Letters to the editor for the week of May. 26, 2023

Second Amendment

Bad medicine

LB 574 is bad medicine for Nebraskans. This bill is part of a tidal wave of over 540 anti-queer bills in the USA in 2023. It is unjustified and is already having negative effects that will compromise the health of all Nebraskans. I have seen it in the eyes and on the faces of my patients and their loving parents, as well as face-to-face with medical students who already chose to leave Nebraska for residency training specifically because of politics targeting doctors.

No medical professionals who actually work with the trans community were consulted about LB 574. We have tried — at length and repeatedly — to reach out to our elected representatives, but they all seemed to have made their minds up before debate even began. Dozens upon dozens of people — including trans people, their parents and siblings, doctors, mental health experts, faith leaders and business leaders — have been speaking up over and over again in opposition to this bill, yet it has still advanced to final reading. Trans people and their families are being ignored. Doctors are being ignored. This is not medical or “protecting the children.” It is making their lives actively worse and telling them Nebraska does not want or respect them.

Growing up and training here in Nebraska, I never saw myself leaving. Now, I am questioning my future here. If LB 574 passes, I would either forfeit my license or violate my oath to provide the best, most compassionate care that I can to all patients.

You don’t have to know a trans person to know that a group of politicians practicing medicine on them is a bad idea. Please leave these complex, nuanced and individualized decisions to the patients and parents who they affect, in consultation with their own medical experts.

Alex Dworak, M.D., Ralston

Biden’s cheat sheet

It’s no wonder the American public has gotten soured over a perceived press bias. At a recent press conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, President Biden was photographed with a “cheat sheet.” In his hand was a card with a picture, phonetic breakdown of a Los Angeles Times reporter’s name and the question she would ask. The question and the answer were scripted ahead of time.

Justin Herring, Fremont

‘Pirates’ at Chanticleer

The “Pirates of Penzance” have once again started to appear with their classy and clever performance at the Hoff Center for the Performing Arts in Council Bluffs. It’s worth the short trip!

Jerry Golmanavich, Omaha

Point of default

If I buy a million-dollar house with a loan from my bank, I am obligated to repay that loan. If I don’t, I will forfeit the house and my credit standing. At the point of default, the bank will be unimpressed by my promises to spend less in the future or my blaming the people who encouraged me to buy the house. This is something that most individuals in our country understand.

Our country is at the point of default. Yes, we are in debt. Yes, it would be a good idea to spend less in the future. However, we have an obligation to pay the debt we have already accrued, and it’s a lot more serious than losing a house; it would be catastrophic for our nation and the world.

Since 1960, Congress has increased or suspended the debt limit 78 times, according to the Treasury Department. They increase the debt limit to pay our existing bills. Raising the debt ceiling is necessary to meet our existing legal obligations for money that we have already committed to spend. This is debt that Congress agreed to in the laws they passed. It is debt that has accumulated under many former Presidents of both parties. It does not authorize new spending.

The time for new fiscal responsibility (of which we haven’t seen much in either party in recent years) is during the budgeting process when new bills are proposed. That would be a proactive approach instead of a reactive one. Waiting until the loan is due to propose ways to curtail future spending are only reactive. When the horse has already left the barn, it’s a little late to shut the barn door.

Sandra Smith,

Underwood, Iowa

US debt default

Most of what you have heard about a possible debt default is misleading at best. Federal law, 31 US Code Section 3123, requires the Treasury to pay principal and interest on our debt, so unless President Joe Biden chooses to violate the law, there should be no default on our debt. See: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/3123.

Mike Cochrane, Blair

Iraq war lessons

The 20-year “anniversary” of the Iraq War needs further examination. To recap: 1. Horrific loss of life, including thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. An acceleration in global terrorism. Trillions of dollars bled from the U.S. Treasury. 2. An utter defeat for the U.S. military, making this the third defeat in the last four wars. 3. The basis for the wars was lies that Iraq’s dictator had ties to Islamic terrorism and that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. 4. The establishment academic and media and religious organizations, along with the general public, were enthusiastic supporters of the War. 5. No prosecutions by the International Criminal Court. 6. A further loss of U.S. credibility. A 2019 poll showed a majority of our veterans now believe the Iraq (and Afghanistan) Wars were “not worth it.”

What lessons can and should be drawn? 1. Brute force often makes more enemies, not fewer. Spending on war takes dollars that are critically needed for domestic priorities. 2. The military has learned nothing from its many defeats. People in other countries desire to govern their own affairs, not to be dictated to or dominated by the U.S. Dozens of generals should be fired; the military budget cut dramatically. 3. Our “leaders” do in fact lie. Iraq is not an isolated case. The Vietnam War was also based on a lie — the Gulf of Tonkin “incident”. 4. The war pushers and enablers need to be banned or fired from their respective academic and media positions. The “revolving door” between the military and the defense contractors/arms merchants needs to end.

Unless our country learns from its mistakes, it is doomed to repeat them. Given the planetary threats at hand, including nuclear war, a framework based on international law and respect for other nations is imperative.

Stuart Williams, Omaha

Salem 2023

So now the pursuit of justice is a “witch hunt.” So many witch hunts, so little time.

Lou Bozak, Omaha

Seat on the board

I attended the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder meeting in Omaha earlier this month, where Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger presided over an exuberant celebration of the company’s massive investment portfolio and return-on-investment that has made them icons in the financial services industry.

Right outside the meeting hall, a group of Native American tribespeople did traditional drumming and a circle dance. I was lucky enough to be there as they invoked the presence of ancient powers that most of the rest of the world has forgotten. These drummers and dancers were calling on the forces of nature to aid them in their fight against Berkshire Hathaway’s coal power plant pollution of their tribal homelands and the company’s plans to start dumping coal ash into a waterway that the tribes have long regarded as sacred, the Missouri River.

I’d love to see Warren and Charlie and the rest of Berkshire Hathaway’s Board of Directors immediately give these tribes a seat on the board, listen carefully to everything they have to say, and then start managing Berkshire Hathaway’s $530 billion asset portfolio accordingly. I believe these Native Americans could give Berkshire Hathaway the guidance they need to manage their company and their investment portfolio for true long-term value investing — the key principle that Warren and Charlie say they’ve been following since the company’s beginning. As compensation for these services, Berkshire Hathaway can set aside 1% of their asset portfolio for Native American reparations, starting with cleanup and healthcare for the damage done by the company’s coal-fired power plants.

Patrick Bosold,

Fairfield, Iowa

West Bank

It seems like every time I read an article about Israel’s West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in the World-Herald it is referred to as “occupied.” I think that term is rude and insensitive. The folks identifying themselves as Palestinians who are living there are residents, it is their home, and it is rude and insensitive to call them occupiers.

Mike Salkin, Omaha

Mid-east instability

James Trummer’s letter (“War stories”) comparing last year’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and casualties during the Afghani conflict following the attack on the World Trade Center and the 2003 Iraqi conflict was incredibly dishonest and inaccurate. Mr. Trummer states that “over 50,000 Americans died in those wars”, i.e. wars that he indicates were attributable to George W. Bush. There were, in fact, roughly 6,200 U.S. soldiers who died in those two “wars,” with in excess of 50,000 wounded. Mr. Trummer is aghast that President Biden could be blamed for the deaths of “merely” 13 brave soldiers, but saving countless deaths of other soldiers, while President Bush was allegedly responsible for two actual “wars,” i.e. “some Republicans think it’s OK for thousands to die but 13 is bad.” The incursion into Afghanistan was precipitated by the loss of over 3,000 Americans on U.S. soil. The incursion into Iraq was precipitated by some potentially faulty intelligence and a deranged dictator who consistently threatened mid-east peace. I believe there can be little doubt that the Afghani withdrawal was completely mismanaged. The Biden Administration moved back the original withdrawal date by roughly four months, and it seems that it still turned out to be a complete disaster. There should be serious discussion about how to address mid-east instability, but irrational, erroneous commentary lends nothing to those discussions.

G.R. Florine, Omaha

Wiring border shut

In the May 16 OWH, it is reported that the number of migrants have decreased by 50% after the COVID-19 restrictions were removed. Biden and Homeland Security are taking credit due to policies they have implemented. Do you suppose the fact that Gov. Abbott of Texas has activated his newly formed Tactical Border Force along with the National Guard and new razor wire fencing around their border might have anything to do with that also?

Elizabeth A. Miller, Bellevue

Destruction of faith

We have a beautiful rural church where our grandparents, parents, children, etc., received all the sacraments. Our church and members seem to be insignificant to Omaha Archdiocese (“Omaha Archdiocese poised to group churches in families”). There is nothing more important or precious than family unity. When the bond of that family unity is broken, it is devastating. In my opinion, this is exactly what is happening in the Archdiocese. Their article referring to “creating families” is a joke. I believe they are severing parish families and destroying faith. It seems the only thing that matters to this over-controlling hierarchy is money, power and big city life. We were informed that we have to upkeep our church when our doors are closed. Hey Omaha, we’ve been upkeeping our church for 100-plus years. With all the lawsuits the Archdiocese is facing, it does make sense they are scrambling for as much money as they can.

Deacon Tim McNeil’s comment on “responding to the changing world” is a pathetic excuse. Their prime excuse is a shortage of priests, while city parishes seem to be inundated with multiple priests. Then, they reduced Masses from eight to four, which makes no sense. If there were eight Masses amongst a cluster, each parish would be able to have a Mass each weekend. There are actually priests who would be more than willing to have as many Masses a weekend to serve these parishes. It puzzles me as to why the bishop allows only four Masses a weekend.

The days of truth, honesty and all that is good and sacred are gone. I never thought I would experience this destruction and corruption in the Catholic church.

Enjoy your riches and congratulations on the destruction of families and faith.

Pat Ksiazek,

Clarks, Nebraska

Way off base

Regarding James Trummer’s Pulse letter, “War stories,” you, sir, are way off base. President Bush did what he had to because 3,000 American citizens were murdered on Sept 11, 2001. I do not know where you got your figure of 50,000 soldiers killed in Bush’s “wars,” when it was 7,054.

When President Trump left office, he left in place 2,500 troupes in Afghanistan, so they would not be defenseless when the Americans pulled out. Biden, when he took office, undid everything in Afghanistan and pulled all troops out, it left 13 soldiers dead, including one of Daegan Page. Remember him?

I believe this was not a Republican or Democrat issue. What it did do, was to leave a country defenseless and 13 soldiers dead.

Karen Richardson, Omaha

Making a mess

I think that Robert Bastarache (Pulse, May 9) is correct when he says that we need a younger generation of candidates for president of the United States, but that he is wrong concerning the 1968 presidential election. The Vietnam War caused a significant drop in President Johnson’s approval ratings. He may not have won the Democratic Party nomination had he stayed in the race. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated shortly after winning the California primary. Kennedy may have been the Democratic nominee had he not been murdered. There were riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago by protesters of the Vietnam War. This hurt Humphrey’s chances of winning the 1968 presidential election. Had Johnson been the Democratic nominee, Richard Nixon would have used the Democratic Convention riots against Johnson in his campaign and may have been elected. I was a high school student at the time of the 1968 presidential election and was too young to vote. You cannot blame the entire baby boom generation of making a horrible mess of things. I think the left-leaning members of my baby boom generation are the ones that made this horrible mess of things.

Stephen Hillman, Omaha

Gun victims are important

This is only the second time I have ever sent a letter to the opinion page. However, it is on the same subject. The first one was immediately after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. I wrote it with so much sadness over the slaughter of children and their teachers. This letter finds me filled with unbearable rage over the killing at a mall in Allen, Texas. A mall I have visited many times with my daughter and granddaughter. A Texas state representative immediately said, “There is nothing to be done.” Yes. There. Is. Get military-style weapons off the streets!

The Second Amendment guarantees us the right to keep and bear arms. Nowhere in that document is there anything that would allow this kind of weaponry to be carried by anyone other than military or police. I am aware that in the late 1700s, there was not this type of weaponry available or even imagined. Mass destruction was not what they envisioned. There is something to be done. Get these weapons off the street! Make the purchase of a weapon harder than driving up to the drive-thru at McDonalds.

Mental health is a factor in these mass shootings. So many of these people fall through the cracks, and having these weapons available to them makes absolutely no sense. Other countries have mental health issues, but what they don’t have are the easy access to purchasing guns. Many of our elected officials are on the NRA A+ list. Voting against any reasonable gun restrictions. It is a nonstarter for discussion for most of them. They have to keep the contributions coming in from the NRA. When will the victims become more important than the gun rights lobby? More then 200 mass shootings in 2023 and its only May.

Shari Eades, Omaha

Weapons of war talk

We have to talk about weapons of war. Following my previous letter, Ron Mueller (“Good guns?”) tried to defend his guns, and Peter Sakaris (Pulse, May 5) tried to patronize me. This is only about AK-47s and AR-15s. It is not about handguns, shotguns and rifles. The Thompson sub-machine gun, the favored weapon of the Mafia, was outlawed decades ago because of rapid fire just like the AK-47s and AR-15s. We cannot continue down this path.

Terri Nesselrotte, Omaha

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