Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (April 12, 2017)
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Founded October 16, 1875
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Opinion Page Editor
Regional Advertising Director
Business Office Manager
has the heart of
The citizens of Hermiston dug
into their own pockets and willingly
gave more than $600,000 of their
own money to help renovate a
hulking, vacant downtown building
once home to a grocery store.
It was an excellent use of
funds — the money was used to
create the Hermiston Conference
Center, which has given a home to
numerous events and helped the
Hermiston Chamber of Commerce,
who in turn helped fuel Hermiston’s
explosive economic growth.
But now the future of the building
is up for debate, as another publicly-
owned competitor has been built
just down the road. Many events are
likely to migrate to the new Eastern
Oregon Trade and Event Center.
The city has informed the
chamber of commerce, which has
operated the conference center, that
it wants to go in a different direction
with the building. It is considering a
recreation center and recommends
relocating the chamber to the
basement of the old library across
from city hall.
Some sort of rec center would be
an excellent addition to Hermiston,
and we imagine many residents
would embrace that change. It
topped a recent citizen survey
commissioned by the city.
But because so many public
dollars went into the conference
center, public input must be heard.
And councilors need to debate the
issue openly and honestly with the
community that made it possible.
The future of the center should be
decided by elected officials and their
constituents, not city employees.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial board of publisher
Kathryn Brown, managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, and opinion page editor Tim Trainor.
Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not
necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
Freedom of speech
under attack in America
Our nation faces a major crisis.
The First Amendment is the glue that
holds our system of government together
and allows it to function. This concept
of “free speech” allows for open debate
without fear of retaliation. It embodies
the idea that we must listen to opposing
viewpoints with a degree of courtesy
and to give equal time for each. It allows
for all sides to have the opportunity to
express their opinions and to be heard.
Unfortunately, the past decade or so
has seen increasing numbers of attacks
on these rules. On college campuses,
in news and social media, and even in
the halls of our Congress, free speech
no longer exists. Opposing voices are
no longer allowed to be heard in open
debate. Under the guise of various rule
and procedural changes, free speech is
being buried. Allegations of “fake news”
or “alternative facts” are being thrown
back and forth. Our leaders are behaving
like playground bullies.
Repeated rule-breaking will
eventually create a new tradition of
dictatorship, a “one-party” system where
no one is allowed to speak except those
following the approved party line. This
must not be allowed to happen. Our
elected representatives must all be held
accountable in order to prevent this from
going any further. This is not an issue for
politics. We must stop the finger-pointing
and the excuses that “they did it first.”
We the people must speak with one
united voice. The rules of free discourse
and debate must be reestablished and set
in concrete. If the current state of affairs
continues, we may destroy our very
Republican proposals will
make health care worse
As per David Brooks in a recent
editorial, the Republican health care
proposals fail the smell test because they
contain no vision for providing health
care and continue to be about a way to
grab a huge hunk of billionaire taxes
that support the ACA back as part of
their plan to cut taxes. Their attempts
to reduce cost all involve eliminating
coverage no matter how they dress it up.
The latest proposal would allow states
to “opt out” of essential benefits and
pre-existing condition coverage. For
example, we will happily insure cancer
patients but not for anything related to
Republicans also seem to continue
to promote the idea that people on
Medicaid are no accounts and wastrels,
and if we provide them with health care,
we will “de-incentivize” them to go out
and get better paying jobs. Those who
cannot work or work at lower paying
jobs should not get health care until they
work their way up the rung of success.
Working at nursing homes and later in
home health and hospice as a RN, nearly
my whole clientele was on Medicare
and/or Medicaid. Many of them were
what we would consider poor as well.
Most worked hard all their life but ended
up with little, some had made poor
choices or had bad luck they could never
recover from. Some had mental illnesses
or physical disabilities. Others were just
what I would call hapless despite trying
to do the right thing.
We forget a lot of these folks are
elders in nursing home care who rely on
Medicaid to be able to afford it, despite
a productive work life. Yes, there were
some I wanted to shake some sense into
and give a piece of my mind regarding
work and responsibility. But you know,
I never once thought the human being
in front of me did not deserve care.
Despite my frustration at times, I don’t
think you can or should base health care
on individual worthiness. I hear echoes
of Ebenezer Scrooge in my head: what
would you have these people do, just die
and decrease the surplus population?
Friends, I ask you to reflect and ask
if living in a civil society means we care
for the least among us. There are plenty
of real cost-cutting measures Congress
could be working on. Greg Walden
needs to hear from you.
Bond would help schools
keep up with growth
On May 16 voters will have a chance
to vote on the approval of the Hermiston
School District bond of $104 million. I
am writing to encourage voters to vote
for the bond.
Our community is growing at an
exceptionally fast rate and in seven
years, according to Portland State
University, it is expected for the district’s
population to grow 24 percent. That
is approximately 800-1,100 students.
To give you an idea of how large that
number is, the high school can only
accommodate 1,600 students at the
maximum. Hermiston High School is
very close to that maximum number
Not only is the high school
dealing with capacity issues, but
many elementary schools have
similar situations. Without the needed
expansions, there will be many problems
in the future.
Adding modules will not solve this
problem. We would need a total of 56
new modules in order for the predicted
students to fit in the school district. The
schools do not have enough space to
have that many modules rented and put
on site. As a student at Hermiston High
School, I’ve learned that modules can
cause some problems, including having
to walk across campus just to use the
bathroom or having to walk across
campus to return a book. The school
district needs a long-term solution to
the enrollment growth and the bond will
give the district that solution.
If you vote yes on the bond, you
won’t just be saying yes to expand the
district, but you will also be saying yes
to creating a better education for the
students now and for the students in
the future. Make sure to vote yes for
the Hermiston School District bond to
improve the future of the district and
future education of your community’s
students. These are your kids or your
neighbor’s kids, they need to be educated
happily and safely.
Trump was right to strike Syria
justifies vilifying and barring those
resident Donald Trump’s
same babies with his travel ban. Yet
airstrikes against Syria were
I’d rather Trump inconsistently do the
of dubious legality. They were
right thing than consistently do the
hypocritical. They were impulsive.
They may have had political
Many of my fellow progressives
motivations. They create new risks for
viscerally oppose any use of force,
the United States.
but I think that’s a mistake. I was
But most of all, they were right.
I’m deeply suspicious of Trump’s
Nicholas against the Iraq War, but some
policies and competence, but this is
Kristof military interventions save lives. The
no fly zone over northern Iraq in the
a case where he is right and Barack
1990s is one example, and so are the
Obama was wrong. Indeed, many of
British intervention in Sierra Leone
us believe that Obama’s worst foreign
and French intervention in Mali. It’s prudent
policy mistake was his passivity in Syria.
to be suspicious of military interventions,
One of Trump’s problems is that he has
lied so much and so often that he doesn’t have but imprudent to reject any use of force
credibility at home or abroad in a foreign
Want proof that military interventions in
crisis like this. I likewise find it unnerving that
the Middle East can work? In 2014, Obama
he came to the right decision in an impulsive
ordered airstrikes near the Syria-Iraq border
way, changing policy 180 degrees after
compelling photos emerged of children gassed against ISIS as it was attacking members of
the Yazidi minority. Those U.S. strikes saved
in Syria. Should a president’s decisions about
many thousands of Yazidi lives, although
war really depend on the photos taken?
they came too late to
Yet for all my distrust
save thousands more
of Trump’s motivations
who were killed or
and capacity to execute
a strategy, here’s why I
kidnapped as sex slaves.
believe he was right.
In Syria, the crucial
Since the horrors
question is what comes
of mustard gas during
World War I a century
There’s some bold
ago, one of the world’s
talk among politicians
about ousting Assad
international norms has
from Syria. Really?
been a taboo on the use
People have been
of chemical weapons.
counting on Assad’s fall
We all have an interest
for six years now, and
in reinforcing that norm, so this is not just
he’s as entrenched as ever.
about Syria but also about deterring the next
Moreover, air strips can be rebuilt, and
dictator from turning to sarin.
if this was a one-time strike then the larger
For an overstretched military, poison gas
slaughter in Syria will continue indefinitely.
is a convenient way to terrify and subdue
But I’m hoping that the administration may
a population. That’s why Saddam Hussein
use it as a tool to push for a cease-fire.
used gas on Kurds in 1988, and why Bashar
As Secretary of State, John Kerry worked
Assad has used gas against his own people in
valiantly for a peace deal in Syria. But he
Syria. The best way for the world to change
had neither carrots nor sticks to offer. Kerry
the calculus is to show that use of chemical
pleaded with Obama for leverage in the form
weapons carries a special price — such as a
of military strikes, but Obama refused.
military strike on an air base.
Now the State Department finally has
Paradoxically, Assad may have used
leverage. But, tragically, we seem to lack a
chemical weapons because he perceived a
secretary of state with the clout and inclination
green light from the Trump administration. In
to seize that leverage and push for a peace
recent days, Rex Tillerson, Sean Spicer and
Nikki Haley all suggested that it was no longer
My proposed course in Syria is the same
U.S. policy to push for the removal of Assad,
one that Hillary Clinton and many others have
and that may have emboldened him to open
favored: missile strikes to ground Assad’s
the chemical weapons toolbox. That mistake
small air force. This should help end the
made it doubly important for Trump to show
barrel bombs and make Assad realize that he
that neither Assad nor any leader can get away has no military solution, and that it’s time for
with using weapons of mass destruction.
negotiation. The most plausible negotiated
Look, for a Syrian child, it doesn’t matter
outcome would be a long-term cease-fire
and de facto partition of Syria, putting off
much whether death comes from a barrel
reintegration until Assad is no longer around.
bomb, a mortar shell, a bullet, or a nerve
Even if we can’t leverage military
agent. I hope Trump will also show more
strikes into a peace deal, the strikes are still
interest in stopping all slaughter of Syrians
worthwhile by degrading the air assets that
— but it’s still important to defend the norm
Assad uses to kill his own people.
against chemical weapons (the United States
undermined that norm after Saddam’s gas
Syria is a spectacular country redolent with
attack by falsely suggesting that Iran was to
history, and inhabited by a normally warm and
hospitable people. Yet Obama’s well-meant
Critics note that Trump’s airstrikes don’t
caution has allowed Syria’s downward spiral
have clear legal grounding. They’re right, and
to turn it into a symbol of brutality and
that was one reason Obama didn’t act. But
suffering that has also aggravated the Sunni-
Bill Clinton’s 1999 intervention to prevent
Shia schism all over the world.
genocide in Kosovo was also of uncertain
Because there was no good option on
legality, and thank God for it. Clinton has said any given day, we always chose to do little
that his greatest foreign policy mistake was
or nothing. The result was that more than
not intervening in Rwanda during the 1994
300,000 people were killed, vast numbers
genocide; any such intervention also would
were tortured and raped, almost 5 million
have been of unclear legality — and the right
refugees fled Syria and destabilized other
thing to do.
countries, ISIS sowed terrorism worldwide,
There are risks ahead, of Russia or Syria
and genocides unfolded against the Yazidi and
targeting U.S. aircraft or of Iran seeking
Christian communities in Syria and Iraq.
revenge against Americans in Iraq. War plans
For all the legitimate concerns about the
rarely survive the first shot, and military
risks ahead, now again we just might have a
interventions are easier to begin than to
window to curb the bloodshed in Syria. I’m
end. But as long as we don’t seek to topple
glad Trump took the important first step of
Assad militarily, everybody has an interest in
holding Assad accountable for using chemical
avoiding an escalation.
weapons. But it’s all going to depend now on
It’s also fair for critics to highlight Trump’s whether Trump, who so far has been a master
hypocrisy, and raise concerns that he may
of incompetence, can manage the far more
have fired missiles for political reasons,
difficult challenge of using war to midwife
to show himself as a leader and distract
from political problems. Certainly Trump
previously objected to what he is now doing.
Nicholas Kristof grew up on a sheep and
Referring to Obama in 2013, he tweeted:
cherry farm in Yamhill. Kristof, a columnist
“The president must get Congressional
for The New York Times since 2001, writes
approval before attacking Syria.” And when
op-ed columns that appear twice a week. He
Trump speaks about the suffering of Syria’s
won the Pulitzer Prize two times, in 1990 and
“beautiful little babies,” one wonders how he
One of the world’s
has been a taboo on
the use of chemical
The East Oregonian welcomes original letters of 400 words or less on public issues
and public policies for publication in the newspaper and on our website. The newspaper
reserves the right to withhold letters that address concerns about individual services and
products or letters that infringe on the rights of private citizens. Submitted letters must
be signed by the author and include the city of residence and a daytime phone number.
The phone number will not be published. Unsigned letters will not be published. Send
letters to managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, 211 S.E. Byers Ave. Pendleton, OR 97801
or email email@example.com.