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Decision already made

President Bush is quoted as saying the Iraqis have a choice of chaos or unity. Does he not realize that he and his administration made that decision for Iraq by invading the country? ' Harlan Moore, Medford

OSAA complaints don't fly

To all who are complaining because students may have to take a bus trip to Eugene, which is a little over three hours, instead of the trips they have been taking all these years, I tell them to ask the 1A schools who regularly take trips this long and longer.

I used to coach at a 1A school and guess what? We took a trip to Mapleton (six hours); Paisley, North Lake (who are in the league), more than four hours; Powers, another league member, is about five hours away.

So there is no great solution, but evening out the numbers game is worth an hour on the bus. For the SOC schools, a trip to Roseburg was the farthest, so Eugene is only another 40 miles away. Lastly, the school I coached at did not get a nice Laidlaw charter bus to go on these trips. I see some of your concerns, but sorry, it does not fly. ' Neill Carvalho, Phoenix

What liberal media?

The media watchdog group Media Matters has concluded a study that shows that the liberal bias myth is untrue and actually reveals a right-wing imbalance in the media. Among other findings, the report shows how writers for right-wing magazines are often matched against neutral reporters from the mass media. This not only skews the debate but reinforces the incorrect assumption that all reporters are liberal and biased.

The Media Matters report is available at . ' Gerald Notch, Central Point

Criticism is not hate

Along with frequent letters critical of Bush are letters calling such critics Bush haters. Hate is an emotional response. My problems with Bush and this administration are more on an intellectual level.

I am opposed to policies and approaches to governance that trample on the Constitution, benefit corporations and the wealthy at the expense of small business enterprises and middle- and working-class Americans, and endanger Social Security and Medicare for seniors and our children's future.

I am opposed to lying to justify an unnecessary war and creating an environment of fear to silence opponents and garner political support. I am highly critical of any person in the White House who endangers our democracy.

No, I don't hate the man, though I admit the sound of his voice has the same effect on me as fingernails on a blackboard. I do, however, believe that Bush has to be stopped before he and his administration destroy America and all we hold dear. ' Bruce Evans, Talent

Don't blame teachers unions

Regarding Education's continuous revolution, by Larry Huss, Feb. 19: Blaming teachers unions for new math and other experiments is like Rod Paige calling them terrorists for criticizing No Child Left Behind. In fact, Oregon may join a pilot growth model to measure student learning, prompted by unions' complaints.

Teachers unions don't dream up programs that wreak havoc with student learning. I taught algebra as the math wars flared in the 1990s; teachers were aghast when the California State Board of Education denied funds to purchase legitimate algebra and geometry books. It was lobbied by publishers eager to sell new textbooks based on discovery math.

Teachers unions did not create middle schools that emphasize self-esteem. That was done by university experts justifying education-reform grants. To teachers' dismay, No Child has worsened the dropout problem. Struggling students, held back from grades to be tested to boost district scores, are more prone to drop out.

Teachers are dedicated to helping children learn; unions give them a voice. I spent countless hours as advisor for my L.A. school's mock trial program and was paid nothing. In my small Ohio district, the union insisted teachers be paid fairly for extracurricular activities; their excellence benefits everyone. ' Betty R. Kazmin, Medford

What would it take?

Jack Jordan would have us believe that liberals are responsible for all the ills of the world. Gosh, what would it take to make him happy? The conservatives already have control of the White House and Congress. ' Robert and Senta Cook, Medford

Disagreements lead to war

In reply to Jack Jordan's tirade against liberals: I have never spiked a tree, voted for Howard Dean or spoken with Cindy Sheehan; one of my closest friends is a Republican and yet I consider myself a liberal.

I don't believe that I have the right to dictate what Mr. Jordan believes. All misunderstandings and war result when two groups of people disagree about an idea, and one or both feel like they have to prove their point no matter what the consequence, apparently including torturing men, raping women and disemboweling children in Iraq. Unfortunately we haven't come very far in our evolution when it's obvious that we are still operating within this fear-based model.

Does he still think this outmoded plan will work? I invite him to consider another alternative because I believe that he wants the same peaceful outcomes for our planet that I do.

Put away your clubs once and for all and become what we all grew up thinking our country stood for: tolerance, acceptance and a dream of a prosperous, free and peaceful future for our children and grandchildren.

Please support local peace groups. Find your nearest group by calling Peace House, or by logging on to . ' Cindy Darnell, Central Point

Another fine mess

Another fine mess our bedeviled leader has gotten us into! Another sellout to foreigners! What next? Our oil or our coal? ' J.A. Robinson, Grants Pass

Oil tax increase a mistake

I see that Congress is trying to bring back a tax on U.S. oil production as a way of generating more money for spending. Let me get this straight: Congress raises taxes on oil producers, oil producers charge more for their product, consumers have to pay more for oil, so Congress has to spend more money on heating assistance.

That kind of thinking is classic Washington D.C. Raising taxes on oil companies will only raise the cost of their product at a time when people are struggling to pay higher gas prices and for home heating oil.

They'd help us more if they allowed for more oil exploration to increase domestic supply and continue research into alternatives to reduce demand. Simply raising taxes is a way for politicians to get their hands on more of our money. It's not a long-term solution. ' Danna Gustafson, Ashland

Feel safe yet?

Dubai Ports World, a state-owned United Arab Emirates business, obtained the consent of the Bush administration to purchase the London-based company currently managing operations of six major U.S. ports.

The UAE provided operational and financial assistance to 9/11 hijackers. The UAE aided transfer of smuggled nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Libya. That is to say, Bush thinks it OK to turn over control of American ports to an Arab country that, unlike Iraq before the war, has been directly linked to terrorists. Feel safe yet? ' Vicki Fox, Ashland

Timber won't make it up

Jim Feldkamp thinks that the county payments program is welfare and that all we need to do is cut more trees to replace the money. He couldn't be more wrong.

Should we be cutting more trees than we are now? Of course. But to make up for the federal county payments, we'd have to cut about 14 times (or 1,400 percent) more trees than we are currently.

That level of harvest wasn't sustainable in 1989 and it isn't now. Even the timber industry doesn't want to cut that much timber anymore.

The industry and their political allies (including President Bush) support the harvest levels of the Northwest Forest Plan, which are only one-tenth of the historic levels the county payments are based on. That would leave us nearly &

36;400 million.

So Mr. Feldkamp can turn down the money and support elimination of county payments if he wishes, but he'll have to do a much better job explaining how he will make up for the difference so our rural counties don't turn to dust. I'll be waiting! ' Bernice Ayers, Grants Pass

Smith's staff condescending

I just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with and lobby our congressional representatives as a representative of the National Audubon Society.

Congressman Greg Walden's office and Sen. Ron Wyden's office both received my request for a meeting with their legislative aides with courtesy and a sincere interest in my subject ' population and habitat and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Sen. Gordon Smith's office was very difficult, not only to access, but my reception by his legislative aide was condescending and abrupt.

Our congressmen work for us, the constituents. Wyden means what he says when he states he is interested and wants to be available to all Oregonians. My special thanks to his legislative aide, Sarah.

Increased population worldwide is putting enormous pressure on the environment and natural resources. International family planning is just one way to help decrease that pressure. These kinds of organizations benefit the future of our children and grandchildren to enjoy the birding habitat and variety of birds we now enjoy. ' Lynda Stevenson, Medford

Please clarify

In this dark hour of our disunity, it's upbeat to have a fresh face on the political scene. But Carol Voisin's otherwise happy advent seems clouded by one truly troubling issue.

She's going to be for Oregon. That's great, but what about the earmarking crisis Tom Coburn of Oklahoma pinpoints?

As a recent Democratic idol challenged, Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. Ms. Voisin, please clarify! ' Andrew Foster, Ashland

None so blind

Jack Jordan, in a letter asserting that liberals are a threat to our country and the American way of life, proves yet again that there are none so blind as those who will not see. If he means by our country and way of life the insidious, systematic dismantling of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, or imposing chaos, bloodshed and slaughter of innocents on a nation that was no threat to the United States by means of orchestrated deception and misrepresentation, if he means surrendering vulnerable seaports to an Islamic state, and that the American way of life is spiraling national debt, hundreds of thousands of job layoffs, failing infrastructure, oligarchy, corporate control of media and Congress, if he thinks kidnapping, disappearing, torture and imprisonment without charge or hope of legal recourse are the American way of life, then I declare myself an enemy of that state.

If defending the Constitution and speaking out against a dishonest government and a war for no reason are ranting, then I am honor-bound to rant for the love of my country, not his. (By the way, Hugo Chavez was democratically elected, twice.) ' Mary Madsen, Medford

Majority support Clean Cars

I am writing in response to Clean cars program gets praise. As the Feb. 21 testimony from Sen. Alan Bates, Rep. Peter Buckley and all but two of the nearly 60 people at the hearing clearly shows, the vast majority of Oregonians are in support of the Clean Cars program. The scientific debate about global warming is not whether or not it exists, but how serious it will be and what we can do to mitigate its effects and halt its increase.

Merely repeating over and over that there is doubt or ambivalence over the existence of global warming does not make it so, and we must do everything we can to address the consequences of climate change immediately.

The Clean Cars program is an excellent step that Oregon can take to curb our emissions and make our air cleaner. It would reduce smog, soot and other types of air pollution, and more efficient cars would get better gas mileage, saving consumers money and reducing our dependence on an increasingly insecure oil supply. This is a great program for Oregon ' it is the right time and the right place, and we should applaud all efforts to keep our air clean and our state environmentally conscious. ' Alissa Cordner, Ashland

What are they thinking?

OK, now I've heard everything. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican 8 to 80 or just plain crazy, I defy anyone to find the logic of turning our port shipping management over to a country that spawned a number of the 9/11 terrorists and helped launder the money that paid for it.

Who is supporting this? What is Washington thinking? Where are the people that represent us?

This is not a partisan issue, this is just plain nuts. In my youth I was a Merchant Marine in the Port of New Orleans. Ports are notorious for corruption as it is. Only a small percentage of what is imported on our waterways is ever inspected and now we will put the very people that funded one of the worst disasters in this country's history in charge of loading security.

This has got to be a joke. All of you conservatives call Bill O'Reilly, call Sean Hannity, someone shake Ann Coulter. You liberals call Hillary, call Jennine Garofalo, someone wake up Michael Moore. I'll call Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Letterman ' they'll know what to do. Here is something you all can agree on.

Wake up, Washington. You are about to make a great mistake. ' Greg Frederick, Medford

Even more stupid

Many of us felt we were witnessing the stupidest thing in recent history with the many deadly demonstrations around the world by Muslim mobs railing against a series of cartoons that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper last September. But then we were subjected to something even stupider when an Austrian court sentenced British historian David Irving to three years in prison for denying the Holocaust. ' Robert Bennett, Grants Pass

Punishment seldom works

Many believe that the way to increase safety in our communities is to lock felons up for long periods of time. Be aware that nearly 97 percent will be released from prison someday. Knowing that nearly 74 percent of those released will re-offend within five years, would you want a sex offender or other felon as your neighbor?

Incarceration beyond five years has little value, according to many prison wardens and others. Our focus needs to be on effective treatment while these men and women are locked up and in community treatment programs. The cost of focusing on treatment is far less than costs to society when these folks have re-offended, with costs to their victims, parole and probation, court processes and additional costs from later incarceration.

Lifestyle thinking and new habits are needed to better assure safety for our children and community. We must place our efforts on seeing that treatment is the focus in our prisons and community justice programs. This is much more sensible and centsible. My hope and prayer is that when we have been approached to consider longer sentences, that we will look to what has been proven to be more effective ' true rehabilitation. ' Neil Stafford, Grants Pass