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Down with the kakistocracy


Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, was my 75th birthday. It was a sad birthday indeed, as I contemplated the helpless entrapment of people from seven Middle Eastern countries caught up in President Donald Trump's power net and detained at several American airports. While the rest of us may or may not be oblivious to the human misery in the offing, the net may soon expand to include more and more of us in ways we can scarcely imagine.

As I see it, Trump and his administration are ruining lives with complete disregard. He appears to lack the instinct for mature, steady and fair leadership. Paranoid prevarication is his preferred style, and he is so deeply flawed that he is running roughshod over human rights and decency.

What I am giving myself for my birthday is my voice calling for resistance to this presidency. I would not be on Earth if Canada had not welcomed my grandparents, fleeing persecution, to immigrate about a century ago.

Down with this American kakistocracy, government by the least qualified, most unprincipled citizens.

Phyllis GoldinRiver Falls


Trump: destructive lunacy


PBS recently aired a moving documentary on Rachel Carson, who almost single-handedly launched the modern environmental movement with the publication of her book “Silent Spring” in 1962.

Carson exposed the environmental and health dangers of DDT and other pesticides widely used during and after World War II. Predictably, the pesticide industry tried to smear and discredit her in a way very much resembling our present fossil fuel industry’s attempts to discredit the warnings of climate scientists.

Luckily for Carson and the rest of us, Congress paid attention and, with the support of President John F. Kennedy, banned DDT. We can credit Carson’s heroism for the bald eagle’s return to Wisconsin and other places where pesticides had disrupted birds’ reproductive cycles.

If only our current president and legislators could respond with similar wisdom to the present global threats to our environment.

Instead, President Donald Trump has put up a proponent of big oil, Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, a well-known climate change denier, has a record of attacking the agency he has been recruited to lead.

Early signs point to a radical dismantling of the EPA and gutting of regulations protecting public and environmental health. The incoming administration has already eliminated information on climate change from the agency’s website and imposed a gag order forbidding EPA scientists to

publicly share information that may contradict Trump’s anti-science agenda.

Clearly the natural world doesn’t figure into the president’s balance sheet. He is poised to do lasting damage for short-term gain.

Citizens who care about the future of our planet must steadfastly defend the governmental structures put in place to protect us. We must let our legislators know that we will fight to return to its senses a government that, for the moment, appears to be sliding into destructive lunacy.

Thomas R. SmithRiver Falls   


The truth matters


At a January press conference, new press secretary Sean Spicer repeated obvious falsehoods regarding the size of President Donald Trump’s inaugural crowd, and when questioned by a journalist about these lies, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway insisted that our press secretary had merely presented “alternative facts!”

The concept rang a bell with me, as George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984,” was required reading during my college years. About the totalitarian, manipulative government he envisioned, Orwell wrote, “The Party told you to reject all evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

Forty years ago, I couldn’t have imagined intelligent people accepting such a directive from their political party or government. Now every time I hear someone huff, “You can’t trust any of the mainstream media.” I am dumbstruck.

The rejection of overwhelming scientific evidence on such vital topics as vaccines or man’s contribution to global warming affects me similarly.

Paranoid thinking about the mass media and modern science has now prepped many of us to swallow the biggest helping of outright lies ever served up by an American president. We tolerated repeated boasts, exaggerations and lies during Trump’s candidacy. Perhaps we didn’t realize how that rhetoric would sound coming from our White House?

The lies about crowd size are of minor importance. But lies about three to five million illegal votes being cast for Hillary Clinton — a lie Trump continues to repeat without any evidence — are not. They are dangerous.

Americans are feeling the stress of the radical changes our government is undergoing. Some of us must pick our battles, but none should disregard the importance of separating fiction and opinion from provable fact. As former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Truth matters.

Vicki CobianRiver Falls


Media twist


Ever since the 2016 Democratic Convention’s tribute to Humayun Khan, an American soldier killed in Iraq, I’ve had concern about misleading reporting.

When Mr. Khan spoke of his son, he spoke slow and to the point. He made it very easy to hear and understand what he was saying. It was a very emotional tribute to his son, a fallen American soldier. He clearly stated his son was proud to serve his country, the United States of America. His son didn’t care if you were a Republican or a Democrat; his goal was to protect the United States.

What bothers me is Mr. Khan was very clear about stating his son was an “American Muslim,” American was the first word and Muslim was the second. Every news article or media outlet reversed his words. Was it to sensationalize the term or are they just ignorant?

With the “alternative news” being questioned by the media, I feel it’s time the media take a good look at themselves on their slant of reporting. The media reporting of Mr. Khan’s story was truly their responsibility for reporting incorrectly.

“America First” and its values are a mindset of its citizens and it can’t be instilled by the swipe of the president’s pen or the slant of the media. Our elected leaders should lead by example, not by the alternative fake news examples to be led by.

Tony HuppertSpring Valley


Alternative treatments give him hope                 


Over the weekend I attended the OmTerra Psychedelic Outreach Symposium in Viroqua, Wis. For three days I heard speakers from universities and research programs around the world speak about breakthroughs in treatment for opioid addiction, depression and alcoholism.  

These speakers came from research programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Minnesota, Purdue University, and from as far away as The Imperial College of London. It was an impressive group who believe they have found a new way to treat very old problems.

Alcoholism has scarred too many innocent children and families across Wisconsin. Depression has robbed whole families of the happiness that should fill the halls of a home. Addiction has trapped loved one after loved one in a cycle of substance abuse and left families feeling powerless.

These issues are not ones that impact just our state, these impact people globally.

What I learned about this weekend were new treatments based on a different approach to the problem, ones that addressed the underlying thinking, the "psyche" behind the problem, in an effective way.

One study for treatment of resistant depression found that 100 percent of the participants preferred the treatment to any other previous treatments, and all expressed lasting relief

and benefit from these compounds. Similar results have been found with treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism.

I dedicated the full three hours Saturday, Feb, 4 at the Best Western River Falls Campus to sharing the information. I'm not looking for much, but I am looking for people who have suffered and are suffering through these problems to join me in learning about these treatments.

Honestly, this weekend gave me a lot of hope. I'd like to share it.

Robert BurkeTown of Hudson


PC District voter feels misled


Recently, in the Plum City School District, a referendum was passed to raise money for the school district by raising taxes. Spokespeople of Plum City School District stated the increase to your taxes would only be $263 per $150,000 of assessed value.

In Union Township, taxes due to the referendum increased were actually $384 per $150,000 of assessed value — almost 50 percent higher than indicated. When asked about the discrepancy, representatives implied they had no control over the actual increase. It was also advised that different municipalities were responsible for different values for the same $150,000 of assessed value. Who among us is paying more and who is paying less per assessed value?

If the district had no control over the increase, why would the specific amount of $263 per $150,000 of assessed value have been stated? The voters may only have voted to approve the referendum based on the small amount. How many voters would have approved the referendum if they were told the truth?

The truth is that the district would have no control of the increase amount. Instead the public was misled to believe a nominal increase could be expected.

I do not appreciate dishonesty and deceit. What does this teach the students of Plum City School District? I would not want the youth of this area to learn from this corrupt and unethical behavior. Students should not see leaders within the community using manipulation and misinformation to achieve a result.

Duane KingTown of Union


Change, it's important...


I understand why we might not want to see things change, change is uncertain. Not knowing where we're going makes us uncomfortable. Most of us like things to remain just the way they are.  But think about it for a minute. If we never changed a thing, or tried to improve our systems, where would our country be?

Imagine for a moment that our country is still operating under the concepts of the early 1800s. Education would be limited to young, white men from wealthy families. The right to vote would be based on our gender and whether or not we owned property. If you were a woman, wealthy or not, you couldn't vote. The list goes on, and it's not a pretty picture. Imagine life without electricity, sewers or indoor plumbing. Yes, change is uncomfortable, but change can also bring improvements to our world.

Society changes, it evolves. Cultural evolution and social advancement are forces of change. If you're a woman, and you’re reading this, you should remember that it was just 97 years ago that you were given the right to vote. That is the kind of improvement to our world that change can bring.

The idea of electing new people to steer our governments might be uncomfortable, but it's how the system was meant to work. New people bring fresh perspectives and new approaches to solving problems. New people bring new ideas. It's important to remind ourselves that a few hundred years ago, our system of government was created by fresh perspectives. Making an education the right of every citizen was a new approach. And granting the right to vote to every American, regardless of race, gender or financial position was a new idea.

The next time you're in that voting booth, exercising your right to vote, try to remember these things. Change may be uncomfortable, and it may make us feel uncertain, but it can also improve our world. Without change, you might not be able to read these very words, or for that matter, be allowed to cast your vote.

Kent Carlson

Bay City