Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

Readers are reminded that the annual Fall Festival is Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., at the library.

Talented bakers and crafters in Cannon Beach are contributing delicious baked goods and homemade craft items for sale, so come early for the best selection. Between now and 4 p.m. the day of the festival, tickets may be purchased at the library for drawing on six bundles of gift certificates, donated by local restaurants and merchants. Each bundle is valued at $300. Drawing tickets are just $1 each, or six tickets for $5.

While at the library purchasing drawing tickets, be sure to place bids in the silent auction for stays at five premier Cannon Beach hotels and resorts. Drawing and silent-auction winners will be announced at 4 p.m., but need not be present to win.

Remember, all proceeds from the Fall Festival support the library’s purchase of new books, videotapes and services available for residents and visitors to Cannon Beach and Arch Cape. Meantime, the Northwest Authors Series opens programming this year with Oregon novelist Stephen Holgate discussing his recent thrillers, “Tangier” and “Madagascar,” as well as “Sri Lanka,” scheduled for release in 2020. Holgate will speak at the library Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. This free event is open to the public.

Members of Cannon Beach Reads will discuss “Lab Girl,” Jahren Hope’s memoir describing her youthful discovery of science while working with her father, a Minnesota community college teacher, in his laboratory.

That initial interest led Hope to a bachelor of arts in geology at the University of Minnesota in 1991 and a PhD in soil science at the University of California, Berkeley in 1996. After completing her doctorate, Hope taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Hawaii and now the University of Oslo.

A recipient of three Fulbright Awards, Hope is the only woman and one of four scientists to receive both the Macelwane Medal and the Donath Medal, and was named by Time magazine in 2016 as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People.”

Although Hope intends “Lab Girl” to convince others— particularly girls—to love science as she did, she describes the frustrations of scientific research, particularly the need to chase research funding for her studies.

Cannon Beach Reads next meets at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Cannon Beach Library, 131 N. Hemlock St. John Markham will lead a discussion at this free event, which is open to interested participants.

The library continues to add new books, two of which I recently read. Both merit comment and recommendation to readers concerned about the lack of needed legislation, current political discourse and changing American values in Washington, DC. The two books I read and recommend to others are “If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How It Might be Saved” by Michael Tomasky and “America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families” by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Tomasky’s title, “If We Can Keep It,” derives from Benjamin Franklin’s response to a woman who asked him, “Well, doctor, what have we got - a republic or a monarchy?” as he left the Constitutional Convention on its last day, Sept. 17, 1787. Franklin’s comment was, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Tomasky emphasizes that the United States has been deeply divided from before the Revolutionary War, with limited periods of merely strained bipartisanship, particularly from Franklin Roosevelt’s Depressionera reforms through 1980.

Mostly, though, bitter partisanship - driven by the nation’s roots in slavery, race and religious bigotry - has characterized U.S. history. Although he considers the current partisanship, results of the last election and Donald Trump’s presidency dangerous, Tomasky suggests current media hysteria about dysfunctional government is misplaced when compared to the years leading up to the Civil War.

Recognizing that hyperpartisanship poses a grave danger, what does Tomasky recommend to avoid another Civil War? His suggestions mostly involve a mix of constitutional change in voting methods, which Tomasky believes unlikely; forcing students and workers to spend time in different geographical environments; and convincing corporations, foundations, universities and other elite institutions to support moderate Republicans.

Perhaps, but Tomasky’s suggestions for reducing extreme partisanship and placing government on a course that resembles the Washington of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter or even Richard Nixon - a Washington in which Republicans frequently voted with Democrats, and vice-versa, a Washington with conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans - seems a pipedream.

Read “If We Can Keep It” to understand how the nation came to this fine mess, even though Tomasky’s recipe for a cure offers small comfort.

Sen. Jeff Merkley’s “America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families” suggests, by personal example, how individuals can stop the erosion of American idealism and traditional support of strangers fleeing repression, war, murder, rape, kidnapping, starvation and torture.

Merkley’s account of his trips to detention facilities along the southwestern border demonstrate the power of videotape to make publicly embarrassing the reality of our government’s current war on refugees from Central America – caged, desperate parents separated from caged, bewildered children - to show blatant official disregard for court orders and to capture Customs and Border Protection officials amidst lies, contradictions and inhumane treatment of the least among us.

Merkley writes “America Is Better Than This” as a personal narrative, a narrative that pairs his life traveling in Central America during the Reagan presidency when Oliver North snuck arms to the Contras, with present-day refugees fleeing death and death threats in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua only to meet abuse funded by our tax dollars, as they are blocked from seeking asylum at the southern border.

Essentially, Senator Merkley forces readers to ask: “Do most Americans, many themselves descendants of immigrants, support President Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign against asylum seekers?”

Let’s hope Merkley is right, and that America is better than this war against migrant families.

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