A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

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“Idol” lessons

Judge by appearances instead of abilities and Sanjaya’s the result

Editor, The Times:

Extra, extra, read all about it! Sanjaya Malakar got booted from “American Idol” [“Sanjaya’s run on ‘Idol’ ends,” Times, News, April 19] after people finally turned up the volume and opened their eyes.

Reality shows such as “American Idol” are turning into popularity contests. The show’s purpose is finding the best singer in America. It’s a singing competition, not a beauty pageant. An idol is someone to look up to and respect. Haley Scarnato, Sanjaya Malakar and William Hung should not be given publicity for skanky clothes, crazy hairdos or singing and dancing hideously.

Unfortunately, Sanjaya represented Seattle, and money, fame and happiness are apart of the American dream. Only those who work hard to earn it should be given these opportunities, not fakers that have it handed to them on a silver platter.

America needs to wake up and smell the coffee; otherwise, we’ll only be judged not by our abilities, but by our appearances.

— Megan Page, Covington

Can you hear us now?

Text-messaging ban is a waste of time

The legislative measure to ban texting while driving is a crock [“House sends Gregoire ban on text messaging while driving,” Times, Local News, April 18]. Several readers have already written in about their concern for its label as a secondary offense.

Let’s think about this logically. How would the police catch someone in the act of texting? Drive down any road and glace in other people’s cars; the view you’re treated to is usually from the shoulders up. The average Joe doesn’t text with his phone held directly in front of him.

People texting while driving are those who have mastered the art, and they tend to keep their phones tucked near their seat. It only takes a few seconds to make the evidence disappear upon sight of an approaching police officer.

It’s a nice law, but let’s try to put into effect something that would actually change things.

— Tuyen Nguyen, Kent

We’ll still be distracted

Talking on the phone while driving can be just as distracting as playing with the radio, fiddling in the glove box or trying to keep bickering children in their seats. Does this mean that the police can enforce a new law enabling them to pull you over for making sure your child is seated and buckled? The cellphone ban interferes with a person’s rights — not necessarily to free speech — but to their possessions. Even using a hands-free device, driver’s attention is focused on what the caller is saying — which also leaves the hand that would be holding the phone free to play with the radio and whatnot.

This ban is a ridiculous rule and law enforcement should think it through before enforcing it.

— Teddi McGuire, Kent

Maybe you can’t chat, but at least you can eat

Can we talk? Let me pull over to the side of the road first. I don’t need another ticket.

Once again, our fearless leaders in Olympia are protecting us from ourselves by passing legislation making it illegal to talk on your cellphone while driving.

I agree that driving while talking on the phone can be distracting, but it’s no more dangerous than some of the countless other distractions that we have while driving.

It’s silly to make it illegal for me to conduct business over the phone while in my car, yet it’s perfectly legal for me to steer with my knees with a cup of Starbucks’ finest in one hand and a jelly donut in the other.

In my sales job, I drive an average of 100 miles a day. That’s a lot of unproductive time spent behind a windshield. If state leaders want people to quit talking on their cellphones while driving, then do something about the darned traffic. If we spent less time stuck in traffic, we may not need to use our phones while driving.

— Randy Rovang, Clinton

On the hill

Well, you can’t say he’s not a loyal guy

Bush renews support for Gonzales” [Times, News, April 21] reads the headline, and less than a week earlier the president expressed “full confidence” in Paul Wolfowitz [“Wolfowitz arranged girlfriend’s pay deal,” Times, News, April 14]. We have heard so much about how loyalty is valued by this White House. These people serve at the pleasure of the president, so no amount of corruption, malfeasance, cronyism or outright incompetence costs them their job.

However, if you perform your duties without political motivation, winning praise from your peers like the eight fired U.S. attorneys, but fail to be a “loyal Bushie,” you are out on your ear.

— Brian Gix, Seattle

Food safety

Republicans, the media are invited for dinner; hope they like spinach

Poisoned food for people, pets and livestock is becoming more commonplace these days, and as The Times reports [“FDA knew for years of potential problems with spinach, peanut butter,” Page One, April 23], it is due to the failed regulatory system that the poisons are getting to the marketplace.

Government policy has been to underfund such regulatory agencies as the Food and Drug Administration, which are supposed to protect us from unsafe food. Instead, safeguarding the food supply is left to growers and manufacturers. One would expect them to have an interest in food safety, but it is obvious that many find it more profitable to deal with the occasional disaster after the fact rather than to do it right from the start.

Better regulation and more inspections will require higher taxes or food prices (though barely noticeable compared with the cost of wars for oil). Certainly, big business, Republicans and the media will complain about “big government.”

Let them eat poisoned spinach.

— Roger Lippman, Seattle

Gun control

Get me a tank, a sub and a F-15 squadron and we’ll be in business

The NRA is right; the only way to stop such events as what happened at Virginia Tech is to arm everyone.

I believe it is the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens, so they should provide the arms, and I would like an M1 Abrams tank. Think of what it will be like once all of the law-abiding non-criminals in our society are armed? For one, there should be a boon in arms production, thus helping the economy.

Since the national average is five weapons per person, I also want a nuclear sub, a nuclear aircraft carrier, a squadron of F-15s — with crews — and a Saturday-night special.

Now bring on the bad guys.

— Gordon Ridgeway, Bothell