Think About It: A chance to speak

“A perpetual Republican/Trump hater, (Cooper) seems incapable of any kind of balanced thought process,” begins Greg Carroll’s letter to the editor printed Aug. 18 in the Sequim Gazette (page A-12).

Carroll’s letter is not the first comment I’ve received questioning my value as a writer and commentator. I respect there are opinions different from mine and have tried engendering an exchange with a handful of these commentators without success.

I again see opportunity with Carroll because he claims there are “other legitimate points of view on issues (Cooper) calls out.” He wants to speak and have others speak to his point of view but seems discouraged about that ever happening as he explains in his closing sentence, “There are other reasonable sides to Bertha’s column topic, but the Gazette seems incapable of finding a competent opposing writer. Why?”

I, too, would like to see views presented in contrast with what I write. In that spirit, I am using my valuable column space to provide a few tips to help Carroll and others who would like to present those opposing views to come forward.

One moment please

Before I get into tips, I do want to respond to Carroll’s characterization of me as “A perpetual Republican/Trump hater.” I am not a Trump hater or a Republican hater. I learned early in life observations that hate directed at others was a debilitating human emotion; that it was better to be clear on your objections and choose not to dwell in the emotion. I don’t hate Donald Trump; I just don’t like him. I think he is self-centered, mean, vengeful and boorish.

My objection to Republicans is they have forsaken their former ideals of conservatism in favor of idolatry of Trump. Their actions are based on currying the favor of a very flawed man. I personally choose to live in accordance with the first commandment put forth thousands of years ago.

Having cleared the air, I will turn to tips for presenting opinion in column writing.

No need to review tips if you are just interested in hearing your own voice. If that’s your intent — letter yes, column no.

Tips for writing column

Tip number one: Make every attempt to avoid ranting — a stream of consciousness about related and unrelated complaints and speculation with unsubstantiated conclusions.

People rant. It’s what we do sometimes when we are upset and soothed by hearing our own voice. Happens a lot so don’t feel bad; just know you will not get the desired column published if you just rant.

Tip number two: Don’t sabotage your point by doing exactly what you are accusing the other of doing.

Carroll spoke ardently against depending on mainstream media, social media and google which was preceded by his own reliance on a report from anchor Tucker Carlson of FOX NEWS, reportedly the most watched channel in the cable mainstream.

Tip number three: Don’t misrepresent information especially that which appears to be an effort to mislead the reader. Define and represent data fully so the reader has the full picture and can decide for themselves.

Carroll wrote “The CDC’s own AVERS (Adverse Event Reporting System) has already accumulated more deaths and serious side effects from this vaccine in just six months than all other vaccines combined in the past 20 years (Fox News, “Tucker Carlson: How many Americans have died after taking the COVID vaccine?,” May 5).

He seemed to be using the statement to substantiate his view that vaccines are “experimental and barely tested.” I am not sure but I gather he is justifying his own decision and encouraging others not to be vaccinated. Proper research was needed to clarify what those deaths represented or didn’t.

I listened to the provocatively named Tucker Carlson monologue and nowhere in 15 minutes does he say the vaccine caused deaths. Because he can’t. The adverse response data is raw data and does not claim causation, just the fact that within a specified time period, hundreds of conditions, including death, occurred following the administration of the vaccine.

The day I looked at the AVERS chart, where 4,717 deaths were noted. The total number of vaccinations given to this date are more than 345 million (155+ million received two shots and another 35 million received one). I need a bigger calculator to calculate the percentage of reported deaths which may or may not have been COVID vaccine related.

Commentators and opinion writers have a responsibility to give a full report of resources used to support their opinion, not just use a piece that leaves out clarifying information. To do otherwise is to manipulate the reader into making ill-informed, possibly harmful decisions. A well-meaning writer of a letter or column would try to do otherwise.

I am sure Carroll does not want to someone to refuse vaccination based on incomplete and misleading information.

Mini tip: It’s also helpful to answer the question, “so what?” which usually leads to writing the opinion.

Calling competent columnists

I know I will disappoint you; although I have several more, I am running out of space for any more tips. Somewhere out in greater Sequim, there is a “competent opposing writer” familiar with the tips and with a desire to make the opposing case to the writings of this columnist. I welcome it and I am sure there are readers who would, too.

Or maybe, there is someone who wants to try. I encourage it; I think it would be healthy to have opposing views as long as it’s not a rant, does not use a quote from a media personality without researching the origins and seeks to avoid intentional misrepresentation by omitting clarification that may challenge the veracity of the data.

Remember too, you must want to write and look forward to developing a line of thinking every so often — deadlines come around very fast.

Disclaimer: I am a mere free-lance columnist and have zero influence on who or what appears in the Sequim Gazette, letter or column.

Bertha Cooper, a featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation. Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at

VAERS in perspective

VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) is an adverse vaccine reporting system that has been around for a long time. Vaccine providers are required to report severe reactions that occur after vaccination. Members of the public can file reports as well. A VAERS report is the starting point of an adverse vaccine reaction investigation, not the end point.

In the case of COVID-related VAERS reports, all reports of significant reactions (including death) are thoroughly investigated. To date, only three deaths have been linked to a COVID vaccine in the U.S. These are deaths that occurred as a result of a rare blood clotting disorder (known as thrombotic thrombocytopenia) that has been linked to the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.

And even then, the causal link is not certain, just more probable than not.

Over 160 million Americans have now received a COVID vaccine. Around 7,500 Americans die every day. The highest number of deaths are among those who are elderly and have chronic diseases, groups that were prioritized for COVID vaccinations and have high rates of vaccination (over 80 percent in most populations).

Statistically, it is inevitable that a certain number of people will die after being vaccinated. This is a temporal association. Establishing a causal association requires a lot more evidence (i.e. did the person die of a pre-existing disease or is there any evidence of a vaccine-related allergic reaction, etc.).

To date, there is no evidence supporting a causal link between vaccination and post-vaccination fatality (other than the three blot clot cases).

In contrast, there is a huge and tragic association between COVID infection and fatality. Ninety-five (95) percent of the hospitalizations and COVID deaths we are seeing in Washington state are among the unvaccinated (or incompletely vaccinated).

— Dr. Tom Locke, preventive medicine specialist and former health officer for Clallam and Jefferson Counties