I find it ironic that in a column regarding the Republican Party’s flight from reality, Cathy Young asserts that to achieve a "balanced" government she would normally "root" for the Republicans to retain Senate control ["It’s official: GOP is now a Trump cult," Opinion, Dec. 10]. I see that as also a flight from reality — unless Young’s use of the word "balance" is a synonym for "gridlock." It is long overdue that this country consider switching to a parliamentary system whereby the winning party gains complete control of the government and, if at any point, it loses the confidence of the majority, it can be voted out in a snap election. Our system may be broken beyond repair.
James A. Clark,
When government seems not to be working, there is always heightened interest in imposing term limits. There are compelling arguments for term limits, but I wish to voice a simple caution: When a limited elected official is in his or her last term, I submit that his or her primary interest is where he will land next, not necessarily in doing what’s best for his constituents. Self-interest and survival are strong parts of human nature.
Opposition to Trump not partisan
Howard Ende’s letter "Our country needs terms limits" [Dec. 10] suggests that the Newsday editorial board ["GOP foolishness on vote outcome," Editorial, Dec. 1] and Leonard Pitts Jr. ["Give them something to howl about," Opinion, Dec. 1] would not have been as critical of President Donald Trump had Trump been a Democrat. I cannot speak for Pitts or the Newsday editorial board, but I will speak for myself and dozens of people I know: The moment that any powerful public official — Republican or Democrat — is as abusive, bigoted, ignorant, incompetent, mendacious, misogynistic, narcissistic and uncivil as Trump has been, I will speak out loudly against that official and devote all my volunteering effort to his or her electoral defeat. That is my promise not just to Ende, but to anyone reading this who still thinks that opposition to Trump was a matter of partisanship rather than devotion to civic culture, competence, truth and the rule of law in our nation.
Voting system should follow standards
Nearly all governmental technology platforms are mandated to adhere to a set of official information technology design and security standards. The Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) are published standards developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for use in computer systems used by civilian American government agencies and contractors. All mission critical systems, such as the Social Security Administration’s systems, must be FIPS-compliant. Adherence to these standards goes a long way in providing assurance that these systems are reliable and secure. Without these imposed standards, I believe it is relatively easy for a single rogue actor to materially alter a system to selectively and maliciously manipulate data without risk of detection. Surprisingly, governmental voting systems are not mandated to adhere to any such standards. At best, testing and implementation of voting system security, validity and integrity is voluntary. It is, to say the least, unsettling that we are electing the next leaders of our nation using systems in which the implementation of security is voluntary and potentially manipulated with relative ease.
Editor’s note: The writer is an information systems security professional certified by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium.
Money superseding teachers’ health?
For months, New Yorkers were told, "Stay at home. Stop the spread." We followed the science and saved lives. So, as a teacher heading back to the classroom, I believed that we’d actually "close the valve" if infection rates hit 5%. I trusted the clusters. If we turned yellow, we’d have mandatory testing; orange or red, we’d switch to remote instruction. These promises kept me going. Now they are being broken. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s claim that schools are safer than communities is an insult to educators ["Smart lessons about COVID-19," Opinion, Dec. 5]. The data cited cannot be robust enough to warrant the conclusion. There isn’t regular, required testing in many schools. I have not been asked once by my district to be tested. Yet we blindly forge onward, without warm water in the bathrooms and signs hypocritically advising us to stay home. If schools that provide an education, food, shelter, safety and mental health services are now also expected to offer protection from COVID-19-ridden communities, then those staffing them need protections, too. If schools remain open, restrictions should be implemented to make communities safer. Schools aren’t hermetically sealed bubbles. We did our part for months. Now, our reward is exchanging our health for the economy. Money supersedes my life.