What constitutes a militia

To the Editor:

Unless a presidential tweet interferes, mass shootings will dominate the news cycle. Now even two on a single day. Politicians, quite predictably, wring their hands, offer thoughts and prayers and call for more background checks to keep lunatics from buying firearms. What are the chances of that becoming effective? I suspect many would rather relinquish their guns than submit to a mental evaluation by the government.

This may surprise many: The Second Amendment is OK with me.

Gun lovers use the amendment to “prove” their rights yet rarely can anyone even recite it. It’s only one sentence but all most of them know is the second half. Here is the full text:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

A few questions: Are you, John or Jane Doe, a “militia”? Is your militia “well regulated”? Is your militia necessary for California’s security? If you can answer yes to all of them (honestly please), how about the body of the Constitution, particularly Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16?

They deal with states’ rights. After all, the states were afraid that an overarching central government might leave them powerless. The Second Amendment was intended to ensure their rights. Like appointing officers to command their militia and train its members to standards approved by Congress.

In return, the states would have to send their militias to fight against foreign enemies. Consequently, the California National Guard fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did you sign up and join your 23,000 comrades? And mourn the 31 Guards men and women who perished in these wars?

It’s the National Guard that the Constitution calls militias. Not the John and Jane Does of the country.

Klaus Kraemer


Let’s try compassion

To the Editor:

Compassion is the feeling of sympathy for the sufferings of others and a desire to help them. It’s what we feel when we see an injured child. But in a broader sense, it is also the realization that we are all in this together, and that we all depend upon each other and the natural world we live in.

United we stand, divided we fall. All for one, one for all. Holding any one person or group back drags us all down. A misuse or waste of natural resources impoverishes everyone.

To be pragmatic is to be practical; to skillfully do what works best; to get done what needs to be done; to rely on concrete experience and factual knowledge, not fanciful speculation or wishful thinking. Let’s beware of politically motivated quick fixes that can do more harm than good. Doing the best thing might take time, money and sacrifice.

In your heart you know what’s right. Let’s choose compassionate leaders with pragmatic solutions to the dilemmas that we have to confront in this modern complicated world. Our future depends on each of us making the right choices.

In the early stages of the campaign, I am impressed with Elizabeth Warren and her plans. Some specifics might not be politically possible, but it’s clear that she would know how to get things done (pragmatic). She comes across as a good hearted person who really wants to make things better (compassionate).

Donald Trump is the dark and ugly opposite of a compassionate and pragmatic leader. He is bigoted, selfish and cruel, and he is too ignorant, lazy and impulsive to govern effectively. But for Trump’s team of liars, everyone would know the truth about him by now. We can and must do better.

John Watson


The left is scary

To the Editor:

I’m not talking politics here. I’m writing about some people behind the wheel of an automobile. In making their turns they cut across the opposing lane, they stop one to two car lengths behind the limit line and start their turn from there.

If you are the lead car in the intersection they are entering and you are at the limit line, they sneer or mouth something I’m sure is not “Good day” and almost take off your front fender. Take a look at how the striping is worn to prove my point.

Back in the day, a long time ago, my high school driver training teacher said, “Pull up to the line, don’t go over, just up to it.”

One of my thoughts about this is, have these people not gotten the concept of the steering wheel? You know engineers design these intersections for all types of vehicles and engineers have designed wonderful steering systems for automobiles and trucks.

Coming out of Death Valley heading to Mohave, “Borax Bill” driving a 20 mule team, with only a “Jerk Line”, a hand full of rocks and a little profanity, made better turns than some of these folks attempting to drive an automobile!

Jon Rodgers


Good customer service

To the Editor:

Congratulations are in order to Peggy Pietrowicz, the newly named publisher of The Union Democrat.

I have a very positive experience to tell you about Peggy that took place within the past year. As we all know, home deliveries have not been the best for all of us over the past several years. I can go on and on about all the excuses told to me, some I’m sure were true and others I wondered about.

After being promised by the dispatch office that my “morning” paper one particular day would be delivered by mid-afternoon, and it never was, I called the main office number to The Union Democrat to voice my complaint and ask as to when our paper would be delivered.

The person who took my call was Peggy. She was very polite and professional and said she would handle the delivery herself since she was about to get off work pretty soon. Being advertising director at the time, I mentioned to her that she shouldn’t have to do that, that is someone else’s job. She ensured to me that she didn’t mind at all since she lived about 10 minutes from our home.

Within an hour of our telephone conversation she drove to our home and made the delivery. I told her that I was in the customer service business all of my working years and let her know how much I appreciated her going out of her way.

If anyone can turn The Union Democrat around to what is expected of a “morning” newspaper, I am confident that Peggy is the right person for the job. Best of luck Peggy!

Peter and Jeanne Bencharsky


Looking for better angels

To the Editor:

David Frum, a writer for the Atlantic Monthly left readers to ponder his article appearing June 20, 2017. I quote some of its major points.

“Democracy enables the many to out vote the few. If the few possess power and wealth, they may respond to this prospect by resisting democracy before it arrives — or sabotaging it afterwards”.

“The organized Republican party lacked the strength to deny the presidential nomination to Donald Trump … once Trump gained that nomination, the vehement partisanship of Republican supporters secured him their general election votes despite the distaste so many felt for him.”

“….Conservative" class="auto" target="_blank">class="s1">“….Conservative discussion and debate…increasing impatience with the claim everyone should have convenient access to the ballot … party rules that once would have screened out a Trump have given way to partisan antagonisms that empower him. The Republican party could not stop him, now it cannot restrain him”.

Since his inauguration, Trump has worked to undo the advances of his predecessors — both Republican and Democrat, in science, human dignity, and equality. We have fallen in stature as a democratic model for the world.

Far from draining the swamp, Trump has done the exact opposite. Political favors from wealthy donors earn many the chance to fill cabinet positions and other vacancies regardless of experience, until they fall out of favor, corruptness upends them, or they tire of trying to defend Trump from himself.

As a result, the federal government limps along like a ship without a captain, only staying marginally sea-worthy thanks to career employees who are continually harangued and criticized as they try to do their best.

The presidents I grew up with led with inspiring speeches that inspired great achievements and a moral direction to our “better angels.”

Today, we are being led further into a dark existence. It’s not too late to correct this.

Wayne Kirkbride

Twain Harte

Columbia College should retain class

To the Editor:

We are writing in support of keeping our HHP 300 (Health and Human Performance) class from being canceled. This class has been offered by Columbia College in Twain Harte for over 20 years and provides a valuable opportunity for senior citizens to maintain a vital, active lifestyle.

The Twain Harte class provides a viable alternative to a class in Columbia. This doesn’t even address the weather issue during the winter. Driving during dusk and dawn creates a hurdle we must be willing to tackle to get to class.

Why? Twain Harte Center takes most of us about a five-minute drive, reduces traffic and exhaust emissions on the highway, and drastically reduces the cost of traveling between Twain Harte and Columbia two or three times a week.

Core Values of the college that support our plea include: “Environmental Sustainability; Vital Community and Access; and Civic Awareness.”

We value our living planet by … adopting practices to protect the environment…

(Forty people would have a 35-mile round-trip three times weekly.)

We value and believe it is essential to assist members of the broader community… Columbia College values its role in the community and is dedicated to strengthening and enriching the quality of life of all those we serve.

We value civic…awareness of contemporary issues. We promote the understanding and betterment of society and our world by engaging our students, staff and surrounding community in meaningful discussions and activities.

Is it all about the money? Really? We are homeowners who pay taxes and support the college through four separate bond assessments. Elimination of this class is a threat to our longevity, and we believe this is a blatant example of age discrimination. We are here, and we are a vital part of the community.

Rich and Nancy Schwarzmann

Twain Harte

Let inquiry begin

To the Editor:

Hearing Mueller describe the extent of Trump’s crimes and corruption convinced me that Congress has to stop stalling and start taking action. It’s time for a formal impeachment inquiry.

Donald Trump claims the Mueller report exonerated him, but Mueller clearly stated in his testimony that he did not exonerate Trump.

Mueller’s investigation found extensive criminal activity, uncovered over 100 secret meetings and communications between Trump’s campaign team and Russia or Russia-linked individuals, and found at least 10 episodes of obstruction of justice by the president himself, including telling the White House counsel to lie during the investigation.

It’s unbelievable to watch the person who holds the highest office in the land ignore the law when any other American who committed those same crimes would be put in jail.

Mueller’s findings resulted in 37 indictments and at least seven convictions or guilty pleas, including Trump’s national security advisor, personal lawyer, and campaign chairman. Mueller made it clear, however, that the Department of Justice policy prevented him from indicting Donald Trump because he is a sitting president.

Mueller did his job. It’s time for Congress to do theirs and hold Trump accountable.

There can be no more excuses or delays. It’s time for our representative and the rest of Congress to take action to hold Trump accountable. It’s time for a formal impeachment inquiry.

Jim Lundeen


What is that stink?

The President of the United States sits today in his dirty diaper, and points around the room and cries, “The cat did it! The dog did it!”

What a disgrace.

Rene Mayo


Strange Bedfellows

To the Editor:

When politicians and religions try to share the same bed, one of them is bound to end up on the floor. But regardless of who that is, it is the governed people who suffer.

Like all kings, Henry VIII wanted to control the hearts and minds of the English people, and the Pope wanted to control Henry’s. So, after a solemn and undoubtedly pious coronation the Church and Henry both got their wishes fulfilled. But when the Catholic Church got in the way of Henry’s personal ambitions, he simply created his own religion, The Church of England, revised the Catholic doctrine to suit himself, and continued his authoritative rule without a need for the Pope.

Sooner or later the same thing is likely to happen between Donald Trump and the “Evangelicals” that so fervently support him. Because hate, fear, and anger have no place in the Christian religion and religion clearly has no place in Trump’s life. Maybe the union would last if only the parties were truly focused on the nation and its people instead of their own goals in life.

Robert Rogers


When are the changes coming?

To the Editor:

Remember not too long ago you could go to the school grounds to play baseball, run the track, go swimming during the summer, even do craft classes all for free. Now all I see is we want $50,000 to rent the gym at Sonora High or some other school.

Then, they charge each family $120 to send your child for the summer. If I remember correctly I pay school taxes to have the schools open for your /my kids. It’s not a private club or business selling services.

I am 68 and have paid my whole life. in other states when you hit 62 you stop paying school taxes. When are they going to stop grouching the people of California? After all you get to have the dirtiest, most homelessness, crime-ridden towns and cities in the USA with our young people on every kind of drug.

Today we had another fire down the road from where I live. The city of Sonora will not be happy until they burn us out like Paradise and, like them, Sonora does not have an escape plan.

So you can kiss your life and home goodbye one of these days. Thank you for not fixing our roads — Golf Links — no police patrols, no weed control.

I am entitled to all this because I don’t have Prop. 13 and just came back to California five years ago and pay a lot more taxes than most.

This county is run by the overpaid, conflict of interest, incompetent and good old boys in the foothills. Otherwise I like it here.

Charles Stoffel