Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) has no ground to criticize any politician for flip-flopping; he is the champion of flip-floppers ["Zell Miller: A Democrat Who Insists His Party Left Him," news story, Sept. 1]. How can Miller say he left the Democratic Party because "Senate Democratic leaders opposed Republican legislation to create the Department of Homeland Security," when Democrats had been the first to propose such a department, and the Bush administration originally opposed it?

In 2001, he called John F. Kerry "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders -- and a good friend." He also stated that, "John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment." This year Mr. Miller said that Mr. Kerry's policy on national security was to "vacillate, retreat and turn over to the U.N." and that as for Mr. Kerry's stance on domestic policy, "it's tax, spend and redistribute income."

Mr. Miller said that Mr. Kerry's Senate voting record on national security was "shameful," forgetting to mention that Mr. Miller cast the exact same votes on intelligence funding as Mr. Kerry.

ERIC CROSSLEY

Laurel

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At first, I was confused. Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele received a great ovation at the Republican National Convention when he praised the values of self-reliance and "up by the bootstraps" and lambasted the Democrats for their support of programs that fostered dependency -- presumably welfare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, etc.

Only a few minutes later, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also received much applause when he touted America's generosity through its governmental and nongovernmental aid to the poor, sick and displaced of the world. Were the Republicans saying that welfare is bad for Americans but good for the rest of the world?

This is the Republicans' secret plan to take over the world: Make Americans strong through tough-love-get-off-your-butt-and-go-to-work strategies while turning the rest of the world into sniveling, dependent wimps by providing foreign aid. What a brilliant plan. It is almost enough to get me to vote Republican -- not.

JAMES H. KNOWLES-TUELL

Columbia