Letters to the Editor - April 19, 2013
Stop causes of climate change
Karl Klooster’s informative and somewhat frightening article on the impact of climate change on the wine industry was masterfully written (News-Register, April 12, “Time to face the music”). He artfully avoided any discussion of the causes of climate change and, as a result, placed the burden on the wine industry to take steps to accommodate it.
I believe the main reason for the decline in the number of Americans taking global warming seriously is the fact that so much credence and visibility has been given to the view of climate change deniers that man is not responsible for it and, therefore, nothing can be done about it. We seem to be so driven by our need for balance that even though fewer than 5 percent of climate scientists deny man’s role in climate change, that position gets much attention.
So long as the possibility exists that we are responsible for global warming, we should be doing everything we can to diminish our contribution. This means we should leave the remaining fossil fuels in the ground where they have been for millions of years. We should stop fracking, stop the Keystone XL pipeline, stop burning coal and move as quickly as possible to renewable energy sources.
Perhaps it is too late, and climate change is unstoppable, as suggested by Mr. Klooster. However, public attitudes can change rapidly as evidenced by the sea change in opinions about same-sex marriage. This, in itself, gives me hope that such a change can occur with regard to attitudes toward climate change.
But in order for that to happen, we need to put the issue openly on the table.
Our tolerance is increasing
Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, addressing potential conservative donors and supporters for his planned 2016 race, confidently opined that legalized gay marriage — despite ominous indicators otherwise — isn’t a nationwide inevitability.
Even if the Supreme Court rules against state and federal laws mandating that only “one man and one woman” can marry in America, the senator reassured supporters that the American people won’t stand for it. If tolerance and diversity seem to be gaining steam lately, conservatives will lead a course correction: backward, of course.
Santorum also believes that any wavering — for example, a Republican politician allowing that “maybe, just maybe, gays and lesbians should enjoy the same rights as other consenting adults” — must be considered political suicide. He urges conservative voters to punish politicians if they deviate from the hard line. Since most Republican voters still oppose gay marriage, any rogue moderates are duly forewarned.
A March 2013 Gallup poll indicates that 53 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage. Many of us have switched from opposition to full support. When asked to explain their change of heart, six in 10 responded that they personally know someone who is gay or lesbian. Perhaps it’s difficult to advocate denial of a civil right to a friend or family member.
As a specially-privileged heterosexual (the state of Oregon let me marry and divorce three times, so far), my own views are rather consistent with what Abraham Lincoln replied when asked for an explanation of his moral views on slavery.
“As I would not be a slave,” he counseled, “so I would not be a master.”
While ignoring this simple logic, conservatives remain confident that they’re on the right side of history. Frankly, I’m not averse to the prospects of Santorum’s audience heeding the call and continuing to herd their chosen representatives into such a conspicuous corral.
Kevin C. Nortness
Kerry promotes old ideas
When John Kerry was confirmed as Secretary of State last week, his first promise was to bring new ideas to the job.
So what was Kerry’s big new idea on Syria? Drag the United States further into the conflict by promising to send the rebels an additional $60 million in aid. Only among the Washington foreign policy establishment could a promise to redouble efforts in an old idea be repackaged as a new idea. New ideas, old ideas, new approaches, improved approaches — they always seem to be the same thing: calling for more U.S. intervention in conflicts thousands of miles away that have nothing to do with us.
The Kerry plan is to overtly provide more medical and food aid to armed insurgents seeking to overthrow the Syrian government. In directly assisting rebels with material that will help them fight more effectively, the United States is signaling its new role as an open participant in the conflict. Can U.S. weapons and troops be far behind?
The administration hopes that none of the aid it provides to U.S.-backed rebels falls into the hands of other groups such as the radical Islamist al-Nusra Front, which the United States has designated as a terrorist group. Yet, according to press reports, there is little separation on the ground between the various groups. It seems unreasonable to believe that assistance provided to one group will not wind up in the hands of another group.
Kerry’s new ideas are actually old ideas. Over and over, they have proven to be bad ideas. Just as President Obama has shown that his foreign policy is more aggressive and war-mongering than that of his predecessor, the new, more moderate Secretary of State shows us that he has every intention of furthering the notion that diplomacy flows from the barrel of a gun.
Court decisions limit rights
The Second Amendment does not confer the right to own military-style assault weapons and large capacity clips, and it does not prohibit background checks on the sale of weapons. This radical claim is in keeping with what the Supreme Court said in 2008 in its District of Columbia v. Heller decision.
The court used Heller to clarify that “the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.” Justice Scalia, writing for the court, goes on to explain that this individual right has limits. The Second Amendment does not confer “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
Those of us who favor a ban on military-style assault weapons believe that they fall outside the reach of the Second Amendment. It is not a right “to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever … .”
My position here is strengthened by another limitation endorsed by Heller. Justice Scalia explains that there is a “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”
Gun control proponents believe that military-style assault weapons and large capacity clips should be classified as “dangerous and unusual weapons.” They are dangerous because they have the capacity of killing a large number of people quickly, and they are unusual outside the context of a battlefield.
Regarding background checks, Justice Scalia suggested that the court may look favorably on their expansion. “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
The upshot is that the Second Amendment does not confer an absolute right “to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever,” especially “dangerous and unusual ones.”
Robert E. Mason
Greed takes from others
In response to 9-year-old Emma Grace Linder’s letter (Readers’ Forum, April 12, “Homeless people need shelter”).
Know the meaning of the word greed: Simply put, it is the wanting and taking of more than one needs.
It was greed that took the jobs from the homeless people on the church steps.
It was greed that took their homes.
It was greed that took their pride.
It is greed that prevents existing abandoned buildings from being used as shelters.
Pray for the homeless sleeping at the church, that they might get back what they need.
And pray especially for the greedy, that they might be satisfied with only what they need.