Letters July 16, 2020

Voting options needed

Do you know who’s voting by mail this election? Donald Trump. And do you know who’s making it harder for everyone else in the country to vote by mail in the middle of a global pandemic? That’s right – Donald Trump.

He and other White House officials have gone on record with false claims against mail-in voting, even though it’s one of the safest options for us to cast our ballots as the country recovers from this pandemic.

In the face of Trump’s hypocrisy, I expect Congress to do the right thing and provide both economic relief and expanded funding for no-excuse absentee voting, early voting, and other options to make voting safer this November. These are all common-sense reforms that a vast majority of Americans support and changes that would help increase voter participation during and after this crisis.

Even though Congress allocated some funds to help states implement these voting reforms, without an additional $3.6 billion in election assistance funding, some voters may not be able to make their voices heard during one of the most important elections of our lifetime.

We must prevent a situation where voters are forced to choose between protecting their health and casting a ballot – no matter what Trump says.
Congress has the ability to act right now and we need to make sure our representatives know that anything less than immediate action is unacceptable.

Linda Peterson
Police and police unions

Phil Anderson’s article Abolish the Police? (The Reader, July 2, 2020) makes several cogent arguments for police reform, citing police violence, especially against blacks, as rampant and largely unchecked. The article calls for “a peaceful law enforcement system based on cooperation and problem solving.” And indeed we need this urgently.

Consider another crucial aspect of police brutality: the essential nature of policing. Police organizations recruit in large part from former military, who have been trained to use their weapons to kill. Police training further emphasizes the focus on killing, as the deaths of police as they carry out their “duties” are taught over and over and how to use deadly force as the primary way to protect themselves against their assumed many enemies out there in the public – how, as one former police officer has written, to be a bastard cop. Training tells the trainee to see no evil in his fellow trainees and never “rat” on them, but rather join in the evil.

So police organizations protect themselves foremost. No matter how horrendous the use of deadly force, protect those in your organization who commit the horrors. Police unions have become so powerful that the contracts they make allow them to continue these atrocities without repercussions.  They have essentially used their political power to cow elected officials into being lapdogs. Police unions are not labor unions; police officers are powerful state agents, not exploited workers. Police unions do not advance well-being, except for protecting their ”bastard cops.” It is time to seriously consider eliminating these unions. The Bulwark, a neoconservative news and opinion website, makes this abolishing of police unions a crucial concern. It is not just a liberal position, as some of those on the political right would claim.

And systemic racism, which is not going away anytime soon, pervades policing. A major, most important step, in achieving “a peaceful law enforcement system” is the elimination of these corrupt, violent police unions that prevent such a peaceful operation.   As many have noted, most of what police are called upon to do can and should be taken on by social workers, therapists, and trained nonviolent peacekeepers. Then we can “defund” the police by keeping their role to a basic minimum of protecting the public safety.

Warren Howe
Get real, Chuck!

I had to respond to that guy from Cannon Falls (Reader, July 9, 2020 letters) shooting off his mouth. Just for clarity, there is no relationship between Socialism and whatever malevolent political system is in place in Russia. As far as name-calling goes, in my journal, begun in March this year to cover the Covid19 crisis, I have given our ferociously incompetent leader a new first name, which I shall not repeat here. If that writer can not-name-call “Dumocrats,” then I feel justified in my choices.

Did Pelosi really cause our pandemic crisis? Or is it that fool-in-office, old Carrot-Top, who has fired all his health advisors and backed us out of WHO?

And as far as the rioters and looters goes, I seem to recall it was the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd by white-supremacist, punitively-immune cops, who caused the reaction. Among those rioters were outside agitators like the neo-Nazi Boogaloo Bois (a reference to apartheid South African police, perhaps?) who are pistol-packing with the stated intent to inflame a presidentially-supported race war. Get real, Chuck!

Ray Allard

Criminal cunning

When Donald Trump was elected President, I was horrified. Asked what I thought about our situation, I said, more than once: “Germany. 1933.”

As ignorant as I believed Trump to be, I feared his criminal cunning could destroy our democracy. All he had to do was broaden his base of supporters. If, for example, the new president had quickly pushed an ambitious bill to rebuild our infrastructure, he might have won lasting approval. Instead, he rushed to ban visitors from Muslim countries and suffered a defeat. He exhausted political capital howling for a wall on our southern border. Other errors followed, almost daily. Trump’s approval rating never broke 50% and slumps at 38% in the latest Gallup poll. His ignorance and perverted personality have been exhibited right down the line.

Do you doubt my judgment? Then how about the judgment of some of Trump’s “best people”? Emerging from a meeting where Trump called the top U.S. commanders “a bunch of dopes and babies,” Rex Tillerson, his first Secretary of State, declared, “He’s a fucking moron.” Trump’s first Chief of Staff, John Kelly, found Trump so ignorant about policy, he called him – and I quote – “an idiot.” These are only two of many such curt dismissals by accomplished people who have worked with Trump.

But what if Trump had been as sly as Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping? We’ve had nearly four years to witness the actions and abdications of Mr. Only-I-Can-Fix-It, which have climaxed in civil unrest over racism, a pandemic raging out of control, and a recession that’s only just begun. Strange to say, but it looks like Trump’s very ignorance will soon lead to the salvation of our democracy as he becomes – with all the world watching – what he has always feared he was: a loser.

Bart Sutter
When do we act on climate change?

What does your house mortgage or insurance have to do with climate change?
Today’s low home mortgage interest rates are great, either for refinancing or buying a house. Concurrently, the home mortgage industry is paying attention to our changing climate trends, particularly along coastal areas, flood plains, and regions prone to wildland fire.  

In addition, home buyers are increasingly seeking mortgages that make it easier for them to stop making payments and walk away from loans if their house becomes unsellable, or default regardless of loan type. Lenders are responding by requiring higher down payments, reducing payback periods, or departing home loan markets entirely in higher risk areas.

Recent research, reported in the journal Climatic Change, shows that banks are reselling more of their flood or fire risk zone loans to government backed organizations such as Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, shifting financial risk to tax payers.
The private home insurance industry is also paying attention to the effects of climate change.  The increasing frequency and magnitude of catastrophic climatic events; including hurricanes, floods, fire and supercell events, has caused insurers to recalculate (significantly increase) premiums or abandon certain markets.  Even when properties are insured, flood insurance does not protect against risk of reduced value or unsellable houses.

So what to conclude from these circumstances?  

Certainly this illustrates that climate change is not some future event. It is directly and indirectly affecting our lives now in many ways, typically not for the better.  
The prime question is when/what are we going to do about it?

John Lindell