Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 29

World needs to focus on Myanmar

I salute and admire Sen. James Webb for going to Myanmar (former Burma) to visit Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, in prison where she has spent 14 of her last 20 years.

Aung San, once elected to office as president of Myanmar, but arrested and imprisoned by the military coup leaders, has spent her admirable life struggling for advancement of human rights in Myanmar.

I feel some kinship with her because I myself was excluded from entering then Burma in 1962 by the ongoing military dictatorship. As a young physician I had an assignment to work in public health dealing with tuberculosis control in Burma. I never made it there, and instead went to Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo).

Aung San Suu Kyi should not be in prison in Myanmar. She should not be under house arrest. Her status should not have been further imperiled by the crazy American who swam across the lake to her house arrest home in the middle of the night.

I hope she finds freedom for herself and her compatriots in Myanmar.

I am thankful that Sen. Jim Webb has the courage to go to visit her and to promote human rights in an oppressive state.



Speak out on lake versus estuary issue

There was a recent article in The Olympian regarding the recommendation of the Capitol Lake Adaptive Management Plan Steering Committee to the Department of General Administration to revert Capitol Lake to an estuary.

It is not particularly surprising that committee members from the state departments of Natural Resources, Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and the Squaxin Island Tribe all want the lake to become an estuary.

It is very surprising that several of our elected officials, on the committee, voted to revert the lake to an estuary with little or no public input. It is extremely disappointing that these individuals are willing to give up one of Olympia’s most beautiful landmarks without first checking with the people that elected them to office.

If we wind up losing our beloved Capitol Lake, remember the following people at election time: Thurston County commissioners Sandra Romero and Karen Valenzuela, city of Olympia council member Joe Hyer, City of Tumwater council member Neil McClanahan.

This issue is much more significant for the future quality of life for Olympia residents than is high-rise development on the isthmus. If you want to have any input in this process, write or e-mail the Department of General Administration. Only 118 public comments had been received immediately after the article in The Olympian.



Change Lakefair to Swamp Fair?

SHAME on the Olympia and Tumwater city council members who voted with outsiders to destroy Capitol Lake.

The Squaxin tribe and the state should not be allowed to dictate to the citizens of Olympia and Tumwater.

Do they plan to rename our July event, “Swamp Fair?”



Population increase is the answer

It would seem to me that with all the massive and out-of-control spending going on in Washington (both of them, but I speak primarily of D.C.), President Barack Obama should reconsider some of his values and policies.

With the deficit nearing $2 trillion dollars, this country is going to need as many new constituents as possible to pay for all of this garbage.

I urge the president to remove all condoms from public schools; forbid the teaching of abstinence only; promote promiscuity; outlaw all forms of birth control and forbid abortion for any reason.

I know this would be a radical departure from his current policies but would certainly help in paying for the socialism train that is coming down the mountain at break-neck speed.



Lake’s aesthetic value ignored

As I review the Capitol Lake Alternatives Analysis, I realize that this document (used by our public and the officials who will decide the lake’s fate) assigns almost nothing to the esthetic value of Capitol Lake.

For example, under the estuary scenario, the report avoids pictorial representation of any of the basins at low tide or discusses the associated sulfurous smell. Of the eight criteria used to compare alternatives in this report, “esthetic value” is virtually ignored. Why?

There are compelling reasons for the estuary concepts. Changes to a more natural biodiversity should be appealing to everyone. However, these effects on an already industrialized and contaminated lower Budd Inlet are somewhat marginal and unfortunately, subject to question.

And remember, the salmon runs here are man made (fish ladders). Someone needs to ask the question, “Is sacrificing this magnificent, signature lake worth these gains?”

Bill Ruckelshaus the first director of the Environmental Protection Agency spoke at the annual Capitol Land Trust breakfast about five years ago. His explicit message was that good environmental decisions always include human needs.

The Capitol Lake Alternative Analysis clearly fails in that regard. This report expects its readers to ignore the community’s appreciation of one of the finest urban amenities in the Western United States.

It is imperative that the General Administration director, members of the State Capitol Committee and the Legislature — those next in the decision chain — clearly understand this bias before deciding.

And the community should let them know privately and publicly.



Don’t turn Capitol Lake into an estuary

My goodness. What was the Capitol Lake study group thinking when they recommended turning Capitol Lake into an estuary?

It seems to me that to really, really, really put this area back to its original, pristine state, we would need to remove all of the original disturbed isthmus area — the dirt area filled in to create Capitol Lake.

Having only the dam removed doesn’t undo what man has already done. So let’s just leave it as a man-made lake and call it good.



Understanding freedom of speech

The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association and assembly.

It also protects the rights of citizens to worship as they please and the right not to be forced to support someone else’s religion. The First Amendment also provides for the right to demand a change in government policies.

With all the debate about health care, I find it necessary to remind everyone about this particular amendment. It protects your freedom to speak your opinions but it does not grant you the right to prevent someone else from exercising their First Amendment rights.

Freedom of speech means that you can say anything you want and so can I. If you try to shout me down, interrupt me, heckle me, or in any way prevent me from voicing my opinion, you violate my First Amendment rights.

Do you want to go there?

Being an American means being able to speak your mind. It also means having the courtesy, civility and respect to listen to someone else’s opinion.



No room for guns at public forums

Recently there has been a disturbing overlap between freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.

What is the purpose of machine guns, assault rifles, AK-47s, and holstered handguns being displayed at playgrounds, town meetings, etc? Where will it stop? Isn’t the sole purpose to intimidate others, especially when many are shouting and suppressing those with polite and legitimate questions?

Gun toters intimidate those without guns. It’s that simple. Why should guns be necessary at public forums on health care? Does the right to bear arms mean that unarmed attendees should stay home out of fear, or alternatively, arm themselves for potential confrontations? What about the right to feel safe and secure when engaging in civil discourse about political matters affecting us all?

Police must hire more security for these events. Who bears the economic burden — the average non-gun toting person.

Emotions have run high at the town meetings. What if somebody fires a shot in the crowd, engendering panic and potentially a massacre? What is next? Howitzers and grenades?

Once again, the NRA has gone too far. Truly, they do not represent middle America — only the fringe.

Are the judges and Congress thinking about this disturbing time bomb?