Let's get to the bottom? of attack on consulate

I am responding to the Oct. 17 News editorial concerning the tragedy at the Libyan consulate. It said that, as president, Obama is accountable for this disaster, which is true and undeniable. On the other hand, it tried to blunt the level of criticism at Obama by implying that President George W. Bush ignored warnings of an impending terror attack in 2001 and that Republicans in the House voted to cut security funding in the budget, thereby forcing the State Department to deny the consulate request for additional security.

Yes, there were several responsible cuts in a bloated budget that had to be done, but it did not leave the State Department with a zero balance. According to columnist Byron York, even though the State Department denied a request for an increase in funding for consulate security in Libya, it approved a request from U.S. diplomats in Vienna to spend $108,000 to buy a charging station for its new fleet of Chevy Volts – part of what the Obama administration calls the "greening of the embassy." This seems to indicate quite patently a skewing of priorities.

In a similar vein, Edward Klein, author of the best seller "The Amateur," reported that he discovered that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton originally approved these requests but was turned down by someone in the White House. Who and why? We have four Americans dead and a consulate burned down and for two weeks the administration blamed it on a video? This is a blatant cover-up and a political scandal of massive proportions that The News tries to minimize. Instead it should be calling for congressional action to get to the bottom of this.

John R. Consedine



Mentally ill refugees ?must be turned away

Without meaning to sound like I have no compassion, I wondered, after reading the Oct. 20 News article about the work of Vive La Casa, why the United States would even consider granting permanent refugee status to someone who is so mentally ill he requires $900 for weekly psychiatric drugs, which adds up to a whopping $46,800 a year. Someone who behaves aggressively to the very people who try to help him. Someone who is so ill he cannot begin to hold a job, live on his own or interact with people.

Why would we be expected to take on that never-ending expense when we have so many others to help? Is there any reason we simply cannot say "no" to people who appear after having entered our country illegally? Uphold the laws – give us a break.

Barbara Lion



Kleinhans should stop? over-amplifying sound

It is an absurd situation when Kleinhans Music Hall, one of the supreme acoustic spaces in the nation, is being knocked for problems with its sound system. And yet the problems are real, as Mary Kunz Goldman's Oct. 20 article reveals. It's emblematic of the larger cultural problem that almost all of our musical entertainment nowadays is badly or over-amplified. I attended the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's final Pops concert last season, which featured some Broadway musical comedy singers. At times, the BPO was so heavily amplifieded (even the brass and percussion) that the singers could only fitfully cut through the volume, much less make their lyrics understood. How sad and how unnecessary!

It's time that sound technicians start to realize that "less is more" when it comes to sound design in a perfect acoustical room like Kleinhans. It can't just be the tech people, however, who make these decisions; the conducting staff needs to be intimately involved with the process. Otherwise, the musical director is ceding the issues of balance and dynamics to non-musicians.

Another key issue is rehearsal time. There's usually less rehearsal allotted for Pops programs than for those on the Symphony series. Thus, the very concerts where sound issues need to be addressed generally have the least amount of time in which to solve them.

Trust the hall; Eliel and Eero Saarinen knew what they were doing when they designed Kleinhans. Years ago, I performed there in a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." During my big solo, my mic cut out. And yet, without any electronic help, I could be heard in the balcony. If that beautiful room allowed me to be heard, there's no reason why Wynonna or Three Dog Night shouldn't be shown off to best advantage at Kleinhans as well.

Michael Harris



Romney's motivation ?is personal wealth

We hear a lot of talk about Mitt Romney's experience as a job creator, but I caution you to not be fooled by the sound bite. Let's take a look at the true motivation for his success in the business world. He was not driven by any deep ideological conviction that the creation of jobs was good for the strength of the nation. His motivation was wealth. And it wasn't national wealth, but personal wealth. His tenure at Bain Capital shows a mixed record of creating jobs and also of eliminating them or "off-shoring" them. And those decisions were based on how that action would affect his personal wealth.

National wealth, as measured by our gross domestic product, is the result of working people who provide goods and services that have value. A prosperous middle class that is producing and consuming those goods and services will build a stronger economy than talking points from the right.

James Kolbe



County residents can't? afford another tax hike

Thanks to The News for exposing the high-dollar cost of health care subsidized by the taxpayers. Between the county, city and Buffalo School District, the cost burden averages about $14,000 per year per person for current employees and retirees. For retirees, this is in addition to their state tax-free pensions, and for current employees, in addition to their salaries and wages. The total is approximately $300 million.

On top of all this, County Executive Mark Poloncarz wants a tax increase. I think it is about time that the taxpayers get a break for a change. In this troubled economy, it is time to take a fresh, new look at these abuses.

Richard Speth



Sometimes suicide? is a conscious choice

An Oct. 20 letter to this column used a religious philosopher's argument that most suicides, with some exceptions, are victims, just as one is with cancer or some other physical illness. He concludes they die not by their own choice.

This view, while it may have some merit in a rare case, such as psychosis, robs the person who commits suicide of his or her fundamental human freedom. Suicide can be a conscious and rational act. And it can also be a powerful act of expression. The monk who immolated himself as a protest against war in Vietnam is an example.

Trying to explain why a person takes this path is never easy, but let's view it from a humanistic, psychological perspective rather than vague religious sentimentality.

Richard Leva