Unavoidable Acceptance

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[RE: Punch Line, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Bomb Civilians,” Aug. 10-16]

Eric Griego shows remarkable naïveté when he chastises Israel for the Lebanese civilian casualties resulting from its response to Hezbollah’s aggression.

Griego gets it right when he says Hezbollah’s activities are unacceptable and those terrorists should be held accountable. The sad fact is the government of Lebanon has had ample opportunity to deal with Hezbollah over the years, maybe even call in U.N. help if necessary, but chose to look the other way and let the situation fester. So, as any responsible nation does in the face of unacceptable aggression, Israel is now holding the aggressors accountable by the only means that works.

Of course it’s tragic when civilians are killed in war, but it’s also unavoidable. Hezbollah doesn’t operate out of well-defined military compounds in the desert. They are intertwined with the civilian population hoping to use it as a shield. But Israel can’t let its security be compromised because of Lebanon’s failure to provide for the security of its own citizens when that government allows renegade terrorists like Hezbollah to provoke the inevitable response, and when it doesn’t help civilians evacuate when that response finally comes down.

Unlike Hezbollah, Israel doesn’t intentionally strike civilian targets. But when the Lebanese government, and to some extent the citizens in that area themselves, allow organizations like Hezbollah to freely operate and spread terror across the border, they have to accept the consequences of legitimate retaliation.

Cherry Picking

[RE: The Real Side, “The Dirt on the Dirty Dozen,” Aug. 3-9]

Alibi columnist Jim Scarantino recently wrote a scathing critique of the League of Conservation Voters’ placement of Rep. Heather Wilson on our 2006 “Dirty Dozen” list of the worst members of Congress on environmental issues. With all due respect to Mr. Scarantino, and to the voters of Albuquerque who must make important decisions at the ballot box this year, LCV begs to differ with the bulk of the columnist’s critique.

LCV does not place every poorly voting member of Congress on its Dirty Dozen list. Dirty Dozen designation is especially reserved for those members who not only demonstrate poor voting records year after year, and who take hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from polluting industries, like Wilson, but also for those who face challenging elections.

LCV is above all a political organization. Placing Wilson on the Dirty Dozen was a strategic decision because, not only do we believe she has a terrible voting record, but we believe she can be defeated. And this year, we have another great tool at our disposal—a challenger in Patricia Madrid, a champion for the environment.

Further, to say that LCV places our “agenda above the interest of New Mexico” is to compare apples to oranges. When it comes to comparing members of Congress to one another, it is absolutely essential that we rate each member in exactly the same way. It would be unfair to cherry pick issues to evaluate each member, though Scarantino has demonstrated his ability to do so with Wilson’s record.

It is not up for debate as to whether Heather Wilson is a true environmentalist or not. The fact is she’s not. Wilson’s 22 percent on last year’s national environmental scorecard was her best score ever, and that’s not saying much.

More to the point is the direction of our nation’s energy policy. Will we choose to address our current energy crisis by continuing to drill in the ground for every last drop of oil or coal or will we choose to invest in alternative, clean and affordable sources of energy to power our future? Wilson has chosen to invest in the failed policies of the status quo and we believe this year it is time for a change.

While Scarantino and other local environmental groups are well within their rights to praise Wilson for supporting policies that benefit New Mexico, we must also realize that Wilson’s votes affect the nation as a whole, not just the citizens of our fair state. In that context, we will continue to hold Wilson accountable for her voting record.

Serving Up Sierra

[RE: The Real Side, “The Dirt on the Dirty Dozen,” Aug. 3-9]

Since you don’t give much credence to the League of Conservation Voters because they have only one “Westerner,” perhaps the Sierra Club, a “Western”-based club to be sure, has more weight. They have brought Ms. Wilson’s Congressional voting record to light and she gets five thumbs down on environmental issues and policy.

On these five issues she voted against the environment: House R.C. 132 relating to energy legislation, House R.C. 666 relating to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), House R.C. 88 relating to environmental funding, House R.C. 192 relating to protecting our coasts from destructive oil and gas drilling and House R.C. 121 relating to vehicle fuel economy standards. (Even if you can find something you dislike about the Sierra Club, her voting record does not lie.)

As for the ads thanking Ms. Wilson, she has plenty of money contributed by the oil companies to publicly pat her own back. She has made it clear in the past that her contributors are more important to her policies than her constituents. In the ’05-’06 election cycle alone, Ms. Wilson received $65,350 from oil and gas PACs. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, she is one of the top 10 recipients in the House (out of 435) of oil money (see www.opensecrets.org for details).

Environmental issues and policies affect the entire country, not just New Mexico. We all share the same air and water and public lands.

Wolves Is Sheep Clothing

[RE: The Real Side, “The Dirt on the Dirty Dozen,” Aug. 3-9]

Great article, Jim. We environmentalists tend to make the mistake of believing any environmental group’s agenda simply by the title of their group. We have to realize that hidden agendas are always at work and what’s good for D.C. could stink for N.M. Thanks for opening our eyes to the environmental wolves with big sacks of money who look like sheep but have very large teeth.

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