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Commentary this week including thoughts on the rare rise in cicadas this year, criminals’ efforts to defraud elderly residents and the state’s decision to exclude Driscoll Health Plan from the state’s Medicaid payment system. Other contributions addressed Donald Trump’s criminal conviction, efforts to ban books and the Congress members’ conduct at the Capitol, among other topics.

As always, we welcome your contributions to our public forum, and thank those who have shared their opinions with their fellow readers.

Big boy projects

Promoters pitched “the Statue of Responsibility” to Utah lawmakers recently. The statue would rival the Statue of Liberty at 305 feet tall and would cost $350 million to build.

The project reminds me of a proposal to build the “World’s Tallest Flagpole” in the little town of Columbia Falls, Maine.

For a Bible geek like me, these two proposed projects recall ancient Babylon, where wealthy folks got together to build a skyscraper with a similar patriotic intent and economic motivation.

Small states tend to get lost in the shuffle of big American states doing large things almost every day. That is why Utah was so thrilled to land the 2002 Winter Olympics. That is why we want an NHL team and a Major League baseball team. Utah wants to belong.

Our ardent desire to become a big boy state may even play a tiny role in why the Latter Day Saints church builds so many temples here, there and everywhere.

The Tower of Babel was intended to make the local culture visible, unified and strong, but it yielded the opposite result. Babel lost its language, and became weak, disunified and scattered.

What if Utah’s proposed project doesn’t produce the “responsibility” it sets out to inspire? The 2002 Olympics yielded some $5 billion-$6 billion in local economic benefit, but Utah is now rife with economic greed, divisive politics and social disintegration.

Kimball Shinkoskey

Woods Cross, Utah

No water for pools

There are three public swimming pools under repair so they can open soon. These pools along with other public and private pools need to be filled with water in order to be used. So where does the water come from since we’re under drought conditions and water may be rationed? I’m puzzled.

Caroline Steele


Navarrette draws praise

I find Ruben Navarrette’s opinions on the Opinion page very enlightening.

He has a way of explaining a problem by looking at it in different directions and not just one. At the end of any of his articles I find myself more educated on the subject at hand.

His approach to the college campus protests notes that some people think schools were too firm on students, and others believe they were not firm enough. There are those who feel that university presidents were too quick to call for police assistance to control the unruly crowd.

Some people feel that what we are witnessing is nothing more than young college kids exercising their freedom of speech. There are those who feel that young college students are being manipulated by professional agitators. And everyone is right in feeling that way. There is no wrong answer here.

We need to define the difference between a non-violent protest and a violent anarchy. It seems that we just witnessed a merging of these two on our college campuses today where it became one violent mass of people well organized by “the Shadow” who’s presence remains a mystery; we hear allegations with no solid evidence. There is a there, there, that we need to look at to get to the root of the problem.

Responsibility and accountability need to balance for a society to be successful. No nation can afford to live in a chaotic society.

Rafael Madrigal


Witch is wet

After years of accusations, insinuations, indictments and trials, someone has finally poured a bucket of water on the accused sorcerer and conjurer of political black magic, and all that is left is the smoldering, fuming, evaporating, outreached small hands of the wizard of New York, the grifter of Mar-a-Lago, and the deceiver in chief.

No yellow brick road. No Emerald City. No Toto. No Glinda, the good witch of the north. Only the wickedness of the enslaver of truth and denier of fact, and the elephant in the room.

“Witch: caught. Hunt: over”

Ding, dong, the witch hunt is over. Wizards, witches and rogue elephants do exist — in a fairytale land of illusions and delusions, denial and defiance, where the Wizard of Illusion frantically dissolves into a puddle of confusion, as the bell sounds in the background: ding, dong.

Al Garcia-Wiltse

San Juan

House antics

In a House Oversight Committee meeting regarding Attorney General Merrick Garland’s contempt of Congress resolution, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene began her questioning by asking her Democratic colleagues if any of them employed the daughter of the Judge, Juan Merchan.

Baffled by the bizarre question, Texas Democrat Rep. Jazmine Crockett asked, “Do you know what you’re here for?”

Not expecting anyone to respond to her question, MTG replied, “I don’t think you know what you’re here for. I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading.”

The rules of the House dictate that members can’t “engage in personalities,” meaning they are not allowed to make offensive remarks about or toward another member. When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez moved to have Greene’s rhetoric struck, calling it “absolutely unacceptable,” the Republican committee chairman disregarded the request.

Not one to meekly lie down when attacked, Rep. Crockett replied, “Mr. Chairman, I’m just curious. Just to better understand your ruling, if someone on this committee starts talking about somebody’s “bleach blonde, bad built, butch body,” would that not be ‘engaging in personalities?’ If the chairman can’t follow the rules, I will have to fight for myself.”

And boom, that’s when the chaos erupted, and “oops,” time to take a break!

“Why, here comes Marjorie Taylor Greene now…”

MTG get what she wanted, to disrupt the meeting and do nothing? But why? Is it because male MAGA morons cowardly let her get away with it? But why? Ask Liz Cheney, and she’ll probably tell you, “That’s who they are!”

The Republican National Committee referred to the Jan. 6 investigations as “the persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” Since Cheney and Adam Kinzinger served on this investigation committee, the RNC accused them of engaging in “behavior which has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our Republic ….” Huh?

Cheney courageously responded and she was right on target: “The resolution reflected a political party that had lost its principles and frankly they seemed to be led by morons.”

And, Ta-da! The MAGA Moronic Saga continues. Hoo-boy.

Italo J. Zarate


Book bans opposed

Do we live in a democracy whereby the United States is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”? On May 29 you published an article about a pastor and his group demanding Rio Grande Valley schools remove books deemed inappropriate from the library shelves.

My question concerning this story was, who decides? And how? Is Pastor Luis Cabrera familiar with previous book bans (and burnings) in the 20th century? He would know that it only happened in totalitarian states: Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Cambodia’s Pol Pot regime or Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union.

In these chaotic times when many of our social norms are being tested, it is surprising that Pastor Cabrera and his group focus on unsuitable books (in their opinion) rather than combating the violence everywhere, out-of-control gun ownership, drug usage and the many homeless roaming our streets.

I think we all are in a great need of spiritual leaders whose mission is to spread the word of God. There are countless homeless people who need someone to listen to them.

However, if anyone wants to remove “inappropriate books” from our libraries, the Holy Bible would be on the list. There are a lot of “harmful” stories in the bible: countless murders, rape, incest, genocide and many other “educationally unsuitable” events. The law is the law!

Parents need to be vigilant at home and provide guidance for their children, not just for which book is appropriate, but in all matters as your children grow up. Unfortunately, it has become a disturbing irony how adults overlooked the innocence whereby the books were written, replacing it with distorted negative images. The classics we grew up reading are now listed as unacceptable and have lost the fairy-tale essence whence they were written.

There is a need to focus on the many social ills of the world we live in, not the books that allowed children a place to escape and dream. I grew up reading books we now deem unacceptable. They took me away from a mundane poor existence, giving me “wings to fly.”

The world is running rampant with so many negative issues while some people are more concerned about Charlotte’s Web. Let’s all work together toward a better world. May the Lord bless each one of you.

Scott and Irma Sherman


No celebrating Trump verdict

You will hear no crowing, celebrating or cheering here.

You will hear a fervent hope that this will be the beginning of the end to the darkest part of American history since the Civil War. It has been a time when a political party elected and then supported a person of Donald Trump’s known and now proven defective morals, lack of ethics and overall lawlessness, then denied his defeat and continued to support him even after his attempt to overthrow the government.

“If they can do this to me, they can do it to anyone!!!” “Yes. Donald… that’s how laws work.”

What you will hear will be my attempt to call out and remove the radical, evangelical, extremist conservative, MAGA, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other, including those politicians attempting to destroy America.

Please, Republicans, come to your senses, make America the negotiate, compromise and solve country it once was. Don’t go for more of Mr. Trump’s hate, violence, dishonesty, division, bias, and the me-me-me country he still wants it to be.

Ned Sheats


Editor’s note: We welcome your letters and commentary. Submissions must include the writer’s full name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters of 200 words or fewer will be given preference. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar and clarity. Letters may be mailed to P.O Box 3267, McAllen, Texas 78502-3267, or emailed to [email protected].