December 1, 2004 


Get some perspective people--now, not later.

It's not exactly like I take your weekly seriously--anymore than I take The New York Times seriously (since both of you don't even try to hide your laughably obvious ultra-leftist agendas)--although when you briefly offered Jonah Goldberg's erudite column I had at least one reason besides the Curious World column to even pick up your otherwise pointless publication. Having said all that, however, I'd like to say that if you nattering nabobs of negativity want to keep fanning the flames where Iraq is concerned you might want to also acknowledge at some point that more than 2,000 armed insurgents were killed by coalition forces (and more than 1,200 captured) just this past week in Fallujah alone! Also, that in July 1943, more than 1,000 allied forces were killed in Norway in a single week as various, ultimately successful attempts were made to destroy Hitler's dangerously advanced heavy-water (atom bomb) facilities there. If your editorial board is going to constantly hype the negative--what sad, pathetic childhoods you all must have had to have turned into such unrelentingly-pessimistic cynics!--at least occasionally mention also some positives, painful as it may be personally for you to do so.

--John Pluntze



The Boise State Cultural Center is to be congratulated for its November 17 Speak Up Forum on racism and immigration. However, the comments of one speaker, who advocated what he called "American values," gave me pause. His comments called to mind the famous words of poet Emma Lazarus. Written in 1883 after observing refugees from persecution and starvation arriving in New York City on a tramp steamer, these words now grace the most globally recognized symbol of American freedom, the Statue of Liberty. It reads in part:

"Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightening, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

'Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!' cries she

With silent lips. 'Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'"

I wonder if Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez was suggesting now is the time to dismantle the Statue of Liberty.

--William Whitaker, descendent of immigrants



While it may make for pretty packaging--all those black and white cows standing out under the shade tree--this just doesn't happen on the very "agricultural operations" that Idaho's U.S. Sen. Larry Craig is trying to exempt from compliance with some rather basic federal laws.

While Sen. Craig may and does state, "Environmentalists have begun a new attack on the agriculture industry" this is little more than his spin.

The facts are that "environmentalists" have joined forces with independent farmers and ranchers in response to intrusive agribusiness corporations. These corporations use industrial methods in the production of meat, milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables.

While he may be correct in stating that the U.S. Congress never intended the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act to apply to livestock operations, it is also true that Congress did not envision dairies that contain 5,000 or 10,000 cows. These operations are not "farms"; and they should and must be held strictly accountable to all federal laws--not just to the ones that Senator Craig favors.

As to Sen. Craig's claim that "state and local regulations" are in place to "manage animal waste" from farms, he is just flat wrong. Real farms--diversified family farms--are truly exempt from compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. Most states, including Idaho, have a "right to farm law," that protects farmers from frivolous nuisance suits. There is an exemption for "normal agricultural odors" and from "fugitive dust" laws. There are exemptions in the Clean Water Act pertaining to agricultural storm water. The list goes on and on, but suffice it to say that landowners with small diversified farms are simply not affected by state or federal environmental laws and regulations.

There is a perception that such is not the case, but this perception has been developed and perpetuated by the very operations that Sen. Craig would exempt.

When an agricultural operation confines thousands of cows or hogs and millions of chickens, then, yes indeed, these contaminate the air, land, and water, do cause harmful health impacts on neighbors, and are then required to report the toxic compounds that are emitted from such facilities.

Idaho dairies that reach the size specified by law (1,000 animal units or 750 cows) are required to comply with state and federal laws. The cows in such operations never even see green grass or a shade tree, despite all the pretty photos on cartons of milk, but instead are confined in concrete and metal structures. Much of the milk from industrial dairies goes to make cheese for export, not for direct consumption--and the surplus is purchased by the U.S. Government and ends up being stored in limestone caves in Kansas City.

I am an environmentalist. I care about clean air, clean water, and land stewardship. Industrial agribusiness corporations threaten all of these, and for this reason environmental and conservation organizations are supportive of diversified family farms.

What exactly is it that Sen. Craig supports? Or perhaps the real question is: How much money does Sen. Craig receive from agribusinesses?

--Ken Midkiff

Columbia, Missouri


Gee, Bill Cope must feel like a man without a country. Or a man that hates his own country at the minimum. After all, he is rejected by his own darling political party as well as by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

In regards to foreign immigrants to America, Jefferson wrote: "But are there no inconveniences to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected from a multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners? ... Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent. Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural rights and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet, from such, we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass." (1782, in his "Notes on the State of Virginia".)

George Washington wrote: "My opinion with respect to immigration is that, except of useful mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions, there is no need of encouragement, while the policy or advantage of its taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned, for, by so doing, they retain the language, habits and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them." (1794, in a message to Congress.)

And finally, Cope's own beloved Democratic Party said, in its 1892 platform: "We heartily approve all legitimate efforts to prevent the United States from being used as the dumping ground for the known criminals and paupers of Europe."

--Marvin Gardner



Last week's new cartoon, "Intrepid Event," was penned by Allen Gladfelter with Mark Cooper.

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