Politics

House Panel Backs Prosecution of Trump

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  • Howard Schultz and the Union Fight at Starbucks
  • Hanukkah Beyond the Kitsch
  • Rethinking Marijuana Policy

Credit…Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Jan. 6 Committee Refers Former President Trump for Criminal Prosecution” (nytimes.com, Dec. 19):

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection was very thorough. Over a year and a half, it interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and reviewed more than a million documents. Hence, we are entitled to take seriously its findings that “the central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed. None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.”

It is painfully apparent to any objective observer that Mr. Trump should face prosecution for (at least) the four crimes cited in the committee’s report — insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to make false statements.

The special counsel, Jack Smith, now has a good framework for his investigation, which likely will lead to the unprecedented spectacle of a former president on trial for high crimes against the nation.

This would have been a moot point if the Senate had acted responsibly during the impeachment trial that followed the insurrection. But when G.O.P. senators put party ahead of country, this became inevitable.

Harvey M. Berman
White Plains, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Re “I Still Feel the Pain of the Capitol Riot,” by Caroline Edwards (Opinion guest essay, Dec. 19):

Anyone who is foolish enough to believe that the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol were nothing to speak of should read this account of that day and its lingering effects by someone who was on the front lines: Ms. Edwards, a Capitol Police officer.

In this poignant essay, Ms. Edwards, a target of enraged and deranged rioters, relates what she experienced and how she remains haunted by it with long-term trauma in addition to the physical injuries inflicted on her.

For those who deal in reality and who have compassion and basic human decency, Officer Edwards is a most sympathetic figure, and her story is heartbreaking.

There is no amount of money that can ever properly compensate those in law enforcement who endured the horror of this nation’s modern day of infamy. Though vastly outnumbered, they heroically placed their lives on the line to protect our democracy and, as Officer Edwards indicates, they would do it again if necessary.

All those with a role in violently seeking to prevent the peaceful transfer of power — and particularly the instigator of it — must be brought to justice, a justice that serves to demonstrate that the abhorrent conduct on that day will not be tolerated.

Oren Spiegler
Peters Township, Pa.

Howard Schultz and the Union Fight at Starbucks

Credit…Nigel Buchanan

To the Editor:

Re “At Starbucks, Schultz Is Back to Fight a Union” (Sunday Business, Dec. 11):

Howard Schultz has an opportunity to be a 21st-century business leader. Instead of viewing union organizing as an indictment of him, he has an opportunity to be recognized as a smart, employee-friendly business leader.

Businesses today are too complex to be led only from the top. Corporations now need to make use of the knowledge and skills of their work force because of the challenges of our economy and the impact that the pandemic has had on frontline staff. Many workers now want more out of work than just “a job.”

Mr. Schultz is taking the union organizing too personally. At Starbucks, employees want appropriate pay and a greater role in decision-making. This makes good economic sense, not just good labor relations.

It’s time for Mr. Schultz to see the people who work for him as an asset to help him and Starbucks increase customer satisfaction and improve working conditions. Starbucks employees know where problems are and want to have a direct role in fixing them.

Peter Lazes
West Stockbridge, Mass.
The writer is a visiting professor at the School of Labor and Employment Relations, Penn State University.

To the Editor:

Howard Schultz is quoted from his memoir saying, “If they had faith in me and my motives, they wouldn’t need a union.”

Why should workers be forced to have faith in his motives? This is such ego. If he has good motives, just reflect them in a union contract they can rely on. Simple as that.

Erin Mahoney
Queens
The writer is a union organizer with the Communications Workers of America.

Hanukkah Beyond the Kitsch

Credit…Illustration by Shoshana Schultz/The New York Times; photographs by Jonathan Kantor Studio, kaanates, Roy Morsch, Lisa Romerein, stray_cat, via Getty

To the Editor:

Re “Latke Cocktail, Anyone?” (Opinion guest essay, Dec. 19):

I appreciated MireilleSilcoff’s concern about the excessive kitschiness of Hanukkah in modern America, but I struggled with her conclusion. Ms. Silcoff expresses anger at the fact that Hanukkah seems to have been reduced to ironic jokes, but ultimately argues that celebrating the kitschiness of Hanukkah may allow American Jews to come together in a time when such unity is desperately needed.

However, Ms. Silcoff’s history of the commercialization of Hanukkah obscures the holiday’s non-kitschy roots. While the miracles of Hanukkah occurred after the end of the Hebrew Bible, the holiday is discussed in the Talmud, and there are records of its observance ever since.

Some of our ancestors may have overlooked Hanukkah, but others went to great lengths to celebrate — whether they were soldiers kindling the menorah on the battlefield or, as Ms. Silcoff discusses, enterprising Jews who made menorahs out of potatoes, people observed Hanukkah long before the invention of latke-flavored cocktails.

Ms. Silcoff argues that, unlike Hanukkah kitsch, Christmas kitsch is balanced out by serious practices like midnight Mass, but she ignores our own meaningful rituals. This Hanukkah, traditional Jews around the world will be celebrating Hanukkah by lighting menorahs, reading from the Torah, reciting festival psalms and seeking an authentic connection to the holiday. They would love to have any Jew looking for a less kitschy Hanukkah join them.

Rachel Harris
Pasadena, Calif.

Rethinking Marijuana Policy

Credit…Eoin Ryan

To the Editor:

Re “It’s Not Just Pot. Our Entire Drug Policy Needs a Rewrite,” by Maia Szalavitz (Opinion guest essay, Dec. 12):

I applaud Ms. Szalavitz’s call to inject some rationality into our drug policies as we start to redefine what “victory” means after our failed war on drugs.

Cannabis is the perfect example of where we are failing and where we can improve. Many Americans have been waking up to the fact that the U.S. government for decades has exaggerated cannabis’s harms and minimized its benefits. Currently, 89 percent of Americans agree on legal access to medical cannabis.

So why is cannabis still languishing in Schedule I — the most restrictive category of drugs, defined as having no medical utility and high abuse liability?

In truth, we’ve studied the harms of cannabis ad infinitum and have found that it is less harmful than either tobacco or alcohol and can be helpful for some disorders. It should promptly be de-scheduled as such.

This does not mean that we can’t regulate cannabis sensibly to minimize what harms there are (teen use, driving, medicine interactions). A more rational cannabis policy would bring medical and lifestyle benefits to millions while, ideally, avoiding the mistakes we have made with alcohol, tobacco and Big Pharma.

Peter Grinspoon
Boston
The writer is an instructor at Harvard Medical School and the author of “Seeing Through the Smoke: A Cannabis Specialist Untangles the Truth About Marijuana.”

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