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Byline: The Register-Guard

Smith playing politics on Iraq

Re-elected in 2002 and looking for free advertising for his 2008 campaign, Sen. Gordon Smith now says he has re-evaluated his position on Iraq.

Smith is a die-hard conservative who feels it is the government's right to intervene in any way into your constitutional rights of choice and free association, yet he hasn't met a pro-business bill he didn't love. He voted for tax cuts for big oil companies and to protect manufacturers and drug companies from lawsuits due to defective and deadly products, but he destroyed your right to debt relief through declaring bankruptcy.

Remember, Smith took a $25,000 trip to Ireland paid for by lobbyists and bought himself a million-dollar set of golf clubs.

He voted for "Defense of Marriage," for severe cuts for Medicaid and for Trent Lott to return to Republican leadership in the Senate. He not only voted for Lott, but seconded his nomination and also spoke in support of this Mississippi racist for the position of, no kidding, "minority whip."

He desperately needs to be seen as a moderate, so he will take this new position against the clueless, lame duck President Bush. Our newspapers need to recognize this as a craven and calculating political ploy to somehow be seen as a bipartisan moderate in a state where the Republican Party, and Smith, are far, far to the right of the mainstream.

We would like some Republican moderates, but Smith is not one now, nor has he ever been one.



Only Iraqis can decide their fate

As the disaster in Iraq grows, more and more Iraqi soldiers will grasp that the United States has started on the inevitable path of withdrawal. With our troops, tanks and bombers leaving, what choices will the individual Iraqi soldier have?

With this civil war already in progress, he can go home and line up with one side or the other in Iraq's longtime sectarian dispute, or he can leave Iraq, or maybe hunker down until the Arab world sorts out the mess the Americans could not unscramble.

What I see is that it won't be President Bush, or the generals, who decide the outcome. It will be individual Iraqi soldiers walking away from this war who will become the "deciders."



EWEB hydropower kills fish

Arin Carmack's Dec. 13 letter stated surprise at the absence of hydropower in The Register-Guard's Dec. 3 article about Eugene Water & Electric Board's renewable energy initiative.

No surprise. EWEB doesn't boast about renewable hydropower from its McKenzie River projects because it's not renewable. EWEB projects continue to generate power, but only by consuming fish and degrading fishery resources.

EWEB's McKenzie hydro is not green power. It is dirty brown power.

The McKenzie has federally listed species and is the gene pool for spring Chinook salmon in the entire Willamette basin. EWEB kills fish directly when they encounter EWEB facilities. It is responsible for missing fish because EWEB manages the river flow for hydropower, which degrades habitat needed for migration, spawning and rearing. EWEB's impacts go far beyond the current hot topic of putting fish in EWEB trucks at the Trail Bridge Dam versus building them a ladder.

EWEB has made the current policy choice that trades off fish for more power revenue. EWEB lets us pay a bit more for renewable wind power from Wyoming. It could offer us an opportunity to pay a bit more to buy out the most damaging aspects of its McKenzie hydro projects. The Mc- Kenzie power we all use could be a lighter shade of brown if EWEB would let us choose. I doubt this will happen unless the city, county and ratepayers push hard on EWEB.

In the meantime, an honest bumper sticker in Eugene would read: "EWEB lights my home with dead and missing McKenzie fish."



Goldberg wrong about Pinochet

Jonah Goldberg's Dec. 17 column "What Iraq needs is an Augusto Pinochet" is an appalling defense of fascism, based on the false premise that Pinochet's critics are all supporters of Fidel Castro and that somehow the moderately leftist and popular Salvador Allende government was the greater of evils in Chile.

Unlike the Cuban revolutionaries, Allende was never a Stalinist and promoted a parliamentary road to socialism. His practice was consistent with that vision. What Goldberg is actually saying is the United States can attack any government that it disapproves of, regardless of whether it's democratically elected. And we have a long, ugly history of doing just that, all over the world.

Given this reality, nobody should be surprised that Castro has resorted to heavy-handed tactics. The threat posed by the United States is real and, while that doesn't excuse atrocities, it does put them in context. The Cubans' situation is not pretty, but they are better off than many of their neighbors. Right-wing governments in Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador and Brazil have a history of "disappearances," torture and terror.

But Goldberg doesn't really care about the suffering of Cubans or Chileans or Iraqis. His columns are about defending U.S. hegemony, not human rights. So many conservatives are only trying to "conserve" the most backward and oppressive elements of society.

They are the enemy of progressive change and social justice. Only these types could defend the likes of Pino- chet.



Money is still the real problem

How fortunate we in Lane County are to have citizens such as Jaymes May (letters, Dec. 17) who know everything.

May, though not an employee of the district attorney's office, knows what occurs in the office and is apparently aware of sinister wrongdoings on the part of District Attorney F. Douglass Harcleroad.

May has crafted a solution for our crime issue in Lane County - stiffer sentences for criminal offenders. How refreshing. Why didn't the district attorney think of that? Perhaps because the jail system is also operating at a reduced capacity, likewise unable to fulfill the needs of this county due to budgetary issues.

Perhaps we need more law enforcement officers or assistant district attorneys to handle the additional caseloads. Wonderful, but again, there's the persistent issue of a lack of funding. Money is necessary to hire more people or to expand services like a larger jail, able to hold all those criminals serving stiffer sentences.

Furthermore, I would be curious to hear specifically how the district attorney is mismanaging funds. Certainly, May must know of something occurring to have made such a brazen accusation toward such a competent individual as Harcleroad, who has served for more than 20 years.

Perhaps we can start to have faith in our elected officials, those with more expertise in particular areas than others, who know of what they speak. Finger-pointing and empty pontificating will not solve the crime problem in Lane County.



McCain can't give up on war

Sen. John McCain said, "The American people are confused ... by the Iraq war" (Register-Guard, Dec. 15).

One can scarcely blame McCain for attempting to discredit most Americans by insinuating they are experiencing mental difficulties. After all, the majority of Americans disagree with McCain about the war and, politically speaking, he cannot simply call them ignorant.

As an unconfused member of that majority, I have many questions about McCain's mental balance. With almost 3,000 U.S. troops killed and 23,000 wounded and with an estimated 650,000 Iraqis killed, why does he want to send more young Americans to Iraq to both die and to kill more Iraqis? Why did he ignore the U.S. Constitution and the United Nations' Charter and vote in 2002 to give carte blanche war powers to an on-the-job-training president? Why did he volunteer in 1967 to shoot and bomb the Vietnamese in their own land from his high performance jet fighter?

McCain is a war hero who is also a warmonger, a career warrior who cannot resist war's allure. While undoubtedly courageous, he seems to be severely lacking in any grounding in judgment and wisdom. As such, he will continue to find approval and acclaim from his peers, the Repub- licans.

But he shall never find a home in the White House. Americans are tired of war for the sake of war and big corporate profits.



Smith didn't go far enough

So, Sen. Gordon Smith has come to the end of his rope regarding our situation in Iraq. In my opinion, this senator has a very long rope!

While I agree with Russell Sadler that Smith's break from President Bush and his absurd Iraq actions and policies took some political courage, the cynical part of me cannot help thinking this move has something to do with political expediency. As "Saturday Night Live's' Church Lady might say about Smith's belated attempt to rehab himself on the war, "how convenient!"

However, I do not want to be too flip on this most serious of subjects. In my opinion, Smith did not go nearly far enough, nor do most politicians from either party. You get the feeling that the great majority of them and their countrymen and women are against war only when we are not "winning."

My late father told me once that there are no winners in a war. We North Americans need to move beyond this idea that a war is an acceptable way to solve international problems. In my view and that of many others, the ferocity of today's weapons and tactics make war obsolete.

Please join me and others in altering our mind-set to the point of rejecting war as an acceptable approach to international dispute resolution. We have much more to lose than to gain in continuing to kill people in order to convert others to our way of thinking.



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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Dec 26, 2006
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