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Columnists
READER COMMENT
Reader Comment: We all have to stand up against hate in Twin Falls

Early Saturday morning cowards debased our community. Under the cover of darkness they draped butchered pig parts on a crude, Christian cross and desecrated our Islamic Center by placing this testament to their fear and ignorance in the mosque’s parking lot.

Note that I say cowards, plural, and I am insisting that this is a crime against a specific and vital part of our community. As news reports indicate, incidents like this have been on the rise since 2015.

No more. It is time our community drew together and said enough. We can no longer afford to distance ourselves from these vile actions by insisting that “they are the work of a small number of extremists,” or that “most of Twin’s population tolerates diversity.”

Those who commit crimes against people whose ethnicity or religious affiliations bring diversity to the Magic Valley may indeed represent a minority of the population, but they do not exist in a vacuum, and self-congratulatory tolerance is no more than half-a-bubble out from condescending dismissiveness. Mere tolerance has created a civic landscape where we turn a blind eye to demeaning jokes and stereotypes instead of speaking out in support of multi-cultural practices and beliefs. Mere tolerance has engendered a climate of opinion where willful ignorance goes unaddressed and opportunities to learn from those whose cultural practices differ from the mainstream fall by the wayside.

Enough. We are all in this together. It is high time we commit publicly and privately to embracing diversity.

My family homesteaded on a north Idaho ranch and I’ve spent enough time in bars, sales yards, cafés and churches to know that the cowards who insulted our Islamic brothers and sisters talked about it. Bragged about it most likely. That means other people heard them. Perhaps these folks felt they had to keep silent, but now is the time to stand up and be counted. Maybe we can’t conquer the fears that divide us from each other overnight, but it’s high time we knocked a few holes in the walls we have erected. After all, we can see the world more clearly through windows than from behind walls.


Letters
Letter: Vote incumbents in Gooding

The challengers running for election to the Gooding City Council and mayor positions claim to be running together as a "team" to combat what they perceive as an "us -vs- them" attitude they claim exists with the current city administration. Experience has proven that any entity, city government included, is best served by those with different backgrounds and strengths, who are free to express their own independent ideas and views without allegiance to a team or pre-determined agenda. The current Council and mayor share this philosophy and have been very successful in leading the city of Gooding through complicated and challenging projects, and they pledge to provide the same conservative and well-reasoned leadership in the future. The city will continue to face difficult challenges, and we openly encourage new ideas and participation for the betterment of our fine city of Gooding.

I strongly urge your vote for Mayor Nelson and Council members Diane Houser and Mel Magnelli on Nov 7.

Vern France

City Council president


Columnists
Cal Thomas: Indictments and ham sandwiches

In considering the indictment of former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and an associate, I am reminded of former Bill Clinton aide and defender James Carville’s line about the ability of a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.”

Manafort and a longtime business partner, Rick Gates, pleaded not guilty to all 12 counts against them. Manafort is under house arrest after posting an outrageously high bond of $10 million. Gates’ bond was set at $5 million. George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, has pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI about his foreign contacts with several top Russian officials.

Predictably, the major media are celebrating this as the beginning of the end of the nascent Trump presidency. Within hours of the announced indictments, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof rushed into print with a column titled “Will Manafort Sing? If so, it may mark the beginning of the end of this presidency.” Look for more of this wishful thinking that the establishment, the Democrats and all of the mainstream media have been hoping for since Trump won the election.

What Manafort stands accused of has nothing to do with the 2016 election, or with Russian “collusion.” No one, so far, has produced any evidence the Russians affected the election’s outcome. This is all about overturning the results and keeping “the swamp” full for those who live in it and reject change.

Real collusion might be in the significant share of U.S. uranium sold to the Russians during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state (she signed off on the deal), followed by a $500,000 fee paid to her husband for a speech in Moscow and the millions of dollars that subsequently flowed into the Clinton Foundation from uranium investors.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and Congress should investigate that Russian connection, along with the role of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign (and the earlier Republican role) in creating an anti-Trump dossier that has been shown to be a fraud and yet was used to justify the appointment of Mueller. If the reason for Mueller’s appointment is fraudulent, how can it be said that his investigation, which includes staff attorneys who made donations to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, is not tainted?

Among the many problems with this investigation is that it has no legal, subject or monetary limits. If Mueller and his associates are unable to prove collusion with the Russians, one can count on them coming up with something else. Far-left members of Congress, such as Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), openly state that their objective is to “take out” the president, and they don’t mean to lunch.

There is also the matter of leaks from the grand jury. Not surprisingly, the details of the indictments matched the leak to CNN. Unless that network employs mind readers and engages in paranormal activity, those leaks are felonies and the leakers should be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are firing up investigations of their own, including long-overdue looks into various questionable and possibly illegal activities by the Clintons. Congress is the proper avenue for such investigations, not special counsels, who can “go rogue” if they wish.

These seemingly endless accusations and investigations are what so much of the country hates about Washington, the “D.C.” that increasingly seems to stand for “dysfunctional city.” No matter which party controls government, the other party does all it can, by whatever means, to undermine those elected. This behavior solves no problems. It is only about grabbing and holding onto power.

Given the many moving parts in the Mueller probe and the loss of focus on the primary reason for it, the government may have a difficult time proving its case in court. But with unlimited funds and a staff of lawyers who have Democratic affiliations, you can bet they will try to make more than a ham sandwich out of it.