LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
In the 1800's the Republican Party championed the democratic principals of freedom, liberty, justice and equality for all. The Democratic Party stood for the wealthy and powerful, the plantation owners, the captains of industry. It was a tug-of-war between democracy and oligarchy. Today we are in that same tug-of-war. This time the Democrats espouse those principals, while the Republican legislators are in the pockets of the wealthy and powerful. It is evident in their refusal to increase the minimum wage, while endorsing huge tax cuts for the top 1%, reducing the inheritance tax, using tax payer money to bail out bad acting, to big to fail banks and Wall Street: all actions that continue to redistribute money upwards. The list goes on especially in the regulatory area by eliminating worker rights, and reducing financial and environmental standards. They have failed to hold the wealthy and powerful accountable for their criminal behavior. One standard gives the elites impunity from the law, assaults on honesty with alternative facts and conspiracy theories, while projecting onto others their misdeeds. Republican lawmakers believe that government should stay out of the way of business making money with no regulation, no social contract, no protection for workers. This type of government might work for the wealthy but not for you and me. Who is going to protect us from domestic and foreign terrorists, pandemics, the ravishment of climate change. This is not an individual task, but together by pooling our resources, we can help one another. That is what democracy is all about, government of, by, and for the people, not just for the wealthy and powerful.
So, after a year of denying Covid is a problem, complaining about mask mandates, and ignoring hundreds of grieving Westmoreland County families, Commissioners Sean Kertes, Doug Chew and their enablers in the state legislature now complain that vaccines aren't happening as they want?
Give me a break!
Perhaps if they actually supported mitigation efforts to slow the spread of the virus and spent the past year actually formulating a plan to deal with the local impacts of the pandemic they might actually have some credibility. Instead what they accomplished is merely a publicity stunt.
Commissioners Kertes and Chew had the chance to lead. They failed. And the Westmoreland Republican legislative delegation is merely playing politics now while they did nothing over the past year except complain.
It's an insult to the residents of Westmoreland County and a total lack of leadership. We deserve better.
I am so grateful that PA has a governor like Wolf rather than someone like Abbott or past Governor Perry in Texas. First, Governor Abbott refused to follow CDC guidelines, and more Texans than needed died. Now, more Texans are unnecessarily dying due to a lack of electricity and water. This is a result of a conscious decision by the state of Texas to deregulate and privatize electricity. What were they thinking? We know from past experience that privatization of essential services is filled with pitfalls. When you privatize, you must make a profit and that usually means decreasing capital investment, reducing service and or labor.
The claim that they want freedom from regulations is flawed. Regulations give us freedoms. Because of regulations, we do not have the chaos we now see in Texas. Because of regulations we have the freedom to breath clean air, drink clean water, stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Fox News tried to blame green energy initiatives for the problems in Texas, but that lie was quickly exposed. We should hold the radical right wing media such as Fox News and Newsmax accountable for the lies they tell. They should not be allowed to use the public airways to spread falsehoods with impunity.
DEMOCRACY VS TYRANNY
We are living in precarious times. It appears that one political party, the Republican party, no longer believe in democracy. They are trying to restrict our voting rights (11 bills in PA) plus expand gerrymandering to include judges. A select group of men suggested nullifying the last election. They support people who promoted sedition and are refusing to hold those responsible for insurrection accountable. A part of our government appears to be working not for their constituents but for the donor class. We the 99% must unite in solidarity against the tyranny of the extremely wealthy and powerful and those who would destroy our democracy.
REPUBLICANS METHOD OF TAXATION
"Wolf seeks tax hike on PA's earners" (2/4, Trib), illustrates an often repeated phrase: "Republicans know how to message, how to campaign, and Democrats know how to govern." The comments by our Republican lawmakers were all standard sound bites: "raising taxes and spending more, massive 50% tax increase, "tax hikes will hurt our economy, etc." But if you read the article, only the top third income group will see increased taxes, shift the tax burden to higher income earners by exemptions that would reduce the tax rate among about 40% of taxpayers. In other words, this budget, in a small way would decrease the massive economic inequality we have in our state. Currently, the top 1% of PA taxpayers pay the lowest percent rate, 6%, while the lowest 20% of PA taxpayers pay the highest 13.8% rate, in local and state taxes. You would think people would be in favor of everyone paying their fair share of taxes. But Republicans seem to want to tax the poor and middle class, but not the wealthy.
REPUBLICANS "ALL IN FOR TRUMP"
It is tragic to see that one of the Western World's heretofore great political parties, the Republican Party, has gone "all in for Trump," including Pennsylvania's Republicans. For Example, see https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/28/us/politics/pennsylvania-republicans-trump.html.
In doing so, it has made a profound Moral Choice, antithetical to its founding principles.
The Republican Party was established on the principle of opposing slavery. It also stood against the political philosophy underlying slavery-a political philosophy of minority rule, despotism and violence against those the minority deemed "unworthy" of the rights in the Declaration of Independence.
It is said that the Founding Fathers were worried that parties would destroy the infant Republic. Yet, as some historians have noted, the rise of parties in the 1790's may have helped the Republic to develop, channeling political disagreement away from the threat of violence and to the ballot box. When our Nation was founded, the peaceful transfer of political power was an untested idea. Many observers at that time thought such a transfer could only happen violently, given that the French Revolution was unfolding for all to see. America was the first nation to demonstrate that the transfer of power could occur peacefully, without violence; the rise of parties did play a role in that, promoting the idea that we all have a shared civic responsibility, despite our policy differences, and that the responsibility of citizenship in this Republic is what binds us all together.
The events of the past 3 months, particularly the chain of lies and violent rhetoric, that led to the attack on Congress and deaths of January 6; the refusal to publicly rebuke those who encouraged those lies and that rhetoric; the rise of fantasy conspiracy mongers overtaking the modern Republican Party; all reveal what this party has become. A once great political party that stood for the principles the Founders held now stands against those very principles. It no longer stands for the peaceful transfer of power; it stands against fact and reality; it believes in delegitimizing and dehumanizing these who do not share its "facts"; it embraces the rhetoric of violence and looks away when that embrace results in acts of violence. All of this leads towards one inexorable conclusion---the Republican Party in 2021 no longer accepts the very idea of a Republic, rejects the notion of responsible civic obligations, and has embraced what former speechwriter for George W. Bush, Michael Gerson. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumpism-is-american-fascism/2021/02/01/c410f662-64b2-11eb-8c64-9595888caa15_story.html.
The Republican Party in 2021 will be judged by the Moral Choice it has made. The eyes of all people, indeed of history, are upon it. That this has happened to the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan is a great tragedy for America.
February 11, Trib Live Featured Commentary
COMPETENCY IS WHAT MATTERS
One of George Will's recurrent theme is the evils of big government (Stuck in a rule stupor, 1/28, Trib). Let's take a look at history. Herbert Hoover is rated as one of our worst presidents, yet many consider him a great humanitarian. However, he believed in unfettered free market capitalism, and the result was his inaction during the Great Depression. Then with a combination of regulated capitalism and social programs, we came out of the depression, World War 11 (saving the world from nationalistic fascism) created the largest most diverse, most vibrant middle class the world had ever known. Unfortunately, in the 1980's, Ronald Reagan declared, "government was not the solution but was the problem." Since then our economy has been sliding downhill.
I take issue with Will's and Reagan's position. It is not the size of government that matters but the competency. If the last four years have taught us anything, it is that competency matters. You can not gut agencies (CDC) and expect a positive outcome. If you set up an agency to fail, you can not then say "see I told you, government does not work" (USPS). You can not fire people who speak truth to power and fill those positions with lackeys that pledge loyalty to the leader above all else and expect departments to function. It is not the size of government but the competency of government. We need people at all levels of government that are knowledgeable, compassionate and dedicated to the advancement of its citizens. We should have zero tolerance for those playing political games for their own power and money.
February 1, 2021 Trib
Let's have a discussion on honesty. We should demand that our government not lie to us. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon lied about the Vietnam war and hundreds of thousands of people died. Ronald Reagan lied about Iran-Contra and Central Americans died. George W. Bush lied about Iraq and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. Now, Donald Trump lied about COVID and hundreds of thousands died, this time they were U.S. citizens.
Enough. We must hold our elected officials accountable. It is not ok to lie to the American people. There must be serious consequences; a slap on the wrist will not do. Government officials must be truthful. If we are to live up to the promise of our founding fathers, our representatives must be beyond reproach. Lying leads to tyranny against which we must always be vigilant.
Sent to the Trib 1/25/2021
Guy Reschenthaler, Kim Ward, Jake Corman, Mike Kelly, John Joyce, Glenn Thompson, Eric Nelson, Daryl Metcalfe. Burn these names in your brain, memorize them-these are the lawmakers you do not want to forget. They do not belong to the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower. They belong to the party of Trump. We elected them to lead, instead they have chosen to follow an immoral, dishonest, incompetent, narcissistic bully. They continue to promote the big lie that Trump's re-election was stolen and that our current election was flawed. In the process, they have trashed the Constitution and their oath of office, attempted to disenfranchise their constituents, and participated in encouraging a coup. Remember their names. When they are up for re-election, VOTE THEM OUT.
Sent to the Trib 1/13/2021
FAIR AND BALANCED NEWS
In the 1960's and 70's when you watched Walter Cronkite or Huntley-Brinkley, people had a high degree of confidence that what was said was true. During the Reagan Administration, the FCC Fairness Doctrine was eliminated which stated that stations were licensed to use the public airway but must use due diligence in presenting the news as a public service. When this policy was struck down, it opened the door for the distortions of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. As mentioned in your article, "Fox Business' Lou Hobbs.' (December 26, Trib) 'Fox et al. are propagandists and provocateurs." They distort the news for profit, political bias, and entertainment purpose.
The desecration of our capitol and our democracy that we witnessed on January 6 was a direct result of the lies perpetrated by Fox, OAN, Newsman and on Facebook. We now have a sizable segment of our society that believes in bizarre conspiracy theories, believes Donald Trump when he claims his re-election was stolen no matter how improbable. They are willing to do physical harm to fellow Americans for a lying grifter. If you want honesty back in the news, ask your representative to reinstate due diligence for the media. We must not forget the complicity of the Republicans. Why they continue to enable this corrupt, lawless president who does not believe in democracy but in fact is a fascist. I will never understand.
REAL RELIEF DENIED BY TRUMP
Pat Buchanan was disingenuous when he blamed Nancy Pelosi for stopping the second COVID relief bill in October ("Democracy holding us together," Dec. 23, Trib). He knows full well that for months, Nancy Pelosi had pressed for a $3.4 trillion relief package but Mitch McConnell was a staunch opponent and would only consider a $500 billion bill. Democrats wanted aid for state and local governments while Republicans pushed lawsuit inanity for businesses. Nancy Pelosi compromised and came down to $2.4 Trillion, but McConnell would not budge. On October 6 Trump tweeted,"reject the $2.4 trillion and stop negotiating until after the election." It takes mental gymnastics to blame Nancy Pelosi when the obstruction for months has been Mitch McConnell and donald Trump
Submitted to the Trib on 1/1/2021