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Letters to the Editor for July 23, 2012


Obama can’t run on his record

 When running for president, then-senator Obama was faced with a dilemma. He couldn’t run on his record of achievements, as he didn’t have any. Nor could he run on his agenda, for it came from the uttermost depths of the leftmost wing of the Democratic Party. So he pretended to be a moderate, used inspirational-sounding but essentially meaningless rhetoric (“hope and change”) and successfully gambled that Bush fatigue and the historic opportunity of electing our first black president would cause voters to overlook his singular lack of qualifications.

Now he is running for re-election, and faces the same dilemma. He still can’t run on his agenda, for that includes the imposition of cap and trade on our economy, eliminating the use of coal in generating electricity, and driving the price of gasoline “to European levels.”

Neither can he run on his record of achievements, for these include a huge stimulus which he promised would significantly reduce unemployment but didn’t, annual trillion dollar deficits which have cost the Federal Government its coveted AAA bond rating, Obamacare, which a majority of Americans want repealed, “Operation Fast and Furious,” in which the government allowed American guns to get into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, which then used those same guns to murder Mexican citizens and one U. S. border guard, crony capitalism, in which corporations with good political connections get plums, such as the federal guaranteed loans granted to the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, an outfit which promptly went bankrupt; there’s lots more, but you get the idea.

So President Obama continues his pretense of being a moderate, uses meaningless rhetoric, such as “the private sector is all right,” and gambles that his use of class warfare will cause voters to overlook that his, like Jimmy Carter’s, is a failed presidency.

It took two terms in office for independents and moderate Democrats to develop Bush fatigue, but it’s taken only one term for President Obama to induce Obama fatigue in these same voters.  

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Single payer system will save health care in America

Even with the recent Supreme Court ruling that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, Oregonians need to demand health care financing that does not put us in the poor house!

Anyone paying health insurance premiums knows our health care financing system is broken.  After the ACA is fully implemented in 2019, 26 million Americans will still lack coverage. Those who cannot afford insurance often seek health care at emergency rooms with all of us footing the bill.

Insurance and pharmaceutical corporations keep their profits flowing by spending millions to hoodwink us into believing that public financing means government takeover and decreased health care quality.

Both Medicare and the Veterans Administration prove otherwise. What we need now, if we are to avoid breaking the bank, is improved Medicare for everyone regardless of age.

Only two percent of Medicare’s dollars go to administration/overhead. Private insurance spends as much as 16.7 percent. Under a single payer system, overall administrative costs would fall from 33 percent of current health care spending to less than 5 percent, saving hundreds of billions of dollars.

Studies by the nonpartisan General Accounting Office and Congressional Budget Office report that implementing a national single payer system would yield administrative cost-savings enough to guarantee coverage for every American without increasing overall health care spending.

Because Congress has not yet enacted affordable health insurance legislation, Health Care for All-Oregon is campaigning for affordable, comprehensive, publicly funded, high quality systems of health care serving everyone in Oregon and the United States.

Oregon Rural Action is one of 50 HCAO member organizations statewide.  ORA is organizing health care action in Baker, Wallowa, Union, Malheur and Umatilla counties. To find out how you can help hold health care costs in check, contact the Oregon Rural Action Health Care Action Team (541-663-1358) or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Bill Whitaker

La Grande

 

Letters to the Editor for July 18, 2012


What’s Romney trying to hide?

Romney’s surrogates are bristling at the suggestion that Romney committed a felony in signing SEC documents after 1999, but they studiously ignore the alternative. Given Romney’s cautious nature in many things, it’s not likely he would have lied when he signed Bain related SEC disclosures or when he testified under oath that he was actively involved in Bain companies and attended board meetings in Massachusetts when challenged on his residency and eligibility to run for governor.

Since simply positive factual statements cannot be simultaneously true and untrue, logic dictates he is lying in his campaign statements which are not under oath or under any legal penalty. Whether his SEC filings, sworn testimony and financial disclosures to the FEC conflict with one another or with his tax filings is a matter that will only be settled when he is forced to make public his tax returns for the last 12 years as Obama has already done. The fact that he adamantly opposes such a release of his tax returns confirms in my mind that besides any embarrassing details about foreign investments and overseas tax shelters there must be something very fishy at the core of the matter which would strike a fatal blow to his credibility and legitimacy if elected.

John Harmer

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for July 13, 2012


Don’t close roads — downsize the Forest Service instead

I am a Baker County resident and love our forests. I along with many of my friends are in the forest and mountains sometimes several times a week. I’ve watched the Forest Service close many of the roads we used to enjoy. The Forest Service wants to keep a few people happy, environmentalists, that threaten to sue for everything. About half of the forest is already wilderness area. Let them take their walks and enjoy that part of the forest. Compromise has already been made. For the rest of us, which I believe is the majority, don’t close anything.

The loggers can no longer log, half the forest is wilderness and many of the roads already closed. I think that a good solution to the whole problem is get rid of 80 percent of the U.S. Forest Service and put the extra money into things that are really needed such as schools and other projects.

Bob McKean

Baker City

Regardless of contest results, Baker City is a winner

As we await the results of this year’s Best of the Road contest, I already know that Baker City is the winner. Timothy Bishop orchestrated a  spectacular show of our beautiful town for the judges and attendant Travel Channel/CBS TV crew. With only a one-day official visit, he managed to showcase our ranching heritage, our arts community, and other towns in Baker County, as well as the Baker City Historic District, heart of Baker County. Please join me in thanking Timothy for job well done!

 I’m proud to have been a small part of this community effort in service on the planning committee. Every citizen should share that pride. It doesn’t matter who is announced as the winner on Tuesday. We are all winners here and should congratulate each other on our beautiful small town!

Barbara Sidway

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for July 11, 2012


Free market? I wish there were such a thing

Free-market exponent Pete Sundin wrote a letter to the editor praising free choice, something I can agree with, if there really were such a thing.

How short Mr. Sundin’s memory is.  He has seemingly forgotten that unregulated free choice in worldwide financial markets led to the recession the U.S. and Europe are facing today.  Mr. Sundin isn’t the only one with a short memory.

I just learned today about the LIBOR scandal that promises to eclipse the derivatives scandal of 2008.  LIBOR stands for “London Inter-bank Offered Rate.”  That’s the average rate set by banks that determines what interest is charged to buy and sell money between banks.  In the culture of big finance, LIBOR trickles down to also affect the little guy’s interest payments on credit card, car loan, and mortgage.

Barclays, a 300-year-old British bank, has admitted to rigging LIBOR to its advantage, and disadvantage of others.  (Read about it in The Economist here: http://www.economist.com/node/21558281, or just Google “LIBOR scandal.”)  Barclays has agreed to pay U.S. and British regulators almost a half billion dollars in penalties.  Several other big-name banks are being investigated for similar activity.

Once again we learn that the game of free-market high finance is not conducted on a level playing field. Not only do financial institutions pay its traders obscenely high salaries and bonuses, but they also cheat.

The Economist refers to the LIBOR scandal as the “rotten heart of finance.”

Now, back to Mr. Sundin’s letter to the editor about free choice.  There is no free choice for the little guy, when the big guys don’t play by the rules.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Locals help make Cycling Classic roll smoothly

The Baker City Cycling Classic couldn’t have happened this year without the support of our local community, and they came out more committed to the race than ever before.

Baker Loves Bikes would like to thank all our volunteers, the Baker High School students, their parents and their coaches for their dedication. The City of Baker City for the help making the courses clean and safe. Our police and fire departments for ensuring the safety of those racing and spectators.

Many local businesses supported the race financially or with volunteers for us. This help allowed us to put over $2500 into the BHS programs that worked with us and with continued support like this we will be able to increase our donations as we move forward.

The field at this years BCCC was up by 30 percent from last year and with the rider feedback we’ve been receiving already, we’re sure to have an even larger field next year. This event brings bike racers from all over the country to Baker County and the money they pay to be here goes directly into programs at Baker High School,which makes it unique. More money from this event stays right here in Baker, than just about any other event in the county, and it’s all from sources outside our area.

We also received help from the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center and in return they received a large donation of food for the food bank for the third year in a row. For the first time we worked with the fifth-grade classes to create the beautiful and colorful posters for the BCCC. Many of the posters could be seen around downtown Baker, but some graced the walls of bike shops around the Pacific Northwest, as far away as California.

As we move forward to our 12th year of racing in Baker City we become the second longest consecutively run bike race in the state of Oregon, and that is thanks in large part to the support of Baker County and YOU. Thank you all so much we couldn’t do it without you, and the riders all thank you too.

Brian Vegter

Baker City

Vegter is the race promoter for the Baker City Cycling Classic, and vice president of Baker Loves Bikes.

 

Letters to the Editor for July 9, 2012


Council should be responsive

I would like to alert the membership of the Hells Canyon Preservation Council to the lack of your organization to engage with the local populace in Eastern Oregon on the matter of the Travel Management Plan currently be planned by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 

Throughout the last four months local citizens have attempted to engage your organization through its writings on its blog and other social media, to be ignored and most recently to delete our questions. 

I would be greatly concerned to follow the leadership of people that cannot put together a coherent argument of their point, other than to wax poetic and insist that they have the only correct view point on natural resources management. 

Please ask the staff in La Grande to answer the questions being posed to them. I believe before they kill any more jobs in Eastern Oregon they should account for their position.

 John D. George

Bates

 

Change is possible  

It seemed for a time that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision had handed virtual control of our elections to the wealthy few. 

But the unanimous vote last week by the Baker City Council urging a U.S. constitutional amendment to take money out of politics is now a shining symbol of the power of We the People.  A small group of local citizens initiated the proposal, and the City Council debated and passed a resolution to let Congress and the states regulate political contributions and spending.

And both Senators Wyden and Merkley are already co-sponsoring just such a Constitutional amendment.  This is a big deal!  It deserves everyone’s utmost support.  We can change our destiny ... if we work together.

I was born in 1940, and during my lifetime I’ve seen the middle class grow by leaps and bounds, fueled by huge government investments, starting with World War II.  But then I watched the tide start to go out around 1980, as good-paying jobs were lost to globalization and automation, labor unions declined, and the wealthy 1 percent gained more and more of our total income and economic and political power, and were then granted massive tax cuts. 

I watched as wealthy folks and international corporations reached out and stuck their thumbs on the scales that determine who gets what.  With their money they could lobby Congress, buy political influence with campaign contributions, and offshore good-paying jobs and automate jobs out of existence with impunity.  They could then dictate pay and working conditions, bust unions, pay minimal income tax, and so forth. 

But that’s the past, not necessarily the future.  If we work together, we can reverse history and rebuild a society that works for us — with a government of, by, and for The People. It’s possible!  I know.  I was there.

I urge my fellow readers to reject the hate talk and ideology that keeps us divided, that makes us adversaries.  There’s too much at stake.  Real answers await our mutual, joint creative problem-solving genius.  The bold action of our City Council shows us it can be done.    

Marshall McComb

Baker City

 

Letter to the Editor for July 6, 2012

Pro-choice only goes so far

There are many politicians (you’ll find them in both parties) who like to say that they’re “pro-choice.” But when you look into their claims, you’ll learn that choice is only in one area of life — abortion. For the rest of life, they like to make our choices for us. Their rationale? Life is so complicated nowadays that we average citizens are incapable of making intelligent decisions for ourselves.

 

 

Letters to the Editor for July 2, 2012


Remembering a great friend, and my friend, Jack Pittman

I am proud to have called Jack Pittman a friend. I wish I could say a few words at his memorial service, but while some people can talk about a good friend after his passing and not get all choked up, I’m not one of them.

I first met Jack years ago, when I worked at the Senior Center and volunteers from his church would come once a month to help serve lunch. Right before lunch is served, one of the volunteers asks the Lord to bless the food, diners and volunteers. A lot of people do a real nice job, but Jack spoke to Jesus like he was talking to an old and trusted friend. His heartfelt words always had a big impact on me. And it wasn’t just words, because Jack lived life just like he spoke. Jack was the most religious man I’ve ever known, but he never flaunted his beliefs or looked down on someone who might not have his degree of faith. Jack was a role model, although I doubt he thought of himself that way. He was just being the good man he was.

When Jack would see me, he usually said “How are you, you good looking rascal?” It often made me doubt his eyesight, but never his sincerity. He talked to everyone like they were the most important person in his world, and I believe Jack honestly felt that way about each and every person he ever visited.

When I decided to be baptized, I couldn’t imagine asking anyone else to baptize me. I think it caught him by surprise and there was a slight pause. I was afraid he would refuse, but I shouldn’t have worried. I don’t think Jack could refuse any service to his Lord or to a friend.

Knowing Jack, he got a job greeting new arrivals into Heaven. He has such a way of making everyone feel welcome, he’s a natural.

This isn’t goodbye my friend, just until we meet again.

Jim Thomas

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for June 25, 2012


I’m supporting 5J recall

Enough with all this bickering and pettiness! Our school board, while volunteers, should conduct itself professionally. We should not see sniping, eye-rolling, and punitive actions. We should not see board members (employers) joining with a district administrator (employee) against another member of the board (one of the employers).

It is with a heavy heart that I think these volunteers should direct their talents somewhere that is not the local 5J Board. I am embarrassed that our board members cannot become a cohesive and positive force for the children in our district.

Please join me in promoting the Burroughs-Henderson Recall.

Elizabeth Campbell Huntsman

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for June 22, 2012


Wind farm imperils rare grass

The Oregon semaphore grass is a unique and amazing grass that occurs in two populations within the state of Oregon, and nowhere else in the world. It has a global heritage rank of G1, “critically imperiled because of the extreme rarity.” (Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species of Oregon, October 2010; Oregon Biodiversity Information Center, Institute of Natural resources, Portland State University).

Construction of the Antelope Ridge Wind Facility in Union County constitutes a threat to the Oregon semaphore grass. EDP Renewables chose to ignore it in their application until the Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley challenged them to address it. This rare plant is on the chopping block due to a renewable energy program that is proving to not be environmentally friendly that will ultimately provide less than 1 percent of our energy production. The question now is how many other endangered species of plants and animals are being ignored? 

Pamela Wilkinson

Cove

Not good news for Romney?

Local Obama critic Pete Sundin (June 13 Herald) notes that attorney John Wolfe of Chattanooga, Tenn., has garnered a significant percentage of votes in several state Democratic presidential primaries.  Sundin concludes that there is much discontent with their president among Democrats, which would seem to bode well for Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.  

What Sundin fails to tell the reader is that Wolfe is farther left politically than Obama. He wants tighter regulation of big banks and expanded use of Medicare. Democrats and independents who voted for Wolfe may be even less likely to vote for Mitt Romney.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for June 20, 2012


Voters should look at Romney’s record, too

Pete Sundin tries to make a case (letters 6/13) for looking askance at President Obama’s accomplishments before casting our vote, drawing from major untruths perpetuated in the GOP/Romney platform. Perhaps Sundin doesn’t realize that far from being a big taxer, under Obama taxes are at their lowest level in decades. Similarly, Obama has spent less in new programs than any president since World War II, of course adding to the federal budget the cost of Bush’s two undeclared and unfunded wars increases our deficit, and his assertion that Obama is bad for jobs and business is refuted by the stock market going from 7,000 to 12,500 while business profits are the highest in history, and not surprisingly, any slowing of jobs growth coincides with the do-nothing 2010 GOP Congress blocking his policies.

Looking at Romney, who claims he ran a company which invested in struggling business without ever taking a bailout and touts his business acumen as the cornerstone of his campaign, we see a CEO (Bain) who sought and accepted a $10 million federal bailout (Boston Globe, Oct. 25, 1994) after making bad investments that he wanted the U.S. taxpayer to pony up for and in the tortured logic of the GOP, his dismembering and gutting businesses while stripping them of assets and laying off many thousands of workers is to be admired? 

Yes, indeed, do look hard before you vote.

John Harmer

Baker City

 
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