LETTERS IN THE EDITOR'S MAILBAG.
Fleenor response unsatisfactory
I've heard several people I know criticize Lane County Commissioner Bill Fleenor after reading some of his quotes in The Register-Guard on Nov. 19. I just wanted to warn people to be careful how loudly they voice their opinions.
On Oct. 26, The Register-Guard printed a letter to the editor from my wife that was critical of Fleenor. Later the same day, Fleenor sent an e-mail out to a mailing list of his supporters and constituents detailing the research he conducted to find out who the author of the letter was.
The research consisted of running my wife's name through an Internet search engine that included a "complete background check" and "nationwide criminal check." The quotes are taken directly from his e-mail.
It appears that his motivation was to discover that she is related to a public safety employee. He subsequently dismissed her opinion, as he does with other public safety employees and their families.
I wrote to Fleenor expressing my frustration and disappointment that an elected official would go to such lengths to investigate someone who spoke out against him. His two- sentence response didn't answer any of my questions or address any of my concerns.
From now on I am going to advise people to keep their criticism of Fleenor anonymous. Otherwise they could be the next one he researches.
Did Obama cave on Lieberman?
Why must politicians be so predictable? Primarily seen from a negative point of view, the rule is so universal that it applies to the best and the least of them - the princes as well as the bottom-feeders.
President-elect Barack Obama clearly ranks among the elite in the nation's esteem - an intelligent, serious politician. Following his career has been nothing short of inspiring. Whether it be in his writing or on the stump, the low road to him is terra incognita. His successful run for the presidency was an honest and well-earned accomplishment.
Enter Sen. Joe Lieberman, he of the well-known twists and turns capable of putting a whirling dervish to shame. He whose political adventures went from lifelong Democrat to Independent to strong backer of Republican Sen. John McCain in this election.
Perhaps you can't blame a politician for aligning himself with a politician he sees as the likely winner in an important election, as in, "What does honor have to do with politics?"
Now we come to President-elect Obama, who apparently has endorsed Lieberman's effort to retain the chairmanship of an important committee, despite his defection to Obama's adversary. Never mind his vile quotes on Obama's character.
Is this the first display of Obama's feet embedded in an insubstantial substance? Why? What did he fear from Lieberman?
There are those who suggest it has to do with the powerful segment of our electorate that comprises Lieberman's base. One hopes not, because this is only the beginning.
Edward Walter Clarke
Parker right on GOP and religion
Kathleen Parker (Register-Guard, Nov. 20) was so correct in her assertion that "simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party," and, "The choir has become absurdly off-key."
For eight years, the religious and secular worlds have been held hostage by self-important, puffed up toads such as Pat Robertson, the deceased Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Joel Osteen, et al. Their campaign to subjugate Americans to their personal "isms" virtually has silenced the millions of us who go about our daily lives quietly worshiping God in our own respectful ways.
When these mega-rich publicity seekers became totally political, they lost the respect of and caused humiliation to the rest of us. They risked causing the loss of our tax-exempt status, which frees us to do such good works as feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, bringing health care to millions around the world, that is, serving our fellow man. The bellicose hissy fits they throw to get their political way need to be stopped.
The intent of our forefathers in separating church and state was to preserve us from domination, the kind they had escaped by fleeing from the Church of England to a land where they could worship as they pleased. Their intent was to free all people from any power wishing to dominate - whether a religious movement or the government.
These self-important voices need to return to the church's main purpose, which is to guide each heart to love and good works.
Depleted uranium a vile weapon
In defense of Jack Dresser, Ehren Watada and Mark Twain, I quote Teddy Roosevelt (by Charles Stromme's standards, a gentleman of questionable patriotism): "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
The Nuremberg Principle incorporated into the Uniform Code of Military Justice establishes that our military personnel not only have the right but the duty to refuse illegal orders. And there can be nothing more illegal than commission of war crimes with internationally prohibited weapons, five of which the U.S. military has used in Iraq.
The most horrific of these are depleted uranium warheads, which atomize on impact into radioactive dust distributed far and wide into the air, water, soil and thereby the food supply across Iraq and Afghanistan.
Between the Gulf War and current wars, at least 2,700 tons of this particulated mutagenic waste (the 99 percent residual U-238 from our nuclear power facilities, provided at little or no cost to the weapons industry) has been dumped on Iraq and another 1,000 tons on Afghanistan (see www?.iacenter.org/depleted).
The inevitable result: massively increased rates of cancer, immunodeficiencies and grotesque, never-before-seen birth deformities. And this is a gift that keeps on giving - for more than 4 billion years, inflicting death and suffering upon helpless, innocent Muslim populations for countless generations to come.
I fear that history will record this as mankind's greatest war crime.
Alan Ash is a sustainable artisan
It was very gratifying to see our pal Alan Ash featured (Register-Guard, Nov. 24).
It's true, you can see Alan's work around here. To see it and touch it is to better understand what he has made and the work his dry stone walls do. And to work with him is to more deeply understand what he makes.
His work is exemplary, as the story states. He is among the fine dry stone wallers of the United States.
At the Historic Preservation Trades Conference last summer in Vermont, everyone asked about Alan Ash. He has much to contribute to what may not become a lost art. Yes, he is great fun to work with, and nothing beats the experience of building a dry stone wall. Nothing.
Dry stone walling is very much green building - local material can be used and reused, it has almost zero toxicity in most phases of the building cycle, and the use of power equipment and weird compounds is next to zero. Those are among its sustainable characteristics.
One of the most important of those sustainable characteristics is people: education and practice of this trade is reasonably accessible, it is dignifying and healthy work in most settings, it marries up well with nature and can do its work for a very long time when properly built.
We are lucky to have Alan Ash on this part of the planet.
Automakers part of the problem
I think that three entities are to blame for the mess that the Detroit auto makers are in today:
1. The automakers themselves. Every time they were urged to improve their product (disc brakes, air bags, better mileage) they cried the blues about how it would cost too much and the public wouldn't buy the cars.
2. The United Auto Workers always asking for more. A living wage is needed, but not what the union is always crying for - wages, fully paid insurance if they could get it, guaranteed job security.
3. The congressional delegation from Michigan that is always backing the auto industry.
We drive a used 2003 Dodge Caravan that gets 21 to 22 miles per gallon. We used to drive a 1991 Chevy Astro Van that got 21 to 22 miles per gallon. The Astro van was heavier and bigger and less aerodynamic than the Caravan. They both had a big V-6, and the Caravan is 12 years newer - yet still no improvement in the mileage!
If we can put a man on the moon, we certainly can put out a car of decent size that will get 40-plus miles to the gallon.
I hope the first thing that our new president does is to give the OK to California to institute new auto emission standards.
Buy local this holiday season
For those folks who do purchase holiday gifts and givings, there is good reason to shop locally.
Recent studies show that if you spend $100 at local businesses, $73 of that stays in the local economy. That same $100 spent at big box/nonlocally owned stores keeps only $43 in the local economy.
One study specific to Borders Books showed that for every $100 in consumer spending at Borders, the total local economic impact is only $13. The same amount spent with a local merchant yields more than three times the local economic impact.
When you purchase at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned, more money is kept in the community because locally owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms.
Purchasing local helps grow other businesses. Think globally, shop locally.
The $5 you save at Wal-Mart may not be the best buy for your money or for the community.