Letters for April 3, 2008

Letter of the week
American-style ass-kickin’

A while back, I was at a Sacramento based co-op. I was a bit hungry, so I ordered a brownie. I ended up hating it and threw it away. Shortly after I threw it out, a lady approached me and started talking about all the kids starving in Africa.

My reply to her is that not many people in Africa are as bad off as they seem, and that we have people here in America starving. Why aren’t we feeding ourselves first? Preoccupation?

Why are there so many hungry people in one of the world’s richest countries anyway?

Because a lot of Americans are buying products made by different countries and it is devaluing the American dollar. Corporations think that by exporting work they are making more money, but in truth they are ripping the consumers to shreds. Not only are they starving millions of families across the United States because they have taken away jobs, but they are also messing with the delicate class balance.

Many Americans are now below poverty level. In fact, the middle-class is getting poor and the poor are getting poorer, while the rich are staying rich.

The deterioration of the middle-class began with Bush (who we can also thank for countless other problems with our country), who passed the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The bill itself is simple enough and so were the consequences that followed.

Why don’t they stop CAFTA? The answer is simple: It would take money out of their pockets. That’s the way Congress and the senators supported it.

We should give them all a good American-style ass-kickin’, but we all are so focused on helping every other country that we have forgotten about ourselves.

I’m not saying that helping other people is bad, but as bad as other countries are doing, I don’t think that they will be able to help us out of a depression. So next time you start to think that you should send money to other countries, think about your next-door neighbor who just lost his job and can barely afford to feed his family.

Nykki Sims

Fashionable Sac City

Re “Made in Sacramento” by Emily Page (SN&R Feature, March 27):

Thanks for the article about fashion design in Sacramento.

I would also like to point out the fabulous community of artists and students tended by Marie Maschmeyer at Sacramento City College. Their terrific (but often overlooked) sewing and design program has been training future designers in everything from clothing selection to couture sewing techniques for 30 years, and the training is unparalleled. Perhaps they aren’t as glamorous as a fancy new school with “design” in the title, but the education is incredible, and my alma mater deserves at least a passing mention in any discussion of the fashion community in Sacramento.

A. Wood

Ten answers for McCain

Re “Ten for McCain” (SN&R Snog, online: March 22; print: March 27):

What do you know about Republican presidential candidate John McCain?

John McCain is another “war president” in waiting, cut in the mold of George Bush. Ex-POW McCain urged President Bush to veto a bill that would have banned waterboarding torture. McCain wants to make Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.

John McCain has flip-flopped on most hot-button issues since he began his run for president. McCain believes women should be prosecuted if they have abortions (San Francisco Chronicle, February 24). McCain wants to fill the Supreme Court with more social conservatives like John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

The League of Conservation Voters gave McCain a zero percent rating on his environmental votes last year.

I’ve yet to hear any new ideas from John McCain, just more of the same. With John McCain as the next president, America would go from the frying pan into the fire.

Ron Lowe
Grass Valley

Sustain Sac

Re “Heather Fargo or bust” (SN&R Letters, March 27):

I agree with Mr. Alex Berg that Sacramento’s future sustainability will require more substance and depth of information than was revealed by SN&R’s recent coverage of the bumper crop of mayoral candidates (“The big show,” SN&R Feature, March 20). What I don’t understand is how he managed to mistake it for something more than a quick and lighthearted glance at our varied experience and qualifications.

Mr. Berg may also not fully understand the structure and procedures of local government, where official city decisions require a council majority vote in an open meeting, typically including a variety of comments from concerned and caring citizens such as himself.

Every single Sacramentan, not just elected officials, plays a key role in city and county government of, by and for the people. Of course, it helps when people’s comments are based on solid information and thoughtful inquiry as well as knee-jerk emotionalism or sarcastic jokes. (Let’s be realistic about our human nature.)

Sacramentans who like to consider all their options can find out more about this “aging hippie” (though actually I was a nerd back then) at www.sustainablesacramento.blogspot.com.

Muriel Strand

More than one gang to worry about

Re “Breaking ranks” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, March 20) and “The big show” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, March 20):

I loved your article on the abusive Yolo County gang injunction. I do a lot of senior work. I talked to two of my senior West Sacramento friends who say they don’t know anything about a “Broderick Boys” gang, but they resent their civil rights being attacked by the unneeded gang injunction.

I was pleased by your nice article about my candidate for mayor, Muriel Strand. She is intelligent and principled.

I thought that the articles about the candidates were not helped by those stupid comments taken from Charles Barkley. You give Kevin Johnson way too much credibility. This jerk can’t take care of the responsibilities he has now. He is incapable of the most basic political work. Take a picture of one of his abandoned properties just north of Broadway (near his Starbucks) with the Johnson for mayor campaign sign. This contrast says it all.

If there is a runoff between Heather and Kevin, I am voting for Heather. One can at least have a conversation with her. He is an empty suit. I, and many of my African-American neighbors, want him out of Oak Park. MLK Jr. said judge folks according to “the content of their character.” Kevin Johnson has the character of a spoiled adolescent.

L.R. Roberts

Bravo, Cosmo!

Re “Breaking ranks” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, March 20):

I’m very pleased that you are covering this illegal activity! I would support a follow-up story that reflects more details on the election timeline.

Ruben Robles
via e-mail

Don’t waste water

Re “Green cuisine” (SN&R Ask a Treehugger, March 20):

A question about reducing food packaging brought up some very good suggestions—and one truly bad one—from the Treehugger.

Please don’t encourage people to waste water by washing out their recyclable items! Most particles will be cleaned or burned off during the remanufacturing process, making it entirely unnecessary to waste limited (and increasingly scarce) resources washing them out. Just scrape off the chunks and leave it at that!

Thanks for your (mostly) informative and on-target tips and insights; just remember that reducing waste (including water waste) is more important than recycling it.

Amber Raven
via e-mail

Checking ‘Hugger’s facts

Re “Green cuisine” (SN&R Ask a Treehugger, March 20):

Treehugger’s response consists of a few inaccuracies and omissions that I’m writing to correct.

The correct advice should have been to rent the apartment with the gas stove. SMUD’s standard power mix consists of 60 percent natural gas, 21 percent large hydroelectric, 15 percent renewable and only 4 percent coal. So the electric stovetop relies much more heavily on gas-fired power plants than coal-burners, contrary to your explanation.

Generating electricity at a gas-fired plant requires a number of processes. The basic process is the natural gas is combusted, which spins a gas turbine, which turns an electrical generator. This produces electricity, which is then transmitted to the power grid and distributed to the utility customers. Each of these processes in converting natural gas to electricity suffers an efficiency penalty, not to mention the electrical transmission and distribution losses between the power plant and the electric stove. A gas stove avoids all these penalties except the combustion inefficiency. This is one reason why the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards encourage installation of gas furnaces while penalizing electric resistance heating.

The greenest answer is actually solar cooking: using heat energy from the sun to cook food, based on the same principle of why a car interior heats up while parked on a sunny day, especially during the summer. An added benefit of solar cooking besides avoiding fuel consumption is that it doesn’t heat up the kitchen, thus reducing a home’s air-conditioning load. Residential and commercial air conditioning together account for 30 percent of peak power demand and drive the need for new power plants. Sacramento is home to Solar Cookers International, a nonprofit founded in 1987 that demonstrates and promotes solar cooking around the world (www.solarcookers.org).

Matthew Tyler

Give up your money, Bob

Re “Stop shirking” by Bob Schmidt (SN&R Essay, March 20):

I think Bob Schmidt should send all of his disposable income to the various governments that control his life. What he shouldn’t do, however, is complain about corporations and their many shareholders, which many SN&R readers are, or individuals using every legal means to minimize their tax liability. To underpay or to overpay your taxes is just plain stupid.

Bob, what evidence do you have that “the very wealthy are, mostly, solid Republicans”? You almost had a very interesting essay, even without documentation. That is, until you showed that you are just another whiny liberal with your wisecrack about George Bush. What does he have to do with the tax code? The last time I checked, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. But I wouldn’t look to them to change the laws either. Their pockets are getting lined by the same lobbyists that lined the Republicans’ pockets.

Mr. Schmidt, if you don’t like the laws as they are, you should work to change them. Here’s Rep. Doris Matsui’s phone number: (202) 225-7163.

Joe Teixeira
via e-mail

Molly lives!

Re “Scary stuff” by Bob Schmidt (SN&R Words, March 13):

A great thanks for reviewing the book Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch’s Assault on America’s Fundamental Rights by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose. I have been telling people about this book ever since it was published. The library has it on its shelf!

For people who are not acquainted with Molly Ivins (many people are not), all her columns are available to read at the Texas Observer site and on www.creators.com. Many videos are on YouTube, where you can hear her fine Texas accent, so pleasant as she skewers Dubya!

It is true: You have to speak up for everybody or else there is nobody left to speak up for you, should you need it.

Phyllis Petras

Way more letters than this!

Readers remind Keleigh Freidrich about the order of things, spread Bob Schmidt’s Molly Ivins love, continue to tee off on Nick Miller’s all-ages cover story, note that family courts are the “punishing arm of hateful feminists” and tell Matt Coker how to get high. All this and much, much more in our expanded Letters section below.

Dark, gnarly and not first

Re “The dark, gnarly side” by Keleigh Friedrich (SN&R Sacreligious! March 13): Thanks very much for publishing this article. I found it interesting and I enjoyed it.

I appreciate that Keleigh Friedrich is helping to demystify the Ordo Templi Orientalis a bit, and write about the reality of it rather than capitalizing on the “creepy” aspect. That would be an easy article to write, without having to do much research. Good job.

However, I question the veracity of this statement: “He was the first Westerner to write about yoga—which in Victorian England was enough to be considered a Satanist.” This seems like it could hardly be true, since India had already been a British colony for many years by the Victorian era, and Hindu Yogis like Sir Ramakrishna and his student Vivekananda were well-known to British society before the turn of the 20th century.

Moreover, the Theosophical Society (Madame Helena Blavatsky’s outfit—no relation to Crowley, Thelema, or the OTO, of course) was founded in 1875, the year of Crowley’s birth. I own a copy of the Baghavad Gita published by the Theosophical Society in the 1890s. So wherever this information came from that suggests Crowley was the first Westerner to write about yoga, it would perhaps be prudent to more fully corroborate any other such facts gleaned from this source in the future.

Lastly, as always seems to be the case, only a part of the famous Thelemic “phrase” from The Book of the Law was quoted in the article: “His teachings emphasize discovery and pursuit of one’s true will, encapsulated in the phrase ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.’” This makes it sound like some kind of early 20th century version of EST. The phrase, in its entirety, is actually comprised of two sentences: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, Love under Will.” That gives a slightly different connotation, albeit one with less of a modern, pop-psychology edge. Thanks again!

Corvus Munnin
Santa Rosa

All-ages and under control

Re “All-ages all over?” by Nicholas Miller (SN&R Feature, March 6):

I just read your article on the all-ages clubs and what they have to deal with and wondered why you don’t mention Club Retro or The Underground as places where bands can play.

My son is in a band (Scarred First Class) and they’ve played at The Underground several times and in SN&R’s Jammies recently. In dealing with Josh at The Underground, it seems they’ve got a pretty good “business” going there and maybe that’s why the police don’t hassle them. They could have used the publicity too!

I’ve heard that a few years back it was a different story, and there were “goings on” in the parking lot that made it not so family friendly. The security at The Underground is really great and that would have been a good thing to mention, too. It really isn’t that hard to see why the city and the cops have a hard time with these clubs that spring up, considering safety issues (drinking, drugs, underage kids mixing with older, moshing that gets out of control), the noise and the liability.

Lastly, I was in my 20s when punk first came around, and it didn’t appeal to me. So I hadn’t witnessed moshing until going to The Underground (the security there assures me that this is “nice” moshing). When I first saw it, I was shocked and really had to hold myself back on telling my son he couldn’t participate. After seeing it several times since, I’ve relaxed and can even see the appeal of hitting people when you’re not angry—gets a lot of tension out! What I’m trying to say is that people my age get a little freaked out seeing what goes on at these clubs—maybe they’re a little afraid of it all.

via e-mail

Family courts=hateful feminists

Re “Sacramento judge denies ‘disgracing the American Judiciary System’” by R. V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, March 6):

There is certainly no doubt that Peter J. McBrien is one of the worst in a hateful, hurtful industry called family court.

Unfortunately, family court has become the punishing wing of the hateful feminist movement. Children are routinely sacrificed to a life of poverty, crime, suicide and ignorance in their so-called “best interest.” All of this so that one parent can be punished for many years to come.

In a state where divorce is considered no fault, why is one person always vilified? Most usually the husband/father will lose the home, be forced to pay outrageous legal costs, and forfeit half of his income for the next 10 to 20 years. In this era of atrocious judicial tyranny, it is always assumed that in a marriage, one party is enslaved, preyed upon and victimized for the entirety of their relationship. Subsequently, the predator must be punished harshly in the breakup of the relationship.

I use the word hateful because hate is the only feeling that can allow a biological [father] to be separated from his offspring when there is absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing! However, this is what happens in family court as the norm, not the exception!

Sometimes it is immediate, and at times is implemented over a period of time as a strategy. Still, one parent is ultimately denied a relationship with the children they love. There is no denying that this is a hate crime. There is no life, liberty or pursuing happiness in a country where you have been forcefully separated from your own children that your heart yearns for and that you love dearly. This is without a doubt the most wicked form of cruel and unusual punishment perpetrated upon both parent and child.

The out-of-control judges making these rulings in violation of the United States Constitution must be stopped, in the best interest of our children and society as a whole.

William Roark
via e-mail

Boycott needs media boost

Re “A gas boycott that works” (SN&R Letter of the Week, March 6):

Todd Lafton’s suggestion to boycott specific oil giants has a couple of things that make it dubious.

First, what if the oil companies all sell at the same price and only raise their prices in lockstep? Second, what broadcast reporter, anchor or radio deejay could keep his or her job after a few price comparisons are aired on a radio or television program? It strikes me that no supervisor or anyone in management would approve of such communication.

I suggest the only media that would or could do oil-company gasoline price comparisons in order to instill an effective boycott of a particular corporation are stations and independently produced talk shows that are not beholden to big energy in some way. Are there any?

Maybe progressive broadcast stations and print media that can withstand being boycotted or pressured by a corporate superstructure are the answer. Are there any?

Gary Chew

A bong and a blowtorch

Re “A blown mind is a terrible thing to waste” by Matt Coker (SN&R Frontlines, March 6):

Dude, are you sure you smoked it the right way?

I am against criminalization of Salvia divinorum, but it is not because I think it is a bunk drug. I am simply leery of any bill that aims to take away my legal right to pursuit of happiness, and Salvia makes me happy. It is not the type of thing I like to do daily (which is odd, since most of my drugs of choice I would prefer to be on all the time, if it were not so irresponsible).

But anyway, Salvia divinorum has a high heat index, so it is most efficient to use a bong and a blowtorch.

Andrew Rawlins
via e-mail

Smoke more, Cokehead

Re “A blown mind is a terrible thing to waste” by Matt Coker (SN&R Frontlines, March 6):

I was disappointed by SN&R’s seven-paragraph coverage of Salvia divinorum, the wild yet mild psychedelic drug.

First off, I must say that the article is incorrect in assuming that Salvia doesn’t work. It’s one of the most powerful drugs I’ve experienced. (To Coker: If you really want to trip, try smoking it again. Sometimes users won’t feel the effects until a second or third go.)

Furthermore, the article sends a dangerous message to drug-enthusiasts who might want to try the Salv out. Coker writes that he smoked an entire $40 package in one sitting. That could cause paranoia in some users; I recommend a fifth gram of 12X for first-timers.

Liquid Sterling
via e-mail

Pickin’ on the woman

Re “Cartoon” by John Kloss (SN&R Opinion, March 6):

Kloss’ cartoon this week is the most perfect example I’ve seen yet of the appalling amount of misogyny during Senator Clinton’s run for the presidential nomination. Comments about her butt, her weight, her wrinkles; it goes on and on.

How would the public react if some jerk drew a political cartoon of Senator Obama in fading light until the light was so faded out that all one could see was bright white eyes and teeth? Wouldn’t be too cool, would it? And not funny at all.

I’m up to my ears with the genderism and racism the media have attached to this campaign. It’s disgusting.

Laurie Ferns

Seeks purr-fection

Re “That waiflike purr” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R Trust Your Ears, March 6):

If you’re going to write an article and cite the location of a business, I’d hope that you would have at least gotten your facts straight and accurate. It’s a Grind is not at Blue Ravine, nor is it on the “unnamed” road that goes to “Old Folsom.”

Make friends with www.maps.google.com.

Jasen S.

Justice, not payback

Re “The big payback” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, February 28):

I was indicted on the same day as Richard Finley and his case went before mine.

I am convinced that our federal courts, where the Internal Revenue Service is concerned, are not governed by the rule of law as mandated by the United States Constitution but are rather governed by the capriciousness of men.

In my case, the court appointed an attorney for me, but I chose to use him as counsel only and wrote my own briefs and conducted the oral arguments. My arguments were that the IRS personnel as well as the assistant U.S. attorney in the case were never empowered to perform the functions they were attempting to perform against me. My arguments were based upon law ratified by Congress and codified in the United States Code.

I moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction; the arguments went on for the better part of a year, and one day the judge ruled that we were going to trial. The day he made that ruling, I requested a memorandum of law and finding of facts based upon the record as to how he came up with his ruling. The judge told me that I would only be allowed to have a transcript of the hearing.

I filed an appeal in the Ninth Circuit and my appeal was dismissed as being moot. At the time, I thought that was strange.

Shortly thereafter, I appeared in the trial court, but when the case was called, I was the only one present and was told that the IRS Criminal Investigation Agent and the assistant U.S. attorney were both transferred out of the area and that I had “fallen through the cracks.” The case was dismissed.

Some time passed, and I was contacted by a federal attorney and was told that the action against me must be concluded and that they were about to re-try the case, suggesting that I should plead to a misdemeanor. I took their suggestion, as I believed then and do today that our federal courts are simply not interested in the truth or the rule of law.

I know Richard and Maria. They are wonderful people and it is a travesty how the court has given them so much grief and injustice. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if no one has ever heard of a court granting an “innocent” ruling. It will simply be a decision of first precedent, where it will establish, in Richard’s case, true justice.

After all, our courts are courts of justice, aren’t they?

Frank Stamos

Ask Abe?

Re “Raise the bar, ya muscleheads” by Joey Garcia (SN&R Ask Joey, February 28):

I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve always either wanted to write or see in print a column entitled “Ask Abe,” which would be from the man’s point of view. I am frankly tired of New Age-y advice offered by women and skewed to some ridiculous female perspective. Joey Garcia’s response to the guy who had an affair with a woman who works out at the same gym he does finally inspired me to write this letter.

First of all, the guy (theoretically) should know better than to have an affair with a married woman. Besides the fact that it’s bad karma, it’s also very stupid and dangerous. Let’s face it, though: Men like sex and don’t attach much importance to having it initially. Married women are the easiest to seduce because they are bored and starving for romance and affection and feel they could “do better.”

Instead of focusing on the fact that this cougar initiated the sex and appeared to be all for casual sex initially, Joey focused on the woman and some “female power” concept. The woman should have ejected the husband before having an affair, but women don’t want to get rid of a sure thing until they know what else is out there, so they test the waters. We don’t even know if this was the only guy she had sex with.

Perhaps after using the old “treasure chest” to reel him in, she thought he might soften, and if he was a good enough catch, then she could lean on him (if he let her into his life, not just his bed) to have the courage to get rid of her husband in a seamless transaction where she was not without a man.

When he didn’t, and she couldn’t find anything better, she used the leverage to scare her husband into doing whatever the hell she asked him to do so he could keep her and so she’d stop screwing around on him. The guy feels weird because he can see now that almost any man would have been sufficient for her little experiment.

It wasn’t his itch—he’s just a guy—it was her itch. It was her who broke her marriage vows and it was her who had an agenda from day one (i.e., “Help give me the strength to leave my husband”).

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. If you would like a real column that would be fun and from a man’s perspective, e-mail me back. Otherwise, give this to Joey (who I think is a lovely lady, who I respect, and whose opinions are usually pretty right on).

Lanny Malfar
via e-mail

Marry the Mexican! Por favor?

Re “Vota Obama?” by Gustavo Arellano (SN&R ¡Ask a Mexican! February 28):

As a gabacho, I say, hey, man, if you were a hot Latina, I would ask you to marry me! From a dumb-ass conservative white boy, I think that was your best rant ever. I don’t know if Obama is the best candidate yet, but goddamn, I am so sick of the race card. Keep it up, Gustavo, ¡Ask a Mexican! is my fav.

Michael Kline
via e-mail

Lay off Proposition 13

Re “There will be blame” (SN&R Editorial, February 14):

OK, lay off Proposition 13. Was and still is a great deal for the majority of the homeowners.

I thought the Lotto was going to help fix the schools. All I ever heard was “vote for the Lotto; it will help our schools.” Bullshit. The schools are worse then ever, and the kids trashing them does not help. So what has the Lotto done to make this a better place?

Also, with so many freaking people living in California, why in the hell are we in debt? It does not help that some of these people in higher-up positions like to help themselves to the money. You’ve got a bunch of greasy palm SOBs just giving themselves raises all over the place, for what? Because they can, that’s why.

As far as those not paying their fair share of anything, I say kick them out of California. Anyone caught with their grubby little palms in the cookie jar should be taken out and shot or have their hands cut off for stealing. Taxing people to death is not the answer. Half of those people in the government get away with murder, anyway. Thank God for term limits. Now they have to go out and get a real job.

Cut the fat. As for Sacramento, let’s stop building all of these damn movie theater complexes. How many do we have now, a billion?

Ken Druan