The face of America

To the Editor:
Donald Trump, his Cabinet coterie of thugs and robber barons, his White Nationalist cult following, and Congressional Republican go-alongs regard themselves the true face of America. It is not a pretty picture, and, sadly, to a degree it is true. Up until the Civil War, the wealth of the nation was largely built on slavery in the South and immigrant sweatshop labor in the North. Exploitation of human and natural resources has long held sway in the American economy and the resulting class hierarchy based on the power of money has created the increasingly disparate distribution of wealth we see today. This is capitalism run amok and it is destroying the American dream. One can call those trying to rein in the excesses of wealth socialists, but they are the people in reality trying to make America a nation of ideals benefitting more than an elite few.

– RP

Climax Molybdenum

To the Editor:

The Climax Molybdenum Mine between Copper Mountain and Leadville in Colorado has over the years eaten away an entire mountainside along the Continental Divide and its milling operation filled a once-pristine mountain valley with lifeless, chemical-laden tailings.  Downstream is Dillon Reservoir, a major source of Denver and Front Range water.  The mine is now asking the EPA to allow the acceptable level of molybdenum in water be increased.  Scott Pruitt is rapidly transforming the Environmental Protection Agency into the Industrial Production and Profit Protection Agency, but increasing the allowable level of molybdenum in water by a factor of 236 times is surely a step too far.  Then again public safety is not the issue.

Robert Porath

Tierra Nueva


Tierra Nueva

In this random pick-up-sticks, double helix

Melting pot amalgam and gene pool diaspora

Of multiracial physiognomy, skin color,

And multilingual saga, rhythm, and song

Of European, African, Asian, Semitic,

And Native Peoples world and voice

That is La Tierra Nueva, Las Americas,

What is it, here today, to be a person,

To be, certifiably, a human being,

And can we, that being, intervene

Upon our predisposed tribal fears,

Prejudice, and self judgement of value

And humanity based on heritage,

Wealth, gender, and skin tone?

Can or can’t we?  Are we, the People,

This mixed breed, capable or culpable?

Female Statuary

To the Editor:
A not entirely trivial bit of the history of female statuary is John Ashcroft’s covering of the breasts of the blindfolded, scale holding symbols of Justice during his tenure as Attorney General.  If Harriet Tubman is not a proper replacement for Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, perhaps the Venus de Milo or Rodin’s The Kiss might serve to better reflect feminine beauty and mystery and deflect our tendencies to military engagement.  Similarly, lest the reality of Art upstage the surreality of ambition and war, the copy of Picasso’s “Guernica” portraying the anguish and suffering of a village being bombed and strafed during the Spanish Civil War was covered with a tarp as our intention to attack Iraq was being announced from the steps of the UN building in New York.  It seems we have but a tenuous grip on the realities of justice and life.
Robert Porath

A Guiding Thread

To the Editor:
If there is a guiding thread through the maze of incoherence and distraction created by the ascendency of Donald Trump to the Presidency, it points to a plan that America be governed not on democratic principles but as an autocratic fascist oligarchy.  With a Cabinet filled with retired generals, CEOs, and billionaires, it is no wonder the President so admires Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs.  Further, the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United cleared the way for the unlimited power of wealth to influence American politics, which sits well with the Libertarian/Republican desire for a limited, deregulated “small government”.  This is a government not of the People but one by and for a wealthy elite.
Robert Porath

Elderly Care in America

Dustin Hoffman’s film Quartet besides being a gentle gem of acting and film-making, should also be seen in contrast to the state and status of the elderly in America. A Home for Retired Musicians is, of course, a completely unique institution and who wouldn’t like to live out their last days on a bucolic country estate in England, surrounded by people of like interests still engaged in and sharing of their passions, but we must not ignore the grim reality of old age institutions here which, for the most part, resemble dormitories for minimum security prison hospitals . Eldercare in America is in a great conundrum: the Senate is the most elderly branch of government, but with its members having generous retirement plans and substantial accumulated wealth, it tends not to be a personally high-priority issue; and the younger House of Representatives generally thinks only one term to the next, and both political parties seem content to ascribe the misnomer “entitlement” to any federally administered, non-profit insurance program for retired people. So where are we aging boomers to turn?

In the film, the Home for Retired Musicians appears to be maintained by a combination of charitable giving and government subsidy (Maggie Smith’s character, despite having been an operatic diva, is there essentially “on the dole”), but it also operates somewhat like a working, almost “tribal”, commune with classes, lessons, and concerts to supplement its survival. However, while marijuana use seems on the comeback trail (drug use as the curer of all ails never left), one thing we boomers learned in in our hippie days is that communal living and finding tribal compatibility are next to impossible, some might even call it “downright unAmerican”. Classical musicians are unique in that, despite rivalries and jealousies, they embrace both the value of collaborative work and a strong sense of self. For the rest of us, the future is more a toss-up. Perhaps in time, all the new communication technology will change how the next generation relates to one another, but today a distinct worry is that our tendency to individualism, independence, and newness will leave us ultimately isolated, alone,and forgotten.


To the Editor:

On the surface, much of today’s divided political argument boils down to a disagreement over a preferred order of virtues. Should frugality and self-reliance or generosity and community be first in people’s hearts? All in all a sort of a silly question, but virtues carried to extremes do become vices and, with our penchant for projecting negativity onto “others”, the argument becomes pig-headed selfishness versus enabling airheadedness and everyone ends up yelling at one another. Perhaps better discourse would result if both sides were to admit both the positive and the negative we all have within ourselves and work then for the good of all, but isn’t it really about our confused and convoluted relationship with the concept of having power?


From the cabin in Meredith, CO