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Letters, May 15

Focus on country’s health

It’s inevitable. And coming with a vengeance. There is ample evidence that the second coronavirus wave due this fall will be worse than our current nightmare.

We have the opportunity to prepare. To manufacture and distribute tests, to get ample PPE, to train and recruit medical staff, to reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t through the lens of science, to develop policy regarding who should be able to go to work and who should quarantine. And in the near future we will likely be dependent on another country for a vaccine and their ability, not ours, to produce hundreds of millions of doses.

Now is the time for proactive, not reactive, leadership. For rational diplomacy. For collaborative leadership, rather than adversarial. Unfortunately, as has been demonstrated repeatedly in this crisis, our president is not capable of any of this governance.

Forget the happy talk. This crisis, unless the reckless and incoherent direction changes, will persist and accelerate. This is not the time for diverting attention by blaming China or Obama based on conspiracy theories. The focus needs to be the health of the country.

John Hamilton



As sentient beings we’ve evolved a sophisticated protocol for advancing our understanding of the world around us. It takes an idea from contention (something that could be) to hypothesis (something worth testing) to theory (something providing consistent and replicable results via testing and experimentation). We call this scientific method.

So where do conspiracy theories fall on this spectrum? For the vast majority, theory is a complete misnomer — they are simply contentions. They aren’t tested — and when they are they generally don’t hold water (aka debunked). This is not to say that a “conspiracy theory” might not be true — it has happened — but even then it doesn’t tend to arise to the level of theory because it isn’t about a physical phenomenon but rather some kind of transient (mis)behavior.

So why do conspiracy theories abound? First, they’re free — it takes no expertise, energy, or protocol to simply sound off. Next, they’re comfortable because they generally fit tightly with what the individual already believes to be true. Finally, they put ignorance on an equal footing with scholarship — those who skipped school can out-shout those who skipped grades. And then the Dunning Kruger effect kicks into overdrive.

Dennis Q. Murphy


Timber sale is damaging

The BLM is planning the Poor Windy timber sale just north of Grants Pass, which crosses five different watersheds and intends to harvest old-growth trees of 160-plus years.

It is disappointing that during our current public health crisis and severe drought, the BLM wants to remove old-growth trees. Our old-growth trees are invaluable because of their drought and fire resiliency as well as their magnificence. This devastating timber sale would create a drier, more fire-prone landscape by removing the forest canopy and compromise water quality by increasing sedimentation from new roads.

Fires near communities not only are a risk to our homes, their smoke compromises our respiratory health, creating a formula for more severe cases of COVID-19. During these difficult times we need the BLM to work with our communities to help us become safer, more fire- and drought-resilient.

With a combination of a changing climate, severe drought and public health emergency, I find it completely unintelligent and unethical to remove our last remaining old growth forests. Overall, the sale would jeopardize our quality of life and increase health risks in the Rogue Valley. How can we collaborate to protect our forests and communities?

Clair Highfield


Politicizing the CDC

There was a time not too long ago when the democracies of the Western world, like the United States, would criticize communist nations for the control party members had over governmental activities. Statements coming out of those countries were not to be trusted.

How different is that from the current muzzling of the CDC, the agency that has consistently provided us with helpful, truthful information when we and the world needed it? I guess leading a constitutional democracy is lot harder than being a dictator.

Miriam and Stan Schiffman


COVID-19 and democracy

In 2007 Naomi Klein wrote the seminal book, “The Shock Doctrine.” It explained how disasters, be they natural (floods and pandemics) or intentional (wars and sanctions), are used to garner wealth at the expense of people and nations. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to prove this point as the wealthiest are sure making out like bandits during this disaster.

Corruption smells just as bad no matter what you call it. And elected officials on both sides of the aisle accept bribes, which influence their votes. It might explain why they keep voting to transfer more wealth to their donors. And now in the midst of the greatest unemployment crisis in modern history our legislators are prioritizing a bailout of 501(c)6 corporate lobbyists. It boggles the mind.

We live on a finite planet that is showing definite signs of extremis, yet the growth and profit robber barons blithely continue to pollute with impunity. And it is way past time to trade endless wars for Medicare for All.

COVID-19 might be the impetus we need to rise from our isolation couches and stand up for democracy and people. Maybe we could call it disaster democracy? New Zealand would be a good role model.

Lee Lull


Sheriff should reconsider

Thanks to the effective execution of abatement protocols by dedicated public health professionals and by the whole community (congratulations!) we’re just about to enter the next phase of this fight. A phase with reduced restrictions, but not without continued responsibility to protect each other from COVID-19. We must not ignore the recommendations of scientists, medical professionals, and public health officials who are working so hard to control this scourge.

However, I am very concerned about Sheriff Nathan Sickler’s announcement that his office “will not dedicate any of our limited resources to enforcing [the governor’s executive orders]“ regarding coronavirus restrictions. His justifications seem to be based not on science but on how his office’s actions will be perceived in the community.

Being sheriff is about the safety of the community including, when the situation warrants, its health. His decision is not only dismissive of the first responders and health care professionals who will be on the front lines but also will be confusing to the community at large. The COVID-19 crisis is not over, and for us to imagine otherwise is dangerous.

I hope others will join me in urging Sheriff Sickler to reconsider.

John Severance


The decline of GOP values

The mud-slinging ads for Republican candidates for Congress, District 2, are informative as to how narrow and divisive the GOP has become under Trump, and they reflect his ugly attack tone.

Apparently, to be in line with “our conservative values,” you must tick four boxes: protect the unborn, support the Second Amendment, build The Wall, and lick Trump’s boots. None of the candidates, however, speaks to caring for a life after it is born.

One ad supporting the Second Amendment shows hunters walking in a grain field, which has always been protected in the “radical liberals” proposals for gun control. Building the wall is equated to “protecting American workers,” but the Trump administration has done more damage to wages and working conditions for workers than any in 50 years. One candidate is ruled “too liberal” for having said negative things about Trump.

Even the long-time die-hard conservative columnist George Will has labeled Trump incompetent, corrupt, and ignorant. But Will is educated and thoughtful, and the ads aren’t appealing to his type.

There can be no room for a candidate who does not proclaim absolute devotion to the Fuhrer in the White House. Intelligent Republicans deserve better. Glad I’m a Democrat.

Betsy Shanafelt


How the administration responds

According to an article in the May 11 Mail Tribune, multiple COVID-19 patients are suing China claiming “authorities there did not do enough to corral the virus initially, tried to hide what was happening ... and sought to conceal their actions and what they knew.”

Sound familiar? This is exactly how the Trump administration responded. If you don’t believe me, read the same day’s front page article, “Experts worry CDC is sidelined,” outlining how the Centers For Disease Control has been ignored, overruled and silenced. Last week’s 17-page Guidance, requested by the White House, setting forth specific step-by-step advice for safely reopening the economy, was buried after the White House dishonestly claimed it was not a CDC document. No wonder the U.S. has the highest per capita rate of COVID illness and death in the world.

If readers are still considering contributing to Trump’s re-election committee, in spite of the lies and incompetence, they should know that Don Jr.’s girlfriend and Eric’s wife are both on the payroll of the committee, earning $15,000 per month each. No job descriptions are available. Is that how you want your money spent?

Scott Jordan


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