Letters for January 15, 2009

Letter of the week
Three times the fun

Re “Not so stimulating” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, January 8), “Can we talk?” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, January 8) and “Supermajority stew” (SN&R Editorial, January 8):

These three articles deserve my response.

“Not so stimulating” is right on the mark. The massive amounts of concrete to be poured on this planet to stimulate [the economy] require an inordinate amount of lime in cement. Lime is obtained from the mineral limestone by decomposition using fossil fuel. The decomposition emits untold amounts of greenhouse gases, added to the already talked about greenhouse gas from fossil fuels. Thus this dream of reviving the economy by building the highway infrastructure using cement to assure the perpetuity of greenhouse-gas emissions unchecked is indeed an ill-advised plan for change promised by incoming agent of change.

As a Jewish [person] by birth (does it come as a shock to Mr. Scheide?), it is my duty to remind SN&R that all Jewish Americans have not been monolithic about Israel all the time. Maybe Jews have been? There is a distinct difference between being Jewish and [being a] Jew. One lets Mr. Scheide take it from there.

As to the “Supermajority stew,” this registered parliamentarian has, a zillion times, written to SN&R—and has had the honor of being published—pointing out the oxymoronic connotation of the word “supermajority.” If there is a “supermajority,” then what, pray tell, is an “inferiormajority”?

The word majority has just one meaning: more than half. If we have 100 legitimate votes cast, then any number of votes more than 50 votes (all votes starting with 51 and an incremental increase by one vote at a time up to 100) is a majority.

No, sir; getting rid of the two-thirds vote requirement for adoption of a budget is not the answer. The two-thirds vote is always the mandate whenever all the citizens are going to be deprived of their rights and privileges. The budget process necessarily means putting restrictions in one form or the other on all citizens. The litany of all kinds of individual groups that are in harms way due to the inability of the state to have a budget by a certain time is not germane to the issue. Change the date by which the budget must be enacted.

Above all, [the] media fails to understand: The purpose of legislative assemblies is not to adopt legislation, but rather to deliberate to come to the best adoptive measure. Ask that legislative members be clear as to the real needs of all the citizens and come to judicious and expeditious decisions after deliberations.

Brahama D. Sharma

R.V. doesn’t get it

Re “Can we talk?” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, January 8):

The pull quote says it all: You don’t get it.

Israel is a necessity, not for “European Jews, who were nearly exterminated by Nazi Germany.” It is a necessity for some kind of hope for the continued existence of several dozen millions of people. Africans, Asians, Arabs and South Americans all number themselves among those millions, as well as many who don’t. To those who would see the Jews gone from the Earth, it matters not one iota that your father was an atheist, your grandfather married out and you are a West Virginia snake handler. To them the one-drop rule applies. You are a Jew, and therefore a target.

During the war, not even the United States was a safe haven.

Before the United States even entered war, the United States sent Gen. George Marshall to intervene in the affairs of the nations of South America, forcing those nations to deport all Germans and Italians, regardless of their professed faiths, as potential spies. Then there is the little matter of the S.S. St. Louis, loaded with Jewish refugees, turned around by [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] and sent right back to their deaths.

Scheide repeats further on the old wheeze that a terrorist is somebody’s freedom fighter. That might be true, if what they were fighting for was a Western-style liberal democracy. In some circles, a soviet might even qualify. Neither is the case with Hamas; nor, for that matter, with Hezbollah.

With the PLO, who knows what they wanted other than to assure their own continued existence as a body? Yasir Arafat was always Abu Ammar to his constituency, if it can be called that. Arafat put on radical chic for Western consumption. A 1971 Life magazine piece shows middle-school-aged children being taught the proper use of a Kalashnikov under a poster of Che [Guevara]. Yet Arafat sought to boost his bona fides with his own by claiming as his uncle Haj Amin al-Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem and SS Gruppenführer (titular commander of the Bosnian Muslim Handschar Division). He told the national socialist pan-Arabist leaders at Oslo that of course he realized that Palestine was a province of Greater Syria. Yet after 9/11 he began regular prayers for the first time in his adult life and pogroms of the Christian members of the five families on the West Bank.

Israel is necessary because the world has proven that only a Jewish state can stop the ancient slaughter.

Bill Rozell
via e-mail

Democracy has a right to exist

Re “Can we talk?” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, January 8):

Here is one fact for Mr. Scheide (whose name, like many German patronymics, may be either Jewish or not, depending solely upon the bearer of same): Israel is the only democracy in an entire region (encompassing two continents) that is a bona fide democracy.

Here is another: Every single leader of the political entities Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO and Islamic jihad has vowed to “wipe Israel from the face of the Earth” or otherwise seek its annihilation.

I am an American Jew who is a voting member of the World Jewish Congress and a life member of Hadassah (which holds no party allegiances but is the Women’s International Zionist Organization). In domestic affairs, I support civil rights for all of us within America’s borders and human rights for all of us on this planet. I support free public education for everyone, a living wage and a decent job for anyone willing to work—in short, “progressive causes.”

But I am not a member of Mr. Scheide’s “Jewish America [that] can be called monolithic.” I support Israel’s unquestioned right to exist and to defend itself against those who would destroy it.

Judith Backover

Ten minutes, Seven Pounds

Re “Seven Pounds” by Jim Lane (SN&R Clips, January 8):

The movie [Seven Pounds] was a good one, and you obviously didn’t take to time to research why it was called Seven Pounds. But let’s just say that there was no secret as to why he “meddled” into the lives of others. He was trying to make restitution for a wrong that he committed.

Next time, watch the movie for more than 10 minutes so you get the meaning of the movie. I was repulsed by your review.

Tara Williams
via e-mail

Statistics, statistics and damned statistics

Re “Choose your delusion” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, December 31):

Choose your delusion, indeed!

The “respected” journal Lancet, says Mr. Scheide, reports that “upwards of 1,000,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children have been killed since the United States invaded the country in March 2005.” Oh, is that so?

Actually, the Lancet study does not say upwards of 1,000,000. Rather, it estimates that by 2007, Iraqi civilian deaths fell in a range of from 392,979 to 942,636. The lower and upper limits share equal import, and I would think it disingenuous to present one without also presenting the other.

Of equal concern to me is the fact that over the last two years, studies by a wide range of other equally “respectable” organizations have consistently offered far lower estimates. Among these are the United Nations, [Iraq Body Count] and the Iraqi government itself! Their estimates hover close to 100,000, yet it’s Lancet’s highest limit that is embraced by the press as fact? Why is that?

Well, it’s likely because the other estimates are lower (hence inaccurate), less provocative and don’t paint the United States in a bad enough light. Let’s face it, 100,000 is nowhere near as cynical as 1 million, is it?

Further, the whopping 550,000 spread in Lancet’s casualty range is some 40 percent greater than even its 393,000, lowest total estimate! That’s roughly equivalent to saying the moon is somewhere between 10 and 265,000 miles from Earth! As one peer review aptly noted, “That’s not an estimate, that’s a dartboard.” And indeed it is.

Michael Kelley

Buy an ad, we’ll give him a raise

Re “Choose your delusion” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, December 31):

This writer is fantastic, very good sense of humor. I read a lot on the Internet. I am a Canadian, living in Portugal for 30 years and rarely read something this entertaining. Give this guy a raise!

Ann Lancaster
Algarve, Portugal

Hit the street

Re “Exit strategy on K Street” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, December 31):

Take the mall out! Remove it and make K Street a street again.

That would allow easier access to the shops and restaurants (if there were any). Take the light rail underground or, better yet, run it along Capitol Mall. You know, where the people are.

It would improve the chi flow and feng shui of the entire downtown area. It would bring a new flow to the area. Imagine being able to be dropped off at the door of your favorite restaurant or club.

Name withheld by request

Checking both sides

Re “Checkpoint Bethlehem” by Patricia Daugherty (SN&R Frontlines, December 24):

This was a great article. It brought tears to our eyes. I wonder why only a very few American papers or TV ever report about the problems or crimes committed in the Middle East, especially the problems between Palestinians and Israelis.

I am sure they will talk and write about it in detail if anything happens in Cuba, Iran, Venezuela or North Korea, but there is a taboo in connection with the crimes committed by Israelis. This only shows the power of Jewish lobby in this country.

Thank you again for your article, and please keep writing good articles and revealing the truth like this one.

Al Shirani
Grand Rapids, Mich.