Defining "compassion" and "conservatism"

With regard to your May 18 editorial "Energy 105": I'm conservative like my late father. Dad was a Republican because his boyhood hero was Teddy Roosevelt. It's strange how meanings change. Take "compassion" and "conservatism." A hundred years ago, T.R. used the presidency as a bully pulpit to promote conservation and to "bust" monopolistic trusts. That's true conservatism and real compassion as I define it - protecting the environment and helping the little guy.

Now, Bush and Cheney are using the White House as a bully pulpit to promote the oil industry so it makes big short-term profits by exploiting the environment and gouging the consumer. In my opinion that's neither "compassionate" nor "conservative." It's government of Big Oil, by Big Oil, and for Big Oil.

Now the Bush administration says we should industrialize our last best remaining wild country: Montana's Rocky Mountain Front and Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It's strange that they're called "conservatives," because conservation is an afterthought to them - window dressing for their PR campaign for the oil industry.

Instead of blundering backward into the James Watt era of fossil fuels and nuclear power, the Bush administration should be promoting a progressive energy plan in the true spirit of compassion and conservatism.

Gene Sentz

Choteau, Mont.

In the 1970s, the US experienced its first energy threat with the Arab-Israeli war. We panicked, not knowing where our next drop of oil would be found. Then we talked of conservation and alternative fuels. We lowered speed limits and extinguished ornamental natural gas lighting.

Then somehow we forgot about conserving energy. Where have we been these past three decades? Where are our alternative fuels? Why aren't we already less dependent on petroleum products? Energy, its availability and cost, is part of a vicious cycle. The name of the game is profit, and energy companies are making huge profits at the expense of all of us.

Let's not expect much from Bush and Cheney. To be in the oil business, one must by necessity be a very slippery individual.

Charles McEniry

Stoughton, Wis.

Society shouldn't punish ex-cons

Regarding your May 4 editorial "Doing more than time": I used to unsympathetically say "tough luck" when I heard how hard it is for ex-convicts to find work.I also held this view regarding my stepson as, fresh out of jail, he tried to find a job.But as I watched his struggles, my perspective changed, and my astonishment grew.This society treats the ex-convict as though he were a zoo animal that has inadvertently been let loose from his cage and must be driven back.

Yes, ex-convicts are responsible for their crimes and deserved punishment, but once society "officially" declares they to have paid for their crimes, it should not continue to punish them unofficially for the rest of their lives.Surely it is folly to drive ex-cons back in the direction of a criminal life by which society itself is victimized.

Dan Jordan

East Wenatchee, Wash.

Honor the good in the flag

Regarding Joe Davidson's May 10 opinion piece "Dishonoring America": No section of this country has been more patriotic than the South in times of national emergencies and war. As the Confederacy, Southerners rallied to defend their homes and land from a Union they felt had abandoned them. While the Confederate battle flag should probably not be part of a state flag and certainly is inappropriate as a symbol of any hate group, I fervently hope that it will always be honored in remembrance of those who so bravely fought and died.

Horace Edmond

Dunwoody, Ga.

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