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Letters to the editor for Dec. 20, 2020

Letters to the editor for Dec. 20, 2020


Shutdowns, mandates save lives

In [the Sunday, Dec. 13 edition of The News & Advance’s] Opinion section, a writer expressed doubt about the state’s COVID-19 mandates.

He wrote, “As far as I know, there is no scientific evidence masks do anything...” Let me educate the writer of that letter as well as your other readers.

“Health Affairs” is the leading journal of health policy thought and research in the USA. The journal recently reported on a study examining changes in the daily county-level COVID-19 growth rates in 15 states between March 31 and May 22, 2020. The study concluded mandating face mask use in public is associated with a decline in the daily COVID-19 growth rate by 2.0 percentage points 21 (or more) days after state face mask orders were signed.

The journal suggests as a result of the implementation of these mandates, more than 200,000 COVID-19 cases were averted by May 22, 2020. The letter writer asserted a mask mandate is simply a politician “trying to exert control.”

Wrong. The writer is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. Fact: A mask mandate reduces COVID-19 infections.

The letter writer also stated mandates “scientifically have not proven to do anything.” Wrong again. “Health Affairs” reported another study that found states’ shelter-in-place orders reduced both the daily mortality growth rate nearly three weeks after their enactment and the daily growth rate of hospitalizations two weeks after their enactment.

Fact: After forty-two days from enactment, the daily mortality growth rate declined by up to 6.1 percentage points. Projections suggest as many as 250,000 to 370,000 deaths were possibly averted by May 15.

What shutdowns “do” is save our citizens. Jobs and the economy won’t come back until citizens feel they are permanently safe from COVID-19.



Time to act like we’re all in this together

Mask wearing is the topic that is on everyone’s mind and a lot of people are watching what other people are doing and that has an impact on what they will do.

There is clearly a political divide here, which is regrettable. How can a matter of good health consciousness become political?

One of the things I have noticed where there is some discrepancy is what people do about wearing a mask when they are speaking in public. This especially is true about people in public positions, in government and in politics. These people are very visible in daily life and in the media.

Some people seem to feel it is necessary to remove their mask when they are speaking into a microphone or to a group of people. I sometimes feel this has something to do with name and face recognition. This is something politicians especially feel is most important — important enough they don’t want to appear with a mask when the focus is on them.

Maybe you have not thought about this at all. Or maybe you have thought about it a lot. But we see people every day taking off their mask or not wearing a mask for a wide variety of reasons. I guess it is obvious you can’t eat with a mask. And when we are out alone in our automobile, maybe a mask is optional. But part of the psychology of mask wearing is we need to constantly see other people wearing a mask to be encouraged and even cowed into doing the same!

People who are speaking against the health precautions we are being urged to accept as a daily part of our life sometimes talk about us being sheep. I think this is a situation where the herd instinct is valuable. If we see people who are supposedly in leadership positions not wearing masks or removing their masks in certain circumstances, I think we can assume a lot of people will imagine their own special circumstances where wearing a mask is optional.

I live in a building where the condo board has decided it is mandatory to wear a mask inside the building in the public and residential hallways and areas. The first day the signs went up with the word mandatory, a couple of them were torn down.

Some people have some hostility about the concept of mandatory, but most people do notice what other people are doing and will more willingly follow themselves rather than rebel. As a rebel myself, I often am discouraged by that tendency. But, in this case, I feel it is in all of our interest to try to behave as if we are all in this together, and we all need to be sheep in this case.

How about wearing your mask even when you are speaking at a city council meeting?




An open letter to Representative Ben Cline: You and I have different philosophies of government. By itself, that is no cause for concern, just for disagreement. A healthy democracy is enriched by good faith debate about how best to move us toward that “more perfect union.”

Your joining an amicus brief in the suit brought by Texas Attorney General Paxton is not part of that healthy debate. It is craven. It is despicable. It is cowardly. It is morally reprehensible. It is anti-democratic. It is contemptible. It challenges my vocabulary to come up with enough terms to describe my utter disgust with your actions.

Other than a disregard for democracy, the only possible motivation I can ascribe to you is fear. Fear of retribution from a notoriously vengeful president who will soon be an ex-president, and retribution from his fanatical base. Fear of losing your seat in Congress.

The suit is, as Senator Mitt Romney aptly described it, “madness.” It has no merit, and you certainly know that. I can only conclude that any adherence to the oath of office you took — to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” — must not include respecting the results of free and fair elections. Pennsylvania’s attorney general described the suit well: a “seditious abuse of the judicial process.”

I couldn’t have said it better.



Who’s Cline representing?

Just when our democracy is hanging on by a thread, Ben Cline is holding the scissors ready to snip.

I was extremely dismayed to see his name included in the list of 126 Republican House members who signed onto the Amicus brief in the Texas lawsuit asking the courts to overturn the election of Joe Biden in four states. All the election officials in those states, recounts in the states, and the courts have stated the election was free and fair, unencumbered by fraud. All election fraud claims have been repeatedly thrown out by the courts.

The Republican brief and the lawsuit are a blatant attempt to curry favor with Trump voters despite all evidence of fraud to the contrary. These baseless allegations that the election was stolen are an attack on our democracy and will damage the voice of voters in this and future elections.

I am a constituent of Rep. Cline and I expect him to show courage, integrity, and adherence to facts. None of these traits are evident in his recent actions



Wall of shame

It is recommended a “Wall of Shame” be erected in Washington near the Capitol building and in every other capitol of the U.S. On it should be listed the 126 Congressional Representatives who signed the Texas petition to the Supreme Court directing the Nov. 3 election be overturned.

Our democracy depends upon the active participation of its citizens and this was demonstrated by the large turnout on the election day. It also depends upon elected officials acting responsibly when the election results have been declared.

All results were in and announced four days after Nov. 3. All the recounts have reinforced the results and the efforts to overturn the results seriously weakens our democracy and our electoral institution. It is a mistake to assume that persons that came to power through a fair institution cannot or will not attempt to destroy that same institution. We see that happening in front of us now with the 126 shameful representatives.

One of the essential responsibilities of our congresspeople is to defend our institutions and these 126 of our members of Congress are failing at that task. Since no irregularities that would change the results were found in any of the 3,142 counties and county-equivalents in the U.S., the only conclusion you can come to is the election was a model of fairness. The institution worked marvelously.

So, 126 of our members of Congress, elected by the same system, are out to tear down our democracy for political gain. This is a major step toward a tyrannical government and exactly what our founding fathers were trying to avoid.



A house divided

Congressman Ben Cline, R-Va., Goodlatte’s protégé and successor, has dishonored his oath of office by signing on to the frivolous, if not treasonous, Texas Attorney General’s lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election through the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cline has adhered to Goodlatte’s political agenda. Goodlatte, the sponsor of constitutional amendments requiring the federal government to balance the budget repeatedly stated, “When you are preparing a budget for your family or your business, you know that you can’t spend more than you take in.”

Cline and Goodlatte know the factual distinction between a household budget and that of the Federal Government, but the propaganda resonates with Republicans. Republicans are only concerned about the National Deficit/Debt when a Democrat is in the White House!

Republicans loathe spending for American wellbeing subjecting it to “Household Budget” mentality as the current Covid-19 relief debate reveals. The U.S. budget is not like a household/private business! U.S. Constitution grants the federal government monetary sovereignty through U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve to create and issue U.S. money. All of the rest of us are currency users and unless prudent can go bankrupt, but not the U.S. government — except by political ineptitude!

This is not suggesting the U.S. simply print money nor use erroneous political impediments in guaranteeing the wellbeing of all Americans. Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier, an apocalyptic cult, ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the modern social and economic policies, government norms, and refusal of compromise; unpersuaded by facts, evidence, or science, and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political Democrat opposition.

As William J. Durant (1885-1981) historian observed, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within” and as nobly stated by Abraham Lincoln (1809 – April 15, 1865) in 1858: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”



We will not forget it

To my fellow voters of Virginia’s 6th District, which includes Lynchburg and Roanoke: Our representative, Ben Cline, is one of the 126 House Representatives who placed his name on the Texas lawsuit petitioning the Supreme Court to reverse the election outcomes of four other states.

This lawsuit was an attempt to overthrow the will of the voters. The votes in these states were counted one, two and some three times. There was no evidence of fraud, none.

The case was more than frivolous. It was baseless, traitorous, undemocratic, and it demonstrated an appalling show of blatant disregard for our constitution, the rule of law and the belief in free and fair elections. Ben Cline must answer for why he signed his name on this subversive lawsuit. He violated his oath of office and does not deserve another term as representative of the 6th District.

Come the next election, we will not forget what you have done, Mr. Cline.



Thanks and no thanks

As the dire effects of COVID-19 continue to increase, there are many deserving a thank you.

Thank you to the nurses and doctors and hospital staff who give their all to offer constant care to all.

Thank you to the volunteers who provide care and food to so many of those in need.

Thank you to the first responders who have gone the extra mile to serve our community and deal with those with the virus.

Thank you to the scientists who worked diligently and safely to develop a vaccine.

To you and many others, THANK YOU.

No thank you to Ben Cline, Morgan Griffith, and Rob Wittman, all House Republicans from Virginia, who supported a scurrilous lawsuit to go before the Supreme Court to throw out the votes of millions of people in four states.

Along with 123 other House Republicans, they wished to change the election rules and change the election outcome so Donald Trump could stay in office four more years. Fortunately, the courts followed the constitution and their oath of office and thought otherwise.

To Mr. Cline and Mr. Griffith and Mr. Wittman, shame on you and a big NO THANK YOU.



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