From the beginning of civilization, society developed and grew through the union of a man and woman. Any farm boy can tell you that a herd or a flock of same-sex animals cannot survive. Reproduction follows natural laws.
The heterosexual union has been accepted worldwide and called a marriage. The operative words in marriage is "the potential to reproduce." Redefining marriage as a union between "two persons" is a hoax. It is disingenuous.
As the great idealogue, Harvey Milk, stated, and I paraphrase, "I am here to recruit." Without recruitment, the gay and lesbian society is a dead, non-reproducing, non-regenerating society.
Twice the people have voiced and voted their opinion. The totalitarian ideological methodology is to repeat their agenda long enough and loud enough until it becomes ipso jure, or at least de facto.
A same-sex union is not a marriage. Gays and lesbians are still protected by the laws on the books.
-- Frank Gavaller, Camarillo
May 2009 Archives
From the beginning of civilization, society developed and grew through the union of a man and woman. Any farm boy can tell you that a herd or a flock of same-sex animals cannot survive. Reproduction follows natural laws.
Re: The Rev. Thomas James' May 27 letter, "Leave hate out of it":
As I was reading James' letter, something stood out that I have heard over and over again: "Marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman." This statement has always bothered me when it is used in the defense of voting yes on Proposition 8, which the voters did and which I respect, as our country goes by majority rules.
I wonder if Proposition 8 had included language that stated marriage is a union between one man and one woman and only one man and one woman, how many people who voted yes would vote that way today. What would happen if we took away the right to dissolve marriage or to allow persons to sacredly marry multiple times because the first time they decided to create a sacred union it was only sacred until something changed the way they looked at things?
If we are to enforce the rule that marriage is between only a man and a woman, let's take it a bit farther and only allow marriage to happen once for that man and woman unless death do them part -- part of the standard vows. Think of how much money the taxpayers would save by reducing the need for staffing of divorce courts.
I know it is far-fetched, but realistically, please do not make marriage out to be something that more than 50 percent of Californians hold as sacred, as the divorce rate of 3.6 per 1,000 does not support that to be true at all.
-- Richard S. Nick, Port Hueneme
We need Sonia Sotomayor's life and judicial experience on our Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years and more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed in the past 70 years. She has worked at almost every level of our judicial system -- as a prosecutor, litigator, trial court judge and appellate judge -- yielding a depth of experience and a breadth of perspectives that will be invaluable, and is not currently represented, on our highest court.
This is what America needs now.
-- Ken & Susan Bauer, Camarillo
Re: James Palazzolo's May 29 letter, "No holiday break":
It is unfortunate that Palazzolo took such offense at witnessing an officer doing his job. Contrary to his negative summation of Port Hueneme's workers, I would like to say that our small city has some of the most caring and conscientious employees around. And we maintain a very proud and supportive relationship with our hometown naval base and its military families.
If he looked closer and stayed longer, he may have had the pleasure of running into one of our public works employees who sings while working in muck and always has a smile or a greeting to a passer-by. Or the refuse collector who steps out of the truck to help an elderly resident hoist a heavy load. Or the police officer who takes time out to address a Neighborhood Watch group and keep us informed and protected. Or the city administrator who suffers our queries and criticisms with stoic courtesy and works hard to keep our town a wonderful place to live.
On our very first visit to Port Hueneme many years ago, we got a parking ticket at the beach, but we came back to live here and have never regretted it. Too bad Palazzolo doesn't want to visit again. With such a big chip on his shoulder, it may be best.
-- Audrey Albert, Port Hueneme
So, Simi Valley is above the law when it comes to water rules. That doesn't surprise me at all, since those who make the rules seldom adhere to them unless forced to do so in court, which is where this should be resolved.
While I have my soapbox out, I would like to add that cities, park districts, the county and the state should get rid of the trees and plants in the middle of our streets and sidewalks. Not only do they use one of our most precious resources, these plants also obstruct our vision while driving. A better use of these "mini parks" would be to use that space for roadways that might alleviate some traffic congestion instead of being the cause of said congestion.
In the interest of saving fuel, we are asked to walk or ride bicycles whenever possible. I have noticed while walking on sidewalks in Camarillo that it is nearly impossible to walk side by side with another person due to the trees and plants that have been put in the sidewalks. These obstructions are a safety hazard, a waste of water and also a troublesome cause of large financial expenditures when sidewalks have to be repaired due to roots causing the sidewalks to buckle.
I am not a tree-hater, but, really, don't they belong in forests instead of on our streets and sidewalks?
-- Gary Sparks, Camarillo
Re: Jim Shahan's May 27 letter, "Just wondering":
I share Shahan's concerns about the child abuse accusations against the Catholic Church in Ireland. However, I find it rather amazing that in his letter regarding the protests at Notre Dame, he appears to be comparing the sexual abuse of a few hundred or so children in Ireland to the approximately 40 million unborn children murdered worldwide each year as if they are of equal measure of evil.
While I agree that sexual abuse of any child is abominable and unacceptable, Shahan apparently doesn't seem to think the murder of many millions of children prior to birth is such a bad deal.
What do you say we all get together and condemn child abuse committed by anyone, whether the children are sexually abused after birth or murdered outright beforehand.
-- Don Brunson, Simi Valley
Re: Mario Contini's May 28 commentary, "CVUSD did its homework":
Conejo Valley Unified School District administrators may have spent nearly two years doing their "homework," but they did not earn a passing grade. They chose school closure as a solution to declining enrollment before attempting more business-related approaches, such as researching why they are losing "customers," creating a more appealing product or advertising.
Additionally, they chose school closure despite knowledge that many districts experienced no savings from it. They abandoned an objective, blind process for selecting which schools to close, resulting in the decision to close two award-winning elementary schools.
CVUSD diminished the worth of its own teachers and parents. Staff and parents at Meadows offered a viable solution to the problem of declining enrollment: an arts magnet. The Meadows Arts and Technology Elementary School group tried, until the final hours before filing litigation, to negotiate a magnet deal with the district. This was after having an approved charter. CVUSD had their opportunity and squandered it.
Yes, the public does expect government agencies to use tax dollars effectively and efficiently. This would include not entering into litigation out of pride or fear of parental power. The Meadows program should have been viewed as an opportunity, not a threat. The district failed their "homework" assignment miserably.
MATES will open with 300 students, funded through the state. The money follows the students. CVUSD is no longer responsible for educating these students or paying for the teaching salaries attributed to those students. MATES will pay for use of the Meadows site. It will also hire teachers. Stop saying this small group is hurting the rest of the district. CVUSD will continue to receive money for each of the students it must educate.
Taxpayers will rejoice when they witness the efficient and effective use of public funds at the new charter school: targeted spending, fewer administrators, dedicated teaching professionals and hard work by the community that the school serves. There's nothing like a little competition to strike fear into those promoting the status quo.
-- Barbara B. Sipes, Thousand Oaks
Re: your May 27 editorial, "Equality just a matter of time":
The Star's citing of the state Supreme Court's ruling confirms my understanding of Proposition 8, which, the court said, "reasonably must be interpreted in a limited fashion as eliminating only the right of same-sex couples to equal access to the designation of marriage, and as not otherwise affecting the constitutional right of those couples to establish an officially recognized family relationship."
I take no position on same-sex partnerships, but I do object to people playing fast and loose with words. The "marrying" performed in a wedding ceremony is the blending of two diverse elements, male and female, as when we speak of "marrying" the flavors of wine and spices in a sauce. I can't imagine how you would "marry" chardonnay with chardonnay.
Under the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, domestic partners have all of the rights and responsibilities afforded spouses under state law with exceptions involving the creation and dissolution of domestic partnerships and certain tax issues. If that is the heart of the issue, I will gladly donate to any cause that promotes the removal of those remaining restrictions for same-sex partnerships and even write my legislator on their behalf.
Even awarded equal rights, same-sex partners want their union to have the cachet they think the term "marriage" provides.
People find a kind of magic in words. Names are often given to things to assign characteristics that don't exist. This comes under the heading of semantic confusion. Assigning a name does not make it so.
I want to respond to the question, "Are you married?" without having to qualify my answer. Those who are not clear on this point can get a copy of "Language in Thought and Action," by S.I. Hayakawa.
-- William Vietinghoff, Thousand Oaks
Re: Miriam Jaffe's May 27 letter, "The truth of talk radio":
Jaffe is entitled to her own opinion but not her own facts. The "dense forest of liberal media" is a figment of her imagination. More than 80 percent of America's media is owned by five corporations and faithfully trots out Republican talking points. No amount of hysteria on Jaffe's part can hide this simple fact. It has corrupted the body politic for far too long.
-- Raymond Freeman, Thousand Oaks
My wife and I drove down our street on Memorial Day and noticed something missing: There were few, if any, American flags flying from the eaves of the neighboring homes. Everywhere we looked there were no flags.
What has happened to patriotism in this country? No one seems to care anymore. All the people care about these days are barbecues, marathons, auto racing, the Dodgers and the Lakers.
I'm a four-year Navy veteran, albeit I served during peace time, but I still proudly put out our flag to remember those who have died protecting our country. May they rest in peace, and God bless America.
-- David McFeron, Oxnard
President Barack Obama has made healthcare reform one of his main campaign priorities. The numbers of insured, noninsured and underinsured families must be addressed. There are the conservatives who are deathly afraid of a government-run healthcare program. On the other side there are liberals who believe healthcare is a constitutional right. And I believe the vast majority feels that the present system is broken.
I can only speak upon my personal situation. Next month I will turn the grand old age of 60. Instead of receiving a birthday card last week, I received a memo from my present insurance company. My current personal insurance premium of $518 will be increased to $877 a month, which represents an increase of 69 percent. Over the last five years, my premium has more than doubled.
Please don't feel sorry for me. In the worst-case scenario, I will pay the new premium. My concern goes out to the families less fortunate than me. In the current economic environment, how does a family allocate their limited resources? The typical family budget might include shelter, food, clothing, education, healthcare costs, etc. Who gets paid first? Why would an insurance company not pay for preventive measures such as a colonoscopy but be willing to pay for expensive cancer treatments?
I'm afraid for my family and America's future. If we can put a man on the moon, we can fix this healthcare abomination.
-- John M. Lau, Oxnard
I want to thank two thoughtful people for helping me recently. I was briskly walking the morning of May 11, came to a curb and tripped, landing face first onto the sidewalk. This was on the corner of Dunnigan Street and Palmer Avenue in Camarillo. I usually have my cell phone but had forgotten it that day.
A gentleman named Henry approached me, wanting to help. He had a cell phone, so he called my husband. While we were waiting, a young woman, Kirsten, stopped and gave me tissues for my injured nose. Both Henry and Kirsten offered me encouraging words and calmed my rattled nerves.
I am grateful for the kindness that these two people showed me during an upsetting and painful experience.
-- Diane Church, Camarillo
Re: Paul Kistler's May 22 letter, "Gun letter refuted":
Kistler is a hoplophobe, and he doesn't understand the militia correctly.
Hoplophobes live chronically in subconscious fear and rage against armed self-defense and knowing what they'd do with a gun if they had one. Gun people aren't like that. They don't rage and needn't fear themselves, and they get very tired of rationalizations against self-defense.
The militia is not the National Guard. The two are separate in U.S. law. The militia includes Kistler, unless he's too old or an official or on active military duty. The Guard owes its legal existence not to being the militia, a citizen function, but to Congress' power to raise armies, even part-time armies. Nowadays, citizens in a militia capacity would likely be acting more as police than combat soldiers -- say, during a riot.
The Second Amendment, which gives the militia its effectiveness, acknowledges that the right to keep and bear arms is inherent to being a citizen. It is not a grant from the government. A "collective right" to arms can't be exercised without also exercising it individually -- that's the true "security of a free state." Stowing private arms in an armory just reduces the right to a privilege granted by whoever holds the armory keys. The Second Amendment doesn't, and can't, limit a militia's function to that of securing the state. Its language just gives an example of how this is in the state's interest, and in that of the citizens, individually and severally.
-- W. Reid Ripley, Port Hueneme
I was very recently in my veterinarian's office one more time to have my dog treated for allergic dermatitis. Each visit usually costs between $100 and $125, plus any medications I need to purchase.
As I was sitting in the waiting room, two different people came in with dogs that needed treatment. Both dog owners asked how much it would cost to have their dogs taken care of. When told an approximate cost, both owners walked out, stating they could not afford it right now.
While waiting, the receptionist took at least two calls, once again explaining costs to which the callers, both of whom must have changed their minds.
Owning a pet is expensive. To take care of them properly, they need to be vaccinated, and they occasionally need treatment for illness or injury. We love our pets and see them as family, yet when it comes to taking care of them it usually comes down to dollars and cents. This fact is obvious when you visit a shelter and see all the purebred dogs once purchased with joy and left, for many, due to economic hardship.
I have learned the hard way that the dog I adopted is a breed prone to allergies.
When making a decision to bring home a pet -- adopted or purchased from a breeder -- please take time to research the breed and find out ahead of time what vaccinations cost. Do you really have the time to devote to daily exercise? If they are injured, can you afford hospitalization, X-rays, or surgery? These things unfortunately come up, and it broke my heart as I saw the disappointment and discouragement of the owners who had to walk away from the treatment their dogs needed.
Please consider in these economically frail times, before bringing home that cute puppy or kitten, whether or not this is a commitment you truly would be able to keep.
-- Laura Lythgoe, Oxnard
The motto carved in marble in the frieze above the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., notes the words "Equal justice under law."
With the ruling from the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8, any such motto that might exist in California needs to be chiseled out and replaced with a paraphrase from the novel "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, to wit:
"All Californians are created equal, but some Californians are more equal than others."
This proclamation by the pigs that control the government in "Animal Farm" was a comment on the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but give power and privileges to a small elite.
This is what the California Supreme Court has done. No matter the language that couches their decision, the equality of law has been diminished. Gay people must now drink from the colored fountain until such time that future elections or court decisions may result in change.
The loss of liberty is a slippery slope. It happens gradually. Adolf Hitler won elections, worked within the constitutional framework of a teetering democracy, was able to pass Enabling Acts with the votes of a divided parliament and ended up slaughtering millions.
There was a time in this country when a vote to enshrine in the Constitution a prohibition against a black marrying a white would also have garnered much wider margins that the 52 percent of the voters who voted to "protect marriage."
There was a time in this country when an entire class of citizens was incarcerated in camps in the foothills of California. There was a time when the rights of women were non-existent. Popular votes on those issues at those times would have similarly passed with wide margins.
Now is the time to be vigilant, to ensure there is no further erosion of rights for American citizens and to work towards a civilized discussion of our differences.
-- Mark Brandl, Oxnard
I agree with the many letters that have been sent to The Star and other local publications regarding the squandering of our tax dollars by the City Council. We as a community need to hold them accountable for their actions. We can do that by electing new people to the City Council next November. It's going to be a tough road, however. The incumbents are very well-funded and have great name recognition, but it can be done and must be done. We can no longer accept their actions as the only way our community can function. We can do better.
We watch as they waste our money on consultants to study why The Lakes center isn't doing well. We watch as they build homes on Mountclef Ridge in Wildwood. We watch as they dismiss our concerns by labeling us as a small vocal group of people. We watched as they denied us a vote when Ed Masry retired from the council.
We must be the change we would like to see in the Conejo Valley. Re-electing the same mistakes and the same failed policies will only result in more disappointment, more spending and more waste.
-- Clint Matkovich, Thousand Oaks
I have been reading all the letters lately in reference to people whom I believe are atheists or people who have no faith at all, which is their privilege.
No, we should not force our own faith on someone else. We can express our thoughts to them and then let them decide. But do not, I say, do not blame religion for the faults of man. Those who do are forgetting that God gave us a free will and conscience and laws to live by.
If we decide to act out our feelings and do it for God, remember that it's a human being talking and trying to give credit to God through his own faults.
-- Russell E. Spencer Sr., Simi Valley
Having just read about the commission that will lower state elected officials' pay by 18 percent, why not have all state employees take an 18 percent pay decrease? This would be the equivalent of laying off 40,000 to 50,000 workers. How much would that save? Then, through attrition and retirement, we can lower the state's workforce. If we need law enforcement, move employees from one department to another. There are numerous departments in the state that are redundant and serve no useful purpose.
-- Dave McDonald, Oak Park
If I were to ask you what the root of the global economic crisis was, you would probably say subprime loans. Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and GMAC are all at the top of the subprime lender list. Doesn't it disturb you that these are the banks we are bailing out with our money, in the form of Troubled Asset Relief Program dollars? If that doesn't sting enough, there's a new bill in the Senate, HR1728, that is designed to benefit these money-hungry lenders.
The bill calls for removing the mortgage broker's ability to earn a "yield spread premium." YSP is used by brokers to offer consumers choices, such as "no-cost" or "zero-point" loans. Removing the YSP limits consumer choices and would instantly drive mortgage brokers out of the industry, allowing the big TARP-taking banks to gain huge market share.
The bill doesn't effect the giant TARP-taking lenders' ability to earn a "gain on sale" which is simply a different name for a yield spread premium. In fact, it allows them to make billions of dollars in secret profits, without disclosing a penny of it to the consumer, even though mortgage brokers have been required to disclose their YSP for years. These same TARP-taking banks are the largest campaign contributors to the congressmen who drafted and support HR1728.
The lenders that decimated the economy with their subprime loans and billions of dollars of junk securities, and who continue to suck the taxpayers dry in the form of TARP dollars, are lobbying for this bill to gain huge market share by driving brokers out of business and once again earn insane profits with no regard for the consumer.
Contact your senators and ask them to vote no on HR1728, because enough is enough!
-- Ruth Ann Cooper, Newbury Park
Re: Stuart Bechman's May 26 letter, "Hold them accountable":
Reading Bechman's letter was almost amusing if it wasn't so tragically off the mark. He asserts that former Vice President Dick Cheney actually should be turned over to the authorities for the "atrocities committed by our forces overseas" and more such pap. He then gets serious: "If we ever hope to recover our dignity and respect as a nation in the world, let alone our moral compass...."
Apparently Bechman agrees with the current occupant of the White House in the need to apologize to European nations for our -- what? That we saved them in World War I and World War ll? For the Marshall Plan, which helped them rebuild after World War ll? For the Berlin Airlift, which kept them alive when the Russians had shut down western access to Berlin? For our intercession in Bosnia while the rest of Europe sat by and watched? For all the land we took to bury our dead in the many cemeteries around Europe where our brave soldiers died to free Europe from the Axis?
Bechman needs to try to let his visceral hatred of the George Bush administration go -- now. He needs to realize that we have not been attacked in the almost eight years since Sept. 11, 2001, and that we have stopped many such attacks from happening. He must save his anger for when this current president abandons Israel to the mercies of Iran and the Palestinians -- and the peace-loving United Nations.
-- Robert J. Brown, Westlake Village
Re: Jeff Baarstad's May 24 commentary, "CVUSD looked at big picture":
Baarstad's comments regarding The Star's May 22 "Cautionary school tales" editorial suggest that he still doesn't get it.
Conejo Valley Unified School District is not the victim here. Supporters of the Meadows Arts and Technology Elementary School demanded their legal rights after the CVUSD administration attempted to trample them.
The legal issues were very clear-cut. CVUSD's lawyers attempted to argue that conversion charters aren't entitled to their sites. This is clearly refuted in the supporting regulations of Proposition 39. Once Ventura County Superior Court Judge David Worley reviewed the law and supporting regulations, he had no choice but to rule in favor of MATES.
CVUSD has repeatedly used the MATES charter as a scapegoat by implying that MATES will reduce the number of teachers employed. That is nonsense. Direct state funding for charter schools bypasses district overheads, such as district executive staff, and enables charters to employ teachers at a greater teacher-to-student ratio simply because a district overhead burden doesn't exist. If more schools were charters, more teachers would be employed. CVUSD really ought to stop making claims that the MATES charter exists at the expense of CVUSD students.
Baarstad correctly comments that citizens need to demand more efficiency from government. That, however, includes school districts and how they manage their administrative costs.
-- Kathy Smith, Thousand Oaks
Re: Ken Walkey's May 25 letter, "Why people don't vote":
Walkey's position that the judicial branch of our government often "thwarts the will of the people" puts him squarely in the category of people who didn't pay any attention in school while the Constitution was being discussed.
The strength of our Constitution lies not in that it allows the majority to rule, but that it strongly protects the rights of the minority against abuses by the will of the people.
In our past, the will of the people was that black Americans should be slaves. The history of this country has seen the will of the people be that minorities and women shouldn't have the vote. The will of the people has been that minorities shouldn't have equal educational opportunities and that minorities should be restricted by the government in whom they can marry or where they can eat lunch.
The will of the people isn't always what is right or proper for us as a country.
Ours is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. If the state government is dysfunctional, it is because the people of the state are dysfunctional. After the last election it became pretty clear that in California the will of the people is that the state should go bankrupt, that prisons should be emptied, that schools should be closed, that police and fire department budgets should be slashed, that beaches should be left without lifeguards and that the poor and the sick should roam the streets without the benefit of any kind of medical assistance.
With looming draconian cuts to our state services, I can imagine that over the next few months Walkey may find himself, along with many of us, hoping that the judicial system can protect us against the will of the people.
-- Terry Welden, Simi Valley
I was stunned to read that Kaiser, a nonprofit organization, gives away $240,000 to clinics.
Every single year my monthly Kaiser bill goes up in January between $50 to $60 per month. I was just about to hit $800 per month when they started to offer deductibles. I would have had to cancel my insurance if they hadn't. What I gave up was prescription coverage and low office-visit payments for a lower monthly payment that keeps rising every year still.
I don't think it's right when people are paying so much for the insurance to have the hospital give the money away. I think it's up to hospitals that make a profit to do the donating. I certainly can't afford my monthly payment raised to pay for these grants!
-- Cynthia Townsley, Oak Park
I doubt very many people read the opinions of the court majority and the individual justices regarding Proposition 8. Justice Kathryn Werdegar points out the very dangerous precedent that has been established in the majority position.
The majority has ruled that for the first time in California legal history, constitutional revisions are defined as only those that impact the framework of our government. All other issues, including those relating to individual or civil rights, can now be changed by a simple majority vote by the people using the proposition process. According to the majority opinion, the Supreme Court has no ability to limit such changes.
This means any individual or civil right that is not expressly protected by the U.S. Constitution can be taken away by a majority vote of Californians. This decision is clearly at odds with our original California Constitutional Convention of 1849 and the subsequent convention of 1878-79.
Those of you who belong to any minority group should look at the hard-fought gains you have achieved over the years with a great deal of concern.
Werdegar raised this important issue and it was confirmed by the other justices, including Justice Joyce Kennard, who expressly stated the people "may change the constitutional language itself, and thereby enlarge or reduce the personal rights that the state Constitution as so amended will thereafter guarantee and protect."
Amazing! Talk about activist judges!
Only Justice Carlos Moreno thought the whole case through and was logically consistent with the court's original marriage decisions case.
Proposition 8 is in violation of the equal protection guarantee in the California Constitution. The majority opinion is classic weasel-wording without concern for real people and real-life situations.
-- Bill Robinson, Westlake Village
I am a gay American who proudly got married in Connecticut to my husband earlier this year. We live in New York, where our marriage is legally recognized. However, our jobs are taking us to California in the fall, and I was saddened by Tuesday's decision, as many Americans were, of the California Supreme Court to uphold discrimination of a minority group.
I implore President Barack Obama, being a minority himself, to not take a back seat on this issue any longer. We deserve equal rights. I pay equal taxes. Why am I not allowed every civil liberty afforded to every other American?
When other minorities fought for their equal rights, they had the luxury of support of their family and friends because they all suffered equally. Unfortunately, being a gay American does not always come with that same luxury. My family disowned me for coming out and standing up for myself. I am alone. I need someone to stand up for me.
It saddens me that on the same day Obama made history for one minority group, nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court, he remains silent as discrimination continues elsewhere in our country. As far as I know, the only statement the White House released Tuesday in regards to California's disappointing and irresponsible decision was that "the issues involved are ones where you know where the president stands." That statement is patronizing and gutless.
I cried when Obama was elected. I was so proud of our country and of him. He had such courage. And now, when I need him because otherwise I am alone, he is nowhere to be found.
I am disappointed in him.
All I want is to grow old with my husband, have children and a home -- a common dream for every American. And yet, Tuesday I learned that when we move to California, that dream cannot be a reality.
Please stand up for me.
-- Addison McQuigg, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Republicans are really between a rock and a hard place this time with President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee. It's a choice between a racist Hispanic who will make her own rules from the bench and forgo the Constitution or Republicans getting pounded in their re-election to office. Gee, that's a no brainer! Why put her through any process at all? Just confirm the nomination! This has shades of Mexico's political system.
Oh, by the way, I am curious to know how she could afford Princeton and Yale universities.
-- Judy Patton, Moorpark
Re: your May 24 article, "State may ax Healthy Families help":
The Star's report on the potential cancellation of a healthcare program for children of "modest"-income families left me wondering what has happened to the recently renewed State Children's Health Insurance Program in Washington, D.C.
That highly touted law provides healthcare funding for children up to 25 years of age from families of "modest" income -- up to $63,081 -- so our rich federal government has solved this problem for California. I expect it probably also includes immigrants, legal and -- Dare I say it? -- not legal.
If I have my facts straight, this issue isn't really an issue anymore, and now we can go on to the next of The Star's daily front page disaster stories.
-- Michael Lawrence, Ventura
Re: your May 25 article, "La Colonia teen writes book on youthful angst, geared toward young readers":
We applaud The Star's efforts to shed some light on stuttering, which affects more than 3 million Americans.
For more information about the many options for dealing effectively with stuttering, The Star's readers should contact the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation.
We provide information on the latest research, a resource list of electronic devices and speech pathologists who specialize in stuttering and DVDs and books on stuttering compiled by the leading authorities in the field. Our materials are also offered free at more than 8,500 public libraries, including the public libraries in Oxnard and Ventura.
Star readers may visit us at www.stutteringhelp.org, e-mail at email@example.com or call 800-992-9392.
-- Jane Fraser, Memphis, TN
The efforts of former Vice President Dick Cheney to clarify the policies practiced by and authorized while he was in office obfuscate what I think is a much larger question that we should all be asking ourselves: Who actually ran this country in those eight years of President George W. Bush's administration?
It would now appear that Cheney was indeed the power behind the throne -- a de facto president, if you will. Otherwise, why have we not heard from Bush?
Either Bush has decided that Cheney will be his official proxy regarding the Bush administration's place in history, or he never really bothered to contemplate what Cheney was doing and therefore could not possibly proffer an explanation for it. If that's the case, then what was really going on during their eight years together?
All one has to do is recall that in 2007, Cheney attempted to tell us what branch of government the vice presidency belonged to.
It is becoming rather clear that Bush's presidency may come to be discussed in terms of Cheney, and that the president -- behind closed doors -- either acquiesced to or abrogated his authority to him.
These days, when drawing up achievement lists, we have a tendency to refer to the top person on that list as being "No. 1," and the second choice, "1a." This is not what the framers of the Constitution intended. When we elect a president, there is room for only one person at the top of that list. If Cheney was not in charge, then Bush needs to tell us so.
Bush may not want to get involved in this debate, but if he doesn't, historians may well judge him not only as ineffective, but a president who abandoned his sworn duties and obligations to another.
It is time for Bush to own his administration -- his legacy -- or he will have others (read: Cheney) define it, or worse yet, own it for him.
-- Rodney K. Boswell, Thousand Oaks
On Memorial Day, as I took a leisurely walk to the Port Hueneme pier at 9 a.m., I saw a parking enforcement officer giving a car a ticket for not having an official front license plate, which I know is a ticketable violation. I asked the officer, "You weren't in the military were you? He said no and, with a puzzled look, asked why. I said, "You read the front license plate didn't you?" He said yes. The fellow's customized metal plate said "U.S. Army" in big letters and his regiment.
I told the officer that this was Memorial Day and that the fellow was a veteran -- I know because I had talked to him. I said it would have been nice to give a warning, not a $75 ticket, which the fellow told me he couldn't afford. He was just trying to have a nice day at the beach with his family on Memorial Day and this had ruined it before it started.
The officer gave me a blank stare and said, "I don't have to listen to you," then turned around and walked away.
Well, my wife and I were looking to buy a beach condo here in Port Hueneme, but not anymore. We will go look in Ventura. If this parking enforcement officer is any indication of what the other service department workers are like, there's no need for me to ever visit Port Hueneme again, thank you.
-- James Palazzolo, Northridge
Re: Steven W. Thrasher's May 26 commentary, "Prop. 8 promotes hate":
Once again, The Star prints an article saying, in effect, that people who don't agree with gay marriage are haters and bigots.
First, while I am sincerely sorry about what happened to the people mentioned in the article, Harvey Milk and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, calling people who don't agree with their agenda haters and bigots does nothing to further toleration. In fact, it just makes people angry!
Indeed, there are many things in this life that I don't agree with. I realize that there are many gay unions, and while I don't agree with the lifestyle, I realize it's something I'm going to have to tolerate. However, that does not mean that I will promote it or sanction it in any way.
In essence, Proposition 8 asked me what I believed in, and I said so. If someone asks me what I believe, I'll tell them, "I believe that a marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman." If they don't like that answer, then they are going to have to at least tolerate it. If they start calling names, then they are haters and bigots and no better than those who disagree with them!
Society does not tolerate hate crimes. In the cases mentioned above there were countless numbers of "straight" law enforcement people who supported the law, if not the lifestyle, and that's exactly the way it should be. My advice to those who are promoting the gay lifestyle and beliefs is to avoid making people angry.
-- The Rev. Thomas James, Ventura
Tuesday the courts upheld a decision made by California voters. Proposition 8 is not a civil rights issue, as many would have you believe, but a moral one.
If Proposition 8 had not passed in November and we Christians were out protesting, we would have been told to go home, get over it, the vote is in. These supporters are just "poor losers.''
The objection here is not against gays living together or even civil unions. The issue is to not redefine the definition of "marriage." God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman. Times may change, people's opinions may change, but God's word does not change! Homosexuality is a choice; ethnicity or skin color is not. God loves all people but does not love all their lifestyle choices. So I thank the courts and God for this ruling.
So get over it, go home, the vote is in.
-- Dorothy Campagna, Newbury Park
It's very simple: Marijuana will never be legalized because it would wipe out the alcohol industry. Marijuana and alcohol do not mix. Now your neighborhood bakery would love it! Can you image all the bars and happy hours closing down?
-- Judy Lakkis, Thousand Oaks
A couple of weeks ago, my 7-year-old son announced, "I want to write music like Beethoven and paint like Van Gogh."
While we've always known that Sam loves to create, we've done little at home to encourage his interest in either classical music or art. With three other children, we focus on getting the homework done, getting to church, going to bed on time and playing soccer/volleyball on the weekend. My wife and I enjoy music -- I was trained as a classical pianist -- but we have not taken time to pass it along to our children.
Sam's interest in art and music are the result of our public school system. Specifically, Stacey Manzer at Cypress Elementary introduced Sam's entire class not only to Beethoven and Van Gogh, but also Mozart, Chopin and Monet, in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic.
With all the budget cuts and concern for the quality of education in California, I appreciate that we have teachers who "go the extra mile" to create an environment where our children can grow and learn as students and human beings.
As we continue through what looks to be a very difficult year for our schools, I hope the community will actively support the outstanding teachers we have in Ventura County.
-- Tom Stephen, Newbury Park
Re: Robert Reynolds' May 21 letter, "Tackle the real issue":
Aside from castigating The Star for its ballot recommendations, Reynolds seems to think that all our budgetary woes in California can be blamed on undocumented workers, whom he calls illegal immigrants. If we would only quit spending public funds on them, and not have to try "the hard choices The Star laid out," says Reynolds, we'd no longer have a state budget deficit!
That sort of magical thinking strikes me as very akin to the wonderful story of the scapegoat, from the Hebrew Bible:
"Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land." (Leviticus 16:20-22 Revised Standard Version)
I would like to encourage Reynolds to consider coming up with a more realistic plan than scapegoating the undocumented, such as perhaps raising taxes on the wealthiest among us. The way we do things now in California, our antiquated and no longer serviceable governmental process is held in thrall to special interests, and no one dares suggest that the most wealthy Californians might not be paying their fair share!
What California really needs urgently is a new constitution, possibly a unicameral governing body, and some fresh thinking at the top. Since President Barack Obama is otherwise engaged at this time, I'd like to offer the name of Gavin Newsom, currently mayor of San Francisco, as my choice for governor of this state.
-- Theadora Davitt-Cornyn, Oxnard
President Barack Obama made it very clear during his campaign that he intended to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo. So why all the controversy over where to house the terrorists? Just send them to the state, city or precinct that voted for Obama by the largest margin. My guess is that it would be Hollywood, Santa Monica, San Francisco or somewhere in Massachusetts. What could be more fair?
-- Greg Moses, Simi Valley
Comment test body.
Re: your May 15 article, "Budget plans called 'ugly, uglier'; Restriction-laden fairgrounds would be difficult to unload":
The Ventura County Fairgrounds story, while otherwise well-written, is unintentionally misleading by implying that Eugene P. Foster's deed restriction for public use remains in effect, when it does not. Such restrictions automatically terminate after 30 years, with a provision for extensions that in turn expire after 30 additional years.
The California Legislature in 1982 passed Civil Code Sections 885.030 and sequential sections which leave no doubt: Deed restrictions can become "obsolete," it says, for a list of other reasons, including if "it would be otherwise inequitable to enforce the power because of changed conditions or circumstances."
A title officer should be retained to fully research the property, and the advice of a land-use lawyer should be obtained.
The idea of selling the fairgrounds has been brought up more then once over the years and has been universally rejected as lunacy. It may be analogous to burning the steamboat to stoke its boilers.
Let's in any case make sure the public discussion is always based on accurate information.
-- Kioren Moss, Ventura
(The writer is a real estate appraiser and expert witness in real estate litigation. -- Editor)
Re: your May 19 article, "When are academic competitions too much?":
This article regarding scholastic competition was interesting in that it highlighted the wide variety of non-sport competition and the potential problematic issues raised by such competition. This article was front-page stuff. However, I could only find a single educator mentioned who expressed concern about this, an assistant professor at California Lutheran University.
The article implied there were serious issues to consider about competition and the potential negative impact when children compete, and, heaven forbid, there are losers.
The same issue of The Star had no fewer than three full pages in the Sports section devoted to prep competition, including a picture of a volleyball athlete who scored a slam against a hapless opponent.
So, let me get this right. Scholastic competition can be harmful, while sport competition is healthful. It seems to be OK to spend hours of practice on the field or in the gym, but pity the poor sport-challenged student who may spend an equal amount of time studying. What a weird concept! If we are worried about the pressure of competition, let's just abolish all forms, sport and scholastic, so our children don't grow up with a complex because they did not win.
-- Robert Dempster, Camarillo
It is clear that our society has a tendency to become dependent on new technologies that come our way. The invention of the car completely revolutionized transportation. Our society is so paralyzed without cars that we are willing to pay any price tag to keep them a part of our routine.
Cell phones have also proven to be extremely important to all of us. The use of land lines is so much less convenient that many households no longer even have them.
As for recent years, there is one invention that really has taken hold of our generation. In fact, it is such an integrated part of many of our lifestyles that without it people would be lost. The person responsible? One man that many of you may know. He's everybody's friend. I mean, he literally has more than 200 million friends. I'm talking about Tom Anderson, one of the founders of MySpace, an online social network launched in 2003.
Today, you would be hard-pressed to find an American teenager who doesn't know about this phenomenon, regardless of whether or not they participate.
This big cultural shift is easiest recognized on a more personal level. Every day, we dress ourselves in a set of clothes that convey something about our identity -- what we do for a living, how we fit into the socioeconomic class hierarchy, what are interests are, etc. This is identity production.
As most teens are more concerned with resolving how they are perceived than how they perceive themselves, MySpace not only facilitates but also perpetuates this. Creating your own personality through a Web site enables you to construct yourself differently from who you really are and into who you want people to think you are. It allows users to be in complete control of their own representation because it is all digital. You can put up whatever pictures you want, state what your interests are, be a part of select groups and even decide to have certain friends.
MySpace has created a new social medium, and in doing so, has completely modernized pop culture.
-- Sophia Poorsattar, Ventura
Re: May 20 letters by Michael Pringer, "Interrogation is OK" and Robert Merrilees, "Interrogators need leeway":
Pringer and Merrilees support former Vice President Dick Cheney's absurd claim that if you torture somebody, physically or mentally, you will inevitably gain the required information to save American lives. They incorrectly assume that anybody interrogated is guilty and has valuable information.
I joined the U.S. Army in 1971 and served as an interrogator/translator. This was during the period when Cheney was still evading military service after many draft deferrals, and when George W. Bush valiantly helped repel the Viet Cong onslaught against Texas -- at least on those days when he actually showed up to his Air Force Reserve training.
When Army interrogators started throwing Vietnamese prisoners out of helicopters, they did not exactly win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese populace. Theoretically, after the first prisoner was pushed out of the helicopter to his death, the remaining prisoners would talk. The prisoners would spew out bogus information just to save their lives. When the Viet Cong learned of such barbarism, their determination to defeat America only grew stronger.
The situation today -- in Iraq or Afghanistan or Guantanamo or at CIA black ops overseas -- is not much different. Extremely harsh interrogation usually yields bogus information. In the very rare cases when the suspect actually has useful information, he will probably be willing to martyr himself to protect it.
President Barack Obama was "right on" when he stated, "I know some have argued that brutal methods like water-boarding were necessary to keep us safe.... I could not disagree more.... I reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What's more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists and increase the will of our enemies to fight us."
-- Michael Sullivan, Ventura
Re: Richard Landis' May 20 letter, "GOP becomes irrelevant":
I understand Landis' complaints about "right-wing" talk shows only too well. After decades of the dominant liberal media, he's been successfully indoctrinated to suspect anything that sounds different. "How we see ourselves as people," which concerns Landis, has been profoundly influenced by liberal media ascendancy over the years.
Now liberals are so fearful of their ideas being challenged, they try to dehumanize new upstart voices in any manner possible, ideas Landis considers "blather -- negative, ugly, hypocritical, deceitful, distorted, whiny, right-wing talk radio and TV." He evidently is not interested in democratic open debate. Conservative voices cannot be tolerated but instead should be relentlessly attacked, mocked, eliminated, marginalized, have their reputations damaged and be ridiculed as fringe groups and fascists.
President Barack Obama himself, our most liberal president, made the point of liberal dominance of the media at the recent Correspondents' Dinner in Washington, D.C. "All of you voted for me," he stated proudly, his look fondly embracing the vast assembly of people we depend on to report and interpret the news for the rest of us. Then he apologized for overlooking the lone cable network that has an independent voice, Fox Cable News, just one network among all that dense forest of liberal media.
Talk radio is one place where conservative voices can be fully heard, but now liberals want to muffle conservative talk shows too. The painful truth is that liberal radio talk shows failed miserably and cost their investors millions. Failing to compete on a level playing field, liberals now want to shut down the dialogue and disregard what people prefer to hear, resorting to a tricky so-called "Fairness Doctrine," which is not the "fairness" Landis claims he wants. Call it what it is: censorship.
-- Miriam Jaffe, Thousand Oaks
Re: your May 20 editorial, "Reckoning day for California":
The Star still doesn't get it, does it? Let me try to explain it in very simple words. "The state of California has a dysfunctional government" -- period.
The people of California are sick and tired of voting for a measure, only to have some liberal judge overturn the will of the people! So the fine upstanding people of this state say, "What's the use? Why should I vote?" And that, my dear editorial staff, is why the people in California don't vote.
-- Ken Walkey, Newbury Park
Former Vice President and suspected felon Dick Cheney continues to dominate the airwaves, proudly bragging of his crimes of complicity with orchestrating the George W. Bush administration's illegal policies of torture. And the media seems more than willing to give him a podium without a thought as to whether maybe he should be turned over to federal authorities rather than being given a mike.
Why has he not been picked up? Does the FBI not know how to find him? Or have we stopped being a nation of laws since 2000?
Even before Cheney's media tour, the national news had been full of revelations -- as if we hadn't known already -- that the Bush administration was fully behind the international atrocities that our forces were committing overseas. And now we have the man not just admitting, but boasting, of his and the administration's crimes on television.
It's inconceivable that the Justice Department needs any more evidence than what Cheney has provided over the past week to build a solid case. If he thinks it was all legal, we should give him the opportunity in criminal court to explain how that is so. (I'm sure he'd understand if anyone suggested we should waterboard him to make sure he wasn't lying, since he doesn't think it's torture.)
If we ever hope to recover our dignity and respect as a nation in the world, let alone our moral compass, we need to hold Cheney and the rest of the Bush administration accountable for our country's crimes over the past eight years. The sooner the better.
-- Stuart Bechman, Simi Valley
Re: Timm Herdt's May 21 essay, "It's about the economy":
Herdt still doesn't get it. The vote Tuesday was not to tell the Legislature to fix the problem and leave us alone. The message is: No new taxes!
We are sick and tired of public employee unions and illegal aliens sucking up the resources of working Californians. Remove the legislative two-thirds vote requirement for new taxes? No way! Scrap Proposition 13? Don't even think it! Abolish the initiative process? Never!
The economy did not cause this debacle. Government did.
-- Bill Jackson, Simi Valley
OK, so if the swine flu is a serious threat, isn't the obvious solution to close the border and contain what infections we already have? Instead, President Barack Obama makes excuses such as, "Well, the horses are already out of the barn." Yes, but we don't want them to run 1,000 miles away, do we?
If Obama truly cared or felt like making a decision on his own without his teleprompter, he would. Former President George W. Bush certainly wasn't any better at making decisions, but at least he actually made a decision even though it was a bad one. Honestly, especially on the issue of the hostage crisis in Somalia, Obama was a complete weasel. He just told the admiral, "do something," and he passed it on to the destroyer captain, who got the SEAL snipers to take out the pirates and rescue the kidnapped captain. Then, shortly after, Obama came out acting as if he had just single-handedly rescued the man, taking all the praise and glory for the SEAL team's hard work. What kind of a leader does that shamelessly? Of anyone, the SEAL team should be getting the limelight.
On the subject of military action, has Obama done anything about Iraq and Afghanistan besides lip service? And whenever questioned outside of the usual CNN, "So, how does it feel to be president?" Obama just plays dodgeball or stares down the reporter -- or both.
All in all, Obama needs to make an important decision for once.
Oh yeah, did I mention that former Vice President Dick Cheney wants Obama to release all the torture evidence? That's like Bernie Madoff saying to the prosecutor, " Release all the evidence that would incriminate me, please," while the prosecutor is trying to defend him. That's completely backwards, in every way.
Coincidentally, CIA memos released prove that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi approved the waterboarding and was thoroughly informed on the matter. So I suspect Obama wants to protect Pelosi, but the torture evidence to arrest Bush would end up getting her in the court, too. So those goals are mutually exclusive.
I say that Obama seriously needs to make up his mind.
-- Ryan Bunk, Camarillo
What a pity that New York Times' resident opinionatrix Maureen Dowd chose to phone a friend to augment her column last Sunday about Republican torture policies. The mysterious friend, quite likely an ex-friend now, would feed her this 45-word paragraph lifted almost verbatim from Talking Points Memo blogger Josh Marshall.
My cranium is still attached to my skull, so I find her line of defense absurd and insulting. Her assertions that those were her friend's words and that she had not read Marshall's blog only highlights her chutzpah and self-aggrandized nature. Did she think we were all "Divas of Dimness" not capable of smelling her wind if it wafted in our nose?
Those who say, "Creativity is great, but plagiarism is faster" surely have not read the Times' unprecedented swiftness in its correction the next day. Attribution to the proper author, but sans censure of Dowd, came as her foes rhapsodized about schadenfreude and her friends cried foul.
Although I do not want Dowd's head on a platter, her breach of authenticity should be a warning to future offenders. These days, an explosion of ideas from bloggers and posters everywhere has made originality nearly unattainable. Somewhere, at any given time, two people will share the exact same thoughts, albeit not glaringly word for word, such as this case.
Outsourcing of ideas is nothing new, but rightful attribution should be the foremost commandment of lazy, cheating journalists.
-- Maya Teague, Camarillo
Re: your May 19 article, "School costs scrutinized":
I found this article most interesting in light of what is happening in Fillmore. As a former teacher for the Fillmore Unified School District, it has been exceedingly distressing to read of the current struggle for fair utilization of the district's budget.
A school district the size of Fillmore Unified should require only a competent superintendent and one assistant superintendent. Competent is the key word. The fact that our district employs three assistants suggests that competence is not a factor.
Why was the director of personnel promoted to assistant superintendent with a reported salary increase of 48 percent? Why was the director of business promoted to assistant superintendent with a reported salary increase of 31 percent? Other district personnel received similar inflated salary raises.
In the state of California, such high salaries are usually awarded only to district administrators who manage three to four times the staff, three to four times the students and have a budget three to four times that of Fillmore Unified. As a consequence of our administrators' grossly inflated salaries, teachers are cut, librarians are cut, classroom aides are cut and the students suffer.
Our students will not only suffer with less direct contact and services now, they will suffer with decreased ability to qualify for higher education and lessened future earning potential. This is not what education is about and certainly not what is good for the students. The people of Fillmore and Piru deserve better.
We need an immediate review of all district administrative restructuring and personnel/salary increases made during the last 24 months. During a time of a budget crisis, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted. It is the legal and moral responsibility of the school board to rectify this as soon as possible. It is a moral imperative and duty to be the best custodians and conservators of our public funds for the benefit of the children.
-- Mary Ford, Fillmore
Volunteers recently held an American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Buena High School. Cancer survivors were honored, those lost to cancer were remembered, and team members walked around the track at Buena for 24 hours. Everyone present witnessed their commitment to fight cancer and to raise money for research and for local services.
I had the honor to be the chairperson for Cancer Prevention Study 3. The purpose of this letter is to thank the 182 people who enrolled in CPS-3 at the relay.
CPS-3 is a research study whose purpose is to determine why some people are diagnosed with cancer and why others live cancer-free. Anyone is eligible to participate in CPS-3 if they are between the ages of 30 and 65, have never been diagnosed with cancer (not including basal or squamous cell skin cancer) and are willing to complete periodic follow-up surveys.
If someone doesn't meet the eligibility requirements, perhaps there are family members or friends who are eligible. Everyone can recruit potential enrollees. More information about CPS-3 and other enrollment locations in California and throughout the United States can be found at www.cancer.org/cps3.
Participating in cancer prevention research is an easy way to fight back against cancer. There's no money to raise, no laps to walk. It is a way to show cancer survivors that we care. It is a way to honor our lost ones, to fight the cancer that has claimed too many lives.
For me, being part of CPS-3 is that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in life-saving research. It is a unique gift of hope, which I give to my survivor friends. It is a way to honor George Mullin, Dick Allen, Ed and Ellen Waters and all my loved ones who have lost their fight with cancer.
I know why I relay. I know why I enrolled in CPS-3. I'm sure that the 182 people who enrolled in CPS-3 during the relay have reasons that are just as compelling as mine. I honor their reasons, and I thank them.
-- Judith Allen, Ventura
I want to point out some things I've observed since I moved to Ventura a year ago.
I notice that people working in many restaurants do not wear gloves while preparing food. I would think that California would be up to date on this and have common sense. What if someone was working who had hepatitis and had an open scratch or even a fresh scab on their hands? Also, the swine flu is going around. You would think the health departments would enforce this, but unfortunately everyone has to take their chances with this.
Also, in Ventura, there are red-light cameras at the intersection of Telegraph and Mills roads. These cameras go off when someone just pulls up to the light and stops or when the light is green and they go through the green light! These lights need to be checked.
I also do not understand why people who are against Measure 8 would need to take their protests and negativity out on the streets. Why would calling us names encourage those for protecting marriage to vote the other way -- or feel as if this is even right? I know they are not changing and that those raised with morals and stable family lives are not going to change, so why do they keep pushing a changed vote? Please, people: Look at this and see how to truly take action. It is hurting you more than helping.
I am proud of our country. I cannot even imagine what my great grandma would say if she knew what this country has become. Hopefully, we can get back on our feet and become better.
-- Amber Weiss, Ventura
Re: your May 7 obituary, "Marilyn French: feminist writer":
The obituary for French, author of the 1977 novel, "The Women's Room," quotes her as saying that her novel was intended "to change the entire social and economic structure of western civilization."
French was called anti-male after a character in her novel said: "All men are rapists, and that's what they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws and their codes." A friend explained that French "wanted men to accept their part in the domination of women."
The most startling information in the article was that French was an English professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
The Nuptial Mass instructs "Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it" -- on the cross in order to save mankind, including radical feminists like Marilyn French. That is not the same picture as that evoked by French's words.
What is happening to our Catholic universities? Here we have a man-hater teaching at one of the Catholic institutions -- and then there is President Barack Obama, a radical pro-abortionist, not only speaking at the University of Notre Dame, but receiving and honorary degree.
Is there no end to the heterodoxy that is rampant in the Catholic educational institutions today?
-- Margaret Queen, Oxnard
Re: your May 19 article, "School costs scrutinized":
I grew up on the East Coast, attending schools in Virginia and Maryland, some of which were highly ranked nationally. The standard there was, and is, one school district per county.
For years I have wondered why California sees the need for so many school districts, some of which have only a handful of schools, but which still need a district headquarters with a superintendent and all the attendant staff that means. It has always seemed to me that consolidation would free up millions of dollars a year to save and/or put toward direct educational costs rather than overhead.
Now that the Grand Jury has put forth this proposal, I urge that we hold those with the authority to make this happen accountable for looking into this with student "bang for the buck" in mind and not the plight of the administrators who would have to find other work. If these administrators truly have the interests of their students foremost in their minds, they, too, will think this way.
Let's not let an opportunity slip away to cut costs without cutting education.
-- Todd Terres, Camarillo
What a hypocrite! President Barack Obama is putting all these rules on the fuel emissions standards for cars that will once again cost the taxpayer more money when they buy a car and yet he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many other politicians continue flying everywhere in their great big gas-guzzling airplanes. What a double standard this is!
-- Linda Brown, Ventura
Re: your May 19 article, "When are academic competitions too much?"
I felt the tone of the article disturbing. I have been a longtime judge in the Ventura County Science Fair and can attest to the enthusiasm and excitement of the students participating. One purpose of the fair is to encourage a view of science as an enjoyable, "fun" activity. It also can help students to realize both that science is an important part of their lives and that a career in science has many possibilities.
I have seen no evidence of harm to the students from the competition. I believe the same can be said of the Academic Decathlon and the Mock Trial. All of these activities offer the students creative outlets and encourage them to develop critical thinking and, often, teamwork skills. I should recognize John Tarkany for his efforts in managing the Science Fair, as well as the Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon.
A similar article could be written for students active in sports or working towards Olympic competition. Would the educators be concerned about the cost and benefit of such endeavors? I hope that most parents would agree with me that academic competition is as valuable as sports competition in building character and developing confidence that work and effort can result in success. I hope that students will learn to recognize that failure to come in first place offers an opportunity to try again, improving on performance.
Finally, I would like to commend the Oxnard GATE Program for its approach to the spelling bee and science fair. Students are encouraged to compete, allowed to decide how much effort to put into the competition, but expected to give an excellent effort. With high expectations, students have high achievement and appreciate the efforts of those who "won." At the same time, they do not feel less worthy if their efforts are not at the top of the class.
I visited the GATE Science Fair last year and found the students proud of their achievements, despite the competition.
-- Peter Bellin, Oxnard
Re: your May 17 article, "Oxnard presents juicy red fruit":
Before anything else, may I commend The Star's overall excellent coverage of the California Strawberry Festival. I was a finalist in the Berry Blast Off cooking contest and had a delightful time in the competition.
However, I have been inundated with calls questioning statements reportedly made by me in the Sunday article. I need to clarify a few slightly inaccurate and perhaps misleading quotes. I realize that while these inaccuracies are not intentional they sometimes happen during brief sequential, simultaneous interviews, and I appreciate the time the correspondent took to interview me.
My intent in doing so is not to discredit the final decision of the judges, nor to in any way criticize the culinary expertise of the final winner, but rather to dispel any ambiguities in what was reported versus what was intended.
When asked by The Star correspondent what I thought about a spectator's comment that "chicken salad is just chicken salad," I replied that chicken salad is not necessarily just chicken salad, since much depends on what goes into it. When asked, however, why I thought the judges may have picked Leslie Hudnut's salsa instead, I replied that I really couldn't say, not having tasted it, but felt that perhaps the idea of blood oranges just sounded more exotic to them. And, I clearly want to say that I did not acknowledge that my "strawberry-artichoke chicken salad sandwiches didn't present as well as Hudnut's tilapia smothered in salsa," as I feel that my presentation was excellent, judging from the many spectator comments made during and after the competition to that effect.
With this said, I hope it puts to rest any continued doubt regarding my remarks.
Again, I was delighted to have been a participant and hope to be able to do so again.
-- Rosa M. Navarro-Gray, Oxnard
Re: Timm Herdt's May 21 essay, "It's about the economy":
Herdt finally got it right! "Enough is enough," so 26 percent of us said, and that's us older and more seasoned seniors who have been there and done this before.
Newspapers no longer can control the public to vote the way they think they should because now we have something that is replacing newspapers and that is the Internet. It has become the voice of the people and by the people. And that has liberals shaking in their boots. If the people should rise up and start thinking for themselves, we are all in real trouble.
We can thank our new leader, President Barack Hussein Obama, for opening our eyes and for starting to realize what is happening to our country. Starting with the April 15 tea party and now with the defeat of the union-backed spending bill, we the people are starting to wake up!
I just hope it's not too late.
-- Bob Moeller, Oxnard
Re: Timm Herdt's May 21 essay, "It's about the economy":
I appreciate that Herdt included my call for legal, taxed and regulated marijuana in his recent essay, but I don't think he realizes that this idea is no longer considered so "far out."
A recent Field Poll found that 56 percent of Californians favor legalizing and taxing marijuana to create a new revenue stream for the state -- more than twice those who support new sales or gas taxes.
California's budget crisis aside, marijuana prohibition isn't working. Just as alcohol prohibition left booze in the hands of violent mobsters, marijuana prohibition is enriching brutal cartels south of the border but is doing nothing to stop marijuana use here at home. Three former Latin American presidents have called on the U.S. to end marijuana prohibition as a way to defund the cartels, as have many U.S. opinion leaders.
Ending marijuana prohibition is not "far out." It's simple common sense.
-- F. Aaron Smith, Santa Rosa
(The writer is California policy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, www.mpp.org -- Editor)
I have been a longtime subscriber to The Star.
The American Cancer Society 24-hour Relay For Life at Buena High School was an amazing experience. There is not one person around who hasn't been touched by cancer in one way or another. To see all those who have survived cancer and all those who put their time, feet and money to the task of fighting to find a cure to this terrible disease and walking for those 24 hours was awesome. My husband and I were out there the whole time.
So my question is, why did I not I find one mention of this event in The Star? I read all about the California Strawberry Festival and the Fillmore Festival and another festival that was raising funds for something or other.
Did you know that the relay raised $198,000 for the cure for cancer? There were even a few thousand people there throughout the 24-hour period who weren't at the Strawberry Festival.
It is truly a sad time when your local paper doesn't even support this cause through some media attention. We need more good news these days.
-- Marjorie Rodriguez, Ventura
With the release of NFL quarterback Michael Vick from prison, I have heard talk show after talk show decry his release because of the nature of his crimes. Vick was convicted for hosting barbaric dogfights and for torturing and killing the dogs. Yes, his crimes were abominable, but Vick paid his debt to society and has apologized profusely for what he did.
As they continue to condemn Vick, I hear the same moronic radio hosts and their equally cerebrally deficient audiences defending the murderous practice of abortion. They turn their eyes to the University of Notre Dame and take issue with the pro-life protesters who marched against President Barack Obama's invited presence at the commencement ceremony. Obama has expressed his disgust over the war in Iraq because of the thousands of lives lost, yet he supports the practice -- nay, crime -- that snuffs out 40 million defenseless lives globally on an annual basis. Shame on him.
The lives of cats and dogs have become more valuable than those of the children of this world. Why is it that when animal lovers protest cruelty, they are deemed "heroes" in the eyes of the secular public -- and they are presented with awards for their service and philanthropic efforts -- yet when people protest the heinous atrocity of killing defenseless human children, they are considered "right-wing wackos?" The answer is moral relativism. "What's true for you may not be true for me."
Truth is truth, no matter how you homogenize it. What Vick did was wrong -- and he has paid the price. Are the doctors of the abortion mills paying any earthly price for their crimes? On the contrary, they continue to thrive because of moral relativism -- which is the real crime.
-- Tony Lemos, Simi Valley
This should be an eye-opener to those who put their trust or distrust in Sacramento.
The majority party in Sacramento wants a California Constitutional Convention. Two points that were mentioned are:
-- Eliminate the super-majority vote in order to increase taxes.
-- Put more limitations on the initiative process so the people are ruled by Sacramento instead of the opposite.
Both issues are targeting Proposition 13, which has protected homeowners from confiscatory increases in property taxes. Please contact your state representative if you don't want this to happen.
There are cuts that need to be made. No politician wants to face two 800-pound gorillas in their living room, but the voters do. The 800-pound gorillas are:
-- The reduction in the number of students in a classroom has not improved the learning process. The dropout rate and exit exams prove that.
-- Proposition 187 needs to be revisited. It would have reduced non-emergency social services to non-citizens.
You see, it isn't that hard to come up with budget cuts if you have the will to. Taxpayers see it. If politicians would take their blinders off, they would too.
-- William E. Hicks, Newbury Park
Re: your May 20 article, "Local cities, schools face larger cuts," and your May 19 article, "School costs scrutinized":
If you voted against the ballot propositions except for 1F, you voted in line with the Libertarian Party recommendations. You also participated in the biggest voter smackdown since Proposition 13 passed in 1978.
Putting two and two together, we can now see the real games being played. The governor and Legislature threatened the voters with cuts to police and fire protection and teachers, but they are really hiding massive numbers of union employees on the state dole.
The Star's May 20 article says the county's public school districts will lose $244 per student without the propositions. But the May 19 article says the Grand Jury found $933 per student is going each year to district-level administration. This does not even include administration at the schools.
So why start with cutting teachers when cutting district-level administration by 25 percent would solve the shortfall?
The answer, of course, is everyone pays attention to the threat about fewer teachers, but few would notice 25 percent fewer paper pushers.
The same thing can be said about the state. Instead of massive "across the board" program cuts, the state can save more than $10 billion a year by laying off the more than 100,000 state employees added since 1990.
In my letter published Jan. 14, 2004, I also pointed out the state should sell nonproductive assets. Last Thursday, the governor finally mentioned selling properties like San Quentin State Prison, which sits on more than 400 acres of beachfront property in ritzy Marin County. California state government owns more than 22,000 buildings, almost 400 per county. Selling properties would not only raise billions, but also reduce maintenance and operating costs, and increase property tax revenues. It may also lead to more sales taxes and income taxes if put to productive use.
But I don't get paid for such ideas. I urge you to tell those who do to start doing their job.
-- Bruce K. Bell, Moorpark
On May 25, America will observe Memorial Day. It is a day to honor and remember our military and their sacrifices.
Throughout the years, our military heroes have fought for freedom, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, capitalism, individual rights and private property rights -- in short, liberty.
Unfortunately today, we see a president and liberal Congress establishing a "soft tyranny." It is a war between democracy and socialism. In just a few months, President Barack Obama and Congress have quadtripled our debt, are raising and will raise more taxes, are redistributing our wealth and are rewarding unions and far-left groups. In short, Obama wants government control of our lives. This is and will be done at the expense of hard-working Americans, the private sector and future generations.
Already we see government control of the banks, Chrysler, General Motors, energy (cap and trade -- tax) and states' rights. Federal government control is socialism, and it has never worked.
Our military heroes didn't fight and die for socialism. They fought for freedom and liberty. Americans must fight and push back against an out-of-control federal government that cares little about their individual rights.
Join a tea party, write articles, call your politicians or write to Washington. We must preserve our democracy.
-- Diana Thorn, Carpinteria
Now that Californians, or at least those who bothered to vote, have voted down Propositions 1A thru 1E, what's next? Allow me to offer suggestions that some may view as far too radical.
To our California Legislature and governor: I recommend trying honesty. The measures they placed on the ballot were dishonest enough to make Bernie Madoff blush. How any elected official could have supported those with a straight face is beyond me. If they had passed, they would have done virtually nothing to address the core reasons for our state's budget woes.
As elected officials they must work together, and they must engage (and re-engage) the public. To effectively engage the public, our state government must shift the direction that is so often set by special-interest funding. There may be no more effective manner to discourage public involvement than the impression that the citizens cannot positively impact the present and future of our communities and our state.
To the voters in California, including those who could not bother to vote this time, I recommend accepting responsibility for those same officials. The only reason they are serving in the California Legislature or as our governor is that we, the voters, did not elect others. And while we may currently have to put up with a jury-rigged redistricting system, making valid state elections almost non-existent in California, changing the system is only improbable, not impossible. It becomes clearer each day that true, strong and fearless leadership is needed for our state. For that to happen we, the voters, must more actively engage with our elected officials.
-- John S. Jones, Ventura
The voters finally woke up, but will they put people in Sacramento who are fiscally responsible? The voting records of all those who have created the problem should be closely watched and voted out.
Now we will have to see what punishment these irresponsible lawmakers will push down instead of getting rid of wasteful spending.
The education groups should also get the message: Show some accountability and results. Get rid of programs that don't enhance the learning experience, and don't try to say athletics are not an important part of the learning experience.
I am a former school board member and remember those years as my most frustrating because of the arrogance of the administration and teachers who advanced programs that had no real incremental gain in education but diverted resources from the basics.
-- James M. Crosser, Ventura
We are not fighting each other. We are fighting ourselves.
There have always been, and will always be, more poor than wealthy.
The poor have more votes than do the wealthy.
The wealthy hire the poor. The poor do not hire the wealthy.
Those of us employed by government -- local, state or federal -- do not produce goods or services the rest of us are willing to pay for.
The wealthy, who are hiring the rest of us, are lured to other states where taxes are lower. Jobs (us) are leaving California, seeking lower taxes.
All our poor want to become wealthy. None of our wealthy wants to become poor.
Our problem is our state government. We should stop paying them to destroy us.
-- Hal Wilder, Camarillo
It's my understanding that most of California's budget problem is due to pension and healthcare obligations to retired civil servants, which are apparently required by contract. It's also my understanding that bankruptcy law allows, among other things, for contracts to be canceled.
Could California declare bankruptcy? Could a federal bankruptcy proceeding allow it to cancel these contracts? Would the downsides to a state declaring bankruptcy outweigh the obvious upsides?
-- Steven Boswell, Ventura
I was glad to hear the California Strawberry Festival was such a success, but I have one complaint for Festival Director Patrick Mullin: Please don't have the strawberry tart throwing booth next year. What a waste of strawberries! There are so many hungry people here in our county that I think strawberries could be more appreciated if they were given to the hungry or even sold at a reduced price. Please consider this for next year's festival and do away with the wasting of strawberries.
-- Doris Neil, Camarillo
I have to address President Barack Obama's view on compromise. He apparently did not read the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which says abortion is murder. Most, not all, Catholics and Christians and most people who acknowledge a creator consider abortion murder.
How, pray tell, does Obama compromise murder? Situational ethics? Never in history has that worked.
-- Jim Barros, Simi Valley
I've enjoyed The Star for 12 years. I always knew it leaned to the left but was pretty honest overall. My problem now is, after looking at The Star's endorsements and other comments, I've concluded that The Star leans pretty heavily to the left. There's not one word about cutting other bureaucracies in California.
I feel like I may be only getting one slanted side of the stories now. The Star should try employing some people with other views to keep it more balanced.
-- Bob Talbert, Thousand Oaks
Re: your May 19 article, "Educators weigh merits against pressures of competitions":
My three children have competed on Moorpark High School's Academic Decathlon teams -- in 2003 and from 2006 to 2009 -- with varying success. The teamwork, the study skills, their ability to speak and think on their feet and the powers of concentration they garnered continue to serve them well past decathlon.
This year, two MHS decathlon team members won scholarships from The Star. They won these scholarships by having class-topping grade point averages. Trust me, they did not ignore their other work.
The last thing -- the very last thing -- we need in these trying times is a cynical front-page hack job that oozes defeatism and tears down the hard-fought and hard-won achievements of our brightest hopes for the future. Instead, let's find even more ways to challenge, encourage and celebrate our best.
-- Karl Geiger, Moorpark
Re: your May 19 editorial cartoon:
If one picture is worth 1,000 words, then the political cartoon in Tuesday's paper of two firefighters discussing the cause of the recent Santa Barbara fires is priceless. To the younger generations who may not have "gotten it," a written caption, unnecessary to us "oldies" would have read, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" an old schoolyard taunt from days long ago.
My sequel to that cartoon would be of a spider weaving a very discombobulated and asymmetrical web. No caption would be needed, but to those of us who were raised on sayings to fit situations it would be a "no-brainer:" "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." The spider, of course, would simply be labeled, "Speaker of the House."
-- Bob Fitch, Thousand Oaks
I am, like many of you, one who has been laid off due to the poor economy. This has been a real learning experience for me since I had been steadily employed for the past 35 years.
The first thing I did was to join a weekly networking group. This weekly group has been a great tool for me. The group has shown me what I have to do to stay positive and get noticed by the companies I have applied to.
What I did not realize is that job hunting teaches you marketing techniques. You learn how to market yourself so you stand out from all the other applications that companies are receiving. The ultimate prize is the chance to interview and show the company why they should hire you.
There is one thing that I question. With all the positions I have applied for, I wonder whether some companies have a human resources department. I have applied to more than 30 job openings, and I have received a confirmation e-mail from only four of them. When you apply to companies from Websites like Monster or Career Builder, you receive a notice that your application has been sent to the company. I always wonder if the company's human resources department actually received it.
I know that with the current unemployment situation, every company that has open positions is probably overwhelmed with applications. How hard is it for them to send an automatic response mentioning that they have received your application?
Even if we do not get a chance to be interviewed, it still helps our morale to know that there is someone out there who actually received and processed the application.
-- Mitchell Salberg, Simi Valley
Re: your May 20 editorial, "Reckoning day for California":
It sounds like The Star is a sore loser. It just goes to show how out of touch and irrelevant newspapers have become.
It is not because voters are anesthetized to the word "billion."
It is not because voters are tired of being summoned to the polls.
And it is not because of the "complexity and gimmickry of the propositions."
It is because the citizens of California don't want to give their government more of their hard-earned money to fritter away. State government needs to learn to work with what they have -- just like the rest of us do.
Instead of the hard choices The Star laid out that the Legislature must consider, I would suggest something else. The state should quit spending money it does not have on programs such as:
-- Free education for illegal immigrants.
-- Free health care for illegal immigrants.
-- Unemployment benefits for illegal immigrants.
-- The cost of incarceration for illegal immigrants.
The list goes on. Does anyone see the pattern?
Maybe if the newspaper industry would do an expose on the real issues that are draining the state coffers, the public will find newspapers relevant again, as it used to be. The public is smarter than The Star thinks.
Sorry The Star's voter suggestions for the propositions in Tuesday's election turned out so badly!
-- Robert Reynolds, Thousand Oaks
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. In 1983, one year before NCMEC was created, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 to be National Missing Children's Day. Annually honored by each administration since, this day serves as a reminder to all parents, guardians, teachers and other role models to make child safety a priority.
In recognition of National Missing Children's Day, NCMEC created the Take 25 campaign, a preventive safety initiative first launched in 2007. Take 25 encourages parents to take 25 minutes to teach their children to be alert for potential threats and to provide simple preventative measures children can take to stay safe. A website for the campaign, www.Take25.org, lists 25 safety tips that may save a child's life.
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing to law enforcement each year. Of that number, 200,000 are abducted by family members, and 58,000 are abducted by nonfamily members, for which the primary motivation is sexual. Each year, approximately 115 children are the victims of the most serious abductions -- murdered, ransomed or taken with the intent to keep.
An analysis of attempted abduction cases by the NCMEC found that in 84 percent of the cases, children have escaped would-be abductors through their own actions. Thirty-five percent actively resisted by yelling, kicking, pulling away, running away or attracting attention, while 49 percent recognized the threat and reacted by walking or running away. Teaching children about safety works, and it's important that parents talk to their children.
The NCMEC is a nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1984. It has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 138,500 children. To learn more about NCMEC, visit www.missingkids.com.
-- Jim Botting, Moorpark
(The writer is a former FBI agent and a consultant for NCMEC. -- Editor)
Re: Richard Nick's May 13 letter, "Why didn't Capps vote?"
I want to thank Nick for pointing out the importance of the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act (HR1728) and assure him and The Star's other readers that I am on record as a strong supporter of it. I would have voted for the bill had I been in Washington, D.C., at the time of the vote on May 7. Unfortunately, due to the increased severity of the Jesusita fire on the evening of May 6, I was forced to suspend my work in Washington and return to Santa Barbara so I could better tend to the needs of my constituents as well as my family, who had been evacuated due to the fire.
HR1728 will curb the abusive practices in the mortgage industry so prevalent during the subprime lending boom and which led to the nation's highest foreclosure rate and worst economic crisis in decades. The bill also takes some long overdue steps to overhaul our financial regulations. It is another in a series of measures that the Democratic-led Congress and President Barack Obama have taken to enhance consumer protection, address the housing crisis and prevent future financial crises.
I hope the Senate will act quickly on the bill, and I look forward to voting for the final version of the bill when it is considered by the House.
-- U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., Santa Barbara
Much attention has been given to the "waterboarding" treatment of Islamic terrorists, especially by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has tried to distance herself from personal knowledge of this technique despite briefings from the CIA. The whole issue revolves around the use of "torture" in interrogation. Several definitions of torture state that torture is inflicting pain, physically or mentally.
Many of our combat soldiers and Marines have gone through tortuous experiences inflicted on mind and body in the course of their training and deployment. Ask any combat soldier or Marine if they have gone without food or water or suffered in 30-degree-below cold or 120-degree heat without any mitigation of their suffering.
Ask any soldier or Marine who has gone through the psychological testing in which some troops go mad during the process.
Combat soldiers and Marines suffer extreme "sleep deprivation" under threat of court martial or worse -- death at the hands of the enemy.
I suppose that few people have heard of the infamous "jark marches" inflicted on soldiers for minor infractions. Has anyone heard of the "prisoner training" experiences so common during the Vietnam era? Talk about torture!
But all that pales compared to the lifetime of suffering and pain our severely wounded service people experience until they die or become totally forgotten by a fickle and ungrateful society.
The politicians making an issue over interrogation are merely trying to enhance their shoddy careers. They ignore the suffering of our combat soldiers and Marines. If politicians vote for war, approve the actions of the CIA, and then hypocritically try to make political points with an anti- and un-American constituency, they betray the loyal service of American service men and women.
I guess Pelosi is more worried about the comfort of terrorists than the pain and suffering of our noble and patriotic American soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and women.
-- Dave Pressey, Ojai
Re: Ken Williams' May 15 letter, "Straying too far":
Williams needs to reread the Book of Esther.
Esther did not refuse to enter a beauty contest or parade before a "pack of drooling party-goers." It was actually Queen Vashti, King Ahasuerus' first queen, who refused to come before the king and his fellow drunken revelers while wearing her crown -- and, the assumption is, nothing else. Her defiance got her banished so that she would not "set a bad example for other wives."
When the king sobered up, he realized that he missed his beautiful queen. On the advice of the evil Haman, he decided to replace her by gathering up all the most beautiful young virgins in the kingdom and holding a "contest," the winner to be crowned the new queen. For one year the girls received beauty treatments and then, one by one, went to spend the night with the king. (We all know what that means.)
Esther (actually, her name was Hadassah, but her Uncle Mordechai told her to hide her true identity), who was polite and kind, and well-liked by all -- as well as gorgeous, we can assume -- was chosen, and the rest of the girls were sent off to the harem. We never know how Esther felt about all this, but instead of allowing herself to be degraded, she behaved with great dignity and valor, and through her actions she saved the entire Jewish people.
I would never have imagined myself as a defender of Carrie Prejean. As a feminist I find the Miss USA pageant a bit creepy, and I do not agree with her views on gay marriage. I do believe, however, that women who wish to enter these pageants have a right to do so, and that if someone is asked her honest opinion about an issue she has a right to give it.
When I read the minister's letter, I was shocked that he wrote that she was an affront to "Christian ladies" and that she conducted herself in a "whorish manner." These comments were rather cruel and undeserved. The pageant may be a bit tacky and some of the photos she allowed to be taken ill-advised, but "whorish?" Come on.
I say, let Prejean enjoy her reign as Miss California. If you don't like her, ignore her. Please, no more name-calling.
-- Lucy Walker Grace, Ojai
Re: Ann Telling's May 15 letter, "Needed for protection":
This is the National Rife Association's fantasy line, and people have just swallowed it up. You hardly ever read about someone being able to protect themselves with a gun. But every day you read about people dying from guns owned by citizens.
The reason it is a fairy tale to think guns actually protect you is that you don't have enough time to get your gun when you need it. The rapist standing over your bed is not going to give you a minute to get your gun from its safe location, get your bullets from your separate location, load your gun, come back to bed, and then hold it so that you can shoot him before he attacks you. Same thing if you walk in on a burglar in your house. Same thing about a street assailant. Even if you have your gun in your purse, loaded and ready to go, if someone takes you by surprise, you won't have time to overcome your shock, put your brain in gear, open your purse, reach in and get your gun.
So that gun is more for your feeling of protection than your actual protection, but gun owners are so brainwashed by the NRA that they would never admit that. And instead of protecting you, that gun is hundreds of times more likely to cause a tragedy, whether it be accidental or because some angry, despairing or deranged person in your family knows where your gun is and takes it and uses it.
I saw a bumper sticker that said something like, "I won't give up my gun until you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." Actually, it is much more likely that those cold, dead fingers will belong to a child who came across your gun. As for you, that intruder in your bedroom will get you long before you have time to put your gun in your own "cold, dead fingers."
-- Alison Carlson, Ventura
Re: your May 16 article, "Missing boy found asleep in family car":
How heart-warming to learn of this little boy's safety. In addition to this good news, I think the reverse 911 system and our neighborhood response needs to be acknowledged.
Our home phone and our cell phone rang simultaneously with the alert and description from the Ventura Police Department of a missing child. While a helicopter could be heard overhead, our neighborhood came alive with concerned people out searching. Soon after, as we became aware that we no longer heard the helicopter, the phones rang again with the good news from the Police Department that the little boy was safe!
Our Police Department responds with compassion, the reverse 911 system works and we live in a caring neighborhood.
-- Pickens Halt, Ventura
As a Christian in the truest sense of the word, it's my contention if we were still "one nation under God," there wouldn't be any need for torture. Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Isaiah 35:4.
-- Sandra Ehlers, Ventura
Re: Bill O'Reilly's May 16 commentary, "Unchained Cheney attacks Obama administration":
If there ever was a stopped clock in Washington it was former Vice President Dick Cheney. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and some of the elements of his argument in favor of torture are probably more correct than not.
As long as there are radical militants bent on the destruction of democracy, there will be plots to carry out those goals. It is imperative that our intelligence gatherers, should they discover such a plot, have all of the tools available to lay bare that plan's details without fear of prosecution.
Nobody likes to admit it, but prior to the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding, our methods included beatings and pulling out fingernails and drilling teeth without Novocain.
Are these newer techniques effective? I don't know, but I do know that they do no permanent physical harm to the subject and probably no long-term harm of any kind.
And if you think the bad guys aren't doing the same thing to our people, Cheney needs your help looking for those weapons of mass destruction.
-- Robert W. Merrilees, Camarillo
Re: Ann Telling's May 15 letter, "Needed for protection":
I find it interesting that anyone could view a gun as being designed, manufactured and bought and sold for any purpose other than killing. You can euphemistically claim that a gun is for "protection," but in the end, when a gun is used successfully for the purpose for which it was designed, someone or something winds up dead.
Telling's copy of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution may read differently than mine, but mine does not mention anything about citizens protecting themselves against thieves, thugs and a government that has run amok. My copy simply says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
To me this means that people who keep and bear arms are expected to be in a militia, a militia being defined by Webster as being "a body of citizens enrolled for military service, called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies." The National Guard fits this definition. How many gun owners are members of the National Guard?
The second point is that the Second Amendment talks about the security of a free state, not the individual citizens of that state, which would seem to negate the argument that the Second Amendment is to allow the citizens of the state to protect themselves. It in fact seems contradictory to me to say that the Second Amendment is to allow for citizens to protect themselves from a government that has run amok, when in fact the amendment talks about the security of that state.
I am not going into all the fallacies of the statement that when Australia instituted gun control, the crime rate skyrocketed overnight. One can go to snopes.com for the details. Suffice to say that Australia has never had the liberal gun ownership laws that the U.S. does and that they always had stricter gun control than we do.
I'm not sure what Sen. Ted Kennedy's car has to do with gun ownership. In my lifetime I have known people to be accidentally killed in many different ways and no one was punished for it. How is that an argument in favor of gun ownership?
-- Paul Kistler, Camarillo
My sister and I were volunteers at the California Strawberry Festival. We were assigned as greeters in the Purple Gate area. We enjoyed every minute of it, along with the students who were working with us on the 9:30 a.m. schedule.
We would like to commend the student volunteers from the local schools. They were the most hard-working, helpful, polite and kind kids we have encountered, from the greeters to the ticket-takers to those in the berry tart toss booth and the clean-up crew. They were proud of the duties they were assigned, smiling and not complaining. The Oxnard High School band performed with enthusiasm and lots of pride. These are our future leaders.
Oxnard is a nice community, and I wish others could see what I observed at the Strawberry Festival.
-- Priscilla Johnsen, Oxnard
Re: your May 18 editorial, "Obama off to a good start; costs trimmed on healthcare":
Why does The Star think the insurance companies need to be involved in healthcare reform? Why is it a bad thing if a government-sponsored health insurance plan is cheaper and drives them out of business?
Insurance companies and the big healthcare providers are corporations. By law, a corporation is obligated to increase profits for its shareholders. They take about 30 percent off the top for overhead and profit. The more care they can deny without getting sued, the more profit for them.
That is why our medical costs per person are about twice that of any other country. The other Western industrialized nations all have better health outcomes than we do.
The reforms they offered to President Barack Obama are minor window dressing and will not solve the problem. I am very disappointed that he is buying their line of baloney.
We can fix the system now or we can wait until it totally collapses and we are forced to fix it. It is estimated that 18,000 to 20,000 Americans die each year because they cannot afford the medical care and tests they need. That number will go up every year until we fix the problem.
-- Alex Magdaleno, Camarillo
We have a problem in our neighborhood in Moorpark with sewage coming up through cracks in the street and through the manhole. It smells so bad, and everyone in our household is getting flu-like symptoms. We can't even open our windows in the evening because it smells so bad.
We have contacted the City of Moorpark, the Fire Department and the County of Ventura. When they came to look at it, they all said it's not their department or they don't know what to do. This has been going on for a month, at least.
I don't know what to do at this point. Maybe if more people are aware of this problem someone would do something. I feel that if this were a "nicer" area of Moorpark, this would be taken care of.
-- Shannon Louise Burns, Moorpark
Re: Joe Hernandez Jr.'s May 13 letter, "Contestant wronged":
Hernandez lamented that certain people "can't respect the rights of those who openly disagree with them." Ironically, Hernandez demonstrated that he is certain people. After all, he and other Proposition 8 supporters not only disrespected the rights of same-sex couples, they literally took them away for no good reason.
But Hernandez went further, stating that "no one should have to go through the vilification that [Miss California is] being dragged through." I'll have to assume that he also objects to the vilification that every same-sex couple had to endure at the hands of the Yes on 8 campaign, which asserted (but could never demonstrate) that same-sex marriage was so bad that students had to be protected from the mere mention of it.
It's not clear whether Miss California, Carrie Prejean, would actually join Hernandez in voting to deny rights to same-sex couples.
Perhaps she wants to emulate Anita Bryant, who deserves to be vilified for pursuing her anti-gay vendetta despite conclusive proof that her fears are completely baseless. If Prejean takes that path -- saying, "No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised" -- it does not excuse her.
But maybe Prejean would choose to emulate Susan B. Anthony instead. Anthony faced a society that was raised to consider women unworthy of the vote, and she bravely pointed out that society was wrong. The Suffragists were right, and they eventually prevailed against the increasingly desperate and baseless attacks of the opposition. The marriage equality movement is following an honorable model. Perhaps Prejean would like to be one, too.
-- Chris Habecker, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bill O'Reilly's May 16 commentary, "Unchained Cheney attacks Obama administration":
May I remind O'Reilly and all the "bleeding heart" conservatives who take his every word as absolute gospel that we've not had a terrorist attack on U.S. soil since President Barack Obama's inauguration, despite the right-wing "fringies" saying our country would be attacked immediately upon his election.
Additionally, while O'Reilly's beloved former Vice President Dick Cheney crows about the country not having been attacked since 9/11, what he conveniently fails to mention is that 9/11 occurred on his and George W. Bush's watch. And there's an excellent chance it would not have happened at all had he and the Bush administration not been so quick to ignore the outgoing Bill Clinton administration's general warning about the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida, and the very specific CIA warning that bin Laden was planning an imminent major attack on U.S. soil.
He also fails to mention that Cheney and O'Reilly's beloved "W" would probably not have been given a second term had they not successfully used 9/11 as the ultimate scare tactic, planting the incredible notion that they were the only ones capable of preventing another attack, given the Democrats' weakness in dealing with terror, a charge that was the "irresponsible" for which the word was invented.
As for the "possibility" of the left accusing Cheney of inventing and spreading swine flu, how does O'Reilly justify the fact that his right recently tried to "plant the seed" that Obama actually took the swine flu virus with him to Mexico to infect the country in an attempt to distract the world from the chaos his administration has caused in the United States?
If Cheney truly is "winning," as O'Reilly asserts, the rest of us are truly "losing," because this is a truly sad commentary on the intelligence level of the country.
-- Bob Jackson, Simi Valley
Re: Bill O'Reilly's May 16 commentary, "Unchained Cheney attacks Obama administration":
I agree with O'Reilly's column, but I wouldn't say that former Vice President Dick Cheney is attacking the Barack Obama administration so much as he is trying to set the record straight and to shift the debate to the real issues.
The Democrat Party, in their typical modus operendi, distort and misrepresent the issues and then rely on the mainstream media to unabashedly stream the absurdity to the American public. Such is the case with the Enhanced Interrogation Program. Just as with the unfortunate pranks -- not torture -- that took place at Abu Ghraib, the left has manipulated the public into believing that these interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, qualify as torture.
By releasing the classified interrogation memos, Obama was attempting to fan the flames of public discontent over the issue of torture. But Cheney threw a monkey wrench into the whole farce by requesting that the rest of the classified memos that detail the successes of the EIP be released as well. The last thing that the left wants is for the American public to know that President George W. Bush's anti-terror program kept us safe and worked quite well.
What is further damaging to the Democrat Party is that we are now learning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many others in Congress knew all along about the EIP, including the use of waterboarding, which now reveals what hypocrites these self-serving Democrat politicians are.
As for the term "torture," I think that reasonable people can distinguish the difference between a truly evil act of retribution designed to inflict pain and admittedly harsh but carefully controlled techniques designed to extract life- saving intelligence from three reprehensible individuals if given all the facts.
-- Michael Pringer, Thousand Oaks
With the privilege of free speech comes responsibility. Yes, free speech allows anyone to do and say whatever they want. But when you break the law or physically harm another being, you can no longer hide behind free speech.
The Supreme Court ruling that making and selling "snuff films" -- films in which women wear high heels, then stomp small animals to death -- is protected by free speech, makes me wonder: Where do they draw line? If I were to kick and stomp a dog to death and videotape it, would I be able to claim free speech? In every state, there are laws that say beating an animal to death is a crime. So why then, when someone makes a video of animals being beaten to death and profits from it, do we call it a "fetish" or a "sexual fantasy?" Call it what it is: animal abuse!
Right now, someone is reading this, a newspaper, a form of free speech. Some people might not agree or might even be offended. But I am not causing any physical harm, nor am I breaking any laws. That to me is the difference between exercising free speech and hiding behind it.
-- Karina Carson, Moorpark
Re: your May 12 article, "Simi to limit water usage":
The Simi Valley City Council is headed in the wrong direction with regard to water conservation.
First and foremost, the Planning Commission and the City Council are to blame because they continued to allow development knowing full well that rainfall was below normal for eight of the last 11 years. There is no point in allowing more housing to be built if there is not enough water for the current residents.
The new restrictions will require a bureaucracy for strict enforcement. Otherwise, the restrictions will turn neighbor against neighbor, much like barking dog enforcement. If the city cannot enact an enforceable barking dog ordinance, how can they expect to enact enforceable water restrictions? Who is going to make sure that lawns are not being watered between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.? Who is going to time the watering at 15 minutes per day? What constitutes "excessive runoff?" Who is going to cite residents if they are washing down sidewalks and driveways? These restrictions are virtually unenforceable. When law-abiding citizens see others get away with breaking the rules, they, too, will break the rules.
The one and only way to control usage of water, or any other limited resource, for that matter, is through rates. Add a tier or two to the current rate structure. When water is expensive, people will reduce their usage. People will regulate themselves, and enforcement will not depend on "ratting out" your neighbor. Consumption of gasoline dropped as the price rose to more than $4 per gallon.
I ask the City Council to reconsider their method of controlling water consumption. At the very least, the City Council members should report, on a monthly basis, their own household water usage.
-- Jerre Reimers, Simi Valley
I am a graduate of Purdue University (class of 1964), as was my grandfather (class of 1904) and my dad (class of 1934) -- and, I should also add, my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. As loyal Boilermakers, we have no love for Notre Dame.
However, one would have to be blind not to notice the respect and wonderful behavior of the Notre Dame students at their commencement. They proved that one can disagree without being disagreeable.
I commend the leaders of this great university for taking a stand against even the bishops and cardinals to stand by their invitation to have the president speak.
President Barack Obama also showed his wonderful gift of public speaking and handling hecklers. When a heckler started to scream and the grads all stood up and shouted, "Yes we can," even though they might have disagreed with our president -- well, I was in awe and, yes, tears.
Congratulations to all the Notre Dame graduates, and may the events of this day bring us more wonderful leaders for this nation. With young folks like them, our country will be in good hands.
Congratulations to Notre Dame!
-- David LaTourette, Simi Valley
A sad day: Our Lady, Notre Dame, weeps for her son, once again betrayed by one of his own. Be sad. Be very sad:
-- To see the smug, dumb expression on "The Rev." John Jenkins' face as pride goes before the fall.
-- To hear President Barack Obama use his oh so powerful weapon -- words -- to anesthetize the public so they would be so lulled that his actions would go unnoticed.
-- To see clearly that for those who do not agree with him, words are enough. But for those who agree, action -- swift, sure and deadly.
-- To hear Obama call for both sides to stop dehumanizing each other, when abortion and embryonic stem cell research are the quintessential dehumanization of human life.
-- To hear Obama call for open minds and hearts -- but to what? The truth must be our only goal, and that is clearly that human life begins at conception.
But be happy. There were at least a faithful remnant -- graduates who know the meaning of integrity and had their own ceremony in support of the principles for which Notre Dame truly stands. To them I give my congratulations and wish them well, and I salute them as true sons and daughter of Our Lady, Notre Dame.
-- Dorothy Hage, Newbury Park
Re: Audra and Tony Strickland's May 14 commentary, "State can't afford Proposition 1A":
At last I am able to agree with my two Republican representatives in the California Legislature. My agreement, however, is only with their admonition to vote no on Proposition 1A.
I voted no on all propositions on the May 19 ballot, but not because of tax increases "which will harm all Californians" or that "California's government has grown too large for taxpayers to afford" or that tax increases "push valuable jobs and resources out of our great state" -- all specious arguments. I voted no because I do not support governing by ballot initiatives. Even this special election is costing millions that could be spent bringing down the deficit.
The Stricklands must work with our elected representatives in the Assembly and Senate and pass a law calling for a simple majority instead of a two-thirds majority of both houses before a budget can be passed in California.
-- Marjorie E. Grate, Camarillo
I would like to thank Cliff Rodrigues for pointing out the value of the First 5 program. I am not an employee or volunteer of First 5, and I want to add my voice to Cliff's in praising their work so readers don't think Cliff is just biased by his position.
I work with infants to 3-year-olds with developmental delays, and First 5's Pleasant Valley Neighborhood for Learning and their collaboration with Ventura County Public Health's Children First screening program has been instrumental in identifying children who need intervention and referring them to the services they need.
PV NFL also provides free and excellent parent and child preschool groups that help children love to learn and prepare for school. Because of the screening program, children are identified early for intervention when intervention will make the most difference. This prevents learning disabilities later that are much more costly to educate during the school years and cost society when adults are not prepared to work and support themselves because of a disability.
Vote no on Proposition 1D.
-- Lisa G. Fox, Ventura
I thank The Star for running all the commentary regarding the upcoming special elections. I hope that everybody studies the issues and votes.
The ads that I have been hearing on the radio regarding the election always make the point that firefighters and teachers will get cut. My question is: Why it is always those two groups that are mentioned in conjunction with budget issues? How come it is never parks and recreation or street sweeping or some other department? Do the teachers and firefighters make up most of the budget? Or is it a scare tactic to promote increasing taxes?
I would like to see The Star or other responsible newspaper do an analysis on the situation so the readers can see where the money is coming from and going to.
Another analysis I would like to see is who is spending the money on the advertisements.
-- Ralph J. Coolman, Ventura
Re: your May 13 article, "Soldier won't face time in jail for $1 theft":
This article was both sad and pathetic, but it is probably the tip of the iceberg in the "justice system."
As The Star pointed out in another front page article a few months ago, thousands of county residents are called for "jury duty" every day. Citizens sit around doing nothing for eight hours while awaiting the outcome of the "legal process" in which 98 percent of the cases are settled out of court.
Sure, property theft is a crime. But didn't the soldier put the bottle of water back on the shelf unopened? Does that action justify half a year in jail and a $1,000 fine? What would be so difficult about sending the soldier to a mandatory eight-hour ethics training class, similar to the "traffic court classes" that are offered to motorists?
Politicians and celebrities -- movie stars, music and rap stars and professional athletes -- commit more serious crimes all the time. They get slapped on the hand by the justice system for driving under the influence, using drugs like cocaine, punching reporters, head-butting fans and seducing 13-year old girls. Pity the poor lawbreaker who isn't a celebrity.
Celebrity waivers even apply here in the county. I remember a story in The Star some years ago about a man who walked off with an expensive set of knives from some local department store. He claimed he "forgot to pay," so they forgave him and dropped the case. He was a dentist and also a mayor of Oxnard.
California is dead broke. Nobody wants to buy our state bonds. Our educational system is bankrupt. Ventura County has an "official" unemployment rate of about 10 percent and probably a true rate of 20 percent. The remaining taxpayers can't afford to support prosecution of millions of minor cases. Why waste money on these petty cases?
We also don't need another Eliot Ness or another Mike Nifong (the ex-prosecutor from North Carolina who pursued the Duke University lacrosse team).
-- Tom Novinson, Ventura
And the nominee whom Republicans will reject for the Supreme Court is ....
With Supreme Court Justice David Souter's decision to retire in June, Republican conservatives have already lined up to oppose President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee even before one is named.
What a disingenuous position to take to intimate that any prospective candidate Obama might choose would not be acceptable to the Republican Party. This is just more bitter obstructionism by conservative politicians who have refused to accept the fact that their political ideology has proved to be inane in concept and a total failure in its inception.
The objection by the "Party of No" appears here to be another vestige of a political bloc desperately seeking relevance in the face of massive repudiation.
Souter's 1990 appointment was championed by President George H.W. Bush's 1990 choice, based upon the recommendation of Bush's chief of staff, John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire. To the consternation of Bush and Republicans, Souter's decisions aligned more closely with the court's liberal wing, as Souter generally voted with John Paul Stevens, appointed in 1975 by President Gerald Ford, and the two President Clinton appointees, Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 1993 and Steven Breyer in 1994. This bloc of four more liberal members of the court was usually in the minority throughout Souter's 20-year tenure.
Obama is facing a monumental challenge now for his appointee who will certainly be an intelligent jurist from whatever background and from either gender. Matter of fact, the louder the Republican uproar, the more I will applaud his choice, whomever it might be.
-- Charles Williams, Oxnard
One of the most irritating special interests in our current national economic crisis is the group of financial institutions originally described by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as "too large to fail." AIG is typical of the species.
California's own financial crisis has underscored all elements of top political decision-making for criticism but has failed to focus on its least understood interest group -- those deemed "too powerful to be taxed." This is not surprising because the governor and the state party leaders in the state Legislature are the ones who made this group tax-exempt and did so largely privately. But despite this, there is nothing secret about the group.
Ask yourself a simple and direct question: Why would certain business groups make large contributions in support of Propositions 1A through 1E that, in most instances, raise taxes? Because their taxes were not raised.
For example, Big Oil spent more than $100 million to defeat an oil severance tax on the 2006 ballot. Now in 2009, the same industry has contributed a million dollars to pass the new ballot taxes from which they are unobtrusively exempt. Big Oil is not the only donor -- Gallo, for example, gave $100,000 as part of the wine industry response -- but is to date the largest contributor.
Most business donors declined to comment as to why they contributed. Chevron contributed $500,000 for, in part, "building a stronger future for all citizens." That's very "generous," especially since these citizens are the ones whose taxes will be increased.
-- John Schmidhauser, Carpinteria
Re: your May 14 article, "Dog ordinances all bark, no bite, Simi residents say":
Yes, barking dogs can be a real nuisance. And, yes, the authorities have been of no help when we called them about it. What did work for us is this: When the dog is yapping up a storm, dial the owner's phone number and just hold the phone where it will clearly pick up the barking. Say nothing. Let the dog do all the talking for a couple of minutes. This works best when the owner is sleeping or away and the answering machine records the call. It worked for us.
-- Jim Kaness, Ventura
Re: Terry Paulson's May 11 essay, "Questions but no answers":
Paulson asks, "Could it be that the drop of popularity in newspapers and media coverage comes from a loss in their balanced reporting?"
I'd like to posit an alternative question: "Could it be that the drop of popularity in the Republican Party comes from the dramatic increase in negative, ugly, hypocritical, deceitful, distorted, whiny, right-wing talk radio and TV?"
Anyone listening to AM talk radio or watching "fair and balanced" Fox "news" is continuously bombarded by really mean, ugly, whiny talk from such as Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and dozens of lesser "wannabes." What they share is their contribution to the Republican Party's slow death. The surge in their popularity directly parallels a dramatic decrease in Republican influence and acceptance.
The Republican Party seems unconcerned about or unaware of its alienation of black, Asian and Latino communities. Young voters overwhelmingly identify themselves as Democrats, leaving the noninclusive Republican Party to be seen as the party of old, white, conservative, male anachronisms.
The ugliness of daylong incessant right-wing radio blather has to be having an effect on how we see ourselves as a people. We can be critical, challenging, confrontational and demanding of political leaders while retaining core values of civility, fairness and honesty. Right-wing talk has, over time, lessened our moral standing, brought ridicule to the Republican Party and achieved a goal the opposite of that intended by the participants. Their ugliness may boost support of a narrow-minded few on the extreme right, but it certainly doesn't bring diversity to the Republican Party, doesn't attract young voters, and increasingly turns moderates away.
Most Americans are fair-minded centrists. Right-wing talk alienates them at the risk of seeing the Republican Party slip even further into irrelevence. Some would applaud that. Not I, believing that a strong two-party political system serves democracy best.
We're in danger of losing that necessary check and balance system, and right-wing talk radio is speeding that loss. The party of "No" is fast becoming the party of "No One Cares."
-- Richard Landis, Thousand Oaks
Re: your May 13 front page:
This front page clearly shows the problem our country is facing, followed by where to look for the cause.
The problem: "Recession is exhausting Social Security, Medicare." Right below that article is the headline, "County nonprofit agency tasked with fighting poverty has more funds than ever to serve clients, create jobs."
The county nonprofit has more funds than ever because of federal stimulus money. Our governments in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento are throwing our tax money around like we have never seen. They have forgotten that they work for "we the people."
It is time for "we the people" to fire the scoundrels. It is time for our states to take back the power that our Constitution guarantees them. It is time for us to grow from just being citizens to becoming patriots, preserving freedom for our children instead of a mountain of debt.
-- Avery Willis, Thousand Oaks
Re: Your May 13 article, "Soldier won't face time in jail for $1 theft":
Here's another prime example of a waste of money. How much did it cost us hard-working taxpayers to investigate this $1 theft?
-- Connie Gajefski, Ventura
Re: your May 10 editorial, "Where are all the doctors?"
I was dismayed to read this editorial. The Star talked about the shortage of primary physicians but made no mention of nurse practitioners and their place in primary care.
Research has demonstrated that nurse practitioners provide as quality of care as physicians do for the patients they care for. Nurse practitioners have been providing safe high quality for decades.
Data provided by the National Practitioner Data Bank and the Health Care Integrity and Protection Data Bank have demonstrated that nurse practitioners have malpractice, adverse actions, licensure actions and other negative actions findings, and/or adjudicated actions, civil judgment and criminal conviction reports submitted with less frequency than do doctors of osteopathy and medical doctors. Nationally, the rate for above-mentioned adverse events, according to the NPDB, was 1 in 173 for nurse practitioners, while it is 1 in 4 for DOs and MDs. The HIPDB found the incidence was 1 in 226 for nurse practitioners and 1 in 13 for DOs and 23 for MDs.
In California, standardized procedures must be developed collaboratively by nursing, medicine and administration in the organized healthcare system where they will be utilized. Once a standardized procedure has been signed off by the physician, nurse and facility (if applicable) the practice is considered independent. Nurse practitioners can't function independently unless it is approved by doctors.
Nurse practitioners as members of the nursing profession are among the most trusted healthcare practitioners because they have earned the patient's trust. Nurse practitioners can help our nation improve its healthcare outcomes and lower its healthcare costs.
-- Linda Loiselle, MSN, RN, FNP, Camarillo
Have you ever heard anybody say that health insurance and healthcare are affordable in America? Me neither.
Our healthcare system is broken, has been so for a long time and is bankrupting our country.
We have tried the free-market approach, but greed, waste and the absence of wellness and preventive care have made it an expensive and abysmal failure. Since 2000, health insurance premiums have almost doubled, and health care premiums have grown three times faster than wages.
It is not time for more of the same. It is time for change. It is time to provide an affordable public option for healthcare.
Insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and providers, all big-money and big-lobbying players, just met with the president and offered to try to cut the 6 percent annual inflation of healthcare costs by 1.5 percent per year. Such a deal. This offer is business as usual -- more of the same.
Join Health Care for America Now to make certain that everyone in this country has accessible, quality healthcare they can afford, and to guarantee coverage and real choice, keep your private insurance plan or join a new public health insurance plan so you are no longer at the mercy of the private insurance industry.
Contact Health Care for America Now, 1825 K Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20006. Contact them at (202) 454-6200, firstname.lastname@example.org or http://healthcareforamericanow.org/
Stand up this year. Stand up now for your family's health and for our country.
-- Kristofer Young, DC, Ventura
Re: Leo Bowman's May 7 letter, "Not a game":
Bowman ranted against State Sen. Tony Strickland for playing basketball and let President Barack Obama off the hook for doing the same thing as well as many other time-wasting activities instead of running the country.
What would Obama do without his daily face time, absorbing the adulation of the press and other misguided souls who mistakenly think that what he's doing and not doing is good for America?
Republicans are not God's party? Do you think God would sign on to the party of unlimited abortion (read: murder), same-sex marriage, pornography and other base activities? I think not.
Republicans have no compassion? Compassion is not handing out freebies to every extended hand. Compassion is creating the atmosphere and opportunities whereby people are enabled to help themselves. I don't think people really want to be dependent on government for every little thing. Just which party is taxing everything in sight, rich and poor alike? Can you say, "Democrats?"
Republicans are not dividing everyone up according to nationality, color, gender, etc., under the guise of "diversity."
And, finally, Newt Gingrich did not "line up" House Republicans on the Capitol steps to make them promise to vote his way. The Contract with America was enthusiastically signed onto and embraced by them all. And, if you'll remember, it was one of the most successful endeavors ever. Do it again, Newt! We could sure use his wisdom now.
-- Marjorie Olson, Ventura
Re: your May 13 article, "Trump won't dethrone Miss California":
This comment is in reaction to the recent dustup over the Miss USA pageant. I am making these observations in defense of the Christian faith.
Donald Trump is a great promoter. All this publicity is great for him and his pageant. But what was he thinking when he chose the rabid sodomite Perez Hilton to participate as a judge in a female beauty contest? (I use the biblical term sodomite purposefully because the word carries the notion of sexual perversity, and there is no doubt that Hilton fits the bill.)
I believe what happened was that Hilton knew from Carrie Prejean's resume that she had been a student at a Christian college. He used that knowledge in asking her the question about same-sex marriage believing he could defame her. And he almost succeeded.
To refer to Prejean as a Christian lady is an affront to all true Christian ladies. A woman parading around almost nude as eye candy for millions of men is a shameful thing. I cannot imagine any true woman of God conducting herself in such a whorish manner. Would Sarah, Abraham's wife, have conducted herself in such a manner? Of course not!
Queen Esther, of the book that carries her name, refused to enter the king's beauty contest because she was a modest lady. She was not one to expose herself for the delight of a pack of drooling party-goers.
It breaks my heart to see how far from biblical truth and morality this country of ours has drifted. Too many of our mothers dress and act like strip club floozies. They encourage their sons and daughters to emulate the morally bankrupt Hollywood crowd. But here we are, assuredly at the brink of self-destruction.
-- Kent Williams, pastor, Wells Road Baptist Church, Ventura
Re: your ongoing coverage of homelessness in Ventura County:
The Star's coverage on the subject has been extensive and thorough. We as working, healthy, capable people are obligated to help those who need the extra help.
-- Michael Akseven, Port Hueneme
Re: Steve Bennett's May 3 commentary, "Keep children our highest priority -- vote no on 1D," and Ed and Susan Lacey's April 22 letter, "Stop Sacramento's pirates":
As voters, we have been asked to support the Legislature to rescue California's budget by approving the many propositions that are on the May 19 state ballot. I am writing because I want to join Susan and Ed Lacey and Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett and urge a no vote on Proposition 1D. This proposition states that it will protect children's funding by redirecting millions back to the state to balance the state budget.
In essence a "yes" vote would divert to the state monies that support the 0- to 5-year-olds who are served by the California First 5 programs. These diverted monies would provide the state with the flexibility "to protect children's programs" and "to protect health and human service programs for children."
This is faulty logic because the First 5 programs currently provide these very services that Proposition 1D claims that it would serve. The First 5 programs have demonstrated fiscal responsibility and are successfully meeting the needs of young children and their families, and for this reason it does not make sense to dismantle these programs and start all over.
I am the current chair of the Ventura (Unified School District) Neighborhoods For Learning advisory committee funded by the Ventura County First 5. This program successfully and exemplarily serves 0- to 5-year-olds and their families at four sites in the city of Ventura. With a very tight budget and limited staff, the program in the city of Ventura provides child care services, health services, counseling, play and learn activities for children and parents and a transition-to-kindergarten program. These programs of school readiness serve us all: young people are better prepared and adjusted to school, which in turn guarantees that these young people will have a successful K-12 experience.
This program and the other First 5 programs in California have shown proven results that benefit children. Bennett wrote that we must not make the mistake of dismantling successful, cost-effective programs that save money in order to create new ones that do not guarantee the same results. I agree. There is no doubt that the state budget needs to be balanced, but not on the backs of the very youngest of our citizens!
Vote no on 1D.
-- Cliff Rodrigues, Ventura
Re: your May 12 article, "Simi to limit water usage":
I find it laughable that our City Council is planning to put in place water restrictions for residents and businesses. Do they think now is the time to "set the example?" I think they forgot we live in Southern California, roughly a desert.
Over the last two decades our community has been extensively and lavishly landscaped. New and revitalized shopping centers and businesses, new housing tracts and roads throughout Simi have been landscaped with tropical and non-native plants. Tropical and non-native plants require much more water than native and drought-tolerant plants. These newly landscaped areas have increased water usage by a tremendous amount.
I could not believe it when I saw perfectly acceptable decorative concrete median strips cut apart to add vegetation along the streets and freeway underpasses. All new businesses are required to add landscaping, approved to fit with the desired look our leaders have envisioned for Simi. The new housing developments are all extensively landscaped. Almost all these new housing tracts have homeowners associations that mandate green lawns every day of the year, without exception. Lawns are one of the most water-sapping plants in a landscape. Another golf course, anyone?
In addition to these plants helping to deplete our drinking water supply, they, along with all of the swimming pools and "water features," are adding to the evaporated water in the air, creating a more humid climate for our town -- note: bad for evaporative coolers.
So, I send a sarcastic "thanks a lot" to our city leaders.
More positively, the most important thing for us to do as a community is to take action to reduce and eliminate the need to use water with synthetic lawns, rock landscape, drought-tolerant plants, etc., and to find ways to utilize non-potable water sources for irrigation, such as groundwater and recycled wastewater.
-- Bob Blau, Simi Valley
As one of U.S. Rep. Lois Capps' constituents, I find it unacceptable for her not to vote on such a critical bill as mortgage reform, something that could in the future help prevent the out-of-control lending practices that most Americans feel got us into this economic mess to start with. Her not voting shows a total lack of caring and consideration of the many people in her district who were taken advantage of during the boom years. This could be perceived as her being beholden to some of the people involved in these underhanded schemes due to contributions to her re-election.
-- Richard Nick, Port Hueneme
Re: May 10 commentaries by Linda Parks and Steve Bennett, "Moratorium needed on open-space development" and by Don Facciano, "Taxpayers group opposes props":
Perhaps we should consider an extension of a moratorium if the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act were a brand new federal statute, but it is not. RLUIPA is a federal statute that has been around for almost 10 years. Our county supervisors are paid to do their homework, and folks should not be penalized with a moratorium because the Board of Supervisors would like to slow down the process -- in essence to drag their feet.
The comment about "over time, we think that argument does not make common sense," is nonsensical. In other words, the opposition argument makes sense now and yet not later. It must be nice to have a crystal ball.
Facciano's article puts forth a good read on the up-and-coming propositions. He is correct that the solution about the Legislature not spending beyond its means has not been addressed. What is the total annual cost for our elected officials? Why do we spend more money per prisoner versus per student in kindergarten through eighth grade?
If our legislators did nothing else, their main job is to come up with a balanced budget, and yet it seems to come as a surprise to them to do this in a timely manner.
We voters need to do better for our children and for ourselves.
-- Irene V. Henry, Ventura
I was really disappointed again last week. It seems we had one heck of a big event going on that affected our neighbors to the north in Santa Barbara and ourselves as far as concern for our friends' well-being goes.
I called my satellite provider for my television stations and asked what I could do to get local coverage and not something piped in by Los Angeles. I harbor no complaints against the stations in Los Angeles as they did some darn good coverage of the firestorms up north. However, once it seemed like old news, local programming returned to the airwaves.
I could follow some of the events in Santa Barbara on a radio station KTYD from Santa Barbara, which did excellent 24-hour coverage.
Alas, in trying to get local coverage on my television, I was told that the local station would have to be piped through a satellite from back east and channeled back to this area, as the local television stations controlled the local stations and they, the satellite company, could not provide that service without their approval and an outrageous charge.
Gee, I sure am glad to hear all of this. I can plan ahead in the event of an earthquake or some other local disaster to not be included in the local airwaves again, unless I change subscriber services to cable TV again. That also means buying in to numerous "tiers" of stuff I don't want in the first place, just to get my local coverage.
What a violation of freedom of the press -- unless you have the almighty dollar, which speaks for itself one more time.
Local politicians and emergency responders wonder why there is so much traffic in a disaster area. Maybe it's because we are concerned and can't get local coverage, so we hop in our gas guzzlers to go see for ourselves.
-- Kevin Sheahan, Oxnard
Re: Jack A. Freeman's May 12 commentary, "Open-space development moratorium a bad idea":
The general tone of Freeman's commentary, from my perspective, was very arrogant in nature. It states that developers should be allowed to develop where they please on a count of property rights. The letter did not mention once the rights of the creatures that live in open space, nor did it mention our obligation to pass open space down to our children. The Tierra Rejada greenbelt is an area that represents the soul of Ventura County. It provides numerous species an opportunity to continue to survive, migrate and breed.
We need to protect areas like this -- and that's the bottom line. If it means imposing building moratoriums, then that's what should be done.
-- Clint Matkovich, Thousand Oaks
Moorpark is a community I know and love, and I have seen many elected officials come and go, but David Pollock has impressed me as being an extraordinary leader.
Moorpark High School is known for its academics, but it also provides a substantial education in the arts. This is no small feat, given the extreme constraints on public school budgets. But David has always recognized that a complete education must include the arts. Having been in show business himself, he has always supported our musical show productions. Even when under pressure, David is the type of leader that never loses sight of what's important.
David also knows what's important to the Moorpark community, and I know he is the best person to fill the empty seat on the City Council. Please join me in voting for David Pollock for Moorpark City Council on May 19.
-- Ray Hebel, Moorpark
(The writer is a Moorpark High School faculty member. -- Editor)
The Thousand Oaks Planning Commission has denied T-Mobile's application to place a high-powered cell site on Christ the King church and preschool, located in the middle of a Newbury Park neighborhood.
The site is to be roof-mounted on the church and include a 12-panel tower -- with four panels in each of three directions -- upwards of 15 feet tall, hidden in what they are referring to as a "steeple," which is actually a hideously large box with crosses on it.
T-Mobile is now appealing to the City Council and will be heard on May 19.
Parents of the preschoolers and neighbors of the church have been preparing for this day for nearly a year. We plan to fight and win again!
-- Trish Hedin, Newbury Park
Re: Terry Paulson's May 11 essay, "Questions but no answers":
In his rant against President Barack Obama's popular change agenda, Paulson cites the accomplishments of President Warding G. Harding as worthy of note. Warren G. Harding? Is this the best Paulson can do? Alas, the rumors about the GOP's demise must be true.
-- Irene Freeman, Thousand Oaks
Re: your May 12 article, "Slaying victim's family can sue foster home":
It is very sad what happened at E.O. Green School. But it is hard to imagine that the family of Larry King wants to make money by suing the foster home and some others also. His parents could not handle him, and now, to make money out of the case -- it is shameful! Kids at school are known for the teasings -- and they are very sensible too.
-- Beatrix M. Vasko, Newbury Park
(The writer is a retired teacher. -- Editor)
I believe the best, most productive people in public office are those who can listen to, work with and unify constituents with divergent viewpoints. In the years I have known David Pollock, he has shown that ability. Proof: Five former Moorpark mayors who often disagree on issues support David in his run for City Council.
Our town is blessed with good leadership, and David, who has served many years on the school board, will prove a worthy addition to the City Council.
-- Debra Ryono, Moorpark
Re: Sean Ragan's May 6 letter, "Blame Bill Clinton":
After a little more than three months, President Barack Obama has accepted responsibility for everything from this point, even though it took eight years for the Bush administration to squander Bill Clinton's surpluses, start two aimless wars, create the deepest recession in a lifetime and lower the ideals of American democracy. But somehow, nine months into the George Bush presidency, Ragan and other right-wing radicals looking for blame for the 9/11 attack still "Blame Clinton" for something that happened on their watch. I'm sure it is very difficult for them to understand what they caused, and I can understand their denial.
-- Jay Berger, Camarillo
Re: Sean Ragan's May 6 letter, "Blame Bill Clinton":
That Bill Clinton should have been impeached for betraying America to the World Trade Organization is arguable; to blame Clinton for George W. Bush's many failures is ludicrous.
Nine months after Bush took office -- OK, just 37 weeks -- America was attacked by al-Qaida. Bush had plenty of time to install his own security team, yet Ragan puts responsibility for this heinous crime "squarely on the shoulders of former President Bill Clinton's negligence."
Without addressing whether or not negligence has shoulders, let me point out that "everybody" knows the Bush administration was informed by both the FBI and CIA in the weeks before 9/11 that an al-Qaida operation was in the works and that this intelligence was ignored by the White House.
What "everybody" does not know is why and by whom the subsequent use of illegal torture techniques was instigated. The only way to know what really happened is for the accused to be given a fair chance to defend themselves in an impartial court of law, not a congressional hearing with its attendant posturing by both of our corrupt political parties. A trial is not a witch-hunt; witches, gods and tooth fairies do not exist, so there is no point in hunting for them.
A fundamental tenant of democracy is that no one, not even the president, is above the law. If we allow anyone, especially the president, to make his own laws, then we do not have a democracy -- we have a dictatorship.
Barry Goldwater, for whom I voted in 1964, once said, "Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." It is high time to heed this admonition, reinstate our Constitution and hold violators of our laws accountable.
-- Russell B. Sperry, Ventura
Ojai Unified School District Superintendent Tim Baird is leaving the Ojai Valley as a very wealthy millionaire. He made nearly $2 million in salary and benefits during his eight years here. Meanwhile, our district is broke, and some of our best teachers have received pink slips.
Baird got rich at the expense of our students. Baird was a typical outside technocrat who enabled administrators to receive six-figure salaries while our children got nothing. His political alliances with the rich and powerful here in the Ojai Valley allowed him to get away with anything. Gangs were allowed to flourish and resulted in the death of an American citizen. Baird disallowed public input and never engaged parents over his policies.
-- Jeff Ketelsen, Ojai
Credit, credit, credit, borrow, borrow, spend, spend.
Our two most active generations have used up their credit buying things they could not afford. As we worried through the Depression of the 1930s, a common slogan was, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." We didn't have what we couldn't afford because the merchant hung on to stuff until it was paid for.
Many folks have borrowed against all their savings, their children's future savings, and now President Barack Obama is mortgaging that of their grandchildren. We cannot borrow ourselves out of poverty. He is leading us to "share our poverty."
As a people, we simply must learn the discipline that got our parents through.
Speaking of unintended consequences, the invention of the credit card got us where we are now.
-- Hal Wilder, Camarillo
Re: Ralph Burquist's May 8 letter, "Don't stop peaker plant":
Again, another out-of-towner trying to shove the peaker plant down our throats.
We have the right to say no because we live right here -- 200,000 of us, where they're trying to put it. Why don't they put it in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks or Moorpark? Maybe we can put a gigantic set of wheels on it so they can shift it between their cities.
By the way, we don't need to drive to Simi Valley to see how hot and desperate Burquist is for the peaker plant. Simply stick it out there somewhere! Now Burquist can come to our beautiful beaches and enjoy the day. He can try to ignore the two other monster plants we already have -- plants for his electricity.
-- Arthur L. Padilla, Oxnard
Re: Bonnie Erbe's April 30 essay, "What's all the fuss about?"
Erbe is willing to give President Barack Obama more time before evaluating his performance. She is willing to wait until his $3 trillion-plus economic venture is exhausted before judging his action.
A fifth-grader would completely understand that riding his skateboard over a cliff would have consequences. A fifth-grader would clearly know -- even at his tender age -- that suicide is not an option. A true leader would take his binoculars out of the case and realize the road to "nowhere" is rapidly approaching.
A review of Economics 101 is in order. No hard-working American wants to see excessive taxation for generations to come. The government has failed to protect the basic interests of all of the American people.
Yes, we need change, and we need it now.
Send a message to Congress and the president by voting out every elected official -- no matter their persuasion or likeability. New blood and accelerated reforms are very much past due. Tea parties and the ballot box let our so-called representatives know who is in charge. Resist the shackles of debt and the loss of individual liberties for your children and grandchildren by forwarding this message.
-- Sal Terrusa, Camarillo
Almost every day when I read the daily newspapers, I read about more people getting killed by guns! It's getting more and more frightening to even read the newspapers!
I hear that a number of people are going to gun shows and rushing out to buy guns. Rumor has it that President Barack Obama might put a stop to the easy access and availability of gun ownership. It certainly should be very obvious that the more availability of guns, the more likely that killing will go on and on.
It may be my opinion only, but, to me, it appears that the National Rifle Association has Congress in the palm of its hand. It must be nice to have the NRA, an organization that is powerful enough to help get you re-elected to Congress. And the more congressional people that the NRA helps, the greater their power. Thus it becomes more and more difficult to change current availability and ownership of guns.
Our new president's election campaign was about "change." I hope he has a change in mind for the easy accessibility of guns.
-- Jack D. Prosen, Camarillo
Re: your May 9 article, "Port Hueneme water rate hike disputed at event":
The Star reported that both City Manager Dave Norman and consultant Alex Handlers said that the city "subsidized" the water agency. That is false. Twice the city loaned money to the water agency with the expectation that the loans would be repaid. A loan is not a subsidy.
The first loan in the early 1990s was to help build the water treatment plant to deliver high-quality water to the residents. The second loan was to finance water meters so the water billing system reflects actual usage instead of one size fits all. They were in-house loans from one city agency to another.
Both of these loans were prudent fiscal policy decisions unanimously supported by past and present council members, city managers and city finance directors. The more costly alternative would have been to go outside for interest-bearing loans from the financial markets. Why would the city borrow outside money and pay interest to outsiders when it has money available that will repaid from water rates? Outside loans would have cost the residents and ratepayers more in the long run than the in-house loans.
There are other valid reasons to object to the city's water rate increase, but internal loans are not valid objections nor the major reason to justify the total water rate increase.
-- Murray Rosenbluth, Port Hueneme
(The writer is a retired mayor and councilmember of the Port Hueneme. -- Editor)
Re: George Pohoski's May 8 letter, "Christianity is dying":
To start, most things Pohoski said were misleading and inaccurate.
John Adams did not author the words, "The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." That was written by Joel Barlow in the U.S. treaty with Tripoli in 1796.
Secondly, professing Christians in the United States have not declined; in fact, they have increased more than 20 million since 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.
And third, Christians do not worship any one of the 1,750 imaginary gods man has created, but the one true god that has created man: God the father and Jesus Christ, his son. Leave the imaginary for the scientific "hypothesis" that is evil -- I mean, evolution.
To make it very clear that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, consider Christopher Columbus' view of his voyage to the New World, saying, "There is no question that the inspiration was from the holy spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the holy scriptures." The Pilgrims, in the Mayflower Compact of 1620, speaking of their settlement, stated, "Having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith."
As for our founding fathers, John Adams declared, "The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity." And, "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity."
Patrick Henry declared, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ."
And George Washington affirmed, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
Christianity cannot ever die because its foundation is of God and is Jesus Christ.
-- Art Alvara, Ventura
Re: Paul Lux's May 3 letter, "Obama's different tack":
Lux's comments regarding former President George Bush and his Republican administration versus President Barack Obama's Democratic administration and how they handled the billions of dollars being given away seem to be naïve.
Let's be fair. First of all, in the last two years of the Bush administration, there was a Democratic majority in Congress, and they approved the $700 billion giveaway.
Secondly, there is absolutely no comparison to the debt incurred by the Bush administration in his eight years in office, which now seems immaterial, to the monstrous debt Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress have created in three months -- with no limit in view!
Yes, people do notice the "tack" of Obama -- especially around the world. I have heard "embarrassment" and "disappointment" a lot from Democrats and Republicans in regard to his tack.
-- Dan Moreau, Simi Valley
Re: Bill O'Reilly's May 9 commentary, "Media's shameful destruction of Miss California":
O'Reilly's commentary hit the nail on the head. There is no truth in what the media delivers anymore, only what they want the reader to believe -- and it is shameful.
I stand behind O'Reilly's commentary and Miss California's comments 100 percent. She does have the right to her opinion. Unfortunately, there are those who feel that if their belief isn't stated, then the statement is not only wrong but open for criticism. And it's obvious who "those" are. If the shoe fits.... Shame on them, too.
Shame also on the pageant officials for not backing her. They obviously are a bunch of wimps afraid of being criticized themselves, and not much can be said for MSNBC or the ACLU. They've already shown their true colors time and time again.
I thank Miss California for being honest and standing up for what she believes. Her beliefs, mine and those of the majority of this country are the same, and it's just too bad that those who disagree can't accept our opinion.
-- Gerald Kiliszewski, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bill O'Reilly's May 9 commentary, "Media's shameful destruction of Miss California":
O'Reilly's commentary was spot on target. Carrie Prejean answered a question honestly in last month's Miss USA pageant. Her problem was that this was a national forum. As a result, her detractors in the media are looking for every speck of dirt they can find to throw on her. Their disgraceful conduct tells us more about them than it does about Prejean -- and it isn't pretty.
People, we're talking about a 21-year-old woman with hopes of teaching special education one day. No one should have to go through the vilification that she's being dragged through. However, some misguided loons cannot accept the fact that California is bucking a disastrous trend that other states are blindly following. And they can't respect the rights of those who openly disagree with them. O'Reilly is right: This is setting a dangerous precedent.
This young woman may have made some mistakes in the past -- who hasn't? But, for our own sakes, more of us had better stand up for her.
-- Joe Hernandez Jr., Thousand Oaks
Re: Don Facciano's May 10 commentary, "Taxpayers group opposes props":
Thanks to the very well-written article by Don Facciano, president and CEO of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association, we all should have a greater understanding of why a no vote on ballot propositions 1A through 1F is necessary.
-- Bill Gourlay, Westlake Village
On May 19, the citizens of Moorpark have the opportunity to make an investment in our city, and it won't cost them one single dollar. David Pollock is asking for your vote for City Council.
David Pollock is a name that should sound familiar. He has already been providing service to our city by serving on the school board for the past 14 years. In his capacity as a school board member (president three times), David has earned the respect of administration, teachers, parents and students. He is known throughout the state as a passionate advocate for public schools and local control.
Even though that should be enough knowledge to cast your vote for David, it is not the only reason I am voting for him. I have witnessed David offer the school board his experience, knowledge and integrity. We should not pass up the opportunity to have a proven leader serve on the City Council. David has already demonstrated to the citizens of Moorpark that he is independent and demanding of the answers he needs to make the critical decisions.
A resident of Moorpark for more than 20 years, it is obvious David cares deeply about the community. He understands the importance of preserving our city's character, as well as protecting the open spaces.
I urge Moorpark voters to join me in supporting the most qualified candidate for City Council: David Pollock.
-- Diane Weis, Moorpark
Re: Terry Paulson's May 11 essay, "Questions but no answers":
Paulson wonders what has become of "hard-hitting" journalism from our free press. Perhaps Paulson was looking the other way when the Federal Communications Commission during the George W. Bush administration allowed consolidation of our press under the ownership of a handful of conservative billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch. Or perhaps he has never watched a PBS station or listened to public radio.
Unfortunately, today's celebrities are not investigative reporters such as Walter Cronkite, but pundits like Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann.
Paulson's criterion for a free press seems to be that it covers both majority and minority points of view. News has always had a bias towards the interests of its marketplace, which is why murders and scandals are covered on the front page. This is not a fault of the reporters, but a trait of the consumers.
Paulson continues to falsely describe President Barack Obama as a liberal. He falsely claims that Obama has blamed the Bush administration for our economic mess. On the contrary, Obama has refused to prosecute members of the Bush administration who broke U.S. and international laws, and he continues to follow Bush administration policy on rendition of suspected terrorists.
Paulson wants reporters to expose "the Democrats' role in blindly pushing banks into affordable housing." Certainly many Democrats share responsibility for our economic woes. However, it was not affordable housing that has led to foreclosures; it was non-affordable housing.
Paulson's effort to create a partisan issue from a bipartisan problem that requires a bipartisan solution is counterproductive.
-- Nick Fotheringham, Thousand Oaks
Re: Leo Bowman's May 7 letter, "Not a game":
Wow! Bowman is foaming at the mouth with his pathetic, rabid, partisan rambling. Oh, and by the way, President Barack Obama plays basketball too!
-- Norm Andersen, Ventura
Why would anyone ever consider giving to charities?
Back in 1988 my husband and I decided we would go to an estate planner to establish a trust. Because of the size of the estate, the attorney recommended a three-part trust consisting of one revocable trust and two irrevocable trusts.
My husband died in 2005, and the trusts were organized to satisfy their intended use at that time.
Soon after, I started receiving inquiries from one of the remainder beneficiaries concerning the fact that they had not received the $100,000 distribution that was provided for them in the trust. After that, the same remainder beneficiary, which was Armenian-related, and another Armenian charity initiated a lawsuit for an accounting of the two irrevocable trusts.
The accounting was submitted with some initial deficiencies requiring more information. Then the court asked for a complete resubmittal without attachments.
The accounting is now complete, but the Armenians have requested information from the revocable survivor's trust and have submitted other interrogatories regarding the trust in an ongoing adversarial, frivolous and irrelevant manner.
It is a travesty that one can attempt to be charitable and end up in a situation that is severely threatening their quality of life. These actions are frustrating, heartbreaking and painful to no end. The cost for this has been as much a $8,000 a month for attorney fees and has been ongoing for more than a year.
Why would anyone ever consider giving to charities?
-- Kim Hartounian, Westlake Village
When Pat Hunter decided not to run for re-election, we not only lost a great mayor, we also lost the strongest voice on the Moorpark City Council in support of public safety.
That's why I'm voting, and urging you to vote, for Nathan Sweet for Moorpark City Council in our upcoming election.
Largely because of Hunter, I believe, Moorpark has not had a serious public safety problem. I also believe that Nathan Sweet, because of his background as a firefighter and his understanding of the need for a strong police presence, is the best qualified candidate to prevent public safety from becoming a problem in the future. We need him, and he needs our votes.
-- Bob Crockford, Moorpark
All of this is quite new to me. Before this campaign, I'd never written congressmen before. I'd never participated in campaigns. I'd never called offices of my congressional representatives to urge them to pass our president's budgets.
Our president has inspired me to fight for the change I believe we need, and that like the opportunities we have in this great country, we need to embrace them and make them happen ourselves. Our prior administrations inspired me to never again believe that I had done enough to ensure our future would continue to get brighter. The new administration has inspired the sense of urgency in me that was necessary to take greater action than I've ever done in the past.
Already, not even two months into President Barack Obama's term, I've called more strangers, more government offices, spoken with more people, and have been more proactive than ever, inspired by necessity, but far more by our president's actions.
Furthermore, I've been continually inspired by our president's request to me to remain involved! I have seen my own life become imminently more hopeful in the short time he has been in office, and I am beginning to see the same hope for the people with whom I interact on a daily basis, and for that, I am beyond grateful.
I have tremendous faith that this nation will become stronger than ever under Obama's leadership, and I know it will occur because he is doing nothing more than putting government back into the hands of us -- the people of the United States of America -- who, collectively, can achieve whatever we want, or merely have hope and faith that we can.
Yes we can!
-- Brian Norton, Oxnard
I have noted in occasional news columns and obituaries that references to a borough (county) in New York City are often referred to as Bronx, N.Y. As a one-time resident, having spent my young years growing up there, it irritates me -- and other New Yorkers -- because the correct place name is The Bronx. Any other reference would immediately condemn one to being considered a total Goober!
-- Rick Riccardone, Camarillo
Re: Sean Ragan's May 6 letter, "Blame Bill Clinton":
Let's be clear on this: Former President George W. Bush had three months from the time he was elected until he was inaugurated, during which time he was presumably privy to national security briefings and during which time he should have been getting up to speed to assume the duties of president from the moment he was inaugurated. After that, he had an additional seven months until the terrorist attacks on 9/11 to gather intelligence, read and assess reports, etc.
If after 10 months he was still not fully up to performing the most basic duties of president, I would have to seriously question his fitness to be president. Exactly how far into Bush's presidency would the attacks have to have taken place before Ragan would no longer consider them Bill Clinton's fault?
-- Paul Kistler, Camarillo
Re: Ralph Burquist's May 8 letter, "Don't stop peaker plant":
Burquist criticized the citizens of Oxnard because we are against Southern California Edison installing a peaker plant in our backyard.
I have a suggestion for Burquist: Why not contact Edison and have them place the plant in his neighborhood in Simi? Oxnard already has two power plants along its coast and in the past was the "dump" for Ventura County for more than 50 years.
If Simi Valley residents are in need of all of that power, why not provide it in their own backyard?
-- Angela Slaff, Oxnard
All the NBA coaching staffs and announcers are wearing the "CD" lapel pin for the late coach Chuck Daly -- except Laker Coach Phil Jackson, who seems to wear it selectively. Last night he wore the pin during the game, but not at the news conference afterwards. In the Utah series, I only saw him wear it one time. Why do you think that is?
-- Richard Garland, Santa Paula
Re: May 5 letters by Lin Rolens, "Showing up not enough" and Sylvia Lewis, "Jazz concert a winner":
I don't know where Rolens was sitting at the Chris Botti concert, but the audience around me was a sea of enthusiasm, ecstatically applauding each of the musicians during their sets, cheering at the end of each song, waving their arms in the air and demanding encores as the concert ended.
There were approximately 2,500 people in the audience, not the 1,500 Rolens counted, and afterwards, Botti was so delighted by the response that he stayed for nearly an hour to sign autographs and CDs.
As for Lewis' letter, we appreciate her joy in Botti's performance, which we share. We at the Ventura Music Festival think it is our duty and our audiences' right to have the finest musicians in the world play for us in our very own backyard.
In our 15-year history we have showcased the best of the classical and jazz world -- performers who have played in all the great concert halls of Europe and North America, and, yes, even London's Hyde Park.
We are almost at the end of this year's festival, and it has been our most successful ever, with artists playing to sell-out crowds.
The mission of our board, staff and artistic director Nuvi Mehta is to continue to bring the very best to our jewel of a town. With the loyal support of our sponsors and enthusiastic audiences, we will keep up the good work.
-- Ivor Davis, Ventura
(The writer is president of the Ventura Music Festival. -- Editor)
Why has single-payer insurance been taken off the table in the Senate debates? What happened to President Barack Obama's promise to expand Medicare to cover the uninsured?
I watched the Senate medical debates, and single-payer insurance was only brought up by some brave doctors who were immediately thrown out of Senate chambers. The only accomplishment of the debate was to shame every senator present.
Is Obama contemplating selling America out to the pharmaceutical and insurance companies, as his predecessors did?
The illness and death of Obama's mother made most Americans believe Obama was more understanding of our dilemma. Evidently we were wrong, or he would not allow this farce his anointed ones call "fixing medical care in America" to embarrass him so badly.
I now pay a lawyer $500 a year to convince a company to accept my medical premium, which I now pay once a year to keep costs down. I am one of the lucky ones; many have been dropped and are losing their homes to pay for their medical insurance.
In homeless shelters, you can no longer even badger good Christians to get involved other than on Christmas or Thanksgiving, when they are determined to show God how great they are.
Obama is getting more removed from his constituents every day. It's not us -- it's him who needs to be brought back into the fold. I would give my life for universal medical insurance. I never want to hold another child in my arms who will die, her only sin being no medical insurance.
How dare the Democratic Party e-mail us weekly asking us to donate more money when Obama is no longer even debating his promise to us.
-- Coline George, Camarillo
It appears that the state Legislature is threatening the people of California to vote for the May 19 ballot measures. Isn't that called "extortion?" We, the people of California, are already struggling in these economic hard times, and now the state legislators are threatening to straighten out their mess by passing tax bills or they will take money from local governments.
-- Karol Ransom, Ventura
Though I have never been outspoken regarding political issues, I am determined to ensure that as many people as possible know the impact of Proposition 1D.
My family has been actively involved with First 5 programs since moving to California. This is such an amazing program for birth to 5-year-olds, and, trust me, I have never lived in or heard of another state that offers quality programs to ensure the health and well-being of children and families.
First 5 (Neighborhoods For Learning) provides free -- for all income levels -- services, activities and programs dedicated to family strengthening, healthy bodies and school readiness. These programs for birth to 5-year-olds will be threatened and possibly discontinued if Proposition 1D passes.
Here in Moorpark, First 5 offers free dental care and education, access to health insurance, car seat installation checks, developmental check-ups, preschool and pre-kindergarten programs, parent and child classes, karate, soccer, ballet, nutrition programs, English as a Second Language courses and much, much more. This is a very valuable resource for the children and families in our communities.
First 5's funding is controlled locally, not by politicians in Sacramento. Every community uses its First 5 funds for different programs as they have been designated by the community.
Also, on a state level, First 5 sponsors PBS programs such as "Sesame Street" and "Sid the Science Kid." The funding comes from a 50-cent-per-pack tax on tobacco products that was approved by voters in 1998 and again in 2000. The First 5 funds have already been declining due to a reduction in the number of smokers, and First 5 has prudently planned for that decline in funding.
Please help to keep the early childhood development programs in our communities alive.
Vote no -- for no change -- on Proposition 1D.
-- Jennifer Andersen, Moorpark
Re: your May 6 article, "Oxnard will sue to block 'peaker' plant":
I see the self-righteous Oxnard City Council has decided to sue the state and the California Coastal Commission.
If the poor field laborers who live in Oxnard feel so strongly about all the so-called pollution that the new peaker plant would bring in, maybe they should look up in the sky every 10 minutes and see all the planes that are dumping hundreds of pounds of excess fuel that vaporizes before it touches ground, but which still has all the cancer-causing pollutants that their husbands and children inhale every day when they are in the fields.
It seems to me that the same folks that overturned the plan to run a gas line in from offshore are behind this plan also. Just because they live in Oxnard does not give them the right to delay the march of civilization in this county.
Maybe they should drive over to Simi Valley or Moorpark on a hot summer day just to see why we need an extra peaker plant -- one that would only be needed on the hottest days of the year or when fires or earthquakes have disrupted other sources of electricity.
I have driven through the area many times. As memory serves, there is no chance of noise pollution, and all emissions are regulated by the state and Coastal Commission.
The thing that really galls a lot of folks like myself is that this plant has been in planning stages for a number of years, the equipment has been purchased and permits have been issued. Now a few disgruntled folks who most likely do not live near the proposed site have gone to the city and, most likely, told them in private they would force a recall vote. That is not fair to the rest of the county, and it should be thrown out of court.
-- Ralph Burquist, Simi Valley
I used to support the North American Free Trade Agreement, but recently someone in my household had her job sent to Mexico, never to return.
She had been working for Kavlico in Moorpark. In May of 2006, Kavlico became part of Custom Sensors & Technologies (CST), a global enterprise made up of Kavlico, Crouzet and Crydom, as well as the former divisions of BEI Technologies, including Newall and Systron Donner.
Apparently, this company makes some parts for truck brakes. The Web site states, "Kavlico recognizes that each employee in a team environment is necessary to ensure Kavlico's continued prosperity."
My friend worked for this company for more than 10 years for $9 an hour, with no increases, and was fired in March because "her job went to Mexico."
Whose fault was it? Former President Bill Clinton and his support of NAFTA? The ethics and morality of the leadership of Kavlico? The lack of caring on the part of U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, who apparently did nothing to try to keep the jobs? Our present income tax laws? Or all of the above?
It seems clear to me that "free trade" does not mean "fair trade." The two extremes are "free trade" and "protectionism," but there is a midway course that could be called "fair trade."
"Fair trade" would involve tax incentives for companies like Kavlico to keep the jobs at home. "Fair trade" would involve perhaps maximum quotas for classes of imports, like cars or shoes, so that at least some of the manufacturing will be done here at home.
Providing good jobs for our citizens is Job One, in my humble opinion. If we don't pass tax laws and other laws to protect our workers, we have let down three-quarters of the people.
Flint, Mich., and Elkhardt, Ind., are examples of what happens when we espouse total "free trade" in place of "fair trade." Someone needs to get busy and rectify this situation.
-- John Boland, Newbury Park
You should not have to spend an enormous amount of money to ascertain why The Lakes is not producing revenue. Ask anyone who would like to shop there. Except for food, the retail stores are mainly for the affluent shopper. The stores are beautiful, but for the majority, they are unaffordable except during sales or for a special occasion, so mostly people stroll the beautiful area and look in the windows.
-- Verna McNaboe & Karen Haskin, Thousand Oaks
Former President Ronald Reagan always said, "Trust, but verify."
Well, I trusted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and my Sacramento Legislature until I found that they are not cutting the cost of government as we need. Instead, last month, they funded counseling for problem gamblers who speak Hmong, Mien, Lao and other languages; tried to sneak through payroll raises; and bloated their expense accounts to fly off to rock concerts. This is enough verification for me. I'm voting no on all the half-baked propositions that our deceitful governor is trying to sneak through again.
The time has come for taxpayers to say "Enough!" -- enough spending our grandkids' money, enough driving business out of California, enough spending on foo-foo, enough incompetent leaders.
Vote no on everything, and let's see them run a bare-bones budget like us taxpayers do.
-- Ray Holm, Westlake Village
Like many in Moorpark, I see "David Bagwell for City Council" signs all over town. It's obvious by the size and number of signs that Mr. Bagwell really wants to be on the City Council. Many residents know that Mr. Bagwell and his wife, Jodi Bagwell, own Bagwell Construction Company here in Moorpark, but I would also like to point out some additional facts residents should know before voting.
Jodi Bagwell was appointed to the Moorpark Planning Commission by Janice Parvin in Deccember 2008. So the first question is: Do we see a problem with a husband and wife who own a home construction business having seats on the Planning Commission and the City Council?
I also want to point out that the Bagwells were staunch supporters of the failed 1,600 new-home North Park Village development in Moorpark in 2005. That year, Mr. Bagwell wrote letters to the Moorpark Acorn supporting and promoting the North Park development on Feb. 17, April 28, July 15, Aug. 12, and Oct. 14. Anyone can find these letters in the archives online. Some quotes from his letters are, "North Park Village is well-planned and would be an extraordinary addition to Moorpark," and "This is a great project." Could it be that the Bagwells supported North Park because it would have benefited them monetarily? No other resident I know supported this destructive development.
I don't want to doubt the motives of citizens who wish to volunteer for their community, and I have nothing personal against the Bagwells, but I do have the following question: Why would a husband and wife who own a construction company in town, that already has one co-owner on the Planning Commission, vie for the other co-owner to be on the City Council? Could it be to help push through developments or construction projects that would benefit Bagwell Construction?
I would not be concerned if Mr. or Mrs. Bagwell were on either the Planning Commission or the City Council, but I am very concerned about them having positions on both government bodies.
-- Lisa Houston, Moorpark
David Pollock is a candidate for the Moorpark City Council. I am neither a longtime friend nor a neighbor; however, I support him strongly.
As a member of the Moorpark Planning Commission and its chairman, I had the opportunity to meet and get to know many other public servants. Mr. Pollock has been a member of the Moorpark Unified School District board for more than 14 years and its president three times. How many times have we heard, "We moved to Moorpark because of the excellent schools for our children?" Mr. Pollock deserves a very large part of the credit for that statement for his leadership on the board. His knowledge has sustained the school district in some tough times on a budget substantially larger than that of the city. He is respected among his peers for his independence and leadership.
Now Mr. Pollock is offering his experience, knowledge and integrity as a candidate for the City Council. What better person to coordinate the sometimes contending positions of the school district and the city? Mr. Pollock has shown himself to be independent and demanding of thorough answers. He will then analyze the situation and provide even-handed decisions.
These abilities will not be limited to city and school issues. His budgetary expertise is much needed in the current economy, with many of Moorpark's revenue sources shrinking. His experience in helping guide the school district expansion will be extended to the pending review of the city's general plan and continuing development issues.
Mr. Pollock certainly is not one-dimensional. His master's in business administration was granted by the prestigious Anderson School of Management at UCLA. He is a licensed commercial aviator and a certified flight instructor.
I urge Moorpark voters to join me in supporting the most qualified candidate for City Council: David Pollock.
-- Bob Peskay, Moorpark
Did you know that it will soon be illegal to walk your dog, ride a bike, jog or even enter public open space in the Conejo Valley until the sun has officially risen? And if you are not out of the park by sunset then you can be given a ticket and fined? Want to stargaze? Sorry, that's illegal. You'll need to go into the national and state park for that.
Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency directors Andy Fox, Joe Gibson and Mark Jacobsen have broad-brushed typical urban park restrictions onto our rural open space. At the same time, they outlawed pre-dawn and post-sunset use. They said it would be OK to break the law for reasonable after-hours use, but they neither defined what that is nor took into account those citizens who respect the law.
Rather than leaving open space open or spending the time to draft reasonable restrictions for certain areas when and if problems arise, they will instead leave it up to the rangers to decide how to enforce these new restrictions.
These three have been elected officials for a total of 67 years. Isn't it time for local term limits?
Tell COSCA officials not to limit hours of use by emailing kfoord@toaks. If they don't hear from you, the new law will be approved on May 13.
-- John Fonti, Newbury Park
Re: your May 4 article, "Ballot package caters to special interests, experts say":
It is so reassuring to know that the lobby industry in California is alive and well. This article shed some light on how things really work in Sacramento, and it is pretty obvious that the interests of the common folk is not the first concern of those we've elected to legislate for us.
We have a whole host of deep-pocketed lobbyists working for oil, liquor, gambling, entertainment and the two biggest unions in the state, the teachers union and the state workers union, all pumping millions of dollars into the coffers of our elected officials. Propositions 1A through 1F are designed and written to satisfy them -- not us -- and that is just sad.
It would seem that the Democratic-controlled Legislature would tax us into non-existence if it weren't for the two-thirds majority requirement for all new taxes. And the spineless and near powerless Republicans are doing little in the way of offering any viable alternatives.
One thing is for sure: Stay on the path of higher taxes and the folks that actually make enough to pay taxes will be looking for someplace else to live.
-- Steve Sullenger, Thousand Oaks
With summer and fall registrations opening at community colleges, the number of classes being cut should be a matter of great concern to parents, students and employed and unemployed adults.
Parents are considering community colleges as an alternative to more expensive four-year institutions. Unemployed and employed adults are trying to register for classes to upgrade job skills required for jobs that many times require skills not previously necessary. The economy of the county requires an educated workforce.
We are not serving returning veterans by cutting classes. Educational benefits are worthless if classes are not offered. It is a well-established fact that the benefits of the GI Bill after past wars were more than repaid due to the higher earnings of the educated veterans.
Cut classes mean that new students cannot enroll in required general and technical classes because most classes are closed due to students with priority registration filling up classes.
Students may be forced to consider alternative sources of education such as private community colleges and trade schools, resulting in higher costs, expensive loans, questionable accreditation and reluctance of employers to accept the training.
It is time for community college districts to use the reserves and any other available funds to open classes now. Our adults, entering students and veterans deserve the opportunity with the future benefits to our economy.
-- Robert A. Gregg, Simi Valley
(The writer is an an adjunct instructor at Pierce and Moorpark colleges and is an officer of the American Federation of Teachers, Chapter 1828. He writes, "The views are my own and not that of the colleges or the union." -- Editor)
Re: George Will's May 5 essay, "It's now California sinkin'":
Well, I'm glad to see someone is trying to wake up the citizens of the state of California! We the people need to take back our state by first electing a real chief executive officer to run this state. Next, we need to dissolve the state Legislature.
We also need to get control of our public employee unions, along with the teachers unions, by removing them from negotiating contracts with the state.
On May 19, vote no on all propositions except 1F, which is to not pay the legislators if they don't pass a budget on time -- the only proposition worth your vote. You had better believe the unions are going to be out in force to pass all these propositions on the gullible taxpayer.
We need another Proposition 13. Where are you, Howard Jarvis? We need you -- again!
-- Bob Moeller, Oxnard
The Democratic Party is still unable to shake the bogeyman George Bush. He put in place policies and techniques that prevented attacks on our soil. The Democrats will take credit for some of this, but only until it's not popular anymore.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats were told in explicit detail of the techniques that saved human lives. Pelosi knew about waterboarding, yet she did nothing. At least she could have leaked it to The New York Times. Where was the concern for the poor misunderstood terrorists?
Please let the investigation begin so that the world can see the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party and expose the faux Americans.
"Pelosi lied, terrorists died" sounds like a good bumper sticker. Liberals might just be able to add this sticker to the back of their new Prius, just to round it out.
-- Kenneth Manzer, Camarillo
Re: Bill Gourlay's May 4 letter, "Where's Bowen's outrage?" a response to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's May 1 letter, "What's in the Voter Guide":
The issue here is that citizens are often disappointed in the decisions of the people we've voted into office to represent us. Unfortunately, as has been repeatedly suggested in the media recently regarding Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party, a politician's primary objective is often simply to be re-elected, rather than the expected objective of doing what's best for the state or the country.
Gourlay described the essence of this reality in his statement: "I believe that many voters don't take the time to read the detailed arguments in the special-election voter guide, and I have no doubt that the legislators who carefully crafted the descriptions are counting on that."
The majority of voters are too busy with the vagaries of their daily lives to spend much time studying up on what decisions their elected representatives are making and why. And the majority of elected representatives are more interested in what their political party wants done than what their constituents want done.
Our role in a representative democracy is to be watchdogs of what the people we vote into office are doing and why. Unfortunately, too many of us are so used to having others -- parents, then teachers, then bosses -- make decisions for us that we tend to abdicate our responsibility to be part of the informed electorate that the Founding Fathers envisioned when they inaugurated a program of public education because they believed that an informed electorate is necessary to the success of a democratic society.
-- Brook Evans, Camarillo
Re: your May 3 article, "Fewer people use Oxnard Airport":
The Star stated a number of valid reasons as to why fewer people are flying out of Oxnard Airport, but it seems to have ignored another significant reason why people like myself no longer use the airport: cost!
A few years ago, when flying United to Chicago, there was no charge to fly from Oxnard to LAX. Then United began charging $25 round-trip. Well, that was OK with me. Now, leave on May 26 for Chicago and return on May 29 -- cheaper flight days -- and the round-trip fare for one from Oxnard is an additional $331.20. That's why I don't fly out of Oxnard!
-- Larry Weinberger, Camarillo
The furor over invitations extended to President Barack Obama to speak at Notre Dame and Georgetown universities has left many of the faithful questioning the Catholicity of these and other schools advertised as Catholic.
Shell-shocked alumni may not know about the infamous Land O'Lakes Conference of 1967, orchestrated by then-president Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, whose tenure at the university was from 1952 to 1987.
According to the February 2009 Mindzenty Report, authored by William A. Borst, Ph.D.:
"Land O'Lakes produced 'On the Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University,' a 1,500-word statement that not only seriously changed the nature of the role and identity of Catholic universities, but also effectively separated the Church from its traditional intellectual moorings, especially through the introduction of lay governing boards. The relationship between academic freedom and the Magisterium was the salient issue.
"Parents who value the past traditions of a strong Catholic education such as those proposed in Cardinal John Newman's 19th century classic, 'The Idea of a University,' which argued that a college entailed the search for universal truth as its only objective, have been appalled by the departure of their schools from the path of salvation.
"Watchdog organizations, such as Patrick Reilly's The Cardinal Newman Society, have influenced Catholic universities with a systemic use of hierarchical pressure, and a public relations campaign, designed to expose the universities' deviations from Catholic orthodoxy and morality."
Thankfully, in 1983, Pope John Paul II revised the Code of Canon Law to ensure that professors off theology teach with the full communion of the Church. In 1990, the pope issued Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the apostolic constitution on Catholic education, which defined what constitutes a Catholic college.
The message of these papal pronouncements could not be unknown to Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins.
-- Adria Laubacher, Oxnard
Re: your May 4 article, "Event slated for bereaved families; Balloons to carry aloft notecards for lost relatives Saturday":
I am writing in response to the Ventura County Chapter of the Compassionate Friends' Balloon Ceremony. I am a parent who has lost a child, and I support those who are memorializing their lost loved ones.
My only problem is that the Balloon Ceremony is basically throwing trash away into our environment. Hopefully the organizers have thought of this and are maybe using biodegradable balloons? It is a fact that balloons can cause power outages or fires if caught in power lines. They can also end up in the ocean and harm sea life. At best, they land and become a meaningless piece of trash for somebody else to pick up.
I would urge anybody who wants to participate in this ceremony to think about these things and remember their loved ones without adding to the Earth's increasing problems.
-- Ben Aranita, Ventura
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., recently admitted what most of us have been suspecting for a long time: "Frankly, they own the place." The "they" he's referring to is the banks, and "the place" is Washington, D.C., if not the country itself.
As if we needed confirmation, it is now on record that lobbyists and special interest groups control the voting patterns of both political parties and can and will vote for corporate interests over the interests of the American people.
Let's see if we've got this right: The banking and financial institutions lobbied to change the rules and completely deregulate their industries. Then, after blowing through all of our 401(k)s, they cry "the sky is falling," and we the people give them billions in our tax dollars in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds and stimulus funds to shore up the institutions that their own greed and corruption decimated.
In thanks for our bailout, the banks refuse to lend the money that they've received from us and in turn double the interest rates on our credit cards because they lobbied our politicians for this little gem long ago.
Finally, when our politicians attempt to stand up for we the people, the banks use the very same TARP and stimulus funds to buy off the very same politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) in the form of campaign contributions in order to kill any such protections.
Thus we have a Ponzi money-laundering scheme so cynical and vicious that it makes Bernie Madoff look like Mother Teresa.
But not to worry, America. Fox News is there with "fair and balanced" coverage and amping up the hate speech while gun sales are going through the roof and ammunition for our assault rifles is getting harder to find.
Is it me, or does this sound like the trailer for a great Bruce Willis movie? I hope "they" don't evict me before I finish downloading the bootlegged video on my repossessed computer. Who says that corruption in our culture is systemic?
-- John Loprieno, Westlake Village
I am a newcomer to Ventura and attended an outstanding performance by Master Chorale and Orchestra of Ventura County directed by Burns Taft. Special guest of the evening was the 12-year-old pianist, Llewellyn Kingman Sanchez Werner, performing on the new Bosendorf piano. When he played Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A-minor, Op.16, you could have heard a pin drop -- and there were no empty seats. It was so powerful and lovely it sent me back to Norway and to the cabin by the fjord where Grieg composed a lot of his music.
Thanks to Llewellyn, the orchestra and the talented Burns Taft for a memorable evening. How lucky to have this kind of talent so close to home.
-- Anne Marie Nassif,
I read with great sadness of the passing of Superior Court Judge Doug Daily. I've known Doug since 1958 when we were second-graders together at Curren Elementary School in Oxnard. Throughout our high school years, Doug exhibited an intelligent thoughtfulness that made him a success, whether on the basketball court or in the classroom, in everything he did. He enjoyed a successful law career, earning respect from all parties for truth and fairness.
When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Doug to the Ventura County Superior Court bench, Doug set the standard by which all judges should be held.
Doug's passing is a huge loss, not only for his family and friends who love and miss him, but also for the citizens of Ventura County.
-- Jack O'Connell, San Luis Obispo
(The writer is the state superintendent of public instruction. -- Editor)
Citizens complaining about the socialist policies of President Barack Obama's administration are correct. But some complaints are from Republicans who imply that government would be different if the American people had only elected a Republican. That is nonsense.
For example, Republican George W. Bush, his advisers and many Republican congressmen have an intense and utter contempt for limited government and the U.S. Constitution. They miss no opportunity to carry out the agenda of the elitist Council of Foreign Relations to bring an end to U.S. sovereignty and promote global governance -- i.e., the new world order. America's decline has been designed and engineered by evil men who are determined and well-positioned to do so.
Those few citizens who have courage and character to save our nation from socialism, poverty and tyranny should immediately stop aiding the deceitful politicians in the two major parties. The John Birch Society has an educational agenda, the leadership and organization to bring about the needed changes. Anybody who has ever visited http://www.jbs.org knows this is true.
-- John K. Carter, Camarillo
Re: your May 3 editorial, "Prop. 1A eases budget plight":
I disagree with the editorial. I say vote no on Propositions 1A through 1F.
It is time for Californians to stop enabling state lawmakers who continue to overspend and overtax. Our lawmakers need to face fiscal shortcomings head-on. They need to cut spending and reduce the government. Unless needed reforms are not made to the structure of the state government, our lawmakers will continue to spend and tax.
Propositions 1A through 1F will not help California. Collectively, these propositions borrow billions, move money around between programs and extend taxes through 2012.
What should be done? Our lawmakers need to let Californians and businesses keep more of their money. They need to trim government fat. These actions would fuel California's economy and make our state fiscally healthy.
-- Diana Thorn, Carpinteria
There's no question we have come a long way and that there is hope. I offer some perspective:
Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt imprisoned and forcibly relocated tens of thousands of innocent American citizens. Lives were ruined, and many American citizens were falsely interrogated. It was xenophobia at its worst, one of the darkest chapters in American history -- a nadir. And we recovered.
Former President Harry Truman incinerated 200,000 innocent men, women and children. Hundreds of innocent civilians died of torturous radiation poisoning afterwards. It was "the ends justify the means" at its height, one of the darkest days of America -- another nadir. And we recovered.
Former President George W. Bush waterboarded a mass murderer and a 9/11 planner. All three of the al-Qaida operatives were waterboarded within 24 months of 9/11. The practice of waterboarding enemy combatants ended in 2003. It was all for the purpose of gathering valuable intelligence as a result of the prior administration's massive intelligence failure regarding al-Qaida and its surprise attack on American soil. It was another low point in America for sure -- but nowhere near what FDR and Truman rationalized. And we will recover.
The intent of all three presidents was to save and protect American lives.
We've come a long way. My, how times have changed since FDR and Truman!
-- Sean Ragan, Camarillo
Re: Clarence L. Brueckner's May 1 letter, "Christianity isn't dead":
Brueckner wondered about President Barack Obama allegedly saying, "We don't consider the United States to be a Christian nation."
That leaves me wondering where, when and in what context such a statement was actually made.
The following are excerpts from the Inaugural Address: "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and nonbelievers."
He also said, "This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny."
A very good personal friend who campaigned ardently against Obama, came forth with the greatest world view possible, in my opinion, the day after the election: "He (Obama) wasn't my first choice, but he's my president now!"
If everyone could drop the political banners for a few years and actually work on the problems we all face, maybe the world would be a better place.
-- Robert Mock, Camarillo
California shoppers statewide may be hit with a new tax thanks to the California State Assembly Natural Resources Committee's recent legislative effort. This bill places a 25-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags.
Although AB68 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, has generally been positively received, there has been a fair amount of negative responses. In the current difficult economic times, to some, this change may seem like an unfair attack by politicians in office on those already struggling; however, while this new bill means possible increased costs at the market, the fee is an effective way to combat environmentally harmful waste.
The purpose of this fee is ultimately to reduce harmful and needless consumption and waste. Revenue drawn from the single-use bag fee would go to efforts toward reducing litter on land and in the ocean. This minor change in our habits could help stop and even reduce the harmful impact that wasteful consumption has had on our planet.
Although the economy is suffering, we Californians must take this step towards helping our even worse-off environment.
Avoiding the fee is simple and inexpensive. Reusable canvas and other cloth bags are available at most markets and convenience stores these days. They are durable, lightweight and more than large enough to hold an entire week's purchases -- and they pay for themselves after a couple of uses.
As a Californian, a shopper and an environmental studies undergraduate, I understand the economic impacts that a tax on something that many may take for granted can have, but I can attest that using reusable bags is not only more economically and environmentally savvy, but can also be fulfilling to our sense of humanity and stewardship to our planet.
-- Joseph Gonzalez, Oxnard
Of all the people who should be honored on Mother's Day, I believe first lady Michelle Obama and first grandmother Marian Robinson should be at the top of the list. Just behind them should be President Barack Obama's mother and grandmother.
Obama's mother and grandmother shaped him into the man he is today. First lady Michelle Obama provided all the support, strength and love he needed to campaign and win the presidency. Marian Robinson made it possible for Obama to be our 44th president by providing all the support and love needed at home -- caring for Malia and Sasha, providing continued continuity to the family, providing a safe and happy home environment while the Obamas were away from home.
They say behind each great man stands a great woman. I believe that Obama is the beneficiary of the love, wisdom and strength of all four of these women. Marian Robinson was and continues to give her all to the Obama family. Each day we see what first lady Michelle Obama does to keep her family "going in the right direction."
-- Rae Williams, Oxnard
Re: Clarence L. Brueckner's May 1 letter, "Christianity isn't dead":
What did President Barack Obama have in his pocket when he said, "We don't consider the U.S. a Christian nation?" Pretty simple: We are nation of believers and nonbelievers of imaginary beings. Ninety-three percent of the National Academy of Science members don't believe in any god, and, as Albert Einstein said in a recent letter that was sold in London, "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."
There are more than 1,750 gods mankind has created, and some, like the Egyptian and Greek gods, existed for 4,000 years, 2,000 years more than the Christian gods. They all claimed they were real thing.
The number of folks who identify themselves as Christian in the U.S. is declining at the rate of 1 percent per year, and, like all the previous religions, will be history one day.
As John Adams stated in 1796, "The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
-- George Pohoski, Camarillo
Re: Tom Ion's April 28 letter, "Whitewashing":
The only thing worse than a poor loser is a poor winner.
Despite his man having won the election six months ago -- and I'd bet dollars to donuts Ion's still sporting his "Obama" bumper sticker -- he can't help but be outraged with Peter Foy's eminently civil and demonstrably "nyah, nyah"-free, "Let's celebrate U.S. successes in Iraq" commentary on April 23.
Indeed, Ion charges those who don't hate the previous administration with every fiber of their being and/or ever voted Republican with being morons of the first order: "Foy's attempt to raise the 'Mission Accomplished' banner once again was not only stupid but a felonious attempt to whitewash his party's blundering incompetence that will forever haunt the United States."
Aside from the fact that not once in his commentary did Foy ever -- horrors! -- identify himself as being a Republican, what's so wrong about talking up what went right in Iraq? About praising our GI Joes and Janes?
If Ion is as left-of-righteously-left as he types, he should have learned something from his heavy-gestalt, I'm-OK-you're-OK generation. He should have gotten something out of "The Power of Positive Thinking."
But I guess it's easier to crow "nyah, nyah" and stereotype the 50 million-plus voters not sporting the Messiah's bumper stickers as "stupid" than it is to recall the previous century. After all, the previous century ended eight and a half years ago.
Former President Harry Truman incompetently blundered his way into Korea for the sake of "democracy," but my knees don't automatically jerk right when I hear the word "Democrat."
And while neither time nor space permits a lamentation regarding the incompetence attending the Vietnam debacle, suffice to say I don't hate everyone who voted in John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
Good loser that I am.
-- Kelly Eells, Ojai
Re: Terry Paulson's April 27 essay, "'What-Hit-Me Generation'":
I applaud Paulson's essay. This economic downfall is a gift in disguise. This entitlement "wave" that has hit America is a disgrace.
I agree with Paulson that this summer will be an eye-opening experience for the younger generation fighting for survival. However, I also hope that the middle-age and retirement-age folks also start taking their personal responsibility vitamins.
Personal responsibility is a hard lesson to learn when we have a government that cannot even live off of its own "allowance."
Keep the articles coming. Maybe by the 1,000th time it's printed and read, people will get that it's all about accountability and personal responsibility.
-- Stefanie Silberman, Thousand Oaks
With the recent passing of Jack Kemp, Americans should stop and pay gratitude to the man and the principles he worked so hard to instill in our hearts. His desire and efforts to further the ideas of individual liberty and personal responsibility through individual compassion and not through government should be an inspiration to us all.
Today, Kemp's intellectual allies seem to forget that he struggled to bring these principles to minority communities in an attempt to convince them that they would be better off, not change in order to gain political power. Kemp's "Big Tent" was America!
I never saw Kemp as a Republican, conservative, quarterback, congressman or secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I will always remember him as an American.
-- David Galinsky, Simi Valley
Sunday, in the park at Ventura College, a lucky crowd of jazz lovers were treated to what was a rare and wondrous concert given by the rare and wondrous Chris Botti and his small but superlative band.
I haven't heard great jazz of this caliber since the 1950s, when the luminaries of jazz were thriving -- performing and recording for a vast audience that appreciated their music. Not since then have I heard anything to excite and astound as did the Chris Botti group. They are all artists of awesome ability, and the audience seemed to fully understand the greatness they were witnessing.
The venue was ideal for the concert and, combined with the perfect weather, it couldn't have been a more perfect musical event.
I was somewhat curious why this great group that is now enjoying enormous success and fame, would play such a small event when they are used to doing huge concerts worldwide -- for example, Hyde Park in England, where there were many thousands of listeners.
For whatever reason, we were the fortunate ones to have been gifted by these enormous talents.
Good work, Ventura Music Festival!
-- Sylvia Lewis, Thousand Oaks
I just finished listening to a TV commercial for the state propositions coming up this month.
The gist of it was: Let us raise taxes on you a lot now, and we promise that in the future, we will change our ways and become responsible fiscal managers. This message is brought to you by a bunch of state employee unions who directly benefit from raising those taxes.
Well, where do I sign up for such a bargain?
We wouldn't want the folks in Sacramento to have to tighten up their belts now, would we?
But, wait a minute. Isn't this the same crew that told us the same thing not long ago when we voted for some $16 billion of bond indebtedness?
This is the same old song-and-dance we've heard so many times before. But this time, no doubt, the outcome will be different. Right?
Yeah, and this time Lucy will hold the football for Charlie Brown and not pull it out at the last second.
-- Richard Minnich, Thousand Oaks
Recently my son, who attends high school in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, stayed home two days due to sore throat, fever and headache. The attendance-line person informed me that because he had missed more than 10 school days this year, he'd require a doctor's note or clearance from the school nurse.
Since his suffering was worse when walking around, I let him take ibuprofen prior to our visit to the school nurse. When we arrived at his school, we were informed that he needed to be running a fever or vomiting at the time he was seen in order to be released.
Since the medication had eliminated his fever, he did not qualify, and the attendance officer told us he was required to stay at school. Since I knew he was not well, I objected, citing his good grades and the fact that he'd be exposing other students to his illness. I was told that district policy doesn't consider those factors.
I took him back home and called our physician to schedule an appointment.
Later that morning our physician determined that my son was fighting a virus and should stay home to rest. He agreed with me that the requirement to occupy a doctor's time, charge my insurance company and spend my time away from work to obtain a note stating what any rational parent already knew was a waste of time and money.
My son now has his note and is ready to return to class once he feels better.
If there is any rational motive for the school district's policy beyond focusing on the funding lost due to absences, no one I spoke to was able to share it.
I agree that students need to be in class in order to learn, but let's not attempt to mislead ourselves and our students by claiming it's all about their education when that metric isn't even considered in decisions concerning attendance requirements. I can tell you honestly that I, my son, my physician, and everyone I've told this story to is convinced there's only one motive behind this policy: money. This lesson is one the school has taught well.
-- Scott Williams, Thousand Oaks
Re: your May 1 swine flu coverage:
Kudos to The Star for once again doing its best in the cause of fearmongering.
The May 1 front page was frankly a joke, virtually 100 percent covered with stories about the swine flu, in which the bold headlines referred to three verified cases in Ventura County, two of which are already recovering nicely. This is material worthy of big bold headlines on the front page? To my reckoning, if three of us have been infected, that means that the other 836,077 of us in the county are doing OK. Maybe that should be the headline.
I understand that bad news sells, but this is ridiculous. Up until the last couple of weeks, it was all about the economy, and it seemed like every article in The Star was doom and gloom, citing "experts" who predicted a bleak future. There is no quicker way to stop a person from buying a new TV, computer, car or a house than to print an article quoting some financial know-it-all's prediction of an economy heading for Armageddon. Tell enough people things are bad and getting worse, and they begin to believe you and help fulfill the prophesy.
The Star has a responsibility to report, not sensationalize. The swine flu is obviously something that should not be taken lightly and can be a health risk, especially to people who have health problems and weak defenses to disease. But the truth of the matter is, we are a nation of more than 300 million people, and there are a little more than 100 confirmed cases nationwide and one confirmed death in the past week. More people die in this country each week from bee stings and insect bites.
It is time to bury this story, maybe reduce it to 10 lines somewhere near the weather section. Then The Star can use Page 1 for some real news, like the fact that our economy actually seems to be improving a bit.
-- Ronald J. Peters, Thousand Oaks