by Inlander Readers & r & & r & A Long Way from Washtucna & r & It's good to know that Bill Gates cares about those of us who raise our families and earn our living here in the 5th Congressional District. He cares so much that he has donated $2,000 to Cathy McMorris' re-election campaign. We know that Bill and his wife donate bazillions of dollars for good works like immunizations for underprivileged children around the world. He has a heart. Well, some of the time. He is also often in court defending himself against charges of monopoly, unfair trade, and generally squashing any bug that gets in his way in business. Which side of Bill Gates prompted him to get involved in our decision about who will represent us in Congress?

Bill is not alone in his concern that we have the best representative that money can buy. Nicholas Karangelen of Trident Systems, Inc. has donated $2,100. That's the Trident Missile people. Lobbyists like Robert W. Chamberlin of McBee Strategic Consulting have donated more than their fair share to help us. McBee states on its Web site "McBee Strategic clients get tangible results. We have a proven track record of success in building bridges between the federal government and our clients, and we are singularly focused on delivering results that measurably impact each client's bottom-line." How do their services impact the working people of the 5th?

The list goes on and on. Cathy McMorris has several hundred thousand dollars to spend on the upcoming election. Most of it is from lobbyists, developers and corporations whose interests are a long way from Washtucna.

GLENN LANGE & r & Marcus, Wash.

Dictators or Dominators? & r & The solution to the Republican "dictatorship" so feared by Ted McGregor ("Parties Crashing," 3/30/06) is remarkably simple: Democrats could try winning the occasional election. As far as anyone knows, Democrats are still permitted to field candidates and solicit votes, although this fact is well-disguised by their chronic electoral ineptitude in recent decades. Democrats have lost seven of the last 10 presidential elections. They've controlled the Senate for only a handful of the last 25 years, and haven't controlled the House for the last 12 years.

To the observer unburdened by liberal paranoia, Republican success suggests not a dictatorial conspiracy but rather a preference by American voters for the conservative philosophy of lower taxes, self-reliance and military strength over the liberal philosophy of entitlement, dependence and appeasement. The outdated hippie idealism of modern Democrats simply hasn't been very popular in most of the continental landmass that separates Haight-Ashbury from Greenwich Village. It speaks volumes that the Democrats in 2004 were unable to take power from a Republican party severely weakened by an unpopular war and job losses. How well do you think Democrats will do when the war's over and the economy's growing?

McGregor is shocked that Republicans have used their dominant position to advance their agenda. He seems to think that since the Democrats are no longer a viable national party, Republicans should play nice and let them share power, although no one remembers Democrats being so generous during the several decades in the mid-20th century when they dominated American politics. And no one remembers Republicans of that era whining about a Democratic "dictatorship." Republicans simply modernized their message, got organized and fought like hell to win elections. Today's Democrats could learn a lesson from that.

DOUG HART & r & Spokane, Wash.

North-to-South: Incomplete & r & "Here's what's really [about to be] happening with the North Spokane Freeway" ("Plans Unchanged," 3/16/06): A lot of last-minute construction and spending of money over the next several months/years, ending in an uncompleted project -- a variety of freestanding monuments to 20th- and 21st-century industrial humans. That is, the project will never be completed. Perhaps some minor portions may become useable, but the bulk of the project will never see completion.

This project will never be completed for the same reasons that humans will never set foot on the moon again, that New Orleans will never be completely rebuilt, that the World Trade Center will never be rebuilt, that the Seattle traffic situation will never get better but only deteriorate, that the U.S. national debt is rising exponentially through the $8 trillion mark, and that world population is rising past the 6.5 billion mark.

This isn't scripture. This isn't Armageddon. This is not the sky falling. This is simple biology -- population dynamics. This is a simple process demonstrated every minute of the day around the world. Populations increase and diminish with the availability of food. All of the data are available for review and analysis and the calculations illuminate a not-so-fuzzy picture of the future.

The fat or the discretionary conditions are first to respond to a change in the availability of food/energy. The North Spokane Corridor is fat in a [now, well-established] era of diminishing returns.

Or not. Perhaps they'll start building Hummers with '59 Cadillac fins and we'll all live happily ever after, at once healthy, wealthy and wise.

MIKE PORTER & r & Deer Park, Wash.

Bad Night Out & r & On Friday, April 14, I accompanied my son and daughter-in-law to a performance of the stage production of Oklahoma! We parked the car in the Diamond lot directly across from the Opera House and paid $12.00 for a parking space. Upon leaving the excellent program we found the tires my son's car slashed.

Granted this was a random act of vandalism but I feel it is a shame that when parking in a Diamond or any other privately owned lot and pay a huge fee for a parking space for 3 hours there should be some control over the vandalism problem.

Should we have parked on the street, we wouldn't have the expectation of safety, but we parked in the lot thinking our property would be protected.

We contacted Diamond to make them aware of the incident but there has been no acknowledgement of what had happened on Friday evening. I'm not eager to attend any future Opera House attractions or maybe we'll just take a taxi, the fare will be cheaper that replacing tires.

DEL SCHEBOR & r & Spokane, Wash.

Make Some Changes & r & The Earth Day observance this Saturday should spur each of us to make sure that there will be adequate natural resources left for our children ad grandchildren. Earth Day provides a perfect opportunity to make the needed changes in our shopping, our driving and our diet.

Yes, our diet. Production of meat and other animal products dumps more debris, pesticides and animal waste into our waterways than all other human activities combined. It turns lush forests to pastures, feed cropland, then arid wasteland, denying habitats to uncounted animal species. It consumes 15 percent of our fossil fuels and emits an even greater share of greenhouse gases. Animal feed crop irrigation is causing global shortages of drinking water.

This Saturday, let's celebrate Earth Day and every day by replacing meat and other animal products in our diet with a wholesome, environment-friendly spread of vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains.

SEBASTIAN GRANGER & r & Spokane, Wash.

Reclaiming Culture: The Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska Repatriation @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 2
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