Pledge of allegiance is to our nation

As we all learned early in school, there is a pledge that tells us what the flag is all about: our one indivisible nation that aspires to the ideals of liberty and justice for all. In some ways, it seems we never moved beyond rote recitation to consider what it really means to display our flag or to use it in a pre-game ritual. It's not about the banner. It's about allegiance to a nation dedicated to assuring that people are allowed to live freely and are treated with the justice they deserve.

Here are a few things that do not follow from that pledge: Using the flag as a blunt instrument to intimidate others, using it as a marketing strategy, using it for a commercial gimmick or using it as a partisan political device.

Here are a few that do follow from it: Recognizing the fractures in our indivisible nation, recognizing the injustices that we see or read about daily and recognizing the freedom we are all supposed to have to call out such matters.

Boyce Brawley

Mormon theology ripe for debunking

High on his high horse, David Cook's slam last week on the incoming Tivoli performance of "The Book of Mormon" is a laugh. The Mormon theology itself is an ill-timed joke on humanity that only the widely unread or sadly misinformed could take seriously. Fourteen year-old Joseph Smith was visited by an angel in 1823, who told him where the ancient golden tablets were buried — coincidentally nearby his home in Palmyra, New York. He had the unquestioned wherewithal to secretly translate them, and so begat the entire sham that is the "Book of Mormon" and the so-called Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Really?

Like so many religious texts, the writers have canonized ancient ignorance and passed it down through generations as primordial truths. Though there are better means of expression absent the overuse of profanities, the entire Mormon movement is low hanging fruit and a target of opportunity for rich satire and rightful debunking.

Denny Pistoll

Rising Fawn, Ga.

It's the deaths — not how they died

Wherein lies the tragedy in death? Is it that a life is taken too soon; or is the greater tragedy the manner in which the life was taken?

To my thinking, death is the tragedy; the cause is secondary. The focus on gun deaths is like a magician's conjuring.

While true there are 600 gun deaths a week in the United States, there are 17,000 abortion killings that same week. Alas, 800 die from opioid abuse. Many thousands more die from preventable problems caused by obesity, alcoholism, lung cancer and heart disease from smoking.

If you note the murder statistics in Chattanooga, it is mainly black people killing other blacks — usually gang or drug related. You will find this to be true in Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Memphis and so on. It's easy to forget "Black lives matter." Irony is wasted upon the ignorant.

To the "Wear Orange Against Guns" group, I rather doubt walking around in your little, orange shirt will have any affect whatsoever. It's "sexy" and cool to be against guns while ignoring far more pressing problems.

Jim Howard

Resist Graham- Cassidy renewal

A number of Republicans are trying to give last year's failed partisan health care repeal bill, the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill, another go. Sen. Lindsey Graham is working with far right think tanks and other special interests to revive the repeal bill. A one-page description of the bill indicates that Graham-Cassidy 2.0 is similar to last year's bill, and may result in even more people losing coverage than the previous version Republicans tried to pass last year.

Graham-Cassidy 2.0 would be disastrous for Tennesseans because it would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eliminate protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. The ACA created new rules that prevent insurers from denying coverage or charging more to the 2,764,651 Tennesseans living with pre-existing conditions. Passage of this bill would erase those protections and re-open the door to discrimination for Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions.

Our representatives need to stand up for Tennesseans and resist attempts to bring this bill to the floor for a vote. Our health care and our lives depend on it.

Willem Sudbrink

Time for us to vote to end this mess

Is this the United States of America or the United States of Trump? It is becoming clearer each day it can't be both.

There are millions of us who know who we are and what our country is and stands for. But now we have a president, a Republican-controlled Congress and a sympathetic political base of supporters and voters who think America belongs to only them. The rest of us have to sit back and take it. Not so.

In November, we can restore checks and balances and legal norms to a presidency and a Congress that embraces wholesale chaos, destructive economic and social policies, a stream of endless lies and blatant lawlessness. We just need to show up at the polls. It's not about party or political affiliation or whether you live in a red or blue state. It's about putting the brakes on a runaway administration bent on establishing autocratic rule and a Republican Congress that's willing to subvert democracy to maintain power.

Look, nobody is comfortable taking an "us vs. them" approach on this, but we didn't start it, Trump did. We just have to get out and vote to end it.

Greg Williams

Signal Mountain

Violent zealots? Look to the left

A May 30 letter writer noted four "terrorist groups" at home: religious zealots, Trump cultists, the far right wing of the Republican Party and the NRA. None of those groups has ever committed a terrorist act such as a mass murder. In fact, it was an NRA member who took down the church murderer in Texas last November. However, a Democrat Party activist last June did shoot several people on the Republican congressional team practicing for a ball game. As evident with college campus destruction when conservatives are invited to speak, look no further than the left-wing zealots who commit violent acts.

Janet Hayes


Grandmothers could solve case

Solving the Mueller case: One year plus $17 million and still going. A gaggle of lawyers and unknown number of support people. It is unbelievable that this case has not been resolved.

How to solve it? Send a half dozen grandmothers to Washington. In a short period of time, we will: save the taxpayers money and be able to tell who is lying and who is telling the truth. We can hand out the appropriate punishment. It would be swift.

It would be over, and we could move on.

Ruth Cote


U.S.: Stop being the world's patsy

Much misinformation is being spewed about the implementation of tariffs for aluminum and steel. The biggest negative reaction has come from Canada, Mexico and the EU because those entities have enjoyed several decades of unfair trade in their favor. Multinational corporations (supported by the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) have also found ways to benefit from trade imbalances. The following may help understand the EU issue:

Emerging from WWII, the U.S. had become the world's most powerful economy based on its industrial capabilities developed to support the war effort. Other industrial countries — England, Germany and Japan — had been decimated by warfare. America's industrial strength increased dramatically during the 1950s.

To restore a more normal world order, the U.S. government began to financially support the recovery efforts of our allies and the beaten nations. Major corporations were encouraged (and incentivized) to make substantial investments in these countries. And the recovering countries were allowed to heavily tax and install tariffs on goods imported, with no countering U.S. reaction. A significant number of those steps remain today, despite the targeted nations enjoying a full recovery.

Time to stop being the world's patsy.

Mike Budnick

Winchester, Tenn.