Friday December 7, 2018
Departing lawmaker will not be missed.
In “Costello pulls no punches on way out” (Reading Eagle, Dec. 3), U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello showed his true, bitter partisan colors. Some “moderate.” He was installed in a ridiculously gerrymandered district by the Republican Party as part of a scheme that gave the GOP 13 of the 18 House seats in the state, though Democrats have far more registered voters.
The new, much more logical and competitive districts created by the State Supreme Court have resulted in a much fairer outcome. The state now has nine representatives from each party. We also have the first female members of what had been a pale, male and stale House delegation, including the inspiring Chrissy Houlahan as Reading's new face in Washington.
Houlahan is already nationally known as a key leader of the new class of House Democrats. She should be applauded, not attacked, for trying to win a role in the House leadership. This can only result in more clout and more money for our area.
After two terms in the House, it is rather sad that Costello's greatest achievement was a small technical change in a bill on short-haul railroads. Reading and Berks County deserve better than him and his sour grapes.
Congressman shows his true, bitter colors
Friday December 7, 2018
Wrongheaded view threatens our democracy.
Many conservatives revere our brilliant Founding Fathers but mock intelligent people today as “intellectual elites,” as if intelligence is shameful.
The Founders certainly were brilliant, but back then they carried single-shot muskets, wore wigs, and used quill pens and chamber pots. Many owned slaves. The average life expectancy was around 35. They couldn't foresee everything.
They didn't foresee America's eventual size, or that extreme variance in population density would give some citizens over 50 times more representation in the Senate. They expected Electoral College members, once elected, to be free to choose the most qualified candidates, not to be locked into partisanship.
They feared a standing army as a threat to government and wrote the Second Amendment for a citizen militia instead. They didn't foresee military weapons in the hands of right-wing militias formed specifically to oppose government.
They didn't foresee the end of slavery, women's right to vote, civil rights for all or an income tax. Our Constitution is brilliant, but not perfect, as shown by 17 amendments, so far, since the Bill of Rights.
While principles endure, civilization advances in spite of conservative resistance. They insist on a literal reading of the Second Amendment but support today's version of the Electoral College. They believe civil rights and voting rights are open to interpretation, so some states are compounding unequal representation with voter disenfranchisement tactics.
Our representative democracy is threatened.
Civilization advances despite conservatives
Friday December 7, 2018
There's nothing wrong with speaking Spanish in public.
I'm alarmed by the xenophobia of those who complain about Latinos speaking Spanish in public places. This bigotry goes against the American tradition of linguistic tolerance. Pennsylvania Dutch was considered a second language in this region since the 18th century. Today nobody demands that the Amish speak English only. Why ask Latinos to do so?
Linguist Geoffrey Pullum affirms that the demand for English only is filled with hatred and suspicion of immigrants, and that to make English the official language would be like making hot dogs the official food at baseball games. Linguist Rachele Lawton argues that the real motivation behind the call for English only is discrimination and disenfranchisement. The American Civil Liberties Union argues that it is inconsistent with free speech.
When Latinos speak Spanish, that does not necessarily mean they don't speak English. Studies show that Latinos shift to English within a generation or two. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of Latinos, about 6 in 10 are bilingual. The same center in 2011 found that 90 percent of Latinos said that it is important to learn English but equally important that the next generation keep using the Spanish language.
I believe that as a matter of identity in a stressful environment, Latinos speak Spanish in public places, and rightfully so.
Nation has room for more than 1 language
Thursday December 6, 2018
Voters must hold representatives accountable.
A report released by the White House amid the frenzy of Black Friday should at the very least provoke an honest debate about the future of our planet. The fourth National Climate Assessment Report authored by more than 300 researchers makes it abundantly clear climate change is real.
Let's put aside a president who claims to know more than the scientists and appears not to know the difference between weather and climate. I recall Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., bringing a snowball to the Senate floor and claiming it proved climate change was not real. It is no coincidence that he is from an oil-rich state. For those who claim climate change is not man-made, wouldn't the sensible action be to mitigate the change however and wherever possible rather than sitting around and waiting for disaster after disaster? Voters need to hold their representatives accountable.
Push for action on climate issue
Tuesday December 4, 2018
Democrats have good reason for suspicions.
In “Founders set up lasting structure" (Reading Eagle, Nov. 28), letter writer Keith Worley stated that starting in 2016, Democrats said there has to be some malfeasance if they don't win. When he said there has been a pattern of such complaints, I was incredulous.
Yes, there is a pattern, but it is voter suppression by Republicans. Florida set the ball rolling in 2000.
Here are four tactics Republicans use:
1. Purging voter rolls. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris did this in 2000 by removing thousands from the rolls. In 2018, Brian Kemp also removed thousands from the rolls in Georgia for dubious reasons.
2. Making it harder to vote. This includes moving or eliminating voting places and reducing time for early voting. In recent years Georgia has closed 214 polling places.
3. Making unreasonable voter ID requirements. The most egregious recent example of this was in North Dakota. Its new voter ID requirement included having a valid address. State officials did this knowing full well that Native Americans living in rural communities have no addresses. A voter ID law here in Pennsylvania was struck down. The cry of Republicans of voter fraud is false. Judges have noted that voter ID is a destructive solution for a nonexistent problem.
4. Gerrymandering. Pennsylvanians know this very well. The courts struck down our congressional map, as it unquestionably favored Republicans. This is common in Republican-controlled states.
Yes, there is a pattern of voter suppression, and Republicans have used it for years.
Judith M. Matuszak
Voter suppression is GOP strategy
Monday December 3, 2018
Concerted effort needed to fight global warming.
From 1941 to 1945 our nation mobilized to convert the national economy into a war economy. In less than four years the United States produced more than enough defense materials and trained the personnel to win World War II across two oceans, defeating enemies on the land, on and under the sea and in the air.
It's high time for this nation to lead the world again in fighting for the life of planet Earth from the ever-increasing ravages of climate change. President Donald Trump must get onboard with this planet-wide emergency immediately. There is no more pressing challenge facing this or any other nation. If Trump's not onboard, he should be forced to resign for dereliction of duty to protect this nation and its people.
I urge readers to contact members of Congress and demand action before the new congressional session begins in January.
Let's mobilize to save planet
Thursday November 29, 2018
It's foolish to suggest civilians should carry military firearms.
James Dailey claims the Founding Fathers intended for individual citizens to be armed with the same weapons as the military (“Second Amendment protects Americans,” Reading Eagle, Nov. 21). When the Second Amendment was quilled, the military was armed with the same weapons a 13-year-old boy would use to shoot turkeys, geese and polecats. This didn't withstand the test of time. We're not quite that quaint anymore.
If one believes the individual citizen is constitutionally intended to have the same weapons as the military, then the smart thing for our pseudo-Second Amendment savants to sloganize is, “If you take away machine guns, you have to take away cars with machine guns mounted on their hoods.”
If it's sane to arm society with military weapons, then it's crazy not to protect school kids with them.
William R. Fretz
Second Amendment reflects different time
Tuesday November 27, 2018
Choosing the right power supplier and putting pressure on lawmakers can make a difference.
Regarding "Federal climate report: Damages 'intensifying across the country,' " (Reading Eagle, Nov. 24): We all wish we could ignore this report, but its conclusions are stark. It says that we must act aggressively to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment and human health. Here are two suggestions for actions people can take right now to improve our chances of avoiding these damages:
1. Pennsylvanians can choose an electric supplier that uses only renewable sources, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that go into our atmosphere at a minimal additional cost. Make the change at www.papowerswitch.com.
2. Encourage representatives in Congress to support a select committee to create a Green New Deal, legislation that can match the scale of the climate change problem and create good new jobs. Contact information is at www.house.gov.
People have the power to fight climate change
Monday November 26, 2018
Let's come together to build a stronger country.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is the golden rule that I was taught in church growing up, and is a guiding principle in many religions and cultures. Ironically, some of the same people that I used to sit with in church are those who are supporting the hate-filled rhetoric of the current administration.
I urge everyone who is reading this to take a good, long look in the mirror, a look at your parents, your children and your grandchildren, and to remember where we all came from. Unless you are of Native American descent, you are the descendant of immigrants.
Immigrants have made this country the beautiful melting pot that it is. Different cultures bring forth different ideas, from which we all grow and evolve. Each of us is different and unique. What we look like on the outside has no bearing of who we are on the inside, which is why we all demand the respect of one another.
It is time to put an end to the hatred and bigotry in our country and work toward positive change. Let's come together to build a stronger United States of America!
Immigrants key part of our United States
Friday November 23, 2018
America has wandered far from the vision of our Founding Fathers.
They believed that laws, not heavily armed sovereign citizens, protected us from an authoritarian government.
They designed a representative democracy, but they couldn't foresee the eventual size of America, or the extreme population divergence.
Two U.S. senators represent Wyoming's 580,000 residents. California's 39.5 million people also get just two senators.
Seven states each have fewer than 1 million residents. Four have over 20 million each.
The 25 least populated states hold only 17.37 percent of Americans, yet they are represented by half our senators.
This under-representation of the most densely populated states carries over to the antiquated Electoral College, allowing losers of the popular vote to become president.
Four of our Supreme Court justices were nominated by presidents who lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College, which long ago outlived its purpose.
Those nominees were approved by our grossly lopsided Senate.
An earlier Supreme Court decision allowed unlimited contributions to elections through Super Political Action Committees.
Jane Mayer's book, "Dark Money," thoroughly reveals details.
The justices also gutted the Voting Rights Act, allowing many states to hurriedly make laws kneecapping voting rights for minorities.
The rural states, and the very rich, can now overwhelm the voting power of large majorities.
We can no longer call ourselves a representative democracy when so many citizens aren't equally represented.
U.S. government model outmoded