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About Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 23, 2015)
October 23, 2015
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the opinions of the authors but
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O ur V iew
Justice not served in Hammond case
y any measure, the five-year
sentence given to Eastern
Oregon rancher Dwight
Hammond and his son Steven was
That’s probably the one point on
which all sides of the case can agree.
Beyond that, opinions vary on
what level of punishment would
have been fair in a case that illustrates
the shortcomings of a skewed legal
system and a federal agency whose
employees — at least one of them
— use government resources to
reveal their biases and criticize the
The case grew out of an ongoing
dispute between the Hammonds
and the U.S. Bureau of Land
Let’s back up a few years, to
2001, to be exact. That’s when the
139-acre blaze called the Hardie-
Hammond Fire was set on the
Steens Mountain Cooperative
Management and Protection Area,
according to court documents.
In 2006, the Krumbo Butte Fire
was set, burning 1 acre of public
land, according to court documents.
In each case, the Hammonds had
leased the land to graze their cattle.
Fire is an oft-used tool to clear land
of weeds, juniper and other invasive
plants, but the Hammonds had no
permission to set fires on public
In 2012, the Hammonds were
taken to court. After a two-week
trial, Dwight Hammond was
convicted of setting the first fire and
sentenced to three months in prison.
His son Steven was convicted of
setting the second fire and sentenced
to one year in prison. Both also
received three years of supervised
The Pendleton, Ore., jury
acquitted the father and son of
setting two other fires and the
government dismissed those
At the sentencing, U.S. District
Judge Michael Hogan opted for the
lighter sentences, but the prosecutor
appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals, which agreed with
him that a mandatory sentence can’t
Two weeks ago, U.S. District
Judge Ann Aiken resentenced the
Hammonds to five years in prison.
Though legally correct, the
sentence is patently unfair.
The Hammonds were charged
with violating a federal law that
carried with it a minimum sentence
of five years in prison. The law is
aimed at crimes in which terrorists
or others destroy federal property
through bomb blasts or arson.
Though exercising extraordinarily
poor judgment in starting field burns
on federal land without permission,
the Hammonds are not terrorists.
Other federal laws that carry five-
year minimum sentences address
treason, child pornography, using a
gun while committing a violent crime
or importing drugs.
Burning 140 acres of back
country hardly compares with any of
That’s the danger when Congress
decides to tell judges how to do their
jobs. Judges must have latitude to use
their judgment in deciding sentences
that fit the crimes. That’s the whole
point of having judges.
When he originally sentenced the
Hammonds, Hogan described five
years in prison as cruel and unusual
and said such sentences would
“shock the conscience.”
He was correct.
When people such as the
Hammonds are caught in a net that
was set for terrorists, justice is not
A sideshow to this frustrating and
unfair case involves a BLM employee
who used a government computer
while on the taxpayers’ time to post
comments criticizing the Hammonds
on the Capital Press website.
Such an occurrence only reinforces
what we have long believed — that
some federal employees have personal
agendas that deviate from public
policy. If this particular employee
really looks at ranchers as “clowns”
who endanger people, as he said
in his comment, then he needs to
reassess his career choice. We hear
McDonald’s is hiring.
In hindsight, this case should have
been settled before trial. It would
have saved the public the enormous
expense of a trial, appeal, resentencing
and providing the Hammonds with
room and board for five years at a
And the Hammonds would now
permanently be at home, where they
Farmers, ranchers are
committed to raising
safe, healthful meat
By GLENN BRUNKOW
For the Capital Press
onight we are going
to sit down around
the kitchen table and
enjoy one of my favorite
dinners, pot roast. There is
nothing better than a slow-
cooked, properly seasoned
hunk of beef and the accom-
panying vegetables. I cannot
wait. And the best part of
all? I am 100 percent sure it
is absolutely safe to eat and
free of antibiotics.
How can I be sure my
meal is free of antibiotics
and safe? I raised the ani-
mal this particular pot roast
came from and I have fol-
lowed all of the protocols
and precautions to make
sure it was free of any pos-
sible antibiotic residue. So
your response is naturally:
Great, you raised it so you
know, but what about the
meat in the case at my local
Whether it says “antibi-
otic free” or not I assure you
that the meat in your gro-
cer’s case is also complete-
ly free of antibiotic residue.
I know, each day we are all
bombarded with informa-
tion about antibiotic-resis-
tant bugs and we all worry
about our families’ health.
Some of the stories are
quite frightening, and we
are right to ask questions
and seek assurances.
Antibiotics are critical
for farmers and ranchers
both personally and pro-
fessionally. Of course we
are concerned about their
effectiveness when it comes
to treatment for humans: Our
families come first and fore-
most. However, as a caretak-
er of animals, having effec-
tive antibiotics available for
our animals is also of utmost
We understand that the
overuse of a specific antibi-
otic promotes resistance and
that is why we use them only
Rik Dalvit/For the Capital Press
O ur V iew
Where urban/rural divide is widest
e have often used this space
to highlight aspects of the so-
called rural/urban divide.
At least in broad terms, people in the
country differ politically, economically
and culturally from people in the city.
No place is this divide probably wider
than on the subject of guns.
People in rural and urban areas
hold all kinds of opinions about guns.
It would be all too easy to reduce the
arguments to stereotypes. But there is
clear research showing that there are
distinct differences in how rural and
urban residents generally view guns.
A report released in August by
the Pew Research Center, based in
Washington, D.C., documented the
urban-rural differences. Of people
living in urban areas, 60 percent
believe it’s more important to control
gun ownership and 38 percent believe
gun rights should take priority. The
results are reversed in rural areas, with
63 percent saying gun rights are more
Guns are a part of life in the country.
They are a common tool made familiar
to many rural residents years before
they are old enough to drive. They are
used for sport — target shooting and
hunting. They are used to dispatch
predators and varmints that plague
farms and ranches.
In locales where police are few and
far between and help is not readily
available, guns are kept ready for self
Guns are respected, but not feared.
They are a part of rural culture, but not
the focus of it. Guns are certainly not a
distinct culture onto themselves.
While many in the city can’t imagine
why people in the country keep guns,
country people don’t understand why
someone in the city, where danger
seems to lurk around every corner,
That’s not to say there aren’t areas
on which rural and urban Americans
agree. No one wants to see people
slaughtered in mass shootings. And no
one objects to keeping guns out of the
hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
We can all agree that “something”
should be done to reduce violence.
If only it were as simple as passing
another gun law.
In the wake of the recent shooting
at Umpqua Community College in
Roseburg, Ore., President Obama
and other politicians have suggested
increasing background checks on gun
buyers and tightening the definition
of sellers who need federal firearms
All well and good, but these measures
would not have prevented Christopher
Harper-Mercer, the student who killed
nine people and wounded nine others,
from obtaining his guns. Nor would they
have prevented other recent shootings.
Rural sensibilities are wary of
actions that are expedient and designed
to advance a broader policy on guns
without addressing the problem of
imbalanced, violence-prone perpetrators.
The vast majority of gun owners are
responsible, peaceful and law-abiding.
They see as absolute the right for
individual gun ownership enshrined in
the Second Amendment and upheld by
the Supreme Court.
And when they understand that,
urban gun control advocates will know
everything they need to know about
guns in the country.
when needed. We rely on our
veterinarians to provide us
with recommendations for
using the right medicine, at
the right dose, at the right
time. We work with our vet-
erinarians very closely. Want
proof? My veterinarian is on
speed dial: my doctor is not.
I speak for my fellow
farmers and ranchers when I
say that we are cognizant of
the value of antibiotics and
the dangers of their overuse.
We are concerned about re-
sistant bacteria in our live-
stock, but the concern for
our animals pales in com-
parison when it comes to
the concern we have for our
That is why we are dili-
gent in our use of antibiotics
and follow label directions
and withdrawal dates. It is
simply the right thing to do.
As farmers and ranchers, we
are proud to raise the meat
on your dinner plates, but we
are fathers, mothers, grand-
parents, uncles and aunts
first. The safety of our fami-
lies is paramount.
I assure you that we are
in favor of continued moni-
toring when it comes to anti-
biotic resistance and will be
the first ones to look for solu-
tions if the time ever comes
that a problem is found. Just
know that the meat on your
table is safe and healthful,
and it will stay that way be-
cause of concerned, commit-
ted farmers and ranchers.
Glenn Brunkow, a
raises cattle, sheep and
crops with his family in
Northeast Kansas. His
weekly column “Dust on the
Dashboard” can be found at
Currency manipulation allows TPP partners to skirt the deal
By ROGER JOHNSON
For the Capital Press
wrapped up the hid-
den agreements in the
Trans-Pacific Partnership, a
massive trade bill that includes
the United States and 11 other
Pacific Rim nations.
Unfortunately, it appears
that we have not learned from
past mistakes, and this trade
deal again lacks enforceable
language against currency ma-
Currency manipulation has
become our trade competitors’
favorite maneuver for skirting
massive trade deals as soon as
they sign them,
and it’s about to happen again.
Before these trade deals be-
come effective, some of our
trading partners devalue their
currency, immediately reduc-
ing the cost of their goods to
us and everyone else, and in-
creasing the cost of our goods
Politicians on both sides of
the aisle endorse trade agree-
ments because of claims they
will reduce or remove tariffs
and export subsidies, yet these
large regional pacts, like the
TPP, are also about setting fair
rules for trade.
Most of the TPP pertains to
non-tariff barriers and includes
chapters on the environment,
labor rights and intellectual
property. Currency manipula-
tion should be included as its
own chapter since it is one of
the most fundamental non-tariff
barriers to trade. Unfortunately
for the TPP, that is not the case.
The result of currency ma-
nipulation, as it occurs after
trade agreements, is that it’s
nearly impossible for the U.S.
to get a fair shake in these
deals. In fact, if you look
at the data from trade deals
we’ve already entered, the
strongest correlation you can
make is that the more trade
deals we sign, the more jobs
we lose and the higher our
trade deficit grows.
Our current trade deficit
sits at $505 billion. This defi-
cit has not only spurred the
loss of good-paying American
jobs, but it has also greatly
weighed down our domestic
economy by 2.5 to 5.5 percent
every year for the last decade.
If that drain didn’t happen, we
could have economic growth
in this nation we haven’t wit-
nessed for decades.
This notion of currency
manipulation is not specu-
lation. In August, Vietnam
— one of the participating
countries in TPP — devalued
its currency in response to a
major devaluation by China
earlier this summer. Malaysia
and Singapore have also in-
tervened in their currency by
increasing reserves by an un-
precedented amount. There’s
nothing stopping others in the
agreement from manipulating
their currencies as well.
A recent report by the In-
ternational Monetary Fund
demonstrated the power of
devaluation of a currency —
a 10 percent fall in the value
of a nation’s currency can in-
crease exports by an average
of 1.5 percent of GDP. At that
point, the playing field is no
longer level, and trade is not
free or fair.
Currency manipulation is
an enormously unfair trade
measure that continues to be
used to outmaneuver the U.S.
government. The TPP agree-
ment must include a chapter
on currency manipulation that
establishes enforceable rules
and procedures to address cur-
rency manipulation. If it does
not, TPP will not be worth the
paper it is written on.
Roger Johnson is presi-
dent of the National Farmers