LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE RIGHT TO BREATH CLEAN AIR
In Robert Smith's commentary article in the November 29 Tribune-Review, "Enough Environmental Regulations," Smith states "the environment has never been cleaner in my lifetime than now." He compares the environmental regulations to "chips and dip", comparing scraping the bowl for that last bite of dip on chips leads to multiple additional efforts stating, "we continue to expend ever more effort to pick those last molecules of contamination to satisfy our environmental appetite for "cleaner".
We do not have just a few molecules of contamination. According to the American Lung Association's 2020 "State of the Air" report Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV metro areas tied for the eighth-most polluted city in the nation for its year-round average levels of fine particle pollution. Pittsburgh ranks 26th worst in the nation for smog from ground level ozone. Our grade was an F in Allegheny and a D in Westmoreland.
Many of us older citizens remember the ads for cigarettes with Physicians smoking to promote "the benefits" of smoking. Robert Smith does not work for the EPA obviously and his job as an environmental scientist for KU Resources may skew his vision for what is clean air.
As long as the air in Pittsburgh includes multiple cancer-causing compounds; formaldehyde, benzene, coke oven emissions, arsenic compounds to name a few and Allegheny County is in the top percent for cancer risks specifically from large industrial sources, we need to fine tune/improve our regulations not abandon them altogether.
ERRORS DON'T DISQUALIFY VOTES
The "crown jewel" of democracy lies in our ability to conduct fair and untampered elections. Just like our Westmoreland County commissioners, I believe in free and fair elections and that our votes should count. Our commissioners need to live up to their values and the commitment they made when they ran for and were elected to office.
Commissioner Doug Chew calls to discard mail-in ballots with missing or incorrect dates on the envelopes ("GOP commissioners reject defective mail-in ballots," Nov. 13, TribLIVE). These ballots would bear either USPS postmark or date of collection from an Election Bureau drop box, so there is no question the ballots were received at a specific date and time regardless of whether or not they are dated or incorrectly dated by the voter.
According to the March 27 Omnibus Amendment to Pennsylvania Election Law (P.L. 41, No. 12), a missing or incorrect date on the mail-in ballot envelope is not a specified basis for ballot rejection.
Chew blamed voters for being "irresponsible." But I believe communication and directions from the commissioners and the Election Bureau were poor regarding mail-in ballots, and inconsequential errors are not surprising. And yet Chew and Kertes want to punish and disenfranchise voters for a simple and non-disqualifying error.
The commissioners have a duty to count every vote that is permissible under Pennsylvania law. Let the voters decide!
Tribune Review 12/4/20
NO MORE DIRTY TRICKS
Your editorial "Electoral votes are people's voice" (Sept. 29, TribLIVE), and the Spotlight PA article "Could the Pa. GOP bypass the popular vote regardless of who wins? Here's what we know." (Sept. 29, TribLIVE) were eye-opening to the danger posed to democracy with this November election.
The editorial stated that Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, both denied having discussions with the Trump campaign on the issue of manipulating Pennsylvania electors. However, the article in The Atlantic did not state that they did. The article stated that Lawrence Tabas, GOP chairman, quoted as saying he talked to Corman and Benninghoff. Is this an example of a non-denial denial?
Because of the bad publicity surrounding this issue, the Pennsylvania Republicans have, for now, backed off. But we need to keep their feet to the fire. We want the Pennsylvania electors chosen to reflect the Pennsylvania voters' choice. Do not take our votes from us. No more dirty tricks.
DECEIVING THE VOTERS, YET AGAIN
I read in disbelief the article "Western Pa. congressmen join rebuke of U.S. Attorney General William Barr" (Dec. 3 TribLIVE). Five Pennsylvania Republicans, including John Joyce and Guy Reschenthaler, expressed dismay because Barr is not supporting President Trump's election fraud conspiracy.
Certainly these Republicans know it has been reported that this baseless election fraud idea is being used to solicit funds from Trump supporters-funds, more than $200 million to date, that are not going to his court cases as stated but in part going to Trump's PAC, where he can use the money at his discretion. In my opinion, Trump is working a con on his supporters, and these legislators are backing his efforts.
When I think of Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers, I have this image of college fraternity boys during pledge week, doing whatever it takes to obtain entrance into a private organization. At both the state and federal level, these are not elected officials working for their constituents in Pennsylvania. They appear only interested in following Trump's self-serving efforts and getting their 15 minutes of fame voicing their support.
Pennsylvania residents deserve representatives who are looking out for their interests, especially during this pandemic.
THE REAL FACTS
In his October 10, Tribune-Review op-ed, "The Fight for Free Speech", Walter William suggests that America is great because of "western values'. America is not great because of "western values." America is great because of our dedication to experts and the truth. We have succeeded where other democracies have spiraled down into fascism because our politicians are experts who study the norms of our institution. They act as gatekeepers to insure that demagogues who would tear down those norms do not gain power. These same experts and truths are what Williams and the signers of the Philadelphia Statement are trying to destroy with their factual relativism.They want the freedom to create their own facts and not run them through the marketplace of ideas that is academia. They want their made-up facts to only pass through their gut check, and then stand on equal footing as fact that have gone through a rigorous process of verification. If we allow this to happen, it will not only be the end of our democracy, but the end of the scientific revolution and the rise of a new dark age.
by Michael Garing
OUR STAGGERING NATIONAL DEBT
In his article, "Will Georgia Halt the Radicals Revolution", Nov.11, 2020, Pat Buchanan wrote, "LBJ's Great Society is manifest today in our staggering national debt". So let's look at some debt data. LBJ did increase government spending by 13%. Since Johnson, every president has increased the debt by at least 30%. In 1969, LBJ's last budget, the government collected more money than it spent; there was a surplus of $32 billion. The next time the government had a surplus was under Bill Clinton.
Ronald Reagan added $1.47 billion in deficits and almost doubled the national debt. He did that by reducing taxes on the wealthy and increasing the defense budget. George W. Bush increased government spending more than any of the six presidents preceding him including LBJ. with tax cuts benefiting mainly the wealthy and increases in defense spending. Bush ran a deficit every year, increasing the debt by $1.35 trillion. Donald Trump ran a deficit of $2.47 trillion over his first 3 years in office. This was accomplished by tax cuts mainly for corporations and the wealthy and increases in defense spending.
We have a pattern here. Republican presidents increasing the debt by cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy while also increasing defense spending. It is as if they are deliberately trying to bankrupt our nation. They said the tax cuts would pay for themselves. They did not. But social programs like the Great Society have.
by Sandy Kramer
A LETTER TO SENATOR PAT TOOMEY:
You conveniently and repeatedly frame your decision about approving a new justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a way that is untruthful. Stating the circumstances are different now, as the Senate and the presidency are controlled by the same party, does not change the hypocrisy of your current hedging along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and so may other disingenuous Republican senators.
First, that is not how you or others framed it in 2016. Second, that vacancy occurred 10 months before the election, while RGB's death occurred just before an election that may change the fabric of the entire executive branch. Third, President Obama waited a respectful time before putting forth Judge Merrick Garland.
Fourth, we are now in the midst of an election, and early voting has already begun. Fifth, a most important court case is scheduled Nov.10, to determine the status of the Affordable Care Act, and this administration still has no comprehensive plan to replace it (in my opinion, a weak and vague executive order on preexisting conditions does not count).
This is no time to push through a new justice who has made her views on this subject known, and adding her vote may jeopardize health care for so many during a pandemic, handled so poorly, resulting in more than 200,000 deaths.
UNFIT TO LEAD
As a drafted Marine Vietnam veteran, I want a president who doesn't fake bone spurs to avoid the draft and doesn't believe that STDs was his personal Vietnam. I want a president who respects Gold Star Families and heroes like John McCain. I want a president who responds to a foreign enemy that offers rewards for the death of American soldiers and who doesn't believe soldiers and veterans are "losers and suckers". I want a return to dignity to the White House and an end to hate rallies in the middle of a pandemic. I want a president who actually reads the PDBs. I want a president who is competent and doesn't use his office to increase his own wealth (I'm not interested in hearing that he doesn't take a salary. He is profiting in so many other ways).
500 retired military generals and admirals, former ambassadors and top national security officials published a letter supporting Joe Biden. Many of these people are Republicans. 70 top Republican national security officials state that President Trump is unfit to lead and they are supporting Joe Biden. I agree with them. I want Joe Biden.
- Bill Walter
TRUMP'S ANTI-WORKER AGENDA
President Trump has a pro-corporate, anti-worker agenda. Consider the following: refuses to issue standards to protect workers in dealing with COVID-19***denied workers a minimum wage increase***abandoned protection for tens of thousand gig workers***prevented overtime pay for millions of workers*** suspended funding for Social Security*** persists in efforts to take away workers" health care***dismantled fiduciary protections***Trump's National Labor Relations Board has diminished worker protection rights against employer retaliation and hampered workers' ability to organize and engage in collective bargaining***Trump's OSHA has failed to protect the health of workers from unsafe working conditions and has decreased workplace safety inspections***Trump and McConnell failed to support adequate virus related fiscal stimulus to workers, state and local governments. This will cost millions of jobs. At the same time, corporations received trillions in stimulus*** Trump's Tax Cut and Jobs Act has resulted in the loss of thousands of factories and hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, large tax cuts for corporations and the government's loss of $100 billion in yearly revenue due to profit-shifting to tax havens***Installing as head of government agencies anti-worker persons such as Puzder, Acosta, Scalia, Stanton and Zatezalo.
This is just a short list of Trump's anti-worker actions; there are many more. He has promoted the interests of corporate executives over those of working people. He is a corporatist. He is working for the 1%, not middle class Americans. VOTE HIM OUT!
WE MUST TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Our planet is on fire and still our president denies climate change. On Sept.14, President Trump held a briefing on wildfires at McClellan Park in California. Natural resource Secretary Wade Crowfoot stated, "If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together protecting Californians." Trump responded, "It will start getting cooler, just you watch." He ended the exchange by stating, "I don't think science knows, actually."
Clearly, we cannot expect Trump to protect our country from the effects of climate change when he won't even acknowledge it exists. Please write to your government officials, both federal and state, and ask them to take action to stop the destruction of our country, of our planet. We must stop burning fossil fuels and stop supporting their companies. There is a misunderstanding that Pennsylvania's economy is dependent on fracking jobs when in fact we have more jobs in renewable energy than fracking.
We can join other countries and lead the way to implementing renewable energy and advancing technologies that will enable us to save this planet. For our children and grandchildren, let's get this one right.
Published October 10, 2020
FAILURE TO LEAD
200,000 Americans dead and counting. Why are we allowing this to happen? Why have we become immune to our country's men and women needlessly dying? This did not need to happen and does not need to continue. Demand that our government protect us. Stop playing politics with our lives. We must have a national strategy to prevent another Sturgis, S. Dakota. People who attended the motorcycle rally went home and infected their neighbors. Twenty percent of COVID deaths in the month of August can be traced back to this event. We know how to fight this virus. Washington must establish the policies and give us the resources to combat this enemy.
HATRED AMONG US
Of all the damage that Trump has done; from exacerbating economic inequality, to allowing pollution of our environment, to dismantling worker protection regulations, to being responsible for tens of thousands of American deaths and a worsening economy, the damage that is crushing my heart is his encouragement of hatred and violence.
Years ago, in my neighborhood, a little boy from a Christian family was full of wonder and possibilities. But today that young man is full of hate and intolerance. Because we are Democrats he feels entitled to belittle us, vandalize our property. What has Trump unleashed?
In part, our exceptionalism is our diversity of sounds, tastes and customs. We embrace all religions, ethnicity and races, we are a mosaic of this world, this is our strength. Our exceptionalism is that we stand for freedom and justice for all. A goal we are still striving to achieve.
The United States Post Office, first headed by Benjamin Franklin, was codified in our Constitution. It gave Congress the power to establish post offices and postal roads. The USPS was created to provide independent and unbiased delivery of information and resources. Privatization of this government agency would threaten this mission.
The United States Postal Service is the only government agency that is not taxpayer funded. It exists only on what income it generates. Yet it serves every single citizen, no matter where you are. It is legally bound to deliver the mail. Private companies have more opportunities to be influenced and are not motivated by a sense of pride and patriotism.
The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act required the USPS have in reserve post-retirement health care costs up to 75 years into the future. No other government agency has this requirement. The USPS should be allowed to pay the costs of retiree health care costs on a pay-as-you-go basis as the rest of the federal government and two-thirds of private industry do. This, combined with other investment reforms, would eliminate its running deficit. Without this constriction, the USPS would be in the positive.
The citizens of the United States demand and deserve the unfettered, unbiased flow of information essential to keeping our country informed and free.
Published 8/30/2020 Tribune Review
Norwin School Board's Responsibility
Bob Wayman said you should just keep driving through a BLM protest because they're just "racist, communist thugs." Bob Wayman said we should resort to armed combat to keep Trump in office. Bob Wayman referred to Dr. Rachel Levine as an "it" because he doesn't agree with her. Bob Wayman said Covid-19 is a hoax.
Bob Wayman continues to sit on the Norwin District School Board. He is part of the decision making process for over 5,000 students to safely return to school. He is part of the decision making process for students that organized a peaceful BLM protest this summer. He is part of the decision making process for students that are LGBTQ.
The Norwin School Board says they have no grounds to remove a member unless it is for lack of attendance to board meetings. The Norwin School Board members will adhere to principles that include leading responsibility and acting ethically. The Norwin School Board has a policy that board members first be of "good moral character." The Norwin School Board is sitting idly by while Bob Wayman spews hate and lies from a position of power and influence. Shame on them.
- Brooke Rhodes
Conduit For Russian Trolls
After reading your Letters to the Editor, the first thought that crossed my mind was, the Trib is an unwitting conduit for Russian trolls. No American believes some of the sweeping, outlandish generalizations in some of those letters. No American talks that way. For example, on August 5 and 6 writers said, "The Democrats are a bunch of communists." Those writers have pulled a "Rip Van Winkle"; they just woke from a 1930's sleep. In this day and age who accuses someone of being a communist let alone 50% of Americans?
Starting on August 6, followed by 8 and 11, writers wrote that the Democrats are all thieves, liars, heathens; they want anarchy and hatred; they want to destroy America; and destroy freedom of speech.
I can not believe that Americans would write such hateful, intolerant words, would demonize their neighbors for having a different opinion. There are those who would use hatred and fear to divide us for their own selfish gain. Let us stand together, tolerant of others' opinions, religion, race and ethnicity. Together we are unbeatable.
Summited on 8/21/2020 Tribune Review
What It Means to Be a Democrat
As the 2020 election approaches, before you cast your ballot, before you place a "D" or an "R" after your name, please stop and ask yourself if you actually know what it means to be a Democrat?
Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment and bridges are better than walls.
Our core values include working to promote the following for ALL AMERICANS:
1. Protecting voting rights.
2. Ensuring health, safety and affordable healthcare.
3. Quality and affordable education.
4. Fighting for economic fairness against inequality.
5. Protecting our values, peace building, protecting democracy and safeguarding minorities including LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.
6. Combating climate change, building a clean energy economy, and securing environmental justice while creating good paying jobs.
7. Raising incomes and restoring economic security for all, not just the wealthiest Americans.
8. Supporting our troops and protecting our veterans.
9. Demonstrating principled leadership that confronts global threats and serves as a leader in the world.
10. Protecting religious freedom, women's rights, and treating ALL people with respect and dignity.
11. Responsible gun ownership.
We are NOT communists or baby killers, we won't put kids in cages, we fight for JUSTICE and EQUALITY for ALL!
George Will, A Strange Bedfellow
George Will and I do not agree on much, but I'm in complete agreement with the comments in his July 16, 2020 opinion piece, "What national decline looks like". Will states, "The nation's floundering government is now administered by a gangster regime." Our president requires absolute loyalty and aims to destroy his enemies. These are the words and actions used by thugs and criminals. President Trump's method of terminating Inspector Generals when they try to defend proper government or when he fires those who tell truth to power like Alexander Vindman and Sally Yates, reinforces fear and distrust within our government. George Will fears the nation is unable to competently combat the pandemic, which I fear as well. With over 141,000 dead, our federal government has abdicated its leadership role, which now has the rest of the world pitying us. All the while, President Trump continues to tear down anything that doesn't conclude his superiority. We all have lots to fear, but let's use logic and reasoning to come to the place where George Will and I agree.
-Mary Kay Nafaa
Flaws of Our Founders
It hurts to realize your heroes has flaws, major flaws. It really hurts.
As a society we are now finally confronting the tangled legacy of the Founding Fathers. It is a legacy summarized in one simple, yet profound contradiction-many of the men who wrote and approved of the words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," did not practice that in their own lives. Read Full Article
NHT COMMISSIONERS' DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE
Your December 13, 2020 issue was filled with articles dealing with Covid-19; weekly deaths hit a high in Westmoreland County; hospitals and healthcare facilities at breaking point, etc. And then there was the article, "N. Huntingdon says no to virus orders." The board of commissioners is ignoring Governor Wolf and CDC guidelines. Their callousness is unimaginable. Three thousand Americans dying daily and they thumb their nose at procedures meant to save lives. What depraved indifference. They demand their freedom. Guess what, if you want total freedom go live on an island all by yourself. But if you want to live in a civilized society where someone else is supplying you with healthcare, food, schools, utilities and safety, then you must consider other people's freedoms and rights. These people may be of a different race, religion, or political party, may have different opinions, but they have the same rights to life and liberty that you do. You are not the winner if the other guy loses. We lose or win together. What a tragedy for our country that we allow some people to pull us apart. What a lack of patriotism when we do not think of our country as one, of our people as one.
Submitted to the Trib on 12/15/2020