Letters for January 16, 2003

Draft alternatives
I almost choked when I saw your editorial about reinstating the draft [“A modest proposal: Reinstate the draft,” Jan. 9]. From 1968 to 1970 I was a conscientious objector doing alternative service teaching at a small school for severely emotionally disturbed children. Your editorial is right in that serious discussion about the reinstatement of the draft might awaken some people to what the Bush administration is doing. However, I will do my best to see that the draft is not reinstated. Remember, there are alternatives!

Ken Jordan

I gotta be me
It was a blast to see myself on the cover of your SUV edition [“Sitting high and mighty,” Jan. 9]. The whole article was a major awakening, like going to a really good palm reader. Suddenly everything makes sense: the wreckage stuck to my toothy grill, the screams, the enormous gas bills and the constant rollovers.

I tried to discuss it with my wife, but, as you point out, we’re not close, and, after 30 years of marriage, the kids have left too. Thanks to your article, I am a changed man, like Scrooge on Christmas morning.

Oh hell, who am I kidding? I can’t change. You’ll just have to stay out of my way or suffer the consequences. Besides, my president drives one. (We’re both still giggling about the election.)

I’m glad I got that off my chest. I feel sort of cleansed.

Your article wasn’t a total waste. I noticed that my flag was too small. Just as soon as I pour this leftover gas down the nearest storm drain and fill up with fresh high-octane, I’m off for a new one.

It’s good to be me, and good to look down from my SUV.

John Lavezzi

Dangerous compacts
Why are you publishing articles about SUV drivers being ruder than other drivers? If anything, the opposite is true. For some reason drivers of compact cars seem to think that they can squeeze into very small spaces to cut you off because they are so little. On the freeway this is especially dangerous. After driving an SUV for the last couple of years, I’m wary of small cars pulling up on me in the fast lane, because they so frequently cut me off, and then they have the nerve to flip me off because I’m too close. Explain that one to me.

I have elderly grandparents that I help out by taking them to doctor’s appointments and running errands. My SUV sits up just high enough that they’re much more comfortable getting in and out than with my mom’s car. It’s easier on them, so I’m the designated driver most of the time.

Tom Gascoyne said that, as soon as he filled up the Suburban with gas, he hated them again. If the Suburban was a 2003 model, then it got better gas mileage than [the story stated]. It most likely wasn’t all the way full when he picked it up, and he topped it off to make the difference more noticeable. My parents drove a 1990 Suburban that got better gas mileage than that. The new ones should get about 13 miles to the gallon around town and 16 on the freeway.

Your article seemed to be based upon jealousy for other socio-economic classes of people. Talk about stereotyping people: This was one of the most blatant attacks I’ve seen in a while. Where’s your tolerance now? Is it because there is none when you don’t believe in what others choose to do? Why should I be despised for driving an SUV? It’s kind of like the statement from pro-choicers that goes like this, “If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one.” SUV owners say, “If you don’t like SUVs, don’t drive one.” In both cases the implication is clear: Mind your own damn business!

Amy Armstrong

Wrong Juan
Don’t let Juan-Carlos Selznick’s review of Bowling for Columbine [“Guns and gutter balls,” Reel world, Jan. 2] keep you from seeing the film. In my book, it’s a don’t-miss.

The movie clearly elucidates the crisis of violence we are experiencing in this country. And it does so in a fast-paced, entertaining way—thanks in large part to one of Selznick’s main criticisms: “[Producer/Director Michael] Moore’s trademark portrayals of his own personal interventions in the film’s subject matter.” It is this very quality that makes the film work.

Moore’s “interventions” give the film the element of human interest that makes it so forceful. Moore also serves as a role model for personal involvement and social action in the face of these terrible challenges of our time.

Michael Moore has given the world a shocking, disturbing picture of the violence pervading American culture—in the past and exploding into the present. And he digs beneath the surface and exposes the deeply painful roots. Woven through the film are the questions, “Why? Why here in good ol’ USA? Why here so much more than in England or Spain or Canada?” This viewer left the film deeply moved, feeling the urgency that we as a country—and each of us as individuals—must seek the answers to those questions.

Please, don’t miss Bowling for Columbine.

Emily Alma

Common denominator
I present these outstanding facts about the 20th century:

In 1912 England used military force to seize the Persian Gulf and established British Petroleum (BP) as a government monopoly. England wanted a cheap, reliable oil reserve for its naval fleet.

Between 1920 and 1938 Joseph Stalin brutally expanded the southern boundaries of the Soviet Union to acquire resources for the modernization of the Soviet economy. Access to Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf oil was the primary objective.

The key objective of the Nazi invasion of Russia (1940) was to blitzkrieg southeast across the Ukraine and seize the vital oil reserves that Stalin had grabbed. England and the United States ruthlessly overthrew the first Pahlavi shah of Iran and used that country to funnel enormous amounts of supplies into Russia to stop that blitzkrieg.

In 1956 England declared war against Egypt because Egypt claimed control of the Suez Canal. England viewed this as a threat to its Persian Gulf oil. President Eisenhower wisely refused to back England in an uncontrollable conflict.

In 1980, after Muslim fundamentalists overthrew the second Pahlavi shah, Saddam Hussein became the United State’s anointed instrument to destroy that revolution. Access to Persian Gulf oil was the rationale for this action.

These facts were gleaned from a book written by Manucher Farmanfarmanian, who was minister of oil production for the second Pahlavi shah. He had immediate access to that shah. Manucher certainly thinks that oil is the driving force in the Middle East. He was dead serious when he titled his book Blood & Oil.

John C. Callaway

Title fight
In regard to your article on Perry Reniff [“Who to watch in 2003,” Jan. 2], one thing Reniff said that I found interesting was that to save money he is going to eliminate the PIO [public-information officer] position and replace it with a crime prevention position. What he failed to mention is that the PIO and the crime prevention officer are one and the same, making the official title of the person assuming that position “PIO/Crime Prevention Officer.” It looks like he is just trying to fool the public.

Dori Caufield