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People caught in this trap tend to use emotions to lead themselves and us to erroneous conclusions even as they cite verifiable facts. They use inflammatory words such as socialism, entitlement, handout, freeloader and loser, or use context to inflame ordinary words such as liberal. They may scapegoat some section of the population, seniors, millennials, the unemployed, immigrants, Muslims or Jews. They sometimes present raw data, such as the debt clock in dramatic fashion and out of a context that would give it any meaning. They then assign to it a scary meaning.

If you see an article with any of these things in it, be suspicious of its conclusions, even if the facts presented are correct.

EDWARD MEISSE

Santa Rosa

Villanueva’s stand

EDITOR: I was pleased and proud to see Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburgh Steelers standing tall and alone with his hand placed over his heart during the playing of the national anthem. Here was a man and fellow service member who has served in defense of our American freedoms, such freedoms that allowed his teammates to remain in the tunnel and scores of other players to take a knee. Standing alone took bravery. He chose not to follow the crowd but to set the example for millions of proud veterans. Someone had to do it, and it was a West Point graduate and professional player to show the way.

So, of course, I was disappointed to hear him tell reporters the following day that he had inadvertently gotten separated from his team, stepped out too far from the tunnel and then realized he couldn’t retreat.

He had his chance to be a silent hero to millions of patriotic citizens — proud to stand for our flag and national anthem. Unfortunately, he later backtracked and bailed out.

BOB GMELIN

Sonoma

The president’s compass

EDITOR: In a little more than 100 years, our president’s international canon has gone from speak softly and carry a big stick to insult incessantly and point a little finger.

FRANK N. PANZA

Santa Rosa

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