Soap Box

Durango Health care a right, not a pawn
10/17/2019

To the editor,

Joe Biden and others argue that National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA) would hurt unions. They say workers don’t want to lose their private, employer-sponsored insurance. Well, General Motors (GM) just proved why we need NIMA.

Fifty-thousand striking members of the United Auto Workers walked off their jobs at GM last month in a fight largely over health-care benefits.

GM is holding workers’ superior health-care benefits hostage, using it as a lure to get workers to cross the picket line. NIMA puts power back in workers’ hands. They wouldn’t need to negotiate for health-care benefits, it would be guaranteed regardless of where they work.

Often unions will sacrifice wage and pension increases and safer working conditions for the generous health-care benefits during negotiations. That’s why some of the nation’s largest unions support NIMA and others are moving in that direction.

Maintaining employer-based health care means handing bosses another weapon to use against workers. If we are truly going to stand with union workers and put power in their hands, we must remove their reliance on the goodwill of their employer. Health care must be considered a human right not a pawn.

Under NIMA, whether you’re working or not, or switching jobs, your health care will be right there with you. Employer-based health care lacks stability. Every industrialized country in the world provides universal health care for its citizens. It’s far from a radical solution.

– Jan Phillips, Durango

Gardner can run but he can't hide
10/17/2019

To the editor,

Republican members of Congress dance and duck and run rather than proclaim, as they have a moral obligation to, that Trump should be impeached and removed from office. The other day I got an email from Sen. Cory Gardner telling me what great things Gardner’s doing. Google him and you’ll read, “Fifth generation Coloradan Cory Gardner is fighting to protect our values and future.” Fighting to protect our values, but not saying a word about Trump’s and his cabal’s despicable efforts to supplant American democracy with autocratic rule? Like most of his Republican colleagues, Gardner runs, but he can’t hide his subservience to the cult of Trump.

– Edward Packard, Durango

I love a parade – and so should you
10/17/2019

To the editor,

In the past, there were parade entrants that packed the south side of E. 3rd Avenue with numerous trailers of decked-out horses and riders, outfitters with their string of mules, dozens of local coaches including Wells Fargo, Budweiser, dozens and dozens of miniature horses/mules, a lady riding a longhorn bull, & other motorless marvels that thrilled families from here, as well as visitors, for an hour or more during The Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Durango.

This last parade clocked in at 12 minutes. The two before, Fiesta Days and the 4th of July were less than 15 minutes.

I am sure local restaurants would be more than happy to give parade entrants a gift of lunch for all the time and energy it takes to be in a parade. Other forms of appreciation should happen as well.

It would be a crying shame if our parades, part of Americana, become a thing of the past. By signing my name to this, I would be happy to be called to help out with our future parades. I am in the phone book. Hope others will participate too.

– Sally Florence, Durango

'1984' is knocking at our door
10/17/2019

To the editor,

In George Orwell’s book 1984 the lead character, Winston Smith, works in The Ministry of Truth, a government bureaucracy. The Ministry’s function is to dismantle truth and build an alternate narrative, one in accord with the wishes of the state. As the state finds it necessary to alter history, the Ministry destroys existing records and manufactures new “old” reports and records.

To many, the focus of news today seems to be our president’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

And indeed, that was a favor Trump asked of the new president of that country. But, the president’s most serious business goes beyond the investigation of Joe or Hunter Biden. In addition, Trump asked the Ukrainian president to search Ukraine for the server of the Democratic National Committee (or DNC) which was hacked during the 2016 campaign. Simultaneously, Trump has involved his attorney general in an effort to discredit the conclusions of the NSA, CIA, American military intel and the FBI that the 2016 hack on the DNC and the larger foreign efforts to influence our 2016 election was the work of Putin’s Russia.

The alternate fact being pushed: The DNC hack, and corresponding campaign tampering, was the work of the then-government of Ukraine. This would be more consistent with Trump’s belief in the appeal Putin made to Trump during their Helsinki meeting in July 2018. According to Trump, during the meeting, Putin told him Russia did no campaign tampering. Of this, Trump first said, “I don’t know why they would have.”

Where is all this going? Too sophisticated to have misidentified the source of the 2016 hacking, etc., American intelligence plotted to wrongly pin those misdeeds on the innocent Russian kleptocracy. For Trump, this  alleged falsification became the basis for American surveillance of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, the Mueller investigation, the conviction of Paul Manafort, and by extension, any current case for impeachment. After all, Trump was not extorting Ukraine but merely trying to get at the truth.

When this is over, Donald Trump would have us all believing that a former government of Ukraine hacked the DNC. Then – as partners in a plot with the FBI, CIA, etc. – aided Hillary Clinton’s campaign and are part of a deep state conspiracy against him, along with corrupt Joe Biden. It is not even too absurd to believe this conspiracy is also at the bottom of the reports of low attendance at the Trump 2017 inauguration on the Capitol Mall. If Trump has his way even that small detail will become part of the re-write of our recent history.

In conclusion, I hardly know what to say. But, the current administration is attempting to move us away from our former allies in Europe, closer to Putin’s Russia, and shockingly closer to the establishment of an autocracy and our own Ministry of Truth.

– Kevin R. Cook, Mancos

Trumps wipes feet on Constitution
10/10/2019

To the editor,

It’s been a busy few weeks as our so-called president tries to recruit foreign leaders to aid his 2020 re-election campaign. At stake is the future of our Constitution, let alone quaint ideas of honor and integrity.

Trump has claimed authority to amend the Constitution by imperial decree – the birthright citizenship that’s part of the 14th Amendment. Lack of Republican push-back was telling. Now he thinks the impeachment clause should be eliminated. The Founding Fathers put it in there for good reason, along with checks and balances and separation of powers.

Then there’s the ongoing and blatant violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause as Trump uses the presidency to enhance his and his family’s wealth. No Republican push-back there either.

First an intelligence agency whistle-blower reported a July phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s new president, seeking his help in digging up dirt on Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter; this right after Trump blocked $250 million in military aid to Ukraine. Trump has admitted the conversation happened. But there was nothing improper, the habitual liar insisted. The partial transcript of the conversation showed otherwise. He responded by also seeking assistance from China to dig up dirt on the Bidens.

Then Trump said the whistle-blower should be charged with treason, along with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff for attempting to assert those checks and balances and separation of powers.

The Constitution defines treason, and investigating presidential wrongdoing doesn’t qualify.

Trump has seeded the Executive Branch with people who will be loyal to him personally rather than to the country, the Constitution or the rule of law; especially the State Department and Department of Justice. Still no push-back from Senate Republicans.

Trump knows he can act with impunity, because his Executive Branch minions and Senate Trumpublicans will protect him from any accountability. The ugly reality that we see here is that our Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on if our elected representatives refuse to uphold it and instead aid and abet Trump’s coup against it.

– Carole McWilliams, Bayfield