Courage to change

I want to appreciate the editors and readers of Columbia Gorge News, weighing in via multiple letters to the editor on Cliff Bentz’s representation of Congressional District 2.

Even The East Oregonian said, “Bentz made major missteps last week — miscues that raise questions about his political judgment.”

I bet this was uncomfortable. The hardworking, down-to-earth conservatives of my Hermiston childhood (I now live in The Dalles) give people the benefit of the doubt and expect the best of neighbors, especially when they share important values. It feels terrible when someone we feel akin to lets us down.

As a young adult I worked for a crisis line and then two domestic violence shelters. This hard work taught me essential “emotional literacy” about narcissism.

Narcissistic traits are easy to spot when you know what to look for: A sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, cruelty, lying, naming anyone who disagrees with you the enemy, and turning on those who begin to show independent thinking.

Narcissists like Trump have my compassion, because narcissism comes from childhood trauma.

But as individuals and societies, and especially lawmakers, we cannot expect narcissists to change (they can’t) or make excuses for their behavior. We must stand up in defense of our values.

If you are a Trump and Bentz supporter rethinking your position, thank you for your courage. The civic heroism of people like you may save our republic.

Roz Mason

The Dalles

Where’s the vaccine?

As a Hood River county senior, I find the lack of information on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines outrageous and appalling. I’ve talked to our county health department, my insurance company, the Oregon Health Authority, plus called Gov. Brown’s office, where I got to talk to an answering machine. None know anything other than Gov. Brown has said it should be available for those over 65 and there should be a supply here on or around the 23rd of January.

So what’s the holdup? Is it logistics? We have the postal service, UPS, Fedex, DHL and Amazon, among others, who can move vaccine, not to mention FEMA and the military. Is it financial? Congress should be able to authorize emergency money; people are dying, after all.

What are our county commissioners doing, sitting on their hands having Zoom meetings? Why haven’t we heard anything from Rep. Williams or Sen. Thomsen? The silence is deafening from our elected representatives.

Where is the distribution point for the vaccines? Can’t we organize those with cars and trucks to go there and pick up supplies if our governmental agencies are incapable of getting the job done?

Is this what’s meant by Operation Warp Speed? This disaster of inaction also causes many of our small businesses to close, puts people out of work unnecessarily, and contributes to a stagnant economy and expanding bread lines.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Editor’s note: "Operation Warp Speed” is the federal government’s official name for the coronavirus vaccine development and distribution campaign.

Christmas thank you

I'm on the Community Meal Board and for the past eight years, I’ve handed out bags on Christmas Day to the diners at the Community Meal Site in The Dalles.

Two families prepared a delicious meal that was handed out to the diners. They had ham, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, tossed salad, a brownie and a bottle of water. So a big thank you to the group that prepared and served the meal.

I make up 35 bags for men and 15 bags for women. About the only difference are the socks, gloves and scarf. Each bag contained 16 items, including a hat, scarf, gloves, washcloth, bar of soap, razor, comb, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, dental floss, lotion, handwarmer packet, a $10 gift card to a local restaurant and a bag of one dozen assorted homemade cookies.

I usually send out a request a week or so before Christmas that I need 50 dozen homemade cookies brought to my house from Dec. 20-23. I sometimes worry that I won’t get enough, which has only happened once. So I bought a few dozen from the bakery at the last minute.

So a huge thank you to all the ladies who donated cookies. I did receive about 80 dozen and I bagged the extra ones up and took them down to the meal site after Christmas.

A lady I know donates 100 toothbrushes each year. That helps a lot. I had a guardian angel this year who probably donated half of all the items. He knows who he is and he is the most generous man I know. Plus he donated cash for the gift cards. So a huge thank you to him.

Lana again made all the polar fleece scarves.

Linda and Molly helped fill the bags and sorted through everything to make sure we had enough of each item.

This is a year-long project — collecting, sorting and storing all the items. But it’s worth it to make sure everyone gets a gift for Christmas.

So thank you to all who donated cash, cookies, items and their time.

Klea Espy

The Dalles

GOP’s silence

The attempted insurrection against the United States of America on Jan. 6 was not spontaneous, nor was President Trump the only inciter. Although his exhortations helped launch the assault, Republican leadership at the national, state, and local levels abetted it.

The shocking violence sprang not only from bogus claims of election fraud, but also from an ongoing series of falsehoods that the Republican party has been pushing for many years.

The dangerous lies and threatening behavior also include fomenting rebellion against COVID-19 safety measures recommended by health professionals and instituted by democratically-elected officials.

It extends to the defiance of legitimately enacted firearms safety measures and the celebration of sheriffs who declare that only they have the power to determine what is constitutional.

It includes the denial of the existential threat of human-caused climate change.

It’s not enough to condemn the attempted coup that took place on Jan. 6. An honest rejection of the rebellion must include an expressed commitment to reject conspiracy-mongering. True contrition requires a repudiation of the lies and the subversive acts that fuel sedition, not only in regard to election results, but also toward measures lawfully enacted to protect public health both now and in the future.

While I appreciate and share in the condemnation of violence from either side of the political spectrum, I’m still waiting for the Republican party to repudiate the speech and behaviors that lead to it.

Rick George

White Salmon

Simple Math

It is no wonder President Trump has filed bankruptcy so many times. He simply cannot add or subtract. The president proved this during a phone call with Georgia Republican Secretary of State Raffensberger. In his latest abuse of power, Trump called on Raffensberger to “find 11,780 votes” for an election which has been counted three times and legally certified.

President Trump lost the Electoral College by 74 votes in 2020 (306 to 232). Georgia has only 14 electoral votes, so even if Raffensberger “found” two million votes, Trump would still lose the electoral college by 46 votes (292 to 246). Not only is it illegal and unethical to coerce Raffensberger, changing the Georgia results is a waste of time according to the numbers. This scenario should be straight-forward to a fourth grader, and certainly to a Law and Order President and Stable Genius, right?

We have already witnessed four years of a president who demonstrates one-sided loyalty, minimal integrity, and repeated abuses of power and the office on a regular basis. I draw the line at simple mathematics.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Invest in better

Hood River is growing. In response, the City of Hood River wants to spend millions to build a new police building three times the size of our current station. But community growth doesn’t have to just mean more and bigger. It can also mean a better, safer, stronger, and a more just community.

I don’t want to only grow in numbers, I want to grow in creativity, and justice, and well-being, and beauty. That means investing in new solutions rather than increasing the same old flawed systems.

The proposal to build a new police building to make room for more policing is an example of growing in numbers. Growing in community would mean investing in reducing the demand for policing by creating systems of care to meet basic needs, provide safe and stable housing, public and affordable transit, and address mental and behavioral health. Let’s invest in growing a better as well as a bigger community.

MariRuth Pretzing

Hood River

Resign, Bentz

Resign, Cliff Bentz. Your vote against the certification of the electoral college is an unforgivable offense to democracy. Your vote, after the capital attack, is an endorsement of that attack, regardless of your press release.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You are either with the Constitution or you are not. And your vote clearly shows that you are not with the U.S. Constitution.

Robert Kovacich

Parkdale

Vote to impeach

Dear Congressman Bentz,

I am writing to state my disgust and despair over what is happening with the dangerous partisan politics in our country. This has been going on for years and is a disgrace to us all as well as a direct affront to our fragile republic.

I assume that you are in office to make things better for us and to try and bring the country together to improve the lives of all people here, not to join a cult of power-hungry white men.

I read that you are in favor of upholding the Constitution, yet your vote to support overturning the election and thus the will of the people is counter to that idea. You, like everyone else in this country, are well aware of the dangerous mental illness of Trump. That you support in anyway his staying in office till Jan. 20 is beyond disappointing.

I implore you, as our new representative, to do the right thing and vote to impeach him for his insurrection. In the long run, it will help your party regain some respect that it has lost over the last four years.

I also hope that you will help your constituents who are under his spell to see the light of truth. They are a dangerous, angry bunch and their needs must be met in the form of treatment of drug and alcohol addiction, better education, job training, social services and other forms of support. These can all be accomplished by working with the Biden administration rather than thwarting their efforts for future political gain.

Let’s work together to help our country heal. If we don’t, the consequences will be dire.

Sarah Bellinson

Hood River

Resign, Congressman Bentz

Dear Congressman Bentz,

Please resign your position immediately as a result of your actions to support the recent insurrection and attack on our democracy.

During your campaign for Congress in 2020, you consistently expressed strong support and admiration for President Trump. The results of his reckless and incompetent administration are now clear. A raging viral epidemic that has resulted in nearly 22 million infections and over 370,000 deaths in the U.S. An economy in collapse. A humanitarian disaster on our southern border. Comfort to our enemies around the world and despair among our allies. A blatant campaign of lies and misinformation regarding the recent free, fair, and honest election, culminating in clear incitement of a violent mob to commit acts of sedition in the attack on the Capitol building.

Mr. Bentz, you cannot so easily loosen the cords with which you tied yourself so tightly to this failed president.

Congressman Bentz, please resign! Give the citizens of the 2nd District an opportunity to elect someone who will uphold and defend the Constitution. Someone who will speak the truth. Someone who will turn away from this divisive and dangerous president and work for the people of this district. Someone who will not bring shame and dishonor to the State of Oregon, as you have.

Give us the opportunity to elect a representative we can be proud of.

David Buhaly and Mark McConnell

Sunriver

Does Bentz represent?

How does voting to disenfranchise the voters of another state have anything to do with the business of representing the people of Oregon’s District 2?

Cliff Bentz, in his first congressional act, voted not to support a peaceful transfer of power but to use the might of the federal government to invalidate the electors of the state of Pennsylvania.

This is shocking to me, especially after the fatal consequences of Trump’s Jan. 6 incitement to “fight.” Five people are dead, and scores more wounded.

How could Bentz return to that vandalized chamber and vote to support the duplicitous agenda of the “Stop the Steal” insurrectionists? The courts of this country have repeatedly rejected these challenges to legally cast and counted votes. The claims of election fraud by Trump and his enablers are nothing more than an effort to overturn the will of the majority of American voters, and our democracy with it.

After this disgraceful performance in the aftermath of a national disaster, I have to wonder if it is really Mr. Bentz’s intention to work democratically on our behalf here in District 2.

Jennifer Ouzounian

Hood River

Hearts and minds

I had a great letter written excoriating Trump for calling Georgia’s attorney general in order to coerce him to “find” 11,870 votes, and about how Democrats swept Georgia and will control both Houses and the White House once again. All that had the volume turned down on it because of what happened next.

What we witnessed Jan. 6 was an attempted coup. It was misguided and it failed, but do not believe for a moment that it wasn’t a sincere attempt by an armed and aggressive minority of Americans to prevent the transfer of power from one head of state to another.

There was no effort to change the thoughts and attitudes, the heart and minds, of the people of this country, only an attempt to use force to subvert the duly verified results of a democratic election.

This was not a protest, it was terrorism. It was insurrection. Did you see when they removed an American flag and replaced it with a Trump flag? I did.

For there to be healing, Donald Trump must be impeached once again, removed, and then thoroughly investigated by an independent commission in order to bring to light the complete picture of corruption and criminal activity that has taken place over the course of his administration.

He should then be held personally liable for whatever crimes are found, as it should not fall to the taxpayer to bail out the Trump administration. He can launch a go-fund-me campaign if he’s really hurting for cash.

Ultimately, we must address “Trumpism” as a cultural issue, because it will outlast Trump himself, and the next person they latch onto might not be so incompetent. How does one reach individuals who have been abused and exploited by a cult? And what if that is almost half a nation?

Benjamin Sheppard

Hood River

Editor's Note: Benjamin Sheppard is employed as a social worker.

Ask questions

In the Nov. 25 issue of Columbia Gorge News, the editor’s note to my letter about Arthur Babitz and Sue Powers participating in planning commission meetings after their terms expired provided a response from City Manager Rachael Fuller, stating (in part): “We are aware of the term expiration for the two planning commissioners ... the actions of the body have been approval of previous meeting minutes and non-binding recommendations to council, (so) we have no reason to believe that the commission is acting out of order with all members participating in discussions.”

Columbia Gorge News should have reviewed the minutes for those past meetings instead of accepting Ms. Fuller’s statement. A binding recommendation and vote took place despite the participation of two commissioners with expired terms.

On Oct. 5, both Babitz and Powers participated in a quasi-judicial hearing to consider the Nature’s Way Vistas zone change request (from low-density residential to high-density residential). The city’s rules require that the first planning commission meeting in October include an election for the chair and vice-chair as new terms begin. That didn’t happen. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Babitz, and both Powers and Babitz voted on significant and binding action affecting zoning. Without their participation, there would not have been enough members present to constitute a quorum. The two new planning commissioners only took their positions at the Dec. 21 meeting.

The zoning change approval went to the city council where, on Nov. 9, they passed Ordinance 2057 (cityofhoodriver.gov/wp-content/uploads/Ordinances/ORD-2057-Natures-Way-Zone-Change-signed.pdf) affirming the change recommended by the Oct. 5 planning commission vote.

Contrary to Ms. Fuller’s statement, the participation of two people who were no longer planning commission members resulted in a binding recommendation to the city council and city ordinance 2057.

The city should abide by its own rules, including those in the city municipal codes and charters. If we act as though the municipal code provisions are merely arbitrary suggestions dependent on local officials’ interpretations, a lot more citizen protections are at risk. How could the city government countenance this? Why not appoint new commissioners within the term expiration limits? And why didn’t local news ask more questions?

Tracey Tomashpol

Hood River

Editor's note: Under Oregon law, a decision by a planning commission is non-binding, in that it lacks the force of law unless approved by the city council, which can approve, change or deny the recommendation received. However, it does not necessarily follow that city policy was properly followed.

Fake briefcase plan

I’m seeing a lot of concern about an unstable president having the nuclear launch codes. Here’s one way to handle the problem.

It’s going to require replacing the real nuclear launch codes briefcase with a fake nuclear launch codes briefcase, and at least a small staff in on it. So then the president gets all gloomy, nobody loves me, I’m gonna blast New York, type type type. They come in rushing in, “Oooooo cool, Mr. President, you just destroyed New York! Hey let’s do Portland!” And so forth, until he loses interest.

So then later, when he is safely in prison, they’re holding a press conference to explain how they saved humanity from extermination. See these two pretty much identical briefcases, this one is fake, and this one is real! Cool huh.

See, I can type whatever into this one, type type type and ... uh ... uh oh.

Jerrold Reynolds

Lyle

Trump order clarified

Clarification may be in order to calm public nerves surrounding the recent re-publication of Executive Order 13959, that prevents the investment in Chinese (PRC) companies having connections to financing the increasingly aggressive and expanding Communist Chinese Military.

The order seems a valid, warranted and publicly supported presidential order, benefiting U.S. citizens and U.S. security, excepting some global corporate interests, who have a built in resistance to anything that does not increase their bottom line. This order also appears rationally based on recent Chinese military expansion, extreme human rights abuses, violent anti-democratic takeover of Hong Kong, and documented infiltration of U.S. political representatives, research and collegiate institutions.

This order is not new. It was signed on Nov. 12, 2020, not Jan. 11, 2021.

What is driving this renewed interest is that Jan. 11 (was) the effective date. The news worthiness of this date is based on fears of potential pushback or retaliation from China.

These worries are not without merit, as China has billions investments in U.S. companies and U.S. Government securities. Hence, China possess capabilities for economic retaliation that would not go unnoticed. And given that transnational economics is loaded with interconnected complexities and potential for unintended consequences, many eyes are intensely following this.

I believe that disengagement with China’s military is economically and ethically forthright. Perhaps if U.S. Government Agencies and Representatives were less seduced by Chinese actors and lobbyists, and instead, acted more on behalf of the people, ethics, and security concerns, this Emergency Executive Order would not be a topic of current conversation.

Source: Federal Register 73185, Vol. 85, No. 222, Nov. 17, 2020.

Wayne Peterson

White Salmon

Truth needed

Now more than ever, we need the truth and we need to stop the lies and conspiratorial delusions. Together we are facing potential lethal conflict based on fantasies and big lies that won’t die.

There is no law requiring you to publish lies that normalize and reinforce fantasies and destructive delusions. We are being threatened by armed seditious terrorists with murderous assaults at our capitols and government institutions.

For the good of our country, you must distinguish honest and truthful opinion from distorted incitements.

Jon Kramer

White Salmon

Evangelicals, repent

Because of the Trump-inspired insurrection, some Congressional Republicans reversed course and condemned President Trump, after enabling him the last four years. Although this is welcomed, for those self-identifying as evangelical Christians follow-up is required: Biblical scripture like Matthew 7:1-5 commands an apology to country and constituents for previously not standing up to Trump — in Biblical parlance, this calls for repentance.

Evangelical Christians, by definition, are supposed to bring the good news and love of Christ by witness, so as to gain followers of Christ. Instead, studies have shown that in recent times, many self-identified evangelical Christians are turning off young people to Christianity, and I suspect older people as well. That’s because many such evangelical Christians actively support people like Trump whose behavior so starkly violates Biblical teachings. After all, aren’t first impressions of Christianity usually based on the behavior of Christians?

In view of the insurrection, will enough evangelical Christians finally realize their support of Trump is severely undermining their supposed core purpose of bringing people to Christ? Or are too many instead committed to their own personal agendas of Trump-supported political positions such as opposing abortion rights, immigration, gun control, or same-sex marriage?

Norm Luther

Spokane

Question for Bentz

The recent riot and insurrection at our nation’s Capitol was tragic and unnecessary. It occurred as our new Congressman, Rep. Cliff Bentz, was just getting into his new job. Unfortunately, Rep. Bentz made some bad decisions and mistakes that will stay with him for a long time. It was a very historic week in the history of our country, and Mr. Bentz will be remembered as being on the wrong side of history.

I’ve heard Rep. Bentz’s explanation for challenging the Pennsylvania slate of electors — this was even after the riot — and they ring hollow. Challenging those electoral votes was, according to Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the most respected Republican leaders in our country, “a threat to democracy,” and anyone who voted against accepting these electors “was complicit” in the violence that occurred on January 6th in the Capitol.

I would ask Mr. Bentz why he feels he knew more than the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, where the votes had been challenged and were subsequently determined to be perfectly legal.

I’d ask the Representative if he feels that Congress members from Pennsylvania should have the right to come into Oregon and tell our voters and our courts, how we should run our elections.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Jack Lorts

The Dalles