Letters: 8/10/17

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Need for cars no excuse for Trump voting

What’s so important about buying a new car? [Re: “Trump’s victory and the price of cars,” Danish Plan, Aug. 3, 2017] Why does it have to be new? I’m 80 years old and may be assumed to have been driving for 64 years, and I have never owned or bought a new car; in fact, for several years back when hitchhiking was feasible, I didn’t own any car at all. Used vehicles always served my purposes perfectly well. So I don’t have much sympathy for people who voted for Agent Orange because they couldn’t afford to buy a new car.

Anthony Lee/Lafayette

More to the Russia story

I was glad to see that Joel Dyer’s article, “Pipeline Diplomacy,” [Re: News, July 27, 2017] contained a statement about the flagrant U.S. intervention in the Russian presidential election of 1996: “President Bill Clinton intervened in Russia’s political system and its election process in far more egregious ways than what Russia is currently accused of doing in our most recent election.”

However, the overall thrust of Dyer’s article is unfortunate because it adds to ill-founded and dangerous hostility toward Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin. Dyer’s analysis is built upon an insubstantial and contentious empirical foundation. At least five of its major factual assumptions are open to serious challenge.

First, Dyer assumes that Putin is primarily motivated by concern for money rather than national security.  Yet well over 80 percent of Russian adults express apprehension about the encroachments of NATO on Russia’s borders. Any responsible Russian leader, conscious of the bloody history of invasions, would be gravely troubled by the NATO encroachments.

Second, Dyer takes for granted that Russia hacked the 2016 U.S. elections. Despite incessant media proclamations, no substantial evidence for such hacking has emerged. A number of knowledgeable critics, such as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, provide strong reasons for doubting claims about Russian hacking.

Third, Dyer gives an unreasonably dismal and imbalanced account of the Russian economy. He totally ignores major economic achievements under Putin’s leadership, including substantial increases in disposable income and reductions in poverty. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, recently praised how Russian economic authorities responded to plunging oil prices: “They took the right fiscal measures. They kept inflation under control. They adopted very good monetary policy.”

Fourth, Dyer gives a warped account of events in Ukraine and Crimea, placing virtually the entire fault upon Russian machinations. He disregards U.S. interventions, but claims reliable knowledge of what the majority of Ukrainians desire. Nevertheless, Dyer seemingly doubts that the overwhelming bulk of Crimean people favor reunification with Russia. His account contrasts sharply with the compelling analysis provided in Frontline Ukraine by Professor Richard Sakwa in 2015.

Fifth, Dyer lends credence to the speculation that “Vladimir Putin is now the richest man in the world” and implies that personal wealth acquisition may motivate his political actions. No serious evidence for Putin’s personal wealth currently exists. Moreover, concern for a nation’s overall economic welfare must be distinguished from regard for private wealth.

Given these flawed or highly questionable interpretations, I trust that the claims made in Dyer’s “Pipeline Diplomacy” will engender appropriate skepticism.

Tom Mayer/Boulder

Consider climate change commitments when voting this November

Climate change can be compared to the World Wars, where the countries, states and cities of the world came together to fight a large threat to our world’s wellbeing. I applaud the mayors of Longmont, Lafayette, Nederland and Boulder for signing to adopt, honor and uphold the commitment to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement through joining the Climate Mayors (CM). In doing so, they joined 363 other mayors, including 15 in Colorado. Additionally, Governor John Hickenlooper recently joined the U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA) consisting of 13 other states including Puerto Rico. Another 10 states have pledged their support for the Paris Agreement but are not members of the USCA.

It may be surprising to some that these coalitions are bipartisan and tripartisan. Eleven Democrats, two Republicans and Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party are the governors of the USCA; six Republican and four Democratic governors pledged their support to the Agreement; and many Democratic and Republican mayors and several from the Green Party constitute the CM network. This furthers the notion that climate change is viewed as a significant issue at the state and city levels in at least three political parties, and that the current federal administration and Congress are completely out of touch on this topic.

Our roll in electing the next mayor and our next governor that support these policies is crucial for continued progress on climate action. The USCA and CM coalitions are mostly symbolic. This is where we come in to collectively keep up the pressure to ensure real achievements occur. We must vet them thoroughly before making the decision to vote, based on their past decisions and their current viewpoints. We must research their business ties and their political connections. If the political parties we currently support do not commit, then we need to seriously consider voting for other parties that will. This will take substantial individual effort, and we need to be resilient.

In addition to making sure we elect people to keep us on this path, there is still more to do.

While fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas and coal) currently make up 81 percent of the U.S.’s energy sources, they constitute the lowest level of this mix in a hundred years. On the other hand, renewable energy sources (biomass, hydroelectricity, solar, wind and geothermal) are at their highest level at 10.5 percent.

Longmont’s electricity is generated by the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA), which is a nonprofit owned by Longmont, Estes Park, Fort Collins and Loveland. Around 68 percent of the energy is sourced from coal, natural gas is 0.5 percent and renewables are 30 percent. Boulder, Lafayette, Lyons, Berthoud and Louisville use Xcel Energy, which sources 54 percent of its energy from coal, 24 percent from natural gas and 22 percent from renewables. Substantial progress by both the PRPA and Xcel has been made, but there is much more to do to reduce our collective carbon footprint.

The old argument that fossil fuels are cheaper than renewables is no longer entirely true. Wind energy has become the cheapest while the cost of solar has decreased. One may argue that subsidies make renewables cheaper, but remember that fossil fuels receive subsidies too. Even when removing the subsidies, wind is still the cheapest form of energy and solar is not far behind natural gas and coal.

Together conservatives and liberals need to make efforts to ensure our politicians will continue to take action on climate change, and we must hold them accountable to produce actual results. Our future and the next generations’ future depend on it.

Jake Cseke/Longmont

U.S. sanctions against Russia are hypocritical

Newly imposed U.S. sanctions on Russia, for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and its military aggression in Syria and Ukraine, are hypocritical and dangerous. The bill that imposes sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea passed with a vote of 419-3 in the House and 98-2 in the Senate. In response, Russia has ordered 755 U.S. diplomatic staff to exit its country. In spite of Trump’s ties to Russian oligarchs, U.S.-Russian relations are increasingly more hostile.

The U.S. Congress loves to blame Russia and other countries, while ignoring America’s own dismal track record.  The monitoring group Air Wars is reporting that the U.S. bombing campaign in Syria is now responsible for the majority of civilian deaths. Our regime change policy has failed to bring peace and stability. Apparently, it is OK for the U.S. to kill civilians, but Russia must be held to a higher standard.

Congress is outraged over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, yet the U.S. has interfered in 81 foreign elections by my count. Mainstream media promotes alleged Russian election interference as fact. The declassified intelligence report by the CIA, NSA and FBI (January 6, 2017) provides no conclusive evidence that Russia hacked the DNC and Podesta emails, published by Wikileaks. Why should we trust intelligence agencies that have lied to Congress, overthrown democratically elected governments, engaged in torture and assassinations?

Rather than reform our corrupt political system that Wikileaks exposed, Democrats and Republicans would rather lead us into a new cold war while arming NATO troops on the Russian border.

Mark Rolofson/Boulder

Looking for leadership

After another of our president’s child-like Twitter fits, it’s been brought to light that he’s longtime friends with the owner of The National Enquirer, and that the tabloid has supported him since he announced his run for office. That’s right, the man who denounces long-standing news organizations as “fake” aligns himself with The National Enquirer. I accept that some think network news is liberal, I think the news has sided with conservatives far too often — all news is told and heard through filters. Still, the irony of Trump embracing The National Enquirer and calling The New York Times “fake” should not be lost on anyone.   

Whether conservative, liberal, independent or other — like Hillary or want to lock her up — we should be alarmed that our president, master of creating alternative facts and realities in media, decided to launch a cyber-attack on a couple of small time loud mouth talk show hosts. And, a tabloid magazine threatened to run articles on the loud mouth hosts that would make their lives hell. And, the president’s wife, national spokeswomen for anti-cyber-bullying, approved of her husband hitting back.

President Trump has regularly failed to uphold one of the leadership qualities I admire most: Don’t stoop to their level. Gandhi and his followers did it when the British hit them with clubs. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers did it when whites used dogs, fire hoses, bricks and bombs. Jesus did it when they nailed him to a cross.

Millions of Americans vehemently disagree with many things our president has said and done. And, until Trump demonstrates how intelligent passionate people with opposing views act and communicate constructively to resolve differences, he will not unite us.    

Curtis Griffin/Boulder