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A robust public option is needed
If someone says, "Government is the problem, not the solution" don’t vote for him or her. It’s a simple statement that needs qualifying, not one to build a political philosophy on.
If it were not for government, we would still be subservient to kings, emperors and pharaohs, with little distribution of wealth.
As far as health care is concerned, if American government is so big and bad, so bloated, inefficient and wasteful, why can’t the lean, efficient and the so highly productive insurance industry compete with it?
A robust public option is consistent with the Hippocratic oath but remember: As long as one percent of the population owns more than the bottom 95 percent, the right-wing propaganda will not abate.
From the think tanks in D.C. to the daily squawk of parrots in our beloved Valley, it will continue despite the fact that we have elected a progressive majority.
It is important that a majority sustain a liberal education.
M.J. Smith
Walla Walla

Obama has awakened a sleeping giant
Barack Obama being elected president of the United States has been the best thing that has happened to the U.S. in recent years.
We had become basically a non-political country; people not really caring or paying much attention to politics or what was going on in Washington. He has tried way too hard to get too much changed, and since this is a right-of-center country it isn’t going well.
Guantanamo has been a fiasco, the stimulus has been a fiasco, health-care reform isn’t going anywhere, cap-and-trade is on the table, he dithers on Afghanistan, and now he has pulled a major gaffe by trying to exclude Fox News from White House briefings. Even CNN and NBC thought this was just crybaby stuff.
So now America is awake, and not liking the Chicago-style of governing this administration is offering. If McCain had been elected we would be still operating as if the government was kind of all right.
Barack Obama has awakened a sleeping America, and it is all for the better. He would not be elected today since it was moderate Americans who unwittingly elected him by listening to his "change-and-hope" rhetoric. Well, he has tried to do too much and I am happy for that. Now is the time for all of us to get politically active, and to take this country back from the 12-percent-approval Congress we keep electing, and from the environmentalists who have played a large role in destroying our economy.
We need to be aware that when we send our children to college that most — 87 percent has been reported — of the professors are openly liberal. We need to get proactive about our future, and the futures of our children.
I watched this last election, and the Obama people put on a better campaign here in Walla Walla than the Republicans did. We are actually a conservative area, one that is full of producers rather than entitlement people, and yet we still put on a pretty bad showing.
I’ll admit that McCain didn’t fire us up much, but at last now Barack Obama and Rahm Emmanuel have. Our first task is getting rid of Patty Murray in 2010.
Don Danielson
Walla Walla

Put tax dollar into streets, not buses
Some 30 years ago voters decided to tax all to sustain a bus service that served a minuscule percentage of the population.
At that time over 90 percent of the operating costs were nothing more than government subsidies. Fares generated next to nothing to offset operating expenses.
Add to that large buses buzzing around the city practically empty and you have the formula for failure. Walla Walla’s population density is far too low for a bus system to ever succeed.
To correct the financial failure of the enterprise, they are seeking to double the tax rate in the middle of a severe recession.
Personally, I would much rather see the transportation taxes devoted to street repair — benefitting far more people than buses. It’s the only way to avoid becoming the pothole capitol of the state.
Kenneth D. Emerson
Walla Walla
Keep the traditional Blue Devil
I’m writing in regards to the article on the front page of the U-B on Sept. 11 concerning the Wa-Hi Blue Devil.
As alumni of Wa-Hi, we are very concerned about the change wanted by some of our mascot Blue Devil. I graduated in 1954.
Supposedly, some Booster Club members are representing alumni who say "time is ripe for change." Not all alumni are wanting change! Nothing is wrong with the old Blue Devil.
We say as new students come into Wa-Hi each year, they should accept the old traditional Blue Devil. It’s been around for many, many years. It is Wa-Hi!
The new design is a farce! It is a joke! Our old Blue Devil is not laughable! No change! Our traditional Blue Devil lives on forever!!
Jessie Hopkins Hicks
Walla Walla

Valley has great nature locations
I appreciated the photographic tribute to the beauty of Bennington Lake by Greg Lehman in the new edition of Lifestyles.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others have created a place of splendor only minutes from our doorsteps, and one of the Valley’s greatest treasures. Acres of public land for hikers, bikers, runners, horses, hunters, canoeists, families and other user types. While it is the heart of an important flood control project, the area is a place of recreation and an oasis for waterfowl and wildlife.
Every time I am there, I am filled with gratitude for the foresight and efforts of many who have planned for, created, and maintain this gift.
Another location that welcomes many users is Harris County Park, with bikers, hikers, horses and motorized dirt-bikers using the trail up the South Fork of the Walla Walla River.
Yesterday, my husband and I took a trail ride there on our equine friends, Pearl and Pal. Even with the autumn chill in the air we met hikers on the trail, enjoying the incredible fall colors and the smell of damp pine needles.
A word of caution to bikers. Remember that however well-trained horses might be, when they are frightened their instinct is to run away from a threat, which sometimes results in serious trauma to the riders and even the horses.
I would like to publicly congratulate the very courteous dirt-bikers who shared the trail with us. These good riders took time to stop and turn off their engines before riding close to us, passed only when we were able to move well off the trail, rode slowly and quietly by us, and revved their engines only when well past.
To tell the truth, I don’t like the smell of exhaust, but I’m more than willing to endure those moments when the experience is pleasant and cooperative.
It should be a high priority for all users of these public lands to follow trail courtesy, care for one another and enjoy the richness provided to us.
Barbara Hetrick
Walla Walla

US needs health-care reform
After reading the fact-less letter from Mr. Lund in the Oct. 22 edition of the U-B, I felt compelled to write in for the first time to counter the falsehoods he is spreading for Faux News.
There is a health-care crisis happening in America and it is not because people are not paying for health insurance, it because people are dying as a result of a lack of health insurance. A study done by Harvard and published in the American Journal of Public Health states that 44,000 Americans die every year as a direct result of lack of health insurance.
One example, a Florida woman died earlier this month from swine flu. When her symptoms first began, she refused to go into the ER because she had no insurance. Once she was incapacitated, her friends dragged her in to the ER to get her treated; only it was too late. She died one week later. This is just one example of how lack of health insurance results in a persons’ death.
Mr. Lund also stated that polls show obvious public support against the public option. This is patently false. In the most recent Washington Post/ABC poll, released Oct. 20, it shows strong support for the public option at 57 percent, while a recent CBS poll tabs this at 62 percent. That seems to be pretty favorable support for a public option in my estimation.
And finally, he states that "fools rush in." The last time I remember America rushing into anything was the Iraq conflict (war). Had we taken as long debating the merits of going to war as we have debating health care, we may have made a better decision.
Instead, according to CBO estimates, we have spent $1 trillion on war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This amount would pay for health care for every American for the next decade and a half.
But for some reason, health-reform opponents would rather spend the money on foreign wars to help foreign nations "rebuild" rather than domestic programs to help fellow Americans get access to basic health care needs.
Why do they insist on helping foreigners but not their fellow Americans? America needs health-care reform now!
Ben Currin
Milton-Freewater

Community garden takes root
Community gardens are an important way to help build local food security, increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and beautify and unite our neighborhoods.
Walla Walla has an opportunity to support a garden of its own at the corner of Rees Avenue and Sumach Street, where a new community garden is seeking gardeners for its opening next spring. Community members and sponsors are also needed to help develop the common areas of the garden, and to provide startup resources and ongoing support.
The use of the land has been donated by Whitman College to the North Main Area Neighborhood Association. Commitment to Community has been helping with neighborhood outreach, and Bob Biles, long-time area gardener and landscaper, is serving as volunteer garden master.
The garden will feature 30 individual plots, each 10-feet-wide by 20-feet-long, together with several common areas. Residents from Clinton to Colville streets and from Isaacs Avenue/Rose Street to U.S. Highway 12 will be given priority in plot assignments, though people from throughout the community are welcome and encouraged to apply. Gardeners will be encouraged to donate 10 percent of their produce to local food banks.
Applications for individual plots should be sent to Rees Sumach Garden, P.O. Box 1222, Walla Walla. Depending on availability, more than one plot may be assigned to a family. After Nov. 15, the first round of plot assignments will take place. Remaining plots will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
After plots are assigned, the association will be offering all members free gardening classes, as well as access to a listserve for sharing gardening questions and information.
The community garden has a Web site at reesandsumach.blogspot.com with application forms, more garden information, a list of specific needs and useful links to other community gardens and associations.
If you’d like more information on the garden, you can call me or e-mail north.main@charter.net. We hope you’ll help us make this effort a success, and that it will be encouraging to others.
Daniel N. Clark
Walla Walla

No bailout for our seniors
No cost of living allowance — COLA — in 2010 for Social Security recipients and, very possibly, no increase in 2011.
Obama can throw billions of taxpayer dollars to the rich folks on Wall Street and provide billions of taxpayer dollars for all his other so-called stimulus programs.
Obama’s health-care program is now estimated to exceed one trillion taxpayer dollars over a 10-year span. Obama is throwing taxpayer dollars in every direction except in the direction of retired senior citizens.
Senior citizens count on this modest increase every year just to keep up with rising living expenses, i.e, Medicare, Pacific Power, just to name a couple.
It seems as though Obama is starting to put the financial squeeze on our senior citizens. Perhaps Obama is getting a "running start" on his death panel for senior citizens.
Gary Fisher
Walla Walla

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