Letters published Nov. 28, 2017

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Zinke lacks honor

If the true measure of a man is not what he says, but what he does or fails to do, then Ryan Zinke has no honor. Making it onto a SEAL team does not automatically mean the man has integrity of character. The one and only thing that can be assumed automatically is that he is one tough hombre.

Mike Tyson is also a tough man — one of the toughest to ever walk the earth. Yet it would be hard to consider the battering of his wife the mark of a noble man. That we have two current members of SEAL Team Six suspected of murdering a Green Beret in Mali should be enough to make us reconsider blindly hero worshiping men merely for being tough enough to reach the tip of the sword. Zinke may have all the physical grit in the world, but his behavior as a politician seems little more than war-time profiteering. That is the mark of a truly dishonorable man.

An honorable man would have publicly denounced candidate Trump for claiming his celebrity gives him the privilege of randomly grabbing women by the genitals. Zinke’s silence on the matter could not be attributed to cowardice. Indeed, his willingness to routinely put himself in harm’s way as a soldier excludes cowardice as a plausible explanation. By process of elimination, the explanation with which we are left is political calculation for personal gain — a man seeking to capitalize on Navy SEAL mystique and the blind faith conservatives put in warriors — a man who chose a self-serving radio silence over the opportunity to publicly assure the female members of a society he swore to protect that no man, not even Donald Trump, has the right to defile them. An honorable man would have taken the opportunity despite the awkward political position it would have created for himself. Zinke chose to remain the mute faithful lackey.

An honorable man would at the very least acknowledge the remarkable and inexplicable coincidence of a tiny two-man electrical operation with personal ties to Zinke landing a $300 million power restoration contract in Puerto Rico. No competitive public bidding process occurred. The tiny Whitefish startup company did not have to prove itself the most capable and cost-efficient operation worthy of being awarded $300 million in taxpayer money. The massive contract was simply granted to Ryan Zinke’s friend and Trump contributor. The strong stench of cronyism has warranted an FBI investigation. An honorable man would acknowledge this type of shady dealing as exactly the type of “swamp” water Donald Trump promised to drain from Washington.

Zinke is most certainly tough, and he may have been a fine soldier. But whatever honor he may have once had seems long gone. Measured by what he has done and failed to do, he is found to be little more than an opportunist. Like another SEAL team member from Montana who broke the code of silence in an attempt to cash in (book deal) on the shot he reportedly took ending Bin Laden’s life, Zinke is apparently using his warrior notoriety to advance personal interest. He is profiteering off of what was supposed to be a selfless act of public service. Apparently his time as a SEAL made him feel right at home in the swamps. —Todd W. Cardin, Kalispell

A big thank you to our community

The Flathead Snowmobile Association and the Friends of the FSA would like to say THANK YOU to all the local businesses that so generously donated to our recent Pray for Snow annual fundraiser. This year’s event was a huge success and it was only possible with the help of our local businesses!

We’d also like to thank everyone that attended — without you our members, we wouldn’t have the club or the resources we have to maintain our trails and access to our winter playgrounds. Your continued membership and support makes this all possible — thank you! As a quick reminder, we’d like to ask one more favor — please attend our member meetings each month. The schedule can be found on our website: www.flatheadsnowmobiler.com or like us on Facebook and you’ll get the event notifications. We need you at these meetings! And bring your kids — let them see and experience what a fun time being part of a community club can be!

The Flathead Snowmobile Association publishes all of our groomed trail maps and sponsors electronically using Trail Treker (www.trailtreker.com). Each business shows up as a clickable “Point of Interest” so that visitors know where to spend their money. If you’d like your business to show up on our three maps and website, simply go to www.flatheadsnowmobiler.com/sponsors and purchase a sponsorship.

To join the Flathead Snowmobile Association, just go to www.flatheadsnowmobiler.com and click join! If you’d like to make a tax-deductible cash donation, you can make checks out to Friends of the FSA and mail them to Friends of the FSA, P.O. Box 5041, Kalispell, MT 59903-5041. If you would like to make a material donation, please go to www.friends-of-fsa.org for more info! —Mark Smolen, Bigfork

Don’t play politics with widow’s grief

I apologize in advance for the disrespect I am about to show toward the buffoon who strides the halls of Congress in brightly colored straw cowboy hats, Frederica Wilson.

This pathetic excuse for a human being listened in to a call the president of the United States made to a fallen hero’s wife so she could then criticize him for his attempt to console the grieving widow. This clown has consistently attacked President Trump with outrageous criticisms of virtually everything he says and does, but even for her, this is a new low. She and others then criticized Gen. John Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, himself a Gold Star parent, for criticizing her politicization of this sacred process.

I was not in the shooting military, being instead a lieutenant commander in the United States Public Health Service as a doctor, but as a heart surgeon, several times a year I had to inform a family that their loved one had died under my scalpel or care. I can assure you there is no act more gut-wrenching and difficult than to inform family of the death of a loved one, especially when, either as surgeon or commander-in-chief, you are the one ultimately responsible for that death. I still, 20 years later, get teary-eyed when I think of some of those patients, especially children, whom my skill failed to save.

I have also had the misfortune of losing a brother (age 26) and a son (age 27) to careless drivers, so I have also been on the other end of that notification. Nothing can be said to ease the pain of the sudden loss of a loved one ... nothing. Only time eases the grief. I have often said that the loss of a son is something you struggle past, but never get over. For someone such as this congresswoman to take advantage of a grieving widow for her own political agenda is, as Gen. Kelly said in a press briefing, “stunning.” Many of our supposed leaders have lost their collective moral compass in this country. If one can’t even mourn the loss of a spouse without a morally bankrupt politician using that loss for a talking point, God help us all! —P. David Myerowitz, Columbia Falls

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