. The notion that conservatism needed a friendly adjective always gave me a chuckle. But today's conservatism is not at all compassionate, or funny.

Long ago, liberals were accused of being "bleeding hearts." They introduced a security net for the retired and elderly in the form of Social Security and Medicare and later Medicaid, to assist the poor. Legislation was passed over conservative opposition. To this day, liberals getting credit for assisting others is a bitter pill to swallow and a political nightmare.

Conservatives now spare no effort in their attempts to alter or eliminate these programs, hypocritically screaming about cost, unconcerned that a vast majority of Americans pay for and depend on these programs. Floundering in incoherent excuses, they won't discuss under their watch deficit borrowing in order to pay for unfunded wars, billions lost to defense contractors and trillions more to pay for lowering tax rates on millionaires. Furthermore, unethical pledges to lobbyist Grover Norquist to never raise taxes beg constitutional questions.

With the Supreme Court allowing unlimited amounts of money to flow into politics by wealthy, tax-free corporations, does it surprise anyone that they scratch each other's back, continually rewarding each other at the expense of the poor and middle class? Wonder why Occupy Wall Street is so popular? The right votes no to minimum wage, no to extending unemployment insurance, no to taxing millionaires, no to jobs, no to infrastructure spending, no to bank regulation. It votes yes, however, to big bonuses and pensions for itself and yes to voter suppression of all suspected opposition groups. Compassion, indeed! Don't blink. One-party rule is fast approaching.

Leonard Gross

East Amherst

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Turnout for Rieu was disappointing

Ralph Wilson Stadium and First Niagara Center are packed for sports events. What a black mark for Buffalonians that a first-class, world-renowned performance by Andre Rieu had whole sections of vacant seats. This program was delightful, with patriotic, classical and spiritual selections. The music, vocals and humor were top-notch and enthusiastically enjoyed by patrons. Of course, the arena holds probably 21,000 people and one wouldn't expect every seat to be filled, but we could have done better.

Elinor Bernacki

Williamsville

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Do-not-call registry needed for politicians

The biggest issue among voters, as witnessed at voting places and general discussion, is the barrage of phone calls being placed by politicians and political action groups of all shapes and sizes to home phones. People, including the elderly, nursing home residents and potentially sleeping babies, are constantly harassed by marketing of political candidates and parties, receiving up to a dozen calls daily at all times of the day and evening, starting months before and building to Election Day.

So here's a solution. A grass-roots movement for a do-not-call registry so an individual phone number can be placed on a list similar to the do-not-call sales registry currently in effect. This would have a slim chance of passing, however, because it is the politicians who are the perpetrators of the nuisances, who have already exempted themselves from statutes, who would need to vote the regulation into existence and law. And yes, legislation is before Congress now to expand these phone calls to cell phones.

But we can ask a candidate to pledge that if asked to do so, she or he would direct the "political machinery" to honor the do-not-call request. This would go a long way to honor the voter, ensure privacy, require candidates to inform voters of the issues without the abusive telephone harassment and bring back some integrity into running for office.

Barry E. Weinstein

Amherst

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Kudos to mother fighting for her son

On Sept. 8, 2009, a local Marine paid the ultimate price for his country. At the young age of 30, Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Kenefick already had 12 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Kenefick and his fellow Marines, surrounded by Afghan rebels in a fight for their lives, eventually lost their lives needlessly. Semper Fi (always faithful) is what U.S. Marines are all about.

But an ever stronger bond was at work after Kenefick's death -- a mother's love for her son. Susan Price wanted to know why her son was abandoned when he requested air support and it was denied. After two years, and with the help of another local mother who happens to be a U.S. congresswoman, heads are finally rolling, and deservingly so. Never underestimate the love and determination of a mother.

Kudos also go out to Rep. Kathleen Hochul. As a first-year congresswoman, she could have deferred or been persuaded not to make waves. I have a feeling the two mothers bonded and fought for Kenefick and his fellow Marines who lost their lives on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Now these mothers are carrying on the young Marines' fight in the halls of Washington. Semper Fi, ladies.

Phil Ryan

U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam Veteran

West Seneca

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Obama wastes millions on green-energy firms

President Obama and his administration want to raise taxes. They completely ignore the wasteful and uncontrollable spending of the federal government.

Recently two green-energy companies (Solyndra and Beacon Power) received government loan guarantees totaling $574 million. Because the administration wants green energy and because of its close relationship with the owners of these companies, the government made risky loans and the taxpayers are out $574 million.

This is an abuse of government intervention into the free market. When the government invests our money, it doesn't worry about sound business practices, but rather politics and power. The government doesn't care about losing our money, it only cares about losing our votes. Just think about how many people could have been fed with that $574 million. Waste is rampant in our government.

John Orlowski

Amherst

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Why is hunting allowed in a wildlife refuge?

A refuge is defined as "protection or shelter, as from danger or hardship" or "a place providing protection or shelter." The recent tragic death of a young hunter raised a question. How could people be hunting on a wildlife refuge?

Frank Needham

Angola