Forum, May 12: A President Without a Dog

Thursday, May 11, 2017
A President Without a Dog

Four-fifths of the presidents of the United States have had pet dogs. Their relationship with their dogs suggests compassion, kindness and a connection with ordinary people.

Where is Donald Trump’s dog? In the words of wisdom from Vermont’s native son, Calvin Coolidge: “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about ... does not deserve to be in the White House.”

Joanna E.  Rapf


Seeing Through Donald Trump

I find it heartening that as opaque as Donald Trump maintains his presidency, I can still see right through him.

Art Stacy


Race and the Civil War

Thank you for publishing Professor James Loewen’s piece, “What Was The Civil War About? — Race” on May 5. His observation that Americans are vague about the question of why there was a Civil War points up the fact that our history textbooks are vague — “publishers don’t want to offend white school boards in Dixie.”

It is informative to look at the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, adopted on March 11, 1861, a month before Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter. It clearly states in Section 9.4: “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” Slaves were property, livestock, currency — they were not persons. A clear and horrifying account of the history of slavery and the slave-breeding industry can be found in Ned and Constance Sublette’s The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry. If you ever wondered why slave owners such as Thomas Jefferson sired children by their female slaves, The American Slave Coast explains it clearly: They were increasing their wealth, because the children of slaves were slaves (property) in perpetuity.

Starting the Civil War was an act of treason (defined in Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The Union responded, not to free the slaves, but to preserve the country. In the process of that war, slaves were emancipated and granted legal status as persons, but undoing their deeply ingrained status as “property” was a social and economic upheaval that would last for another hundred years and more, down to the present day.

Jim Dean


The Impeachment Process

Newbury, Vt., resident Alice Morrison wants Republicans in Congress to join with Democrats to impeach President Trump (“Time for Impeachment,” Forum, May 6). First of all, the Democrats in Congress have not introduced articles of impeachment, so the Republicans can’t join them. Second of all, the reason that the Democrats haven’t introduced articles of impeachment is because President Donald Trump has not committed “Bribery, Treason, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors” which are the only reasons that a president can be impeached.

Fortunately, our founding fathers, in their infinite wisdom, wrote in Article 2 of the Constitution the specific reasons that can lead to an impeachment. Not liking the president or his views or deeming him incompetent aren’t included.

Jeff Bendis


Care for People, Not Corporations

Will Congress earmark millions of dollars to educate the American public about the causes and effects of global warming?

After all, Congress reportedly passed a recent bill allocating $3 million to “consumer outreach and education regarding agricultural biotechnology,” which includes genetically modified food and commodity crops, i.e., GMOs. Our government will use these funds to tell us that GMOs are not harmful to us, to other animals or the environment.

A reason given for this educational effort is that nearly 90 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science believe GMOs are safe to eat.

Does this mean that, since, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 97 percent of climate scientists believe that human activity is the major cause of global warming, Congress will also allocate a similar sum to educate the American public about the catastrophe that awaits the world created by global warming?

Don’t hold your breath.

While the federal government through this $3 million allocation plans to do the advertising for such corporate GMO suppliers and advocates as Monsanto, it will spend no money to warn Americans about the real and imminent threat of global warming.

We deserve a government that is concerned about our health and well-being and that of the planet, not one that does corporate bidding.

Jack Hurley


False Solution for Health Care

I am very disappointed but not surprised to learn that 11 Democrats voted for the statewide teachers’ health insurance contract bill (Beck amendment) and did not see it for what it was — a false solution. Unless they are ideologically opposed to collective bargaining, they should have understood that the intent of this bill was to take away the only leverage that enables the teachers to get what medical coverage they can from this broken system. I would protect this too if it was all I had to work with. This bill was a distraction from the real problem, which is that we allow our health care to be a product that is negotiable. We continue to deny ourselves a universal and equitably financed health care system.

A ridiculous percentage of our town budgets (school and municipal) goes toward health insurance benefits, which is why our property taxes are unsustainable but it is the medical industry and our legislators that have placed this burden on us — not the teachers. The American profit-making system, which includes the greedy medical industry, is stacked against workers of all stripes. It pits us against each other when we are all victims of the same injustice. We should be working together for a health care system that every country in the Western industrial world enjoys. And it costs them less!

It behooves all school boards and selectboards to work toward a universal health care system that would relieve not only teachers and school boards from this frequent battle, it would help all Vermonters. It means stop trying to reform the broken structure.

Is there anyone in the Vermont House who has the backbone to continue Act 48 through the financing stage to provide all Vermonters with health care?

Join the struggle to liberate ourselves from this repressive and destructive system and demand equitable financing for Green Mountain Care, the universal health care law in Vermont. This is where we need to start.

Sharon Racusin


Voters Needn’t Be Taxpayers

 Now that the Hanover voting is over, I wanted to raise an issue that troubled me. I saw two letters to the editor that tied taxpayer status to voting on Article 9. If I have my history correct, originally in America, one had to satisfy a few conditions to be eligible to vote.  You had to be white, male, a property owner and a taxpayer.  For that reason, until the early 1800s, less than 5 percent of the U.S. population voted. The authors of the letters in the Valley News seemed to imply that owning property and paying taxes should still be criteria for voting.  

 Now I resent that, because when I was in the military, I did not always own the house where I lived; I frequently rented or lived on base.  I would live for less time in a town or city than the four years students spend at Dartmouth. In my view, the term “students who don’t pay town taxes” could easily become “military personnel who don’t pay taxes.”

My humble request is that we acknowledge that voting is a right of everyone who has achieved the age of majority. We should not use language that infers second-class citizenship to those who don’t own local property and pay local taxes.

Bill Brown