Opinions are not lies
During “these difficult times for democracy and the American way,” as Dave Lange wrote last week, we are very pleased that the Times continues to provide us with his humor, irony and hypocrisy. We can all use a laugh right about now. Anybody who has ever read the Times knows that Mr. Lange is about as liberal as they come (as are most Times columnists and guest columnists). He believes that “nearly half our country is buying into outright lies,” but could it be that half of the country just doesn’t share his opinion on masks and COVID-19? He also cited one study that wearing masks may have saved 130,000 American lives. Well, anybody with half a brain and the knowhow to do a little research can find plenty of studies and statistics to back up their argument. We can do that, too.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention stats show that, since masks were mandated in Ohio on July 23, cases have continued to increase, significantly. Huh. Most people wearing masks inside of public places (and many wearing them outdoors, as well), and yet cases continue to go up. This obviously isn’t a case of causation, and probably not even a correlation, but maybe masks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Mr. Lange goes on to talk about “responsible citizens who believe in science.” Has he looked at the science (again, straight from data posted on the CDC website) that shows the death to infection rate continues to decline (now down to 1.6 percent of cases ending in death, a stat that holds true in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the U.S. and globally) while the age of death continues to increase (81 percent of deaths are people aged 65 and older, a number that had been hovering around 75 percent for many months). We know precisely who is at risk, and yet many still hide inside, avoid friends and family, work from home and continue to drain the economy.
We find it ironic that while Mr. Lange rails about freedom of speech and letters to the editor, last week’s edition of the Times had not one letter to the editor. Coincidence? Maybe. But considering that we now often see three or four pages of letters in the Times, we’d be surprised. Guest columns are opinion. That’s fine. Mr. Lange is welcome to his, and we rarely bother to read him. Rather than “lies being called lies” as Mr. Lange concludes, why don’t we just say that opinion can be opinion. We don’t like Mr. Lange’s opinion and he probably doesn’t like ours. But are they really lies?
Jim and Nancy Abbott
Hall of fame congrats
Recently I read that Dave Lange, former editor of the Times, was inducted into the 2020 Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.
I want to congratulate him for this very prestigious honor. He certainly deserves it, first for serving our country and then serving our community as editor of this paper for many years. I always enjoyed his columns and usually agreed with his insightful comments and opinions. He was a good writer with a good command of English, which is not always to be found in print media these days. Thanks, Dave, for all your hard work these many years. Enjoy your well-earned retirement.
In memory of Brian Sicknick
By now the charter bus has returned to Chardon and dropped off the conservatives, tea party people and Trump supporters from their trip to D.C. There is one person who will not be returning to his home, Brian Sicknick.
Officer Sicknick, a member of the Capitol Police Force, died as a result of injuries he received during the riot on Jan. 6. He was defending the United States Capital and our elected officials, from the mob.
By now everyone has seen videos and photographs of the riot including attacks on law-enforcement. At this stage pointing fingers and blaming others just won’t work. Asserting that you were peaceful is not the point.
No, instead it is time for personal reflection and soul searching. It is time we answer a question. Is this what we want for our country. We need answer to only two people, ourselves and the memory of Brian Sicknick.
Transparency in park board spending
I write this public letter because I have deep concerns about the Geauga Park District’s lack of transparency with the public and avoidance of public participation.
The Geauga Park District has a pending proposal to amend its bylaws to essentially do two things – (1) change oversight of fiscal operations from the Geauga County auditor (free and independent) to a fiscal officer (an employee paid and accountable only to the Geauga Park District), and (2) change the procedure for amending the bylaws to remove any opportunity for the public to learn about proposed changes before they happen.
I emailed the park commissioners and Executive Director John Oros with detailed concerns about both the procedures used to introduce these proposed amendments (in my opinion, violations of both Sunshine Law and the park district’s own bylaws), and the actual content of the amendments (which I believe remove the only outside oversight of the park district’s day-to-day fiscal operations, substantially increase park district spending, and allow the district to further hide its fiscal activities from the public).
I received no response from any commissioner or from John Oros. In the past, the district has stated that unsolicited communications from the public do not become public record, so I assume that my emails went into the garbage. I have no idea whether or not they were read by anyone before being tossed.
I attended the board meeting on Zoom on Jan. 11. As has been the case for five years, there was no public comment allowed at the meeting. I was unable to ask whether anyone had received or read my email.
The Geauga Park District has plans to spend over $8 million of our public money this year. I am troubled that I, and the rest of the public, are prevented from communicating with John Oros and the commissioners to express our opinions about what they are doing with our money. I am troubled that it is about to become more difficult to track what they are doing with our money. I call upon the commissioners to carefully consider my concerns about the bylaws amendments and reinstate a public comment time at every park board meeting.
One spectacular play
I have just finished reading the last installment of the “Juice Crew” teammates back in the 1980s at Hawken School. My wife and I went to the Hawken Campus one fine fall day to watch a football game during that period as Derek Slesh, a family friend, was Hawken’s quarterback. The school had no stadium so you could just walk up and stand on the sidelines for a great view.
I don’t remember who Hawken’s opponent was, but I do remember one spectacular play. The Hawken defense had held the opponents and forced them to punt. The talented OJ McDuffy took the punt and ran it back for a touchdown. Wait! There was a flag and a penalty against Hawken. The penalty did not result in a first down, so a second punt ensued. We all saw the look of determination on OJ’s face. He would not be denied his touchdown. Once again showing great speed, balance and skill, McDuffy ran it back for a touchdown. Two touchdowns in a minute, but only the second one counted. OJ had put on quite the show.
Horrified and disheartened
Those of you who voted for Donald Trump – either time – and continue to support him are viewed as patriots by him and thousands of your fellow Republicans. I hope that after the rioting in the Capitol you are now ashamed that you so blindly followed such a person. It’s horrifying how you have been led astray.
Even though you may not have been smashing things in the Capitol building on Jan. 6, you are in part responsible because you have supported the madman in the White House for the past four years. And even though, like all of us, you are no doubt horrified by the number of Americans who have died – and continue to die – from COVID-19, you are implicit in their deaths as well because of Trump’s inaction and misleading information.
Just as you are responsible for children being separated from their parents and locked in cages along our southern border. Certainly, you did not cause those personally. Nor did most of the German population during Hitler’s reign killing Jews, gypsies, gays and handicapped people. But they were responsible for letting those things happen. Similarly, Trump supporters are complicit in what his administration has done. Indeed, you have encouraged it. Unfortunately, the damage last week and for the past four years has been done and cannot be erased from history. In spite of having a new president in a few days, America may never recover. I am disgusted and disheartened by the past four years, and especially by last week’s horrifying event in our nation’s capital.
Look in the mirror
It’s become painfully obvious in the last 12 months what unites the left and right probably more than anything else: We’re all bad.
I think this is where we need to begin if we have any hope of achieving any semblance of peaceful unity in this country. Every one of us needs to look in the mirror and see what ugly specks of hate and hypocrisy are reflected there. If it feels unpleasant, think of how unpleasant it looks to everyone else who sees us.
The recent horrifying events at the U.S. Capitol and the various responses to them can serve as that mirror. Just as when you look in a mirror left is right and right is left, the 2021 D.C. riots are like a mirror image of the 2020 D.C. riots. In May of 2020 folks who mostly would have identified as on the left vandalized businesses and burned buildings and cars in response to the killing of George Floyd. Many folks on the right condemned them and called for more aggressive police action, while those on the left criticized the police as the problem. This year’s riots feature individuals on the right causing destruction and mayhem and the left very much in favor of more aggressive police action.
What we criticize in others, if we’re bravely honest enough to look in the mirror, we often see in ourselves. Hostility, hypocrisy and a willingness to cause chaos and do damage are not partisan sins. Though of course our tendencies to do bad things vary by degree. Most of us can’t even imagine ourselves trashing congressional offices or destroying businesses. But have we condemned the same behavior committed by the opposition that we ignored or condoned in those on our side? Have we characterized millions of people as deplorable for the deplorable actions of a few? Do we deep down despise others simply because they have different beliefs and viewpoints than we do?
At the end of the day, left and right, we’re not so different. We’re all flawed human beings for whom being human means failing to live up to our own standards. Failing to always do right and succeeding at often doing wrong.
We can’t have true unity without true humility. Only when both sides see ourselves when we look at each other, and see the hated opposition when we look in the mirror, only then will we see all of us as one.
Leaders need knowledge
Do the good citizens of Northeast Ohio deserve a dope slap, (not literally of course)? But at the election in November they elected Sarah Fowler to be the new state representative for the 99th House District. Did the voters have any idea why they voted for her or what her views were on various issues? She has been on the state board of education now for some time.
When she was running for the state board position, she attended the “meet the candidates night” run by the League of Women Voters at which folks had an opportunity to question candidates running for various offices. I was present at this particular candidates night and asked Mrs. Fowler if she believed that dinosaurs and humans existed on the earth at the same time. She answered in the affirmative indicating she did believe that. Perhaps she acquired that noninformation at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, an institution that claims (incorrectly, I might add that) the earth is only about 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs existed at the same time as humans. The science community has debunked these ideas longer than I care to remember.
If we wish to have a general assembly that makes intelligent decisions at this most critical time in our history, we need folks in the assembly with a knowledge and respect for science and the scientific methods that have served us well and have been instrumental in determining truth for many centuries.
We need more knowledgeable people in these elected positions who know and respect science to avoid unnecessary human deaths like the 300,000 plus that have died from COVID-19 since March and the continued destruction of our earth’s climate and oceans. We and the earth should not and cannot afford to head in that direction.
John G. Augustine
Remove Trump from office
Words cannot express my sorrow at what transpired last week in our nation’s capital. To see criminals ransacking the U.S. Capitol building, violently attacking the Capitol Police and desecrating the seat of our democracy was almost inconceivable. If the Republicans want to decry antifa on the left and scream about socialists and how they are destroying our country they need to also condemn the Proud Boys, the KKK and the anarchist on the right. There is no difference.
Those people who participated in the attempted violent overthrow of our legitimate government are not heroes, they are base criminals who defiled our country. The fact that people wearing T-shirts supporting the police then beat a Policeman to death is insane. The election results were challenged legally and were certified by Republican officials in all swing states and Republican appointed judges throughout the country did not see any evidence of voter fraud. To challenge the constitutional right of states to vote for the candidate of their choice is an act of sedition. If Trump is allowed to get away with his continued lies and calls for the violent overthrow of our government, then he truly can “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose voters.”
He is a demagogue who has used the media to brainwash a large portion of our voters. He could say that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east and his followers would blindly follow him like lemmings over the cliff. The man is a danger to our country and must be removed from office immediately before he gets us all killed.