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Letters - March 29

Courage needed

One person is responsible for the state of America today. Ralph Nader. I hope he and the well-meaning folks who voted for him realize just exactly what they did.

Under George Bush’s leadership, our country’s economy has crashed dismally, our environment is more endangered than it has ever been, our health care system has become even more out of reach for many middle class Americans, taxes to the upper classes have been reduced, and civil liberties have been assaulted.

I don’t even know where to start on the Iraq “war,” (translate invasion). I never thought I would see the day when we would take such a drastic measure without U.N. sanction. I pray our soldiers will be home soon, and that Hussein doesn’t use some of those “weapons of mass destruction” on them.

Hussein is a terrible man, and the most ardent peace supporters would not argue that. But in the past, the U.S. has supported dictators just as brutal, like the Shah of Iran and Batista of Cuba, whom we have to thank for Castro on our doorstep. It’s the hypocrisy which bothers me as much as anything.

Unfortunately, the Democrats a lot of us voted for have not had the courage to stand up and declare opposition to this war. A quotation from William Butler Yeats seems sadly appropriate: “The best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Wendy Best

Parkdale

Bad re-run

Two quotes from Mr. Bush, “Men with no respect for life must never be allowed to control the ultimate weapons of death.” “This looks like a re-run of a bad movie, and I’m not interested in watching it.” I could not agree more!

Gary J. Fields

Hood River

An immoral war

It is hard to express the mix of sadness, helplessness and outrage that I feel over this horrible, senseless war we have brought upon ourselves and Iraq. Who knows how many people will die, how many children will be orphaned, maimed or killed, and how many lives forever changed by our president’s messianic mission to oust Saddam Hussein? I can’t pretend to understand Bush’s true motives (oil? revenge? delusion?), but his portrayal of Iraq as a world menace has never been supported by fact. Even if Saddam does possess WPM, the vast majority of world leaders and experts agree that recent UN efforts to peacefully disarm Iraq were working. In short, this war should never have begun; it is illegal, immoral, and a terrible waste of lives and resources.

I am ashamed of what is being done in the name of American freedom, and I do not support our troops in their fighting, although I support them, and the Iraqi people, in a return to peace.

Leigh Hancock

White Salmon

Good does happen

This letter is in response to Kelsey Shortt’s recent letter. Hopefully what I say here is taken to heart because I’m only a few years out of high school myself. The world hasn’t gone bad by a long shot. It’s true that times are bad right now but it’s our attitude that makes the difference. Personally I have friends all over the world right now and some are in real danger. This doesn’t damper their spirits in the least. Otherwise they probably wouldn’t be my friends in the first place. This week I’m saying goodbye to one of them. He is leaving for more interesting places while I stay here for a while longer. So for his farewell I threw him a barbecue to remember. Now I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but as it turned out the party was incredible.

This wasn’t without effort I had to build a barbecue pit from pieces in less than a night. Also I had to clean the place up, organize the food and beverage pickups, and invite the guests. I ended up spending the entire party cooking food for five times the amount of people that I thought would show up. It didn’t bother me a whole lot because it was for a buddy who is leaving. He had the time of his life.

Imagine the biggest toothy smile on earth walking around being toasted by 20 of his friends and 20 more people that I didn’t even recognize. He told me later on that no one had ever done something like that for him before. I told him that I would never do it again if he didn’t find me some help throwing the party. I had done nothing but work on the party for a week. It did go off great. My favorite part was the lawn candles that we lit after it got dark. This was just one good night I’ve had overseas since being away. There are many others I could speak about.

Hopefully this story will help in turning out some other good ones from our home. We do read the papers when we get the chance to. There are a lot of Oregon’s sons and daughters overseas.

Lance Corporal James Fox USMC

Seoul, South Korea

Protest in sorrow

President Bush has decided to declare war on Iraq in the belief that many people who have been ambivalent or against war will choose to “support the troops” and, therefore, will support his policies. Peace activists refuse to do this.

We value the men and women in the military much higher, as fellow human beings instead of simple cogs in the military machine sent to kill innocents. Many of us have been in the military or have friends and family in the military. They are not “defending our freedom.” Our freedoms have only been under attack lately by an administration which plays upon our fears in order to strike at our Constitutional rights. Although we condemn this unjust war, we feel only sorrow at the lives of military personnel and Iraqis that have been put at risk.

Theresa North

Hood River

Tolerate dissent

Regarding recent anti-war demonstrations at the Military Recruitement Center in The Dalles, it should be noted that demonstrations such as these are not against the men and women fighting the war in Iraq. Instead, they are against a misguided, unilateral and overly aggressive Bush Administration foreign policy, and to demand that our troops be brought home safely.

The Bush Administration still has not produced solid evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Our real enemy is Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida is a stateless, borderless enemy that cannot be eliminated with a shock-and-awe campaign in Bagdad. The war in Iraq will encourage Al-Qaida recruitement, and increase worldwide terrorism.

It also should be noted that one of the many stated goals of the Bush Administration in this war is to set up a government in Iraq that is democratic and will allow people to dissent from their government without being shot. It seems logical that those who support the war in Iraq should therefore be tolerant of dissent, here or anywhere.

Dee Holzman

Hood River

English official

I would like to bring everyone’s attention to a couple bills that are now in Congress which will drastically affect the citizens of the United States. English is the only language many of us have ever known. Now, there is a bill in Congress, H.CON.Res 5, referred to as the “English Plus” bill which will make the U.S. officially multi-lingual. Every document coming out of the government would have to be in several languages at a heavy cost to the 95 percent of Americans whose primary language is English. This bill should never leave the committee. Please let your Congressman know that!

To make the English language the official language of the U.S., there is a bill now in Congress HR 931. This bill was introduced by Rep. Peter King of New York and is co-sponsored by 26 of representatives.

To get a summary of this bill, it is available on the internet at:

thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c108:2:./temp/~c108TBQ7T:: Please write your Congressman to support this bill. Or go to www.us-english.org or write:

U.S. ENGLISH, Inc.

1747 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Washington, D.C. 20006

1-202-833-0100

Bobbi Reisner

Hood River

Test of freedom

The current pro-war lobby is making much of how American soldiers have protected American democracy. In the context of World War II, when the U.S. was attacked and Europe lay under Nazi rule, this makes sense. At other times in our history, however, it would seem that anti-war protesters have fought most effectively for the Bill of Rights, specifically the First Amendment. World War I, for example, was extremely unpopular. Henry Ford — of Model T fame — opposed it and sent a Peace Ship around the world. William Jennings Bryan was against it. Socialists and anarchists were deported or jailed for speaking out, and the gentle Jane Addams, social worker and founder of the Women’s Peace Party, was called “the most dangerous woman in America” for her pacifist stance. Finally, the journalist from Portland, John Reed, was jailed for speaking out.

Another unpopular war, the ill-advised U.S. intervention in Vietnam, created another large, broadly based peace movement which may have been the most democratic thing in America, brought a president down and helped end the war (there are many parallels here with the current Iraqi war as well.)

Patriotism may not be the “last refuge of the scoundrel,” as Dr. Johnson claimed, but it certainly has varying definitions in different historical contexts. Who would claim that Henry David Thoreau or Martin Luther King were not patriots? Muhammad Ali? Those who oppose this unwarranted, illegal, pre-emptive war in the Middle East are the true American patriots, in my view. Our freedoms must be tested to be reinforced. The price of democracy is not cheap.

Diane L. Allen

White Salmon

Downtown’s needs

The following is a letter I sent to the City, addressing some needs of downtown. Anyone reading this who agrees with me, please write to the City and request that some of these issues be taken care of.

Open letter to the City of Hood River:

I have been a downtown merchant for 17 years and seen a lot of changes that have breathed new life into Oak Street and its surroundings. We now have a delightfully attractive place to shop, eat, stop and sit for a while, or just walk and sightsee.

The people who come downtown have needs that are not being addressed, however, so I have a list of suggestions for the City to consider:

Restrooms — We need a public restroom that is open and maintained and visible. Our present one is closed often and the sign for it is tiny and hard to find.

Water fountains — We had several downtown in the past, and customers ask about them all the time.

Dog Clean-up Bags — Dog bags on the lightpoles for owners to clean up after their pets. There are more people than ever with their dogs downtown, so messes get left and stepped in.

Thank you for your considerations.

Julie Blenn

2nd Wind

Hood River

Noises off

I would like to thank City Manager Lynn Guenther and Chief of Police Tony Dirks for working to develop an effective solution to deal with the traffic noise on I-84.

This has been an issue that I have brought up at City Council for the last three years. After a few hurdles I am hopeful that the City’s Noise Ordinance, and enforcement by the police, will reduce the excessive and illegal truck noise on I-84.

Thank you and keep up the good work!

Andrea Klaas

Hood River

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