Letters to the Editor, March 2, 2017
To the Editor:
For only the second time in its history, the Birkebeiner, our nation's largest cross country ski race, was cancelled due to lack of snow.
Considering the fact that 2016 was the warmest year on record, we shouldn't be surprised.
What is surprising is that so many of our GOP politicians have managed to maintain a head-in-the-sand, do-nothing attitude toward climate change, of which the Birkie may be a recent casualty.
The Wisconsin Initiative for Climate Change Impacts (www.wicci.wisc.edu) lists several outcomes likely to drastically alter the Wisconsin we know and love.
• Warming could make our rivers less habitable for trout, which require colder water.
• Regionally defining trees including birch and sugar maple may no longer thrive in our state but find more favorable growing conditions farther north.
• Heat-related illness, which accounts for the highest number of deaths caused by natural disasters in Wisconsin, are increasing.
In Wisconsin climate change has unfortunately become a partisan issue, with the DNR withholding important information from the public on orders from the Republican governor and Legislature.
State news sources have reported that Gov. Walker is even trying to kill the venerable Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, even though it's entirely funded by subscription fees.
In the past few years the magazine has been politically censored over climate change, deer management, and other issues affecting Wisconsin citizens.
The magazine is beloved of school children, nature lovers, and outdoors people. Why would the governor want to suppress a periodical that celebrates and promotes the natural beauty of our state?
If enough people mail a very affordable $8.97 for a one-year subscription, to P.O. Box 7191, Madison, WI 53707, we can send the governor a message that we don't want to lose this useful little magazine.
Thomas R. Smith
Smoke and mirrors
To the Editor:
Monday morning was a day like most of the last few days of February — the sun was out and the birds were singing. I had gotten news that Congressman Duffy was speaking at Ready Randy's Restaurant in New Richmond.
With it being such a beautiful day, I decided to venture out and listen to Congressman Duffy speak. Upon his arrival, he greeted his supporters and his foes with a smile and handshakes, but after only a few minutes you could sense weirdness in the air.
One by one, as the congressman answered questions gathered from the audience, it became apparent that Mr. Duffy was comfortable answering supporters' questions but was rather curt and almost cheeky with the opposition's questioning of him.
Congressman Duffy did everything in his power to answer to make himself look admirable but unfortunately for him and his supporters he failed miserably. I will highlight a few of the problems that came up.
Sean Duffy spent time discussing the cost of health insurance and how it was hurting the middle class families. Mr. Duffy failed to inform people that insurance companies were some of his biggest campaign contributors. Another topic that came to light was he claimed to want to break down big banks.
This was interesting because like the insurance companies, big banks were another major contributor to his campaign. He also spoke of loving local farmers. He isn't a friend of small home farmers — only "big ag." That is where his alliance is due, once again — to campaign donations. Lastly, we teach our kids not to be on their phones texting when we are speaking to them — it's common courtesy — but at this meeting the congressman was texting while someone was asking him a question. That was disrespectful to the constituents in the room.
So my neighborhood friends, what started out as a listening session turned into a game of smoke and mirrors and lots of lies and deceit.
Mark A. Struble
Women's rights gone
To the Editor:
Why do many people in the United States support Muslim immigration to our country? Even the moderate, well-vetted and peace-loving Muslims have serious conflicts with Western culture and laws.
Muslims generally follow Sharia law. While most legal codes regulate public behavior, Sharia law regulates public behavior, private behavior and even private beliefs. Of all legal systems in the world today, Sharia law is the most intrusive and restrictive, especially against women. There is no other system which allows for the death penalty for a number of infractions against their beliefs alone, yet offenses we consider criminal in the U.S.
Look at how well the immigration of moderate Muslims has worked in Sweden. Sweden began opening its doors to Muslim immigrants in the 1970s. Today it pays a high price for having done so. Not surprisingly, the group suffering the severest consequences of their open door policy has been Swedish women.
Muslim women have few rights in Islamic culture and Swedish women are considered "infidels" and, as such, are sanctioned targets for rape by Muslim men. This Islamic belief system has created a drastic increase in rapes in Sweden, more than a thousand fold, since first opening its doors to Muslim immigration. Today Sweden is deemed the rape capital of the Western world.
Even more shocking is the political correctness regarding the reporting of these crimes. Concerned about accusations of Islamophobia, the Swedish press refuses to identify the rapists as Muslim or immigrants.
Keep this in mind for our future because if we do nothing, it's coming to America.
To the Editor:
U.S. representatives and senators are on break this week so that they can meet with constituents. I called Representative Duffy's D.C. office on 2/16 at 4:52 p.m. to ask for dates/locations of Duffy's town hall meetings. I was told none were planned. I asked how I could be notified of meetings. I was told through email and/or phone, which I immediately provided.
The next morning my husband notified me that he had just received an email from Duffy's office at 10:30 a.m. for a town hall meeting in Minocqua. I never received any notification. The meeting was scheduled for 1 p.m. that day — a 2.5-hour notice in the middle of a business day for a meeting hours away. I called Duffy's D.C. office immediately, where I learned that my email and phone number had been deleted.
I then asked the staffer if they kept tallies on constituents' positions, yay or nay on issues. I was told yes. I asked for tally numbers for an investigation of the Flynn debacle. The staffer wanted to give me numbers from a poll. I said poll respondents tend to favor a candidate and their stances — hence their validity is questionable. I again asked for constituent tally numbers. The staffer said, "the majority of all calls asked for an investigation," and then added, "not one" was against an investigation.
I asked for constituents' tallies on the Affordable Care Act. The staffer said it would take "some time" but he would get me those tally numbers. Five minutes later, the phone rang. Duffy's staffer informed me that tally numbers were "private." The staffer went on to inform me that constituent calls, emails, etc., were not tallied. I asked how would a representative ever know his/her constituents' views on issues.
The staffer replied, "from polls."
I then contacted The Waters of Minocqua Resort, the location of Duffy's Friday town hall meeting. An employee informed me that the Duffy meeting was confirmed on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Note: On Feb. 16 at nearly 5 p.m. Duffy's staffer told me that nothing was scheduled.
Facts and truth
To the Editor:
I have been thinking a lot lately how folks with opposite opinions might come together. I agree some of our views are shaped by experiences, but I've noticed friends with opposite political opinions often base these on very different facts. I believe there is still such a thing as truth. If facts have no basis in reality, they are not facts.
I like to think my views are not just "opinions" which can be corrected, but are based on deeply held values. These are not negotiable.
Opposing political sides all tout democracy and the public good, but some of our elected officials seem all too willing to abandon facts and their values in the name of expediency. The end justifies the means. Sometimes their priority seems to be keeping power for themselves or their party while their constituents are overlooked. They often operate "under the radar" of constituents while avoiding face-to face meetings.
Our federal senator, Ron Johnson, who campaigned on a platform of making government accountable, scheduled no public meetings during this congressional recess and no public events found online. He prefers "telephone town halls." His last, held without warning at 3 p.m. on a work day, did not allow some questions to be asked.
Some who signed up were not contacted. His email and voicemail boxes are full. We know that special interest PAC money provided the bulk of the $17 million spent on his recent campaign, but we hope these are not the only voices to which he is listening.
Sen. Johnson quotes Dwight Eisenhower: "A people that values its privileges over its principles, soon loses both." I would urge the senator and our policymakers in Washington to work not just to preserve their privilege, but act to protect the democratic principles and values on which our country was founded.
These are not negotiable either, and they are under grave attack.
Sen. Johnson, we need to speak with you. Will you schedule a face-to-face town hall meeting in Western Wisconsin as soon as possible?
To the Editor:
Public school advocates are asleep at their school desks; optimism, initial or otherwise, is not a viable option.
Gov. Walker, Sen. Fitzgerald and others are siphoning off our public schools funding (a.k.a. as our tax dollars) for the financial benefit of private schools via tuition vouchers.
The writing is on the chalkboard; the intent, it seems, is to weaken and discard, if possible, our public schools altogether. The goal appears to be the privatization of education but largely funded with public monies. What we have here is a "have your cake, and eat it, too" political scheme in-the-making.
Gov. Walker and the Legislature are still successfully "fooling most of the people all of the time" about this and other issues as well.
Indeed, they will be especially hard at work, manipulating their "smoke and mirrors" as election time draws ever-closer.
We'd better wise-up and look behind the political curtain before it's legislatively reinforced and sewn shut for good.
Making others wealthy
To the Editor:
I bought a home in New Richmond in 2006. That is a fact that can be backed up by looking at the public record.
The record will also reflect that I sold the home in 2013 at a significant loss. When Mr. Schroeder used your paper to spread the fiction that "The financial crash of '08 was a direct result of government overreach in our housing," your readers deserve to know that he is peddling fiction that cannot be backed up.
While I do not expect Mr. Schroeder to change his mind or examine the facts, I do hope that your readers will be open to doing so. Perhaps rather than silly name calling and sending crayons, readers will ask their representatives reasonable questions based on reality.
Based on the scale of destruction during the '08 collapse, CDO's and CDS's played a primary role. These financial instruments were specifically exempted from regulation by the federal government. This was a deliberate act by the people in power who honestly believed that the market could handle the task better if it were not burdened by regulation. The numbers and actual
history prove that deregulating financial markets is a recipe for disaster.
Perhaps people should be asking their representatives why putting people and the policies behind the financial collapse back in power is a good idea?
Perhaps they might also ask, if it was wrong for Hillary to lie to Congress about her email server, why was it right for Mr. Mnuchin to lie about using robo-signing to take people's homes?
Perhaps people should be asking both parties why neither one of them used the sacred trust the people put in them to prosecute the criminals who committed financial fraud that cost millions of Americans dearly while making themselves fabulously wealthy?
Russians enjoying this
To the Editor:
A while back Joe Soucheray said to beware of Russia (St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1-15-2017).
He was 10 percent correct.
In the late 1980s we armed the insurgents in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden's crew, with missiles and other military hardware to fight the invading Russians.
The Russians ended up beaten and disgraced by the rag tag Afghanis. If you think the Russians have ever forgotten this episode, you are badly mistaken.
On a side note, history tells us no invader has ever conquered Afghanistan. We should have taken this into consideration before invading after 9-11.
We're still stuck there 15 years later with no way to win.
I'm sure the Russians have enjoyed every minute of those years.
Marvin L. Nelson
Town hall with senator's rep
To the Editor:
An overflow crowd of nearly 100 showed up at last Thursday's town hall meeting at the River Falls Public Library, held to convey to Sen. Ron Johnson what was on the minds of many of his constituents.
Sen. Johnson was unable to attend, but that didn't stop the newly-formed political action group, Western Wisconsin Rise Up! from holding the meeting without him.
The senator does not appear to have held a single public meeting during the annual congressional recess, designed to allow legislators to return to their districts and meet with constituents.
Area residents challenged Johnson to state his position on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), his support for Trump's appointments to head federal agencies and fill the empty Supreme Court seat, calls for Trump to release his tax records, and an investigation into Trump's ties with Russia.
Johnson's support of the new draconian immigration policies and the huge cost in both dollars and lives destroyed was challenged.
Questions were "answered" by a stand-in with quotes from Johnson's policy statements and public remarks.
River Falls resident Linda Alvarez summed up the frustration and determination of those in attendance.
"We do not have time to waste trying to get through to your office," she said, commenting on the fact that Johnson's phone lines are always busy and his message boxes are full.
"We are not going away," Alvarez told him. "We will be watching you."
She summed up the prevailing mood of the crowd this way: "We are not just in it for ourselves. We're in it for everybody."
The event was recorded and will appear on River Falls Cable Channel 16 later this week. DVD copies of the event will also be mailed to all of Sen. Johnson's offices.
Accept and move on
To the Editor:
The simple act of Melania Trump leading the public in The Lord's Prayer at a rally in Florida may be the beginning of the end of 60 years of unconstitutional silencing of religious expression in the public arena.
In the 1947 court case Everson vs. The Board of Education, the judiciary established a legal myth which they called "Separation of Church and State."
To justify this new judicial doctrine, the court used a phrase from a letter written in January 1801, by President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Conn. Taking the phrase "separation of church and state" out of the context of the letter itself, this phrase was used to begin the development of the belief that the Founding Fathers wanted government to be totally devoid of religious influence and that government displays of religious faith were unconstitutional.
This new judicial heresy was advanced further by the 1954 Johnson Amendment to the Federal Tax Code that limited the political activity of tax-exempt nonprofits, including churches.
Then in 1962, in Engel vs. Vitale, the court ruled that it was unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. This ruling was soon interpreted to limit and often restrict prayer in public schools.
Was this the intention of the Founding Fathers and the signers of the Constitution?
Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Constitution, who was often referred to as "The Father of Public Schools Under the Constitution," wrote a treatise on why the Bible should always be the primary textbook in American schools.
Fisher Ames was the delegate to Congress who gave us the primary wording for the First Amendment. He also stated, "Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble ..."
Founding Father John Jay was well known as one of the framers of the Constitution. He served as the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In those days the Supreme Court had juries. Jay would not let a jury hear a case until they had taken Holy Communion (The Lord's Supper).
As president, Thomas Jefferson wrote the plan of education for Washington, D.C. schools. In this document Jefferson stated that reading should be taught from two primary texts — The Bible and Watt's Hymnal.
Now for the first time in decades, we have a leader who is more concerned about being historically and factually correct than politically correct.
With the simple action of the First Lady leading a public meeting in The Lord's Prayer, Americans have been given an open invitation to return to their historical roots.
May we boldly accept that invitation and move forward.