The GOP and revisionist history

To the editor,

In 1868 British philosopher John Stuart Mill coined the term “Dystopia,” which is defined as: 1) An imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression or terror (The Free Dictionary); 2) A work describing such a place or state, “dystopias such as Brave New World” (Times Literary Supplement); or 3. The Republican National Convention.

OK, I made the last one up. But come on! If you listened to the speakers you’d think the apocalypse was upon us and Donald J. Trump (the “J” must stand for Jesus) was our only salvation. Rudy Giuliani must have seen the four horsemen on his way to Cleveland.

As I drive around Rifle, Silt, New Castle and all the other cities on the Western Slope, I am constantly on guard for terrorists, robbers, rapists, muggers and all kinds of evil nasty stuff. Not! The facts tend to get in the way of myths. Crime is down in the U.S. to a level lower than the glorious Reagan Years that the GOP yearns for. In 2013, the violent crime rate was the lowest since 1970. (Brennen Center)

The Great Bush Recession that preceded the Obama presidency saw the crash of all the stock markets, the auto industry, the housing industry and employment. Eight years later, the U.S. stock markets are at historic highs. The auto industry has GM and Ford No. 1 and 2 in the world, with Chrysler at No. 4. GM had its highest profit in history. (CNN Money) U.S. home sales have been bolstered by historically low interest rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.57 percent in June, down from 3.98 percent in June 2015, according to Freddie Mac. (Wall Street Journal) New home sales have exceeded pre-2008 levels. (NBC News)

Before Obama took office, the private sector job losses were the worst since December 1974. Job losses exceeded 3.6 million jobs since the beginning of 2008. In 2016, June was the 73rd straight recorded month of private sector job growth (NPR). As the GOP likes to say, “Thanks Obama!” If the president had an “R” after his name the GOP would be lobbying for his face on Mount Rushmore.

We know who controlled the government from 2001-09: the GOP. They gave us the Great Recession. Now after a very tough battle against obstructionism from day one, they want you to believe that the current administration has let us down. Really? Really!

Polls show major support for the Trumpster by white males with a high school education or less. If they believe that they will benefit economically if he is elected, remember this quote from the debate in November of last year: “Our wages are too high.” (Donald J. Trump) John Stuart Mill has another great quote: “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.”

– Craig S. Chisesi, Rifle

The Kremlin-Trump connection

To the editor,

Richard Nixon had “The Plumbers.” Donald Trump, it seems, has the Russians – either the FSB (Federal Security Service, formerly the KGB), the GRU (military intelligence), or some pro-Moscow outside group. Nixon had to resort to a physical break-in of Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office complex; the Russians simply hacked their way in. Their act of cyberwarfare is another step in an escalation of U.S.-Russia tensions that has lately included assaults and intimidation of U.S. diplomats in Moscow. 

To my mind, the cyber-hacking was ordered at the highest level in the Kremlin (as many cyber experts are saying) with the motive of influencing the U.S. elections. The Russians hope not merely to embarrass the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign by leaking tens of thousands of private emails, but also to elevate the candidacy of their new friend in the Trump Tower. None of these assessments will probably ever be provable, but the coincidence of the hacking and turnover of materials to Wikileaks just days before the Democratic convention defies a different interpretation. Unfortunately, whereas Nixon’s attempt to cover up the covert operation failed and he paid dearly for ordering it, Vladimir Putin probably will be able to hide his role forever. 

Some may excuse the Russians by arguing either that U.S .administrations, after all, have a history of meddling in other countries’ elections, even those of allies; or that the hacking is payback for the U.S.-engineered release of the Panama Papers in part to spotlight corruption at the highest levels of the Russian government. The current situation is different: It amounts to information warfare. Unlike the cyberwarfare now apparently going on between China and the U.S., which is “normal” intelligence gathering, Russia’s venture might be considered a serious breach of national security.

While the full impact of the hacking incident on U.S.-Russian relations may not be apparent for a while, it will be immediate on the presidential race. The Russians have already scored two successes: causing the resignation of the DNC national chair and forcing Hillary Clinton to deal again with Bernie Sanders, whose accusations of bias have now been borne out.

But the Russians third target – helping Trump’s candidacy – is bound to fail miserably. For one thing, nobody anywhere likes foreigners meddling in their politics. The result is usually blowback. And in the present case, Trump’s open affection for Putin (along with other autocrats), his belief he can work with Moscow (much like George W. Bush’s claim he could look into Putin’s “soul” and see good), and his discrediting of the NATO alliance will not go down easily with the electorate.

If these were the Cold War years, Trump’s friendliness toward Moscow would guarantee his defeat. But now that the Cold War is reviving, the Clinton campaign has a golden opportunity to benefit from the connection between Russian hacking and Trump’s campaign. We can count on blowback, and Trump may rue the day he befriended Putin.

– Mel Gurtov, Professor Emeritus, Portland State University, for Peace Voices

Excessive force an act of a few

To the editor,

Police actions in Missouri, New York, Baltimore, Baton Rouge and Minnesota have been in the news, and a few police officers have been seen using excessive force and shooting people. I believe a small number of police officers use excessive force, and these officers should be held accountable for their actions.

The vast majority of police officers diligently do their duty and treat criminals and suspects with respect. Unfortunately, police officers are being vilified and attacked because of a few over-zealous officers. The result is police officers can be hesitant to take actions that could possibly be construed as too forceful, and thereby criminals are emboldened to commit violence. Unfortunately, this could have been the situation leading to the murder of the Dallas and Baton Rouge police officers. And, by the way, why aren’t people on the streets protesting the killing of the eight police officers?

The ramifications of hesitation by police officers in doing their jobs can place their lives in jeopardy and have a negative effect on public safety.

We need to support our police officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe.

– Donald Moskowitz, Londonderry, N.H.