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The 2020 election

EDITOR: In the election of 1968, tainted by assassinations, a police riot in Chicago and anti-war demonstrations, Richard Nixon lied his way into the White House with a secret (and nonexistent) plan to end the war. Despite the rising clouds of Watergate and his mishandling of the war, Nixon was re-elected by a landslide in 1972. Hardly seems possible.

In 2000, George W. Bush attained the White House courtesy of a coup delivered by Florida (a state governed by his brother). Despite lying about weapons of mass destruction and initiating an unnecessary war in the Middle East, which is ongoing today, Bush was re-elected in 2004. Hardly seems possible.

In 2016, tainted by Russian interference and inappropriate political intervention by the FBI, Donald Trump, a prolific liar spectacularly ignorant of history, world events and ethics, amoral, misogynistic and generally boorish, attained the presidency. Hardly seems possible. Even he couldn’t believe it.

In Sonoma County, it is generally assumed that he will be a one-term president. Based on the above short history, that is a dangerous assumption.

Unless the Democrats come up with a cohesive and intelligent alternative program, led by youthful and, yes, charismatic candidates, it could well mean four more years for Trump in 2020. Hardly seems possible.

CHRIS KUHN

Santa Rosa

Consider the source

EDITOR: In evaluating the merits of the July 8 op-ed arguing that Donald Trump has the legal authority to erase the national monuments created by President Barack Obama (“Trump can topple national monuments”), consider the source — John Yoo.

In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, Yoo was the deputy assistant U.S. attorney general who, under George W. Bush, wrote the notorious torture memos that provided legal authority for the secret renditions and “enhanced interrogation” that shocked the world when they came to light.

To add to his resumé, Yoo also wrote memos authorizing warrantless monitoring of the communications of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. And, to top it off, he is a leading advocate of the controversial unitary executive theory, arguing that a president in war time has essentially unlimited powers.

Yoo may be a capable legal scholar, but the causes he chooses to advocate seem questionable to say the least.

ROBERT ADLER

Santa Rosa

English grammar

EDITOR: I’m sure golbou ghassemieh, the city of Santa Rosa’s human resources director, has good reasons for not capitalizing her name, but I don’t believe personal preference trumps correct English (“Workers to receive annual raises,” Wednesday).

In American English, proper nouns such as first names and surnames are invariably capitalized. (Though the name of the poet e.e. cummings is often printed in lowercase, that was a graphic designer’s artistic conceit; the author himself typically capitalized his own name.)

To monkey with the rules of capitalization on the basis of personal whim strikes me as a slippery slope, but since you appear to be so accommodating, I respectfully request to have my name printed backwards.

ECURB NIETSLAF

Santa Rosa

Federal health benefits

EDITOR: Christopher Sork (“Finish the job,” Letters, Wednesday) repeats misinformation about federal employees’ health care coverage that often appears in printed commentaries, emails, tweets and other online sources. In fact, federal employee health care programs depend on the governmental branch and agency. There are different systems that serve civilian employees, the military and elected officials, but none of them represents payouts solely from aggregate taxpayer contributions.

We are both retired from a civilian federal agency. Throughout our job lives, we paid into health care programs with family benefits — currently called the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. In 1960, this system became a lot like the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): we can select a health insurance program from qualified offerings (including PPOs and HMOs) based on required services and annually have the chance to change programs. The government adds 75 percent of employee contributions to the fund.

On top of the amounts we paid as employees (and that are still extracted from our annuity checks), in the last 10 years of our employment an extra amount was subtracted from our paychecks to shore up SSI — even though our federal employment record doesn’t add to calculation of SSI eligibility.

JANE E. NIELSON

and HOWARD G. WILSHIRE

Sebastopol

Defining anti-Semitism

EDITOR: I take issue with Sam Tuttleman’s letter (“Israel and anti-Semitism,” Wednesday). All criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, but some of it certainly is. Comparing Israel to the Nazis, a popular anti-Israel canard, is anti-Semitic. Vilifying Israel and attributing all of the blame for the conflict on it is anti-Semitic.

Where does Palestinian responsibility enter the discussion? Their refusal to accept proposed two state solutions from 1937 to today is ignored. There would be no wall or checkpoints if the Palestinians hadn’t murdered 900 civilians in the second Intifada and continued to attack Israelis with cars, knives and guns.

It is anti-Semitic to single out Israel, the only Jewish state, for opprobrium when many other states are doing far worse. It is anti-Semitic to insinuate that Israel is all-powerful and could end the conflict tomorrow if it unilaterally withdrew from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Those familiar with the outcome of the Gaza withdrawal must see how ridiculous that would be.

Conditions for the Palestinian should be improved, but that will only happen when all Palestinians abandon the use of violence and truly commit to two states for two people.

MARK P. RUDOW

Santa Rosa