Letters to the editor: Jan. 15, 2021

Taking a stand

In this country, there is no shortage of opinions about where our priorities should lie on the many issues that face our nation. Nor is there any shortage of beliefs that underlie those opinions.

The right to hold and espouse those beliefs is in no small part key to our success as a democracy. But when our beliefs and opinions transcend the rule of law, as they did in the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, we abandon human morality.

As individual citizens, we all have the responsibility to consider the rights of others when we act. And we must stand up to those who refuse to do so, be they ordinary citizens, politicians or those who represent corporations and certain segments of the media.That means we must educate ourselves, and accept facts.

The truth is that Trump lost the election, an election that was fair and honest. He may not accept that, but it’s the truth.

After more than four years of his narcissism, his lies, and his immorality, we should not be surprised at his behavior.

He should be held accountable for that behavior, as should his enablers in the cabinet and in the House and Senate, the local and state politicians, that have contributed to this horror, and, of course, the insurrectionists that stormed the Capitol. The rest of us need to take a stand, regardless of party, because this might just be the most dangerous time for our democracy since the Civil War.

Rick Hammond



Disgraceful behavior

County Commissioner Casey Kulla is spot-on asking for Rep. Mike Nearman to resign. But I doubt Nearman has the character to see he betrayed his oath by facilitating a security breach at the Capitol.

His intentional actions of Dec. 21 led to confrontation with a mob that left state troopers injured. Disgraceful.

I wrote Rep. Nearman and 11 other Republicans supporting that inane, purposeless and destructive claim by Donald Trump that he won the presidency — Kim Thatcher, Chuck Thomsen, Chuck Linthicum, Bill Post, Vikki Breese-Iverson, Greg Barreto, Alan Olsen, Gary Leif, Werner Reschke, Bobby Levy and Brock Smith. Here’s part of what I had to say:

“I note that you are among 12 Republican members of the Oregon Legislature who had contacted Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to join in the Texas attorney general’s effort to overturn the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“One assumes by this action that you and these fellow Republicans will gladly support challenges by other states to legislative matters of our own state. If your answer to this is no, then you owe an explanation to all the people in Oregon about why you chose to urge our state to join in this frivolous lawsuit, whose purpose, whether acknowledged or not, was to meddle in the affairs of other states.”

This cabal chose to humor Trump in a folly resulting in immense damage to our Capitol, our world standing and, most grievously, the deaths of at least four people, for which there is no excuse.

And for what? Nothing other than assuring our wanna-be emperor that he really does have new clothes.

Would it were possible for all those who egged on this insurrectionist mayhem and attempted coup to be held legally accountable. Pathetic.

Scott Phoenix



Orwellian control

Recent Big Tech suppression of conservative political speech and the quashing of rising conservative competitor Parler is appalling but nothing new. Big Tech has become a modern-day Soviet political commissar, with the business monopoly power of Standard Oil.

The suppression of conservative speech, as practiced by Twitter and Facebook, benefits the left of center views of their CEOs to the detriment of competing ideologies.

Exhibit ‘A’ is the censorship of a legitimate story by America’s longest running newspaper, The New York Post, founded by Alexander Hamilton. Censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story prior to an election, detailing an incident the FBI now confirms is under active investigation, mitigated political damage to their preferred candidate.

Google and Apple cutting off Parler’s front-end access in their app stores is equivalent to a Standard Oil type conglomerate denying a competitor access to well drilling rigs. Amazon revoking Parler’s back-end access to its servers is analogous to Standard Oil cutting off access to refiners.

I’m stunned this happened in America. I am saddened that, as is oft the case, history repeats itself. It appears we will have to once again experience control of political expression by the few over the many, due to our profound failure to learn lessons from the past.

This incestuous relationship between Big Tech oligarchs and the government allies that regulate them is akin to what we see in the Russian Federation. It represents the biggest threat to free speech in my lifetime.

As anti-trust enforcement stopped decades ago, it was bound to happen. We now have a government of the tech lobbyist, by the tech lobbyist and for the tech lobbyist.

This isn’t about Trump or Biden, Republican or Democrat. It’s far bigger than any one person or political party. It’s about all our civil liberties.

Let’s make Orwell fiction again.

Rob Wilson



Missing in action

On Jan. 6, we witnessed an attempted coup d’etat by a  white supremacist, neo-Nazi mob — a coup carefully planned and encouraged by the president of the United States. On Jan. 8, your paper did not see fit to make mention of it.

What were you thinking, Jeb, Ossie and Steve, when you saw images of heavily armed thugs with ziptie handcuffs roaming the Capitol looking for traitors,” while a scaffold with a noose was erected outside? Are you not citizens too? Is this not relevant to our county and our state?

A guest column by career police officer and current state Rep. Ron Noble began, “It is a sad day.” But Rep. Noble neglected to mention that the day was sad because the leader of his party, Donald Trump, had attempted a takeover of the government by force — this after having failed to persuade any state election official to falsify their official vote count and declare him victorious.

I am not aware that Rep. Noble has at any time in the past seen fit to denounce Trump for any of his attacks on national security, the rule of law or general decency and morality. This would have been an occasion to demonstrate integrity and leadership by doing so, but he passed it up and invoked Abraham Lincoln instead.

Peter M. Gladhart



Never again

It’s not who votes that counts. It’s who counts the votes.

I will never have faith in the integrity of our electoral process again.

Rich Roberts



Vowing to remember

The actions of my state representative, Mike Nearman, were deplorable.

He intentionally put our troopers, our frontline protectors, in serious harm’s way He knew they would have to respond.

He needs to be expelled.

I am equally appalled at the failure of Commissioners Starrett and Berschauer, even after seeing the D.C. carnage, to join Commissioner Kulla in condemning Nearman’s reprehensible act outright. Instead, Mary Starrett chose to compare it to unrelated actions of others — a tactic used in an attempt to diffuse the seriousness of Nearman’s act.

Lindsay Berschauer used the same “whataboutism” to divert attention to the COVID crisis, rather than take a stand. (News-Register, Jan. 12)

As a former member of law enforcement, I will remember the blatant disrespect of Nearman, Starrett and Berschauer for our protectors’ safety whenever any of them next runs for elected office. You should, too.

Susan Karp



Know Nothings revisited

The party of Trump resembles the Know Nothing Party that was popular from 1835 to 1855. The Know Nothings were xenophobic, bigoted and racist. If you weren’t white, male, native-born and Protestant, you didn’t deserve any constitutional rights or protections in their view.

The Know Nothings tended to be loose with the truth, quick to incite violence and addicted to conspiracy theories. They promoted hatred and exclusion of immigrants, disparaged trade with other nations, and pushed for mandatory daily Bible readings and prayers in public schools — Protestant, of course.

As white supremacists, they ignored the miseries of enslaved blacks. Their “grievance” rhetoric and ethnic hatred appealed to working class voters while diverting attention away from the complex problems facing the nation. In short, they looked a lot like the party of Trump.

Abraham Lincoln said of the Know Nothings:

“As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ ... When the Know Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’

“When it comes to that, I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

The Know Nothings’ malignant brew of bigotry, xenophobia and racism has persisted in America, although their list of villains has morphed. Catholics and Irish are now “in” while Muslims and Mexicans are “out.”

Under Donald Trump, the Know Nothings’ platform of hatred, exclusion and religious persecution has now infested the once proud party of Lincoln. I personally intend to never refer to the R--------- Party again. Henceforth, I shall call it what it is —  an anti-democratic, despotic, lawless party of Know Nothings, well marinated in the “base alloy of hypocrisy.”

I sadly offer my apologies to members of this party who would like it to be otherwise and are willing to stand up and say so.

Margaret Cross



Day of infamy

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, will be known as a day of infamy.

On that day, a mob gathered at the White House to listen to Donald J. Trump. After the rally, this mob marched to the U.S. Capitol, where it broke into and vandalized our temple of democracy. The rioters were successful in tearing up the Capitol and forcing Congress into a lockdown.

Many of these domestic terrorists will go free. They will never be fingerprinted and processed through our legal system.

Donald J. Trump’s fingerprints are all over this incitement of insurrection. This assault on our government is the first internal coup attempted in our nation’s history.

Later Wednesday, a second assault was made on our government. Some 147 Republican representatives and eight Republican senators attempted to vandalize the institution of the Electoral College. This attempt was foiled, but a precedent has been set.

We have already identified and fingerprinted these 155 legislators. We know where they work, as they are our employees.

But in keeping with the double standard of the criminal justice system, this group of white-collar terrorists will not be held accountable for its acts of sedition.

Unlike their street-thug brethren, these white-collar thugs were not indiscriminate vandals. They were attempting to loot only the votes needed to continue the Trump presidency.

Losing the demographic battle, the Grand Old Proud Boys Party is turning to voter suppression to retain its hold.

After Reconstruction failed in the south in the wake of the Civil War, white southerners instituted Jim Crow laws. If history were to repeat itself, we could expect more of the same from Republicans. But this kind of malignant Trumpism will surely foment more civil unrest.

The tragic events of Jan. 6 will, hopefully, wake up those whose silence is complicit in enabling the threat to the American democracy we cherish.

Roberg McNamee



The big lie revisited

Adolph Hitler coined the expression “Big Lie.” It appears in Mein Kamph.

Today it refers to a propaganda technique used for political purpose.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, said famously, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” And such lies may have horrific consequences:

n On Nov. 9-10, 1938, Nazi lies about Jews fueled Kristallnacht, precursor to the Holocaust.

n On Jan. 6, 2021, President Trump’s drum-beat of lies about a fraudulent election fueled an insurrection that breached the U.S. Capitol, shutting down Congress for several hours. Trump began the drumbeat several months before the November presidential balloting, saying he could only lose if the election was stolen from him and tarring voting by mail as one of the elements being employed to that end.

Writer and philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We dare not forget the role the Big Lie plays in forming a destructive mass psychology.

Robert Mason



Boquist bombast

For a couple of months, I recently received newsletters from state Sen. Brian Boquist — the same guy that threatened violence against law enforcement last year if they tried to stop him from sabotaging democracy at the state level. These newsletters were full to the brim with the same hateful lies that resulted in the attack on the Capitol.

I’d be most interested to know the senator’s view on these events. Was he there? Was he applauding? But I have already unsubscribed.

I have a rule in my home:  Sewage leaves the premises via the plumbing.  It does NOT get to enter the house via the internet.

Fred Fawcett



Putin’s handiwork

Vladimir Putin snuffed out the first flame of democracy to emerge in Russia in his lifetime, and he distributed the wealth of the Russian people to a handful of loyalists operating at his pleasure.

He will go down in history as the most effective and consequential Russian leader since Stalin. There is not enough vodka in Moscow for Putin’s minions to toast his accomplishments.

Recognizing that truth and self-rule are the greatest threats to his influence, Putin has been directly assaulting our democracy the last several years.

First, he worked to install a subordinate in the White House who would undermine our institutions, fulfill his international wish-list and degrade the concept of democracy as a workable framework for people around the world to express their political will. More recently, he has infiltrated and sabotaged our critical governmental, military and commercial electronic systems to a degree still not fully known.

Can he shut down our communications? Our electrical grid? Our airports? Can he drop our satellites out of the sky?

Not a peep from the White House, other than, “Maybe it was China.”

This Putin subordinate will soon be gone, one way or another. But the wreckage he leaves behind is incalculable.

We have a lot of work to do to clean this mess up. But the sad truth is that there is a substantial cadre of elected officials still willing to do Putin’s work by dismantling our republic.

This will not be over, like a bad dream, on Jan. 20. Our home-grown authoritarians will see to that.

Putin is still smiling. Let’s fix that.

Bill Johnson



Lawmaker must go

On Wednesday, Jan. 6, I watched with horror as a mob of angry Americans violently broke into the United States Capitol.

Distracted from my own school work, I sat at my desk, glued to my computer screen as I watched the live coverage of the attack. A large portion of our country and the world witnessed this act of violence against our democracy.

Here in Oregon, a couple of weeks prior, a similar incident occurred in our own Capitol. It was not as publicized as the attack in D.C., but it did not go unnoticed.

On Dec. 21, Oregon House District 23 Rep. Mike Nearman opened a door into the Capitol. As he slipped out, he let in a group of extremist, right-wing, rifle-toting protesters.

As police officers tried to get them to leave, the trespassers fought back both verbally and physically. They even pepper-sprayed officers in the face.

The group later entered the Capitol and stayed near the rotunda for almost an hour, with only a few wearing masks and many yelling loud, anti-government chants. They physically attacked journalists and vandalized property as well.

Not only was this event violent and uncivil, it was also illegal. That’s because the Capitol has been closed to visitors due to the pandemic.

By allowing protesters to breach the building, Rep. Nearman also breached the public’s trust. His dishonest and endangering actions are not acceptable.

I am appalled by the actions of Rep. Mike Nearman and ask that he resign or be removed from office by his colleagues.

Ukiah Halloran-Steiner



No half-doses

I believe it would be a huge mistake to vaccinate with only half the vaccine simply to cover more people.

I believe in Dr. Fauci and science. He said it would be a mistake to vaccinate with only half a dose. It was meant to be two full-dosage shots, not two half-doses or only one full dose.

I urge the governor and her committee to reject the two half-dosage program being promoted in some quarters. We have waited too long to make a big mistake near the finish line.

John C. Schindelar



Nearman a disgrace

Once again, Rep. Mike Nearman has disgraced himself, our state and our country.

He allowed unauthorized persons into our state Capitol on Dec 21. Mr. Nearman must face consequences for this action, which foreshadowed the horrific events occurring Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Ron Noble, in his guest News-Register Whatchamacolumn of Jan. 8, offers the specious argument that both sides are equally responsible for the distrust of governmental institutions. However, only the Republican Party includes a well-funded faction committed to undermining democracy and coddling conspiracy theorists.

As the old saying goes, Mr. Noble: Physician, heal thyself.

Alisa Owen





The 18th century French writer Voltaire once said, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

After four years of constant lies, misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories by Donald Trump and his Republican supporters, we saw Voltaire's words become reality both in our nation's Capitol, and in our state capitol in Salem. The midterm elections in 2022 will show that American citizens of good faith, decency, and patriotism will not forget the treasonous actions of the GOP.

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