Letters to the editor: Jan. 3, 2018

Preserve crucial foreign assistance funding

Your Dec. 27 editorial “Persistence, not Petulance “ notes the need for international cooperation to counter global threats, and quotes President  Donald Trump’s foreign policy strategy blueprint for the proposition that, “Encouraging…sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.” 

Unfortunately, while Trump gives lip service to this principle, he has proposed drastic cuts to developmental assistance programs such as those sponsored by USAID, which fight hunger, disease and illiteracy. Foreign assistance accounts for less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget, and such programs produce tremendous good, not only for the recipients but also for society as a whole. Poverty and inequality breed instability. Providing education, disease prevention and economic development is a more effective way of combating extremism than guns and bullets.

It is critical than Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill oppose the cuts in foreign developmental assistance proposed by President Trump. 

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Greg Campbell, Creve Coeur

Ironic choice for first commutation 

Chabad and fellow travelers in the frum world pulled out all the stops to gain release of Sholom Rubashkin, who was the beneficiary of the first commutation issued by President Donald Trump. Rubashkin was serving a 27-year sentence for defrauding First Bank of St. Louis, which is owned by the Dierberg family, model citizens of our community.

It’s ironic that President Trump rewarded someone who evaded immigration laws in his first act using this powerful Presidential privilege. Rubashkin’s family meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, was raided in May 2008 — 389 illegal immigrants, including 31 children, were arrested.

Rubashkin had multiple chances to plead guilty in exchange for lesser sentences but did not. He was tried before Judge Linda Reade, known for doling out stiff sentences. His conviction was upheld by the Eighth Circuit Court of appeals in a unanimous opinion. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Yes, the sentence seemed harsh, however, it was according to the book, a book which many people, including myself, believe needs to be changed but has been used to imprison many people of color for crimes involving much smaller amounts. 

The same people who called for lighter sentence for Rubashkin are, to a large extent, those who call out judges for not enforcing the law as written. Judge Reade enforced the law and all the appellate courts agreed with her.  

Norman W. Pressman, Crystal Lake Park