Letters for April 7, 2005

Simple story of a simple soldier

Re “Soldier’s story” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Cover, March 24):

I picked up SN&R while waiting for takeout, and I just finished the article about Alan Rowe. It is an excellent piece of writing, and I commend Melinda Welsh.

Despite being a 26-year veteran of the military, a retired deputy sheriff and a lifelong registered Republican, I share the opinions of Evelyne Rominger expressed throughout your article. However, I was particularly impressed that SN&R chose to simply tell a story about a soldier rather than succumb to the obvious temptations to politicize the article. Thank you for telling me about Alan Rowe.

John Taylor
via e-mail

Hacking at a hack job

Re “Hack job on Christianity …” and “… must have come from an atheist homosexual” (SN&R Letters, March 24):

When I first read Jaime O’Neill’s muse concerning a trite nine-word bumper sticker, I immediately started musing myself about the letters that would be spawned. The crop that you chose to print supports every cliché a nonbeliever such as myself could dream of and demonstrates just how repugnant careful study and reflection is for those that choose the dangerous path of blind faith. To accuse someone of taking biblical text out of context by taking biblical text out of context would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. The incoherence and unashamed bigotry these writers chose as a bludgeon to defend their beliefs made me wince. “Atheist homosexual” and the “little fat guy”? Where’s the love?

M. Bruce Grosjean
via e-mail

Walsh’s ‘woody’ for CCPOA

Re “His special interest” by Tom Walsh (SN&R Editor’s note, March 17):

Tom Walsh’s criticism of California State Assemblyman Rudy Bermúdez’ dual role as a legislator and a member of the CCPOA disregards the past practices of most elected officials. Prior to taking on the role of an elected official, they had professions where membership in such organizations as the American Medical Association, the State Bar Association (Walsh did mention lawyers), agricultural co-ops and even local chambers of commerce was required.

Dare I mention the representatives at the national level who boast of their membership in the National Rifle Association?

I doubt any one of these officials removed themselves from the membership rolls of these organizations simply because they became public servants and may have to vote on legislation that could positively or negatively impact one of the organizations.

Our governor has not given up his membership in the actors union. He has even directed his minions to make it easier for Hollywood types to use state facilities (such as the closed women’s prison in Stockton) to make money—oops! I mean movies.

I’m Catholic. By Walsh’s standard, if I were ever elected to a public office, I would need to quit the church, because I couldn’t possibly be impartial on an abortion or death-penalty debate. Would my religious belief influence my vote? Yes, of course. If you don’t want someone like me to represent you, then don’t vote for me. How American is that?

Just because your publication, in its McCarthy-esque tack, has a “woody” for the CCPOA and espouses prisoners’ rights above crime victims’ rights, don’t question the ethics or “soul” of the one legislator who is looking out for the members of his constituency and all people in California who are not living in prisons.

Tom Palacioz

Where’s the good?

Re “War’s anniversary” (SN&R Editorial, March 17):

The lack of reaction to this editorial in your letters section may indicate that SN&R readers hadn’t fully recovered from their shock. Even after a litany of the war’s problems, you suggest, after apparently watching some TV clips of Iraqis voting, that some good may come of the war/occupation if Iraqis are indeed “liberated.”

What good? And at what price? Our pre-emptive invasion of Iraq was based on, at least, faulty intelligence; at worst, outright lies. Following the invasion, the Coalition Provisional Authority (U.S.) leader Paul Bremer fired half a million Iraqi civil servants and set about “privatizing” (seizing and selling off to the highest international bidder) the country’s non-oil economy, about 200 formerly state-owned companies. This outrageous, seemingly illegal scheme hasn’t worked; many of the Iraqis fired by Bremer became, understandably, “insurgents”; the country became too dangerous; and foreign investors stayed away.

Add to this outrage the deaths of more than 1,500 American soldiers, tens of thousands of them injured and, by some estimates, more than 100,000 Iraqis killed, with countless others injured or displaced. Besides this human toll, we’ve now spent something over $200 billion—no one knows how much, since the administration accounts the war’s cost outside the normal federal budget—and effectively destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure while stimulating anti-American sentiment in the Middle East but doing little to stabilize oil prices—the only possible “real” reason for this war.

By any metric, the invasion of Iraq is arguably the worst foreign-policy fiasco in our country’s history. The results of this unethical act will be felt for generations. Viewing “some good” from this war is a little like celebrating the silver lining on a storm cloud from which a tornado just ripped away your home and neighborhood.

Chuck McIntyre

Just call him churlish

Re “War’s anniversary” (SN&R Editorial, March 17):

I was disappointed in your editorial, which said, despite your excellent summary of the disasters the Bush war has inflicted on Iraq and on us, that it would be “churlish” of me not to admit that the recent Iraqi election brought a glimmer of hope that something worthy might yet come of it all.

My problem is not with the hope that things will improve in Iraq, but the implication that if they do, if “this brief springtime of hope may become an unforeseen flowering,” we should simply move on, as the administration would like us to do.

This means no consequences for lying to make an illegal war at a huge cost. A crime is still a crime even if it’s “successful,” and those responsible should be brought to justice.

It would also mean leaving in place the policy of “pre-emptive war,” in spite of this perfect example of why for decades we had a policy of not striking first, a policy that should never have been discarded without debate.

Finally, if we move on, we won’t re-examine—and hopefully stop—once and for all, allowing the executive to declare war simply because a wimpy Congress passes a resolution purporting to delegate its constitutional authority to the president. We now know such a resolution can be secured either by lies or by criminally negligent misreading of intelligence data.

At the risk of being called churlish (or petty, partisan or vindictive), I will continue to focus on the downside of your glimmer of hope, so that our people will demand that there never again be an Iraq war, never again be a “pre-emptive war” to pre-empt nothing, and never again allow unpunished war crimes committed by a president of the United States.

Miles D. Wichelns

Fix it, and there’s no lawsuit

Re “Right of passage” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, March 10):

Though well-written, Chrisanne Beckner’s article omits some important information regarding accessibility lawsuits by people with disabilities. It might lead readers to conclude that the River City Brewing Co. suffered bankruptcy because of my personal initiation of an access lawsuit against them. The omitted facts of the case are these:

Californians for Disability Rights (CDR) and I were the plaintiffs in the case. CDR is a statewide organization of people with disabilities, which advocates for disability civil rights.

The case against River City Brewing was undertaken to seek compliance with the civil-rights laws that protect people with disabilities.

The restaurant was newly constructed in the early ’90s with an inaccessible dining level. This was in strict violation of California access laws, which were first enacted in 1969.

The Sacramento building department failed the restaurant and the public by approving the noncompliant building plans for the restaurant.

The restaurant owners chose to fight the lawsuit for years, creating hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees. They could have settled the lawsuit and spent less than $50,000, including the provision of an elevator to the inaccessible dining level. If they had chosen to honor the laws, they could have avoided bankruptcy.

HolLynn D’Lil