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Three decades later, a look at Orwell’s big year

British author George Orwell made the year 1984 famous decades before it arrived, but he was no Prince.

No Bruce Springsteen, either.

Orwell coined several iconic terms in his dystopian novel written in 1948, among them “Big Brother,” “Newspeak” and “thoughtcrime.”

But Orwell didn’t bust any ghosts.

Nor did he sweep the leg.

Three decades have passed since 1984, which bore little resemblance — in America, anyway — to the repressive regime Orwell’s fertile mind imagined and his agile pen rendered.

Certain Democrats might have disagreed, I suppose, what with President Ronald Reagan trouncing the hapless Walter Mondale that November to claim his second term.

 Liberals’ disdain for the Gipper has dissipated slightly over 30 years, although I don’t believe this is because his critics have soberly reappraised Reagan’s record.


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 13, 2014


Self-serving politicians shouldn’t try to manage land

This letter is in regard to the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revisions, which include Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur National Forests (almost 5 million acres that belong to all the citizens of the United States.

Every plant, microorganism, and animal on Earth exists within an ecosystem, a complex network of interdependent relationships in which each individual strand is important and contributes to the success of the whole. Ecosystems, in turn, interact with one another to form the biosphere (the zone of life on our planet). These systems, so important to the world around us, are far from stable. The intermountain lowlands of the western United States is considered one of the most imperiled ecosystems in North America.

The rapid growth of human population and their attendant technologies have created unprecedented forces of ecological change. Once you understand the biosphere’s interactive network of relationships, you develop a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the life around us.

Dale Bosworth, the former Forest Service Chief, named unrestricted motor vehicle use as one of the four major threats to national forests. He specifically cited the growing popularity of ATVs and their potential to contribute to erosion, harassment of wildlife and conflict with other forest users. He ordered each national forest to write a travel management plan that would designate which roads, trails and areas would be open to motor vehicles.

A ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that “there can be no doubt that the Dept. of Agriculture (of which the Forest Service is a part) possesses statutory authority to regulate activities related to mining even in non-wilderness areas in order to preserve the national forests.”

I believe this applies to all other activity in our national forests. We are looking at a situation where maybe 1 percent or less of the U.S. citizens are trying to dictate the use of our national forests to the other 99 percent. Is this social justice?

We need to keep the self-serving state and local politicians from trying to manage our public lands and let the Forest Service do their job.

Robert L. Kern

Baker City

Editor’s note: The version of this letter that ran in Monday’s edition contained several typographical errors that were not contained in the original letter submitted for publication.

Thanks, counties, for opposing forest plan

Locked & Loaded Off Road Group of Baker City would like to thank the representatives from the Eastern Oregon Counties Association (EOCA), including our three commissioners from Baker County, for objecting to the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision 2014 draft.

Those of us who have been involved with the previous attempt to pass the WWNF Travel Management Plan, the BLM Draft Resource Management Plan, the BLM Sage Grouse commenting period and now the BMFPR comment period will stay vigilant and it is refreshing to know that we have the support of groups such as the EOCA.  

We hope that all people who live, work and recreate in the Blues are paying attention at all times and that you make your voice be heard now and in the future.  As stated in the Baker City Herald article on Aug. 5, timber harvesting has to increase and “the plan makes no guarantee that the forests will meet those projected timber volumes” as stated in the plan alternatives D and E. It will not only benefit the forest health but add revenue to surrounding communities and provide proper funding for USFS maintenance.  The discussion that the “BMFPR sets a stage for the USFS to impose a TMP that bans motorized vehicles from a substantial number of roads in the WWNF” is all too real and it’s not fair.  If maintaining the current forest roads is a money issue and in turn is the reason behind closing multiple roads in the Blues then increased timber harvesting is the answer. Those of us who spend time in the Blues for any reason, should not be denied access but should be encouraged to enjoy what is ours. The USFS multiple use mandate should be held in highest regard and properly managed by the USFS as a steward of the Blues and not a dictator.

Aug. 15 is the deadline to comment on the BMFPR

Guide to commenting: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/BlueMtnsPlanRevision

Submit comments to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/BlueMountainForestPlanRevisionComments

Fax:  541-523-6392

USPS Mail to: Blue Mountains Plan Revisions Team, P.O.  Box 907, Baker City, OR  97814.

Christina Witham

Baker City

On behalf of the Locked and Loaded Off Road Group

Democrats’ ideas won’t save the planet

Save the planet! a local Democratic official tells us; vote Democratic. But this fellow doesn’t tell us that the Democratic climate change program is both expensive and ineffective.

One Democratic policy is to allow the price of gasoline to rise, so people will buy smaller cars. We now pay nearly $4 a gallon for gasoline; when President Obama was inaugurated, it sold for under $2. What’s that done to your budget? Wind turbine-generated electricity costs around four times as much as that from conventional generators; the Democratic plan requires public utilities to purchase that electricity despite its high cost. That expensive electricity shows up in your monthly OTEC bills. Energy costs are such a vital part of our economy that expensive energy makes everything else more expensive as well.

But do the Democratic policies actually save the planet? Not really. Consider the much ballyhooed higher standards for fuel efficiency in our automobiles. Cram Americans into motorized sardine cans for 30 years and you put off drowning of the Statue of Liberty for a whole month. As long as fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide will continue to accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere. This buildup will stop only when all countries in the entire world stop burning fossil fuels. That’s not going to happen. The only significant outcome of Democratic climate change policies is that Al Gore and his politically connected buddies are getting rich at our expense.

 Our Democratic official also doesn’t tell us that there have been periods in recorded human history when the earth’s climate was significantly warmer than it is today. He leaves out the fact that none of the calamities shown so graphically in Al Gore’s film actually happened during those warm centuries. He fails to mention that the scientists who study the history of the earth’s climate call these warmest times climactic optimums, for conditions then were the most favorable for mankind.

  Our local fellow wants us to vote Democratic so we can lower our standard of living yet have no significant impact on what will happen in the coming decades. No thanks!

Pete Sundin

Baker City


Summer of reading


Summer vacation is perhaps the most hallowed and beloved of traditions for kids.

But it’s not all fun and games.

While they’re going to the beach and the swimming pool and the campground, students tend to forget some of what they learned during the previous school year.

We’re not suggesting summer vacation be canceled.

But we’re awfully glad Baker students have the option of REAL — the Read Everyday And Learn program.


Protecting the Elkhorns


The east face of the Elkhorn Mountains is one of the great natural settings in Baker County, forming the dramatic backdrop for Baker Valley, and it’s in danger.

The threat is fire.

Over the past quarter century, while lightning-sparked blazes charred more than 30,000 acres elsewhere in the Elkhorns, the east face has in the main escaped that fate.

A blaze burned about 1,000 acres on the east side of Red Mountain in September 2006, but before that the last major blaze on the east side of the Elkhorns was the Anthony Burn of 1960.

But you need only look a few miles to the west to see what an ill-timed lightning bolt can do.


Fatigued by ongoing heat, and online idiocy


The heat barged in, the genuine article, and in the manner of a boorish house guest who was not invited, the heat has stayed on.

This summer has seemed to me especially oppressive because it arrived with all the subtlety of a John Bonham drum solo.

June was cool, but pleasantly so, with most afternoons ideal for pulling weeds or taking a nap in a lawn chair. 

The temperature topped 80 on just two days that month. June concluded with a week of highs in the 60s and 70s.

July, by contrast, betrayed its nature immediately.

July 1 was the hottest day of the year — 89 degrees — but it retained the title about as long as Clubber Lang did in “Rocky III."


Letter to the Editor for Aug. 6, 2014


Mosquitoes dead, but what about the other bugs?

Last Tuesday evening I stepped on to my front porch and noticed the dead and dying mosquitoes, bees, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other small insects. So now we are mosquito-free in Baker City for at least a day or two, thanks to vector control and the pesticide sprayed in my neighborhood.

 But what about the honeybees, bumblebees, yellowjackets, flies, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other crawly things too numerous to mention? Weren’t these little casualties supposed to be dinner for a variety of birds and larger insects?

It appears the bird population has diminished considerably in the last 20 years. I’ve not seen a robin in my yard yet this summer. Is it because we are eliminating their food chain? Is there no alternative to simply killing what we find pesky and bothersome? 

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago.  If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”

— E.O. Wilson

 

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”

— John Muir

 

Next year I will request no spray be applied in my yard and I will use the numerous repellents available to me for my bodily comfort.

Susan Castles

Baker City


Keep our crime lab operating


Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said last week he’s worried about the possibility that Oregon State Police will close its Pendleton crime lab, the only such lab in Eastern Oregon.

We’re worried, too.

To that reaction we add another: disgust.

OSP officials said they have made no decision about the Pendleton lab.

The potential problem, they said, is money.

Specifically, there might not be enough of it for the state’s 2015-17 biennium to avoid cuts in State Police.

This problem has a simple solution.


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 4, 2014


Care about environment? Vote for Democrats this year

Global warming and climate change are caused by more and more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, the current concentration of this greenhouse gas is the highest in the past 800,000 years and likely the highest in the past 20 million years.  

This man-made pollution results from the burning of fossil fuels beginning with the start of the industrial revolution. It is the foundation for projections by climate scientists of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events.  These events are already occurring here and around the world, causing widespread damage and hardship. They include both floods and droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes, fires, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

These scientific facts are widely recognized and accepted. The only reason they have become a political issue (the Herald’s editorial of July 25) is that most Republican leaders deny their existence.

A striking example is Republican Rick Scott, the governor of low-lying Florida, directly endangered by rising sea levels. In May, Scott repeatedly stonewalled questions about the threat of global warming by declaring, “I’m not a scientist.”

We have that same willful ignorance here in Oregon, where Republican candidates are advocating the extraction and burning of even more fossil fuels.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson criticizes Governor Kitzhaber for opposing coal exports, saying “Coal is a fact of life, and exporting coal is a fact of life.” (Record-Courier, June 26).

Republican Representative Greg Walden advocates increased energy production beneath federally-owned lands, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring crude oil to the United States from Canada’s tar sands, and increased exports of natural gas (his newsletter, June 26).

And Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby opposes regulation of greenhouse emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency, while also urging approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (Oregonian, July 20 and July 21).

We can’t vote in Florida, but we sure can vote in Oregon. If you care about the environmental health of our country and of Spaceship Earth, you will strongly support and vote for Governor John Kitzhaber, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Democratic Congressional candidate Aelea Christofferson this November.

Marshall McComb

Baker City


Baseball a boost for Baker City


We don’t take many weeks off during the summer in Baker City.

A season that just 15 years or so ago featured but three main events — Miners Jubilee in July and the County Fair and Shrine football game in August — now scarcely pauses for a siesta between the solstice and the equinox.

The two-wheeled twins — the Baker City Cycling Classic and the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally — each bring crowds to town, the former in late June and the latter in July.

The latest addition to the hectic summer schedule happens next week when 10 Babe Ruth baseball teams converge on the Baker Sports Complex for a regional tournament.

In the world of 13- to 15-year-old baseball, this is a big deal.


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 1, 2014


Motorcycle Rally a boon for Baker High School

I want to personally thank the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, organizers and sponsors for their ongoing contribution to Baker High School. The financial impact and support of this event will be felt long after the sound of twin cam engines dissipate from our community. In total, Baker High School welcomed nearly 400 riders/campers for the four-day event and generated nearly $10,000! All money generated from the campers along with the FFA barbecue and Cheerleader Hogwash goes to support our student activities/athletic programs for the upcoming school year. 

The campers that stayed at Baker High School were very kind and courteous during their stay. It was my pleasure to welcome them and I look forward to having them all back next year. 

Thank you Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. With your support, our students and programs benefit greatly. Keep up the good work. 

Benjamin Merrill

Baker High School principal

Baker City

To solve problems we need to sit down and talk

Agreements are difficult to reach when we take positions on most anything. Rather than start with positions like supporting or not supporting a living wage that raises workers above the poverty level, we should examine supporting assumptions and reach even further to consider our basic beliefs. At the bedrock of our belief systems is a view of how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to others. If we see ourselves as an equal member of the human society, we are apt to believe in equality, leading to sharing and caring for others. Contrastingly, we may assert that each of us is responsible for ourselves, and we should plan and work toward self-sufficiency. We should be able to stand on our own two feet.

Neither of these views is complete. Parts of each are needed to form a sustainable and workable system. After all, we can see how difficult compromise is by looking at our legislature. A big step in reaching compromise is to make agreements at the base level. As an example, let’s say that workers should not have to live at the poverty level. Once this is agreed, then we can discuss just what is the poverty level and how much a worker needs.

Invariably, the subject of welfare comes up, and rightly so. Do able-bodied people take advantage of our welfare system. Yes, they do, but only a few. How do we get around this? Well, it seems simple: People who are physically and mentally unable to work should be taken care of. Able-bodied individuals should be required to work if they want to get the benefits of the welfare system. Yes, this would require an expanded government program, but one with accountability, and one that rewards personal responsibility.

I further believe that we could work towards solutions of most of our problems if we just would sit down together and have honest and unemotional discussions.

Bruce Raffety

Baker City


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