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Wishful thinking won’t solve problems


To the Editor: What do the names Glen Fine, Michael Atkinson, Christi Grimm and Steve Linick have in common? They are the names of four inspectors general that President Trump has fired in the last two months. Inspectors general are independent “watchdogs” authorized by Congress to make sure tax dollars are not misappropriated and the actions of their respective departments are legal.

While it is disappointing Mr. Trump does not like or want congressional oversight, it is alarming when he retaliates against those that have done their job or even those that might do their job.

Glen Fine was supposed to lead a panel to keep tabs on how trillions of dollars for pandemic relief were spent. He was fired before he could take his position. The result was 25 percent of the total $2.2 trillion went to fewer than 2 percent of firms getting relief. Ten percent of the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Plan was in loans of more than $350,000, with at least five large companies getting loans of $10 million. Many small, independent companies discovered there was no money left for them.

Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, after he told lawmakers about a whistle-blower complaint that ultimately prompted impeachment proceedings.

Christi Grim, the principal deputy inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, was fired when her office revealed the dire state of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pathogen.

Steve Linick, inspector general for the State Department, opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s use of government employees to provide “personal services” for him and his wife. Mr. Linick was fired Friday.

These retaliatory actions put tax dollars and the country at unnecessary risk. They are a sign of weakness, not the mark of a leader.

America needs a leader. Maxine Luchterhand Unity

To the Editor: With the general election in November still more than five months away, Attorney General Barr is looking for ways he can infuse confusion and scandal in an effort to help re-elect President Trump. Watch for his efforts to rehash the Mueller investigation and threats to sue governors if they do not reopen their states on the president’s schedule.

Just last month, a federal judge questioned whether Barr had redacted portions of the Mueller report in order to protect the president. Two weeks ago, Barr said the FBI’s investigation into the president’s campaign “was one of the greatest travesties in American history,” and suggested it was an effort to “sabotage the presidency.”

The attorney general has been working hard to assemble any information to bolster his assertions while ignoring the results of the investigation. It produced 37 indictments, seven convictions and referred 14 criminal matters to other parts of the Justice Department. It produced evidence the president obstructed justice on multiple occasions and that Trump associates repeatedly lied to investigators about their contacts with Russian agents.

Over 1,000 former federal prosecutors said if any other American had acted in a manner similar to that outlined in the report, they would be indicted for multiple charges of obstruction of justice. The report also resulted in the president’s impeachment.

Barr knows proving the investigation was frivolous is not possible, but the purpose is to “stir the pot” by planting the idea of a conspiracy and sowing discontent. He also knows that threatening governors with lawsuits if he feels their efforts to protect their citizens “impinges on the national commerce” is a publicity stunt in an attempt to bolster the president’s ratings. We have come to expect lies and deceit from President Trump, but shouldn’t we expect more from the Justice Department?

Bryce Luchterhand Unity One example is healthcare. Only through government action can we assure everyone has healthcare and make medical bankruptcy a thing of the past. Medical care and insurance is not and never can be a free market activity even thought we pretend it is. Our discussions should not be about slogans – government run healthcare or death panels – neither of which are on the table. They should be about which changes to our system can best control costs, assure universal access, improve efficiency and quality of care, minimize government interventions, optimize innovation, relieve business of healthcare costs not incurred by employers in other countries and more. This makes me a pragmatist?

I believe that democracy should be nourished. Protecting the tenets, principles and structures of democracy is paramount. We should pay more attention to making sure that democracy works than about any one outcome. Otherwise, we really don’t believe in democracy at all – only when we like the result. I am an idealist?

So let us avoid labels and talk to others about their goals and values. So, liberals – engage a conservative and vice versa. Talk about what you would like society to be for your grandchildren and what kind of lives do you want for them.

Agree on the problem – e.g. too many people on welfare? What is the cause? Is it lazy people – or too many low wage jobs that require welfare or is the perception true. Then work backwards to solutions we can agree on rather than arguing labeled solutions.

Don’t let yourself be led to anger, hostility and solutions by those who want you to be angry. Recognize when the problems are so complex we cannot as amateurs solve them. But, mostly, don’t start with the answer before you agree on the problem.

Emotions are the enemy of clear thinking. Vote for those who seek to shrink our divide, and reject any candidate who seeks to inflame emotions to put us in conflict. Any other path is a threat to the entire American system.

Douglas Lee Marshfield