If our state and national leaders are truly serious about raising "student achievement" -- for example, test scores -- they need to invest in aging school facilities that lack air conditioning in this era of global warming.
When temperatures hover around 90 degrees in sweltering classrooms, it is nearly impossible for teachers to engage students in classroom activities. Students are understandably frustrated, uncomfortable and barely able to concentrate. Every year the number and intensity of heat waves increase, yet there are still schools in our state that have not been upgraded to adapt to the changing climate.
I would like to challenge our legislators to work under such conditions and see how their productivity and enthusiasm are affected. It is unconscionable that such inhuman classroom conditions are tolerated in a wealthy country like ours.
-- Annette Halpern, Ventura
(The writer is a teacher at Santa Paula High School. -- Editor)
August 2009 Archives
If our state and national leaders are truly serious about raising "student achievement" -- for example, test scores -- they need to invest in aging school facilities that lack air conditioning in this era of global warming.
Re: your Aug. 29 article, "Metrolink board votes to replace operator Connex":
The very first principle of supervision is to actually supervise -- meaning you actually check on what your subordinates are doing. After the Metrolink disaster, I always wondered why there was no sign of anyone checking on what the train crews were doing during their daily runs.
Now I see the answer in this article. Metrolink's contract with Connex prohibits on-train inspection. Whoever at Connex insisted on that provision and whoever at Metrolink allowed the signing of that contract are those who really have the blood of 25 dead passengers on their hands. The engineer, as culpable as he is, was just a bit player by comparison.
Nothing keeps people following the rules better than the threat of being caught violating them. And if it doesn't, you fire them. Twenty-five people might still be alive today but for that one stupid provision. Public safety and negligent supervision don't mix well. Let's all hope that Amtrak is wiser than Connex.
-- Roy W. Hogue, Newbury Park
Re: your Aug. 30 article, "Barking dogs to be discussed in Simi":
Whoa, wait a second! Dogs bark? Are you serious? Who knew?
This is so ridiculous I don't even know where to start. It's their job. It's what they do! I have neighbors who have dogs and they bark during the day, but that does not mean I'm going to the City Council to file a complaint. Dogs bark for hundreds of reasons: a mailman delivering the mail, children playing in the neighborhood, someone coming up to the front door, etc.
However, there is a line between just plain old barking and it becoming a nuisance. I do agree with Shaw when he says there should be effective ways to handle dogs that bark too much but that neighbors should talk to one another to work it out before filing a complaint. It's not just about the dogs, but how people handle the situation as well.
When my neighbor's dog started barking in the middle of the night, we talked to the owners of the dog. We didn't go and tattletale to the City Council. The dogs still bark during the day, but he handled it to make sure they don't bark a lot during the night. And if they do, big deal! We don't file a complaint to the City Council when we hear kids screaming nonstop at the top of their lungs, so don't file a complaint when you hear a dog barking in your neighbor's backyard!
-- Kristina Walin, Simi Valley
We are thousands of strangers to our California firefighters and their families. The recent loss of two of our own is indeed hard to bear and leaves a hole deep in our hearts. We want the families to try to understand that their grief is our grief.
In the coming days they will be feeling many different emotions. One in particular is anger towards us and the monster that took their lives, but let it be said -- and they must plant this deep into their hearts -- that they and their comrades saved our lives, our homes, a picture, a teddy bear and our pets. They must understand that in these words -- homes, picture, a teddy bear, lives and pets -- are feelings of overwhelming gratitude, guilt and heroism for these men and women who have chosen this amazing career.
Californians have great pride in America, our military and our firefighters. No one is more proud then we are of the loved ones they have lost. I hope they will accept our deepest condolences. They will never be forgotten and will forever have a place in our hearts.
-- Mary Aquino, Moorpark
"To dream the impossible dream ... to right the unrightable wrong" is a line from one of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's favorite songs. And the most unrightable wrong that he wanted to make right was to bring quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans. He pursued this difficult quest for many years, and, in the end, he died before he could achieve this noble goal.
What a terrible wrong it is that we, the richest nation on earth, are the only industrialized nation that has not found a way to provide affordable healthcare to all of our citizens. It is a national disgrace that over 1 million Americans go bankrupt each year because of crippling healthcare costs. It is a national disgrace that the World Health Organization ranks us 37th -- 37th in the quality of our healthcare, behind Morocco and Costa Rica.
Kennedy has passed the torch to President Barack Obama to fulfill his dream. It is time for our nation to unite behind our president and find common ground to overcome the crisis in our healthcare system. It is time to quit stoking the fires of hatred and fear and to resume the kind of civil debate that Kennedy so exemplified and that used to be the norm, not the exception, in the conduct of our Congress. It is time for all Americans to unite in a spirit of hope and compassion for which America has been admired around the world in the past and let the beacon of the promise of America shine brightly once again upon our nation and the world.
-- Vitali Mostovoj, Thousand Oaks
Re: Sandy Emberland's Aug. 27 letter, "Where's Gallegly?"
It is obvious that Emberland did not do her homework before she sent a letter criticizing U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly for not meeting with his constituents about the healthcare issue.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Had Emberland done her homework, she would have been aware that Gallegly spoke to numerous groups last week about healthcare.
In fact, I was at my Simi Valley Rotary Club last Tuesday where he conducted a meeting and spoke about healthcare and answered many tough questions for the packed Rotary Club audience.
It is well known that Gallegly regularly meets with his constituents on issues. It is also well known that Gallegly does not "grandstand" like some politicians, but rather works quietly and efficiently on behalf of us citizens. I suspect that is why he keeps getting re-elected by overwhelming margins time and again.
It is indeed unfortunate that all the facts were not known before Emberland's letter was published.
-- Deb Holler, Simi Valley
I would like to add my voice to those expressing concern about a particularly dangerous construction area in Newbury Park.
The intersection of Wendy Drive and Gerald Drive has been under construction for months. This intersection is difficult to avoid by anyone in this part of Newbury Park as it leads directly to the freeway and the other side of Newbury Park, where Target is, for example. The entire rerouting is unclear as there are few signs directing drivers. The worst part of this dangerous area is that it is near an elementary school and is also on the route of many middle school and high school students.
It is my understanding that there was an accident recently at this site due to unclear rerouting of cars. Something must be done immediately to improve the safety of residents and visitors before anyone else is harmed.
-- Cheryl Bisera, Newbury Park
Re: George Will's Aug. 30 essay, "One long shot to watch":
Will claims California has "environmentalism that is apocalyptic and chiliastic." I admit I had to look up that last word -- it relates to the idea that Christ will return to earth and usher in the millenium.
Whatever esoteric terms one might apply to California, it is a fact that since our state has become settled, we have lost 90 percent of our wetlands, 95 percent of our riparian woodlands and 99 percent of our native grasses. The grizzly bear, our state symbol, is extinct here, as are wolves, and we harbor many, many threatened and endangered species.
So it looks like I have to agree with Will: We have been through an environmental apocalypse.
-- Ron Bottorff, Newbury Park
I find it interesting that Livable Ventura feels that a Wal-Mart store would make Ventura unlivable.
When Home Depot came to Oxnard, there was the same worry of low wages and driving out the mom-and-pop stores. Guess what? That didn't happen.
What did happen was the mom-and-pop stores got more competitive. The majority of shoppers that start at Home Depot do not buy at Home Depot.
I would like to know where the mom-and-pop stores are that would be driven out of business by Wal-Mart. How many went out of business when not one, but two Targets came to Ventura? Most of Wal-Mart's competition would be with Target, PayLess, Bed Bath and Beyond and the major grocery stores.
By the way, the wage information that I have found shows that Target and Wal-Mart have the same average wage. And yet there is talk of putting a third Target in Ventura.
What would make Ventura livable is the extra sales tax money that would be collected from Wal-Mart. For low-cost purchases, such as staples for the home, most people go to Target or J.C. Penney or Macy's. Giving your working citizens a choice makes Ventura livable.
I know that if Wal-Mart comes to Ventura, I will give it a chance. I think that most of Ventura's citizens will as well.
-- Heather Wray, Camarillo
Why is it that if you cross the North Korean border illegally you get 12 years of hard labor, but if you cross the U.S. border illegally you get a drivers license, Social Security card and free healthcare?
-- CJ "Joe" Piantino, Camarillo
Just 40 miles east of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties sits one of the most pristine ecosystems in the west. The 300,000 acres of wildlands are noted for their vast forest of native oaks, valley grasslands, roosting and feeding habitat for the endangered California Condor, one of the last wild herds of Pronghorn antelope in California as well as close to three dozen other endangered plant and animal species. This vast wilderness is known as Tejon Ranch, located just east of Interstate 5 and north of the Valencia/Newhall area. The largest single piece of private property in California, it is a complete ecosystem of valleys and high mountains.
What an outstanding area to preserve as a wildlife refuge or even as a national park or monument. But the Tejon Ranch is planned to be California's newest city. Close to 100,000 new homes are planned for this pristine wilderness.
The ranch's owners, New York Hedge Fund Properties, has filed tract maps for the first phase of development: the 37,000-acre Tejon Mountain Village Project, which includes luxury homes, golf courses and resort and shopping facilities. Tract maps were filed with the Kern County Planning Department, to be followed closely by the filing of the 23,000-home property known as the Centennial Project.
Tejon Ranch has also applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a "take" permit, which, if approved, would allow for the "taking" (killing) of endangered species during the development process without any fear of penalty.
The projects of this size will, without a doubt, place a great strain on California's water resources and cut down on our ability to control greenhouse gas emissions, not to speak of the loss of irreplaceable wildlife habitat.
Please join the Center for Biological Diversity in our quest to have Tejon Ranch preserved as a national treasure. Visit our Web site, http://www.savetejonranch.org for further information.
-- Jim Hines, Ventura
After having my registration sticker stolen from my rear license plate, I went to my neighborhood auto parts store and bought a clear plastic license plate cover. It looked nice and enhanced the look of my car.
I've had the cover in place for a couple of years now and until recently didn't think there was anything illegal about it. Low and behold, I received a "fix-it" ticket on my windshield from the local parking enforcement. I was flabbergasted that this was an illegal product, since I was able to purchase it at the local auto parts store. Sure enough, I Googled the infraction, California Vehicle Code 5201 section (f) (2). It states:
(f) A covering shall not be used on license plates except as follows:
(2) The installation of a license plate security cover is not a violation of this subdivision if the device does not obstruct or impair the recognition of the license plate information, including, but not limited to, the issuing state, license plate number and registration tabs, and the cover is limited to the area directly over the top of the registration tabs. No portion of a license plate security cover shall rest over the license plate number.
I took the cover off and took my car to the Police Department to have it signed off, and the nice young lady officer explained that while it isn't illegal to purchase the cover, it is illegal to use it. She went on to say that they write tickets for that all the time.
So I hope that this letter will serve a purpose to all who have a cover on their plates. Take them off lest you too get stung!
-- Kevin Williams, Oxnard
Re: Carolyn Kramer's Aug. 26 letter, "Rethink intrusions":
I read Kramer's letter and thought, "Give back what money?" We have money taken out of our paychecks to cover our Social Security. It is not given to us. We also pay for Medicare.
Maybe Kramer should listen to what we are saying. We want to keep the Social Security and medical care we now pay for.
-- Dodie Reed, Camarillo
Re: Alison Carlson's Aug. 26 letter, "Wal-Mart vs. library":
Carlson tried to give the impression that sales tax revenue from a Wal-Mart in Ventura in the future would keep the H.P. Wright Library from closing this year. That impression is not true.
The Wright Library had been scheduled to close on July 1, and the only reason that it did not close then is the fact that hundreds of patriotic citizens, both in and outside of Ventura, have given over $90,000 since January to keep the library open.
These caring people, giving amounts ranging from the coins of elementary school students up to checks for $2,000, did so by responding to the Save Wright Library fund drive by the San Buenaventura Friends of the Library.
The money raised so far has insured that the library will remain open until the end of October. The fund drive will continue at least through the end of 2009, with the hope that the Ventura sales tax rate increase measure on the November ballot will pass.
If the tax measure passes, there will be enough money to keep the Wright Library open for years to come, until new library plans can be initiated by the City of Ventura and the Ventura County Library Authority.
If the tax measure fails, the Wright Library will close as of Nov. 30.
The Friends of the Library and those few hundred contributors cannot be expected to continue giving as they did during this emergency effort to keep the library open. We will find out if the voters of Ventura appreciate their Wright Library and the free library services, which are more important now than at any time since the depression of the 1930s.
So, Wal-Mart sales tax revenue, years in the future, will have no effect on the Wright Library today, one way or the other.
The comparison between a library and a Wal-Mart by Carol Lindberg of Livable Ventura was simply a cultural comparison between the crushing of local opportunity in business on the one hand, and the continuation of knowledge and opportunity by our public libraries on the other.
-- Will Thompson, Ventura
(The writer is president of San Buenaventura Friends of the Library. -- Editor)
Re: Rachel McCollum's Aug. 25 commentary, "Judging teachers by test scores is wrong":
I thank McCollum for writing what so many teachers feel about using test scores as the basis of teacher evaluations. I couldn't agree with her more.
Briefly, I would like to point out a few more reasons this idea, and the idea of merit pay, won't work.
I taught in the Conejo Valley Unified School District for 35 years and loved it. Early in my career I spent 21 years at Westlake Elementary School, where the great majority of the students scored in the high 80s and 90s on state tests. Every teacher there would have been rated as an outstanding educator and would have received merit pay based on these test scores.
I spent my last nine years teaching at another elementary school in the same school district. However, this school is a Title 1 school and has a huge English-as-a second-language population. It also has very low test scores. The teaching staff was wonderful and everyone worked very, very hard. Many factors contributed to the low test scores, but I can honestly say it wasn't because teachers weren't qualified or putting in effort. Regardless, test scores remained below average, many in the low 20s and 30s.
We all would have received poor evaluations -- and obviously no merit pay -- if test scores were the sole tool used to evaluate teachers. I was the same qualified and caring teacher at both schools, yet I would have benefited at one and been penalized at the other. If test scores become a tool for evaluation, and merit pay is based on scores, guess where I'd want to teach.
Finally, part of good teaching is the sharing of ideas and helping each other. This would cease if merit pay came into the picture. Can you imagine what would happen to a good teaching team if one of them received merit pay and the other didn't? Teachers would also scramble for the highest achieving students when class lists are made.
To eliminate the playing of favorites, gender bias and to foster cooperation and sharing, teaching salaries are based on experience and college/university credits. This must not be tampered with if our education system is to flourish and provide the best possible learning experiences for our children.
-- Lesly Vick, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Aug. 23 article, "Liliana in limbo":
Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, a countywide interfaith network, is proud to have a role in protecting Liliana and her family from separation. Destroying such a family would be devastating to both the children and parents.
During the two years that we have been connected with Liliana and her family, more than 250 people from over 15 congregations throughout the county have directly stood with her and supported the moral imperative to call for humane immigration reform for the estimated 5 million children who have a parent facing deportation. Thousands more people are now more aware of the issues and believe that organizing to assure immigration reform is a priority so that parents can stay with their children.
Liliana's family is exactly the kind of immigrant family we need and want in this country -- hardworking, spiritually grounded and devoted to their children. The fact that Liliana got caught in the web of our dysfunctional immigration system demonstrates how desperate the need for reform is.
People ask us all the time how Liliana could be subject to deportation when her husband and children are citizens. And we may all ask that question. It makes no sense.
If you are a person of faith, please contact us so that we can bring a presentation about the impact of our current immigration system on families to your congregation and call your representative to let him or her know you support family unity and immigration reform.
-- The Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is the chairperson of Ventura County CLUE and the minister of the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Newbury Park. -- Editor)
Re: Ventura Chief Financial Officer Jay Panzica's Aug. 20 "Ask the director" column, "Ventura not following state lead on budget":
Panzica's column brings forth a few thoughts.
I respect Jay and his view of the state's method of answering the budget problems by pilfering the local communities.
He makes reference to a "Compensation Task Force" to study city employee compensation, inclusive of pensions. This being true, then the citizens deserve a true non-biased and impartial review. One, it should be factual, accurate and comparable to private and public entities. Wages and other compensation for a job function in the city should be compared not only to other similar cities, but the local private sector as well.
Councilman Neal Anderson stated in his July 19 Star article, "My City Council colleagues argue that we must maintain comparable compensation to remain "competitive" with other communities, but they use an artificial standard of comparability that does not reflect the realities of the employment market."
He also wrote, "They further rig the formula to come out with a higher number -- for example, by counting a higher-paying organization like the county three times, instead of once."
This is very disconcerting. I think we need some citizens involved in the new "task force."
Panzica mentions the efforts of the Citizen Blue Ribbon Committee recommending the addition of a half-cent tax increase to the November ballot. Let's be clear here. The City Council selected all of the committee members. Transparency in our city government is opaque.
Panzica states, "The city of Ventura is living within its means. We have a balanced budget." Great! Problems solved! Why do we need a tax increase?
Anyone living in Ventura paying half attention has their pet city expenditures that irk them. So, our city budget being balanced as Panzica states, and if we just avoid those irksome expenditures, then we have a chance of getting out of this financial mess without any additional taxes.
-- John Whitman, Ventura
Re: your Aug. 21 article, "Senate narrowly OKs prison reform package":
The test of any system is whether or not it works. Our prison system is a failure. Inmates are treated like caged animals and behave accordingly.
Californians spend an unsustainable 11 percent of the general fund on prisons and parole -- as much as we spend on higher education. Higher education offers hope and pays remarkable dividends; our prisons offer only isolation. California has the highest recidivism rate in the nation, with 70 percent of parolees returned to prison. Fiscal considerations and common sense demand change.
Anyone who has ever held a position of authority in business or the military knows that persons without hope or a feeling of self-worth are unlikely to succeed. There are many dangerous criminals who should never be released, but these are a minority. Most will be set free, and it is in our interest to rehabilitate them. Those unfit for release should be treated in a humane manner and encouraged to earn increasing privileges through good conduct.
The current system will never succeed because it builds resentment and hatred -- the very traits we most need to avoid. And we delude ourselves when we deny the right to vote as a form of punishment. It is illogical to believe that denial of the franchise builds better citizens.
We can learn from the boot camp approach, where individuals are marched to breakfast but as they master self-discipline they are given increased privileges and responsibilities. The goal is to build character through education and training. This works best when the individual becomes a willing participant.
Political demagogues and those who profit from the system will deride these ideas and say that reform threatens public safety. The very opposite is the case.
The above suggestions will not always succeed but offer hope. Almost any change would represent improvement.
-- Delton Lee Johnson, Santa Paula
Re: your Aug. 23 editorial, "'Reform' just a try for cash":
In contrast to The Star's editorial, I applaud the governor for seeking funding to fill the gap in our state's education budget.
First of all, it wasn't Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's fault that property and income tax revenues declined drastically. It's his job -- and the Legislature's job -- to deal with the revenues the state collects. If the governor had not pursued federal funding through the "Race to the Top" grants, we should question his leadership.
In order to qualify for the federal grants, the state of California needs to incorporate evaluation of its teachers as well as student test scores. Why would any qualified teacher resist evaluation? In private industry, those who excel are rewarded.
If education reform, along with possible grant funding, can come out of a special session called by the governor, what is wrong with that picture?
-- Nancy Lindholm, Oxnard
Why not put all of our health insurance reform efforts into something simple that already works? Radio's Thom Hartmann suggested opening up Medicare to everyone by deleting these words from the Medicare bill, "for people 65 and older."
We already have a successful single-payer system that has demonstrated it is far more cost effective than private health insurance. We don't need to create anything new or keep the phony battles raging. Just open up Medicare to anyone who wants to buy in. Let the corporate CEOs who pay themselves $600 million a year with your premiums keep their Blue Cross. They can easily afford it. The anti-socialism contingent can keep their private insurance too, if being ripped off is less frightening than non-profit government insurance. Problem solved.
-- Nikki Alexander, Ventura
Re: Rachel McCollum's Aug. 25 commentary, "Judging teachers by test scores is wrong":
Although educators are among the most undervalued contributors in a refined society, I have to disagree with the assertion that "teachers are only a small part of the equation."
When a student spends a major part of the day at school under a teacher's lettered guardianship, that is not insignificant. A transfer of custody takes place between the home and the classroom. Here, the tyranny or laxness of one's home life is momentarily shelved for a magical tour of assorted, exciting pages.
Imagine being handpicked to create a child's future world view and life compass. Imagine being able to illumine someone's unclear path, or tickle a young mind about an era of pantheons and pyramids, or inspire a tenderfoot to soar and dream and think as far and deep as the mind dares to go.
Whether it's politics or paleontology, medicine or medieval history, astronomy or gastronomy, a teacher is never far behind.
To this day, I have vibrant memories of my favorite teachers who worked tirelessly to expand my horizon. But I must also say that when I was home, my mother became a riveting extension of those teachers, and together, they conspired to make sure the lessons were remembered, the grades kept commendable and the dreams untethered to reach the wide sky yonder.
If teachers are not to be judged by their students' academic performance, then what, pray tell, is the yardstick? When I call a plumber to fix a leak or unclog the drain, the work comes with a full warranty. When I see my doctor about an ailment, I would expect to be healed and not be given the wrong prescription. When a brushfire erupts, the firefighters risk life and limb to remain on the scene until it is put out completely.
There has to be some accountability in one's chosen lifework, as well as abundant rewards for a job well done. After all, as historian and academic Henry Brooks Adams mused ever so accurately, "A teacher affects eternity, for he can never tell where his influence stops."
-- Maya Teague, Camarillo
Re: C. Edward Paugh's Aug. 24 letter, "Not buying American":
The definition of a patriot is one who loves and defends his or her country. While I do agree with Paugh's statement that "putting an American flag in the rear window of your Lexus 350 doesn't make you a patriot," I don't agree with his "buy American" theory. If we stopped buying non-American vehicles, how many Americans would be out of jobs?
As one who answered the call of this country to serve in the Marine Corps during and in Vietnam, I earned the right to purchase the type of vehicle of my choice, one that will give me many years of service without breaking down. As a former owner of General Motors, Ford and Dodge vehicles, I finally settled on Hondas because of their quality and after-purchase service and maintainability.
You won't find a flag in my window. However, you will find a Purple Heart plate and a Marine Corps emblem, both of which reflect my patriotism and love for my country.
Buy American indeed -- when the Big Three can manufacture vehicles that last like Hondas. Then maybe I might consider looking at them.
As for being a patriot, it takes more than buying an American car.
-- Richard Camacho, Camarillo
Re: your Aug. 25 article, "CIA tactics lead to criminal probe":
Let me see if I get this right. Our current administration wants spend valuable resources "investigating" those who were pursuing the terrorists who damaged a multimillion-dollar destroyer and killed Americans.
As a taxpayer, I resent the fact that tax dollars were spent fixing the destroyer and now we are investigating those who were trying to find the responsible party. From the article, there is no mention of loss of life or cost to the terrorists. It seems that they are getting the better end of the deal.
-- Ralph J. Coolman, Ventura
Re: Jim Carlisle's Aug. 18 "The Talk" sports column, "Vick deserves to have second shot in NFL":
What does quarterback Michael Vick deserve? Let's fix a starting point for discussion. I suggest he should get the same as his victims got. We can argue up or down from there.
-- Brian White, Ventura
The Oxnard 2030 General Plan addresses policy issues. I have not seen the following issues addressed.
-- There has been no discussion of an aquatic center, despite the fact that Oxnard is a coastal community and public swimming needs have not been met since the city closed the aquatic center in the mid-1990s after they bought the former Oxnard High School.
-- A policy should be included that would require that the public be told of the fiscal difference between the costs of the infrastructure burden and the fees paid by developers of new projects. The funding sources that would bear the difference should be identified.
-- Impact fees to enterprise funds are paid prior to the construction of a project by a developer. These fees may be paid several years prior to project completion. The difference between actual costs and the fees paid by developers are borne by the enterprise fund. The 2030 General Plan must include a policy change requiring development agreements to contain a clause requiring the developer to pay for any increase in costs if construction is not completed by the expected date.
-- The current policy that new residential developments set aside four acres of parkland per 1,000 residents must be updated to significantly increase that amount and exclude parkways from the acreage count. Urban planners recommend that 20 acres of parkland per 1,000 be set aside.
-- The plan must include a policy that any area used for public recreation contain public restrooms and specify the range the restrooms are to be from an activity's usage -- for example, no more than 1,200 feet.
-- Lawrence Paul Stein, Oxnard
Re: your Aug. 6 articles, "Drought campaign helps curb water use" and "Housing plan in Ventura gets 4-3 OK from council":
Two years ago the city constructed two multimillion-gallon water tanks just above Foothill Road between Kimball Road and Saticoy Avenue. The pipeline runs down Foothill Road to Saticoy Avenue, down Saticoy to Telegraph Road, then heads east on Telegraph towards Wells Road.
We can't have a Wal-Mart because it creates too much traffic? Just how much traffic will 499 new homes at Telegraph and Wells create in every direction? Does anyone drive on Wells Road or Victoria Avenue between 7 and 9 a.m.? How about street maintenance and public services? Can't you see our gleeful political leaders jumping for joy with all the new tax revenue? I wonder if this will cure the street in front of my house with cracks over an inch wide with weeds that need to be removed weekly.
But let us not forget we are to curtail our water usage so "affordable" homes can be built. Since when have you seen affordable homes in Westlake, Newbury Park, Camarillo or Carpinteria? If they are affordable, they will be snapped up immediately. The owners will wait for the market to rise, then sell them at wonderful profits. Let's also not forget why most of us are living in this beautiful city -- the quality of life, or what is left of it.
When the glass is full, it's time to turn off the water.
The argument has been made that our city does not offer quality executive homes. Why not create a gated community and build the high-demand executive homes? They'll create the same tax revenue with less congestion and fewer public services.
So let the $15,000 or more you have spent on landscaping go to dirt so 499 new homes can be constructed. I hear that they have nice plastic flowers at the 99-Cents Store. Stock up now!
Remember we have an election in a few months.
-- Greg C. Wardle, Ventura
Healthcare "reform" is a poorly disguised attempt to impose separate and unequal economic class distinctions on Americans. The current reform bill applies only to private sector Americans -- unemployed, working and retired. It does not apply to elected federal and state officials, appointees or rank-and-file public employees.
Using our tax money, elected lawmakers reward themselves with many perks, including a 100 percent medical reimbursement plan that Congress approved for itself, other elected officials and appointees. Our taxes also pay more than 70 percent of public employee healthcare and other benefits. Recognizing a bonanza, state and local governments adopted some of the same tax allocation schemes. California has an overwhelming public labor cost burden borne largely by the struggling private sector. In comparison, few public employees suffered full unemployment or loss of benefits.
When was the last time you recall seeing full disclosure of labor costs associated with any tax/fee increases? When did The Star or any other newspaper publish a comparison of benefits available to private versus public workers -- and how much each contributes to receive those benefits? Why should public employees and elected officials receive benefits not available to all Americans -- American who pay the bill? Why aren't Social Security and Medicare adequately structured and funded to cover the needs of retired and working Americans paying for those benefits?
Our nation's decline resulted from a succession of elected leaders and lawmakers who failed to establish any long-range plan for managing and maintaining its future, its economy and its people -- regardless of party politics. Every four to eight years, we are jerked around by politicians at the beck and call of special interests. Our money is squandered and our trust betrayed. War is a career path.
Having voted as both a Republican and a Democrat, I am now a very disgusted American who believes we need and deserve a do-over and a thorough housecleaning.
-- Sarrah Terry, Moorpark
Re: your Aug. 23 article, "Healthcare reform foes in T.O., Ventura":
How disingenuous! In reporting on our protest against the proposed government takeover of national healthcare on Aug. 22, The Star used this headline.
We are not foes of reform, and The Star knows it! There are many needed and affordable reforms possible within the free market system. We do not have to throw all our bodies, our lives, into a single pot, stirred and served up by government bureaucrats.
The Star must stop misrepresenting the opposition.
Another interesting thought: Will government healthcare be limited or withheld from those who express opposition to government actions in the future? Think about it. They'll have the power.
-- Robin & Avery Willis, Thousand Oaks
Why is it that our congressman, Elton Gallegly, chooses to go on vacation this month instead of finding out how his constituents feel about healthcare?
The Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley recently held a regularly scheduled monthly meeting with an emphasis on explaining single-payer healthcare. There were an estimated 100 members and non-members unable to get into the overflow meeting room. Why? Because they are hungry for information about the healthcare reform legislation being written in Congress.
Then the Simi/Moorpark Democratic Club held their regular meeting, again with the focus being on healthcare, with a forum presenting answers to questions from different perspectives. Once again, the room was packed with many different views presented.
I attended both meetings, and neither of the Democratic Club meetings was unruly or out of control.
What is Gallegly hiding from? Are the Democrats the only ones open to discussing this important issue? It is time we have someone in Washington who cares enough to listen to his constituents, not just those who voted for him.
It is time for the congressman who represents the 24th District, Gallegly, to come home from vacation and use his time in his district to hold some town hall meetings. It is time for the residents of the district to have access to their representative and be able to voice their views in an open, civilized manner.
Call Gallegly's local office at 497-2224 and ask for an open town hall meeting for all!
-- Sandy Emberland, Thousand Oaks
Just do the math and the proposed healthcare plan unavoidably comes out "rationing." If it's going to be rationed, we have to find a way to reduce the number of beneficiaries. Let's start with illegal immigrants. If they are not specifically excluded from the healthcare reform bill -- or whatever it is called this week -- they will be included by default.
Illegals overburden our medical system to the tune of billions each year, costs that are passed on to us citizens. That's not only a recurring cost, but a cost that is growing rapidly because of sustained illegal immigration and the growth in the number of children being born to illegals. If half of what the millions of illegals cost us each year in medical bills were spent to deport them, we could effectively stem the tide. And, guess what? We could do that now without a healthcare reform bill.
The same is true with reducing the inefficiencies and fraud in Medicare. That, too, can be done now, without a healthcare reform bill.
-- Bill Gourlay, Westlake Village
Finally the true colors of the Barack Obama administration are coming out, and it's not a pretty rainbow.
How many more broken "campaign" promises are going to be shattered before this country realizes that this president's only agenda is to form a country based on his socialist values?
He coined the phrases "transparency" and "to look to the future and to mend fences." You mend fences by appointing a special prosecutor to punish those who were in the combat fields of the Middle East? They did what? They put a gun to the head of a terrorist, or threatened to drill a hole in his hand? So what? These so-called acts of violation of interrogation policies were known since 2004. This move is just another effort to divert this nation's attention away from Obama's continued failed policies.
Wake up, America. We are entering a new era in this country, and it's called la-la land. We are being governed by a bunch of idealistic morons who have not one iota of what the real world looks like. We have in the White House a group of Chicago politicians, home-grown from the most corrupt political machine in the history of this country, and now it has finally come to the surface. What else would you expect from a "neighborhood organizer?"
If CIA agents are prosecuted, there will be an outcry of anger that will drive Obama and his political cronies into the cellar of the White House.
Remember Sept. 11? Remember the images of the Twin Towers burning and the Americans who chose to jump to their deaths rather than burn? Remember the Pentagon? How about the passengers who attacked the terrorists on Flight 93, causing the plane to crash in the fields of Pennsylvania? It's about time we revisit those horrific days and ignite those feelings of patriotism that made this country great. Go back to those days and find those emotions, and stop this nonsense of prosecuting our heroes.
Scotland demonstrated its apathy toward terrorism. Are we about to join its ranks? I hope not.
-- Chris Biller, Moorpark
I recently accompanied my husband to the Camarillo Air Expo expecting to see some cool old Army planes. I walked away with so much more.
It didn't hit me until I went into the World War II veterans' tent. I looked at the memorabilia found on the battlefields. I saw larger-than-life pictures of the men in their youth dressed ready to serve. I looked into the eyes of the elderly veterans sitting at the tables. I was overcome with emotion, and the tears started coming. I couldn't stop crying and had to leave the tent. After regaining my composure, I entered the tent once again, only to fall apart even more quickly.
The older I get, it is easier for me to comprehend the magnitude of what the men and women of our armed forces have done for our country and for us, how freedom means more to me than ever.
When my husband emerged from the tent, he had a lump in his throat. He tried to speak but fell short. He didn't have to say anything. I knew what he was feeling. He was able to speak with some of the vets, hear their stories, buy a couple of books, shake their hands and tell them thank you, but it was all he could do to hold it together. Being in the presence of these incredible men and women is awe-inspiring and humbling.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the veterans and active duty personnel in all the services for their courage in giving me the freedoms I am accustomed to and love. I apologize for not having the courage to thank them personally.
-- Sandra Hansen, Simi Valley
Re: your Aug. 23 article, "Liliana in limbo":
Some people wonder why churches get involved with such a politically charged issue as immigration. To many church members, the reason speaks to the foundation of Christianity. Jesus taught that all the laws from God could be condensed into a single commandment, "to love God with all your might and love your neighbors as yourself."
If you are to love your neighbor as yourself, then you must think as if you were in Liliana's situation. How should you be treated if you were married to a U.S. citizen, your children were U.S. citizens, but you were illegal? Should you be required to relocate your family to Mexico as the only way to keep them united?
It is very simple. Loving your neighbor as yourself means supporting a change to our immigration laws.
-- Calvin Smith, Thousand Oaks
Re: Jim Carlisle's Aug. 18 "The Talk" sports column, "Vick deserves to have second shot in NFL":
Carlisle suggests that quarterback Michael Vick be allowed to receive a "second chance" to play football.
I agree. Allow him to play. Allow the system that oversees his parole and football career to take every dime of his winnings and endorsement pay and reimburse the organization that still holds more than 20 of his psychologically and physically damaged dogs. He should reimburse this organization, located in Utah, until every last dog is found a suitable home.
Then, take all future earnings and allow him to keep only half. Divide the remaining money with this organization of caring people so they can continue their hard work of saving animals like the abused and tortured dogs that Vick destroyed.
Or, let Vick go out and find a real job.
Vick is nothing more than a thug in a football uniform, claiming, like many of those who get caught and punished, to have "found God." Why the double standards in sports? How many athletes have commited much less serious crimes (misdemeanors) than this thug and were banned for life from the sports they played or coached? This heinous crime against animals is far greater than what many athletes committed and then had their accomplishments stripped from them.
We are supposed to consider forgiveness because Vick has discovered God. Isn't it ironic how thugs like Vick find God in times of necessity and when they are looking for support from society?
-- Rick Freeman, Simi Valley
"We have met the enemy, and he is us."
In the early 1970s, the comic strip "Pogo" used this phrase to great effect. Some things never change.
I just saw the figures for the sale of crossover vehicles such as the Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape. In the month of June, American consumers sent $1.334 billion to foreign carmakers. That is enough to support more than 20,000 American autoworkers for a year. And this was just one month and only a limited portion of the auto market. Crossover vehicles are a relatively minor part of the entire market.
Putting an American flag in the rear window of your Lexus 350 doesn't make you a patriot. Indeed, we have met the enemy, and he is us.
-- C. Edward Paugh, Simi Valley
The 1996 Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act makes it a federal crime for non-citizens to vote in any federal election -- or state election unless authorized by state law -- with the penalty of deportation if violated.
Enforcement is difficult, at best, and to requalify all currently registered voters is virtually impossible. However, could a practical solution be to require that all registered voters with less than a 10-year voting history document their citizenship before being allowed to vote again?
We must take action to prevent non-citizens from voting in future elections!
-- Dick Young, Westlake Village
Re: Terry Paulson's Aug. 17 essay, "Incentives always matter":
As usual, Paulson is "right on target" with his essay. It remains a mystery to me why so many of our elected officials either cannot or will not see the wisdom of the very wise advice Paulson continually offers via The Star.
-- Richard Ewing Brown Jr., Ojai
Tragedy in the making
January 20 was one of the happiest days of my life, not only because I believed -- and still believe -- that we had finally elected someone with integrity and vision, but because I truly thought we had turned a corner in our society and that maybe, just maybe, racism might become a thing of the past.
But now, watching these crazy, violent people being allowed to carry weapons to events where the president is scheduled to speak, I have to wonder: Whatever happened to the rule about not yelling fire in a crowded theater? Would this be happening if the person in the White House were white? I think not!
Mr. President, stay safe!
-- Karen Murphy, Oxnard
Do our elected representatives really want to come back and face the heat in their districts? I've been waiting for this and can't wait to send my letters to Reps. Lois Capps and Elton Gallegly and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
The $700 billion stimulus and cap and tax weren't enough. We'd better run for our lives -- especially seniors -- because there are too many baby boomers alive and well to absorb in state-run healthcare.
Should it be any surprise to any of them that the vocal crowd welcoming Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., is the beginning of a ripple that even Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., experienced at her heated town hall meeting? It's going to be a sizzling summer for politicians. Congress is going to find out we are not complete idiots incapable of independent thought and judgment. A dysfunctional Congress with an approval rating in the 30 percentile range needs to take time during this recess for prayer and reflection and less time using up precious oxygen.
-- Verne Arnold, Ventura
The people protesting the healthcare bill have been demonstrating by the hundreds of thousands across the country since March, but the President Barack Obama machine dictated that the media ignore them, marginalize them and demean them. The fact is that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now is offering to pay people $11 to $16 an hour and is busing people in to meeting sites. The president said he wants his critics to stop talking and get out of his way.
People are panic-stricken at having the government take over their healthcare and rightly so. The Star says it wants to "debunk" the "death panel" myth, but mandatory end-of-life counseling is not the concern, despite "Obamaspin." It is the Obama-appointed 21-person health benefits committee that will be making the final decisions as to who gets what and how much. This panel is to focus on overcoming racial disparities. Allocations of funds and care will be influenced by race, age, gender, location in the U.S. and financial status.
Obama is now using his "rules for radicals" tactics to make doctors and insurance companies the villains. Obama states that pediatricians take out tonsils for a sore throat to get a higher fee and that general practitioners neglect diabetic patients so they can amputate their legs. Only a cold, twisted individual could think up these monstrous accusations. Why would we let this man anywhere near our healthcare decisions?
Obama has been derisive of the American people and is letting us know he sees nothing in the foundation of this country that can't be thrown away. While he enjoys amassing great wealth and power for himself and his cronies, he will see to it that our years of work and plans for retirement and security are kicked over the cliff. But it will take more than deceit and lies to crush the American spirit and people.
-- Patti Chiarelli, Thousand Oaks
There is a simple question regarding healthcare reform: Do you want your healthcare premiums paid to a for-profit company, where the CEOs make millions in salaries and perks each year, or do you want your healthcare premiums used primarily for actual healthcare costs?
Healthcare reform needs a public plan where these millions now spent for CEO compensation packages are used for actual medical care. Conservatives use the scare tactic of "Do you want the government to decide what kind of care you'll receive?" The real question is, "Do you want a bloated CEO to make these decisions?"
-- Judith Beay, Ventura
Thank you for inviting folks to share their Woodstock experiences. It seems like Woodstock was the ultimate "be there or be square" event of our generation. I guess I was hopelessly square because I was in U.S. Marine Corps boot camp when Woodstock took place. Oh, well. Sometimes "square" is just the right thing to do. Peace.
-- Wayne Kempton, Ventura
I am amazed by the current insanity and debate, emotion, anger and misinformation on our present healthcare system. Does anyone think that the present system is working?
I believe this is not a liberal versus conservative issue. It is not about the economic debate between socialism versus capitalism. This is a national security issue as important as any foreign military conflict.
I believe the current healthcare argument is between families covered by employer plans and self-employed plans. There are significant differences between the two plans. Group plans have the benefit of size in negotiating fees and premiums and the non-discrimination of pre-existing conditions for any applicant. No individual is excluded if he or she desires coverage. My wife and I are self-employed and are covered by two separate insurance companies with a $2,500 deductible on each policy. My personal premium increased 67 percent in one month on my 60th birthday. I have tried to get coverage with other carriers but have been denied.
The free market system doesn't work. If your present carrier knows that your only option is to stay with their plan, what prevents them from raising the premium to infinity?
This month our healthcare costs exceeded our mortgage payment! It was not a result of any costly medical or surgical procedure. My lab work was not covered and cost $218. My physician recommended a pneumonia shot that cost $35, which was not covered. Our monthly premium is $1,094 a month, or $13,000 a year! Unless we are seriously ill, this represents a significant profit margin to the insurance companies.
How does a family budget their limited resources? Do we pay our healthcare costs first? How about our mortgage or rent, transportation costs, food, clothing and education expenses? If I were single, I would drop my healthcare coverage.
Hopefully, we would have some sort of humane minimum universal coverage plan available.
-- John M. Lau, Oxnard
Re: Ruben Navarrette's Aug. 13 essay, "Hispanic backlash likely":
I find it absolutely amazing that Navarrette's analysis of the 31 Republicans who voted against Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court concluded they were "catering to white males." His assumptions are ridiculous and without substantiation and are based solely on his own bigotry and racism.
Navarrette readily dismisses their concern over judicial activism on the part of Sotomayor by referencing how she conducted herself during the hearings, but totally ignores her most recently overturned case -- a case that carries a strong stench of judicial activism by ruling against the promotion of "whites" that passed qualification exams when minorities didn't. If that isn't judicial activism, what is it?
Isn't it about time Navarrette and others like him realized that relatively few Republicans determine their vote based on race, but instead vote their conscience based on the substance of ideas? As hard as it may be to accept, this is proven true by looking at voting data. Unfortunately, this same generality cannot be said for most minority voters, Navarrette apparently being a prime example.
-- Steve Stump, Camarillo
Re: Richard & Mary Willhardt's Aug. 13 letter, "Too many airplanes":
"Far too many airplanes" would be more precise -- and not only on weekends, but all the time.
No matter where I go, the drone of small aircraft engines seems to follow. Aircraft noise in East Ventura is like a rerun of the attack on Pearl Harbor at times. The area is an aircraft noise hub, as it is directly under the northwest-bound departure path from Camarillo Airport. Adding to the cacophony is the low-flying, short-haul traffic zigzagging between Oxnard and Santa Paula airports. Then, late at the night, low-flying helicopters rattle our windows.
The worst offenders are twin-engine aircraft that appear to roost at Camarillo Airport, as their number has increased markedly in the last few years.
It is time our county supervisors realized that western Ventura County is no longer sparsely populated farmland but a large residential area whose residents are subjected to a daily stream of irritating noise for the pleasure and profit of a few. Putting some limits on the amount of air traffic into and out of our local airports is long overdue.
-- Alfred Lutz, Ventura
Re: Aug. 13 letters by Richard & Mary Willhardt, "Too many airplanes," and Verne Arnold, "Planes a nuisance":
I agree with the letters saying there are too many noisy airplanes flying over Ventura. It probably won't be long before we read in The Star about a plane creating havoc by landing on Telegraph Road.
I can't understand why the City Council doesn't do something about this. Isn't that their job? Maybe we ought to do as Verne suggests and not vote for any incumbents on City Council. It's negligent not to respond to citizen complaints about safety.
-- Claudia Bruemmer, Ventura
I have been following the news about the free medical services provided at The Forum in Inglewood and wonder if any lessons will be learned from the results.
Will there be any disclosure of the number of persons that actually had a medical condition that required medical treatment or those who just showed up? "Free" gets a lot of responses for both needy and freeloaders.
Will there be any demographic statistics identifying those who were uninsured by choice?
Of course, I don't expect to see any net worth or income statistics, but a good investigative reporter could give a count of the Mercedes cars, the BMWs, the Porsches and the Escalades that were parked by those waiting.
And last but not least, I'd like to know the waiting time that will be the standard of the free medical reform, although the quality will probably not be as good.
-- James M. Crosser, Ventura
Re: your Aug. 14 editorial, "Debate turns unhealthy":
Once again, The Star reveals its partisan face.
This editorial calls for a halt to the "high-decibel, over-the-top rhetoric" and then proceeds to use only examples of alleged comparisons by those who are opposed to the healthcare reform bill currently proposed by the House. What about labels like "un-American," "evil mongers" and "racists?" Is it because those are names given to protesters by the left?
Surprise! Moderates and conservatives are finally speaking up. Get used to it.
I was at the Thousand Oaks Library for the healthcare forum. I was unable to get into the event, but while in line a man and woman in front of me were discussing healthcare reform. Their conversation soon became one-sided because the woman was obviously not interested in the man's point of view (and they weren't even married!)
Out of respect, I will not attribute this woman's views as representative of all supporters of President Barack Obama's healthcare plan. In a nutshell, she said that the issue is not really about healthcare, but that those against reform are opposed because it is a "Democratic" plan and because the president is black. She also said, "We (meaning Democrats) had to suffer through George Bush for eight years, now it's our turn. We won!" If these are typical views of many Democrats, then I am sad for the party.
I did not show up because I am against the Democrats, nor am I a racist. I am deeply concerned over a government attempt to swiftly implement complex changes through unread, incomprehensible and costly legislation. I agree healthcare reform is necessary, but not via the current proposal.
If I have one broken window, I don't spend money I don't have to replace every window in the house.
-- Jim O'Brien, Simi Valley
We have all read and listened to the rhetoric pro and con about the healthcare reform bill that President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are trying to ram down our throats with no time to dissect it and understand it.
My family and I will not support any bill that does not require everyone in the United States to be on it -- no exceptions, and that means the president, the Congress, all governmental units everywhere. This will be the only bill that I and my family might trust to be a good one. We hope that all Americans take this same position.
-- Richard Pillow, Ventura
Re: Charles D. Richardson's Aug. 12 letter, "A good deal":
Does Richardson realize that he has a plan that is costing the taxpayers 14 percent more than a traditional fee-for-service Medicare plan? Making Medicare Advantage match fee-for-service Medicare would save $55 billion by 2014. I am surprised U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly is supportive of the government paying out so much extra money.
-- James Gillian, Camarillo
Re: your Aug. 13 editorial, "Debunking the 'death panels'":
We want to restate that the new health plan as written in HR3200 is bad for patients and doctors and cannot be explained away.
First, there is good reason to believe that rationing of healthcare will occur and this will affect the neediest people. Section 114 in the House bill states that there will be a health choices commissioner who will establish "standards" for health benefit plans. To meet the cost pressures of this massive government-funded program, we can expect that these standards will invariably lead to fewer options for patients and doctors. Patients and doctors will be at the mercy of standardized protocols. In order to meet increasing economic challenges, less coverage is inevitable.
It is likely that assisted suicide will be presented as a major economic solution to controlling costs. This process begins subtly under Section 1236(c)(1) which requires counseling of patients in regards to their healthcare preferences. We can expect such standardized counseling to be influenced by the high costs of end-of-life care.
Second, the House bill will allow government to further invade the doctor-patient relationship. HR3200 provides for the government to determine what is covered or not covered, define best practices and determine suitable outcomes.
The medical literature and our own experiences reveal how much time doctors already spend dealing with healthcare bureaucracy on behalf of our patients. Now insert the government into the equation, as economic rationing forces policy-makers to say "no" more often and ratchets up the pressure to cross traditional ethical boundaries.
We urge patients to contact their congressional representatives to come up with a better bill that does not compromise our current healthcare system, does not ration healthcare and does not interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.
-- Harry Drummond, M.D., Camarillo
(This letter was signed by eight other Ventura County physicians. -- Editor)
- family practice.
The radical right is out to protect their profits by keeping people from talking about the facts of the healthcare reform issue. They have pumped up the media and the healthcare meetings around the country with phony statistics they have generated showing how happy Americans are with the current system.
The facts are that the U.S. pays 14 to 16 percent of gross domestic product for what we get. The other industrial, First World countries pay 6 to 8 percent.
What are the results? They are that the U.S. life expectancy is lower than the rest of the First World countries. The child mortality rate is higher. In summary, the U.S. is 37th in the world. Most of those countries also have free choice of doctors, etc. Yet we get statistics from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries via CNN that show us to be very satisfied with the outcome. I guess we really don't like to live too long. Tell that to Grandma.
-- Gary Orthuber, Oxnard
OK, folks, let's stop all this squabbling. Here's the plan:
Let's all agree that we will support the president's healthcare plan as soon as we are advised that all the members of Congress have agreed to discard their current healthcare program to unanimously join the president's new program. Just show us the signed agreement and advise us how much of the current assigned budget for their health program will be available to the president's health program on an annual basis. That's all, and President Barack Obama will be a winner.
-- Robert Allen, Port Hueneme
With Marta Jorgensen announcing her run for the 24th congressional seat held by Elton Gallegly, the Democrat Party has a viable candidate for 2010. Jorgensen in 2008 carried 42 percent of the vote against Gallegly.
A poll taken in The Star gave Marta a 64 percent lead over a large field of candidates.
Marta is a non-Washington candidate with a background in grassroots movements. Her platform consists of environmental issues and pushing for a healthcare program for all Americans. She believes that all Californians need to be represented in Congress. She believes that in the past 22 years that Gallegly has been in office, the only people represented were Realtors, oil and big business in general.
While California is going through hard financial times, Gallegly has been supporting the Bush policies that have put California and the nation into this economic mess. Gallegly, along with the majority of Republicans, believes the word "no" is the only way to vote on such things as the energy bill, healthcare reform, environmental issues and labor laws that give women equal pay. He is against the right to choose bill, which will give workers the right to choose a union either by secret ballot or by card application. This bill will stop businesses from firing people for wanting to form a union.
Marta is the right candidate to unseat Gallegly. She will need the help of the Democrat Party and all of the Democrat clubs in the 24th District, but it is possible with that support.
-- Jim Tate, Ventura
Re: Jim Carlisle's Aug. 18 "The Talk" sports column, "Vick deserves to have second shot in NFL":
Quarterback Michael Vick was convicted of personally tormenting, torturing, terrorizing and terminating the lives of dogs that didn't kill other dogs efficiently enough, so that he could personally profit. His apology is artificial drivel, and his apologists and enablers, such as Star writer Carlisle, present arguments that have no merit. His behavior is inhuman and a crime against humanity. He may have served time for his felony, but that does not give him a pass or a right to play in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles.
To personally hang, electrocute and drown dogs is a mark of a sociopath, and I, for one, will not support the Eagles or the NFL in their decision. The only reason they want to give him a "second chance" is that they want to improve their bottom line.
By the way, is that not what Vick was trying to do?
"Who kicks a dog kicks his own soul towards hell." -- Will Judy.
-- Jim Hindes, Camarillo
Re: Richard & Mary Willhardt's Aug. 13 letter, "Too many airplanes":
I couldn't agree more. We are experiencing a great deal of noise in our city, not only from planes but also from motorcycles and others.
The law is clear. According to the city ordinance code, section 10.650.160 under general noise regulations: "Unlawful noise, notwithstanding any other provision of this article, and in addition thereto, it shall be unlawful for any person to make or continue, or cause to be made or continued, any loud, unnecessary, or unusual noise which disturbs the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of ordinary or normal sensitivity residing in the area."
I urge members of our City Council to recognize the words, comprehend their meaning and act accordingly.
-- Louis Philippe Gagnon, Ventura
Whether you are for nationalized healthcare or against it, Congress has no power, according to Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, to enact legislation on nationalized healthcare.
Article 1, Section 8, clauses 1 through 18, defines the powers that Congress has to enact any legislation and defines the subjects that Congress may enact legislation for. Congress may enact legislation pertaining to postal roads and the military. It may declare war and conduct tribunals and trials lower than the Supreme Court, etc. Healthcare is not mentioned anywhere in Article 1, Section 8.
Each of these powers culminates in Article 1, Section 8, clause 18, granting Congress legislative power over the previous subjects, including those in the 17 previous clauses in Article 1, Section 8. These powers are also finite as defined in the 10th Amendment.
Healthcare is absolutely a 10th Amendment, states rights issue. National healthcare legislation thus also violates the 10th Amendment.
Federal law prohibits residents of any state from buying health insurance from any insurance company outside of their state of residence. This ensures that health insurance falls inside the bounds of "intrastate commerce" and completely outside the several commerce clauses contained in the Constitution. Again, national healthcare legislation is unconstitutional.
Let us look to the words of James Madison, author of our Constitution and Bill of Rights: "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."
Madison clearly believed that the powers of Congress were limited, confirmed in our Constitution. Clearly, nationalized healthcare is, many times over, unconstitutional, illegal and beyond the powers of Congress to enact.
-- Nelson Ward, Port Hueneme
Jon Stewart was recently pondering the GOP's ability to sell us a war that we didn't want and didn't need and the Democrats' inability to sell us a single-payer health plan that we desperately need. It's tragic that in this day and age we need a comedian to tell it like it is.
Former President George Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and the GOP were able to sell the war in Iraq because they, with the help of right-wing talk and Fox News, lied to us. They lied about weapons of mass destruction. They lied about the link between Iraq and al-Qaida and they lied about torture.
Now, in this healthcare debate, they are lying about "death panels," government choosing your doctors and how awful and inefficient nationalized healthcare is in every other civilized country.
We are in trouble, folks. Corporate interests own the majority of our politicians on both sides of the aisle. And when a select few actually try to stand up to these corporations and actually do something that might help the American people, they are drowned out by the noise created by the corporate media and the poor souls who were either bought off or brainwashed into shouting down their own interests at town halls.
The GOP cuts education because they want us uneducated. They want "ditto-heads" who follow orders. They throw Nazi accusations at Democrats so that no one will see their own fascist tactics. They bring guns to rallies and shout down the intelligent debate. They do anything to stop progress on healthcare.
If the Democrats had any spine, they would use their 60-vote majority and open Medicare for everyone in the country who wanted it and be done with it.
If we -- and that's the American "we" -- lose this healthcare debate, the GOP will see this as the same "mandate" that re-elected Bush.
I agree with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. We do have a lot to fear.
-- John Loprieno, Westlake Village
Re: Ann McFeatters' Aug. 18 essay, "A lynch-mob mentality":
This essay is not quite correct.
First, let me say that some Americans were in fact overreacting by allowing fear to justify the misconduct at the town hall meetings, but I will list very valid reasons as to why we are so frustrated with our government.
-- Unanswered e-mails to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California and the president of the United States, just to name a few. Instead of answers, I received, once in a while, a memo that states nothing of what I was asking about.
-- Promises never kept by the government, such as allowing no pork, no lobbyists to interfere and corporate accountability, to name a few. These promises were the reasons they were elected.
-- No control on spending, and the wrong people receiving the monies. You can shake a bottle of soda just so long without it exploding. Yes, the people are very mad.
-- To say we are misinformed by radio shock jocks and other media is ludicrous. McFeatters sounds like Pelosi, who, in fact, has done nothing but put us Americans down by her comments. Mad? You bet your bottom dollar we are by McFeatters assuming we have not done our homework.
These are just a few reasons why the American people have found their voice. Yes, we sometimes have handled the situation poorly, but, in the same breath, how dare McFeatters and the government just keep doing business as usual with a deaf ear. It is beyond comprehension.
-- Mary E. Aquino, Moorpark
What is going to become of us when the only civilians who still have guns are the criminals who don't observe the law anyway? They want what the rest of us have already. Who will protect us from them? Big Brother, who has gone and disarmed us? Who?
-- Hal Wilder, Camarillo
I was very, very disappointed when the Oxnard Fire Department drove by in the Ventura County Fair Parade. I was excited that they were in the parade, and my son was very excited to see the fire trucks. Then I saw the Mexican flag being waved out the window. The only flag that should ever be waved in the United States is the American flag.
In my opinion, this was completely disrespectful.
Before I get all kinds of hateful replies calling me a racist, this has nothing to do with not liking Mexicans. I have plenty of Hispanic friends. How would we be treated if we went to Mexico or any other country and started waving the American flag? It wouldn't be right. If you're in America, you support America, not a foreign country.
Also, I was completely disgusted with the lack of respect shown the Vietnam vets when they walked by. It is sad to know that after everything our vets have done for us and all they have endured, people at the parade couldn't even be bothered to stand up and show some respect and appreciation to the people who have fought so hard for our country.
I had my young son at the parade, and you'd better believe we were standing, clapping and yelling "Thank you!" to these vets. What is wrong with our fellow Americans that they are not teaching their kids to show respect? Kids should not be asking, "Why do we have to stand up for the color guard and the vets? Why do we have to put our hand on our heart when the national anthem is played?"
So, for all of you who were at the parade and sat on your butts when our heroes walked by, shame on you! Whether or not you believe in the current war situation, if you are a true American, you should honor our past, present and future vets. If not, leave.
-- Alison Martell, Ventura
One of the talking points U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and President Barack Obama keep using is, "If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it." Our company plan is a health savings account compatible plan.
HSAs were created in a bill Congress passed several years ago. Capps voted for this bill. Why has she changed her mind? These plans allow our employees a choice on how to spend their healthcare dollars, while protecting them from financial disaster with a high deductible ($2,500) policy. The company contributes to the HSA and the employee can supplement it tax-free. The House bill the congresswomen supports eliminates our insurance choice.
These kinds of plans should be expanded, but Democrats don't like that because they want government to make healthcare choices, not the individual.
Capps should stop misleading the public. Under her plan, we cannot keep our current plan!
-- John Zaruka, Camarillo
Re: Terry Paulson's Aug. 17 essay, "Incentives always matter":
Paulson claims that if healthcare becomes free, then people will flock to get care. This would indicate that there is a great need for medical care. People go to doctors because they are sick, hurting or just afraid. No one goes to a doctor because they have nothing better to do and, anyway, it's free.
Why should good healthcare be limited to those who can afford it? An unhealthy person cannot work at their highest potential. To achieve, it is so much better and easier if one is healthy.
When Paulson gets to the subject of incentives, he seems to believe it is all about money. Most professionals in the health field have incentives such as a need to relieve suffering. Others want to feel needed. People will keep on achieving, investing, serving and hiring. For them, it is a matter of money being a tool to achieve their goals.
As for business incentives, we have those: tax breaks, corporate welfare, pork and whatever else money for lobbying and campaign contributions can buy. But we are still facing a financial meltdown.
The real reason we are in this mess is because of those who see money as an end in itself, something one needs for prestige. This is known as greed.
-- Gracia Marks, Camarillo
I am 88 years old. In my 70s, I paid an attorney to prepare a living will for me, the living will that lying Republicans are scaring elders with, claiming President Barack Obama has a death panel that will off granny.
As a result of my living will, my family knows exactly how I feel about "end of life." They know I don't want to be "Terry Schaivoed." My doctor also has a copy. They know when to pull the plug on wires and tubes -- without guilt and without the anguish some families suffer.
We're all comfortable with this. I believe it would be beneficial for other families as well.
I paid my attorney for my living will. Healthcare reform would have paid for this service through Medicare, a single-payer, government-run health insurance that Republicans voted against originally. (They also voted against Social Security. Did you know that?).
If Republicans succeed in scuttling healthcare reform, we will be left with the status quo: a failing healthcare system and millions of citizens not covered. The current healthcare systems run by the government, including veterans' healthcare, work pretty well.
Don't fall prey to the lies spread by shouting hooligans at town hall meetings. Ask real questions and get accurate answers.
-- Virginia Palmer, Ojai
It is a mistake to think that the business of the private health insurance industry is to provide healthcare to those in need.
The business of that industry, like most others, is to maximize profits for its stockholders. Refusing coverage to applicants with pre-existing conditions, denying claims to subscribers and revoking coverage for those who become seriously ill are all a means to that end. This is old-style, laissez-faire business without any "fiduciary" responsibility to its subscribers.
We need a way to keep the health insurance industry honest. Providing a public alternative, like that offered members of Congress, members and veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and our citizens on Medicare and Medicaid is the only viable way to do that.
-- Nicholas Stroud, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Aug. 14 Time Out article, "'Plan 9' on the roasting spit":
Kudos to Brett Johnson for his article about Ed Wood's movie, "Plan 9 from Outer Space." Johnson thoroughly dissected that 1959 potboiler.
Sidebar articles about other awful movies omitted my personal choice for the all-time "worst-of-the-worst": Robot Monster (1953), starring George Nader. This Tinseltown waste of film featured actors in gorilla suits with fishbowl helmets using Lawrence Welk-style bubble machines as weapons, roaming in and out of a cave located in the Hollywood hills.
Surprisingly, the original music score was written and conducted by Elmer Bernstein. I wonder if he ever saw the dreadful movie for which he was producing the music.
-- Vince Nowell Sr., Simi Valley
Sarah Palin would rather see seniors die in hospitals hooked up to tubes than at home with family, friends and with home care.
Seniors who are very ill cannot make sound judgments about their care in the last few months of life. Some doctors and hospitals pile on tests and medications, at a great profit, for very ill seniors near death -- and they know it. The estimates I've seen are that 20 percent of a person's lifetime medical costs occurs in the last two months of life.
Why not have a panel help make the last few months of a person's life as comfortable as possible at home rather than being drugged, lying in a bed in a hospital?
Palin's comments about a "death panel" are totally partisan and without merit.
-- Paul Lux, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bob Jackson's Aug. 14 letter, "No right":
The one thing I keep noticing in letters to the editor and elsewhere in the media is the "it's good for me but not for you" attitude of those with a more liberal viewpoint.
It seems that it's OK for liberals to protest and speak their mind, but conservatives can't do the same without being considered arrogant, ignorant, etc. It's OK to protest against Republican politicians, but it's unacceptable for anyone who doesn't agree with President Barack Obama to speak their mind, most recently in regards to healthcare reform. I'm sure there are Republicans, Democrats, independents and unregistered individuals enlisted in the military, fighting for all Americans. Free speech is not for some, but for all.
All of the backbiting, name-calling and arguing among the different political parties is getting worse. Quite honestly, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers need to get over themselves and work together. The old saying "everything in moderation" seems to be lost on both.
We need a new "moderate" party that keeps the separation of church and state, isn't run by special interests, believes government should regulate and not control, and believes that people who work shouldn't have to support those who don't want to. (I am not referring to those who cannot work or are trying to find employment in today's difficult times.)
Based on a few letters I've read recently in The Star, as well as discussions with those I know, I think there are many who would welcome such a party.
-- Lorraine Wilkins, Moorpark
This is an update on the progress being made to change the method of handling the problem of barking dogs in Simi Valley.
We have had good response so far, and with our new e-mail address, more and more residents are responding. E-Mail to email@example.com
On Monday (Aug. 24) at 6:30 p.m., a meeting is being held at the Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi, Rooms 106 and 107. Avenida Simi is one block north of Alamo Street, off Tapo Canyon Road.
We urge all concerned citizens with barking or loose dog problems in their neighborhood to attend this meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Williamson and staff from the city and Ventura County Animal Regulation Department will be there to listen to your problems and past experiences.
If you are concerned but cannot attend, please contact Patrick Pieres, the manager of environmental programs for Simi Valley, at 805-583-6762. He will handle your complaint to add it to the growing list. You may also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to have an even larger attendance than last time so that we may once again enjoy our homes in peace.
-- Jules Rabalais, Simi Valley
As a single-payer system, Medicare has covered 80 percent of my healthcare expenses for many years. My employer's supplemental plan pays the rest plus offers prescription coverage. The cost has increased considerably; still I have peace of mind. Overall, I am well-covered and served.
Many fellow citizens are not so lucky. Some 45 million have no coverage at all; many more are underinsured. When a healthcare crisis arises, their only option is "free" emergency-room care, which drives up the cost for us all.
Other than this unnecessary increase to me -- and you -- I could easily be unconcerned about this issue. For many important reasons, I am concerned -- as all should be.
A healthcare system is judged by the overall well-being of all its citizens; ours is No. 37. Despite our superior facilities, of all the advanced nations, ours is the most expensive and least effective, mainly because so many people have no upfront care at all.
As a result, many are suffering financially as well as physically, and the situation continues to worsen exponentially. Moreover, our healthcare is primarily geared toward treatment rather than prevention -- all at great cost, making us less economically competitive and straining our national budget.
Entrenched special healthcare interests are seeking to convince us that we should "tell Congress" to retain the status quo -- that's where all their profits reside. Using a strategy of fear, so successful in the past, they seek to have us believe that the government will take charge of our healthcare lives, even determining when we die, which is not true. The real truth is that the insurance companies, when denying coverage, are the ones making that determination.
An old saw: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." It's time we stop being fooled.
-- Thomas Harrison, Thousand Oaks
Re: Terry Paulson's Aug. 17 essay, "Incentives always matter":
Suffering fools is one of the unwanted consequences of a democracy, so we continue to accept the inanity of those such as Paulson who, parrotlike, bother us with the old, disproven "trickle-down" economic theory.
His essay provides us with "the conservative answer. What it has always been: better incentives for new business growth and lower taxes for those who invest and produce that growth." There it is folks, the old help-the-rich-get-richer mantra and they, the rich, will thankfully and enthusiastically pass on their largess to the rest of us, and we'll all live happily ever after.
One might think that recent revelations of megamillion-dollar salaries paid to the executives of some of our largest corporations, many in drastic financial messes, would suggest that greed, not altruism, is still at work among us. Our government's recently concluded negotiations with Switzerland, resulting in the upcoming release of information concerning hidden, i.e. tax-evading, bank accounts, should provide additional substantiation of greed trumping "trickle down."
I want government to be as limited as practicable. However, our national economic malaise is not the result of too much governmental intervention in business life. Rather, it is the result of an unregulated business environment that has fostered, promoted and perfected the fallacy that get, get, get greed is good. The "common good" refers to all of us, and encouraging a philosophy that helping the rich get richer will lift us all through some Alice in Wonderland trickle-down magic will simply perpetuate our economic disorder.
-- Richard Landis, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Aug. 15 article, "Wait for sex and marriage? Evangelicals conflicted":
It is suggested that not waiting is better, especially for younger couples, when it comes to working on what the Bible says makes for successful marriage.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, verse 2, it says to get married to avoid fornication. Then, in now lawful relations, verses 3 and 4 say supply the needs of the other because, in that now lawful relationship, the power to fulfill is not in oneself, but in the other. Therefore, as verses 33 and 34 state, the key to successful marriage is seeking to please the other in all things.
Seeking to please the other involves first learning what pleases the other, then responding accordingly. This often requires a change in the ways of the responding party.
As years pass, the more set people become in their ways. So, as a young married couple pointed out in the article, the less set in one's ways, the less conflict in dealing with the affairs of life.
-- Rolf L. Miller, Ventura
Re: George Rodriguez' Aug. 14 letter, "Mind-boggling":
I would like to add my voice to that of Rodriguez' in regard to healthcare reform.
There are many seniors on Medicare who just don't seem to understand that they are on socialized health benefits. It's called Medicare and is provided by the government of the United States of America. So, I don't understand where they are coming from in not wanting to allow our government to extend this to all who need it.
Nowhere have I heard or read anything about mandating that all American citizens have to use this proposed government-provided health insurance. It is clear to me that if you like the insurance you have and pay for it yourself privately, you can keep that insurance.
Many of us are reaching the breaking point of affordability on the private health insurance we currently have. I know my premiums for myself and my wife are getting to that point as the premiums keep going up. The health insurance companies get to make all the rules, and they are stacked against you and me.
The bottom line is that everybody needs to get as informed as possible on this subject. Stop relying on your government representatives or your political party to inform you as to what is and what is not true regarding this healthcare issue. Take time to really check the facts on this very important issue.
There are many who benefit from your ignorance by taking money and backing from the insurance companies, physicians and pharmaceutical companies. I assure you that they don't want to lose that money and backing to line their own pockets and keep them in office so that they can have all the benefits they would deny you and me.
-- Kenneth D. Hower, Port Hueneme
Re: Robert Dodge's Aug. 9 commentary, "Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembered":
Every year we're reminded about the dangers of war and horrors of nuclear attacks on Japanese cities. Vigils are held in Ventura to remember the dead from the nuclear explosions. I suspect at some point the shift will be complete, and America will be the villain for its role in this. The world had been dragged into wars on both sides of the world. We were attacked we did not start this war.
When the last of the World War II veterans are gone, the villain will be the United States. The left-wing groups will not let this act go unpunished and are determined to make the United States the purveyor of death.
Forget the brutal Japanese torture to prisoners, Nanjing rape, Bataan Death March and other atrocities. After the first bomb was dropped, they didn't want to surrender. After the second bomb, some were still holding out to fight. Nuclear bombs saved lives -- American, British, Australian, Chinese and Japanese lives. It ended the terrible war.
Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions needs to move on. We are not the enemy. Have a vigil for the 250,000 people murdered in Darfur. The 500,000 Rwandans might like a vigil, as would the 1 million Cambodians murdered and 1 million killed in the Congo wars and, oh yes, the 6 million Jews who also died during World War II.
Nuclear weapons don't make wars, people do, and we should be honoring the dead and condemning the groups that started the conflict.
Personally, I am thankful we found a way to end the Second World War and save lives. Condemning the weapon and the country that used it solves and resolves nothing. Rewriting 64-year-old history and making some sort of modern-day moral judgment of the events soils the dedication and sacrifice of millions of soldiers and brave men and women.
-- Robert W. Coshland, Ventura
Re: Charles D. Richardson's Aug. 12 letter, "A good deal":
In response to Rep. Elton Gallegly's Aug. 9 commentary, "Only fix what's broken," Richardson details for us how his wife's $1.5 million in hospital bills have cost them $0. "This is a fact, $0 dollars." By his own admission, they have a "good deal" in Medicare, a government-run program that he calls "absolutely supreme!"
Richardson closes his letter, however, by declaring, "Socialized medicine is not for Americans, ever!" Is Richardson not an American? He and your wife are currently enrolled in and reaping the benefits of "socialized medicine."
I must assume then that Gallegly, who also enjoys a socialized medicine plan, and Richardson believe that "socialized medicine" is good only for those who have it and denounce it, not for those who need or desire it.
-- Chuck Moore, Oak View
Just what has Barack Obama done? The man of hope and change has lost hope and makes very little change in his desire to work both sides of the aisle.
Without a single-payer system or the government "alternative" plan, does he expect to control costs without again putting that desire on the backs of the providers? Has he made any tough demands on the insurance industry, other than begging or requesting them to not cherry-pick or deny care to the sick, overlook pre-existing illness risks or guarantee insurance (at what cost?) to the masses?
Cooperation and bipartisanship should not be defined as capitulation and abandonment of principles just to get "something passed." The far left or liberal arm of the Democrat Party must believe their hero has sold out to big business and the corporate controllers of the Republican Party and perhaps all parties.
I am disappointed in him and wonder if he is re-electable in 2010.
-- David J. Katz, M.D., Oxnard
Kudos to Tom Kisken and his daily reports on his experiences at the Ventura County Fair! He is a great writer, even though he can't sing or promote any of the "win a teddy bear" games. Who knew those guys got commissions?
I looked forward to reading and laughing each day as I read his column. Write on!
-- Marion Green, Camarillo
It amazes me that convicted, incarcerated prisoners deliberately engaged in a riot where government property was damaged, if not destroyed, and seemingly without remorse. I am firmly opposed to my taxpayer dollars being used to rebuild what the prisoners chose to destroy. Let them exist in the chaos and dearth that they created -- no prisoner "bailouts." If shelter is needed, provide tents for their living quarters.
Prison reform is in dire need across this great land of ours. Those who are incarcerated across the country have committed grievous crimes where they have stolen, destroyed or killed. In essence, they are societal parasites. According to law, prisoners are to be provided minimal life essentials. I stress "minimal," so why are prisoners provided better living amenities and comforts than many of America's law-abiding citizens? Some of those amenities include unlimited TV access, well-equipped weight training equipment, regular meals, clothing and shelter. And harmful provisions are freely provided, such as pornography, drugs and cigarettes.
Why are prisoners provided a "free life," everything they want and, to some degree, what they want regularly appears before them with no effort on their part and at no cost to them? Can this be said of non-prisoners living in the "land of plenty?" Prisoners should to be required to work to compensate for all that they are provided. They should plant, tend and harvest crops. Chain gangs should serve local community needs and provide prison facility general maintenance. Meals should consist of no more than what America's most needy citizens partake. No more free rides for those incarcerated.
America's prison system is a subject that needs much concerted attention to make amends to overcome very serious deficiencies.
-- Loren Friday, Ventura
I spent the last two weekends volunteering for a homeless project at the Ventura County Fair. I watched the parade of real Californians seeking relief from the stresses of daily life. Expensive vacations are prohibitive. The fair is their "breakation."
State parks are another resource for relaxation, where families can escape from the daily grind.
How I wished Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had been present to mingle with the most vulnerable victims of his budget cuts!
What happened to the logical concept of "cutting the fat?" Fat rises to the top! Parks, fairgrounds, uninsured children, disabled individuals and laid-off low-income workers all represent the leanest of the lean!
Here are some other cost-cutting, profitable suggestions:
-- Sell the state Capitol. Nothing worthwhile is happening there! Legislators can take a reasonable salary cut and communicate on the Internet from home. They can meet quarterly in rented tents, where the homeless were evicted.
-- Sell the Los Angeles Science Center to USC. It's just across from the campus on Exposition Boulevard. The Legislature has traditionally treated this museum like a toy football in administering its budget. Sell with the condition that the dedicated, creative employees remain on the payroll and that the beautiful public rose garden stays intact for the enjoyment of visitors.
-- Most importantly, the governor could take a temporary leave to make a heartwarming movie, with all profits going to the California deficit. "Arnie transforms himself from the Terminator to the Donator!" The action would entail his taking on the terrible tribulations of his less fortunate citizens. Live with them for a week! This movie could bring in a fortune! He would be a genuine hero! He might even be re-elected!
-- Frances Jeanne Scott, Port Hueneme
I could talk about the impressive 15 wins and two losses that the team had in post-season play, or the fact that they outscored their opponents 120 to 50 runs in the 17 games that the Thousand Oaks Big League team played, but I won't.
I could talk about the five times in seven years they have played in the World Series, but I won't.
I will talk about the fact the team always gives a little something back to the local community of Easley, S.C., every time they play in the series. Easley is the home of the Big League World Series. This year was no different.
The team spent three hours at the Shriners Hospital and then the Children's Oncology Floor at Greenville Memorial Hospital, sharing their love for baseball and telling stories of their journey to the World Series.
Many smiles on little faces that do not normally smile appeared. The brief time spent with the patients relieved, if only briefly, the pain and suffering these young children endure each day, knowing that many will never have the opportunity to play baseball.
The parents were thankful the players shared stories of their journey to the World Series. Several young children asked their parents if they could watch "their team" on ESPN2 in the championship game.
Life is not a destination, but a journey. Over the past month the team had quite the journey.
United States Champions is something to be very proud of, but equally as important is that the 2009 team again exemplified good sportsmanship and being stewards of our community. They shared their passion, love and dedication to America's favorite pastime -- baseball.
See you next year at the "Big Show."
-- John Short III, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is president of Thousand Oaks Little League. -- Editor)
Re: Ruben Navarrette's Aug. 13 essay, "Hispanic backlash likely":
Navarrette's argument against the senators who didn't vote for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is as shallow and mindless as the argument that if you didn't vote for Barack Obama you must be racist. The author suggests that the only reason to vote for Sotomayor is because she is "Hispanic" or a "wise Latina." What logic is that?
Not once in the entire article did the words "American," "U.S. citizen" or the "United States Supreme Court" appear! Let's get something straight: We are a "nation of immigrants." Demographics have shifted from one ethnic group to another throughout our entire history. The strength of this country is the ability of those citizens to assimilate into one nation that has become a melting pot of cultures, ideas, national pride, security, freedoms, liberties and a common language that this nation affords all its citizens.
To that end, judging the political future of any legislator who may have voted for or against Sotomayor solely for these reasons is truly the racist position.
-- Don Costa, Simi Valley
Re: Aug. 15 commentaries by Dan K. Thomasson, " Attacking the root cause," and Bill O'Reilly, "An unhealthy tactic by the Obama administration":
These are examples of both the best and worst of issues journalism. Their offerings can be summed up in their closing paragraphs.
Thomasson writes, "So, before they do anything, the president and the Congress should begin the healthcare reformation with an examination of the insurance industry practices as a basic means of holding down costs and freeing millions of Americans from the bondage of a flawed system."
O'Reilly writes, "The endgame here is that the Obama administration is badly handling the healthcare debate. Attacking critics and planting favorable questions is not the remedy for fixing healthcare confusion. If there is a wise-up pill available the administration needs it fast."
In each case, the summary reflects its content of the piece.
Thomasson's piece identified a specific issue within the healthcare debate: the difficulty many people have with a health system under the control of insurance corporations. He illustrated the difficulties with examples drawn from several sources and concluded by suggesting that the administration address this issue.
O'Reilly's piece dwelled on the raucus nature of the public debate. No issues of the healthcare proposals were identified or explored. He neither explained why any particular proposal was bad nor offered any of his own, and he concluded by suggesting that the administration do a better job of answering its critics.
Public voices like Thomasson's help clarify issues of the day, promote understanding and generally advance us all toward an eventual solution. Voices like O'Reilly's cloud issues, divert public attention from the search for solutions and generally mire us in continued controversy.
-- Timothy Loftin, Simi Valley
To those motorists who suffer from the earsplitting noise emitted by illegally modified motorcycles, I've heard of a way that many use to pay them back in kind. They honk their horn.
-- John Fonti, Newbury Park
We, all of us, have our deal-breakers.
Personally, I live my life based on the statutes implied in the great quote by author Tennessee Williams: "Nothing human disgusts me unless it is cruel or unkind."
So, as a dog lover, rescuer and owner, I am disgusted by NFL player Michael Vick's history.
For you forgiving Christians out there, and I'm no expert, there's a line in the New Testament that says, "Sins against the Holy Spirit are not forgiven."
My understanding is that those who betray and lead astray "innocents" -- in this case, dogs -- will find no mercy.
The Humane Society and the Philadelphia Eagles owners should also be condemned -- the former for asking Vick to be their spokesman, the latter for, I guess, getting a quarterback at a discount.
If karma were real, the streets would be ankle-deep in blood. As Oscar Wilde said, "Where the good are rewarded and the evil punished is the definition of fiction."
-- Joe Mack, Newbury Park
Re: Robert Dingman's Aug. 14 letter, "'Assisted dying?' No way":
I have four brief comments to make.
-- There is no such thing as "assisted dying" -- sometimes referred to as "death panels" -- in the pieces of healthcare legislation before Congress.
-- There have been many commentaries, both in print and on television, pointing out that the existence of a "death panel" in the healthcare legislation is a false rumor, and I have heard members of Congress of both parties affirming that such a rumor is false. If Dingman heard these rumors and did not realize they were false, it is no wonder he is concerned.
-- There is much of substance to be discussed and debated about healthcare. I would hope that we Americans could stick to the issues of substance and not be sidetracked by false rumors.
-- I believe healthcare reform is needed, and I would like it discussed on its merits.
-- Frank A. Johnson, Newbury Park
Do not take a breath of relief believing that the "public option" is no longer in the House version of health reform. Within the 1,000-plus pages, there are plenty of ways to achieve the same goal without using the words "public option."
One instance could be through the "qualified health benefits" (section 144, page 47) portion of HR 3200. If you create "qualified options" that are too expensive for a health insurer to stay in business, then the government can just step in and manage that insurance company. How would that kind of government control not achieve the same goal as the openly public option?
Within the 1,000-plus pages, of which I haven't read all, I'm sure there are other ways to achieve government-managed healthcare, better known as "the public option."
-- William "Bill" Hicks, Newbury Park
Re: Terry Paulson's Aug. 17 essay, "Incentives always matter":
I giggled with delight while reading Paulson's latest essay. It was just so simplistically woven with silly anecdotes about wealthy shoppers being locked in a mall who would never return because they were going to be forced to pay others shoppers' bills.
These kinds of simplistic analogies may be suitable for rednecks and Sarah Palin's hardcore followers, but this is Ventura County! This county is full of rational, well-educated people, both conservative and liberal. Why The Star chooses to publish Paulson can only be explained by their being socialist liberals who are hellbent on destroying America from within. Surely there is someone who could provide the community with a salient and thoughtful conservative point of view that does not make conservatism look so stupid!
Paulson's solution to our present fiscal circumstance seems much like a rerun of the nightmare I have been living through: Cut taxes for the wealthy, then sit around and wait for the windfall of tax receipts that never seems to come. I sure would like to go back to the 1990s, when a conservative Congress and a liberal president raised taxes and cut spending and got us to not only a balanced budget but a surplus! Both former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush worshiped at the alter of tax cuts and have now left us with a massive budget deficit. And now Paulson is all of a sudden worried about deficits when a liberal administration is desperately try to avoid the next Great Depression. Great timing!
I will give Paulson one thing though: his assertion that when those additional 50 million uninsured have insurance, we'll probably see a jump in them going to the doctor more often and addressing some of their less serious illnesses. Actually, this is one of the objectives of healthcare reform: Get people to the doctor before their condition becomes very expensive to treat. Treating 50 million people at the emergency room is very expensive in itself!
-- Tom Ion, Moorpark
Why do we need government-run healthcare cooperatives? Such co-ops already exist. Some in my family have been happy members of healthcare co-ops for years, and a quick Google search shows that there are a lot more co-ops there. Why does the federal government want to "create" something that already exists? I can imagine only that it is a grab for power.
I suggest at least two reforms on which everyone seems to agree: allow purchase of insurance across state lines, and tort (legal) reform so that doctors can stop wasting their money and our money on defensive medicine.
-- Martha "Marty" Highfield, Agoura Hills
(The writer is a registered nurse. -- Editor)
Re: your Aug. 13 article, "T.O. healthcare forum draws hundreds":
The Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley co-sponsored a panel presentation about healthcare insurance reform options along with the Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles and neighboring democratic clubs in our county on Aug. 12 at the Thousand Oaks Main Library.
Although it had been falsely represented by others as a town hall meeting with politicians in attendance -- some in the crowd had heard U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., himself would be there -- this was actually our regularly scheduled monthly democratic club meeting. Our club members had indicated an interest in hearing more about the various healthcare insurance reform options, and so we provided this panel for our membership.
I'm sure there were folks in attendance who never thought in a million years they'd spend the night at a democratic club meeting! Obviously, interest in this topic is high.
It was unfortunate that not everyone who came and waited patiently to get in was able to do so. Still, it's wonderful that we have a citizenry that, regardless of party affiliation and personal opinion, is willing to educate itself calmly and civilly about this issue without the nonsense that we've been watching from other states.
Our club is now in the planning stages of another discussion on this issue, hopefully in a larger venue with all points of view represented. Personally, I'd like to thank everyone who spoke with me that evening with a willingness to engage in a meaningful exchange of ideas. We don't always have to agree with each other, but we do need to be able to converse with each other.
-- Debbie Birenbaum, Newbury Park
(The writer is president of the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley. -- Editor)
I find it ironic that only days after what would have been Mary Jo Kopechne's 69th birthday, the man who left her to die at the age of 29 was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
President Barack Obama highlighted the recipients' accomplishments of the heights a person can reach and the difference they can make in the lives of others. Well, this particular recipient certainly made a difference in Mary Jo's life -- that much is true.
What is wrong with this picture?
-- Judith Linton, Thousand Oaks
I applaud First 5 California's decision to provide $81.4 million for restoring cuts to the state's Healthy Families Program. As a result, approximately 200,000 children will keep their health insurance over this coming year. First 5's financial support shows they understand an investment in our children is an investment in our state's future.
I urge our legislative "leaders" and the governor to follow First 5's example and put our kids first by restoring cuts to the Healthy Families Program when they return to Sacramento later this month.
-- Tonie Valdez, Simi Valley
In the early 1960s, Joel McRea donated land for a YMCA. At that time, there was no Thousand Oaks. This area was an unincorporated part of Ventura County, hence the name, Conejo Valley YMCA.
The pool was built before running water was piped to it, so large water trucks were used to fill it and keep it filled. At first, and for quite a while, there was only one paid employee; it was staffed by volunteers. We were so happy to have it there was no problem getting people to help.
Eventually a building was constructed around the pool, which is the pool of today. Zonta, an organization of business women, worked for a long time, having potluck suppers, breakfasts and all kinds of projects, to raise the money to install a therapy pool with warm water. Most doctors in the area recommend their patients who need this to come to the Conejo Valley YMCA.
Over the years, thousands and thousands of children have come to this Y for swimming lessons, day camp -- a wonderful time for all the kids -- and swim teams. Adults come for lap swimming, physical exercise, Twinges in Hinges classes for disabled adults and many more activities.
I can't list all the good things the YMCA of Conejo Valley has brought to our community.
Now there is talk of closing it down, as it is not getting enough money to support itself. We need help!
Please help the Y in our time of need. Remember it was the first in our valley and has given so much to our community for almost 50 years. You can reach the Y at 805-523-7613 or, better yet, drive up to the Y at 4031 North Moorpark Road. Come and meet us! We would love it.
-- Jessie Ann Rosiejka, Thousand Oaks
First it was weapons of mass destruction. Now it's weapons of mass distraction.
Debate on healthcare reform is corrupted by scare tactics and lies.
Sarah Palin's claim that she'd be forced in front of a "death panel" to plead for her child's life was an outrageous, irresponsible fabrication, deliberately confusing end-of-life counseling with end-of-life care.
Advertisements claim that Congress is pushing Canadian-style healthcare. In fact, no proposal calls for a single-payer system. Antagonists assert that any reform will lead to rationing of healthcare. In fact, only insurance company abuses will be rationed.
Insurance companies ration all the time. Guess why! They cherry-pick policyholders, deny valid claims and cancel policies. Death panels deny treatment to cancer patients. Realize that this "lemon-dropping" could one day happen to you. And realize that lack of health insurance is America's seventh cause of death in the 18-to-65 age group.
Attacks on healthcare reform have been so poisonous that it's clear Republicans have given up responsible opposition. They've resorted to political terrorism, with organized town hall attendees disrupting meetings, following a script written by lobbyists, egged on by a drug addict on radio.
Be ashamed of what the Republican Party has turned into.
-- Raymond Freeman, Thousand Oaks
Re: Charles D. Richardson's Aug. 12 letter, "A good deal," a response to Rep. Elton Gallegly's Aug. 9 commentary, "Only fix what's broken":
Richardson writes about Gallegly's commentary by praising the Medicare Advantage Plan. Because of the money it has saved him due to his wife's numerous hospitalizations, he says it has been "supreme" and the "best one could hope for." In the same letter, he says, "Socialized medicine is not for Americans, ever."
Medicare is socialized medicine, in that it is partially funded by taxes we all pay. It is a government program, a government insurance program. That is precisely what President Barack Obama's proposed healthcare plan is: a government insurance program to offer an alternative to the for-profit insurance companies that are constantly raising their rates while denying benefits whenever they can get away with it. Think of it as sort of Medicare for all.
The government will not take away your Medicare. They will not kill you when you get old. You will not be forced to drop your insurance. If you like it you can keep it. They will not ration medical care. It will do none of the things the right-wingers such as Gallegly say it will.
It is tragic that the American public is being denied the right of social discourse at the town hall meetings so all can learn the truth. Those who are disrupting these meetings are not there for information. They are there to prevent the dissemination of information. They are being sponsored and encouraged by the Republicans and the insurance companies, and they know that if the public is allowed to learn the truth about the healthcare proposal, they will support it. Far too many of these disrupters have as their only goal the downfall of the president.
Find out what is really being proposed. Don't listen to Gallegly and his ilk. If by bringing down Obama they also bring down the country, well, that would be just fine with many of them. Go get some actual information about what is being proposed, not disinformation.
-- John Mondy, Camarillo
Did you or your neighbors ever have a city problem you wanted addressed? Whom did you approach? Because Ventura does not have city council districts, only at-large positions covering the whole city, you have to approach all of the council persons and/or the mayor. Maybe one of the council members lives near you, or maybe not.
An election is coming. I'd like to know what ZIP code the people running for city office live in. I don't need their addresses, just the general areas -- their ZIP codes.
Please don't tell me where they own property, trying to look "diverse." Where do the people running for Ventura City Council live? Where do the members not up for election live?
It may be time to have the citizens of Ventura elect an actual mayor and have council districts. Next year, 2010, is a census year. Next year would be a good time to make council districts based on population. Ever hear of taxation without representation?
-- Laurel Hewson, Ventura
Regardless of polls, town hall meetings, right-wing Republican misinformation and myths, the majority wants single-payer universal healthcare.
End of story!
-- Sidney Cohn, Ojai
Re: Art Gonzalez' Aug. 12 letter, "Loud motorcycle is safer":
Gonzalez says he modified his motorcycle to make it louder because it's safer that way. As a rider with unmodified pipes, I disagree.
If louder bikes were safer bikes, there would be a notably different accident rate between Harleys, with their ear-splitting exhaust pipes, and BMWs, which ride whisper-soft. That's not the case. BMWs do not have a higher accident rate than Harleys.
Some facts a rider should consider in doing his homework on noisy bikes: Sound is projected directionally -- think megaphone. Exhaust pipes direct their sound to the rear, while only 3 percent of cycle accidents come from that direction. The vast majority of cycle crashes, 77 percent, involve collisions with a vehicle coming from the front. And that's the direction where there is minimal sound projection from loud pipes.
If Gonzalez is looking for a safer ride, he should trade in his loud pipes for a loud jacket. Unlike the unproved assertion about noise, there are studies that show bright riding colors do reduce accident rates.
-- Scott Ulric, Ventura
Re: Sandy Hansen's Aug. 11 letter, "Warnings unfair":
I understand Hansen. I, too, have noticed that City Hall has different days on which they will fine a person or when they will issue a warning.
Remember the trashcan problem? My trashcans were in the right place for a disabled person. A city employee decided they were in the wrong place and could be seen from the roadway and requested that they be hidden from all eyes. I must say, she did give me a warning, though. She came back the next week to berate me and stated that if I did not hide them, she would fine me $1,000 per week. In the end it cost me $2,000 to find a small place in which to hide them.
I called the city about a month ago to ask why we could see so many trashcans in the open. They told me not to bother hiding the trashcans anymore because they had given that up about a year ago. It cost me $2,000 to hide mine, and no one bothers anymore.
It was also illegal, "through the city," to park alongside your own home. We used to be fined for that at one time. A fire engine cannot get up the side of your home was the excuse. Now they are wanting you to pay for a permit so that you may park in the front of your home for a couple of days. The city has no worries if you park at the side of your home these days, as they are collecting money through the permits.
One has to visit City Hall to find out which law is being used this week.
-- Betty Ahuna, Simi Valley
Re: Mel Birmingham's Aug. 13 letter, "Y'all listen up now":
My heart sank while reading your letter. How did this great country become so divided? Birmingham's comments can be defined as sedition, bordering on treason. How can he say he won't acknowledge our president? He was elected overwhelmingly! How can some people think they're so much better than the rest of us Americans?
This country has got to start pulling together. We have to start helping rather than hindering. We should act rather than react.
Last Sunday while out walking my dog, I came upon a group of people picking up trash along the road. They belonged to a martial arts school, and they were doing a community service project. Kudos to them! I wish I had gotten the name of the school so I could give them a plug.
Ventura County government buildings are going green, too. That's a step in the right direction. However I wish they were using local contractors rather than a Sacramento contractor. And I truly wish they were using American-made products rather than the cheap knock-offs from China.
People, we have got to start working toward the good of the nation! Buy local. Buy American-made. Stop inciting treasonous acts against our president who is doing his best to pull this nation out of a huge hole made by someone else.
Yes, it's a free country, thank God. Let's work toward making it a better place for all.
-- Mary Byington, Newbury Park
Unintended consequences are important. When the government enters the marketplace to do some good, it usually ends up with something poor.
With the "cash for clunkers" program, all we have done is transfer the rebate typically given by auto dealers to the U.S. taxpayer.
If the estimates are correct, we will have increased one-time overall car sales by 10 percentage points.
We did not increase sales by 200,000 cars, but by a 20,000 overall increase. The 200,000 cars would have been purchased and the incentive would have been picked up by the dealer.
Now, for the additional 20,000 increase, we are picking up the total rebate of $4,500 on most of the cars sold. So for that one-time rebate of $4,500, it has actually cost the U.S. taxpayer $45,000 per car for the increase above and beyond what normally would have been sold.
The second consequence of the U.S. government's action has been the removal of these used cars from the system. So remember when supply goes down (used cars), the price goes up. Used-car prices have increased by 5 percentage points.
The bottom line is that we have rewarded the United Auto Workers, stuck the U.S. taxpayer with the bill and increased used-car prices.
Please tell me how we are feeling good with this program.
-- William F. Klepper, Simi Valley
Re: Ruben Navarrette's Aug. 13 essay, "Hispanic backlash likely":
Navarrette's essay stating that the GOP's 31 no votes on making Sonia Sotomayor a Supreme Court justice "may prove costly" reads more like a yearning than a prediction.
It has been my experience, after 38 years as a lawyer, now specializing in constitutional law, that neither race nor gender is a good predictor of how a Supreme Court justice will vote. Affiliation to party and causes is a better forecaster. Two examples offer support:
Both Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas are African-Americans; however, the voting record of Marshall (a brilliant lawyer who represented civil rights causes) was generally liberal, while the voting record of Thomas (a Republican and government attorney) has been generally conservative. Additionally, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg are both women; however, the voting record of O'Connor (a Republican senator from Arizona) was generally conservative, while the voting record of Ginsberg (a Democrat and former director of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project) has generally been liberal.
It is only natural that Republican senators, who are generally conservative, would be concerned about Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment, particularly considering her propensity to avoid answering difficult questions under the guise that she cannot answer them as she may have to decide such questions when she is on the Supreme Court.
When Miguel Estrada (a Latino, Harvard Law School editor and attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice under the Bush administration) was nominated as a justice to the D.C. Circuit, a steppingstone to the Supreme Court, his nomination was hailed by Republicans but filibustered by Senate Democrats. Was Estrada rejected by the Democrats because he was Latino? No, it was his affiliations. Was Sotomayor rejected by Republicans because she was Latina? No, it was her affiliations.
Navarrette inappropriately injects race into these decisions.
-- John M. Werlich, Westlake Village
Let's clear up some misconceptions.
We, as a nation, absolutely have the best healthcare in the world.
Let us not substitute the word "insurance" for "healthcare," as President Barack Obama and the Democrats have done. It is patently untrue that millions of Americans do not receive "healthcare." Millions of Americans do not have health insurance, but virtually all Americans -- and non-Americans in our country -- receive healthcare.
Under a national healthcare plan, healthcare will be rationed. It is rationed now by our individual ability to pay. Will the government make better rationing choices than are being made now? Won't we still get the best care based on what we can afford? Would you not choose the best you could get for you and your loved ones, or do you really think that will happen, as it does not happen anywhere else with a nationalized plan?
Obama said, "We spend much more on healthcare than any other nation, but aren't any healthier for it." That is patently untrue. Our life expectancy with virtually any major disease is longer. We wait less time for procedures that are sometimes not even available in other countries. And if you do not count deaths from violent crime and auto accidents -- a subject for another time -- we do have the longest life expectancy.
Facts, not rhetoric, should be how we determine our future. Please find and analyze the facts. Then, maybe, we can make something good happen. Nationalized healthcare is not the answer. It works nowhere else. It will not work here.
-- Frank Bland, Simi Valley
Re: Laurence Hauben's Aug. 2 letter, "The French connection":
I have a question for Hauben, who lambasted American healthcare.
The letter mentions how, with her dual citizenship, she is able to receive inexpensive care in France, how she is able to schedule her gynecologist and dentist appointments before she leaves, how nice and prompt the treatment is and how quickly she gets reimbursed for the minor costs she incurs.
If France is so terrific, why has she been taking up space in America for more than 27 years?
The whole letter was a criticism of our country, where she apparently makes enough money to fly to France for her healthcare, "take a swim in the Mediterranean" and fly back with her prescriptions.
Our country is much bigger than France, and we certainly have our share of problems. We are still a young country, which has opened our doors to everyone who wishes to live here, crowd our systems and partake of our freedoms, including freedom of speech.
I am sorry our politicians make Hauben "sick," and our doctors charge too much. I know everyone is working very hard to improve our "barbaric" system so that in the future, she doesn't have to go back to France for her "routine exams and dental care."
-- Kathleen Blakeney, Moorpark
Re: Chris Habecker's Aug. 3 letter, "Get loud and dirty":
Habecker's letter was on the money. This letter quoted these knuckleheads as expressing their "personal freedom." Isn't that what taggers do when they find something -- anything -- that hasn't been spray-painted? What about the other idiots who think they can park in a red zone at a bank or grocery store while someone else "runs in?" Or the behemoth SUVs that don't fit into a regular-sized parking space so they take two spots. Isn't that their "personal freedom" to do what they want?
The same self-important idiots usually don't care whom they infringe upon, as long as they "get theirs." What if I wanted to express "personal freedom" of the Second Amendment, buy a gun, and invoke my "personal freedom" and remove whatever annoys me?
Obviously, these mental midgets don't have kids or grandkids who are going to be the recipients of whatever is left of the world and environment when they grow up.
It needs to be explained to these people that breaking the law and polluting infringe on my right to have clean air. The "personal freedom" they want to enjoy needs to be changed to "personal responsibility" to obey the laws of the land, because it's the right thing to do, not just whenever someone is looking, but all of the time.
This applies, now more than ever, to the people who water their lawns every day until the water runs into the street, then claim ignorance of the law. They're ignorant, all right!
-- Greg Knapp, Simi Valley
The Republicans are at it again with their huge expenditures on false and misleading ads to defeat healthcare reform for purely political partisan advantage. They have demonstrated that they will do anything to keep President Barack Obama from succeeding in fulfilling his promises to us.
The best health coverage in the nation is for members of Congress and key government officials. It is a single-payer system, paid by the government, and it allows freedom of choice.
The next best coverage is Medicare, which is a single-payer system, paid by the government, and which allows freedom of choice and is far more cost-effective.
The healthcare reform supported by Obama and the Democrats provides excellent coverage, freedom of choice, an option of public insurance and has steps to reduce the costs of healthcare.
None of these plans is socialistic.
The worst healthcare system is the one we have, which is extraordinarily expensive with no provisions for controlling costs, leaves 40 million-plus people uncovered and the rest of us at risk if we lose our jobs and rations healthcare based on arbitrary decisions by a cartel of health insurance companies that most doctors despise and that pays obscene benefits to the executives that run these companies. The administrative costs of these companies are three times those of Medicare. Many of these plans do not offer you freedom of choice of your doctors. These companies routinely reject the treatments chosen by your doctors.
Protect yourself. Fight to support critical healthcare reform.
-- Bill Robinson, Westlake Village
I have been following the healthcare debate closely, and I am disgusted by the distortions and downright lies being spouted by those "conservatives" who oppose rational reform but are really ignorant sycophants to the Luddites and know-nothings who apparently control the Republican Party but are really shills for the health insurance and drug industries.
Their false arguments:
-- Government control of healthcare is "socialism," and socialism is "bad" because we will lose our freedoms.
The truth: Socialism is an economic system and not a political system. Most industrialized democracies, including the United States, are socialist to a great extent and work quite well. Here, the federal government is constitutionally required to provide for the national defense, the post office and other services. The government prints our money and our stamps and controls air traffic -- that is socialism!
Our Founding Fathers did not know "socialism" or "capitalism," as they lived 50 years before the start of the Industrial Revolution. But, with their experience with the Articles of Confederation, they understood that a strong central government was necessary to provide for the common good. Many cities, like Los Angeles, own their public utilities, and those critics do not complain.
-- Government cannot run anything well.
The truth: Government has "run" national defense, the space program and healthcare -- through the Centers for Disease Control, the National Insitutes of Health, Medicare and Medicaid -- for many years. Those programs are single-payer systems, where private companies bid to provide the goods or services, or where any private business may provide the services, but according to government pricing. As new beneficiaries of Medicare and Social Security, my wife and I are very happy. We have the same doctors that we had before age 65, and we receive the same services, but our monthly premium dropped from $1,200 to less than $200.
-- Single-payer healthcare will lead to rationing, with bureaucrats controlling services.
The truth: Insurance company bureaucrats control services now. Deductibles, co-pays and policy limits effectively limit available medical and drug services. Most insurance uses third party administrators to screen services and pay bills, which means that they are paid -- 8 percent of premium -- to say no. Many people have suffered the experience of dealing with those "gatekeepers." In fact, the total cost to administer private healthcare is 35 percent of every dollar in premiums, before considering claims. That includes 4 percent state and federal taxes.
Before believing the rabble-rousers and their rabble, people should do some thinking and research.
-- Raymond A. Greenberg, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Aug. 3 editorial, "0.5% of optimism":
The Star says there are plenty of reasons to buy with a median price of homes at $443,850.
The median price in places like Amarillo, Texas; Peoria, Ill.; and Oklahoma City is around $120,000. We need to be business competitive with the other 49 states.
The drought is decimating agriculture. Aerospace is long gone. The last auto plant will soon close. Even old standbys like TV and movies is going, going, gone. The state budget crisis will be an annual affair for more cutbacks for public employees.
Patience is the best advice. I suspect house prices in two years will be down another 25 percent.
-- Bob Munson, Newbury Park
Over the months, I have read in very reliable newspapers and also seen reported on almost all television news stations that Medicare for the elderly is going to be seriously cut in order to accommodate new coverage of others in the new government healthcare plan. This is unacceptable.
More importantly, those of us who have paid government taxes and Social Security payments for more than 60 years are not about to have this new government yank our medical benefits out from under us now that we are old and can barely stick up for our rights.
Most seniors have participated in our government, including the military, over the years and therefore are the ones who made this country great. We will not stand by and see the downsizing of America.
Instead of picking on the senior citizens in America who have paid their dues, may I suggest that Washington, D.C., tackle the leeches that drain millions of dollars daily from corrupt government aid programs or the tax dollars spent to aid imprisoned criminals and those people in America illegally. I believe that cutting the benefits to criminals should come way before our vulnerable elderly.
There is so much waste and criminal graft in our government that all of us can actually witness it daily. Why not go after that instead of our senior citizens?
As a final note, any revision to any kind of government health plan should include congressmen, government employees, the president and our military force. It's only fair.
-- Ray Holm, Westlake Village
Re: Kathleen Parker's Aug. 7 essay, "Them dang Southerners":
I feel so sorry for folks like Parker and Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. I'm a born Southerner and have lived in the left-wing state of California for the last 37 years, which is one-half of my life, but my heart is still in Dixie.
Us Southerners have one up on you Northerners: We can mock your manner of speech, but in my 74 years, I have yet to hear a Yankee imitate a Southerner, not even Scarlett.
I'm disappointed to hear that Voinovich feels that the GOP has been taken over by Southerners. You see, this happened just after World War II. People were fed up with the giveaways started by the infamous Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Democratic Party. And these giveaways continue under a man I do not acknowledge as my president, just another member of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and a trusted socialist.
I don't know how old Parker is, but if she's younger than my generation, she's going be paying through the nose for the rest of her life and her children's life for what President Barack Obama is doing to this used-to-be great nation. You see, my generation doesn't have that much longer -- maybe even less if this health plan in Congress becomes a reality.
So you see, my darlin', us true Southerners feel so sorry for you unfortunate Yankees that you just can't get it through your thick heads what being an American truly means.
Now, ya'll have a good day and come visit whenever you can. We'll even offer you a cold glass of sweet tea.
-- Mel Birmingham, Simi Valley
Re: Elton Gallegly's Aug. 9 commentary, "Only fix what's broken":
Gallegly believes "a better-functioning, more-competitive and transparent marketplace would cover more people and deliver the higher-value care we seek."
Such rhetoric suggests that the free market will cure our healthcare ills. That thinking is misguided. The free market largely contributed to our healthcare quagmire.
Consider the following:
Most healthcare corporations, such as insurers and pharmaceutical companies, are publicly owned by Wall Street investors.
The goal of Wall Street is not a steady profit. It's growing a profit every year. If a company's profit is 10 percent one year, then it's got to earn 12 percent the year after that, 14 the next, and so on. If not, shareholders whine, and corporate executives, who are not trained medical professionals, will respond by cutting the quality of service to ensure that profits aren't hurt.
The goal of healthcare, on the other hand, is a healthier society. That implicitly means selling fewer medications, fewer angioplasties, fewer dialysis treatments, fewer knee and hip replacements, etc. -- in other words, less profits. So these two institutions are incompatible.
Consider, too, that consumers rarely can rely on competition to lower healthcare costs. For example, if you think flat-screen televisions are too pricey, you could wait six months or longer for the cost to drop. But if you're lying in an emergency room suffering a heart attack, and the cardiologist says you must undergo triple bypass surgery immediately, you can't exactly look for a better deal.
Any failure by Congress to address this conundrum ensures the current healthcare crisis will stay mired in gridlock. And consumers will remain at the mercy of a system that puts profits before people.
Gallegly cautions against rushing a bill through Congress. But we've been talking about fixing healthcare since Harry Truman was president. That's not exactly what I'd call rushing.
No one's in a rush, congressman. People are just fed up with politicians in the pockets of corporate interests who want to protect their bottom line.
-- Charles Levin, Ventura
Re: Charles D. Richardson's Aug. 12 letter, "A good deal":
Richardson effusively praises his Medicare plan and then goes on to state, "Socialized medicine is not for Americans, ever." Is he aware of the fact that Medicare is a "socialized medicine" program? Comments like his boggle the mind. He also does not seem to understand the phrase, "If you like what you have, you can keep it."
-- George Rodriguez, Oxnard
Re: your Aug. 11 article, "Motorcyclist dies in apparent road-rage crash":
The photo of the Conejo Grade and the traffic backed up behind the motor home and the motorcycle made me think how stupid we motorcyclists are.
I have had a motorcycle for more than 35 years and started out riding dirt bikes. I bought a Honda 750 in 1974. Why would any motorcyclist want to tangle with a motor home?
Lately I've been annoyed with a few motorcycle people -- probably much younger than me and also very ignorant. The standard story is, "I like loud bikes because people in cars can hear you coming." That isn't a good reason. I never had a bike with loud pipes. I rode one to work over 45 miles on the freeway for more than 20 years and never had a close call because of standard quiet pipes. I've split traffic most of the time while going to work and always had plenty of time to maneuver out of danger if someone pulled over. If anything, loud pipes aggravate people and, in some cases, would prompt them to squeeze a motorcyclist instead of maneuvering to let them through.
Whatever happened to the law against overly noisy cars and motorcycles? Even when I was a kid I thought it was a good law. Now 70 and approaching the time when I need hearing aids, I still think we should have a noise standard somewhere below the pain threshold.
-- Charles Griswold, Thousand Oaks
What is the confusion in the minds of so many Americans about healthcare reform?
Don't they know that:
-- The billions of dollars in profits taken in by health insurance companies now going to Wall Street investors and the bloated salaries of health insurance company CEOs -- for example, UnitedHealth CEO Bill McGuire received $1.6 billion in 2006 -- could easily provide quality healthcare for every American?
-- The health insurance industry business is to provide healthcare, but the way they make their money is by denying payment of healthcare claims, which they call "medical losses?" The less they pay out, the more money they keep for themselves.
-- In 2007, just seven healthcare CEOs gobbled up $100 million in pay compensation? This did not include private jets, multiple homes and the many other perks of corporate CEOs. And these are the people telling us we can't "afford" reasonable-cost healthcare for every American. They can, however, find $1.2 million dollars a day to spend on public relations, telling us we shouldn't want anything but private, for-profit health insurance.
The selfishness, the mendacity, the avarice are breathtaking!
-- Sheila Suarez, Newbury Park
A few years ago, I was spending several months touring the British Isles when a health problem occurred and I needed to see a medical doctor. When I went for my appointment, the doctor greeted me in sterile fashion, with no welcoming smile, as if I shouldn't be there and he wished he wasn't. In answer to his lukewarm query as to the state of my health, I showed him the place on my face that wouldn't heal.
He said, "Hmmmm. That surely is strange looking. I haven't seen that in a long time."
When I asked him what I should do for it, he replied, "Better take care of it when you get home to the States." When I told him I wouldn't be there for three more months, he said, "I can't possibly work you in on my schedule." When I asked him what I should do for it, he said, "Decongestive tablets. One a day."
He stood up, placed a hand beneath my elbow and said, "Out this door right here." He opened the door that led to the alley and closed it behind me as I left in a state of shock. What had he done for me? Nothing. And he treated me with utter contempt.
My hostess at the bed-and-breakfast said, when I told her I had been to see the doctor, "Oh, we never go to the doctor unless we think we are dying, and if we do go, we wait six weeks before we go because if we die we won't have to go to the doctor. It's very difficult, for you can't change doctors easily. They treat you with such contempt and they never smile. Yes, it really is quite difficult."
I am home in the States. Oh, dear, what do I hear? Socialized medicine? Dear God, please spare us.
Oh, socialized-medicine doctors, please give me a smile while you push me out the door. I will try not to deplore your bad manners, if you will at least smile. And perhaps I will die even while I try to get treatment.
After all, I am 88.
-- Barbara Hudson Powers, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Aug. 8 article, "Flood zone is likely to expand":
As a result of a recent remapping project by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, some 1,700-plus Oxnard homes have been designated flood zone, requiring the purchase of federal flood insurance.
After reviewing the documentation concerning the flood plain, I am concerned that the information that FEMA is directing us to use is conflicting and confusing.
For example, at http://www.vcwatershed.org at the subheading "Am I affected?" I was informed that my home is not in the 100-year flood plain behind one of the district's provisionally accredited levees. Another FEMA site we were directed to use, http://www.floodsmart.gov, lists my property as being "low to moderate" risk of flooding. But according to FEMA, I have to buy flood insurance if I have a mortgage, but my home is low to moderate risk to flood. Exactly how much confidence can be placed in the information that we are being directed to use when that information doesn't make sense?
The FEMA-posted flood plain map also shows water behaving very erratically as there are several instances where water stops and makes a 90-degree turn. It also carves out several islands, which could happen if the islands happen to be of a higher elevation than the surrounding area.
How can The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Gonzales Road, not be inundated when its parking lot will be? The church is mapped by the U.S. Geological Survey as being 50 feet above sea level, and the parking lot is 52 feet above sea level. How can the Mormon Church not be flooded when the homes directly behind it, which are mapped 49 to 52 feet above sea level, are inundated?
According to FEMA's map, the water will stop at Gonzales Road, conveniently not flood the Mormon Church, the grade school or the high school across the street from the Mormon Church, but will flood the relatively newly constructed Victoria Estates directly behind the Mormon Church?
Is FEMA implying that the U.S. Geological Survey documents are inaccurate and that their flood map knows better how water will behave -- remember the 90-degree turns on their map -- and that we should blindly buy flood insurance to protect our assets when there is no guarantee that a $30 million levee that will supposedly seal a breach in the existing levee will ever be built?
-- Sharon Schumann, Oxnard
Re: your photo accompanying the Aug. 7 article, "County seniors, families fear loss of care services":
I was appalled at the photo on the front page featuring the terrible circumstances involving an 80-year-old victim of Alzheimer's disease. Did The Star consider her dignity before releasing the photos?
I am 82 and readily admit to harboring deep fears concerning my future health status. To imagine a public display of my image wearing a bib, having my mouth wiped and being spoon-fed is too awful to consider beyond these words.
Shame on The Star. Given the hardships endured by her family, I wish them the best.
-- John E. Gary Jr., Camarillo
Re: Jenessa McElrath's Aug. 7 letter, "Credit not deserved":
McElrath's apparent omniscience is truly amazing! I am bowled over that she actually knows without a doubt that "the Obama administration did nothing. It didn't send a message, didn't demand a release and didn't pray for the girls' safety." What unmitigated gall!
Unfortunately, these mean-spirited statements and cynical attitudes are so typical of the current crop of right-wingers. John Bolton and Dick Morris have also been spewing this type of inflammatory rhetoric regarding the diplomatic efforts made by all concerned to free the two American journalists.
True diplomacy and negotiation were an anathema in President George Bush's administration. The obstinate policies espoused during the last eight years only fueled anti-American sentiment throughout the world. It's truly depressing that many conservatives see violence and bullying as the only solutions for any given crisis. I pity them.
-- Joy Putinta, Camarillo
I am outraged that I keep hearing from more and more Democrats -- including, I'm ashamed to say, my own president -- that any disagreements with their policies are not coming from real people but are being organized by grassroots efforts and/or by extremist groups.
The other thing I'm hearing more and more is that anyone who disagrees with the administration is racist. Never mind that almost half the country didn't vote for President Barack Obama or that more and more are upset with his policies. If we dissent, we are racists? That's the logical conclusion?
I am outraged. I am a real person. I am not an extremist digging a bunker and hoarding guns and food. I am not being organized, and I am certainly no racist. I resent this depiction by the liberal Democrat Party simply because I don't agree with all that my government is doing.
How dare they!
I see a double standard in America today. Dissent and organization are admirable if you're a liberal, just like women's lib is supported if you're a liberal woman. Anyone who wouldn't be considered liberal is just out of luck and somehow isn't worthy of the same rights and privileges.
This is America. I am an American citizen. I have a right to disagree. I have never felt so unrepresented and discriminated against as I do now as a non-liberal woman in America.
-- Margaret Varble, Ventura
Re: Lin Howe's Aug. 7 letter, "Motorcycle bill right on":
Although Howe's letter makes a cursory comment relating to emissions and pollution due to removal of catalytic converters on motorcycles, the sentiments are aimed toward "rude, inconsiderate and discourteous" motorcyclists who "are only thinking of themselves." Now there's a proper rationale to promote legislation!
And if someone is going to promote new legislation, they should do their homework before doing so. Motorcycles didn't even have catalytic converters until a few short years ago. If it is enacted, the new law won't take effect until 2012 and targets smogging of motorcycles only from model year 2000 and newer registered for on-road use.
My wife and I are middle-income, hard-working taxpayers, and we both love to ride in our spare time. I commute on a motorcycle to save gas. Ask us the number of times that unthinking, unsafe and distracted drivers changed lanes with us next to them or pulled out in front of us, many times without even turning their heads. I realize we're smaller than a car, but there's no excuse when people don't even look.
So, yes, we do think of ourselves. Our change to loud pipes has saved our lives more times than you can count.
Just like not all drivers are good and courteous drivers, not all motorcyclists are rude and discourteous. Be a little tolerant and open-minded. Instead of getting angry or annoyed the next time a motorcycle's loud pipes interrupt your quiet for a few seconds, stop and think about the safety of the rider and be glad he or she is alive and well. In other words, don't think only of yourself!
-- Art Gonzalez, Ventura
Re: Ruben Navarrette's Aug. 9 essay, "Proving your citizenship":
Navarrette provides an unbalanced opinion of profiling and the treatment of U.S.-born Hispanics.
He begins with a nefarious example of black profiling. Police officers would be lax in their duties not to require identification of individuals in a house where a burglary was reported. Ethnicity would not be a disqualifier.
His diatribe is filled with nebulous comments such as: "They also sometimes suffer the indignity of having to prove that they have the legal right to even be in the United States." He insults law enforcement in general and acknowledges his ignorance of the facts. "Never mind that local cops and sheriff's deputies usually don't have the skill sets to enforce immigration law...." Having 32 years of police experience, I can say that booking one for a federal violation is no harder than booking someone for a robbery.
The bottom line is that he supports illegal immigration. He paints a picture of wholesale misappropriate enforcement, which does not exist. If it did, please explain why there are so many illegal aliens in this country. Please explain why the United States is so upset that three of our citizens were arrested for crossing the border of another country. Please explain new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Please explain why there are so many illegal aliens in jail.
It is not OK to enter another country illegally. Law enforcement isn't the problem. Lack of enforcement is the problem.
-- Mark Savalla, Port Hueneme
Re: Robert Dodge's Aug. 9 commentary, "Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembered":
My wife and I had to respond on behalf of both of our fathers and thousands of other fathers, grandfathers, husbands, brothers and sons who served in World War II in the Pacific Theater.
No one in their right mind wants nuclear war, but the undeniably horrific bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima also prevented the equally horrific deaths of untold thousands of Americans. Japan was committed to worldwide domination, and American soldiers were training for an invasion to stop them. Americans who, by the way, did not start the aggressions along with their Nazi allies. Americans who also did not initiate our involvement in the war by bombing an airbase in Hawaii. Americans who did not burn POWs alive in trenches in the Philippines. Americans who did not march captive soldiers until they died of exhaustion.
While the Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions are erecting "Peace Poles" in Ventura parks, let's try to remember the historical truth.
-- Ken & Beth Hurd, Camarillo
On August 5, my husband and I took the Ojai trolley from Park Road to the "Y" to catch the 11:25 a.m. Gold Coast Transit bus to Ventura. The bus was there when we arrived.
Eleven people had transfers. Two young men and a woman ran across the street, dodging traffic, and boarded. A mother with two toddlers and a baby in a stroller, my husband, myself and another senior citizen went to use the crosswalk. While waiting for the light, we were waving our transfers. Just as the light changed to walk, the bus started to leave. Now we're waving more intently, and the mother started running. The driver ignored us and even came close to us as he turned the corner.
We have asked drivers for both companies -- before and after this happened -- if the bus is supposed to wait for the trolley riders and were told they are. The bus left "exactly" at 11:25 -- we all checked our watches. It was close to 100 degrees that day, and we had to wait an hour for another bus.
There needs to be more communication between the drivers. The trolley needs to run longer. Its last run from the "Y" is at 5:50 p.m. and the bus gets there at 6:01 p.m. How are working people supposed to get home?
-- Jo Ann & Carl Johnston, Ojai
Re: Robert Dodge's Aug. 9 commentary, "Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembered":
Wishing and praying for world peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons is laudable but not very realistic. The United States having a strong nuclear deterrent has avoided wars for decades, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Placing nuclear weapons into proper perspective, Germany was thought to be working on an atomic bomb and Japan was known to be doing the same. In fact, Japan exploded its first atomic bomb a couple days following our bomb on Nagasaki. It was exploded in Korea and is thought to have been the source of information used by Russia to develop their own bomb.
Incidentally, Japan's bomb would be classified today as a dirty bomb, and work on the bomb began prior to our involvement in the weapon.
What is too often forgotten is the firebombing we dumped on Germany and Japan, causing much more damage per mission than our two atomic bombs. I saw Hiroshima and Hamburg, and the images differed little. The use of firebombing and the atomic bomb is a source of many writings to this day.
Today, our military is desperately trying to avoid collateral damage and deaths to the civilian populace. Such was not the case in World War II. It was ordered. Use of the atomic bomb was ordered to break the "bushido" spirit forced on Japan by their military.
In the real world today, hoping for nuclear disarmament appears futile, yet we pray that someday it may happen. In the meantime, it is wise to "carry a big stick" as a deterrent.
-- Bob Harmuth, Oxnard
Re: Elton Gallegly's Aug. 9 commentary, "Only fix what's broken":
Gallegly's commentary is half true, outright dishonest and a manipulation of facts. The only fact in this article is that it is completely disingenuous.
Anyone with any semblance of intelligence could not make such dishonest statements as, "The uninsured are by choice," and "A large percentage of those Americans have access to healthcare but choose to forgo it so they can have some extra cash."
No one wants to forgo health insurance; they simply cannot afford the high premiums, as will many in coming years who are currently insured.
The little tidbit regarding "government-run healthcare" is so dishonest that Gallegly, as a government employee with government health insurance, should be ashamed of it.
The healthcare reforms that he supports are, for the most part, already in the "1,018-page partisan bill," which was not "written in a back room" but in various bipartisan legislative committees. The issue is that the Republican Party is committed to failure of any healthcare reform for the American people.
A major Republican Party talking point not in this article is the disparaging remark about the European Healthcare Plan. The European Healthcare Plan does not exist! Europe is a geographical location, not a country onto itself. Many countries are a part of Europe, with each country having excellent individual healthcare plans. The excellent ones are referred to by country in President Barack Obama's healthcare plan, and they are democratic governments, not socialist.
It is amazing that folks out there take everything thrown at them at face value and never stop to think for themselves or to check on the facts.
-- Gerald V. Olivas, Santa Paula
Re: Robert Dodge's Aug. 9 commentary, "Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembered":
I agree that the world would be a much better and safer place without nuclear weapons.
Dodge pointed out that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945 killed a quarter of a million people. That indeed was a tragedy.
However, let's review some history.
In the summer of 1945, when Japan was losing the war, Emperor Hirohito ordered the Japanese people to defend their homeland from invasion by any means, including guns, swords, knives and even pointed sticks.
At that time, the U.S. military estimated there would be up to 500,000 casualties among the servicemen of the United States, Australia and Britain by the time the Japanese were conquered. You can guess how many Japanese civilians would have died in this engagement.
A quarter of a million casualties from the A-bombs is a lot, but you can see the possibility of at least a million Allied and Japanese deaths had we been forced to invade Japan.
As for the Citizens For Peaceful Resolutions' goal of worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons, that would be admirable. However, a little more review of history is in order.
Remember that Nazi Germany started its program to develop an atomic bomb before us. They were experimenting with heavy water as early as 1940. Imagine if Germany had beaten us in the race for the A-bomb. There would be no United States as we know it today.
As for now, if the U.S. got rid of all of its nuclear weaponry, do we really think Russia could be trusted to do the same, even if they signed a treaty? How about the other nuclear nations, such as China, Pakistan and the latest possible entries to the club: North Korea and Iran?
"Peaceful resolutions" is a noble thought and should be pursued in all practical situations, but not at the expense of our nuclear deterrent capability.
-- John Torkelsen, Camarillo
Re: Elton Gallegly's Aug. 9 commentary, "Only fix what's broken":
Just once I would like to hear some honest, believable dialogue from our elected representatives on the healthcare crisis in America. I certainly didn't get that from Gallegly.
He typically preyed on our fears and quoted false data to support his position. He blames irresponsible young people and illegals for our rising healthcare costs. He then quoted data from the supposedly "nonpartisan" Lewin Group, which stated that under the proposed government-run option, as many as 114 million Americans could lose their current coverage. A recent article from the Washington Post states: "The Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician's group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data."
Here are some believable facts:
-- UnitedHealth settled the above charges for a sum of $400 million.
-- The pharmaceuticals and health products category was third of Gallegly's top five industrial contributors in 2007-2008.
-- Gallegly's yes vote on the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003 -- one of the most expensive bills ever placed before the House of Representatives -- insured the profits of the pharmaceutical industry by not allowing the government to negotiate discounted drug prices for seniors. This bill also led to some very large consulting fees for those who ushered the bill through Congress and then promptly left to join the ranks of the lobbyists. (Remember Billy Tauzin, the Louisiana Republican?)
I wonder if Gallegly sees these actions as contributing to the rising cost of healthcare and insurance?
Only fix what's broken indeed! Indeed Gallegly's congressional taxpayer subsidized golden healthcare plan isn't broken. Indeed the healthcare industry doesn't see taxpayer subsidized profits as broken.
If we, the American voters, would concentrate on reforming the "institutionalized corruption" that is so pervasive in our Congress, we would probably find that healthcare reform would take care of itself!
-- Robert Bills, Ventura
Re: John M. Crisp's Aug. 11 essay, "Missing the post office":
Like everyone not born of or part of the Internet generation, Crisp blames the downfall of everything on the cursed net.
However, the post office situation is not as simple as that of newspaper companies. I mean, when someone is offering you half of a lollipop for 75 cents and then turning around to sell a full gourmet lollipop for free, you'll understand why newspapers are failing to their own online editions.
While most people e-mail, chat or Twitter instead of sending letters, those packages aren't going to ship themselves, you know! A lot of people sell and buy items online these days. And if you are someone who does that, you'll have to use the post office.
Ever had to ship international? Good luck. I had to pay more than $50 dollars to ship something to Brazil.
There are other companies competing with the post office, such as DHL, FedEX, UPS and others. While these companies are legally prohibited from using first class like the post office does, most people are shipping packages these days.
But the post office will never go away because it is a necessary evil. Expect long lines again when postage goes up a few cents.
-- Amanda Johnson, Ventura
Remember 10 or 15 years ago when Ventura was a nice quiet city, especially on weekends? That's before we became LAX North. Now weekends sound like El Segundo or Westchester.
A year or two ago, Santa Paula Airport said they had 259 aircraft based there. They also proudly stated they had 97,000 arrivals and departures. Wow! And it will only get worse unless the pilots change.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association suggests to all private pilots that they be good neighbors and avoid noise complaints. Noise is a daily problem, but it's worse on Saturday and really bad on Sunday. There are many times that you can hear several aircraft at the same time. The record for me was four in less than one minute, some going west, some going east. Most of the pilots appear to follow Telegraph Road, and for people who live along that route, it is only a matter of time until there is a collision. You might Google Thousand Oaks small aircraft noise and see what they do. Next election, no incumbents.
-- Richard & Mary Willhardt, Ventura
Re: your Aug. 8 article, "Flood zone is likely to expand":
I am an owner of one of those 1,700 properties in the revised Federal Emergency Management Agency flood map. I am no engineer, but I can coast on my bike from South Bank Road to Wagon Wheel without pedaling. Wagon Wheel is also across the street from the breach in the levee along the Santa Clara River. Yet FEMA failed to include Wagon Wheel in the flood map.
I was amazed at a July 20 meeting with city, county and FEMA representatives that none of the officials present disputed this omission when, in previous presentations, the county showed Wagon Wheel to be in the flood zone.
According to The Star, FEMA now admits it was a mistake to exclude Wagon Wheel; however, they will still not include it until they get new data from ongoing studies. So why is Wagon Wheel getting a reprieve, while 1,700 homeowners are not? This is not simply "information" FEMA is putting out, as they claim; we are talking expensive mandatory insurance that will adversely affect our property values!
There seems to be evidence that FEMA's data are flawed. Homeowners were led to believe they had six months to dispute those data. (July 1 Star article, "Oxnard residents discover their homes are in flood plain") However, at the July 20 meeting, FEMA announced the six-month comment period had ended, not started, that morning. We had been clearly deprived of our right to comment. Yet again, there was no argument from our city or county officials.
The Star is correct: There is plenty of "confusion" all the way around. Unfortunately, we are the victims of that confusion.
Regardless of who is at fault, 1,700 homeowners have been unfairly singled out. We expect nothing less from our elected officials than to insist we get our comment period reinstated and that FEMA wait for the final flood map before requiring insurance.
-- Marika Arthur, Oxnard
Forty-five years ago, I was getting the benefits of socialized medicine, and it was almost like what I'm getting now under my Medicare health maintenance organization. The only perceptible difference was that there were no insurance companies gobbling up one healthcare dollar in three.
-- Brian White, Ventura
Our goal of holding our first Town Hall meeting was to provide an open forum for the whole Ojai Valley to speak and open up dialogue between the community leaders and the public. More than 350 showed up to either get information or speak at the podium.
Knowledge is essential in moving forward. We have reviewed the facilitator's notes and the footage shot at the meeting. There are several key factors that have been identified to move forward.
After listening to the community, this is what we heard: more parental involvement; mentoring needed in our schools; affordable programs for our valley youth; safer places for our youth; more money; honest communication between the police and the community; investigate and then adjust best practices to Ojai; more involvement from clergy, schools, ethnic groups, parents and children; and personal responsibility for yourself and your children's actions, your neighborhood and your community.
Anyone who wants to volunteer or participate in any Heal The Community meetings are welcome. Clubs, organizations and everyday people are the backbone of our valley. We all need to move beyond stereotypes, prejudice, innuendo and rumors. There are good and bad in all walks of life. We can all step out of our comfort zone and shake a hand, thank a volunteer and respect others as you would expect to be treated.
Now it's up to you to get involved. Own your words. Volunteer and make a difference. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Get involved. Your community needs you.
Come to the second Town Hall meeting on Aug. 13, 6:30 p.m., at the Ojai Valley Community Church, 907 El Centro St., Ojai. For more information, please call me at 649-1466.
-- Dusty Fernandez, Oak View
We're on the "do not call" list. When are the calls going to stop? I actually have signed up two times and still get the calls!
My husband went to work on Monday at 7 a.m. and didn't get home until 5:15 a.m. Tuesday. He was going to try and get six hours of sleep before going back to work. Well, that didn't happen as the telephone rang at 8:15 a.m. -- a call from a construction company. I asked this person how they got my number. I've had some people hang up on me, but others give me answers. This guy said Ventura County gave him the numbers. Ha!
Most of the calls are carpet cleaning companies or construction companies. I love it when they say, "We are in your neighborhood." My response is, "Really? What neighborhood is that?" Then they don't know what to say.
Anyway, when are these calls going to stop? I doubt they ever will. So much for setting up the "do not call" list for us. I did file a complaint, but I doubt it will do any good, and I will continue to have to answer the telephone.
-- Karen Cory, Camarillo
I attended a cocktail party at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library several years ago for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had commissioned a bust of President Ronald Reagan from a sculptor. Both were in attendance. Early on, I spotted Maria Shriver and began to tell her how much I admired her mother, Eunice Shriver, for her work establishing the Special Olympics. Maria said, "Well, tell her yourself, she's here."
She called out to her tiny mother, who came over wearing a blanket over her shoulders to keep her warm. I introduced myself and informed her that I was the mother of an autistic young man who had competed in the Special Olympics.
She could not have been more affable, and before she left, she asked me if I had Maria's book on handicapped children. I told her I didn't, so she asked for my card, which I gave her. Shortly afterwards, the book arrived, personalized by Maria for me.
Eunice Shriver was truly a saint, and I am confident she's receiving her reward from God.
-- Lois D. Glab, Camarillo
Re: Elton Gallegly's Aug. 9 commentary, "Only fix what's broken":
Regarding healthcare changes, Gallegly charges that Congress is trying "to fix what isn't broken."
He claims our healthcare system, which is unavailable to millions of Americans and fraught with bloated costs and special interest dictates, isn't broken? And that the only people affected by a lack of coverage are those who are very poor or uninsured by choice? Really?
Like the majority of Americans, I am a working middle-class person who is covered by a plan, but who has also seen his premiums double in the past couple of years and coverage decline. At the present rate, I too will be forced to go without insurance as I continue to pay more and get less.
Gallegly also claims, like the other anti-socialism wags, that many Americans would lose their private insurance under a government-run option. Not so! This is a Republican talking point and scare tactic that simply isn't true.
Speaking of the socialism angle, some facets of public welfare are simply too important to be left solely to the free market. Police and fire protection come to mind immediately -- and healthcare.
Free market forces will not control runaway healthcare costs as long as there is no government option and as long as the medical lobbyists and big pharma continue to hold the country hostage.
Don't let the do-nothings continue to stonewall healthcare reform. Matters are only getting worse.
-- John Edwards, Newbury Park
Re: your Aug. 8 article, "Roman emperor's likely birthplace is unearthed":
This article on the discovery of Titus Vespasian's birthplace is one of the blandest pieces of partial history I've read in a long time.
Vespasian didn't just "put down a Jewish revolt in Judea." He and his soldiers killed about 1,100,000 people in Jerusalem, including hundreds of thousands of children who had committed no crime against Rome.
Also, remember that the Colosseum isn't just "the most ambitious and best-preserved of his projects." The treasure obtained from sacking Jerusalem was used to build a place where about 2 million people -- as many as 10,000 in a single staged fight -- were tortured and killed for the amusement of the compliant Roman masses.
Instead of reporting a few bland facts, the article should have described the horrors perpetuated and initiated under this evil man's rule of the Roman empire.
-- Rodney Sinclair, Thousand Oaks
If you aren't shocked by Hillary Clinton's outbursts in Africa, you should be. The secretary of state is our representative to the world at large, our reflection, our voice, and is responsible for our nation's reputation. For this person to go out into the world without any regard for that reputation and childishly embarrass us all by indulging in this personal chip on her shoulder with some poor Third World kid is simply repulsive. Unprofessional is not strong enough a term.
This is a person we're supposed to trust to negotiate our nation's interests in the world. Who doesn't remember when this woman was a nobody? The desire of the female public at large to see a woman in office created her political career out of thin air. It's unfortunate that our nation's feminists didn't actually search for their candidate using qualifications instead of just promoting the woman who just happened to be standing next to Bill Clinton.
There have always been strong women, and their contributions have always been vital. Just as a coin must have two sides, and so there are both genders, equally important. Some don't realize or just refuse to believe that women have achieved equality and have assumed their rightful place in society. But they have, and the same goes for race.
When are we all going to grow up and find the right people -- those who prove themselves by their achievements -- to represent us rather than just those who happen to be the same gender or race that we are, or, for that matter, which outdated, worn-out, ineffective political party?
For all the bickering and ill feelings about gender and race and everything else, it's amateur hour in the White House, and we're all paying the price regardless of who or what we are.
-- Anthony Harper, Simi Valley
Re: Elton Gallegly's Aug. 9 commentary, "Only fix what's broken":
It's bad enough when an uninformed person calls a "single payer" medical insurance program a socialist grab by the government, but it's unforgivable when our representative in Congress espouses the same line.
The statement that our medical insurance program isn't broken so it doesn't need fixing is irresponsible when so many people cannot get insured or are having their insurance cancelled when they need it most. It does appear the congressman needs to be "fixed," since his thinking appears to be broken.
A "single payer medical system" is a socialist grab by whose determination? Why is not Medicare painted with the same brush since it too is a "single payer system" administered by the government and costs less than private insurance? All retirees, 65 years of age or older, are accepted into the program regardless of existing prior conditions with no increase in premiums. Even those seniors who did not pay into Medicare are allowed to enter into the system, albeit at a higher premium. How many health insurance policies other than group insurance will insure everyone without looking at prior existing conditions? How many seniors do you know have had their Medicare insurance rescinded because of an existing condition or the development of a major illness (read cancer).
With the "single payer system," there is a proposal to allow the purchase of a supplemental policy to cover co-pays and other services not in the basic system. This supplement would accept all who apply regardless of pre-existing conditions; it corresponds to the Senior Advantage plan.
The "single payer insurance program" should not be a Democrat or Republican plan since it benefits all. Let us all engage in an honest debate and leave the demagoguery out of it.
-- Harry Norkin, Thousand Oaks
Re: Pat Patterson's Aug. 11 letter, "'Cash for clunkers' working":
So, "cash for clunkers" is a great idea because it may get 500,000 "low-mileage, smog-belching vehicles off the road?" Has anyone done the math?
The government is spending $3 billion on the "cash for clunkers" program. At 500,000 cars, that works out to $600,000 per car! Even if you are only talking about the first $1 billion the government threw into the program, that's $200,000 per car.
Since the actual rebate is only $4,500, that leaves somewhere between $195,500 and $595,500 in "overhead and administrative costs" for every vehicle taken off the road.
Folks might want to keep that in mind as they consider whether on not they want the government to take over running our healthcare system.
-- Matthew Storch, Moorpark
I have had it with the giveaway of my tax dollars in the "cash-for-clunkers" bottomless pit. The folks who are stumbling all over themselves to get in on the handout should understand there is no free lunch.
Unless you pay cash for the new car, there are humongous finance charges the buyer must pay for the privilege of owning a new car. If the car is financed for five years, the buyer is upside-down -- meaning they owe more than the car is worth -- for at least three years.
Then there is the sales tax and use tax and license fees and the higher insurance costs for that new car. The sales tax alone is more than $2,100 on a $25,000 car.
If the economy does not turn around in the next year or so, will the new car buyer have money to pay the monthly payments on the car? Are we going to see another meltdown of car buyers who can't make the monthly payments? Are we, the taxpayers, going to have to bail them out from their frivolous deals that they never should have gotten into in the first place?
Our chicken-in-every-pot and car-in-every-garage government already has plans to raise taxes on us working folks to pay for the billions they are giving away for the clunkers and other handouts. Wake up and face reality. That money the government is handing out has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is your pocket, in the form of new taxes.
If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. We are getting daily proof that there really is no free lunch. Take responsibility to use your common sense before you grab the next handout or bailout. The money has to come from somewhere.
-- David Collins, Newbury Park
Re: Thomas Carson's Aug. 7 letter, "Clunker appliances":
There is and has been for some years a "cash-for-clunkers" program for refrigerators and freezers. Just call Southern California Edison. They will give you $50 and come haul it away. (As with the other clunker deal, the appliance must be running. See SCE for details.)
As for Sen. John McCain's suggestion that we should give cash for old golf clubs, his buddies at the country club may have to wait for that one until he is at last elected president.
Isn't all this type of response just part of a smokescreen? The "cash-for-clunkers" program is having a great effect, potentially getting as many as 500,000 or more old low-mileage, smog-belching vehicles off the road and their owners into more efficient and cleaner-running cars.
-- Pat Patterson, Oxnard
Well, I've again been rejected for health insurance. So much for free-market competition. I'll have to stay with my old policy, which has more than doubled in less than three years and doesn't cover much anyway.
If you're happy with your employer-provided health insurance, that's great, but don't think that you have it made. If you are let go or if your company goes under, which is all too common these days, you will be without health coverage. You may be able to extend it through a COBRA but only for a few months, and that will cost you plenty at a time when your income is severely lowered.
If your company drops your health plan, as more and more are doing, you won't even have that option. You can try to find another job with health benefits, but those are getting harder and harder to find. Or you can buy an individual policy if you can find a company that will sell you one. Think you don't have a "pre-existing condition?" I was just turned down because I had a kidney stone attack 10 years ago.
We need health insurance reform, and we need it now. President Barack Obama's proposal is the only game in town. Those who reject it have steadfastly failed to propose any viable alternatives. Instead they suggest vaguely defined programs that they won't even put a price tag on, that "promote healthy lifestyles," eliminate "waste and fraud" and depend on the free market to provide affordable coverage. It's strange that, when they were in control, they took no action to implement these ideas.
This is just a smokescreen to try to stall the current proposals and maintain the status quo. We currently have free-market competition in healthcare insurance, and it is failing to do the job. It's time to try something else.
-- W. Andrew Little, Camarillo
Has anyone else in Ventura noticed an ever-increasing number of low-flying aircraft -- less than 1,000 feet -- over our city the past several months?
I tried unsuccessfully in requesting the city manager and members of the City Council to take action. That was an exercise in futility. I wasn't even given the courtesy of a response from any of the council members.
I then filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration in Van Nuys, thinking the FAA would at the very least be somewhat sympathetic to my cause. Wrong! After reviewing my written documentation, an inspector with the FAA informed me that I would need to take photos of the aircraft's serial number, which is located behind the wings. Have you ever tried to take a photo of a speeding aircraft at near-treetop level and still catch the numbers? It's darn near impossible, and that's why they're having me do it!
In the meantime, the planes keep flying and the noise is enough to make me bark at the moon. As for those City Council members who refused to respond, there are four incumbents whom I'll not be voting for on Nov. 3.
-- Verne Arnold, Ventura
I am writing this letter in regards to an upsetting circumstance at Saturday's Ventura County Fair Parade.
In this day and age of the Internet and unlimited information, I was completely flabbergasted at the lack of common knowledge or respect for the passing of a color guard.
As Old Glory approached my family and me, we rose to honor the flag and all that it represents. I was taught this as a young girl by my father, and I was teaching this tradition on Saturday to my granddaughters, who range in ages from almost 2 to 7 years of age.
I will admit to being biased, as my 72-year-old father was a part of this special color guard. He was carrying the flag representing the many paratrooper units that have selflessly served this great nation. And the children being taught this tradition were his great-granddaughters.
What saddened me was that the people sitting all around us remained seated, sipping their coffee with their children oblivious to why we were standing and "blocking their view!"
I was extremely pleased to hear one of the soldiers of the guard yell out "Stand up!" as the flag passed by. Our curbside neighbors snapped out of their caffeine stupor and rose, while their kids asked, "What for?"
It was rich just to hear the parents attempt to explain.
As I close this letter, here is a little backstory information on the retired vets who led the parade. They are retired paratroopers who are members of the Rakkasan "Chuck O'Donnell" Chapter of Ventura County.
The 187th airborne unit derives their name "Rakkasans" from the Japanese who addressed them as such in dispatches during World War II. Loosely translated, it means "falling down umbrella man," the closest word for paratroopers in the Japanese language. It is the only airborne regiment that bears an official name deriving from a past enemy's designation of a unit against whom combat should be avoided, if possible.
So to all these Rakkasans and our military members at large: Thank you for your selfless service to our great nation!
-- Cindy Diaz-Telly, Fillmore
There are hundreds of personal injury attorneys waiting in line to reimburse Medicare from personal injury settlements.
When we have a client who has received healthcare paid for by Medicare, there is a statutory lien that attaches to the settlement. Once we settle such a case, the insurance company will include Medicare on the settlement check unless we can provide them with the "final" lien amount from Medicare, and then they will issue a separate check for the Medicare lien. It takes months to obtain the "final" lien amount.
I have settlement checks that are waiting for disbursement because I am in the labyrinth of Medicare. When Medicare is on the settlement check, I cannot negotiate the check. That means I don't get paid, my client does not get their settlement money and other medical providers working outside of Medicare do not get paid either.
You would think that where people are lined up waiting to pay, you would have an efficient process in place to take the money.
-- Deirdre Frank, Ventura
Re: your Aug. 10 editorial, "Flashing back to the 1960s":
Concerning the disruption of town-hall meetings by opponents of Democratic proposals for healthcare reform, The Star notes, "it is impossible to dismiss the large quotient of manufactured outrage in these disruptions," and adds, "The campaign smacks of what political operatives call 'Astroturf' -- fake grass roots."
That's true enough, but as a "language operative," so to speak, let me note that the Astroturf image is a bit too static for disruptions and throw into the word hopper an expression attributed to President John F. Kennedy: Where there's smoke, there's fire. Sometimes. And sometimes there's a smoke machine.
Fake grass roots are indeed involved here, but more immediately we're seeing in operation very expensive, highly effective smoke machines.
-- Richard D. Erlich, Port Hueneme
Re: your Aug. 10 editorial, "Flashing back to the 1960s":
I was disappointed by this editorial, which seems to miss the mark on the nature of protests against the "rush-rush" approach to healthcare and insurance reform. I have to confess to having attended only one such event, and it was totally civilized, albeit small.
The pattern I think I see on TV is that someone asks a legitimate question, the "official" pushes the play button, the crowd recognizes that they're being snowed and becomes, unfortunately, unruly.
I'd like to have seen the editorial at least suggest the possibility that this snow-job approach is designed to incense, providing a tool for discrediting opposition.
Note that you hardly ever hear anyone say that they're against improving the healthcare delivery apparatus. The difficult bit is changing a system that's evolved for decades in a way that actually improves it.
All this "protester" wants is an open and methodical process that carefully considers the strengths and weaknesses of many viewpoints. This does not appear to be what we're getting currently, and that is what is so irritating. The "Astroturf-manufactured outrage" concept is itself manufactured. I'm surprised The Star doesn't recognize it as such.
-- Bruce Walker, Camarillo
I find it highly unfair that the city is thinking about 499 new homes on farmland.
Just a few years ago, we, Walker-Hearne, wanted to do the same thing on the 2,100 acres east of Clearpoint. The city talked us into letting the people decide instead of stepping up to the plate and either saying yea or nay. During the process, they brought it to a vote of the people. It was voted down.
Why not bring this new project to a vote of the people? It certainly seems very unfair that this project doesn't have to have a vote of the people.
Our family has owned this property for more than 100 years and paid taxes on same. We were willing to give the city 700 acres for trails, etc.
Whatever happened to not building on farmland? The foothills have always been a prime building spot because they are not farmable. Look at Santa Barbara. All the hills are for residential.
The old saying "You can't fight City Hall" certainly seems to be true and very unfair.
-- Binney Walker Moss, Ojai
Re: Jean Leighton's Aug. 9 letter, "Kaiser before Obamacare":
Leighton writes that she doesn't want "anything free." She just wants to keep her Kaiser healthcare plan, for which she pays no monthly premiums. No premiums? That sounds like free to me.
So who is paying for Leighton's healthcare? Somebody has to pay for it. It is clear from her letter that she is a Medicare recipient in a program administered by Kaiser-Permanente. I know that because I am in the same program with the fee characteristics she cites.
So she already has government-sponsored and government-paid healthcare. She just doesn't want others to have that sort of coverage too. That's not "standing up for yourself," as she recommends at the close of her letter. That's selfishness.
-- Rick Scott, Ventura
Although I commend artistic expression, I find it absolutely appalling that the city of Ventura is planning a reception in November to honor this year's Art Award honorees. How much will this reception cost residents? Only $10,000? Only $100,000?
In the past, if a person wanted to devote himself or herself solely to the arts, he or she obtained patrons to pay for the artist lifestyle. That's why they where called "patrons of the arts." They chose to support artists, so the artists wouldn't have to support themselves.
The city of Ventura has made all of us unwitting and unwilling patrons at the very same time that the city is trying to force through a sales tax increase to raise revenues on the backs of the already overburdened residents of Ventura.
How much of the money that the city will spend on this reception could have gone to one of the cash-strapped departments the City Council says they need the sales tax for? How much police and fire protection? How many potholes filled?
Instead, they will be spending our hard-earned money on an evening of champagne and crudites while they congratulate themselves on how philanthropic and cultured they are, as they speak about what a shame it is that some of the residents of their fair city are forced to sleep in their cars.
I've lost my job, and my wife has been furloughed by the state. We've cut back to the bone, given up meals out, movies, even our annual trip to the fair. We're shopping at Food 4 Less and Wal-Mart while and city is planning a party in the middle of a financial disaster and demanding more from us.
Shame on them!
-- Scott Collins, Ventura
The hypocrisy of the left is exposed again. Conservatives have taken a page from the leftists' book of protest management and are using it against them. The outrage!
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the Service Employees International Union and the California Teachers Association all use these techniques to make their point. They are highly organized and often bused in from other cities. ACORN even pays homeless people to join in.
It's the American way -- unless you are conservative. Then you are not supposed to organize a protest. You are not supposed to raise your voice. You are supposed to sit home and write letters to the editor or to your representatives that go unread.
In spite of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid say, dissent is as American as it gets. They can put whatever objectionable labels they want on it. It's called freedom. Putting a small moustache or a swastika on President George Bush was considered grand sport a few years ago. Today, conservative protesters are labeled Nazis. And now, like a banana republic dictatorship, the White House is asking people to report on the protests and the protesters.
I guess dissent is only good if it comes from the left.
It is a sad time for America.
-- William Coe, Camarillo
Re: Robert Pisapia's Aug. 7 letter, "Safe over policy":
The two journalists who "wandered" into North Korea certainly cannot be compared to those brave Americans who were in Iran working for the American government at the time they were taken hostage.
I believe Pisapia needs to go back and reread his history book regarding the 53 Americans taken hostage in Iran. Those Americans were living and working in the U.S. Embassy when it was overrun by Iranian dissidents. Several of those Americans were also U.S. Marines who were assigned to guard the embassy.
The two journalists were not employees of the American government. They were private citizens who chose to get too close to the North Korean border for the sake of getting a story.
You simply cannot compare the two incidents. The circumstances were completely different.
-- Cynthia Carlson, Newbury Park
The other day I was at the Veterans Affairs facility in Sepulveda, where we veterans go for some of our healthcare needs. I was surrounded by lots of older men who seemed as if they might be old enough to be World War II veterans, like me.
As I waited my turn, I began to wonder how all these good services for us would be affected by the president's wishes to reform our nation's healthcare system. As I looked around, I realized we all seemed to be in that age group that might be considered "high cost" by the government and that we could easily create some of the "end of life" costs that his plan wants to curtail.
It seemed odd to me that these fine VA folks were working hard to help us live out our days as healthfully as we can, but the proposed plan wants to deny us the very helpful things the VA is providing us.
Maybe the key to President Barack Obama's plan for us old vets is the provision in his plan for the government to pay for "assisted dying."
When the Lord calls, I'll go, but not before. I didn't leave a lung in Germany in 1945 and spend a year in Army hospitals to end things that way. I seem to recall that the folks we were fighting back then were big on getting rid of the frail, the elderly and those that didn't fit their preferred racial image, so this proposal really worries me.
Do you suppose that if Obama can get rid of enough of us "high-cost" folks he will have saved enough to provide healthcare for 10 million illegals that need coverage? Somehow I don't think even Obama's charisma will be able to sell that to the voters.
-- Robert Dingman, Newbury Park
It is difficult to underestimate the ignorance of the American public.
For years now, insurance companies have been denying adequate healthcare to regular folks. In the interests of their own profit margins, they have been rationing medical procedures to those who can afford only the most expensive coverage. The less fortunate are relegated to second-class treatment, if they receive treatment at all.
Now President Barack Obama attempts to even the playing field by ensuring equal treatment for all. He is berated as a Nazi and a communist.
I weep not only for ourselves, but for future generations who will suffer because of the ignorance and avarice of the influential few today.
-- Frank O'Hanlon, Moorpark
Did you know that it's illegal to park a vehicle on the dirt, even if it's on your own property? I didn't know that. I see vehicles parked on the dirt all over town. Why would I think otherwise? A few years ago I was cited and fined $50. I pleaded my case before a hearing officer and asked why I wasn't given a warning. I was told no warning was required, although that action would have been decent and appropriate. Fifty dollars, please.
Flash forward to last week. I was walking up the street and observed a notice stapled to a stake, protruding from the weeds in a neighbor's front yard. It was for violating the Simi Valley Weed Abatement Municipal Code. What I found interesting was that it was this person's third warning since November 2006, and if they didn't comply, they would be fined $100. The notice also stated that in the three years prior to November 2006, they had been notified on two separate occasions, given warnings twice each of those times, and then complied. This person should fully understand the law by now, yet this third go-round somehow still merits three warnings?
I want to know why they get nearly three years of warnings and we got dinged on day one. It just doesn't make sense.
-- Sandy Hansen, Simi Valley
Shame, shame, shame. We will go another 20 years without universal healthcare.
My partners and I are small business owners, and we provide healthcare for our employees, but the cost is getting prohibitive. One of our employees has had cancer return, and another has had several ongoing health problems. This, along with other factors, has increased our insurance rates 22 percent this year alone.
Don't let the insurance companies win. Support a public insurance option. Universal healthcare shouldn't just be available for those over 65. Medicare is already a government-run program. Check with your elderly family members. They know a good deal when they see one.
-- Patrick Connolly, Thousand Oaks
Per public request of the White House media, I am reporting the following "fishy" disinformation about current healthcare reform proposals:
-- President Barack Obama says that healthcare reform is emergently necessary for U.S. economic recovery. (Source: Yahoo news Web page).
-- Nurses support the presidential healthcare reform initiatives. (Source: the president on national television from the Rose Garden).
-- Although Medicare will be broke in 2017 with its current enrollment, we can save it by adding 47 million to its rosters without reducing anyone's care. (Source: Congressional representatives and the president via news conferences and town hall meetings, as reported on NBC, CNN, Fox and others).
Please take action quickly to counter this disinformation. I would also appreciate finding out how I can help to correct the above misinformation.
-- Martha "Marty" Highfield, Agoura Hills
(The writer is a registered nurse. -- Editor)
Here's a reply to all of the writers espousing the merits of single-payer government healthcare:
Social Security is bankrupt! Medicare is bankrupt! Medicaid is bankrupt! The United States Postal Service will lose approximately $9 billion in taxpayer dollars this year. Amtrak is subsidized by taxpayer dollars.
I could go on.
The government-run healthcare system in England employs 1.4 million bureaucrats -- making it the third-largest employer in the world -- to make decisions regarding who receives treatment and who does not.
And proponents want to turn over one-seventh of our nation's economy to a mind-boggling bureaucracy?
-- Ken Davis, Moorpark
Re: Steven Thrasher's Aug. 9 commentary, "Gates affair as witnessed from abroad":
How this commentary was allowed to be published without its believability being questioned is beyond me. Most of the commentary, I believe, is the result of a fertile imagination, but I would only point out one part: Thrasher says that for years, while driving in the San Fernando Valley, his father was stopped on an almost daily basis and often pulled out of the car and frisked on the hood without anything being found. By my math, if he was stopped three times a week for several years, that roughly amounts to being stopped 350 times by the same cops. Surely, his father, a college graduate, would have contacted the police watch commander or Internal Affairs and made a complaint. At the least, he would have consulted with an attorney.
I'm afraid this is what Thrasher truly believes, and no amount of logic will change his mind.
-- Tony Loniero, Simi Valley
My husband and I went to the Muvico recently, and it was great to see people out and enjoying what our community has to offer and spending money in the economy.
Here's my sound-off: the valet lot. I didn't count, but let's say 50 spots were blocked off and maybe 12 had cars parked in them. The valet lot wasn't out beyond the convenient parking area. These spaces were prime, in-the-front, easy-to-get-to spots. Who thought this was a community-friendly idea? What happened to the valets driving the cars to the out-of-the-way area when parking is at a premium and hard to find?
I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea, but I for one sure don't.
-- Mindy Newhouse, Newbury Park
Re: Terry Paulson's Aug. 3 essay, "Make a difference locally":
Paulson's latest essay hit home. My wife and I are retired, and a year ago, we decided to start giving back by joining the city of Oxnard's RSVP organization. We became instructors in a group called Bone Builders, which teaches mainly older women a light workout using hand and leg weights for one hour twice a week at our church. It is open to the general public at no charge. We have been doing it for a year now.
They were paying for our gas to and from our home, which was about $38 a month, but due to the many cutbacks in service, they cut out our pittance and quite putting on appreciation luncheons for instructors so they would not have to lay off the administrator of the program.
We can afford to take up the slack at this time and continue running the program for 15 to 22 elderly ladies who do appreciate what we do for them. It's too bad that some of our officials won't do the same thing. But I'm sure that's too much to expect!
-- Bob Moeller, Oxnard
Just like people rushed to take advantage of "cash for clunkers," don't be surprised to see senior citizens hurrying to get their cataracts removed and joints replaced before the impending healthcare reform legislation takes effect. They are afraid these treatments and other "elective" procedures will no longer be covered, and they'll want to get them done before it's too late.
This unintended consequence will cause costs to explode and become another excuse to further ration care to the elderly.
-- Roger Jewett, Ventura
The cash for clunkers rebate program is what the car dealers have being needing. The trickle-down effect of consumers buying new cars is going to be felt throughout the whole industry, from suppliers who make the parts for all the manufacturers to the neighborhood tire store that sells custom wheels.
The U.S. government needs to expand this program to the heavy truck industry. The number of people laid off due to lack of sales of Class 8 trucks is almost as big as its little brother.
Cummings engine plant shut down due to no demand for engines. Kirby Risk, which manufactures wiring harness for diesel engines, closed. Wabash Trailer production line closed due to falterings in Class 8 truck sales. Many heavy-duty dealerships throughout the United States have cut their operating hours.
With 2010 diesel engine emission mandates fast approaching, including Class 8 trucks in this program would also help many people keep their jobs.
-- Ted Maloney, Oxnard
(The writer is parts manager of Big T's Freightliner, Sterling & Western Star of Ventura County. -- Editor)
In recent weeks there has been considerable news relative to the use of marijuana for medical purposes as a pain reliever for those with chronic health problems. Now the trend and thought is changing, using it as a means of raising funds by way of a tax on the drug.
What the news has failed to share is the negative physical effect of use. Studies over the years have revealed the dilatory effect not just while under the effect of indulging, but the long-term effect on the body and mind.
Prescription use I don't totally agree with, but this is but a fraction of the consumption of the tons of the drug grown locally and that being smuggled into this country annually.
Has our population become so hedonistic that we ignore the reality of the effects on our population's future? As a law enforcement officer for 45 years, I have had personal contact with users and the negative impact on them, their families and the society of which they are a part. Have you ever visited a rehab center?
Let us give thought as to the reality of the use of the drug and the potential destructive effect on our society, starting with our young.
-- Richard W. Green, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is a retired captain in the Los Angeles Police Department and a retired chief of the Los Angeles School Police Department. -- Editor)
Re: Your July 30 article, "Water shop '.com' sign no violation of T.O. rules":
This article, which I read three times without finding a serious core issue, led me to daydream about an imaginary encounter that may have taken place on that fateful day in July.
The scenario goes this way:
Scott Bailey, sign-maker, approached the counter at the City of Thousand Oaks Planning Department and presented a form applying for a permit for a sign for the water business of Karl Kuhn. The clerk studied it, his brow knit in concentration, stating, "This is a request for an approval of a sign reading 'The Water Machine Shoppe.com'.
The clerk shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. "I've never heard of a business sign with 'dot com' in it. I'm not sure we can approve this."
Bailey asked, "Is it the dot that's a problem?"
The clerk didn't answer. Instead he asked, "This is like a web address?"
The clerk looked up. "The 'com' is going on the building also?"
"We have certain rules about signs," the clerk said.
Bailey offered, "If I added an 'oaks,' or 'Conejo" or 'acorn,' would that help?"
Picking up the telephone, the clerk said, "I'll have to bring this to the attention of higher authority."
Immediately, Stephen Kearns, a senior planner for the city, appeared. The clerk showed him Bailey's request for sign approval and a letter from the Ventura County Clerk's Office approving of the fictitious firm name.
"Well," Kearns said, "everything seems to be in order. Your proposed sign is certainly approved. There is certainly no formal denial of this request."
It would appear there was not much to this confrontation, but The Star devoted an article of approximately 500 words with a 48-point headline. As they say, it was a slow news week.
-- William Vietinghoff, Thousand Oaks
Recently, the House voted to uphold federal - taxpayer - funding for Planned Parenthood, one of the nation's leading abortion providers, in rejecting the Pence Amendment.
In addition, on Thursday, a committee defeated an amendment - after initially approving it - that would have explicitly banned abortion from being provided for under the healthcare proposals currently being debated in Congress.
In both instances, the message being sent by the "pro-choice" Democratic majority is clear: We support a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, but we oppose the right of taxpayers to choose to not fund abortion with their tax dollars.
As a pro-lifer, I certainly don't want my hard-earned money being used by the government to fund abortions. Why should I be forced to? Planned Parenthood receives plenty of private support; why should they be getting our tax dollars?
- Noel D'Angelo, Thousand Oaks
I understand that the Ventura County Board of Supervisors at today's session will be discussing an urgency ordinance regarding the grading permit for the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. In the interest of the health of the surrounding communities, I urgently appeal to the board to approve this ordinance.
I have lived in Susana Knolls since 1970, and for the past 20 years, I have been a member of the SSFL Work Group discussing cleanup at this site. Many public agencies have been involved to help make sure that there is a cleanup most protective of public health. Now Ventura County can do its part in protecting the health and safety of its constituents living near this very contaminated site by adopting an ordinance that would enhance the grading permit. This site has had a nuclear meltdown and has emitted numerous radiological and chemical contaminants, so rather than granting a regular grading permit, I vehemently urge the board to require a stricter "discretionary" permit.
In the 20 years since clean up of SSFL began, there have been many missteps and outright errors made by Rocketdyne, which have been a great cause of concern. I am hopefully confident that Ventura County will do all it can to protect the health of the people in the communities near this site by passing this grading permit urgency ordinance at today's meeting.
-- Barbara Johnson, Susana Knolls
Renewed efforts to kill any semblance of a universal healthcare plan are filled with muddied thinking, doubtful logic and complete fabrications.
First, let me address the recent "kill granny" campaign that Republicans fear would allow government euthanasia. It seems paradoxical that a party that prides itself on individual choices doesn't want people to decide their own end-of-life issues. The right wing is against "government" influenced euthanasia, but it's OK for insurance companies to control euthanasia? Insurance companies have been making choices over who lives or dies upon whether they want to cover potential life-saving measures for decades! Where was the Republican Party then?
Another pearl of wisdom is that illegal aliens would be covered by this universal plan. OK, then they would have to pay for it as well, and since the whole idea of insurance is to spread the pool of risk, the more payors in the system reduces risk and premiums.
The intelligent discussion continues with the premise that government can't run anything, but those same seniors benefit from Medicare, which spends 90 cents of every dollar collected towards care, while insurance carriers spend 55 cents only and the rest goes in their pockets.
It is time for Americans to confront the 800-pound gorilla once and for all, and that is insurance companies have been raping the consumer for decades, ever since medicine became a business instead of a right by all citizens who demand that their government "promote the general welfare" instead of spending trillions on needless war machine expenses.
-- Richard Reiss, Westlake Village
Re: your Aug. 1 article, "Domestic violence shelters in county close":
I was very disheartened to read the headline indicating that our governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has struck the entire budget from the Department of Public Health's Domestic Violence Program, which will result in the closing of the county's five transitional shelters.
"The decision to leave home can be lifesaving," is a direct quote by Eric Sternard, who is the executive director of Interface Children Family Services.
Where does the governor think these women and children who are victims of violence and who are in dire danger should go? Maybe he should publish his addresses in The Star so they could all go and stay with him. I'm pretty sure he has some extra rooms in some of his many mansions.
-- Susan Malvick, Thousand Oaks
Women, are you for RU-487?
"They" say it's safe and good for you.
"They" also say, "I'll respect you in the morning" and "I'll call you."
"They" are not going to let your welfare get in the way of getting what they think they are entitled to. The faulty sense of entitlement, to expect sex on demand, is paid for by the equally faulty sense of entitlement to abortion on demand. Women and the child are just expected to pay the exorbitant price of endangered health and death.
All things male are enhanced with pills and porn, while the women's part is negated and demeaned by unhealthy means of birth control and abortion.
There are no knights to protect women. You have to know enough to say "No, enough."
Women do not "go out and get themselves" pregnant or just "find themselves pregnant." There is a male involved. And until that significant other is also held responsible, the problem will not be going away anytime soon.
Secular and religious authority would do well to preach to the male side for a change.
-- Dorothy Hage, Newbury Park
Now that Commissars Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank have told us how evil the American insurance companies are, we are supposed to put our faith in un-American politicos like them.
The efficiency with which the government has made the post office and Amtrak profitable gives me reassurance that with my healthcare in their hands, I will not have to worry about Social Security because we won't live that long.
-- Jim Barros, Simi Valley
I'm sorry to hear that Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., has prostate cancer. I don't wish that on anyone, and I wish him a speedy recovery.
But I could also wish he had to get his treatment from the kind of system he and the rest of the liberal (or is it progressive?) Democrats are trying to foist off on the rest of us. He would then understand what happens in such a system -- denial of the best treatment options, or maybe any treatment -- because it's not worth it when someone is his age compared to spending the same amount of money on someone younger.
Yes, the senator is past the age where such a system regards him as worthwhile. I hope that his experience will teach him a little humility and plain old-fashioned regard for treating his neighbor the same way he wants to be treated. Those in the Senate, and the House as well, are just ordinary people like the rest of us, and they really should act like it instead of trying to be little gods who can lord it over the people with impunity.
I really do wish Dodd a speedy recovery! No amount of political difference can make me want anyone to die. But I do wish he was not so willing to hand me a broken-down clunker of a healthcare system while those in Congress will no doubt continue to get a brand new Cadillac system for themselves.
-- Roy W. Hogue, Newbury Park
Re: your July 31 article, "Debate at fever pitch":
I share with most Americans the belief that my health should be in the hands of the private sector. Unlike some others, I want that sector to be one that has taken an oath to safeguard my health, not one whose only responsibility is to produce profit for its shareholders. Having an insurance executive between my doctor and me has never held much appeal.
The private insurance alternative to Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, must be subsidized by Medicare to be financially competitive -- stark testimony to which organization is better able to manage our healthcare dollars. Medicare's administrative costs are about 3 percent, compared to 20 to 30 percent in the insurance sector. This is in part because it doesn't see a need to compensate its chief operating officer like a rock star, it doesn't pay dividends to its shareholders and it doesn't commit resources to finding excuses to drop coverage when its customers get sick.
If management of our well-being by insurance companies is such a good deal, why don't we apply it to police and fire protection? When we call 911, the operator would forward our request for help to our insurance company, which would decide whether to send a police officer, ambulance or fire truck based on how that decision would affect its profit.
Our healthcare system needs dramatic reform if we wish to catch up with the rest of the industrialized world. But if our goals include both universal coverage and cost control, we must seriously consider a single-payer option, as in HR676, not just an insurance and pharmaceutical industry profit expansion option, as in HR3200.
-- Nick Fotheringham, Thousand Oaks
Ventura County can barely provide police and fire protection to the unincorporated areas of the county or build and maintain the county roads. More importantly, the county obviously is incapable of enforcing its own zoning laws.
Case in point: Two empty lots purchased a few years ago at the corner of Katherine Drive and Cypress Street in the unincorporated area of the county known as the Santa Susana Knolls, a rural residential community in eastern Ventura County. In the intervening time, this new owner has turned the "tabla rasa" of empty lots into a terrible eyesore. Visible junk piles grow all over the property, and mini storage units come and go several days a week. I have seen occasions where there were at least 10 units on the property! It is obvious the property is being used for commercial storage.
All of this is against the zoning ordinances for the area. And the county -- the only legal entity that can enforce laws in the unincorporated areas -- has made only feeble attempts to close down this illegal storage business in our peaceful residential neighborhood.
I pity that newly built expensive home just behind it, which must suffer the view of this illegal junk pile of a property from its front terrace. Shame on Ventura County for allowing this injustice to continue! Shame on Ventura County for letting this one property owner's rights outweigh the rights of all the neighbors and the zoning laws of the county.
Since the county has done such a miserable job at managing its county jurisdiction, it is obvious that it has no business trying to urbanize the unincorporated areas, nor should the county allow high-density developers to bamboozle the county into allowing it. High-density developers should go to the cities where their high-density projects are truly welcomed. Cities must be the ones that grow cities, not the county. The county has no business arbitrarily changing the zoning laws of a rural community, turning them into incongruous "pseudo-cities," and then letting them fend for themselves for a few county bread crumbs of fire and police protection.
I hope Supervisor Peter Foy will please bring some sense to county business. Today, I hope he votes down the Colton-Lee attempt to bamboozle the county into making another urbanization mistake. And I hope he encourages his colleagues to vote against the Colton-Lee petition, too.
-- Alex D'Anca, Santa Susana Knolls
I am writing to ask that the Ventura County supervisors "just say no" to any high-density rezoning in the very rural Santa Susana Knolls and surrounding areas.
The Knolls and the Pass Road are no place for high-traffic, high-density developments. There are no fire and police services for a high-density development. There is no water for any high-density development. (There isn't enough for the entire state of California!) There is no public transportation. There are no roads for that many cars. Please, at today's meeting, just say "no."
The Knolls is a high-fire danger zone, and the idea of placing 471 housing units at an extremely busy railroad crossing, which includes Metrolink trains and freight trains 24/7, is simply unacceptable. The developer of this property is currently asking for 100 highly flammable manufactured homes, and that is too many for this area. It will simply do nothing to improve our neighborhood. In the event of fire, a catastrophic bottleneck will occur. Property and lives will be lost. A city-type, high-density development must not be allowed in this rural area.
One of my fears is that if a high-density development is allowed in this area, we will lose all of Ventura County's rural neighborhoods.
In addition, rezoning any property on the Susana Pass Road will bring equal threats. Again, the Pass Road is a rural road with no city-type services and would be directly in the line of fire when -- and I do mean when -- the next fire threatens eastern Simi Valley. The increased number of cars would surely compound the bottleneck of evacuations in this area.
I am asking that cooler heads and intelligence rule the day at today's meeting. I attended the meeting July 14 and was impressed that all the supervisors wanted time to consider the state's affordable housing element. I must ask, however: Is the State of California in any position to demand anything? Does the state have a plan for magically increasing water, fire and police services? I don't think so.
Perhaps the answer lies not in creating more housing from scratch, but in converting the thousands of empty homes, townhouses and apartments into affordable units. Recycling is always a good solution.
-- Susan L. Wells, Santa Susana Knolls
Re: Bill O'Reilly's Aug. 1 commentary, "Obama versus Benjamin Franklin's prediction":
O'Reilly starts by "pitting government money for the poor against rugged individual competition ... winners get more security than losers."
Where is the rugged individual competition in America? The drug companies make sure there is no outside competition from other countries or competitive pricing for Medicare-purchased drugs. If winners get more security and profits, what do losers get? Death? A missing body part because we couldn't afford to have it saved? Bankruptcy?
"Obama ... believes the American deck is stacked against many poor." People are different, not all have the same health status. If you can't work in America because of health reasons, you become poor very quickly.
Obama "believes that it is government's responsibility to give those people as much money as possible. Free healthcare is free money." Is O'Reilly exaggerating here? There is no such thing as free healthcare. It all has a cost. America's healthcare costs twice as much as that of most other countries.
"Of course, safety nets for the poor... must be available ... in the form of free government-run clinics." From what O'Reilly said before, is this not free money? Are clinics the only form of treatment allowed? If a hospital were required to save lives, would he just let those poor people die? Many Americans are just one bad accident or illness away from being poor, but they weren't born poor. The majority of bankruptcies are for health reasons, with many having insurance. Would they qualify under O'Reilly's plan?
"Benjamin Franklin would not have supported national healthcare." We're in the 21st century now, and we provide government healthcare for our veterans, our retired military and our seniors. I am so thankful we and much of the industrial world have made some progress.
-- Lee Backus, Simi Valley
It is criminal to dismantle the best healthcare system in the world that serves 300 million people. There are safety nets in place for the 10 million uninsured. Obamacare will result in at least 90 million people losing their current insurance, and they will be dumped into the government option they don't want. Once nationalized healthcare takes over, we will not be able to return to private plans that are driven out of business.
President Barack Obama has said that if a patient over 65 needs a pacemaker due to an irregular or rapid heart rate, the government "will have to make the hard choices" and offer the patient a pain pill instead. This is not about healthcare reform, but about redistribution of healthcare, as Obama redistributes everything else.
The current bill mandates healthcare be focused on overcoming racial disparities. The Obama-appointed Health Benefits Committee will make healthcare decisions based on race, age, gender and location in the United States. Race-based preferences are a large component of Obama's healthcare bill and will be used to determine where and how the money is spent. These funding decisions will affect treatment options, hospital staffing, medical schools, research grants and pharmaceutical contracts. Massive corruption will follow.
Obama insulted every doctor in America when he described a pediatrician choosing to perform a tonsillectomy for a sore throat or a cough because his fee would be higher. Showing his ignorance again of medical practice as well as his contempt for those who have truly served others, Obama reveals why he should not be making medical care decisions. Too arrogant and corrupt to lead with integrity, he always stoops to blaming others, especially those who actually achieved something of substance.
Instead of this looming totalitarian takeover, let Congress tackle Medicare costs and address fraud and waste in this system, or overhaul the bankrupt Social Security system. But that would be real change for the better.
-- Patti Chiarelli, Thousand Oaks