My 35-year-old brother died two months ago. He was an alcoholic and a drug addict and an amazing, good-hearted person. I would like to share his story.

For as long as I can remember, my big brother was there for me. He loved to party. He took me to my first concert. He was always there to hang out with, talk to, drive me around, whatever I needed.

As we got older, we drifted apart because of his drug use. We still talked at least once a month. We never hung up the phone without saying I love you. I loved him so much. He left behind two parents, a brother, a fiancee, a little sister and a niece and nephew who will never be the same without him.

Shaun decided to play Russian roulette with his life one day. He took 120 mg. of methadone along with Xanax and a fifth of Jack Daniels. He told his fiancee good night around 11 p.m. and he was found dead the next morning.

This is not a joke. Don't mix this combination of drugs. Your life is worth something, please don't waste it. — D. Roberts, Rogue River

You can read story after story of women who have regretted having their abortions. I personally know women who have had abortions and are now suffering horrible guilt because of what they did. You cannot tell these ladies that it was not a baby. They feel it, they know it.

When I was pregnant with my own daughter, now 32 years old, the father of the baby wanted me to get an abortion. At that time in my life I had already lost one baby at 2 months old, to SIDS. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed talking to God about not wanting to lose another baby that I had prayed for.

It is a fact that at the time of conception a baby is a baby. We don't have to decide whether we believe it or not, it is a fact. What we do is lie to ourselves so we can have our own way. Let's face it, we are selfish human beings. We are murdering our children.

The Bible says we will reap what we sow. We are accountable for the decisions we make.

God forgive us. — Theresa Iffert, Jacksonville

I am not assuaged by the big pink bubble machine that strives to find a cure for breast cancer.

In spite of the rosy ribbons, angels, fairies, bracelets and even kitchen appliances, we are still enduring what will someday be considered primitive treatment procedures.

Why aren't we farther along in identifying the causes? By now shouldn't we have options other than the gruesome treatments of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, each with its own painful physical and emotional side effects? Why do the causes continue to elude us? Why aren't there breakthroughs other than improvements in chemo cocktails and targeted radiation? Are vaccines possible? Isn't there too much of a disparity between all the research funding and advancements in prevention and cures ?

Perhaps we should be seeing red instead of pink. — J.R. Hunts, Medford

It's interesting how some voters vote against their own best interests. Having delusions of being wealthy or obtaining great wealth, access to easy credit and loans inflamed this notion.

The Republican trickle-down theory, giving large corporations and the wealthy big tax breaks, has proven ineffective in the last eight years. Lies and greed have caused many citizens to lose sight of the American Dream.

Corporate profits passed on to shareholders and ridiculous golden parachutes given CEOs leave little to trickle down. Middle- and lower-income citizens don't smell the pie, let alone get a piece of it.

It's time to build up from a sturdy economic foundation. An economist recently stated the top 1 percent of the U.S. population owns more than half of the U.S. wealth. How's that for trickle down?

I am voting as a Democrat this election. It's our only chance for change. — Penny Keenan, Medford

Now how is Obama looking to you all? Like a Soviet-type dictator?

He wants socialism (spread the wealth). Take money from the rich or working class and give it to the poor, don't-want-to-work, bums. That's a great Idea!

To top that off, let's raise taxes to help boost the economy. Why do I see so many people supporting "that one"? John McCain is not George Bush. Sarah Palin is the most refreshing thing to come into the White House since they got indoor plumbing.

Speaking of plumbing; lay off of Joe the plumber "¦ I cannot believe what the media (our very own Mail Tribune) has done to this poor guy who simply asked "that one" a question. You would think the Tribune would have spent more time writing about Obama's answer. — Gene Kitchen, Eagle Point

Let's use the free numerical restaurant rating system that is already in place.

Let's go to www.co.jackson.or.us/files/restaurantinspections.pdf for detailed, accurate, up-to-date rating information.

Let's read the current restaurant ratings in the Sunday Mail Tribune.

Let's spend our Ashland budget on necessities, not redundancies.

Let's think for ourselves and do our own due diligence.

Let's ask the restaurant owner about his rating if we have questions.

Let's support our local restaurant owners by not adding a repetitive level of bureaucracy.

Let's be grateful that Ashland has so many wonderful restaurants and restaurateurs who are willing to spend their life energy providing us with awesome choices and a tourist base that is a vital part of the life blood of this community.

Vote no on Measure 15-88. — Susan Vaughn, Ashland

All too rarely does a dedicated and discerning individual rise to the occasion with the vision necessary to lead their community. Russ Silbiger is such a person.

Ashland citizens are fortunate to have had Russ in service to them these past four years, and should count themselves lucky he is ready to serve four more. Russ has demonstrated the depth of knowledge, insightful intelligence, collaborative spirit and adept leadership that a community such as Ashland needs and deserves.

From exercising fiscal competency in managing the city budget and turning around AFN, to finding common ground with citizens and staff alike in envisioning Ashland's dog park and keeping our library doors open longer, Russ has proven himself again and again. No one works harder than Russ for the people of Ashland.

Join with me in voting to return Russ Silbiger to the Ashland City Council for another four years of unsurpassed service. — Lenny Neimark, Ashland

Many letter writers use slogans as substitutes for intelligent analysis. An 80-year-old "new Republican" blindly labels Democrats "too socialistic," adding he's been a Democrat all his life. I'm a bit older than he is and very happy for both him and me that FDR invented Social Security, as well as other ("socialist"?) recovery programs when our family didn't have work or food. If this current administration had succeeded in privatizing Social Security, does he think we'd have increased benefits this year from Wall Street?

Another writer citing Sarah's "demonstrated performance" seems forgivingly impressed by PTA and village political cronyism carried to the state level where she's found guilty of abusing state public ethics statutes. Convicted by her own bipartisan legislative committee. Then falsely claimed she was "exonerated."

With ethics already so rare in our incumbent government gang, "ethics abuse" is not a demonstrated quality I prize in our incoming leaders. — P. Ross, Central Point

As a former Jackson County Deputy District Attorney, I've been following this judicial race since the start. In short, I see a winner in Tim Barnack.

Ask how many charities he has worked with or how many awards he has received and you will be amazed. While he has a hard-fought reputation for being tough on crime, he does not lack compassion.

A Jackson County judge once told me that Tim Barnack "understands human frailty and respects the influence he has over the lives of others." Sounds like the ingredients for a good judge. — Michael Thornicroft, Jackson County deputy district attorney 1997-2001

As the upcoming election draws near, I urge you to consider Tim Barnack for judge.

Tim presents himself professionally both inside and outside the courtroom and I have the utmost respect for him both professionally and personally. He believes in this community and its possibilities and works relentlessly to protect it.

Please join me in November and vote for Tim Barnack for Circuit Court judge. — Cheryl Markiewicz, Medford

Recently, Obama was filmed talking with a plumbing contractor, Joe Wurzelbacher, who questioned Obama's tax on those earning over $250,000. Obama said that he didn't want to punish success, but was concerned for the folks "behind" Joe and that spreading the wealth around is good for everybody.

Presenting opportunities for great rewards is what our republic's Constitution has always offered its citizens. "Spreading the wealth around," sounds more like Karl Marx than Thomas Jefferson.

Obama knows how to solicit donations and write grant requests. That's been his career path.

The results of these activities are unknown. Yet, every small business owner knows, when faced with budget, labor and credit problems, you can't just say, "present" or ask for donations.

Obama's oratorical skills are helpful for great entertainers or lawyers. These skills and 143 days in the U.S. Senate are insufficient credentials for managing this nation in these tough times. — Audrey L. Merz, Jacksonville

As a former educator, Lynn Howe would put make early childhood education through college graduation a major legislative priority.

Lynn believes education is the cornerstone for a better prepared work force, a brighter future for all Oregon workers and a stronger and a more diversified economy. Her opponent, Sal Esquivel, has consistently opposed legislation that supports public schools and even voted against health care coverage for children.

We need legislators like Lynn who understand the value of educated citizens to Medford and our American democracy. Join me in voting for Lynn Howe for Oregon House of Representatives. — Bud Marler, Ashland

I am surprised that as many times as Obama states that he is going to cut taxes, or "give back" to the lower and middle class Americans, people still fail to see that he is actually planning on raising payroll taxes.

Being the wife of a business owner, I know that gross receipts are one thing and net income is quite another. Does Obama not realize that if payroll taxes increase there will be a lot of employers laying people off?

Do Obama supporters not realize that increased payroll taxes mean increased prices for goods and products sold? Despite what some people may believe, just because you are a business owner, it doesn't mean that you have bags of money laying around for politicians to spend. — Emily McIntire, Eagle Point

Vote for Greg Lemhouse for Ashland City Council. He is an intelligent, dedicated Ashland family man who will bring balance to the City Council. — Jerry Kenefick, Ashland

When I served as court advocate for victims of domestic violence, Joe Charter introduced himself as an attorney committed to nonviolence and compelled to provide free services to those in need. True to his word, he advised victims of domestic violence with restraining orders and with complex divorce, custody, child support and landlord/tenant issues during my two-year tenure.

As a practicing attorney for 24 years, Joe refuses campaign contributions from lawyers to avoid conflicts of interest if elected. He has presided over jury trials and family law matters as a pro tem judge, and over the past four years has heard hundreds of trials and arraignments as justice of the peace. He will hold offenders accountable and make crime victims whole, while using 12 years' experience as a mediator to call for diversion and intervention when warranted.

Vote for justice and compassion. Vote Joe Charter for Circuit Court judge. — Holly East, Ashland

In the United States we have freedom of religion. You can attend the church of your choice or choose not to attend a church.

I am sure there are many churches in the city of Chicago that Senator. Obama could have chosen to attend. Obama chose the church with the Rev. Wright as its pastor. The Rev. Wright preached that America is an evil country, "G-D America". He also preached that the white man was the devil. "Invented AIDS to wipe out the black man."

Obama and his wife sat and listened to this anti-American racist for 20 years. To listen to and support this type of preaching for that length of time means you agree with what the preacher is saying. It is hard for me to believe the American people would ever consider electing this anti-American racist as president of the United States of America. — Fred Bacon, Medford

We're never going to get the good government we deserve until we start voting against all incumbents.

Professional career politicians do us no good. Just look at the history.

Let's get back to citizen legislators. One term's enough for anybody.

Newcomers can do no worse than the entrenched professionals we have at every level of government. Vote against all incumbents. — Clarence Zaitz, Rogue River

I agree that small businesses make up the fiber that makes America strong. Small companies provide employment to hundreds of thousands of Americans, enabling them to make a good living, buy homes and send their children to college.

There has been concern expressed recently about the tax consequences to small businesses that make over $250,000 per year. Most of this concern stems from misconceptions raised by Sen. McCain with the Joe the plumber story.

Small companies are not taxed on their overall sales — they are subject to tax only on profits that remain after the company pays its employees and subcontractors, rent, electricity, phones, supplies, tools, fuel, and all other business-related expenses. If Joe the plumber still takes home over $250,000 after paying all of his employees and all other expenses, Joe is a lucky man! — Bruce Kelling, Medford

Michael Phelps won eight gold medals. Obama will propose a retroactive redistribution of gold medals to those who did not win.

He will authorize gold medal credits to the bottom 95 percent of all athletes they may take to the nearest government-sponsored gold medal store to redeem. This will give them immediate relief from suffering and allow them to finally experience the American Dream.

His "share the wealth" plan will not impact the bottom 95 percent of athletes and will cost the government nothing. His new windfall gold medal tax will apply only to the top 5 percent of all athletes.

His new fairness doctrine will restrict an athlete to one winning medal. How many do they really need?

We cannot endure another eight years of athletic greed. This is America, where athletes can compete and, if they do not win, receive gold medals from patriots as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Let the games begin! — Larry Cogdell, Medford

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