Hanson misrepresents Mueller report findings

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

To unravel the knot of half-truth, innuendo and conspiracy-mongering in Victor Davis Hanson’s recent op-ed column would demand a dissertation; however, his misapprehension of the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as an exoneration of President Trump can be confronted directly.

Hanson is correct about one thing: Mueller’s report is online, freely available to all, Hanson included. This renders his mischaracterization of it mystifying. Mueller did not charge the Trump campaign with conspiracy, yet he found that “the Russian government perceived that it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome” and “the [Trump] Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” Perhaps ineptitude, not lack of will, thwarted provable conspiracy. As humorists have quipped, the Trump campaign might have been “collusion curious.”

Hanson baldly misrepresents Mueller’s findings concerning obstruction of justice. Mueller honored the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion barring criminal indictment of a sitting president but noted that “a President does not have immunity after he leaves office” and underscored that the inquiry endeavored “to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials available.” The report does not clear Trump: “... if we had confidence ... that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. ... [W]e are unable to reach that judgment.” Unencumbered by Mueller’s circumspection, more than 800 former federal prosecutors rate as overwhelming the evidence to indict the president. Hanson should ponder whether obstruction might have hampered the ferreting out of conspiracy.

Hanson engages in manic “whataboutism” and neglects to address Mueller’s most troubling finding, that “[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 Presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” an incontrovertible reality about which Hanson apparently shares Trump’s incuriosity.

David Routt.

Richmond.

Check the facts before making border claim

Editor, Time-Dispatch:

I just read yet another Times-Dispatch correspondent’s letter claiming that Democrats advocate for “open borders.” To call these claims inaccurate would be charitable. Without first consulting Google, can you name a single open border advocate? I consume far more news than is probably good for me (thanks, Mr. President), and whenever I hear elected Democrats speak on the topic, they say they want to control immigration but through humane and reasonable means. In fact, conservatives seem to be the only people making the claim that Democrats believe in open borders. A similar comment could be made about the canard that Democrats want to abolish ICE. There are a handful on the edges who espouse this, but it is by no means the position of the party.

Immigration has become a defining concern among conservatives. They see a crisis and obsess over caravans. Well, OK. If immigration is destructive, explain why rather than misrepresent the positions of others. From my perspective, college tuition, local pedestrian trails and even the timing of traffic lights on Broad Street impact my life much more than illegal immigration.

Adam Matteo.

Henrico.

Not all for-profit colleges are out to cheat veterans

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, D-3rd, chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, is being portrayed as ill-educated by coloring one entire race of academic institutions — for-profit colleges and universities — as money-grubbing parasites out to cheat the military. This one-sided view jumped from Sunday’s Commentary column, “Supporting higher education for our veterans.”

Yes, there are for-profit colleges that cheat all students, promising degrees that are not accredited, not worth the paper they are printed on. But there are so many more that help active-duty military personnel or veterans earn that golden ticket to a second career. That college degree is needed. And, yes, the GI Bill helps pay for it. Those members of the military earned the right for that government payment of their tuition. And accredited colleges need tuition paid for.

There are good examples of online colleges and universities that cater to working moms and dads and those members of the military sitting on a Navy ship, on deployment. And, those recovering from PTSD and physical injuries. Yes, I am a bit biased. My job is teaching military students at one of these totally online, for-profit universities in undergraduate and graduate courses. They earn their degree, and later earn that sought-after new job, new career, based on their experience plus that valued diploma.

If the Commentary column is factual, then Rep. Scott needs to look deep into those colleges that provide quality education for our military, as well as go after those “cheaters” he seems to know of.

I know Bobby Scott from when he represented Southside Virginia. Gerard Scimeca and Kenny Golden, authors of the Commentary column, seem to have uncovered a new lane that Scott is running in, and — if true — that shocks me.

Oliver Hedgepeth.

Richmond.

Why doesn’t corporation donate to van replacement?

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

With the billions of dollars the McDonalds Corp. has, and the powerful advertisement value of the Ronald McDonald House Charities facilities, why can’t they contribute at least some money for the replacement of the van for the RMHC-Richmond facility?

Ronald L. Thomas.

Manakin-Sabot.

Work must continue to improve health of bay

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Thank you for shedding light on the health of the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population in your recent “Healthy numbers” editorial. The resurgence of this iconic bay species is indeed something to celebrate.

Not only does this mean there will be plenty of crabcakes to go around for the foreseeable future, but it also is a testament to the steadily improving health of the Chesapeake Bay.

It wasn’t that long ago that the entire bay ecosystem was on the brink of collapse. Thanks to coordinated action by Virginia and the other bay states, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, we’ve seen steady improvement in water quality since the 2010 “pollution diet” took effect.

Virginia is now working on the final phase of its Clean Water Blueprint, also called a Watershed Implementation Plan. This plan outlines the bold steps Virginia needs to take in order to meet its overall pollution reduction goals by 2025.

While we’ve made steady progress, much work remains to be done to ensure a healthy bay. Pollution from agricultural operations and stormwater runoff still poses significant threats to the bay’s health, especially now that we’re seeing more extreme rain events because of climate change.

I urge our leaders to stay the course on the bay cleanup and also to work to fund necessary improvements on farms and urban centers alike, which will help secure long-term gains for water quality.

If we make bold choices now, we can all start buying Old Bay and butter in bulk.

Mary Wood.

Richmond.

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