Letters to the editor for Jan. 19, 2011

Jan. 19, 2011

Give Obama

a chance

My heart and soul are hurt by Mr. Jim Drennan's comparison of President Obama to a groundhog! This is demeaning beyond belief, and damaging to honest discourse.

Barack Obama is of finer character than many men who have served as leader of the United States. His book, "The Audacity of Hope," is a wonderful portrayal of his ideals, and they are the highest and best for our country, in my opinion.

His leadership has been not up to par in the first two years perhaps, but if the Republicans hadn't made it a mission to block everything he tried in Congress, we would all be in a better place.

It is clear I would not have been supporting George W. Bush, but never in his eight years did I wish he would fail! I wished he would succeed better in Iraq once he made a war there, and I hoped I'd be proven wrong in the many areas I differed with him.

This sadly gridlocked condition we are in has benefited no one. President Bush got to do what he wanted, and President Obama should have been given the same chance.

The best aspect of our democracy is that the opposition didn't make a coup after this regrettable November election. This is the biggest strength of our system in comparison with other countries.

Roz Luther

Underwood, Wash.

Guns not

to blame

I read the letter from the Best family in the Jan. 12 issue of the Hood River News with sadness. Why is it that every time a firearm is used in the commission of a heinous act we blame the gun?

I feel terrible for all the families that were forever affected by the recent shootings in Arizona, but I truly believe that at times like this we must put the blame where it belongs: on the perpetrator, not the tool.

To believe that firearms are to blame for gun violence is akin to believing that pencils are responsible for misspelled words. Further, it would not have mattered that this was a "semi-automatic" handgun, for if they were not available, a couple of revolvers could have produced the same result.

Being willing to compromise my Second Amendment rights and thinking that our communities are safer for doing so is wrong thinking. It would only serve to make us more vulnerable.

Please check statistics and become informed voters; not ones given to knee-jerk reactions in times of profound injustice or emotion.

Ralph Lane Jr.

Hood River

Check statistics

I would like to respond to a letter written by Wendy and Dick Best (Jan.12).

First of all, quite like the sheriff of Pima County, Ariz., they are wrong to lay the blame for the shooting tragedy last week on "political extremists."

According to his family and friends, the man responsible for that nightmare did not watch Fox News or any other news station. He did not listen to talk radio. He was not a member of any well known political group. He was simply a troubled man suffering from mental illness.

It is sad to read the thoughts of some people who wish to change the Constitution of the United States to something more acceptable to them. They state the founding fathers had no idea what a semi-automatic handgun could do. On that point Wendy and Dick are absolutely right.

The founding fathers did have an idea, however, how insecure a population could be with all power in the hands of the government. The Fathers were not thinking about the right of a farmer to hunt game, but the right of a people to be free.

They go on to state the 30,000 people in Mexico have died in gun violence by drug cartels and ask if we are heading in that direction. Well, Mexico has some of the most strict gun laws in the world and that has gotten them nowhere.

While I am saddened by the events in Arizona, a call for gun control is simply an avenue with an uncertain future. There are 70 million gun owners in the United States and in Oregon there are many tens of thousands of people with a permit to carry a loaded handgun. Wendy and Dick Best are in the vicinity of a firearm more times than they are aware.

Ninety-nine-point-six percent of all guns are never involved in a crime, according to FBI statistics. I would urge people to do a little checking on the facts before laying the blame for something really tragic on those who are not in any way responsible.

Mike Farmer

Hood River

Vote disappoints

I've read with interest the recent exchange of letters in the Hood River News about the values represented by Congressman Greg Walden's voting record.

While I am disturbed by our Congressman's record on multiple issues within just the last month, what has alarmed me the most is his vote against HR 2103, the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act.

This bipartisan bill was unanimously passed by the Senate before being sent to the House. It would have authorized existing State Department funds to be used to implement a strategy to protect girls from forced marriage.

In a letter to Congress, Archbishop Desmond Tutu pleaded for passage of the bill, saying: "Child marriage is a harmful practice that treats young girls as property, stops their education and robs them of their childhood and dignity. By passing this bill, you may help make the difference between lives of opportunity or enslavement for millions of girls.

"Child marriage is sanctioned sexual abuse that destroys girls' lives. The choice before this Congress is to do nothing as young girls, children, continue to be enslaved, raped, and condemned to a life of abuse and poverty.

"Or, we can join the U.S. Senate and vote to pass HR 2103 and have the United States stand with millions of girls - today and tomorrow - who seek nothing more than the freedom, the opportunity, and the time be allowed to be children and grow into adulthood without being forced into marriage."

I had to wonder about Congressman Walden's values when he voted against the bill to improve health services and provide financial compensation for 9/11 first responders, but he believes in fiscal responsibility and I guess he thought it would cost too much. However, the Preventing Child Marriage would not have spent one additional dollar that was not already appropriated by Congress for health, education, democracy, or other development activities.

I can only presume that Congressman Walden and his Republican colleagues in the House didn't regard it as a good use of those funds. We all have to make hard choices about how to spend our resources, but I believe that we can mix fiscal responsibility with a spirit of compassion and generosity.

Unfortunately, I do not see this spirit demonstrated by the voting record of Congressman Walden. I am ashamed to be represented by a man who helped defeat such an important effort to provide opportunity to girls who, in Archbishop Tutu's words, are "condemned to a life of abuse and poverty."

Paul Woolery

Hood River

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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