Monday’s Letters to the Editor
Sep 5, 2016

Elites and democracy

EDITOR: There is no shortage of attempts to explain the attraction of Donald Trump. There was a college government textbook first published in the early 1970s called “The Irony of Democracy.” The “irony” described is that the health of a democracy depends upon elites, of all ideological colors, not the great mass of citizens.

There is plentiful evidence from polling over the decades up to the present that if you ask people about the protections in the Bill of Rights without telling them they are in the Bill of Rights, majorities reject most of these protections. But controlled for education, income and the like, pollsters find great support for democratic values among what Trump and his adherents call the elites.

Only people who are uncaring about the requisite conditions for a functioning democracy would support a candidate who has such dismissive ideas about how a democracy is maintained; ideas such as mutual respect, tolerance, equal protection under the law, protections against abuse of authority and so forth.

Historically, the elites looking out for democracy were in both parties. Sadly, many of the elites of one party seem to no longer recognize the importance of this elite responsibility.



Welfare and homeless

EDITOR: It is true that many single parents benefited from welfare reform (“The success of welfare reform,” What Others Say, Aug. 29), although there was never enough money to provide child care for all those who needed it. But don’t you think the increase in homelessness is a direct cause of adults with no children having been dropped from welfare benefits?



Wood’s abstention

EDITOR: Today is a day to honor and celebrate the resilience and hard work of America’s working families.

Last week, I withheld a vote on AB 1066, which gives farmworkers overtime after 40 hours a week rather than 60, and some have offered harsh criticism (“Farmers, workers at odds on overtime bill,” Wednesday). You deserve an explanation.

I’m a strong supporter of working families – supporting safe working conditions, secure retirement, health care coverage, better sick pay and family leave and increases in the minimum wage. My vote was not about any one agricultural business but about small farms. In the counties in my district, 2,794 out of 3,343 farms hire fewer than 10 workers, and an even larger number of farms sell less than $50,000 in goods every year.

AB 1066’s one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t offer the flexibility small farms need to address the unique challenges of each product’s harvest seasons or external pressures of fixed pricing on products like milk and foreign competition faced by Humboldt cut flower growers. And if these farms can’t make it, opportunities for work are lost. Had the bill addressed the challenges of small farms, I could have voted differently, but it did not.



Trump coverage

EDITOR: L. Robert Hill’s complaint that The Press Democrat and media are “biased” against Donald Trump ignores the obvious — that Trump reliably hangs himself with his own words (“Media and Trump,” Letters, Aug. 27).

As a Trump apologist, it seems to have escaped Hill that the same media he bemoans has treated Hillary Clinton no different, or worse, for decades, jumping gleefully on every misstatement, untruth and mini-scandal that emerges. Otherwise she’d be light years ahead instead of merely far ahead.

No one needs to “twist his words or misrepresent his statements.” Trump kindly saves us all the trouble, spewing one twisted remark after another. But I agree with Hill that it’s fair game to agree or disagree with Trump on the issues. Last time I looked, every conceivable viewpoint and opinion is out there to be seen, heard and read.

Hill’s problem is that Trump is losing, fair and square. Besides, I thought Trump lived by his own maxim, that no publicity is bad publicity. Don’t blame the media for his belated discovery that the real world shelf life of that cliché is limited as more people start to recognize an unscrupulous huckster.


Santa Rosa

Dissimilar treatment

EDITOR: In two weeks you have reported on two heartbreaking vehicular drownings of sibling girls. “Eerily similar,” you reported. But I’m left wondering if others found your coverage of these two events eerily dissimilar — the one report full of community mourning and compassion; the other full of unsubstantiated suspicion.

Did the lack of a booster seat somehow contribute to the death of a child in the second event? Have any witnesses come forward in the second event to say that the mom was driving recklessly, or is it simply, as you state, that no witnesses have come forward to corroborate the mom’s assertion that she was cut off?

Your reporting on these incidents appears on the surface to reflect presumptions about the relative worth, integrity and culpability of the moms at the wheel, with no facts to support why they received different treatment in your reporting. I would like more facts to justify your slant. Absent that, it would be far more appropriate for you to stick to reporting on the depths of these tragedies, for the families and for their communities.


Santa Rosa

Trumpian logic

EDITOR: Regarding Donald Trump’s advice to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (“Find a new country”) if he won’t stand for the national anthem: If Trump doesn’t like our Constitution and the right it gives citizens to protest their government’s actions, why doesn’t he leave?