May 02, 2004 11:00 pm

Creating another war

To the Editor:

"Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage," said George W. Bush in his State of the Union Address, 2004.

Let us unpack the slogan and lay bare the logic that leads to this conclusion:

Gay marriage constitutes an attack on the institution of marriage. Gay men and women who believe in marriage and seek to become married are destroying marriage by doing so.

Gays who claim to honor the idea of marriage are lying or deluded. They are not to be trusted in matters of great import such as morality, ethics, national security, perhaps even citizenship. Gays and their surrogates in the judiciary are the enemy of the institution of marriage, and by logical inference, the Judeo-Christian tradition.

We must, therefore, defend the institution of marriage and the American way of life, from gays who are seeking, consciously or otherwise, to destroy it.

It's not enough to want to defend marriage; one needs to know who is attacking it. Now we know. What are we waiting for, someone to declare a war on homosexuals?

Knowing these partisans as I do, they'd probably prefer a war on the idea of homosexuality to a war on homosexuals themselves. I can hear them now, "But I have friends who are gay." Or my favorite, "Hate the sin but love the sinner."

Homosexuality is not just something someone does; it's something someone is. For most haters of homosexuality this is a distinction without a difference, but the truth is that hating homosexuality is only a hair's breadth from hating a person who happens to be homosexual.

It would seem, according to the president, that we have another war on our hands, and there is no point in wringing our hands about possible collateral damage.

Kevin Cahill

La Grande

Out on a limb

To the Editor:

I was startled and troubled to read in The Oregonian of the inadequate treatment of the National Guard in terms of equipment and benefits.

As a resident of Eastern Oregon and a taxpayer, I'm outraged that this nation's elected leadership has apparently decided to force our citizen-soldiers to prepare for war with hand-me-down equipment and without the extensive health care benefits active duty soldiers take for granted.

Telling our guardsmen simply to "suck it up" does not cut it in a democracy.

I've stood by silently and watched more guardsmen from Oregon being called to active duty for service in Iraq. I've tried to suppress my misgivings and focus on support for our citizen-soldiers.

But now I'm convinced our citizen-soldiers are being placed out on a limb and our elected federal and state lawmakers must make their proper care a priority. Their treatment in terms of their length of deployment and health benefits has been abysmal.

Surely we can do better than this.

Santa V. Hill

La Grande

Cattle theft a growing issue

To the Editor:

On Feb. 25, 2004 four young calves were stolen from a cattle feeding area near the La Grande Airport. While this theft was recorded in the newspaper, the seriousness of this crime is still developing.

These four animals were only a small part of a cattle and equipment theft ring that has now extended to at least five counties in Eastern Oregon. The investigation is still ongoing.

Cattlemen locally and statewide feel this case is just the tip of the iceberg of a very serious problem. Theft and predation make up a large share of the losses of animals for the second-largest agriculture industry in the state. Theft is especially prevalent for young calves during calving season, early spring and early fall, prior to the time these animals are branded.

Other common thefts of cattle take place when cattle are on mountain or open-range pastures, far away from any concentration of people, and of young bulls being raised for sale as breeding stock, as breeding bulls are usually not branded until after they are purchased by the new owner.

The Union County Cattlemen's Association is very appreciative of the time, cost and effort that have been directed at this case by the District Attorney Martin Birnbaum, by the Oregon Cattlemen's Association Investigator, Bob Lund, as well as the offices of the state police and the sheriff. All cattlemen are watching this case closely and look forward to a strong, fair and just resolution to this matter that responds to the needs of all of the victims of the present case as well as the general problem of cattle and equipment theft statewide.

It needs to be pointed out that it was initially through the dedicated and dogged work of John Collins, the owner of the aforementioned four calves, that this case has developed. All cattlemen appreciate John's work.

We urge all private citizens to be willing to respond swiftly and appropriately when they observe what they believe to be illegal acts. This helps both prevention of crime and the fast resolution of those that take place.

Lee Insko

President, Union County

Cattlemen's Association

How can we be sure?

To the Editor:

In about 1795 Frederic Gauss developed the Gaussian Curve to describe the distribution of error inherent in data. Today we call this a bell curve and it describes distribution within a population. It demonstrates that there is a spectrum of outcomes, some more likely than others.

In 1927 Werner Heisenberg showed that there are limits to the completeness of knowledge. His theorem, the Principle of Uncertainty, says that we may know the location or the velocity of a subatomic particle, but not both. That principle establishes a limit for knowledge.

We cannot know it all, and what we do know is in shades of gray, not black and white. What we do not know is enormous.

This isn't a very comfortable idea. We need certainty. Over the centuries, we have repeatedly chosen certainty. From Galileo to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, we have retreated from knowledge and lapsed into conservative beliefs. We take comfort in the good old days or that old time religion.

Wallowa County does possess a healthy landed conservatism that comes from earning a living from the soil, the source of many of the values we cherish. It has nothing to do with Rush Limbaugh, George W. Bush or extreme conservatism.

But certainty can betray the human spirit. Suicide bombers and missile attacks on civilians have all grown from closed minds. These actions, rather than making the world a safer, more certain place to live, have placed us in a state of turmoil and constant threat.

The solution, as I see it, lies in seeing the differences between a closed system of values and an open one. Dogma comes from without, while an open system comes from an individual's experience. We each make this choice but we don't have to be just sheep.

Harold Black


Issues still the same

To the Editor:

Just in case anyone hasn't been watching TV for the past month or so, I'd like to remind everyone that in seven months there's going to be a presidential election. Thank God — oops, is that acceptable? — for remote control to be able to mute or switch channels, otherwise another seven months of political rhetoric might get to be more than I can stand.

I've been privileged to vote for many years now. Not quite as far back as Abraham Lincoln but it seems like it.

It also seems like the political issues are still the same now as they have been in those past elections: lower taxes, smaller government, reform Social Security, better education for children, better care for seniors, higher taxes on the wealthy, more benefits for the unemployed, new jobs, better foreign relations, more equal opportunities for the minorities, better environmental controls.

Now if all the past presidents and congresses had taken care of these problems with their plans, we certainly wouldn't be hearing so much about these issues now.

The past solutions seem to have been to throw more money into each plan until now the country is so far in debt that all generations for the foreseeable future will be paying through the nose to try to pay it off.

I don't know the answer to these problems or else I would come up with my own plan to solve them and run for office myself.

One thing does seem rather obvious. Throwing more money into each one of them hasn't solved them.

If it would help, why not throw the millions of dollars going for TV ads into the pot? Then I wouldn't have to exercise my thumb on the remote control nearly as much.

Ozzie Asemissen

La Grande

Diminishing pride in America

To the Editor:

Nitpicking is as old as history.

Rulers of ancient worlds were warned of attack without knowing the when or the where. Kings in medieval times were warned of attack without knowing the when or the where.

George Washington was warned of British attack without knowing the when or the where. President Lincoln was warned of war with the south without knowing the when or the where.

President Roosevelt was warned of attack without knowing the when or the where. President Bush was warned without knowing the when or the where.

Each of those presidents was alerted and stood ready. What would we have done? We have all been warned of our death without knowing the when or the where.

The when and where questions can only be answered after the fact.

Nitpickings are cruel, vicious and unforgiving attacks on character and should be known as such. Nitpicking only diminishes the pride in America. In time of war it only helps the enemy.

Orrel Hayden

La Grande

Stand up against gay marriage

To the Editor:

I am really sad that some of the Christian community has not taken a stand against this gay issue, especially with their pastors and priests.

Isn't a gay pastor an oxymoron? How can you be teaching the truth of God's word, when he states very clearly how he feels about this sin and yet you are living in that sin. Don't think for a moment that God isn't angry about this and anyone who supports it. God loves the person, but hates the sin and as followers, we should not be supporting this sin by allowing gay pastors and priests.

We need to take a stand and start leaving the churches that allow gay pastors and priests. We need to stand up for God's word and not back down. I read an article where it said that these are people and God loves all people and this is true, but God does not love sin and these people are living in sin.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, we became free from sin. If we are living in any kind of sin today, it is because we choose to live that way. We do have a choice to sin or not to sin and to support sin or not to support sin. Which do you think is pleasing to the Lord?

Gayleen Henderson

La Grande

System works well

To the Editor:

Union's present mayor-council-administrator government has served Union well for over 27 years. To replace it with an unknown entity that carries great risks financially and in the area of continuity and efficiency seems foolish and capricious.

The role of the city council in our government is crucial. If the strong mayor ordinance would pass it would be problematical. We would have a new and inexperienced mayor, along with a new and inexperienced council — three new members now and three positions up for election in November.

The council relies heavily on the professional city administrator for advice and input in matters of budget, planning, policy formulation, funding/grant availability and state/federal laws governing the city's actions. The combination of inexperience and lack of knowledge could result in serious delays and costly mistakes.

The city charter defines the council as six members, each elected to a four-year term. A quorum must be present to vote, and the mayor can be used to constitute a quorum, although he/she does not vote except in case of a tie.

Formally, the city council is the highest elected officials of the city, and it is where the buck stops. They are the stewards of the public trust and serve as legislators and quasi-judicial decision makers.

In their oversight role they direct public services to benefit the entire community, develop and monitor the city's budget, make personnel decisions, plan for the city's future and make final land-use decisions within the city. They represent the city's citizens, reflect the community desires, provide leadership for community goals and perform problem-resolution activities.

The council defines and sets policy, and it is very important that they have available a professional, experienced city administrator to implement these policy decisions.

Barbara J. Gray


Free to believe

To the Editor:

I am responding to letters I have read here recently which claim the Bible to be the last word on issues of social morality.

Isn't this a country in which the people are free to believe what they choose, practice the religion they choose, or not practice religion at all, as long as they do not impose those beliefs on others?

For that reason it bothers me a great deal to think that laws could be passed or amendments made to the Constitution based on someone's personal religious beliefs.

Obviously it's more difficult to reach consensus when points of view are so varied, but isn't that the responsibility and opportunity of living in a free society?

Sarah Watson


Support Rasmussen for sheriff

To the Editor:

I am sure that Boyd Rasmussen does not need my endorsement for the office to which he aspires, the office of Union County sheriff, but DeLeva and I are happy to offer it.

We have known Boyd since he was a freshman at Imbler High School and he played on the Imbler basketball team with one of my grandsons. He was always a gentleman on the court as well as off the court.

He has in my opinion been an excellent deputy and will be an excellent sheriff for Union County. We will vote for him and ask you to support this fine officer.

Roy Hills

Island City