Letters for September 2, 2004

She’d need more than Van Morrison

Re “The heart of the (gray) matter” by Joel Davis (SN&R Cover, August 19):

A friend and I took Amtrak from Oakland to Sacramento for a Capitol tour last week, and I picked up a copy of SN&R for a quick read on the train. I just had to let you know how moved I was by this story.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to endure the surgery while conscious. Van Morrison is great, but I doubt that he could have drowned out the noise and my fears. Joel Davis is very courageous and honest about what it has been like to deal with Parkinson’s, the personality changes and depression, the difficulties it has brought to his social life and relationships—and yet somehow he managed to inject a little humor into what must be such a very hard time.

The story is also very interesting as far as the medical treatments and technology—simply amazing.

Anyway, I pray that the procedure will provide some relief to Mr. Davis and that he will be able to do some writing again soon.

JoAnne Gross

A human writes in

Re “The heart of the (gray) matter” by Joel Davis (SN&R Cover, August 19):

Just a note from a fellow human to say that I enjoyed Joel Davis’ article.

I like his writing style, and he has a quick wit, too. I hope he can keep using this to fight Parkinson’s disease. I’ll keep my eyes open for his book. I look forward to reading it.

Maran Kammer-Perez

Not ‘funny,’ but funny

Re “The heart of the (gray) matter” by Joel Davis (SN&R Cover, August 19):

Thank you for the wonderful article by Joel Davis on his deep-brain-stimulation surgery. I loved it!

I’ve never read any of his other work, but I can tell from what he wrote here that he is still very talented and very funny. Though I know it was not a “funny” thing to go through, his sense of humor comes through. I work for Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii, and the article was included on our national page. Thanks to Mr. Davis for sharing his story. I hope all continues to go well. Aloha!

Mindy Willers
via e-mail

No blood, no bullfight

Re “A farewell to Hemingway” by Frank Marquardt (SN&R News, August 19):

This was a fine article about California’s Portuguese version of bullfighting. But as an aficionado of the bullrings in Spain and Mexico, and as an aficionado of Ernest Hemingway, I must take exception to the title of Marquardt’s article and to the idea of calling something “bullfighting” that is “bloodless” and “Velcro-tipped.”

Hemingway will always own the bullring of everyone’s imagination. His Death in the Afternoon, or the film Blood and Sand, is no place for Velcro bandarillas.

William J. Hughes

His objective look

Re “Bush or Kerry?” (SN&R Streetalk, August 19):

I used to live in Sacramento, and I still read SN&R, even though I live 100 miles away in the foothills. I always find it thought-provoking.

I was, however, just a bit disturbed by some of the opinions in Streetalk. Three of five respondents said they would vote for Kerry because he is or they are a Democrat.

I’ll be upfront: I’m voting for George Bush—but not because he’s a Republican. In the last four years, Bush has brought us out of a recession. Truth be known, the recession started in the last six months of Clinton’s term and got worse after 9/11. Currently, we have a strong stock market and a low unemployment rate (no president has or ever will achieve 100-percent employment).

I respect the right of the respondents to voice their opinions, but please, folks, take a dispassionate, objective look at things and realize the world, though not completely safe, is indeed safer now. “Everybody in the world hates us now”? Where were our “friends,” France and Germany, after the first World Trade Center bombing, the bombings of our embassies and the bombing of our ships at port? Those two countries did not, and do not, want to help us with Iraq, because they had billions of dollars in contracts with Saddam’s evil regime. And Fahrenheit 9/11? Check the “facts” in that movie. Scrutinize it as vigorously as you do President Bush!

Greg Kristapovich

Save the safety net …

Re “So long to the safety net” (SN&R Guest comment, August 19):

I just want to applaud Joan B. Lee’s excellent commentary. She hits the nail on the head.

I am a 41-year-old man, and I get chills and nausea every time I hear politicians talk about privatizing Social Security. Why would anyone in their right mind gamble their financial future on the whims of the market, with no one being accountable? Sounds like an idea spawned by people too wealthy to care if they get Social Security or not.

Likewise with health-care costs—the people making these decisions in the government are too wealthy and too well-insured to care if the rest of us are struggling as a result of their actions. As we all know, retirement means a fixed income. The real problem, however, is that one’s income is the only thing that remains “fixed.” Gas, food, interest rates and, yes, health care/prescriptions are anything but stable.

The purpose of government is to help the people, not cater to big business or line the coffers of political campaigns. Bravo, Ms. Lee. Let us know which pieces of legislation are vital to the well-being of our seniors—today and tomorrow.

Stephen Pitts
via e-mail

… or maybe just return it to its origins

Re “So long to the safety net” (SN&R Guest comment, August 19):

Contrary to what Ms. Lee claims, the Social Security safety net is secure.

What is not secure is the 1,001 add-ons that the Social Security pot is now asked to take care of thanks to Ms. Lee and organizations with the same “Let’s give the store away” attitude. “Stupid” will pay for it. Well, “Stupid” is now broke.

Social Security, which was supposed to be a retirement account only for those who contributed to it, is now tasked with supporting illegal immigrants and their kids, welfare recipients and their kids, and people who just don’t want to work and their kids—as well as providing medical care for those who never worked.

Lou Meyer

On her feet for Zócalo

Re “Food stuff” by Dan Flynn (SN&R Dish, August 19):

Zócalo, the incredibly beautiful and “tasteful” new restaurant that the Ernesto Jiminez family created, contrary to your assumption that it isn’t on its feet yet, is not only on its feet, but also is racing.

It isn’t Centro Cocina Mexicana or Chevy’s Fresh Mex, but you can always have your margarita (if you have to) any place. There’s only one Zócalo.

Leah Zeff

Don’t give Nixon too much credit

Re “What would Nixon do?” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay, August 12):

I think you missed the boat on Richard Nixon and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). I was the staff director of the state of Rhode Island’s Commission for Human Rights, which enforced the state’s fair-employment law, from late 1972 until February 1975.

The 1972 amendments to Title VII that allowed the EEOC to bring its own charges had been proposed in the original 1964 act but were withdrawn in the face of congressional opposition, mostly Southerners who didn’t like federal marshals running around all over the South. The 1972 reinsertion of that power just brought the EEOC into line with the National Labor Relations Board and other federal agencies that had the power to sue; I have even heard EEOC lawyers say that the omission of the power in 1964 was good because it moved the private bar into a central position of pushing enforcement and resulted in more aggressive litigation than the government itself would ever have initiated. The central issue in the 1972 amendments was extending the law to cover state and local governments, again opposed in 1964 but increasingly seen as unfair.

On the issue of sex-segregated want ads, the Pittsburgh Press case was working its way up through the courts, and the continuing existence of sex-segregated want ads was becoming an anachronism in the face of the emerging broad-based support for the anti-sex-discrimination provisions of the 1964 law.

As to the “zenith of affirmative action,” that should be laid to a 1969 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals case involving the Chicago Police Department that allowed the preferential treatment of qualified minorities to make up for the effects of past discrimination; this was the first time such a remedy was allowed in an employment-discrimination case. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case in (I think) 1971, and that opened the door for voluntary preferential treatment for qualified persons; the Bakke case in 1977 reversed the trend.

Nixon had nothing to do with any of this.

Arthur R. Boone