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LETTERS for the November 8 issue

By Staff | Nov 8, 2018

Politicians are great at organizational sabotage

Do you ever wonder why it seems like nothing ever gets accomplished in local government? Do you see politicians engaged in the following activities?

Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” with long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.

When possible, refer all matters to committees for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committee as large as possible – never fewer than five.

Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste that might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

All of the above come from the OSS (now CIA) Simple Sabotage Field Manual published in 1944.

MIKE SOWERS, Medford, Oregon


Calibrating for fake vs. real news

I teach between 300-400 students every year, and one of the most frequent concerns expressed by them is source reliability.

Welcome to the era of mass gaslighting. Infowars. Trump. Putin. Bin Salman. Fox News.

My advice to those inquisitive students is to consider following or subscribing to at least three sources, making them ideologically different from each other and noting the difference in coverage, the contrasting frames and facts.

Then, for particularly close questioning of gnarly issues, check with factchecking sites like Snopes or the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s factchecking site.

By the time the curious citizen has read from liberal, conservative and mainstream sites, and gone to reputable factchecking sites, that citizen is operating with a fairly high degree of reliability. When you cantilever that over years of experience, validity threats are minimized.

This is not to claim that no nefarious schemes, even conspiracies, exist, but it is to note that they should be thoroughly investigated before declaring them convincing. That investigation may come from independent journalists, independent government investigators or even from opinionated but sincere sources. The key is to document and cite actual evidence, not to cite Alex Jones or Snoop Dog or anyone at all from the Trump organization, Mohammed bin Salman, Kim Jong-un, or Vladimir Putin. Sorry, no cred for you!

After some years of engaging in information verification at a sincere and non-ideological level, after applying the principles of critical thinking and common sense to the admittedly massive raw data stream coming at us 24-7, a person can develop a decent sense for authenticity. I still caution that the need to (in the words of Dear Leader Ronald Reagan) trust but verify never evaporates.

I like Rachel Maddow, but on some issues, I follow up to check. I like Anderson Cooper – same thing. Jake Tapper – him, too. National Public Radio is my go-to daily news, but I fact check them before I make a claim based on their analysis, and I often listen with chagrin as they miss seriously important strands of argument and analysis.

In short, I hope we can at least avoid the spectacle of a bitter partisan debate over whether the sun rises in the east, but let’s at least allow for some context and nuance when judging our opponents’ views.

I believe Trump is a peerless disgrace, but I get his survival techniques and can let them just roll into the dustbin of lies without letting them catch my hair on fire.



Stop giving Trump free publicity

For more than three years, we have seen how the media (press, radio, television, etc.) have been giving free publicity to the candidate and now president, repeating his name and surname constantly. It is valued at more than $2 million in free advertising during the election campaign.

The president accuses the media in the most blatant, insulting and aggressive manner of being the number one enemies of the American people. The aggression to the media is increasing, reaching extreme situations, such as not allowing the presence or even expelling journalists from their press conferences or presentations.

This fanfare is extremely harmful to journalists in the United States and the world. Perhaps we could relate to the horrible attack that suffered the press in Annapolis, Maryland, with the balance of five fatalities.

Attacks on the press are a cruel attack on the Constitution, freedom of expression and the right of every citizen to be well-informed. The damage that is being done to the country in general and to the press in particular must stop immediately and definitively. If the Republicans do not dare, and the Democrats cannot, perhaps the journalists themselves should do it.

The media should boycott the president with absolute silence to everything he says, writes or does. In cases where there is no other choice, they can use alternatives such as “President,” the “Executive”, the “Administration,” etc.

Maybe it does not correspond to me, but it would be advisable that the media dedicate more space to the people, poorly paid workers, to the families who cannot afford medical insurance or take their children on vacation. The rents and housing are becoming more expensive, as well as college.

Please, for the sake of democracy, of the country with our families and future generations, let us all join in the boycott. Do not repeat the name or surname of the president. Please, no more free publicity to the president.