Freedom to offend

Driving down Fifth Street yesterday, I followed a big red pickup with the words “F___ Biden” stenciled across its rear window. The tailgate stated “F___ Inslee” next to a middle finger.

Later, at the Verizon store, staff politely reminded a customer that masks are required. She turned on her heels, marched out the door, got into her vehicle and zoomed away, tires squealing.

In Arizona, a school principal, following local health district protocols, ordered a student who had been exposed to COVID to quarantine. The child’s parent and two others confronted the principal with zip ties, threatening a citizen’s arrest. Police were called. The school superintendent told The Washington Post, “One of the most powerful tools as adults is the behavior that we model to young people — and the behavior that was modeled today makes me really sad.”

The behavior I’m seeing all around this city, state and country is making me sad, too.

In Texas, in Marysville, and right here in River City, parents shout obscenities and disrupt school meetings over the wearing of masks.

When I was a kid, parents lined us up for the polio shot, grateful to God, government and science for sending a vaccine against a disease that was killing and paralyzing thousands. Today, parents protest the tiniest bit of protection — a thin layer of cloth — to provide the bare minimum against a life-threatening, highly contagious virus.

All in the name of what — freedom? Freedom potentially to hurt others by choosing to ignore science-based recommendations, or at the least, common sense?

If you want your freedoms back — freedom to travel, to visit friends and family, to send your kids to school and daycare and the playground, I urge you to get vaccinated. At the least, please wear a mask.

And for those of you who think it’s OK to stream obscenities across your vehicles, well, there’s not much I can say to you. I have a feeling that my reaction — deeply offended, saddened and somewhat fearful — is exactly what you were aiming for.



Reform must come from inside Afghanistan

I wouldn’t dispute the Afghan withdrawal has been a muddled mess as per the letter Lipstick on a Pig (Aug. 28).

My main complaint comes with stating troops who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country is for naught. No amount of heroism can ever ease the pain families of fallen soldiers suffer. However, a grateful nation should never dismiss their sacrifice because a war wasn’t won.

War isn’t initiated by privates or corporals, who fight the battles. It is waged by generals, politicians, and members of the elite military industrial complex who often enjoy enormous monetary benefits from continuous conflicts. The book “Afghanistan Papers” by Craig Whitlock can shed some light on the failures of the Afghan War, and the lipstick that was painted over those mistakes by high-ranking officials.

Biden like another underestimated President Harry Truman did the hard work of ending a war. Biden’s war of 20 years wasn’t ever going to be won and Biden faced that fact squarely with resolve to end the madness. Biden will take the majority of heat for the messy withdrawal, but some heads should roll at State and the Pentagon.

We could rehash Bush’s lack of execution and inability to end the Afghan war before invading Iraq, or Obama’s lack of courage to end the war after eliminating Osama Bin Laden, or the Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s inept negotiations with the Taliban, but that is in the past. Only Biden has had the courage to say enough already.

Few Americans in Afghanistan heeded State Department warnings to leave Afghanistan ASAP in the months ahead of the evacuation. The arduous visa program established by the U.S. Congress impeded the successful departure of many friendly Afghans. The rapid ascent of the Taliban was severely underestimated as was the government collapse, and Afghan troops’ surrender. Yes, some were left behind, but an astounding number got out with the aid of disciplined U.S. troops. Reality demands our skepticism of a reformed Taliban, but true reform for Afghanistan can’t come from the outside it has to come from within.



Hello, Governor Inslee, Hello?

Inslee: I am a local landlord and I have tried to contact your office over 200 times (can’t get thru by phone) but have sent numerous emails, of course with no response.

I can’t believe we finally had a chance to collect rent after the completely unfair moratorium then you come out with this moronic proclamation that nobody understands? The pilot program that isn’t in place?

How could you be this unfair? Tenants don’t have to pay rent or utilities and we can’t evict, but we have to pay mortgages, taxes and utilities with no help from our useless governor? I can not tell you how disgusted I am with you!

Here is a thought since I am paying your undeserved salary (taxes): Maybe you could take a cut in pay or find a way to release the $350,000,000 you have to help not only the tenants but the landlords too? Oh and by the way, nice job in Seattle. Terrible!

I would ask for help but I know that’s not how you work. You only care about your re-election and taxing this state to death. You really should be ashamed!



U.S. has a history of immoral and unjust wars

9/11. An unnecessary loss of lives, not limited to that day.

Tragic and unnecessary also, were the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani lives we took as payback for justice.

Democrats and Republicans voted for both wars. They continue to vote for the defense-spending bills even though we have lost every major war since WWII. Feel safer?

Not only does our military machine own a poor performance record and a wastes loads of money, it has resulted in millions of deaths from Korea and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. Add that to the tragic results of our dirty wars in Central and South America and you’ve got dozens of unstable or decimated countries resulting in a diaspora of refugees (which we don’t accept willingly into the country).

Over the years since 9/11, courageous whistleblowers revealed our state-sanctioned torture practices, the careless loss of civilian lives, and extraordinary rendition. Extraordinary rendition is the practice of kidnapping or capturing people and sending them to countries where they face a high risk of torture or abuse in interrogations.

Not subject to as much scrutiny, I guess. Someone else does the dirty work. The whistleblowers showed us who we are. We can’t have that. That’s why we imprison them, for showing us the dark truth about our nation.

Arms manufacturers have profited handsomely over these 20 years. Got their stock? Many ex-military serve on the boards of Lockheed, General Dynamics, Raytheon, etc. Even ol’ General Mattis sits on the board of General Dynamics and makes quite a bundle. That is the very definition of the term “conflict of interest.” They can’t win wars, but their portfolios are bulging like their bellies.

Locally, what 9/11 revealed to me were the snarling faces of some community members who taunted, threatened, filmed and flipped off those of us who attended protests to these immoral an unjust wars.

Who won? Not the U.S., not us, just the weapons manufacturers, defense contractors, casket makers, funeral homes, and flag vendors.

Ever seen so many flags flapping around? What about all this is patriotic?

I’m not impressed.



Candidates would jeopardize health of community

In the middle of a pandemic that is overwhelming our hospital workers, three Wenatchee School Board candidates: Julie Norton, Katherine Thomas and Matt Van Bogart publicly oppose the state requirement that students wear a mask in school.

Parents that do not want their kids wearing masks in school have the right to home school their children. These three public school board candidates that do not believe in basic science are putting our children and community at risk by demanding that Wenatchee public schools violate public safety laws.

They are entitled to their beliefs, but they are not entitled to endanger the health and safety of our community by imposing their beliefs on others. For the sake of our children and our community, please consider voting for someone else.



Take action now on climate change

Now is a pivotal time for action. We see catastrophic wildfires, heat, storms, and floods all around us. Climate change is rapidly intensifying and affecting every part of our world.

We are living with overwhelming climate changes affecting agriculture with drought, coastal areas with sea level rise, Arctic areas with melting permafrost. We know that no child will escape the unfolding impacts of global warming.

Some react to the crisis with resignation, saying “there’s nothing we can do — it’s too late” or “glad I won’t be alive” or “I don’t know what to do”.

Passivity and despair don’t solve problems. We must join together and act in response to this climate crisis: there are thousands of ways to take action.

Some actions are individual: fireproofing your home, recycling, putting up solar panels, composting. Some actions are broader: voting for climate-wise candidates, calling your representatives, donating to groups working on solutions to climate disaster, stopping further fossil fuel projects.

Read “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming,” by Paul Hawken. Search for folks already on this action path. Join them. The challenges we face are too paralyzing to address alone. We are in this moment together, and we can act together for earth, for our children and grandchildren, and for each other. Now is the time!








Sheriff: keep those unvaccinated deputies out of school

At my recent checkup the doctor told me that any unvaccinated adult will — not might — catch the virus. School should be a safe place for our children. They should be able to concentrate on learning the academic and social skills they will need for success.

They should not have to worry about being infected with the virus by an unvaccinated adult. Yes, Sheriff Burnett, keep your unvaccinated deputies away from our unvaccinated children.




Here in my home town

my heart and part of my head stray far

All who are here felt their lives change on that day of




Now my spouse is in New York

There to work and to help

He left on that day of nine-one-one

That night he sat in a bar with a man he did not know

The man had looked for his son

He could not find him

He wept

John saw the heap that used to reach the sky

He does not want to go back

He tells of big men who cry deep tears

He tells of dogs who look for the lost

And come back from holes in the heap

The dogs choke and cough

They can not wear masks

John tells of stacks of homes

with spoiled food and dead pets

He says there are scores on scores with no homes

Kids lost with no mom, no dad

Schools gone

I want to hug this man

I want to hug that man who can’t find his son

I want to hug those big men

I want to hug those dogs

I want to hug New York

I want to hug my land




Written for a poetry class

while in graduate study at

Portland State University. The

assignment was to use only

one-syllable words. John was

on assignment with FEMA.