Letters for January 3, 2008

Uh, it’s the fiction issue

Re “2007 Flash Fiction” (SN&R Feature Story, December 20):

I read your publication for the first time today. All I can say is, you need to take some journalism courses if you are going to run a non-fiction publication. As it is, you are dealing in fiction.

Donald Rae
via e-mail

Bah, humbug!

Re “State of (green building) affairs” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green House, December 20):

It appears that Roy McBrayer (program manager, California Green Building Initiative) is all about spreading it. But what the “it” is, is highly debatable.

I just love it when some government employee decrees “It is for the betterment of California’s citizens” (Read: We need your money because we know what is best for you). Government has latched on to this man-made global warming hoax for one reason and one reason only: They get to control the citizens even more by making laws/rules that in no way can be measured for effectiveness. That is much easier than fighting crime, curbing illegal immigration, balancing the budget and cutting pork-barrel spending (you know, the stuff they were actually elected to do).

The “powers that be” will (in a 100-plus or however many years) say either “we fixed global warming” or “we need to do more” (Read: We need more of your money to continue the fight), depending upon how the natural climate cycle evolves. Never mind that the state will be totally bankrupt, citizens will be paying much more in taxes (while government officials continue to get raises) and we will continue to hear those infamous words “I am from the government and I am here to help you!” (Read: We need more of your money, trust us), all the while the climate is progressing in a natural cycle as it has done for many, many years.

One last thing: It does my heart and soul so much good to know that the United Nations (Read: Conglomeration of third-world socialists that hate America and capitalism, but want to suck as much money out of this country as humanly possible) has released yet another “unbiased” study that touts reduction of greenhouse gasses, Kyoto Protocol, blah, blah, blah.

Government should concentrate on fixing the problems that man has created (usually by idiotic and self-serving governmental policies), not the ones that he has not. And, that conglomerate of misfits, tin-horn dictators, socialists and commies known as the United Nations should move to Bangladesh if they hate America so much!

Dennis Johnson

Six things you can’t talk about

Re “Muzzle off!” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, December 13):

As you point out, anything except the Israel Lobby’s version of reality regarding Israel-Palestine is forbidden speech. The Lobby’s 24-seven über-censorship means there is no freedom of speech or freedom of the press on this topic. Go off message and you will be vilified and smeared.

Some Lobby hits: art exhibits and plays cancelled, off-message professors fired or their hire blocked, broadcast and print news reporting bullied into self-censorship, etc. We are not permitted to know the facts, because our American sense of fairness and justice would probably cause us to side with the Palestinians.

Some “forbidden” facts: 1) To create Israel on 78 percent of Palestine, in 1948, Zionists ethnically cleansed Palestine of most of its indigenous Palestinian population. 2) The Israeli occupation of remaining Palestinian people and land is gratuitously cruel. 3) Israeli defiance of international law is only possible because its protector, the United States government, obeys the Israel Lobby. 4) Israel is the world’s fourth most powerful military and it possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons. 5) It wasn’t “created by God,” but rather by terrorists and militias with guns, tanks and bombs. 6) The Israel Lobby’s vise-grip control of Democrats is even stronger than of Republicans.

Brigitte Jaensch

He was there

Re “An Open Letter to Sacramento Area Elected Officials” (SN&R Advertisement, December 6) and “Muzzle off!” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, December 13):

The ad placed by the Jewish Voice for Peace in this edition states that, at the March 2007 America Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, AIPAC delegates “roared” their approval of Pastor Hagee’s call for Israel not to return any land in peace negotiations.

I was there.

The crowd enthusiastically roared its approval when Pastor Hagee expressed his strong support for Israel. Some in the audience also applauded his tough line on the territories. Many others, like myself, disagreed with him on that point and did not applaud.

This reflects the diversity of opinion within the Jewish and pro-Israel communities, and within AIPAC itself. We all support the right of Israel to live as a Jewish country, while we respectfully disagree on some issues.

Your readers should know that the AIPAC conference gave an equally enthusiastic welcome to the then-newly elected first woman Speaker of the House, Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Congresswoman Pelosi received repeated thunderous applause as she expressed her strong support for Israel while recognizing that it would have to make tough decisions in the interest of peace. Many other Democratic senators and members of Congress, who hold a variety of views on how to reach peace in the Middle East, were also given warm, enthusiastic support.

The ad and the recent SN&R [news] article attempt to paint AIPAC as some omnipotent, controlling, somewhat ill-intentioned group. AIPAC is a group of American citizens ranging across the political, religious and ideological spectrum who come together to jointly express their support for the only democratic, only Jewish-majority country in the Middle East, and for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

In most instances, SN&R would applaud citizens coming together to effectively give voice to their interests and to participate in the political process. One wonders, why not the same treatment in this instance?

Alan Edelstein

Scheide’s one-sided

Re “Muzzle off!” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, December 13):

This is slovenly journalism, evidentially thin and horribly biased. Its thesis, drawn from the factually challenged Mearsheimer and Walt tract, The Israel Lobby, is that AIPAC has been the principal architect of all US foreign policy involving the Middle East and the invisible hand behind a wicked plot to silence dissent against Israel.

That’s nonsense. AIPAC is certainly effective, but small. In 2006, it spent just $1.05 million on lobbying, a tiny fraction of the $2.6 billion spent in total on lobbyists in the U.S. that year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, by comparison, spent $338 million in 2006 on lobbying.

Mearsheimer and Walt allege that AIPAC has undue influence on U.S. elected leaders. But though Israel has long been a strong U.S. ally, the evidence shows that U.S. presidents have consistently made policy choices counter to Israel when they felt the need.

Thus, Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, one of the world’s premier anti-hate organizations, notes in his rebuttal work “The Deadliest Lies,” that to try to prove their point, Mearsheimer and Walt were forced to go back more than 20 years to find a single illustration of the lobby’s supposed power to unseat elected officials. Foxman adds that, despite AIPAC’s supposed political muscle, it was unable to stop U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia or prevent President Reagan from joining German Chancellor Helmet Kohl in laying a wreath at the Bitberg cemetery, where high-ranking Nazi SS officers are buried.

Middle East expert Stephen Zunes reports that in 1991, “President George Bush successfully fought off enormous pressure from AIPAC and delayed a $10 billion loan guarantee to Israel until after the Israeli election, thereby ensuring the defeat of rightist Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.” Moreover, Israel has long seen Iran as a far more dangerous adversary than Iraq. Yet AIPAC was unable to move the Bush Administration away from its ill-advised aggression in Iraq.

But of all the asinine allegations in this piece, the most outrageous is the remark that the U.S. owes Iran an apology.

Apology? Iran is widely recognized as the world’s leading state sponsor of international terrorism, funding, training and arming groups that share the regime’s stated goal of destroying the state of Israel. Iran supplied Hezbollah with 11,000 of the missiles targeted against Israel in 2006, provided Hezbollah with high-tech infantry weapons, and currently provides significant funding to Hamas, which is actively seeking the destruction of Israel.

Iran’s aspirations to be a nuclear power are well documented. And if it truly has stopped its A-bomb program then why, when it can buy all the nuclear fuel it needs for electricity generation from Russia, does Iran continue to run the 3,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges it has in current use?

The article points to the 1,000-some Lebanese civilians who died in what it terms Israel’s war “against” Hezbollah. First, let’s get this straight: Hezbollah started the war by entering Israel and kidnapping Israeli soldiers and killing others. As to the Lebanese dead: Where’s the balance? Amnesty International reported that Hezbollah’s missile attacks were aimed in large part against Israeli civilians and that around a quarter of the nearly 4,000 rockets that Hezbollah launched into Israel during the 34 day war were fired directly into urban areas.

Amnesty International also reported that the scale of Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli cities, towns and villages; the indiscriminate nature of the weapons used; and statements from the leadership confirming their intent to target civilians make it all too clear that Hezbollah violated the laws of war.

Anyone who claims to champion free speech, as the author of this article does, ought to present all the facts, not just those convenient to the side of the story he wants to tell.

Drew Mendelson
Elk Grove

He projected the porn

Re “Porn as high as an elephant’s eye” by Ken Widmann (SN&R Greetings from Davis, December 13):

I was a union projectionist in the late ’70s. For about seven years, I worked at most theaters in Sacramento, Roseville and Davis. I frequently worked Sunday at the Westlane Drive-in (we couldn’t pick where we worked; we were dispatched by the union).

It wasn’t possible to see the front of the screen from I-80. The back of the screen was facing the road. No one on I-80 could see the films. You had to drive down the access road about a quarter of a mile before you got to the theater. The films were pretty low quality.

I noticed one night I had run one of the movies out of order (reels one, three, two, then four). I put them in the correct order for the second showing and I didn’t see any difference. There wasn’t anything behind the theater except cows and fields.

I never thought about it being in Davis. It always seemed to be between Davis and Sacramento.

Bill LaPerle
via e-mail

Kennels are nicer than prisons

Re “Lockdown blues” by Eugene Alexander Dey (SN&R Essay, December 13):

You should get more stories like this in print and with more detail.

We wouldn’t treat dogs like we treat our inmates. There is no rehabilitation and/or treatment occurring in our prisons. We wonder why we have such a high return rate. Well, it’s because sending non-violent offenders to prison only makes them turn violent. Even correctional officers will tell you if you don’t join up with a gang inside, you can’t make it. So we are only growing our gang problem and ignoring the rehabilitation that is needed for the majority of the offenders.

It’s easy to ignore what’s happening until someone you love is stuck in that hell. Wake up, California; your blissful ignorance is going to kick you where it hurts one way or the other.

Sherri Burns
via e-mail