Opinion » Mail

Mail August 25 2004


As a candidate for office, I meet all kinds of folks when I'm walking door-to-door. Two of those encounters over the past few weeks reminded me what elections should be.

The first happened as I was walking door-to-door in the district. I walked into someone's driveway where two men were standing and handed them my information.

One of them said, "Sean Spence, I've been waiting to meet you."

Well, this was pretty exciting, so I stuck out my hand and asked his name. He responded, "My name is So-and-So. I'm the Republican committeeman for this precinct and we are going to whip your a**."

It was the first time anyone had been less than cordial to me on the campaign trail (in fact, it is still the only time). I'm a big boy so I took it in stride, but it made me think.

Then I received an e-mail from a young woman asking my position on issues. Frankly, it was obviously written by someone who supports my opponent, trying to get information she thought would be embarrassing (which was odd, by the way, because I try to answer any question asked honestly, even the embarrassing ones). It took about 10 seconds find her on Google and identify her as a partisan operative who makes a practice of bashing her opponents. Pretty sad, really.

But, again, it made me think. I thought about when I may have done similar things, or at least thought about it. There's just no excuse. Elections should be battles of ideas, waged in the public forum. It is sad when elections degenerate into personal attacks and underhanded tricks.

Our political campaigns should strive to be about ideas. Every candidate should be prepared to openly debate the important issues that affect their districts and the entire state: the quality of education our children are receiving, access to health insurance, and good jobs. Those who support their candidates should respect that.

There are few venues available to House candidates here in Southwestern Idaho, and that should change. Until it does, candidates should create their own opportunities to meet face-to-face in their districts, providing many opportunities for the voters to make an informed choice. Voters deserve at least that much.

--Sean Spence,



Jerry Corsi is Bush's friend and Bush condones his lies.

One of the authors of the new anti-John Kerry book frequently posted comments on a conservative Web site describing Muslims and Catholics as pedophiles and Pope John Paul II as senile.

But as he prepared to launch the book, Unfit for Command, Corsi apologized for the remarks in an interview with The Associated Press, saying they were meant as a joke and he never intended to offend anyone.

In chat room entry last year on freerepublic.com, Corsi writes, "Islam is a peaceful religion--just as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered and the infidels are killed."

In another entry, he says: "So this is what the last days of the Catholic Church are going to look like. Buggering boys undermines the moral base and the lawyers rip the gold off the Vatican altars. We may get one more Pope, when this senile one dies, but that's probably about it."

In a March posting, Corsi discussed Kerry's faith, writing: "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judaism? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"

Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry are Catholic.

"President Bush should immediately condemn this sleazy book written by a virulent anti-Catholic bigot. It says something about the smear campaign against John Kerry that it has stooped to enlist a hatemonger," said campaign spokesman Chad Clanton.

The book questions the three Purple Hearts that Kerry earned, saying that none was for serious injuries and two wounds were self-inflicted.

According to medical records from his naval service, Kerry still has shrapnel in his thigh from a war injury.

--Paul Chamberlin,



The death of Brandon Titus is one of the most heartbreaking and tragic events of this war. I wept when I listened to his father Tom Titus, a Vietnam vet, on television the other evening. Brandon's death struck me so hard I suppose, principally because I am a Vietnam vet and I know the scars Tom carries and now there is another, more horrible than all the rest, he must live with.

For my part, I have to say that my nerves and emotions have been raw lately before this tragedy. The so-called "swiftboat vets" to their everlasting dishonor, have ripped the scabs off of years of pain, bitterness, anger and emotional turmoil that many of us have tried to put behind or at least live with on some sort of viable basis.

While I will not use Brandon's death as a basis of a polemic against the war, I cannot help but think about why Brandon is dead, why Tom's life has been turned upside down and backwards. I do not know how anyone can not at least consider why we are in this war and why any young man or woman believes that to earn the rights and privileges of being an American, he must serve in the military. How many more wonderful young Americans have to die before we start to look at what militarism has brought to the Titus family and all of us? All I can say is my heart and soul goes out to Tom and all those who have lost loved ones. But there is nothing more visceral, more tragic and more heart breaking than a fellow vet who has already given so much has now given his only son. 

--Tim Teater,




Unbelievable that President Bush could sanction the attacks on Kerry's records when he won't or can't prove he even was in the National Guard in Alabama, missing for nearly a year. After promising to produce records, Bush now refuses to do so. Why does the news media have to sue to get records if he has nothing to hide.

--Wally Stetson,




If any of your readers who keep whining about Fox News' "unabashed conservative bias" had watched "Fox News Sunday" on August 22, as host Chris Wallace (Mike Wallace's son, incidentally) repeatedly and effectively challenged many of the highly-questionable charges leveled by Swift Boat Veterans of America regarding John Kerry's Vietnam service, I think they'd re-evaluate some of their histrionic rantings and opinions. Try reading CBS veteran Bernard Goldberg's non-fiction bestseller Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News and/or Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times Distorts The Truth and Can No Longer Be Trusted by Bob Cohn, then tell me there isn't an unabashed liberal bias that pocks a huge segment of the mainstream United States. (and overseas) media ... a bias that may well explain why the ratings of the three primetime-network news shows and those of CNN are plummeting while Fox News' are rising--and deservedly so!

--John Pluntze,



The recent article on RFID tagging (BW, News, 8.11) was long on paranoid, alarmist rhetoric, but did little to help your readers accurately assess this technology and its impact on their lives. While it is true that major retailers and manufacturers are moving from bar code to RFID scanning to manage their supply chains, it does not mean that these companies will use RFID to track our every move (after all, the Department of Homeland Security already has this covered). The truth is that on a practical level, the major difference between RFID and bar codes is the ability to scan without a clear line of site. Furthermore, near-term RFID implementations will be at the pallet level, with no RFID scanners at checkout, so RFID will have zero impact on the sales floor.

I won't argue that the potential for RFID is not tremendous. The theoretical capabilities of this technology, such as a smart refrigerator that will tell you when you're low on milk, are infinite and amazing. But responsible companies that are implementing RFID also recognize that consumers are concerned about privacy and will offer notice and choice about how and to what extent RFID is used. Consumers can vote with their dollars to ensure that companies are forced to be responsible. Global companies will be held accountable by the privacy laws in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere in the world that prevent the misuse of this technology.

Many consumers don't realize that they are already willingly sharing with retailers, and in many cases, by extension, their suppliers, more information than can possibly be captured with RFID. Anyone who uses a customer loyalty card in order to get sale prices is allowing the retailer to create a shopper profile, complete with name, address, telephone numbers, and credit card numbers, with everything the shopper has every purchased. RFID has no ability to capture the personal information consumers provide on loyalty card applications.

For those consumers who want absolutely nothing to do with RFID, there is an easy solution: pay cash and don't shop from retailers who use the technology. Companies can't take what you won't give them, so it's up to you to decide what's more important: your privacy, or guaranteed lowest prices. The choice is yours.

I am the customer privacy manager for a major corporation that is heavily involved with RFID technology. I know its potential for good and bad, and I am convinced that well-informed consumers have bigger things to worry about when it comes to privacy.

--Mark Albrecht,



"There you go again," quipped Ronald Reagan.

Rep. Mike Simpson in neoconservativist fashion seeks retooling the concept of wilderness. He wants motorized corridors through the heart of the Boulder-White Clouds, a proposed wilderness area. In addition, he proposes codifying a no net loss of motorized trails. Wildlife managers will be unable to protect wildlife and habitat. If this were not egregious enough, Simpson intends a public lands giveaway--your and my public lands--to Custer County.

While I support access for all recreational lifestyles to public lands subject to conservation, what is suspicious about neocon public lands policy are their ideological kinship with the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), a consortium of organizations, corporations, and industries. The ideology is this: to deconstruct wilderness, privatize recreational services, legitimate additional recreation fees on citizens (fee demo), and if the statements of many neocons are true, the implication is assisting ARC to steal our public lands from us, gradually, in the name of compassionate conservativism (neocon euphemism) and markets. Motorized access through wilderness benefits their goals because it works to create the market of their fantasy.

We have a long tradition of wilderness in this country even before the Wilderness Act. Aldo Leopold once wrote that an ecological ethic is a "self-imposed limitation on an activity. "This is an opportunity for the ORV community to demonstrate their ecological ethic and civics by walking away from Congressman Simpson's proposal.

--Christopher T. Winter,



Last week's A&E feature story stated that Rick Skinner serves breakfast every Tuesday and every other Saturday at Corpus Christi House when in fact breakfast is actually served at neighboring Community House (575 S. 13th St.).