Letters to the Editor - Lakeville Journal - 1-24-19

The real emergencies need our attention

“Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on.”*

Several thousand immigrants at our border seeking asylum from violence and poverty do not constitute a national emergency worthy of a record-breaking government shutdown and the suffering of furloughed workers and their families. 

What does constitute a real national emergency? 

• 38,600 deaths caused by firearms

• 72,000 deaths due to drug overdoses

• 40 million Americans living below the poverty line

• The suicide rate of Veterans: 1 every 65 seconds 

• A severely strained public education system 

• Decaying transportation infrastructure

• Dismantling environmental protections

• Extreme income disparity

• Porous cyber security

• Racism and white supremacy movements

• Social media spreading propaganda and disinformation

• Climate change.

All the above are real national emergencies. You could probably add a few more. But that’s probably more than enough to send one into therapy.

What can we do? Whatever you are doing now to advocate for the vulnerable, keep doing it. Small acts matter. As best you can, seek truth and name falsehoods. Be passionate for justice and patient for its dawning. 

“Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

*Gospel song linked to the Civil Rights Movement

Sources for statistics: CDC, VA and UC Davis Center for Poverty Research

John Carter



Choose your words well

I appreciate the thoughtful letters to the editor from Tony Piel and Gretchen Gordon over the past two weeks. However, more consideration of the actual word “race” is necessary. 

Like dragons, race is not real. It is an artificial construct based on misinterpretation of “evidence.” Just as early dinosaur bone discoverers mistook their findings and subsequently created the mythical fear and heroism relating to dragons, early European explorers decided that indigenous peoples of darker skin colors were subhuman. 

This allowed (their Christian consciences?) the subsequent genocide, exploitation, and enslavement. Unfortunately for those exploited, powerful economies were built on and fueled by this belief, so it continued with an unstoppable energy founded on greed. Science has shown us that there were no dragons and there are no races, only humans with physical differences such as skin color. One species: Homo Sapiens. No races.

Racism, however, is real and exists. It is a system of behavior based on the belief that differences in skin color and/or culture allow us to treat each other differently (and often badly). 

The word “race” is a foundation stone that supports and implicitly justifies societal racism. Those who are courageous in their introspection will attempt to avoid its use. The words we use to talk about people have power. Choose well.

Jandi Hanna

Speech/Language Pathologist

Falls Village



Truth in poetry and life

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall...

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense...

Good fences make good neighbors.”

Robert Frost

One sure way to know what makes a phrase, poem or play a classic is for it to ring true over time and in different situations.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi certainly knows the truth of Robert Frost’s country folk wisdom compared to President Trump’s folly in demanding billions of dollars from taxpayers to build a wall, or even a steel slat fence, on our southern border.

For Trump to regurgitate tired phrases and flawed reasoning from campaign promises — foolish to begin with — with staged pomp from different White House venues, is an insult to our intelligence and to our pocketbooks.  Doubling down on the insult is his offer of leftover bargaining chips about DACA and TPS protections (which he himself cancelled in 2017), while hundreds of thousands of our compatriots are struggling through payless work schedules during his gratuitous power-crazed government shutdown.  

Britain’s Brexit from the European Union has foundered on the Irish “backstop” on the border between Northern Ireland and to the south, the Republic of Ireland remaining in the EU. Trump’s wall/barrier is no solution to the humanitarian crisis of thousands of separated families and asylum seekers from Central America camping in tent cities. Nor is it neighborly or likely to improve trade relations with Mexico.

Frances Besmer



Poetic inspiration from Tim Abbott

I consistently enjoy the writing of Tim Abbott in the Nature’s Notebook column, and this week I feel compelled to comment on it. His piece titled “Ode to Snow” in the Jan. 17 issue was truly poetic, evoking visions and sounds of a magical, beautiful winter’s day. 


Kay Blass

Falls Village


There are limits on presidential immunity

It comes as something of a surprise that some well-recognized  legal experts, such as Harvard Law professors Laurence Tribe and Alan Dershowitz, continue to be so reluctant to speak out against the three clearly false notions that: (1) the U.S. Constitution somehow bars the indictment of a sitting president for any criminal act he may have committed; (2) the president can pardon anyone, including himself, for anything; and (3) whatever a president does is right and lawful “because the president did it.” 

A moment’s thought should dispel such exaggerated notions of presidential power and immunity. First of all, the U.S. Constitution has nothing to say about these matters. So we have to turn to rational, common sense analysis. One way to do so is to address the following hypothetical:

Suppose a sitting president decided to assassinate all his political opponents, or ordered a subordinate to do so. Would that president be immune to investigation, indictment, trial, conviction and punishment? Could he pardon himself ? Could he pardon the hired assassin? Would the murders be lawful and right  “because  the president did it”?

So what are the rational limits on presidential power and immunity? It all has to do with the degree of wrongdoing. Put simply and clearly:  The president has no immunity from prosecution for first-degree felonies, specifically first-degree murder and high treason.  

However, there is no single definition of first-degree murder or high treason. That is for each court of law and jury to decide in each case, based on established law (stare decisis), if any, and specific findings of fact. For example, if a president were shown to have worked for a hostile regime or enemy nation against U.S. interests, it would be up to Congress to decide whether that constituted an “impeachable” offense, and up to the courts to decide whether a first-degree felony had been committed.

But one thing should be perfectly clear: The notion that a sitting president can never be indicted is patently false, and we should say so.

Tony Piel



Subsidize farmers for wildlife buffers

After having followed the many articles regarding bear control issues, it would seem to me that since we seem to readily accept farm subsidies with little “hoopla,” we should do just one more subsidy to our local farmers who are growing corn crops. How about requiring them to grow so many acres of corn that they don’t harvest and leave it to not just the bears, but the deer, turkeys, Canada geese, pheasants and other wildlife that could forage off of such untouched fields. I, for one, wouldn’t object to my tax dollars going there. 

But, I suppose that would be too simple. I guess it’s much easier to take a gun out. Yes, I understand everyone’s concerns for not only their children, but for their pets, mine included. Still, we must be sensible to all concerned. I just hope that whatever resolution the towns finally come to, it will not be a hunting season on bears. I really don’t think that is the answer. 

Deborah Becker

Falls Village