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Petulant Pence

EDITOR: How is it OK for our vice president to go to a foreign country as our representative at the winter Olympics and be rude and dismissive of the sister of North Korea’s dictator?

How is it “treason” when Democrats don’t applaud Donald Trump’s every statement at the State of the Union address, but it’s OK for Mike Pence to refuse to stand and honor the combined North and South Korean athletic teams?

Where he could have taken the high road and been gracious and tried to spread a little goodwill, Pence instead was rude and petulant and added to the negative image North Korea already has of us.

Is this really the image we want to portray to the world? Are there no adults anywhere in D.C. who can put this entire childish administration in a time-out and bring some sanity back to our government?

ANNETTE FLACHMAN

Windsor

Hooray for moderates

EDITOR: The budget bill passed with significant majorities in both houses of Congress. The government will stay open — at least for a while (“Budget deal ends short-lived shutdown,” Saturday). How did that happen? Simple. The moderates of both parties got together for the benefit of America.

Republicans and Democrats each gave a little. The antis were almost all from the far left and the far right. I say a pox on both of them. Let’s hope that this is a harbinger of good things to come in the future.

I watched some of Nancy Pelosi’s marathon speech touting her support for DACA recipients. I’ve got news for her. DACA doesn’t have anything to do with keeping the government open or the budget. I then watched Rand Paul make an equally idiotic speech in an attempt to shut down the government due to “its fiscal irresponsibility.” I’ve got news for him. The government has been fiscally irresponsible since entitlements were invented. If he thinks shutting down the government is going to fix that problem, he is smoking something now legal in California.

MICHAEL BURWEN

Petaluma

Housing concerns

EDITOR: So the county is going to consider building 30,000 housing units (“Supervisors mull big housing goal,” Wednesday). My response? You have got to be kidding.

The county has systematically disregarded the urban growth boundary ordinances passed by voters in the 1990s, hoping no one would notice. Most of us who live here want to preserve the rural character and natural beauty, not pave it over like Santa Clara County did in the 1970s and ’80s. If the supervisors want to build 30,000 units within existing city limits, that is fine. But please start respecting our urban growth boundary laws.

Now, as to asking taxpayers to pay for it with a housing bond. You have got to be kidding. Those of us who did not lose houses were absolutely affected by the fires. It’s not just about paying higher rents. It is overall more expensive than ever to live here. Claiming that building housing will lower rents is a big lie.

If the supervisors believe that a developer can’t make money in today’s high real estate market, then they can ask PG&E to help pay for it. Then maybe PG&E will stop destroying neighborhoods and ruining lives as it did in San Bruno and other places, possibly including here.

GAIL M. OTTESON

Sonoma

Merkel’s example

EDITOR: Perhaps the most important news of the past year is the article in Thursday’s paper about Angela Merkel forming a coalition government that, when instituted, will stabilize Germany and, in partnership with France, should lead the European Union away from austerity (“Merkel forges pact to govern with old allies”). It’s time Americans learned the lessons of compromise.

For 40 years, and notably from 2009 to 2017, Republicans have tried to demagogue every issue, which has culminated in our state ship being steered like a clown car. Governments work best when they are moderated by trade-offs. Everyone gives a little. Otherwise we devolve into chaos, as we saw in the 1960s, and as we are experiencing now. The cure isn’t pushing harder and electing people who have no experience at the highest levels of power and no understanding of tradition. Politics is a game that requires apprenticeship. It’s not a simple task for simple minds.

In November, try to remember, they aren’t all the same, and your vote does count. Vote, and get America back on a normal tack.

BOB MARKETOS

Petaluma

Xanax abuse

EDITOR: I’d like to add important information not mentioned anywhere in the article about teens abusing Xanax (“Xanax abuse rising in schools,” Feb. 7): Xanax and all other benzodiazepines, when taken daily for as little as four to five weeks, may become addictive.

Even when taken as prescribed by doctors, withdrawal can be difficult, even excruciating and prolonged. It is estimated that about one-third of the population is susceptible to “protracted withdrawal.”

Geriatric doctors don’t recommend that people over 65 stay on this class of drugs (commonly used for anxiety and sleep issues), as research is showing they are related to memory loss and other cognitive problems.

I’ve witnessed two people I love battle the effects of long-term use of “benzos.”

Sometimes a short-term prescription may be needed, but please be aware that it is possible for the central nervous system to become addicted to them. This is life-changing, and not for the better.

P. KAYLEE POWELL

Santa Rosa

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