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Annoyed but impressed by a bull elk's skills

My hatred for elk is exceeded only by my admiration.

I suspect most elk hunters share my ambivalence for this species.

Although most hunters, unlike me, occasionally return from the hunt lugging a more tangible part of the elk than the mental image of one fleeing through the forest while my rifle hangs from its sling, as useless as a five-iron.

Such scenes are memorable and not altogether unpleasant, to be sure.

But they’re not so tasty as, say, a summer sausage.

Letters to the Editor for Dec. 16, 2015

Guns or not, some people are just plain dangerous

Paris, San Bernardino … With each new atrocity, President Obama and the Democrats sing their sad song about the need for more gun control. But they are barking up the wrong tree. Virtually all mass shootings have one of two things in common; either the shooter is a person with a serious but untreated mental illness, or else the shooter is a radical Islamist.

Suppose every firearm in the world were to suddenly disappear. Would we then be safer? Not particularly. There are lots of ways to kill lots of people. We then could become subject to a rash of suicide bombers, such as have been taking place in Israel and Iraq for years. Someone with murder on the mind and a crossbow could kill a lot of people in a crowded shopping mall or school room, or use a sword just as effectively. Then there are poisons, and bacteriological agents and on and on. If a diseased or malevolent mind has decided to inflict mayhem on innocents, he or she will find a way to do so.

To reduce the number of mass murders, we need to focus on the mind that pulls the trigger, not on the gun itself. Perhaps we need to change our laws so that it is easier to secure treatment for the seriously mentally ill. We do need to find a way to identify and then deal with those who think that it is the will of Allah that they kill off a bunch of us infidels. (By the way, it is not anti-Muslim to point out that all too many mass murders are accompanied by cries of Allahu Akhbar!)

Focusing on gun control is worse than useless; it prevents us from taking steps that might actually do some good. The gun lobby is fond of saying, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” But that is true. We will reduce the number of horrific atrocities only when we reduce the number of those who commit them.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Victims of drunken drivers are important, too

Jayson Jacoby’s recent column, “Is America focused on curbing its greatest threats?” was excellent, well-written and certainly makes me at least wonder why there is not more alarm and demands over drunk drivers killing people and another area in our society where 1.2 million people are knowingly killed each year in America alone. It seems as though the 50 or so killed by the mass shooting are somehow more important than the others. They are certainly as important, but by no means more important in my opinion.

Peter Claflin

Baker City

FTC and a grocery debacle

The federal government’s fears of a grocery monopoly in Baker County weren’t so dire after all, or so it seems.

Just about a year ago the Federal Trade Commission, in approving the second-biggest grocery chain merger in U.S. history between Albertsons and Safeway, mandated that the merged company sell more than 100 stores in certain markets lest the gargantuan corporation dominate those markets with potentially deleterious effects on consumers.


Letter to the Editor for Dec. 14, 2015

I’d like to see more coverage of all sports teams

I like to read the sports page because it is one place in the paper more recent news is available. I am sure most people that follow sports, especially local news, would like to see a little more information about all the teams. The coverage seems to concentrate on middle school and high school varsity games with very little if any mention of the JV teams.

In recent years the JV teams have fared better than the varsity and I for one would like to see more than just the score regarding their games. The girls and boys on the JV teams work, play and practice just as hard as the varsity and middle school players.

The recent JV girls game against Emmett was amazing. The amount of energy these girls brought to the game was great.

I also notice the Herald’s reporter was at all the games and the information should be readily available. Come on, Herald, let’s give these young players some recognition for their efforts.

Richard Erwin

Baker City

Helping all workers

In this space in May we expressed our ambivalence about a campaign by Oregon to move workers with developmental disabilities from so-called “sheltered workshops” into more mainstream jobs.

We’re still not convinced that the state’s “Employment First” program is absolutely realistic.

Yet based on what Herald reporter Chris Collins discovered about the situation in Baker County, we’re much more optimistic than we were about the opportunities for local workers to find fulfilling jobs.

Keep the public informed

One of the more frightening things about registered sex offenders — people who have been convicted of sex crimes — is how little we know about where they live.

There are approximately 28,000 registered sex offenders in Oregon (115 of them in Baker County). But the state’s online database of sex offenders has information about fewer than 10 percent of them.

But thanks to a new state law, we hope that lamentably low percentage will rise.

Letter to the Editor for Dec. 11, 2015

Four rules regarding guns and gun control

A quick study: The four rules of gun control:

1. There will always be guns.

2. Criminals will always have guns.

3. The way to stop criminals is for law-abiding citizens to have guns.

 4.  You can’t change the first three rules.

Joe Bailey

Baker City

Is America focused on curbing its greatest threats?

Mass shootings have something in common with airliner crashes besides killing innocent people.

Both types of disaster garner considerably more attention, from the media and elsewhere, than another tragedy that’s much more common in the U.S., and that kills many more people — traffic accidents involving drunken drivers.

The vast difference in how our society reacts to these disparate but deadly events intrigues me.

Letter to the Editor for Dec. 9, 2015

To solve gun violence, we must work together

In a rare front-page editorial last Saturday, the New York Times decried the widespread availability of brutal weapons of war in our society, terming it “a moral outrage and a national disgrace.”

We are being warned in the strongest terms that as a paranoid nation, armed to the teeth, we make a mockery of the phrase “well-regulated militia” prescribed by the Second Amendment.  We need not accept the legality of semi-automatic guns with detachable magazines that can be reloaded in seconds, producing virtually unlimited mayhem in the hands of the misguided and the insane.  

Clearly, we must come together to demand common-sense solutions to gun violence and provide the money to pay for them.  We must face and surmount the fear and misinformation that allow intolerable gun violence to persist -- as well as other major threats such as needless, grinding poverty and an over-heating planet.

Pope Francis informs us that: “The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely.”  There is great strength in unity.  Let us heal our separations.  Let us reaffirm our allegiance to “one nation, under God, indivisible” and exemplify our motto: “E pluribus unum “ — “Out of many, one.”  We’re all in this together, and together we shall prevail.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Dec. 7, 2015

2nd Amendment is designed for our protection

Another mass shooting and another opportunity for the powers that be to try and pry another finger off our firearms. The guns are once again to blame, not disturbed radical zealots, the mentally unstable or the just plain evil — the focus never changes, it’s the guns.

I have never owned a gun, possibly because growing up my father never owned one, he wasn’t a hunter and times seemed a lot saner. I’ve thought about getting a gun many times but somehow have never got around to it. I thought about it hard as I watched the meth head drive off in my truck at 2 o’clock one morning. I made it to the front porch just as he fishtailed out of the driveway! If I would have had a gun and been a good aim I would most likely be writing this from prison because that’s the way the world works these days. Sorry, sidetracked once again.

That I have yet to own a firearm doesn’t change the fact that our 2nd Amendment was put there with great thought and purpose. My personal interpretation, and/or belief; Not only did our forefathers wish to reinforce our military with citizen backup, when needed, but also provide the populace with legal protection when, if ever, our government or military becomes oppressively corrupt. I firmly believe the intent was that any weapon in the hands of our military should be allowed in the hands of its law abiding citizens, although my affinity for a heatseeking missile launcher may seem a bit much I still feel it is my right to have one (acquiring one would be the hard part.)

In an age where your whole life can be snatched away by someone in Nigeria with a computer keyboard I daresay that attempting to keep guns from the crazies with paperwork, regulation, background check after background check ... seems to be a moot point — the sickos will always get a gun. Our only protection is our 2nd Amendment. Infringement on our constitutional rights is a bad idea, our forefathers would agree.

Mike Meyer

Baker City

Gen. Pershing had a solution for jihadists

Before World War I, John J. “Black Jack” Pershing was the commanding general of the U.S. Forces in the Philippines. Islamic jihadists were on a killing rampage. The general learned that the Islamic terrorists believed pork was unclean and if they died while exposed to pigs or pig parts they would be defiled in heaven. 

The general buried terrorists in graves with pigs or pig body parts. The jihadists backed off and the uprising was controlled.

As you learned from recent news articles there should be plenty of bodies to bury with some pigs or pig parts. If no bodies are available, put a live jihadist in a cell with pig parts.

This might solve our problem with the Islamic jihadists.  Unfortunately, at the present time our administration contains enough people in favor of Islam that this would not be practical.

Carl Kostol

Baker City

Raise tax credit but not the minimum wage

I am writing this letter in support of our Oregon House Representative, Cliff Bentz, and his desire to increase the earned income tax credit here in Oregon as an alternative to raising the minimum wage. I would also encourage him to push for an income raise in our tax brackets, giving everyone, especially the lower income worker, a tax break.

Of course, this must be paid for. We can do this by raising corporate tax rates, especially the corporate minimum. I’m sure Mr. Bentz would part ways with me here. I am a Democrat, though, and see no problem getting more money in the hands of workers which ultimately helps the businesses being taxed.  

I also favor heading off a large increase in the statewide minimum wage. We need jobs here in Baker County more than a raise in the minimum wage. But the Portland metro area needs a much higher minimum and they should be able to do so. Let’s allow the counties to raise it as fits their cost of living. A higher labor cost there may even encourage businesses to locate here.

No one party has a monopoly on what needs to be done to help make our working class stronger. Democrats and Republicans can work together if we can over come knee jerk ideological thinking. Only by seeing the in-between can we find the best solutions.

Peter Hall


Had to rely on neighbors to deal with dead deer

Recently a deer died in my yard. I had no way to dispose of it, and everybody said “Call Fish and Wildlife.” I called them twice, got voice mail, left details both times about three or four hours apart. When talking to a neighbor about it I was told that in Baker County “you are on your own” about dead wildlife. If I lived in Union County, we heard that Fish and Wildlife would come and dispose of it. Fortunately, I have kind neighbors with a truck who came, picked up the body and took it to the Fish and Wildlife office — which seemed totally appropriate to me.  Neither of my phone calls to F&W was returned.  Because so many people told me to “call Fish and Wildlife” I don’t think their local policy is widely known and hope the paper will print this letter for the common good.

Julianne Williams

Baker City

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