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Opinion Column
For the week of February 21 through 27, 2001

Catch `em if you can

Commentary by Pat Murphy


Someone who shall remain unidentified for obvious reasons the other day uttered one of the best ad-lib wisecracks heard around here in years.

When the Ukrainian women’s and men’s biathlon ski teams began training at Lake Creek trails north of Ketchum, their translator, Laryssa Temple, noticed to her chagrin the trailhead sign requiring each user to have a $9 trail pass.

She mentioned this to an appropriate authority, and said the nine-member team and its coaches didn’t have the necessary passes.

"Don’t worry about it," said this perceptive and understanding person, who knew the Ukrainians are among the world’s fastest skiers. "Nobody could ever catch up with them anyway."

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Bankrupt and stripped by court order of the 20-acre compound where he brewed hate for 30 years, Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler still has one weapon in his arsenal to keep his Hitlerian venom in circulation.

Publicity.

Butler is threatening to stage more parades in Idaho. Whenever Butler rounds up a handful of like-minded minions, and they march down a street flinging Nazi salutes and anti-Jewish and anti-black invective, Butler stirs up just enough reaction requiring police protection and thus attracting media coverage.

But Butler will fade when he’s ignored and runs out of his ability to attract attention, and simply becomes a pathetic footnote in Idaho history.

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What Greek dramatist Euripedes wrote 400 years before the birth of Christ might well have special meaning for George W. Bush and his dilemma for dealing with Iraq’s treacherous Saddam Hussein.

"The Gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children," Euripedes wrote.

While conduct of the Gulf War by Bush Sr. wasn’t a "sin," his decision to quit pursuing Iraqi troops to their Baghdad lair has allowed Saddam to survive and renew his mischief and now challenge Bush’s son, the new American president, George W. Bush.

Bush Sr. insisted when he called a halt to the Gulf War he had no authority to pursue fleeing Iraqi troops.

But many critics believe (a) Bush could’ve legally employed the doctrine of "hot pursuit" to shred the Iraqi forces all the way to Baghdad and that (b) Bush Sr. instead was persuaded to call it quits by advisers who feared a successor to Saddam might be worse.

There’s something of a parallel in the world’s failure to stop Adolph Hitler when it had the opportunity: Saddam Hussein now thrives on squabbling and weakness among the coalition that once stood up to him but seems to have cold feet.

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For months, western states have been stressed out with worry over electricity shortages and soaring kilowatt-hour costs.

More important: has anyone yet begun to worry about what Idaho’s drastically below-average snow pack will mean to water supplies this summer for household, industrial and agricultural needs?

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