Election season has begun and as usual candidates are lining up and issues are being discussed. Soon character assignations will replace issue discussion and the best hatchet man will get the job because as Americans we have the right to morally judge each candidate and we deserve to know all private peccadilloes.

The banality of TV has conquered the American soul.

And yet this righteous right to know has garnered an administration that thrives on secrecy and deceit.

The banality of TV has conquered the American brain.

Our moral compass has lost true north. Our right to know has replaced common decency.

Exposé TV and publications have acclimated us to this new indecent norm. It is time that our public figures be given the same privacy that we, ourselves, deserve and expect.

We need to hear and discuss national and international issues. Global warming, the restarting of the arms race and the approaching world war need to be discussed. Do not be distracted by exposé. — Lynne Likens, Talent

1. Criminalizing a harmless plant has created a very dangerous and expensive dynamic in our "free, democratic" society.

Untold amounts of our tax dollars, needed for libraries, go into the negative heavy-handed system that has criminalized the use of marijuana. Think of the costs: Undercover agents, military gear, tracking growers, sellers, confiscating (even personal property) and imprisoning people who are not really criminals — costly, costly.

2. Instead of dealing with alcohol (the real killer of people) and mind-damaging meth, we send adult men into the woods to chop down plants — and these plants are only growing in our woods because we have criminalized a plant. And you know any monies confiscated don't go to the libraries.

3. Stop this stupid law — it's bringing the Mexican cartels to our woods. Alcohol kills and you can buy it on every corner. Logic is lost!

4. Legalize marijuana the way it is done in the Netherlands — let's join the sane adults of the world. — Marie Griffith, Phoenix

­For the past five years financially crippled law enforcement has still pulled tens of thousands of marijuana plants from our hills — all grown by the Mexican mafia, which uses proceeds from pot to make methamphetamine. (According to the attorney general's report: MT Roots of Organized Crime, Sept. 29, 2006).

Who needs al-Qaida? Meth bombs explode in our communities every day, and heavily armed terrorists are hunkering down in our back yards right now. Where is our "Homeland Security"? Should our threat level be "yellow" or "orange"? Like the hunters interviewed by Mark Freeman, I see "red"!

What will stop this madness? Not Sheriff Winters, try as he will. Five years of escalating plant counts, despite multi-agency machete attacks, says, "we don't care about no stinking badges."

The safest, sanest solution is to remove their incentive and decriminalize cannabis now. Not only will the Mexican mafia abandon our back country, growing legal hemp fiber products like the rest of the world would revitalize our local agriculture and economy.

It's high time we get over our silly fear of pot and go after the true scourges: White powder and the terrorists on our trails who get rich killing our kids with meth. — Scott McGuire, Ashland

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