I'm feeing an old Vietnam-era dread again. To those of us from that generation, a well-worn emotional pattern seems ready to repeat itself; and it ends in rage and frustration.

            You can't compare Vietnam with Iraq, of course, unless you choose to notice a few untidy similarities in the way our political leadership explained the circumstances of both predicaments. They took a vacation from reality with the Vietnam thing, and we shelled out 50,000 lives and untold billions of dollars as a result. Now, it seems, they're at it again.

            They tell us we are waging war on terrorists in Iraq, liberating a victimized people, training a new army, holding free elections, seeding a Democratic nation state, rebuilding an infrastructure, and making the world safer.

            The trouble is, that's not what we're doing.

            Instead, we're in a street fight with a collection of criminals, paid thugs, Muslim extremists, ex-Army malcontents, former students, tribal loyalists, political partisans, foreign invaders, and who knows who else.

            We're also polarizing a victimized people; training and equipping an army that will fracture, desert, or sell itself to the highest bidder as soon as we leave it alone; holding phony elections; seeding a civil war; failing to build much except hatred, and leaving the world no safer.

            As with Vietnam, the majority of Americans will catch on sooner or later, and when the body count, financial outlay, and price of gas get high enough, our Iraq folly will end.

            Jeepers, do you think that before some future administration leads us into a questionable conflict favored by a few ideological policy wonks, they might lay out a complete picture of the risks first and then let us decide what to do?

            Nah, that's a lot to ask for in a representative democracy.

            Gary Gray, Penfield


Few things could be more important to the long-term health, wealth, power, and influence of our country than advances in science and technology. But with the Iraq war and the war on terror dominating the news, such important issues are not getting the attention they deserve. Our community in particular is dependent on success in these areas.

            But our continued leadership in these fields is in jeopardy, according to 48 Nobel Prize-winning scientists. In an Open Letter to the American people, these scientists endorsed John Kerry for president, and criticized the Bush administration for "undermining the foundation of America's future" by impeding medical research, ignoring scientific consensus on issues such as global warming, and under-funding many critically important areas of research.

            They write: "Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important to our collective welfare."

            The nation will benefit greatly by heeding their advice in November.

            Lee Price, Wheatstone Circle, Fairport


Chad Oliveiri mentions that there is "nowhere for people who live downtown to shop for groceries" ("To Market with Downtown," September 22). Not entirely true. Downtown is rich with grocery shopping opportunities that cannot be found at even the large chain supermarkets. We have Asian and Indian markets, Italian imports, delicatessens, the Abundance natural and organic food store, multiple corner stores, mini-marts and convenience stores. The list goes on, but cannot be complete without noting the Rochester Public Market.

            To load up with a cartload of provisions, you probably won't be walking. Supermarkets are a few miles away but are right on the bus line and accessible to everyone downtown. We should remember that there are also plenty of interesting stores downtown where a variety of unique and healthy grocery items can be obtained. These are places worth exploring by everyone, but especially by those living in the center of the city.

            Robert Hayden, Griffith Street, Rochester

            ChadOliveiri's response: I should have been more specific in my question. I was referring to full-service grocery stores --- one-stop shopping options. And Pritchard's answer shows he knows what I was talking about. I agree that Rochester has some amazing small independent grocery stores. But when viewing downtown as the area within the Inner Loop, even those options are limited. You mention Abundance and the Public Market, both of which are fantastic, but they're situated outside of downtown's boundaries.


In response to Willa Powell's letter concerning the difficulty obtaining a Social Security card for her newborn (The Mail, September 29):

            I took my 16-year old daughter to the Social Security office downtown so she could get a card in order to get an ID. Before going there, I printed the form from the internet and had it already filled out. We were in and out of the office in less than 10 minutes. My daughter showed them her birth certificate and had her school ID, work ID, and pay stub ready, but was told that all I needed to do was state that I was her parent and show them my driver's license. The clerk wrote the information down and we left. The card came in the mail in less than two weeks.

            I'm sorry Ms. Powell had such a hard time obtaining a card. For an underage child, all that's needed is proof by the parent. This info is listed on the website.

            Linda Whitney, Rising Place, Rochester


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