Letters for May 13, 2004

Bikers on a tough road
Re “Wheels on the bike” (RN&R, Arts & Culture, May 6):

Natasha Majewski’s story about the risks of bicycling in Reno was a jarring reminder of my experiences. Until I left Reno last summer, I was a non-driving cyclist for years and saw virtually every bike ride as a battle with unaware, sometimes angry drivers. The angry ones always got under my skin. Was their belligerence the product of free-floating anger, twisted machismo, or some genuine disdain for non-drivers trying to share the road? It’s no secret that Reno is no hotbed of civility, but cyclists genuinely need protection from errant vehicles. What happened to Kurstin Graham and others is inexcusable and shouldn’t become the norm.

Lance Bernard
Minneapolis (formerly Reno)

Weighty decision
Re “Weighing the risks” (RN&R, Arts & Culture, April 29):

I want to commend RN&R and Stephanie Perry for the thoughtful article about weighing the risks and benefits of gastric bypass surgery for the treatment of morbid obesity. Her description of the complex nature of the decision to choose bariatric surgery was very insightful. As the case depicted illustrates, there are both significant benefits (prolongation of life, elimination of diabetes, hypertension, asthma, sleep apnea and other diseases) and significant risks (four to five deaths per thousand cases when performed at major bariatric centers, like Western Surgical Group).

As your article points out, the decision to pursue bariatric surgery should not be taken lightly. Every patient must meet the criteria established by the National Institutes of Health and pass an extensive evaluation process. The risks are minimized when the surgery is performed by an experienced, board-certified surgeon with advanced training in this field. Until we, as a society, deal with the difficult root causes of the obesity epidemic, millions of Americans will suffer from its devastating health consequences. Gastric bypass surgery will remain a valuable, life-prolonging option for some people. But it is an option that involves risks that should never be ignored.

Kent C. Sasse, M.D., F.A.C.S.
via e-mail

Early forgiveness
President Bush has already announced that, despite the horrific torture of Iraqi prisoners in American-run prisons, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will stay in his administration.

It may be that Rumsfeld did nothing wrong, but how does the President know when all the facts are not yet known?

At a minimum, President Bush should hold off on promising to keep Rumsfeld until he knows he is not responsible for the torture of Iraqis.

Georgia Hedrick

The trap is sprung
I really don’t like the feeling I get when I consider the possibility/likelihood that the Far Right really does believe that their way is the way regardless of and contrary to democratic process and how many “rank and file” it costs to get there (starting with 3,000 expendables in the collateral damage at WTC). So far as I know, there is no over-the-counter remedy that will neutralize a mixture of capitalist greed and moral gestapotism. Nor do I like the feeling I get when I relish the stupid and violent events that help to dismantle Shrub & Co.—dismantling the curtain and exposing the L-lie—because too often it is, once again, the little people being spent.

When will somebody catch on that those who got their hands dirty in the prison(s) were put in an ugly, alien situation in an ugly alien environment by those that chose war? War does bad things to good people and the less prepared they are to deal with that—before going, while there, and don’t forget the prevalent and pernicious after-effects—then the more likely stupid, ugly and dangerous stuff is going to occur. All the more reason that war is no resort unless it is the very last resort. The trap was set, and our I-wish-I-had-a-big-dick-Texan stepped us all right in it and by design, the more we try to get out of the trap, the firmer the trap’s grip on the rest of our sensitive appendages. We definitely have our tits in a ringer.

Michael Burgwin

Fire Rumsfeld
For the sake of our long-term relations with all nations, especially in the Middle East, President Bush should immediately fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Even if he did not know of the torture of Iraqi prisoners, Rumsfeld is ultimately responsible for the Pentagon’s unforgivable mistake in this matter.

The sooner Bush takes action and fires Rumsfeld, the better. It will signal to reasonable people at home and abroad that our nation abhors what took place in the military jails in Iraq.

Scott Allen