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Letters to the editor: Regret for the loss of a River Falls monument

Modifications to capitalism


I wonder how many folks on the "Right" (or Left) know that President Abraham Lincoln carried on a vigorous correspondence with Karl Marx? Perhaps you might guess as to whether it was Marx or Lincoln who wrote:

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

Was it Marx or Lincoln? Well, it was our favorite President! Of course, Mr. Lincoln's Christian faith informed his ideas on economics more than did Karl Marx.

Nevertheless, the idea of "modifying" the extremes of predatory capitalism is fully within the boundaries of elemental religious faith—and consistent with Catholic Social Doctrine (if that matters).

It is an axiom of the political Right to defend the priority of unlimited profits (traditionally regarded as the sin of greed), but is this defense worthy of us as human beings? Or is this just a bald effort of shilling for the billionaires? Is it really true that the desire for "self-determination, freedom and profit" trumps the spiritual intentions of compassion, equality and justice?

Another Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt, said that "The welfare of each of us is dependent upon the welfare of all of us."

Teddy wasn't a Socialist: he just understood that capitalism needs regular modifications so it doesn't lose its human face: and so he strove to break up the giant monopolies of his day.

Modern progressives and Democratic Socialists are asking important questions, not the least of which is "How much is enough?"

Apologists for the Right Wing refuse to consider this question, while fair modifications of capitalism would increase everyone's opportunity for some self-determination and freedom, not to mention justice.

Robert Daniel Smith

River Falls

Regret for the loss of a River Falls monument


Of course the River Falls Perkins was part of a national chain of restaurants. But in River Falls, it was pretty much unique. We don't NEED another fast food, mainly burger "restaurant." Admitted, Culver's is different from many of the fast food establishments in River Falls. Admitted it's better than many of the "burger" chains in River Falls and elsewhere. We could use one.

BUT, we do have many such places. Perkins was about the only "full service restaurant" in town open MANY hours — early and late — that didn't depend for much of its revenue on the sale of alcohol. Don't get me wrong—there are many times I want a Tom Collins or a high quality martini. But equally many times, I don't care for that atmosphere. I just want a brunch or a fairly nutritious meal that I don't have to prepare AND I want to be waited on.

For our Perkins to be traded for one more fast food establishment where the customer has to stand in line to order food, read the offerings from a confusing mishmash on the wall behind the counter, carry her own food to a table (usually too small to offer comfort, and then self "bus" the table, is not desirable.)

Gretta Stark did a credible article for the River Falls Journal about the change, but what was not covered was the loss that cannot be replaced.

AS fast food places go, Culver's is fine—one of the best chains. But it doesn't do it for the mature people of River Falls who have crowded into Perkins on weekends — and the weekly days when "kids" are offered nutritious food at a discount.

Sue Bridwell Beckham

River Falls

Reminder for drivers!


The morning of Friday, Aug. 17 around 9 a.m., I was biking back to work. With a car next to me at the intersection of Foster and South Main, we waited patiently for the light to turn green. The light turned green and the car next to me and myself proceeded to start to make our left turn just as a truck blew through the red light. The car stopped and the gasp from the passenger was audible to me through her open window alerting me to stop as well.

The truck missed hitting me by inches. The driver of the truck was visibly surprised as her hands flew in the air tossing her phone she had been looking at when she missed the red light. By God's will, nobody was hurt and I hope that driver was rattled enough to realize how lucky she was and thinks twice before being distracted by her phone while driving.

Stephanie Brown

River Falls

Let's play 2!


As the chair person for our wonderful River Falls Community Arts Base event, Art on the Kinni, I have been approached recently by many folks who seemed a little concerned about a music festival coming to town on the same date as AOTK, Sept. 8. After all, Art on the Kinni has been held on the first Saturday after Labor Day for 22 straight years.

At first blush, that might raise a question or two. For us it is important our event doesn't get enveloped by too much activity that might detract from the artist family that comes to town each year. While Art on the Kinni does provide CAB with income to help keep the doors open and the arts alive here in our community, the key reason we've done this for so long is to allow our artists to have a fine venue to show and sell their work. Anything that would detract from that would be a disservice to them and to the long-range quality of what has turned out to be CAB's signature event.

That said, let's be honest, the Grand Slam Jam will just be another reason to come to River Falls on Sept. 8. There is room for both events. And, it will help support the effort of all of the volunteers who work so hard to maintain First National Bank of River Falls Field as the top-quality baseball venue in this area.

So, let's sell both events. If you are planning to attend Art on the Kinni, why not make it a full day in our fine city and head to the Jam when you are done. Vice-versa, if your plans now include coming to the Grand Slam Jam, Art on the Kinni opens at 9 a.m. Come to River Falls a little earlier and take in our special art festival.

Being a long-time fan of baseball, I harken back to my Milwaukee Braves fan days and one of that teams fiercest competitors at shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. Ernie Banks would think of Sept. 8 in River Falls and say, "LET'S PLAY TWO!" We encourage you all to join in this "Double Header" and have a great day in the City by the Kinni!

Steve Preisler

Outgoing President, River Falls Community Arts Base

Kind words unite us


Thank you Diane Wengelski for sharing the kind words of a black man at the recent anti-hate rally.

In response to the shout, "White lives matter!" he commented, "Yes they do. And so do black lives and blue lives ... all lives are sacred."

His comment lightened my day and helped to soothe my hopeless feelings with current goings on.

I hope others will share, here in the Journal, acts of kindness they may have witnessed or experienced between various diverse groups.

I will start.

Last week I saw a young black man, who was leaving our library, stop and patiently wait, holding the door open for a slowly-approaching, elderly white man with a walker.

And, recently, in Boston, trying to navigate the "T," their public transportation system, I asked a young black man on the platform for assistance. He hurriedly tried to explain, stating he didn't have the time, would be late for his class at a local college.

He boarded the train, turned around, looked at pathetic me still standing there, and then jumped back off the train onto the platform.

Shocked, I said, "You'll be late for class."

The young black man said, "I'll stay here with you until we get this figured out."

I learned his name, Muhammad, and that he was a student from Somalia.

"I'll stay here with you until we get this figured out."

Kind words unite us. Kind actions diminish mistrust, misunderstanding, and hostility, putting chinks into the armor of hate.

Perhaps a local artist could create a symbol to gauge our kindness as a community. Something similar to, but more creative than the usual thermometer; and, each time an act of kindness is shared, a portion of that symbol painted, to completion.

We are a "Bird" city; why not the first "Kind" city...

Roseanne Olsen

River Falls

I too, fear for all of us


Dr. Jackie Brux, thank you for speaking for me, saying things that I am unable to say so elegantly. I pray that others will be encouraged by your words to speak out. Yes, I get upset as each day brings a new chapter to the destruction of all that we hold dear, from morals to decency, to love and respect for each other, and the caring for those who believe that we mean it when saying, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ..."

My children and friends tell me not to watch so much news because I become upset. Like you, I care so much. And like you, my tears are my prayer. I cannot stop watching, because this is my country that I held up as an example of all that democracy stands for during the 40-some years that I lived and worked in the slums of a third world country. I would say, "The injustices I am witnessing could never happen in my country, the land of freedom, and respect for the government, where people had a voice." I did add, however, that in spite of the fact the U.S. continues to struggle to rise above the prejudice that targets people of different skin color or religion, the people elected the first African American president.

When I returned to the U.S., I never expected what is happening now. Vile language I never thought I would hear on TV. Unthinkable name calling and divisiveness. Cruelty and outright bullying, the decline of respect among our politicians. Suddenly, we are classifying everyone: white, black, Hispanic, or native; rich or poor; immigrant—legal or illegal, documented or undocumented; Christian, Jew or Muslim, and so on. We are no longer just people and neighbors. We are isolating ourselves from our own allies, countries with which we have stood and worked with for everything we've ever believed in, aligning now instead with dictators who do what they will. Suddenly, all the news we hear is labeled FAKE! Journalists are "liars." The free press is "the enemy of the people."

Yes, like Jackie, I fear for all of us! We may have a great economy, but we are losing our essence. We are losing that which makes us great! If we negate our diversity, we negate what makes us great? So I say to those who tell me not to listen to the news: if I don't pay attention, how will I understand what is going on? How will I defend my beliefs when even the parts of our Government which we trusted, are being called into question? How do I resolve my fear and your fear that we don't know how to fight against the dangerous isolationist, anti diversity path we are on?

Rev. Barb de Souza

River Falls

To be is not to be


So now we learn "truth is not truth" from a man we are told is Donald Trump's lawyer, but who seems to be employed in spreading nonsense while mistakenly confessing to crimes this administration has denied for months. But is there really anything surprising about Rudy Giuliani's seeming slip up into the absurd?

At this point it is a given that this administration has been promoting this idea of "alternative facts" and portraying the media as "fake news" prompting Donald Trump to tell his supporters to understand that what they see and hear on the news is not real. When Giuliani said "truth is not truth" to Chuck Todd without blinking, it was no mistake. The density of lies and misinformation surrounding this administration has established an alternate universe where an alternate version of this country's politics and history is being governed by this administration. When reality is not reality then logically "truth is not truth."

The fiction has been elevated. When someone points out Trump is mistaken claiming the biggest tax cut in our history, he responds by repeating the lie 60 times. Trump's lies about the Mueller investigation and persistent claims about "the Russian hoax" have become shameless journeys into a fictional world as the very process of uncovering objective truth is fought tooth and nail.

Given, when Giuliani denounced "truth" he was referencing two versions of what had happened in the past as a possible problem for Trump presenting testimony to Robert Mueller and a grand jury. But one must understand, this clearly shows a separation from truth understood as reality, into an understanding of what people "say is true." Truth to Donald Trump is what he says and what people believe. The rules of the con remain intact.Truth is not truth.

Paul White

River Falls

Hold Trump accountable for inaccuracy


As the press points out misleading/inaccurate statements President Trump makes in campaign speeches, tweets and press conferences, Trump counters with, "Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."

President Trump calls "fake news," a label he pins on nearly all media outlets except Fox News, "the enemy of the American people."

According to the three Washington Post journalists assigned to update a fact-checker database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement made by Trump, as of Aug. 1, 2018, Trump made 4,229 false/misleading claims in the 558 days since being sworn in as president, with nearly 150 untrue claims being repeated at least three times.

One-third of the President's false claims relate to economic issues: getting the size of trade deficits wrong and presenting numbers in a misleading fashion, displaying a basic misunderstanding of economics; taking credit for jobs created before he became president and business decisions with which he had no role; boasting about jobs numbers, even though annual job growth under his presidency is slower than Obama's last five years of leadership.

Washington Post analysis of one Montana campaign speech Trump made in July found 76 percent of the assertions made were false, misleading or unsupported by evidence.

Peter Wehner of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who served under Presidents Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, opines that Trump is a pathological liar who lies on personal, political, domestic and international matters, often lying needlessly.

Trump attacks the media because it is the institution that demands accountability when it comes to truth-telling, and Trump knows he has to delegitimize the media so he can get away with what for anyone else would be unacceptable behavior.

Our country can't function if we don't agree on common sets of facts. It is unacceptable that Fox News enables Trump by letting false claims go unchecked, leading many people to believe Trump's lies. Call Fox News, 1-888-369-4762, to insist they hold Trump and his administration accountable for inaccurate statements.

Jeanne Larson