Letters for December 13, 2001

Ka-ching ding-a-ling

Re “Winter Guide” (SN&R, December 6):

Winter Guide 2001 couldn’t have been more right. Thanks to a little old-fashioned “holiday bureaucracy,” super-sized backscratchers in the shape of American dollars are at the top of the gift lists in Washington, D.C.

Since when did boosting the economy require our elected officials and business leaders to take advantage of the public’s trust? I thought the upcoming holiday was Christmas, not April Fool’s Day.

Let’s not place all of the blame on our president. Bush isn’t the only one making decisions at the White House. A few other famous politicians have been doing the talking on Capitol Hill, mainly those pictured on the money—Franklin, Jefferson and Jackson.

This holiday season, maybe we should try doing something just a little different. When we stuff our stockings with the fruits of our consumerism, let’s save a tiny bit of room for common sense.

Robert Cabiness
via e-mail

Crusader rabid

Your editorial of December 6, 2001, “Of God and Country,” missed its target.

As you stated, following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush used a word that you are not supposed to use in polite company: crusade. I truly believe Bush meant it in a figurative sense. It was a way of describing his determination to eradicate terrorism.

But for you, “crusade” is synonymous with the worst kind of religious zealotry. No, make that Christian zealotry. How soon the far left forgot we are at war. Thousands of non-combatants were slain in the initial battles in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Are you now saying their lives count for nought? George used the “c” word so that ends the just war. Because George used the “c” word, the killing of thousands at the World Trade Center is no longer evil. How trite and simple are the workings of the leftist mind.

Frank Stephens
Shingle Springs

Sticking up for bludgeoning

Re “Last Bus to Hicktown” (SN&R Essay, December 6):

For a newspaper that occasionally tries to champion populist causes and challenge developers in Sacramento, your satirical criticism of the Bee’s new editorial director was disingenuous.

In case you missed the point, the Bee’s relentless campaign to change RT student fares was designed to help low-income residents trying to get their children to school without going broke. Perhaps you don’t see this as a serious problem, but it seems to me exactly the kind of crusade a newspaper should take.

You then chastise the Bee for not tackling more important issues such as “greedy, politically connected developers,” when in fact the very next crusade by the Bee editorial board concerned developers trying to push through a Target store in contradiction to a long-debated city plan. You never mention this, although your “Hicktown” headline was taken directly from Bee editorials about the Target controversy.

Dave Holwerk has been editorial director at the Bee for a few months. In that time, RT has agreed to change its policy on fares for low-income students and the city council has reversed itself on the Target development. I suspect there will be other crusades. Although SN&R makes fun of these relentless drumbeats, it’s been my experience that most government officials don’t change unless bludgeoned. Does the SN&R now think the Bee is being too hard on the government and developers?

Bob Salladay
via e-mail

Raking with a hoe

Re “Autumnal Struggle” by Ching Lee (SN&R Feature, December 6):

With all due respect to the Tree Services division of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation: Don’t pat yourselves on the back so quickly. While I’m sure the Parks & Recreation employees put in a lot of overtime on weekends, has anyone considered what the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Work Project custodians accomplish in the war on leaves?

And for the privilege of being ordered by the court to report for the Sheriff’s Work Project (after paying a non-refundable application fee of $43, plus $20 a day for each day served) one receives the dubious distinction of raking leaves, among other things, in the rain without the benefit of overtime.

Note that I said “ordered”—not requested. As I see it you have two choices: You either report for duty or go to jail. So what’s up with the $43 application fee?

To quote Miss Lee’s article:

“In Sacramento, those who would combat the leaves need to be able to move quickly and work together to meet the challenge.”

Someone should explain to the Sheriff’s Department what that statement means. I don’t think they understand the operative inference here: “cooperation.”

As for Mr. McFaydan and Saldivar enjoying the overtime during leaf season, I’m sure they do. By the way Mr. McFaydan, where was this army during last weekend’s storm? But I can tell you one thing for certain: There were men and women work project custodians, raking and bagging leaves in the wind and the rain last Saturday and Sunday without the benefit of proper foul weather clothing, or the proper tools to do the job.

Have you ever tried raking leaves in the rain with a hoe?

Dwain Barefield
via e-mail

From the first reefer madness

Re “Reefer Madness” by Charles Seidel (SN&R Cover, November 29):

The DEA’s fondness for busting medical marijuana users exposes a conspiracy against effective treatment for cancer, nausea, glaucoma, asthma, muscle spasms, epilepsy, cholera, arthritis, migraine, tumor suppression and numerous other conditions for which cannabis sativa provides relief.

The DEA crusade against medical marijuana is a plot against the health of the United States because the marijuana laws the DEA enforces with such vigor are based on notions like:

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana can cause white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

“The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality and death.”

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

“[Smoking] one [marihuana] cigarette might develop a homicidal mania, probably to kill his brother.”

Those quotes were from 1937 Congressional testimony to outlaw marijuana.

Because of these lies drug warriors feel justified in condemning patients to needless suffering and death.

Redford Givens
San Francisco

Fighting pacifism

Re “Preaching Pacifism Amid War” by Michelle Olsen (SN&R News, November 29):

Your interview with Utah Phillips was both illuminating and shocking. Referring to the September 11 attacks, Phillips stated that he finds “responsibility … all the way around” and wants to hear those with animosity toward the U.S. “define that hatred so we can see what of our behavior needs to be readjusted.”

The reader can only conclude that a self-proclaimed pacifist, who eschews all forms of conflict, finds that some forms of hatred are reasonable and that the attacks can be justified as being provoked. Moreover, his response is not to condemn solely the hater but to encourage America to change its behavior to avoid such hatred.

Is the rape victim therefore partially to blame for her attack? Should the lynching victim be chided for failing to “readjust his behavior” after understanding the bigotry of the lynch mob?

Should we not be appalled that a man claiming to love peace is instead excusing violence? What Mr. Phillips and his movement fail to grasp is that the atrocities of September 11 can never be justified or “understood” according to any rational standard. His attempt to do so reveals less a love of peace than a contempt for the victim.

Michael Mirmak

Is this a democracy?

Re “Terror Corp.” (SN&R Editorial, November 29):

The editorial you ran in the November 29 issue hit the nail on the head, and struck a nerve inside of me.

American taxpayers are about to be robbed blind by our supposed “democratic” government. The same “democratic” government that has openly said it is withholding information about our “war on terrorism,” the same government that opted to double the amount of billions of dollars Dubya asked to start the new “war on terrorism,” is about to use hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to help bail out companies that really don’t need the help. For the past decade we are consistently bombarded with news of cuts or lack of funding for programs that provide much needed help. But when a “war” breaks out, and American citizens fill with patriotic pride (and rightfully so), we hear news of an “economic stimulus package” that will pass without question.

This is the type of crap that makes me wonder where the loyalty of my government lies. If they feel that freely handing out billions of dollars to huge corporations is justifiable, I hope they will be just as willing to hand out the social security money the baby-boom generation is expecting.

I just wanted to thank you for allowing the space to focus on an issue that may very well never make the headlines of any major newspaper nationwide.

Raj Bajwa
via e-mail