- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Farmers, fishermen must make do in drought

Your May 23 editorial on the Klamath Basin water conflict, "A sucker punch from the feds," is supported by alarmist, anti-science rhetoric, not facts. You fail to mention that whole downriver economies are at risk if what little water there is in this extreme drought year is not retained in the river.
The drought happening in the Klamath is probably the worst in recorded history, even for a region that normally gets only 12 inches of rainfall a year essentially a desert. In this drought year, rainfall is only about 21 percent of that scant 12 inches. Yet, the Klamath Federal Irrigation Project farmers are not going to dry up. They still will get about 70,000 acre-feet of irrigation water, which is about 20 percent of the 350,000 acre-feet they would get in a normal year. This is hardly an unfair allocation.
In this extreme drought, there simply is not enough water to meet all the farmers expectations. Unfortunately, no amount of political posturing, yelling or litigation can make more rain. The solution to the Klamath farmers economic plight is federal disaster assistance, not water that simply is not there.
Since when do farmers have the right to dry up all the upper basins lakes and rivers violating U.S. Tribal Treaty obligations, causing the starvation of hundreds of American bald eagles on neighboring national wildlife refuges and putting thousands of downriver salmon fishermen out of work just so they can grow crops that have little or no global market? Thousands of lower river jobs depend on keeping more water in the river, and those people have families, as well.
The Klamath Basin water issue is about more than the federally subsidized farms that grow mostly surplus crops and are all supported by tax dollars. Although no one will get enough water this year, a balanced approach is being taken for the first time, which will provide a bit of the water to all users including fish and wildlife, economically valuable downriver salmon fisheries and hardworking American family fishermen.
The irrigating farmers claims that fish dont really need water has been repudiated by virtually every scientist in the basin. Your condemnation of decades of peer-reviewed studies by hundreds of experts of all stripes as "junk science" is a disservice. Your dismissal is based on a single discredited report, funded by the irrigation districts primarily for political purposes. You demean the efforts of the many parties seeking a rational, long-term solution to the problem of water overallocation in the Klamath Basin.

Northwest regional director
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Associations
Eugene, Ore.

Human cloning is mythic mistake

Scientists proclaiming their intent to clone a human being should remember the story of Icarus, the fabled fool who tested new technology without considering the consequences.
Imprisoned by King Minos of Crete in a labyrinth, Athenian inventor Daedalus and his son Icarus escaped on ingeniously designed wings of wax. Daedalus watched in helpless horror as his son, basking in the mastery of nature through technology, soared higher and higher. The sun melted his wings and his hubris.
Today, myth mirrors reality as reckless scientists rush to master nature through still-embryonic biotechnology. Cloning a single mammal Dolly the sheep entailed the sacrifice of hundreds of failed embryos and malformed fetuses. Yet, like Daedalus, ambitious scientists press on toward human cloning, unmoved by the cost in human lives.
While the fate of failed clones should give pause, contemplating successful cloning is even more terrifying. How would you like to know that you have been created solely to duplicate someone else? Would you regard your look-alike as owner, friend or master? What psychic trauma would you endure as a freak of laboratory science without natural parents or ancestry?
With the abuse of technology threatening to race past our ethical moorings, it is essential to anchor our scientific capabilities with moral constraints. Because science impacts society, we cannot yield to researchers the unbounded autonomy they covet.
Thats precisely why Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, and Rep. Dave Weldon, Florida Republican, recently introduced the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 ("Comprehensive law on cloning needed," Commentary, May 17). This eminently sensible legislation offers the best chance to clip the wings of reckless researchers before the sun melts the wings of their offspring.


The writer is senior policy analyst of the Christian Medical Association.

Readers call Jeffords defection heroic, cowardly

The hypocrisy of the conservative movement shines brightly in your editorial denouncing Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords decision to leave the Republican Party ("Jim Jeffords political coup," May 25).
You seem to think it is a brave, courageous act when a senator leaves the Democratic fold for the Republican, as was the case with Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado. For a Republican to decide that his party has abandoned him is just short of treason.
Conservatives have long been quick to question the patriotism of anyone who dared disagree with and act against their creed. This attitude is an insult to the principles upon which our country is based. Grow up, conservatives. Perhaps you should heed President Bushs call to bring civility and a new tone of respect to Washington or was that just meaningless campaign-speak?

Oakland, N.J.

Thank you for calling Sen. Jeffords defection from the Republican Party what it is: a coup ("Jim Jeffords political coup," May 25). Mr. Jeffords single-handedly gave power to the opposing party in the Senate for his own selfish reasons.
The American people did not vote for Mr. Jeffords as an independent, and he does not have the right to change the makeup of the Senate. If he were honorable, he would have resigned his office and returned to Vermont to run for office as an independent or a Democrat. He has committed an egregious act of political cowardice.

Austin, Texas

The defection of Sen. Jeffords from the Republican Party is no loss to our nation. A review of the 2000 presidential election map clearly shows the direction of New England politics. Fortunately for the United States, the bulk of the states voted for President Bush, indicating that mainstream America remains firmly supportive of limited government, free markets and a strong national economy.
Without a doubt, Mr. Jeffords jumping ship is the act of a coward. Nonetheless, his views do not reflect those of the Republican Party or mainstream America. Tax reform, a national energy policy and economic growth must remain the focus of our national government.

Woodbridge, Va.

I want to thank Sen. Jeffords for leaving the Republican Party to become an independent. What he did was both courageous and heroic, something that I have not seen in a long time.
Politics has become a war between two parties in which winning is more important than what is done. Both parties expect their members to put party loyalty ahead of the interests of the citizenry. Finally, one person has stood up and put the people ahead of party politics.
I hope that this act sends a message to the members of both parties: the government exists for the sole purpose of serving the needs of the people, and not the self-interest of Republican and Democratic party members.

San Francisco

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