Letters for January 8, 2004

Stewart and her one-party shtick

Re “Conan and his shtick” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, December 24):

Is anyone else out there tired of alleged Democrat Jill Stewart’s tiresome quasi-Republican babble? I know for sure that I am. Though she tries to act as some kind of pragmatist and does occasionally hit her mark, albeit in a blind-bull-hitting-a-broad-side-of-a-barn type of way, she is in denial about the true roots behind many of the problems that she addresses.

For example, she rails against Democrats in the Legislature for wisely not rushing to amend the state constitution in one week with a hastily constructed spending cap, while simultaneously touting Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan to basically put the state’s budget problems on a credit card to be the hassle of some future administration.

Ms. Stewart, are you really, truly, blind to the folly of all of this? Can you not see that this is a colossally bad idea that does nothing to solve the actual problem of revenues not meeting spending? Do you not see that this is really Schwarzenegger copping out of a problem that he promised to fix?

These are just the latest examples of Ms. Stewart’s Republican-lite positions that typify why the Democratic Party is in peril. In her world, the Democratic Party would provide no clear alternatives to the Republicans, which, to me, sounds like she wants a one-party system.

Perhaps in some future column, Ms. Stewart should attempt to explain why she is a Democrat at all. Perhaps SN&R should send her over to the Bee with all the other Republican-lite Democrats and hire a more appropriate progressive columnist for the paper.

James May

No parties for you!

Re “United we fall” by Tom Walsh (SN&R Editor’s Note, December 24):

The framers [of the Constitution] hoped to create a unified country. To most of them, parties were “factions,” agents of divisiveness and disunity. George Washington reflected this view in his farewell address in 1796, when he warned the new nation against “the baneful effects of the spirit of party.” In light of this, it is hardly surprising that the framers made no provisions for political parties in the Constitution. They could not foresee that, despite their efforts to disenfranchise parties by exclusion, [parties] would emerge as prime instruments.

Our obsession with parties can only be described as our founding fathers’ worst nightmare. We failed to heed the warning, leaving us no choice but to suffer the inevitable consequences: a nation divided, where justice for all becomes more justice for a few and the oath of office becomes an affirmation of party pride.

It was not a mistake that the Constitution decreed that all elected positions from the presidency to Congress were nonpartisan in nature. If our Constitution serves as the roadmap to a democracy, then it is a frightening sight to look back and see it littered with “Do Not Enter” signs. Such a backward look leaves little doubt as to where we are going. We were given every opportunity to do the right thing and can blame no one but ourselves for the eventualities.

Jeanne Zindorf

What about those old VW vans?

Re “A Hummer doesn’t help” (SN&R Guest Comment, December 24):

The Guest Comment by Eric Amster on Hummers and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) in general and the subsequent health risks, namely respiratory problems, is straightforward enough and hard to disagree with. More fuel consumption and subsequent emissions means more respiratory problems. Got it.

What I have an issue with is the glaring omission of any mention of older vehicles and anything with a gas-powered engine that certainly contributes to air pollution.

I am not necessarily pro-SUV or anti-green or looking to start trouble. But the facts in this article are skewed. The writer seems to suggest that SUVs and Hummers are the root of gross polluting and that they are what need to be drawn into question as responsible neighbors.

Sure, most people don’t “need” a Hummer or anything equivalent for everyday suburban living. But what about all of the 20-, 30- and even 40-year-old, pre-emission-controlling cars that are still on the road, many of which are exempt from California regulations? If new Hummers and SUVs are a pollution and health problem, why not include all of the vehicles that feed that same problem? Wouldn’t that fuel the argument?

I certainly hope the omission of older cars is more a product of a lack of available data than an indictment of a certain strain of society that tends to drive new SUVs. Because leaving out this huge chunk of the polluting pie simply undermines the argument and comes off as tired “hippie vs. yuppie” gibberish.

Why give SUV owners ammo to argue your point? All those old Volkswagen buses, classic muscle cars and beat-up cars from the ’70s and ’80s are certainly as suspect as any SUV. The fact is every group of society has polluters in it, be it middle-class families, classic-car enthusiasts, Midtown hipsters, Davis graduate students or, yes, upper-middle-class soccer moms whose SUVs never touch the dirt.

So, let’s open up the discussion a little wider and talk about the true heart of the matter and not just certain people whose lifestyle you may disagree with.

Matt Wells

Avoid doom by facing the issues

Re “The detour” by Cameron Macdonald (SN&R News, December 24):

Excellent reporting by Cameron Macdonald! I was at the Newman Center.

Come on, Rabbi Wolfe, your comment about not being asked to speak at the school until your opposition became known still gave you plenty of time. The city of Davis’ name cannot be changed to Little Rock. Nor can the Davis kids have the impression that the amendments to the Constitution of the United States start with the second, eliminating the first.

Suicide deaths are a travesty of humanity; the denial of a homeland is blasphemy. Let the kids have their critical-thinking skills, or we will all be doomed.

Leah Zeff

SN&R needs a left-wing ideologue

Re “The power (elite) diet” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, December 11):

Is SN&R selling out? Going right-wing, to get in step with the rest of the corporate media in this country? How else to explain giving prime space to Jill Stewart and her Schwarzenegger-pandering, liberal-bashing, blame-the-poor rants?

Hey, SN&R, we need another right-wing ideologue like we need a hole in the head.

Stewart, the “I’m a Democrat, but I hate Democrats” Republican in donkey’s clothing, sounds just like Limbaugh when she rants about “luxury car”-owning food-stamp recipients with their two or three “Jaguars.”

The welfare that really needs to be cut out of the state and federal budgets is corporate welfare, which adds up to way more than goes to the poor and is far more harmful to our economy and our environment. Just like everyone else who has had the Hollywood wool pulled over their eyes, Stewart adoringly talks about how Schwarzenegger is going to stop the pandering to special interests. That must be why all his appointees are corporate hacks and state Chamber of Commerce types.

And since all the poor folks have to do to get food in their bellies is to sell their luxury cars, there’s no problem then. Thanks Jill, for your generous insights this holiday season!

James Israel

Complex and contradictory Cuba

Re “Journey to Cuba” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Cover, December 4):

My wife and I just returned from a weeklong stay in Havana with people from the Akron Art Museum. We were there for the Havana Biennale, traveling on the same type of license from the State Department with which Ms. Welsh traveled.

On our drive back from Toronto, I told my wife that I felt as though I had just seen a wonderful, complex and contradictory movie. I was in a bit of a fog trying to sort out all that we saw, experienced and heard. It has become a bit of an obsession.

What Ms. Welsh articulated in her article was so close to what we saw and felt, I am just going to direct people to your Web site when they ask me about the trip. Some of her comments were—almost verbatim—what had come out of my mouth over the past month.

I am extremely anxious about Cuba’s future and am embarrassed by our government’s meddling in its business. But I am also very eager to go back at the first opportunity. This article helps explains why. Great job!

John C. Williams
Cleveland, Ohio