Letters for January 16, 2003
Stewart off the mark
Re “Wanted: Dems with Guts” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, January 9):
While I may agree with Jill Stewart’s general assessment that Democrats have done little to solve California’s budget crisis but “lie, whine and pass the buck,” her presentation of specifics is off the mark: (1) The article does not explain why many states, not just California, find themselves with serious budget shortfalls. (2) Energy deregulation and the corporations that benefited from it are excused for their part in the debacle (poor Steve Peace, etc.). (3) Lavish spending, particularly for lavish retirement packages, are held to account. Whose? State employees’ are funded through CalPERS, not the general fund. And Davis held down a raise in benefits even when he had a revenue surplus, and CalPERS had a revenue surplus, in 2000. (4) Corporations are also apparently excused from paying their fair share. According to the numbers in the article, corporations pay 8.6 percent of the total tax bill, while they benefit from the infrastructure that all taxpayers pay for—as the article also points out. It might be awkward to require that corporations carry their fair share of the load in economic hard times, particularly when they’ve seen their tax bills reduced, in terms of percentage, in the last decade, but asking the average taxpayer to foot the bill also will be awkward for the politicians. And increased taxes are one of the few tools the Legislature has to balance the budget.
What is needed from the public—and from journalists—is a careful analysis of fact. Stewart’s diatribe seems to have more to do with ideology than with illuminating either the problem or the solution.
Stewart on the mark
Traditional Democrats are appalled by this incompetence and ineptness and are as baffled and confused as Jill Stewart. However, there should not be any confusion. The so-called Democrats in the Legislature are simply not Democrats; they are socialists disguised as Democrats! Davis and his inept appointees are actually hypocrites and opportunists, not Democrats.
It is odd that Mordecai’s article about recreational use of Jenkinson Lake in El Dorado County did not point out that the same situation occurs in Folsom Lake, which is the water supply for Sacramento. So, all the terrible things that were written in the article about Jenkinson Lake I think could also pertain to Folsom Lake.
So, who wants to tell people that they can no longer swim in Folsom Lake or the American River?
In actuality, very powerful water interests in Southern California see the entire Sacramento Valley watershed as their drinking-water supply. There are people who would like to ban all recreational use of the waters of the Sacramento Valley because of this issue.
In addition to all these concerns is the large amount of treated sewage that is discharged from the Sacramento Treatment Plant into the Sacramento River. Who drinks that water? What standards apply to this sewage?
No such thing as safe binging
His statements about alcohol consumption completely contradict the official positions of the American Dietetic Association, the American Medical Association and American Heart Association, all of which recommend a maximum of two alcoholic drinks per day. Drinking 14 drinks in one day is not the same as drinking two drinks each day for seven days!
Even giving Mr. Beyerlein the benefit of the doubt regarding his statements about ameliorating liver damage with herbs, alcohol abuse is directly responsible for cancers of the mouth, tongue, throat and esophagus, as well as for tinnitus, cardiomyopathy, fetal alcohol syndrome and malnutrition. Alcohol misuse is known to complicate the treatment of diabetes and congestive heart failure. Alcohol-related injuries and illnesses are responsible for many costly ER visits and hospital admissions every year. This doesn’t even touch on the psychosocial dysfunctions that can accompany alcohol abuse.
Mr. Beyerlein could be dismissed as just another nut with wacky views, but because he is a health-care professional, his statements may be given unwarranted credibility. His promotion of binge drinking (six to nine drinks in an evening would be classified as binge drinking) does not represent the view of the majority of registered dietitians. It is a perversion of everything we are educated and trained to do.
It was heartening to see SN&R break its silence on the 30 years of research that has consistently shown women to be as likely as men to initiate domestic violence. (It is ironic that organizations that sponsor the “Break the Silence” ads have worked ardently to suppress its discussion.)
The research that shows the equal frequency of women’s violence plus their higher propensity to use weapons does not even track their use of the most easy, safe and effective weapon—the telephone. An abusive woman need only make a false report, and the police and the courts will perpetuate her abuse for her.
Similarly, with the system stacked against men and with public defenders only having time to facilitate plea-bargaining, thousands of men cop pleas for reasons that have nothing to do with guilt.
Reform in this arena will be difficult. There is the emotional investment in believing that women are sweeter than me. There is the philosophical investment in claiming that domestic violence is caused by patriarchy. There is the huge financial investment in keeping domestic violence a “women’s” issue—billions of dollars that might have to be shared with male victims.
When faced with the overwhelming evidence of female domestic violence, most people point to politically correct sexist stereotyping and claim that abusive women are too small and gentle to do any harm. Not only is the stereotype false, but also, supposedly, the reason the law denies custody to violent men is that it harms children to view it. Are they learning anything less harmful when they watch women slap men (and watch society condone it)? Is a woman who destroys a father-child relationship by fabricating an allegation really so harmless?
We now speak of the men and women who gave their lives for our country—even though 99.99 percent of documented American casualties are male. You have to wonder: Why did the movement that insisted that all sexism be removed from language create a term like Battered Women’s Syndrome, and why did it insist that male victims be legally excluded from the very concept?
[Name withheld by request]