Letters To The Editor 2/1/2019

February 1, 2019

Crushing generosity

Editor: Thomas Friedman does it again in “More books, fewer tanks” (Jan. 26) by imposing his neocolonial perspective on the Middle East.

He states that Tunisia’s democracy is “the only Middle East country to achieve the ends that we so badly desired for Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.” His statement in 2003 that “America is the midwife of Iraq’s liberation” can only evoke a wry chuckle now. How do bombs, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the destruction of social and physical infrastructure, the millions of destitute refugees and the support of totalitarian regimes in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia pave the road to democracy?

Noticeably absent in his yearning for democracy in the Middle East is any mention of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the denial of Palestinian human and civil rights.

He generously proposes to shift the $45 billion that’s given to Afghanistan to various Arab states ($2 billion) and to American infrastructure ($43 billion).That’s laudable. But somehow, his largesse failed to include the beleaguered Palestinians whose aid has been cut by the Trump administration.

If only he had thought of it, he might well have proposed paring a small fraction of the $3.8 billion in annual taxpayer dollars going to Israel for defense and using it to spread Israeli- and American-style democracies to the various benighted Middle Eastern states.




Bias ascending

Editor: The national news media lets the American people down.

The First Amendment of the Constitution specifies the freedom of the press. The modern press, in my opinion, abuses the power granted to it. The Constitution stipulates, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ... ”

The framers intended the press to hold those in power accountable for their actions so that the public would be informed. The press must exercise its freedom faithfully and fairly yet it appears that the modern press, which includes print, cable and broadcast media, display a bias that does a disservice to the American people it is supposed to serve. It has become extremely difficult, if not impossible, for some people to determine what is news and what is news spun with opinion and bias.

As a result, we tend to turn to sources that reflect what we want to hear, rather than what we need to hear. The right of the press to operate freely is a powerful one, but to make sure that it remains a right takes constant and unrelenting vigilance by the press itself.

The media would better serve the American people if they would report the news effectively instead of inserting opinions and prejudices. Polished journalism is a thing of the past. It is my hope that continued bias will bring the American people to demand change from the news media.




Facebook watching

Editor: Karl Marx declared that religion is the opiate of the masses.

Modern capitalists may have invented a better one, Facebook, the world’s most popular social network with more than 200 million users in the United States and more than 2.27 billion worldwide. Facebook consistently has broken promises about safeguarding user privacy or protecting users from manipulation by malign forces. Facebook exploits a vulnerability in human psychology to addict users. In many ways it’s ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. Initially, Facebook was supposed to be the great hope for democracy. Facebook has led to less human interaction, not more. It has suppressed human development, not stimulated it. Consequently, American society has regressed.

Facebook is an Orwellian surveillance machine. It records, tracks and stores everything users do. For those who buy or access this information it provides a comprehensive picture of the individual. Facebook has the ability to access your computer or smartphone microphone without users’ knowledge. By partnering with data-brokering companies, Facebook has access to an incredible amount of data that has nothing to do with what users post online. Facebook has information on credit card transactions, where users live, shop, how families spend their time, where people work, what they eat, read and listen to. Information is collected about websites users peruse, outside of Facebook’s platform. This allows Facebook to target users to sell ads.

In order for Facebook’s business model to work it has to remain a surveillance machine. In short, it’s the ultimate advertising tool. The price is users’ privacy. The United States has no laws governing technologies that utilize the kinds of data collection done by Facebook. My advice is to engage in real time, face-to-face relationships that are full and meaningful that will enrich your life the way God intended.




What do they know?

Editor: After his hand-picked intelligence experts went to Capitol Hill and dared to question the veracity of his jumbled judgment on matters pertaining to threats from Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State terrorist group, President Donald Trump called them naïve and said they need to go back to school.

In other words, I suppose, they should be like the suckers who were scammed by his now-defunct Trump University, where people majored in naïvete´ and graduated summa cum dumb and phi beta broka.

Perhaps they can even enroll in a course called dog walking 101, which is taught by Professor Vladimir Putin with visual aid provided by his petulant president pooch and lapdog.