Letters for September 11, 2008

Letter of the week
In praise of Hayden

Re “Obama’s his nightmare” (SN&R Letters, September 4) and “SN&R … DNC: only one letter in common” (SN&R Letters, August 28):

For two weeks, SN&R printed only hostile letters in response to Tom Hayden’s essay on [Sen.] Barack Obama. Here are some different impressions from [Hayden’s] time in Sacramento.

At Senate Natural Resources Committee hearings in the early 1990s, Senator Hayden sat silently, listening to other legislators argue about Cal Expo’s proposed parking lot at Bushy Lake on the American River Parkway.

Finally he asked, “Since Bushy Lake has protected Wild and Scenic River status on the local, state and federal level, why would anyone want to put a parking lot there?”

Senator Hayden taught a class at CSUS examining the relationship between world religions and environmental awareness. He was unfailingly gracious with the class, including the “Will this be on the test?” students who didn’t know or care who he was.

Only one time did his patience appear strained. Hayden returned from a peace conference in Belfast [Northern Ireland] and came to class directly from the airport (rather than canceling).

He’d just walked in when someone asked a clueless question. Instead of reacting with fatigue and frustration, Senator Hayden calmly replied, “Don’t ask me that right now.”

The sensible, engaged, respectful and effective public service that Tom Hayden provided shows that it can be done. If there truly is change in November, we’ll see more of that sort of leadership.

Marion Millin

Cry him a river

I don’t know who the guy was “crying” on KCRA news about [Alaska Gov. Sarah] Palin, but I find it amusing every Dem on the news had nothing but nasty, cutting, degrading remarks about the V.P. nominee. To me this shows that people on the left side of the aisle are scared, and scared bad. The more I hear them scream and gnash their teeth, the more comfortable I feel about McCain’s choice.

via e-mail

Editor’s note: That was R.V. Scheide, and he wasn’t crying, he was ranting. He said, “McCain’s insane.” Read more of his political and social rants … er, commentary … every week in SN&R’s Race to the Bottom.

Add vegan listings

Re “What’s driving global warming?” by John Motavalli (SN&R Feature, August 28):

Thanks for the cover story on how animal agriculture damages the environment. The harm associated with a meat, dairy and egg-based diet is an “inconvenient truth” that too often gets left out of discussions of how to green our lives. It will take more than CFL light bulbs and hybrid cars to truly fight climate change!

It would be great if SN&R would help promote eco-friendly eating by making sure each restaurant review you publish includes information on what vegan options are available on the menu. Just a sentence or two at the end of each review could go a long way to helping people dine in a way that’s better for their health, animals and the planet.

Karen Hirsch

She doesn’t buy blaming the cows

Re “What’s driving global warming?” by Jim Motavalli (SN&R Feature, August 28):

I’m having trouble believing that cows are the key global-warming problem. I’m reminded of [former President Ronald] Reagan’s claim that trees cause air pollution. Both these beliefs require assiduous denial of human industrial activities. If you want me to believe livestock emissions of greenhouse gases exceed transportation emissions, a data reference would help. Are you sure freight is included?

I’m certain our use of fossil fuels is the key global-warming culprit, particularly since without fossil fuels, we could never have developed the kind of large-scale agribiz that is actually the real problem described in this article. The article even notes that the undisputed beneficial role of livestock in farming requires smaller numbers of animals, and thus smaller farms and better integration.

In fact, I can’t help noticing that if we used goats and cows directly to trim the lawns that are now manicured by mowers and blowers, we’d be reducing GHG emissions in many ways. First, we would reduce rainforest burning; second, we’d delete the fossil fuel used to grow agribiz corn and to transport all the [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations] meat and milk from farm to factory to warehouse to market to table; and also, of course, the fuel used to operate said mowers and blowers and truck them from lawn to lawn.

I can’t believe that cow gasses are worse than all this, especially since the article also notes that grass-eating cattle don’t burp or fart as much as the corn-fed ones.

So the most obvious solution to me would be to switch from agribiz to small holistic gardens and farms. There is plenty of evidence that we are omnivores, and most of us like meat along with our vegetables and whole grains. There is also evidence that sugar and white flour are worse for your health than meat that is grown traditionally rather than conventionally.

Plus, I can’t help wondering about the GHG effects of the beans, which are a mainstay of vegetarian diets.

Muriel Strand

Who’s a dude?

Re “Olympic lament” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, August 28):

I quite enjoyed this column and how it tied the 2008 Olympics in with China’s emergence as a leading economic power. I also appreciated the historic background that Scheide provided on how previous Olympics reflected the tense, Cold War ideological struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.

One mustn’t forget, however, that some of the Russian women’s teams also featured “the whitest dudes on the planet.” Or so it was suspected.

Michael Dolgushkin

Lungren backs torture, too

Re “McCain’s torture tale” (SN&R Editorial, August 28):

SN&R appropriately took Sen. John McCain to task in its editorial criticizing the Republican presidential candidate, who claims to have been a torture victim himself while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, for not taking a stronger stand against the use of torture by current U.S. forces. But in terms of condoning torture, the Republican incumbent in the 3rd District, Rep. Dan Lungren, makes John McCain look like, pardon the expression, a “compassionate conservative.”

McCain at least had the political courage to introduce an amendment to the 2006 Defense Authorization Act prohibiting the use of torture by U.S. forces. Lungren voted against the House version of that amendment.

With regard to waterboarding, a technique of intentional near-drowning that was developed during the Spanish Inquisition and that CIA Director Michael Hayden has admitted has been used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, McCain publicly stated that waterboarding is “very exquisite torture.” Lungren, on the other hand, said at a town hall meeting in Folsom last November, “I cannot say, per se, that waterboarding is torture.”

McCain caved in to political pressure and voted for the 2006 Military Commissions Act which revoked the right of habeas corpus and protections of the Geneva Convention for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and which essentially gave President [George W.] Bush the power to define what is and is not torture. Lungren claims to have helped write the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which was subsequently found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As the Democratic candidate for Congress running against Lungren, I am shocked that the issue of torture is even being raised in the United States of America in the 21st century. When Lungren and I were asked about our positions on torture in a debate in 2006, Lungren responded, “Some people confuse torture and aggressive means of interrogation,” and the audience laughed at him. I am unequivocally opposed to torture. Not only is torture morally reprehensible and unconstitutional, it has been repeatedly shown that it does not provide reliable information.

These are difficult times, and the threat of terrorism is real. In difficult times, though, we should return to the principles upon which our country was founded, not abandon them.

Bill Durston
Democratic candidate for Congress, 3rd District

Downtown, but not James Brown

Re “Conventional wisdom” by Nick Miller (SN&R Snog, August 28):

The fact that the SN&R has this article in the paper is most disappointing. The self-acclaimed “Downtown James Brown” is nothing more than an intrusive panhandler, who uses a disgusting sort of charm and lame jigs to earn a dime and a few points towards his own self-esteem. He is also unpredictable.

“Downtown James Brown” is a joke. He does not represent Obama’s visions of change for our country. He does not represent Sacramento and the great things that the SN&R has to offer. And for the people who trust him and find him entertaining, stay on the lookout for unexpected outbursts.

Alexys M. Peters

Adolph ate his veggies

Re “Ask the Roommate Doctor” by Natalie Campisi (SN&R Sac 101, August 28):

Campisi gives the example of Gandhi and Hitler living together and their clashing eating habits. She states that Hitler would “prefer stuffed pigeon.”

Any person who has studied Hitler knows that he was a vegetarian.

James Sakauye

The vegan’s in the details

Re “Buy Sacramento” by Niki Kangas (SN&R Sac 101, August 28):

Just a couple of corrections for your college-life guide.

The Sac Natural Foods Co-op is not the only all-organic produce department in the country. Perhaps you meant “county”?

Also, Andy Nguyen’s is not all vegan; some dishes use eggs.

Dan Scott