How the West can be won

Regarding "Eco-terrorists, too, may soon be on the run" (Feb. 15): The battle is not one of the New versus the Old West, but companies that exploit the land for financial gain, against the majority of Americans that would like to preserve America's natural heritage.

I wonder when lawmakers will start cracking down on the corporations responsible for destroying our country's forests; chewing up open space with strip malls, parking lots, and luxury homes; and leaving devastated landscapes and dead-end jobs.

Will our decision makers start representing the majority of the public and preserve these areas instead of appeasing their special interest, corporate campaign contributors? Will we get big money out of politics in order to elect politicians that are more willing to implement sensible, environmentally and economically friendly solutions? Or will we continue to foster a citizenry that seems to see no other option but to take matters into their own hands?

Tom Fendley
Cambridge, Mass.

Campaign reform and public rights

Regarding "A campaign-finance landmark" (Feb. 15): At one time, I thought the words, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech ..." were self-explanatory. But apparently 240 members of the House think I'm mistaken, because they have taken away the right to find information about candidates during the time when most people will be interested. I wonder what would happen if Congress were to tell newspapers they couldn't publish articles about candidates or candidate recommendations 60 days before a general election? Wouldn't those newspapers accuse Congress of violating their oath to uphold the Constitution?

Robert Wheeldon

Presidential right to privacy

Regarding Amitai Etzioni's "The presidency needs privacy" (Feb 14, Opinion): I fully agree that certain government workings need privacy and that discretion must be exercised before disseminating conversations about public policy. However, in regard to Enron's conversations with Vice President Dick Cheney, I care less about what was said in these meetings than the fact that the meetings took place at all. The Bush administration is defining itself by the company it keeps, and Mr. Cheney's stance in this matter may be legally defensible. But he leaves voters with no alternative but to assume that Enron and their like are pulling the strings.

Peter d'Entremont
Blue Hill, Maine

Peace Corp perspective

"US Mission to Muslims: not easy" (Feb. 12) mentions that Peace Corp volunteers have found some foreigners hating the American government, but loving its people. That was pretty much my thinking during my first visit to the then Soviet Union, in 1971. When we ratcheted up our military spending during the cold war, I always wished those holding the purse strings could know the "enemy" as I did and use our tax dollars more wisely.

Janice M. Gintzler
Crestwood, Ill.

Your article captures the Peace Corps experience well. But it certainly isn't only in the Muslim world where volunteers' lifestyles butt heads with the host countries' values. Women, for example, aren't allowed to live independently or "go out after dark" in many traditional societies, including most of the countries where the Peace Corp operates. But as the volunteers implied, it isn't whether or not we conform to one another's differences - or even understand them - that makes the difference. What matters is that both the volunteers and the host nationals care enough to share their differences at all.

Hale Sargent

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