Baseball and steroids on Capitol Hill
I wish the media would find something else to report on. This story is getting very old. I can't believe the public is just now waking up to the issue of steroids, which I believe when used properly have their place in modern medicine. It seems to me the media is just focusing on the negative aspects of steroids and nothing on the therapeutic benefits they have. Lets move on to another story! —Eddie Harris
I can't believe Congress has so little to do. There's so many other important issues for them to be paying attention to. Yet what are they doing? Looking into baseball players using steroids! As far as I'm concerned, that should be up to the owners and managers who are paying these players. Let Congress look into the real problems we face in this country and leave sports to the owners and managers. —Theresa Delgrosso
If baseball were to go away we would still have the issues such as gas prices going through the roof and Iraq. Lets get our elected representatives on the real job of fixing important issues and away from this focus on a game. —Jon Clines
My husband is deploying to Iraq this summer and I wish Congress was as concerned about him as they are about baseball. Don’t get me wrong, I love baseball. However, in the grand scheme of things, drug use by a few athletes ranks pretty low. There does appear to be a pattern emerging, though. Instead of tackling Iran or North Korea, who have pretty much confirmed their ownership of nuclear weapons, we went to Iraq which was by far an easier country to tackle. Now instead of handling the problems you mentioned, Congress is concentrating on steroids. Maybe if they began to take performance enhancing drugs themselves we would see more things get accomplished. —D. Peterson
Without any of the owner's being there to be questioned in the hot seat, it's all a bunch of baloney. —Anonymous
Disappointing role models
As a former Steeler linebacker I can only add my disgust to the Mark McGwires' and Barry Bonds' of baseball who chose steroids instead of the weight room to reach their "higher levels of performance." I recall a newspaper picture showing McGwire signing an autograph for a young fan. His right bicepe was as big as my thigh!! You can't build that kind of muscle mass any other way. Anyway, just a few thoughts from an old fart who played the game of football the right way. Incidentally, I made $5,000/year as a privileged starter for 3 years with the Steelers. Football gave me the education I wanted and I guess I developed a degree of character from my experience, which is "doing the right thing even when no one is looking. —Lou Tepe
Jason Giambi was man enough to admit to taking steroids, even though now he avoids answering questions. Mark McGwire has sidestepped questions regarding his use or non-use of steroids. The big difference is that Giambi is still playing and will have to face the jeers, taunts, insults, etc. from hostile crowds. Honesty is still the best policy and McGwire should just be man enough to say he took them. They are not going to erase his record of 70 home runs. It is obvious that he as well as Barry Bonds took them. Look at their physique. Remember when Bonds first came up? He was a tall skinny kid and it seemed like the wind would knock him over. Look at him now. —David Leon Quito, Ecuador
Make the best of the situation
I am writing you to express my concern over the negativity surrounding Mr. McGwire's presentation. I suspect he has used steroids as well as the other players, but as a mother of a college football player and a nurse I cannot condone the use of steroids. However, I agree with Mr. McGwire, if any of these players step up and say they used the drug their professional and maybe their personal lives will be shuttered. What is important is not what they did but what we are going to do to stop this health problem. Mr. McGwire offered to use his time and energy to assist in a campaign to fight this problem. That is admirable and constructive. We need to move on and not destroy the people who could want to work hard to make sure our kids never use steroids while pursuing sports. —Ferial Rewoldt
Government does little to affect or change my life. The best thing to come out of Washington in recent years is the ability to keep your cell number if you change providers. However, I am FOR the baseball hearings. I work with teenagers, and it is amazing how many young athletes take or at least consider steroids. It is a health issue. I know this is grand-standing, but bringing this up in a way that parents can understand is going to help. Thanks for the insight. —George, Huntington W.Va.
Counterpoint on drug use
If athletes want to enhance themselves to perform to thrill the crowds why not? Isn't that the whole point of pro sports? What about Viagra, Lavitra, Cialis? Isn't the reason those drugs are around is to maximize on what mother nature can’t do naturally? None of the Congressmen or women are upset about that! Remember, the young people have been trying those drugs too! Leave the ball players alone and let them do what they are paid to do - thrill the fans. Congress should do what their constituents elected them to do and deal with the issues facing the county! —Wilberta Barry, Pittsburgh Pa.
Bush's town hall meetings on Social Security
Like all of Bush's public appearance town hall "events", this was carefully scripted, choreographed, and potential questions were vetted in advance. The same was true during his recent trip to Europe. Participants and questions were again vetted in advance. If that was not acceptable to those hosting the event it was cancelled by the White House. —William Stratchan, Enfield, CT
I appreciate your making the obvious point that these are not community forums. However, you should ask who is paying for the events. If it's the taxpayer, then they have to let everyone in. If it's exclusive, then it must be paid for by the RNC and described as what it is— a political rally. —Jim Martin, Lynchburg, VA
If Mike Bailey was out of line he should have been thrown out on his keester. Yours is a typical attempt to make the President look bad by manipulating reality. Shame on you. —Joe C. Ewers
These tactics work. It is scary how many people will back Mr. Bush just because they see him being cheered by crowds on the television. —Anonymous
Considering how one sided the news has been against the President, and all the down right lies that have appeared in print as news, Bush should be given leeway in having his side heard. —Brian Goetti
I'm just feed up with the naysayers who don't want to debate and haven't offered any ideas at all. —Paul Bainum, Lansdowne, PA
What strikes me about the debate concerning Social Security is that it's not a debate but a shouting match. Also, I think it keeps the public from thinking too much about our Federal Budget, which is totally out of control. I think the whole thing is a shell game to keep the public from knowing the truth. —Nena Scott
I was in attendance at the town hall meeting on Social Security in Louisville, KY. So, I will concede that it wasn't a "town hall" meeting. However, those of us in attendance didn't come to hear protestors shout questions. We came to hear what the president had to say.
Unanswered questions on Calipari's death, Baghdad checkpoint shooting
Where was the breakdown? While no one may have been negligent, somewhere there was an error. Even if the military did not know what was occurring with the car, I think any solider would agree that a full review needs to take place.
— Bill Finnegan
David, I still haven't seen the answers to the questions you laid out. I find it hard to believe this information isn't available by now. Also, you reported the journalist's car was traveling at 50 mph. I had seen a report saying they were going only 25 mph. I hope to hear the whole story soon. — Anonymous
I will never believe that our troops would target the Italian group. Although, the idea that nobody in the U.S. military knew what the Italians were doing is equally baffling to me. — Jack Maku
I don't know the details surrounding the Sgrena-Calipari incident. It seems hardly anyone does. The U.S. line, that the Italians were "hurtling" toward the airport in ignorance or disregard of the basic rules of security in that area, is as fantastic as Ms. Sgrena's speculation that the U.S. Army shot at her car with the deliberate intent to kill. The Administration and the press will have no difficulty convincing the American public that the military is blamelessness in this matter, but I doubt that will be the case in Italy and elsewhere. — DeWitt Allred
I live in Italy, so I can see where your explanation is off course. If America wants allies, America should respect its allies, and consider that each nation has its own approach to things. The incident can easily be interpreted as wanting to get back at Italy for using an approach to hostage negoitation that America never would. I certainly hope America will be truly honest in getting to the heart of this matter. So far, the versions do not correspond. — Silvana
A message to terrorists
I agree with you about rebuilding the World Trade Center towers exactly as they were before their destruction on 9/11. If we don't rebuild the Towers as they were, then the terrorists win. It still upsets me to see the Towers depicted in films and TV shows made prior to 9/11 and to know that they aren't there anymore; that someone wants to replace them with something different and in my opinion "not as good." Let's rebuild the Towers exactly the way they were, with appropriate new safety features, and thumb our noses at the terrorists. —Bob Queen
I was wondering when people would catch on to rebuilding the Twin Towers. I grew up watching them being built, I worked in both buildings at one time or another in my life. Now that I have my own business, were the towers to be rebuilt, I would move in to the top floor if I could. None of the designs presented were as significant or impressive as what they were set to replace. And from a moral point of view, I would bet that most if not all of the unfortunate people who died that fateful day, would resent them being rebuilt. Think of the memorial it would make, to the determination, strength, will, and resolution of NY to defy terror. —Jean Michel LeTennier, Uniondale, N.Y.
Put my vote in the rebuilding column. Putting aside (momentarily) the fact that the currently proposed design is hideous, we need to send a message, to both friends and foes, that we will never allow our enemies to dictate how we live our lives. Building that maudlin monstrosity would be an admission of defeatism and submission. The memory of the victims deserves no less than a complete remake of the Twin Towers! —Greg Bartell
Another alternative needed
Your latest post includes a poll with only two options: the Freedom Tower, or a slightly altered version of the old Twin Towers. I think you should also add a third option. I think it's fair to say that many people would not work in buildings that look so similar to the old ones, and there are also many who would say that is too unimaginative and not inspiring enough. To put it mildly, we can do far better than either of those designs. —Sean Robertson
The "Freedom Tower" is a marvelous esthetic design but, in my opinion, it isn't suited for the space. It's just too big and potentially dangerous for the occupants. Another Twin Towers would be an act of hubris.
A smaller and safer building of impeccable design should be an option— an architectural masterpiece. These bigger buildings could end up as mass graves in the event of disaster.
Another option should be a memorial park, "Lest we forget" what happened there. It also is a gesture of respect for the dead and the terrible price they paid just for going to work on the wrong day.
Your question forces people to choose between the lesser of two evils. That is why I couldn't cast my vote. —Suzanne Seely
Rebuild and persevere
The Twin Tower design is by far more appropriate for rebuild. The Freedom Tower, as it is being called, cannot compare in stature with the Twin Towers and what they stand for. It is telling the terrorists you cannot change us, we will come back bigger, better, mightier, and more determined to defeat evil wherever it is found. —Steven G. Alexander, Brandon, Fla.
It boggles my mind how the idea of a new Twin Towers was never even put on the table. 9/11 was heartbreaking enough, but to not restore two great symbols of America is beyond me. I believe rebuilding these great icons is what this country needs right now. —Dennis Stypinski, Fairfield, Conn.
I think that rebuilding the twin towers will be a good show of courage. Guiliani said that New Yorkers were going to overcome, and building bigger and better would be the right signal to send anyone thinking that the USA is going to back down and cower in a corner. —Mark Bales
Some other concerns
I appreciate the sentiment and symbolism in rebuilding the Twin Towers. But, on a more practical note, would you really want to work in such a building? After the first attempt on the World Trade Center, it was apparent to me that this building was a target of the extremists and it was only a matter of time before there was another attempt. While I was not personally put in that position, I don't believe I would have taken a job that would have required me to work there. If you rebuild the Twin Towers I think you are, in essence, just building a very expensive memorial. It won't be an economically practical project. —Keith Quarles, Wall, N.J.
Does it really make sense to rebuild the Twin Towers? No matter what the design is, it will cluster offices directly linked to the U.S. economy. There might as well be a big bull's eye painted on the side for aspiring new terrorists. The site needs to be a shrine dedicated to the memory of those that died in the 9/11 catastrophe. —Michael Peter
I find it appalling that anything is going to be built at that site. Almost 3,000 people were killed that day on that acreage. Many of the victims were virtually vaporized and their remains are in the dust on the ground. The site is hallowed ground and should be preserved and revered, like the site of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
The number of deaths at Normandy on D-Day was 10,300. The number of deaths at Gettysburg was 3,155. At Pearl Harbor 2,395 lives were lost. We treat all these sites as hallowed ground. Why not lower Manhattan? Why desecrate the area with a garish high rise or a new set of Twin Towers? Because of the value of the real estate? Heck, then why not build beachfront condos at Pearl Harbor and Normandy, and a gated golf course community at Gettysburg? —Paul LeBon, Highland Village, Tex.
This is now hallowed ground. It should be a place for reflection, not commerce. A new Twin Towers or a Freedom Tower would be obscene. —Joan Kelday
Words from a survivor
I am a 9/11 survivor, and would like to thank you for your recent articles regarding the rebuilding process (or lack thereof) of Lower Manhattan. It is long past time for the politics to end, and the Twin Towers to be rebuilt. —John D. Lictro, Brooklyn N.Y.
Thank you for raising this
Thank you for putting into print what many people, myself included feel about the World Trade Center site. The Freedom Tower is not an appropriate or inspiring design for the place where the Twin Towers stood. It’s a shame that no one with any power in the process feels the same way or speaks out about it. —Tony Ottaviano, NY, N.Y.
Please do not let this story go, follow up and be its champion; there is an incredible groundswell of support all across America for this to happen. Re-building the Twin Towers is a psychological victory for all Americans. Nobody wants the Freedom Tower, it is the product of cronyism and insider elitism that runs counter to everything that is truly great and wonderful about our country. Re-building the Twin Towers is a victory for ALL Americans and a great way to say "we cannot be defeated". I cannot fathom how anything else was even ever considered in the first place. —Michael Ash, Phoenix, Ariz.
After the initial design proposals were vetted, I had abandoned my dream that a true restoration would occur, but now I am again hopeful. This matter should be addressed now, as, with ground having supposedly been broken, we may be approaching the time at which there will be no second chances to make this right. —Andrew Oringer, Syosset, N.Y.
Also in Iraq
Good to see David S. is having a safe trip into Baghdad. I am a civilian contractor based in Kirkush, Iraq near the Iranian border. We are on a military training facility that is readying the New Iraqi Army and National Guard for this country's self-defense. Things are generally quiet here and somewhat monotonous due to the threats against our national workers. I especially enjoyed the blog descriptions of the trip from Amman to the Green Zone. I have done this twice now (back and forth 2 times) and it is always interesting and, of course, dangerous. Nothing like traveling the outskirts of Baqubah in a private convoy!! Let David know that I will be waiting anxiously for his blog updates.
From America's bravest
I have a safe journey. You are on the same ground I spent the better part of two years in. You probably don't need me telling you anything you don't already know. Just keep your wits about you. Make sure your driver watches the overpasses and pot holes (favorite places for IEDs).
Watch the guardrails which may have arty shells strapped to them. keep your helmet and flack jacket close. Write well and God speed. Semper Fi.
Ed Quinonez, LtCol, USMC,
Marine Expeditionary Force,
G3 Future Operations, Camp Pendleton
I just left an area in Baghdad. I was stationed there at Victory Base for 11+ months. You see for yourself during the day the plumes of smoke and the loud explosions and can only imagine what has taken place. As soldiers, every night we laid our heads down to try to rest, [but wondered,] "Will something come falling from the sky and land in your living area? Will you hear the sounds of the incoming rounds and be able to react prior to them impacting your area?" It was many sleepless nights. Unfortunately, we had lost 2 great soldiers. I know the American people always want to hear about the blood and guts of a war but, I hope they take the time and talk to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and report some of the more positive things that are taking place in the region: Schools, hospitals, electrical power systems, sewer systems, and training areas are to just name a few. How many Iraqis has the Corps hired this last year to help rebuild their region? Can we put a price tag on the engineering effort? These are just some examples.
Sergeant First Class,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
He could have been my son
I am glad to see that you are taking the time to report on observations other then the elections. Our soldiers are the only reason these elections are as close as they are to becoming a reality. One of those soldiers there, quite possible one of your escorts, or the guard at the check point, is my only child. Yes he is young, only 23 and the single father of a 3-year-old daughter. Quite frankly, I am not interested one iota about the elections in Iraq, I am only concerned about the safety of my son. This year-long deployment is his second stint in Iraq. And it has been pure hell for him and his family. I appreciate that you have demonstrated a depth of character to report beyond your assigned assignment. I have been reading your diary entries for just a few days, yesterday I wondered if your excitement in your trip was only going to amount to reporting on the long faces of the Iraqi people. You should appreciate that you had a choice in whether or not you wanted to go to Iraq. Our soldiers did not, nor do they have the ability to leave when they have had enough. I hope you never forget your experience there, that you take away with you a deep respect, not for our military as a whole, but for our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, sisters, mothers and fathers. Stay safe, do a good job and return home safely to your family.
Matt and Sharron Davis, Central Texas
Friend who worked near the airport
Just wanted to thank you for your insight into the day to day battles that rage in Iraq. I have a friend that has been "near" the airport for 9 months and the only time I have ever heard fear in him was in describing the ride to and from the Green Zone. Thank you again. And you are very correct in saying how courageous our soldiers are it takes a lot of courage to do a job when you never know who your enemy is.
More than a BlackHawk helicopter
I read your diary entry with great interest today. I have a daughter who is a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, and she is preparing to return to Iraq with her unit. When she was in Mosul last year, she described how the helicopters were always targeted by the insurgents, and yes, they are extremely sensitive about people aiming things at them. She has lost nine friends in Iraq due to RPGs and mortar fire...most of those losses were pilots and crew chiefs.
Now she is in Kuwait, and our time of worries has just begun...again. Whenever the phone rings, whether at home or work, I hesitate momentarily before I pick up the receiver. I have to catch my breath, just in case. When someone knocks at the door, I hesitate to catch that breath, to prepare myself, just in case. It's the "just in case" which makes the worry a moment-by-moment ordeal.
Even though she is a "squared away" soldier, she leaves behind a toddler son and a fiancé who follows her wherever her training and stateside assignments take her. She will not let us worry about her, and tells us only half the stories of her experiences in Iraq. She also tells us unequivocally that it doesn't matter whether or not there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; what she cares about is that we have stopped another version of Hitler. we have tried to avoid another Holocaust. Her unit, the 101st, dug up a mass grave in the parking lot of Saddam's Republican Palace after taking Baghdad, and she will not forget that discovery. That's what the war is about for her.
So, when your photographer tries to take a photo of the Black Hawks, he sees only the aircraft. I see my daughter and her fearless dedication.
Mrs. Margo Ungricht
Three words of advice
Dear Mister Shuster,
Having been where you are now I request of you only three things, please be fair to our service members in your reports, listen intently to what you are told, and be very careful.
Thank you for covering the election— though we might not always agree
I don't know if you really get a chance to read these— I've sent you several responses "ranting and raving" about how liberal I think you are and how unfair i feel the media is toward the Republican party— but after reading your blog about you going to Baghdad to cover the election— i just want to say good luck and stay safe. I am proud of you for going and I look forward to reading your stories. Even though i don't agree with a lot of your political views, I believe we are all Americans first.
San Antonio, TX.
Vietnam vet writes in
I always enjoy your observations and comments.
I am a Viet Nam Veteran and recall the time I spent in Viet Nam when our governments Mantra was the fruits of democracy would deliver freedom.
That was in 1967 .what a waste that conflict was in lives and resources to our Nation. That conflict was based on deceit and lies.
My question is this.
Does the average Iraqi have any notion what Democracy means to them in there daily lives ?
I suspect not. Would like you if possible to comment.
With Kind Regards,
John Van Teylingen
Keep your head down
You said you don’t have the courage to be a war correspondent, well, I heard last week on a movie my kids were watching, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the pursuit of something more important” (than the fear). It went something like that. And a neighbor of ours that was a LERP in Viet Nam told our son, that all the stuff in movies about how the heros don’t have fear is not right. The ones who go in without fear are usually the ones who die. There is an element of fear that makes you cautious enough to stay alive. I like the movie quote.
My husband’s brother is a COL MNC-I Inspector General in Baghdad. Last e-mail he said he was keeping his head down.
We’ll pray for you both, as we continue to pray for Iraq to have successful elections.
Mary Ann Adams
Cle Elum, Washington
Utah over Iraq
David, I think I would have preferred Sundance over the elections, be safe and tell the G.I's we appreciate all that they do and give. Be safe.
Jeffrey A. Rodgers
If you meet my nephew
Thank you for your Blog and your coverage. I have a nephew, Gunnery Sgt. Ronald Trignano that is with the marines stationed at the Bagdad airport. Perhaps, if you meet with him, you can obtain some story material. My son, Richard Trignano, is currently serving on the USS-Hue-City, CG66 (second deployment), (Ronald's first cousin) and Ron's brother, Shawn Trignano is over in Bagdad area in the Army. Their 1/2 brother, Scott, is also serving in the Army and I believe over in Iraq also. A generation of Trignano boys all serving now. God Bless them all
Stay safe and God Bless You.
Hello to you and Hans
Please tell Hans that his friends and family in America are proud of his ingenuity, but wonder why he still can't steer straight while going off of the wind.
Tell him that he (and all of you) are in my prayers. Be safe.
Thanks for the perspective
I will be reading your diary each day. It is, and has been, appreciated. Your reflections already factor in as I gripe (mildly now) about things like the weather or traffic.
Surely I admire your appreciation for Hans Juergens. Thanks for the effort, the candidness and a writing style that I can relate to. I look forward to your continued thoughts.
Reminding me of my own experience
It is interesting to read your blog as it encapsulates my experience of almost exactly a year ago. I was asked to go to Iraq to develop strategies for their telecommunications systems. I was there from March until June. I actually flew in with your TV colleagues from ABC, Peter Jennings and his crew.
A couple of quick corrections. The “737’s” you saw are actually old Russian Tuplolov versions of the 727 (3 engines – right?). There are actually 5 – 3 on one side of the airport and 2 on the other. There are many others scattered around the Mid-East and Iran. They were flown out to protect them from US bombs (and to allow the pilots and crew to escape.) They have been there since the first war and probably couldn’t roll, let alone fly. Iraqi Airways is trying to rebuild itself, but would need all new aircraft. If you have a chance, you might try to interview them in Baghdad. There was an interesting pile of gutted Iraqi Airways planes by BIAP last year. The F28 you flew is operated by Royal Jordanian Airways, a great company – I am sure they will find your bags – they found and delivered mine. When you think about it, the guy, Ahmad was the station manager while I was there and he personally recovered and delivered mine, risks his LIFE to drive from BIAP to your hotel !!!! That would be a great story, too.
Although I know King Abdullah, have met with him several times and I respect him immensely, the fact that his picture is everywhere is not necessarily because he is beloved. It is typical of the Arabic world to have large photos of their rulers everywhere. You will, I am sure, find many defaced posters and mosaics of Saddam in Iraq.
Be careful in the GZ, the old GZ Cafe and the Souk were suicide-bombed, and there are daily mortars and rockets - I think you were right about Sundance, it is a cool place. Have you noticed that reality seems to have gotten really weird?
Finally, I can relate to your nights at the hotel and the flybys of the Blackhawks. Pretty soon, you will be able to tell the types of Choppers by their sounds and the types of explosions and firing of rockets, mortars, and small arms by their sound. I was attacked by a remotely detonated IED while doing a U-turn on a busy city street, fortunately, it was mis-set and went up, not out, and we were able to get out of the area; never underestimate your security guys, several of the ones who protected me at the hotel and in driving are now dead.
I spend a lot of time in the ME, especially Jordan. The best I can do to describe Iraq to my home-bound friends is to say Iraq is like Tijuana’s worst bar areas on a Saturday night compared to La Jolla (Amman has more 5 star hotels than Seattle.)
Good luck, Stay safe, I will watch your reports with interest.
A message for my son, in case you run into him
David, You don't know me but I was reading your diarly on the Internet & just thought I'd drop you a line. I'm sure you've received many, many e-mails from people who have someone they love in Baghdad. My son, Anthony La Nasa, III is there somewhere working in Intelligence for the Army National Guard. If you happen to run into him on your journey, please remind him
that we love him and are so very, very proud of him and that we are praying for him to return home safely. I'm sure you've had a hundred requests like this so I understand that you cannot please all of the mothers here and cannot possibly expect to see all of the sons over there. But if you should happen to come across him, your delivery of this message would be
Sensing the tension
Well, I just started reading the blog and I just want to say keep it up. It's really interesting reading about it from "ground zero" so to speak. The fact that you've never been to Iraq since the war started and are a little bit on edge I'm sure (as anyone who hasn't spent time in post-war Iraq would be) probably has something to do with it. You kind of get a sense of the tension of the situation. Well, again keep up the good work, I look forward to reading more in the future.
Wishing you a safe journey
Dear Mr. Shuster: I can perfectly understand the concerns of your family as you headed to Baghdad for the upcoming elections. As a writer, I too, would see this as an opportunity of a lifetime as I am sure you do.
At least in Baghdad you are aware of who your enemies are and why they hate you, while Park City maybe a beautiful bucolic "city", no one knows who their enemies are, where they are hiding and why they don't like you - Hollywood in the mountains.
I wish you and the staff around you a safe journey.