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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

A guest opinion that appeared in your paper on Jan. 11, "Another perspective on the vaccine question," contained several factual errors that should be pointed out.

The opinion stated that vaccinated boys have double the rate of autism of their non-vaccinated peers. This is incorrect.

Several large-scale, credible studies have shown no association between vaccines and autism. Likewise, the argument that the rise in diagnosis of asthma, allergies and ADHD has been linked with childhood vaccinations is also untrue. The author's statements about the Hepatitis B and Gardisil vaccines were also misleading and inaccurate.

It makes my blood boil when I hear proposals to install GPS systems on our cars in order to tax us for miles driven.

I am not as much opposed to the concept of mileage taxation as I am opposed to the method proposed to gather information to compute the tax. If this tax method is necessary then there are much simpler and less intrusive ways to compute the tax and will cost a tiny fraction of the cost to implement.

A much simpler solution is to tax the gas based on the published miles per gallon for each make and model of vehicle. At the time of vehicle registration, Oregon vehicles could be issued a sticker with a mpg number on it or a bar code which the station attendant could enter into the pump to calculate the tax. Out-of-state vehicles could easily be found in a lookup table referenced by the station attendant. — Skip Algeo, Rogue River

Obama's ability to keep his cool under great pressure is admirable and inspirational — and gives us hope.

Still, we must figure out how to achieve this same grace in the face of our own personal struggles. We, as individuals and family units, are like the cells of the body of the nation. Unless we conquer our personal fears and "demons" and become healthier, the nation cannot recover. — Joel Turgesen, Medford

What a fascinating year 2008 was for all of us in these United States of America!

And now in just a few days, a new start for our beloved country. Our new president is young, elegant, brainy, unaffected, utterly American and cool! And now (wow) suddenly America is cool again.

My daughter and I traveled overseas in October and wore our Obama buttons everywhere. People kept asking us for them!

It feels good to be cool and all of us can share in that. Next time you fly overseas and hand your passport to the man with the badge, he's going to see "United States of America" and look up and grin. We all walk taller this year.

Our new president won't be able to do much without our help; this is "our" country and we all have an obligation to stay engaged and do something. If we do not, we deserve what we get.

So get involved! Remember we are Americans first, not Republicans or Democrats, not straight or gay, not rich or poor, not young or old; we are Americans! — Anne O'Dell, Brookings

I read Floyd Barton's letter (Jan. 4) describing all of the reasons he feels the United States is "universally" hated and feared, and I realized that there is at least one person who agrees with him. That person is our future first lady, Michelle Obama, who described our country, at one point, as "just downright mean."

Personally, though, I disagree with Barton and Mrs. Obama. If they are correct, I'm wondering why people from other countries want to come to the United States (literally in droves)? Could it be that they see what Barton and Mrs. Obama don't see and that this truly is a wonderful country?

If Barton and Mrs. Obama know basic U.S. history, including recent history, they would have to acknowledge that we donate billions of dollars and send help worldwide for many causes, including earthquakes and tsunamis, AIDS relief to Africa, and the very successful effort to rebuild Europe and Japan after World War II. The list is endless.

If Barton is so unhappy with his country there are other places in the world for him to move.

Perhaps then he would see America in a different light. — Maureen Stewart Medford

Happy days are here again. We have a president who walks on water, a Congress that spends money like it's water and a vice president who knows everything about global warming.

By the way, since Joe Biden and Al Gore "know" that human activities are warming our planet, maybe they could tell us why the planet Mars has been warming up.

Then perhaps they could explain why the Earth had so many warming phases before there were people to cause them. — Ron Smith, Medford

Will the U.S. Senate put the fox in charge of the henhouse? Tim Geithner, President-elect Obama's choice for secretary of the treasury, is an admitted income tax cheater. Watch our esteemed Senators Wyden and Merkley closely on this one, folks. — RD Jensen, Rogue River

Congratulations to Ashland City Council member Eric Navickas for his imaginative "shoe Bush" gallery event. He sure got our attention.

It was all harmless good fun and made a good point in support of the courageous Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at George Bush. Shoeing Shrub out the door is pretty much what the majority of Americans and the whole world are more than ready for.

Those who complain it is undignified to ridicule the president are way off base. Let us remember the president is a politician and not a supreme leader (especially Bush).

Politicians are always fair game for criticism, even in times of war. Disrespectful mockery is not out of bounds, even in times of war. Politicians who can't take it are in the wrong line of work.

Shame on those who say we must be respectful of the president. These are false patriots attempting to hush up those they disagree with. That is anti-democratic and anti-American.

Real patriots like Eric Navickas have the guts to speak truth to power and that is what really makes America strong. — Paul Copeland, Ashland