Third-World America

What describes a third-world country? Poor infrastructure for transportation, communications, clean water, clean air, education, healthcare, or social safety nets — lacking the basics of an affluent country. Often run by absurdly rich tyrants who avoid taxes while most suffer in poverty. Corruption is rampant, enabling an impenetrable lock on power and wealth.

These illustrate many disturbing parallels to U.S. trends. Since the 1980s, median income has barely increased, while U.S. GDP per capita grew 60 percent. Who’s skimming the growth? The top one percent of income earners, especially the top 0.1 and 0.01 percent. There’s no way the ultra-rich can spend much of their income, so they keep investing it to make more money and net worth becomes their sole measure of personal merit.

The hoarding rich profess a tidy philosophical foundation, “greed is good”, which justifies dismantling government and forcing people to fend for themselves.

Don’t be fooled by their continuous rhetoric like investors needing more money to create jobs (widely disproven — people spending money create jobs); or needing to cut regulations (endangering society with unaffordable healthcare, polluted air or water, unsafe airplanes, etc.); or to cut Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, etc.; or to cut government wastefulness (true in any large organization, but not justification for dismantling government functions). “Liberty” usually means liberty to continue their class warfare. “Free trade agreement” means expanded investor rights, etc.

Instead, follow the money. Some billionaires are investing in corruption, by pulling puppet strings on the Republican Party (plus a few Democrats). Their networks of think tanks, money laundering and political spending are extensive, strategic, wealthy, and secretive.

Their tactics also promote divisive distractions from their real agendas. Abortion? Gun control? Race riots? COVID-19? Dysfunctional President? The ultra-rich cunningly use these hot-button issues for smokescreen.

Now we must urgently create a sustainable integration of compassion, integrity, and capitalism. In 500 BC the Buddha noted that compassion is a logical implication of our interdependencies — what’s good for you is also good for me. Like limiting the spread of infections.

Beware, and vote!

Eric Strid

White Salmon

Voting for Long

Open letter to Jamie Herrera-Beutler:

I have given up hoping you will change in your undying support of Trump. Three-plus years and here we are. The erosion of our constitution, destruction of the environment, total failure in dealing with a world health crisis, isolating our country from the world, lies, fabrications, and spewing hatred has been tolerated by his toadies like you. It will take years to heal our country. Thanks for nothing, Jamie.

I am moved by James Mattis. “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.“ I am holding you accountable.

I support Carolyn Long for 3rd district Representative.

Barbara Beattie

White Salmon

Crash course

Americans are getting a crash course in psychology 101 and how the fight-or-flight response affects human behavior. Threats of physical or psychological harm cause the body to release adrenaline which helps us run away from or kill a threat. Once this process takes place the mind switches from rational thought to survival at any cost.

The death of a George Floyd by law enforcement has triggered nationwide outrage over what many people consider an ongoing pattern of inappropriate policing and treatment of people of color. People have gathered without regard for the coronavirus or their own safety simply to express how pained they are with the state of our society. This is the scientifically-based explanation about why the response is irrational on one level.

Even presidents can be affected by the fight or-flight response. When given an opportunity to maintain a level head and demonstrate leadership, Trump allowed himself to feel threatened and responded in kind. He could have used the opportunity to acknowledge Americans’ struggles, including job loss, food insecurity, or being born not white. Instead, he threatened protesters with rabid dogs, weapons, and the force of the U.S. Army. He told U.S. Governors they needed to “dominate” protesters, make arrests, and put people in jail for a long time. Anyone not doing so would look like a jerk.

President Trump has lived a privileged life and never faced any of the issues so real and gut-wrenching for many Americans. He has no valid reason for behaving in this manner. Once again, he is acting in a manner which is embarrassing to the Office of the Presidency and the American people. THAT is why people are protesting.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Fight for families

In medicine, we are taught, “First, do no harm.”

While coronavirus rates in Yakima remain among the highest on the entire west coast, and essential agriculture workers are disparately impacted, Rep. Chris Corry has been suing to open up prematurely and unsafely, gambling lives and damaging our ability to restore our economy.

Litigation instead of leadership costs lives, hurts our economy, and fails to restore freedom. We all want to get back to work and to a more normal life. Doing so safely means agreeing upon a set of achievable goals and then doing the hard work to make them happen.

Leaders during a crisis have the potential to unite and the responsibility to try. Filing frivolous lawsuits and undercutting local public health workers costs lives and puts us all at risk. As a physician and a mother, I’m running for Washington State House of Representatives because I’d rather fight for our families than intubate them.

Tracy Rushing, MD

White Salmon

Supporting grads

White Salmon’s Project Graduation Committee would like to extend a HUGE Thank You to all the businesses and individuals who have come together to honor our graduating seniors under these less than optimal conditions. More than 40 local businesses donated gift certificates and money to the Project Graduation Committee, which had planned to offer all seniors a non-alcoholic celebration the night following graduation. In addition, several dozen parents came together to make, sell and purchase tamales through our February tamale sale.

Sadly, we will not be able to hold our event as planned due to COVID-19 restrictions and our concern for everyone’s health. In lieu of this, we have decided to purchase and distribute local gift certificates to all graduating seniors, in honor of their achievement. A list of all donors will be included with the gift envelopes given to each senior.

It is truly inspiring to live in a community that supports its youth the way our community does.

Leigh Hancock

Project Graduation Committee

White Salmon

Black Lives Matter

May 25, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was assaulted and violently murdered by a white police officer. You and l know this is not right. I don’t want to grow up in a world where prejudice and discrimination cloud people’s judgments, forcing them to make horrible racist decisions like this one.

When I first heard this news, my first reaction was, “This can’t be real,” but then I thought, “Of course this is real because this is the terrible world I am growing up in.” A stupid, stupid world full of stupid, stupid people who, because of someone’s skin color, would kill them. Am I the only one who realizes how ridiculous this is? Imagine that was you, imagine you are walking down the street when a police officer grabs you and starts choking you, you tell them they are strangling you, you call for your mother, but no one comes, no one stops to help you, and you die there, at the hands of that police officer. Just because your skin is different from theirs. So, in solidarity with George Floyd, please put a “Black Lives Matter” sign in your window.

Thank you,

Sylvia Perrin, age 11

White Salmon

Act locally

In the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, I urge my friends and neighbors in Hood River County to step up and advocate for justice and an end to police brutality. It is easy to imagine that our small community is separate and immune from the violence we see on the news and on our social media. We stand in solidarity with the grief of seemingly faraway violence in Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia — and we need to take action at the local level. We cannot see ourselves as an exception; we have all inherited a societal legacy that puts white community members first.

We need to ensure that our own officers are outfitted with body-worn cameras, are trained in deescalation and implicit bias, and are held accountable for inappropriate police conduct. We need to know that there will be consequences for officers who violate their oath to protect and serve. We need to advocate for alternatives to police responses by supporting community outreach partners in mental health, domestic violence, and addictions services.

We need to examine ourselves, our workplaces, our institutions, and our local governments to identify where we have fallen short and what concrete steps we can take to ensure justice, equity, and nonwhite voices in leadership.

No justice can be served if we remain silent as officers around our state and our country continue to commit violence against people of color. What steps will you take? What will you demand of your local government? Your state government? Your country?

Sullivan Mackintosh

Hood River

A safe public

On May 19, Hood River County approved a “public safety” tax of over $2 million a year to pay for more policing. County Administrator Jeff Hecksel explained in "May 19 Primary Election: Hood River County voters will consider public safety tax," published April 22, that this tax will stop planned cuts to county services. Only the sheriff’s department, however, will receive additional money to increase its staff. This also means that if the county budget were to take an unexpected hit (say due to an economic crisis precipitated by a pandemic), the sheriff’s department’s budget will be protected and only our other services such as the health department, the parks, the Master Gardener program, veteran’s services, the museum, GIS mapping, elections, and many, many more, will be at risk.

What we invest our resources in, we grow. The tax levy approved on May 19 was to fund “public safety.” As we have been reminded yet again this week, policing does not represent safety for everyone. What could we invest our “public safety” dollars in that would mean more safety for our black and brown and indigenous neighbors? For those with mental illness or those who lack safe housing?

The budget is due to be adopted on June 15.

MariRuth Pretzing

Hood River

Murdering of America

Trump’s comment, “We need to dominate to show power and strength,” shows he does not understand or just doesn’t care about the citizens of this country…George Floyd was murdered by four cops because those four cops felt they needed to “dominate” him with demigod-like power they feel entitled to.

Trump is acting like a demigod of a free country, a dictator wannabe. He craves power at any means even at the expense of the American citizens. We need to fight for our freedom and vote him out. And since the Republican party is standing by and not standing up to all his crimes and self-serving actions, they are “complicit” to all his actions and crimes and need to be voted out of office.

To violently remove peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., so he can walk to a church hold up a Bible for a photo-op is so disgusting; I was fully expecting the Bible to burst into flames in his hands as this deed was so evil, it is shocking to my soul.

A man was murdered before our eyes, and those four murdering him just did not care. We the people are outraged and protesting, this is a right our Declaration of Independence allows us. It also gives the people the right to change and do away with a government that is not working for the people. The protesters are proclaiming “this government is not working for us, you are abusing and murdering us, STOP!”

The Senate needs to be taken away from the republicans for they have all failed in their duties.

For the preservation of our constitution and our liberty we need Trump and his Republican demigods removed from office.

Tina Tirani

Cascade Locks

True representation

I have been seeing more and more letters to the editor that talk about not being represented by their representatives. I have to say that is very much true here in Oregon and all over America. How lacking is our representation?

Well, according to Article 1, Section 2 in our Constitution, it says that, “The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000.”

Let’s take a look at that and see how that is working.

Right now in Oregon, we have five representatives (not including the two senators) for 4.218 million people (according to Google). That is 843,600 people per representative. Instead of having 141 representing, we in Oregon have five.

Senators were originally not elected by the people according to our Constitution because they were the state's voice, so I left them out. Congress didn’t like the states having a say, so the 17th Amendment got rid of the state’s voice, but I won’t get into that.

Let’s look at America as a whole now. According to the Census (May 27, 2020), we have 329,712,953 people here. We have 435 representatives in the House. That means we have one representative for about 757,961 people.

According to our Constitution, we should have about 10,990 instead of 435. Do you still feel represented after this?

I write this to hopefully get my community interested in our Constitution and to find common ground so we can come together and start fixing things. It benefits all of us and future generations not yet born to starting coming together to talk.

I thank Columbia Gorge News for letting me have space in their paper and I thank all the people for taking the time to read this.

Doug Geary

Hood River

Leadership

We are not so different from those around us if you take away the more divisive issues and focus on the things we agree on. I’m not suggesting the more complicated societal issues aren’t important, but by continually building in areas where we agree, it gives us space to create change on those harder topics.

Good leadership on all levels is important for a healthy society. I get a lot of inspiration from anyone that works under extreme pressure and stays grounded such as, militarily personnel, astronauts, pro athletes and their coaches, business owners etc. We are better served when there is more compromise and less divide-and-conquer.

Avery Hoyt

White Salmon

Elimination point

I greatly appreciated the detailed account the Columbia Gorge News published about the Memorial Day weekend rescues on Mount Hood. I’m not sure if the article made an inadvertent error or an insider joke by referring to Mount Hood’s Illumination Saddle as Elimination Saddle, but there was dark humor in the misnomer, regardless. Illumination Saddle affords a safe and gloriously scenic rest stop for climbers, skiers, and other backcountry travelers high on Mount Hood’s southwestern flank. It also offers one of the few relatively flat and sheltered campsites far above tree line on the mountain, and as Shakespeare famously observed, there’s the rub. Indeed, if you arrive at the saddle after an inconsiderate group of campers has been there, you might well conclude that Elimination Saddle is an appropriate name for the place. Don’t pollute the mountain by leaving your waste behind — pack it out! In this year of COVID-19, the pack-it-out practice has more importance than ever, as many trailhead restrooms may remain closed.

Richard Iverson

Hood River

‘Noisiest authorities’

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insist on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” — Charles Dickens (1859)

Mike Stroud

Hood River

Masks, respectfully

Please respect our front line workforce by wearing face coverings when shopping. As a retail sales person, I interact with hundreds of people every week. At my retail location, we require the use of face coverings.

Despite our very direct signage, I often have to kindly request that customers cover their face with something, anything. Most of our community members have no problem with this most basic of requests. A few times a day, I encounter a customer who is dead-set on not wearing a face covering and I kindly ask them to cover up or be on their way. On several occasions, I have been mocked or verbally abused by customers refusing to wear face coverings. As a shopper, please keep in mind that those front line workers, like myself, are putting themselves out there every day to serve you. When serving you I want to be able to effectively help you, even in close proximity. In order to do so, you are going to have to wear face coverings.

If I can wear a mask for seven hours straight, you can muster the respect to put one on for 10 minutes when interacting with our front line workforce. I encourage other retailers to have the courage to require face coverings to provide an extra level of safety for your front line employees. Happy shopping.

Steve Carlson

Executive director,

The Gorge Rebuild-it Center

HOMV and HWIP

Like all honest Americans, I’m horrified by the video of a duly sworn officer committing cold-blooded murder in broad daylight on the streets of an American city. While it is impossible for me to fully understand the harassment that people of color experience on a daily basis in the “free” country where “all ... are created equal”, I understand their anger and pain. I’ve been harassed by cops a dozen times solely due to HOMV (hippie operating a motor vehicle) and HWIP (hippie walking in public). In 11 of those occasions, I’m still alive to write this letter solely because I’m white.

The 12th time, I survived thanks to Captain Johnson, as he responded when the scaredy-cat cop called for backup. Fortunately, the African-American Captain was a regular customer at the restaurant where I worked. He made the private apologize to me right there on the street, and kept apologizing for several weeks when stopping in for lunch.

I also have a choice. I could keep a nice buzz cut with clean-shaven jowls, wear a suit and tie, and lie, cheat, and steal with impunity. But I don’t. Because I too share the dream of my idol and mentor, that one day a person will be judged by the content of their character, the selflessness of their actions, their compassion for all living things (instead of just unborn fetuses), and not by the color of their skin, not by the cultural heritage of their ancestors, not by the value of the trust fund inherited from their grandfather.

Jeff Zipfel

The Dalles

Hoax?

Google “Europa hoax” and you’ll find many sources reporting about a social media hoax, perpetrated by a white supremacist group, that mirrors what happened to Hood River on Monday, June 1.

Did the Hood River commissioner and police department base their reaction on a social media post from a new Instagram account with 15 followers and a misspelled name? Or is there concrete evidence of a real threat? I’ve seen “Patriots” parrot rumors about people turned around at the offramp, but I’d like to hear from the commissioner or HRPD that a legitimate threat was thwarted.

Jay Chrisman

The Dalles

Wrong approach

Your emergency alert seemed intimidating. Warning us not to go downtown. You are taking the wrong approach. Peaceful protest is our right. The notice should have emphasized that our police stand in solidarity with the peaceful protesters.

As police sworn to serve and protect the public, they too are horrified by the murder of an innocence man. In Michigan, the police stood with the protesters and the demonstration stayed peaceful. The widely-broadcast police alert seemed to imply knowledge of outside agitators coming to Hood River to instill violence. I doubt this is true. We have had protests here in the past and they have always been peaceful. The alert was intimidating. I felt like I was being warned not to go downtown to participate and express my distress, or else ... Wrong approach. Try again.

Broadcast how our police are with us. That our police use force appropriately and only as a last resort. Police need to be a valued and respected partner in keeping our community safe. Trust, not intimidation. Try again.

Lee Greenwald

Hood River

False alarm

On the day of June 1, the Hood River Police Department rebroadcast a message about a fake threat to the town, as well as created a highly reactive situation with local businesses. This message was then picked up and shared via social media posts and direct communication by local citizens.

While I would never pretend to be a detective, I was able to discern quickly that the graphic/message was not legitimate, as the police department should have been able to do. Not only was there partner city evidence from days previous and social media take downs, but also the circumstances also didn’t make logical sense.

The day after, it was widely reported that these messages were sent out by white supremacist/nationalist groups to stir up suburban and rural communities and incite violence. I would say their goal was achieved — and the town assisted. Extremist group members and local amateurs armed up and patrolled the streets of downtown Hood River, both during the peaceful protest, as well as that evening. Well-intended but nervous civilians could have easily created an unintentional, violent situation. Or, those who confronted the armed visitors to our town could have been thrust into a tragic, irreversible situation.

In reading the follow-up article on June 2, the department in no way walked back, or apologized for this action. I trust our local law enforcement to handle these situations as they arise and keep our town safe. I applaud their service and diligence to protect the people of our community. However, this situation was avoidable and dangerous. We deserve, at minimum, public discussion about what our enforcement groups will put in place to improve at handling these situations moving forward.

Richard Stillwell

Hood River

Celilo support

While the COVID-19 has impacted all, it has been particularly challenging for local restaurants. I would like to publicly commend the efforts of one of these, Celilo Restaurant in Hood River.

On March 16, Celilo Restaurant closed their doors. However, the owners were soon looking into ways to support their employees and community. What began as simply cooking for restaurant staff, an effort directed by chef Ben Stenn, evolved into feeding other community members. They assembled meal kits which were delivered twice a week by small teams of volunteers and eventually they were providing for 50 Hood River families. The effort continued to grow with donations and discounts from local producers (Flour to Flower, Oak Rose Farms, Ice Box Bakery and SP Provisions). Over 1,000 meals have been distributed throughout our community!

“These challenging circumstances have brought out the best in people. The generosity of spirit is thriving in the quiet storm that is our daily lives,” said Stenn.

In addition to supporting Hood River, a recent request came to help “In-Lieu Fishing Village of Celilo” in Wasco County. This request had special meaning for Celilo Restaurant, as “gathering together to exchange meals and goods, energy and human spirit” was an inspiration for the restaurant’s beginning. On May 27, 50 meals were delivered to the people of Lone Pine Village and Columbia River fishing communities.

As businesses are allowed to reopen, Celilo is balancing concerns for the safety of its patrons and employees with the desire to do what they love — make delicious food and provide a beautiful setting in which to enjoy it. They have launched “Celilo dinners at home,” meals that can be purchased on their website, picked up at the restaurant and enjoyed at home.

I am amazed and humbled by the efforts of Celilo and all the members of our community who have reached out to support and care for one another throughout this uncertain and difficult time. Please remember to support local businesses and restaurants so that they can survive, thrive and continue to and enrich our towns.

Karen Heineman

Hood River

Thanks but no guns

On Monday, May 29, I stood in solidarity with hundreds of community members to name and condemn the virus that plagues our nation — that of systemic racism. I suddenly realized that I had literally chosen a spot next to two older white gentlemen with semi-automatic rifles who were not there to peacefully protest, but were there to “see what was going on and to protect the courthouse.” It frankly looked and felt like pure intimidation. I felt sick. I was frozen in place. I looked at the gentleman with the gun and found my voice and said that children and grandchildren were here and that it was really not the right place to have weapons. I was not so effective.

I’m grateful to a young woman named Andrea who engaged one man, Mike, in conversation about the rally and what it meant for her to be there. In Mike’s own words, he was getting schooled by a friendly local. I’m also very grateful to the young couple whom I know are active in Peace Village who quickly diffused an escalating argument between a woman protester and the other man with the rifle over his shoulder. They handled the conversation directly and intelligently. Thank you for your words and actions. When Mike’s wife arrived toting a pistol on her hip, I was incredulous. Were people really allowed to walk around with rifles, pistols, hatchets and bats in our town? I found out that indeed they are.

Later that evening, as I laid in bed with my youngest child, I felt overwhelming anxiety as a plane circled and circled the downtown area and knowing these (overwhelmingly white male) vigilantes were out “protecting the town.”

I began to think that perhaps I should recognize that these men and this situation afforded me the unique opportunity to feel fear. To feel fear and vulnerability in my own town, the way so many black people feel fear on a daily basis. So I say to the grandpa with the gun — thank you  — and now put the gun away.

Nicole Goode

Hood River

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