Wednesday’s Letters to the Editor
Security and politics
EDITOR: A security clearance isn’t a political gift (“Trump revokes security clearance,” Thursday). Throughout my career, I had multiple security clearances with various federal agencies. A clearance is acknowledgment of both a background evaluation and a need to know. A security clearance requires periodic renewal and may require a lie-detector evaluation. It isn’t a political gift to be arbitrarily given or taken away. Politics may play a role in someone’s need to know certain material but not on their fitness.
Former CIA director John Brennan has a career of sensitive knowledge on vitally important national issues. It would be correct to deny him access to some of that material. It is not correct to give or remove basic security clearances upon political whim. A person’s background fitness doesn’t change with an election cycle.
Brennan’s background and knowledge are national treasures. We must be able to evaluate near information in the light of past knowledge. It is wrong to deny him access to any material for which he has a need to know. National security is vitally important, very challenging and not to be a political football.
Bias and trust
EDITOR: More than 300 media outlets joined in a coordinated effort to push back against President Donald Trump. That wasn’t a shock to many Americans, as it seems mainstream news organizations have done little else throughout his tenure in the White House.
In a recent poll, 72 percent expressed the belief that “traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false, or purposely misleading,” with nearly two-thirds attributing the reporting of fake news to the promotion of an agenda. That’s not Trump’s fault. Americans’ trust in media was falling long before he took office.
What the media are reacting to isn’t a “dirty war” against them, but a new landscape in which a few well-established media corporations that claim the high ground of the First Amendment can no longer set the terms of the national debate without expecting pushback or scrutiny.
Journalists fretting over their public image have more to fear in the practices of their peers than in any characterizations of their profession coming from the White House. If they want to counter the narrative that they are blindly and single-mindedly focused on hounding a president from office at any cost, openly colluding to scold him for rhetoric that merely mirrors their own contempt may not be the best place to start.
Waiting for transit
EDITOR: There must be a reason, a good reason, that zero public transport options exist for travel between Santa Rosa and Calistoga. I wish I knew what it was.
Hidden Valley Lake
Be a ‘climate lobbyist’
EDITOR: Why do we have to wait for 2020 to let Mother Nature in our elections (“Imagine if Mother Nature gets a vote in 2020,” Sunday)? I’m tired of having to pull out that Martian-looking respirator, or stay inside, on all these unhealthy, smoky air days. And, of course, there are much larger areas of California suffering more direct effects of the fires. Even the big, glossy insert from PG&E gave a hint: “California confronted 7,117 wildfires in 2017 compared to an average of 4,835 wildfires in the previous 5 years.”