The '60s are over, man
It was no surprise when I read your interview with Bob Banner ("Skin is skin or is it?" Feb. 15) that he would launch into an anti-American tirade while discussing nudity. Banner and his ilk never seem to tire of whining and sniveling about how bad our country is while reaping the benefits of freedom that were won by the sacrifices of their predecessors. The boomer generation has never had to "make do" in times of war or economic depression.
It's time for Banner and his sniveling crybaby cronies to grow up. Hey, Bob, sorry your life sucks, but it's not because of the capitalist bogeymen. The '60s are way dead, man, so get over it.
You landed a good one
Kathy Johnston: Just a note of praise and thanks for a job well done ("Catching a sustainable future," Feb. 22). You have the town here buzzing and not just the people on the water, but the merchants and everyone. The news was encouraging to the community at large. Your writing methods got to the heart of the matter and to the point. You accomplished what many others have failed at, or perhaps not interpreted correctly. If in the future you wish to do a follow-up or in-depth piece, or something on the waterfront, you can count on our support. We hope New Times recognizes the fine piece of writing as much as Morro Bay.
Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen's Organization
Speak before we lose our views
Thanks to New Times for Kathy Johnston's insightful story on the downtown SLO height standards on Feb. 8 ("Six-story buildings in downtown SLO get three thumbs up"). I have been at three of the seven meetings where this issue was discussed, and while the staff was beating their chests about how much public participation they have fostered, it seems only people with a vested interest in a taller downtown are sounding off.
The new standards have been approved for 75 feet, and if the citizens of San Luis Obispo don't speak up, we are going to end up with a downtown that doesn't reflect our small-town character. Councilmember Paul Brown says citizens don't show up at the meetings because they "have faith in the decisions we make," but I have news for Paul: We have a war going on that takes our attention, the meetings and the reports are long and intimidating, and just posting the information on the city web page doesn't equal participation. Some people have wondered if Paul even reads those thick, complicated reports and could explain the contents to the Boy Scouts.
Former councilmember John Ewan talked about how increasing the downtown building heights will solve the city's housing problems, but I don't see the connection. Only wealthy people will be able to afford to live in these fancy new upper-floor condos, while the older, more affordable downtown apartments are being destroyed. Perhaps those who've spoken up in favor of what Councilmember Allen Settle called "an apocalyptic skyline" already have made their deposits for an expensive condo with the view we all used to enjoy.
Before we give away our beautiful views and historic charm with just three votes on the council, what we really need is a citizen survey of all residents, included in the utility bills, to see if this is what folks really want for the city we love. I have to wonder why this has been pushed through without the kind of public input we were able to provide the last time the city's General Plan was updated.
San Luis Obispo
Thanks, Atascadero School Board
Members of the Atascadero School Board are to be commended for the quality of their decision-making on Feb. 20 regarding the study hall-religious instruction matter, above and beyond their eventual votes on the proposal. Their deliberations demonstrated a commitment to the effectiveness of our public education system, responsiveness to community concerns, and an intense resolve to provide our children with the best they can offer.
Having attended both the Feb. 6 and Feb. 20 AUSD meetings, I came away with a deeper respect for, and trust in, the intelligence, motivation, and capability of those entrusted with the development of the generations who will follow us. In their well-articulated perspectives, they exuded a devotion to our children's education of which all Atascaderans can be very proud.
While strong and numerous opinions about the Calvary Chapel initiative were expressed, the school board exercised its discretion and exhibited the qualities citizens rightly expect of their public servants. Meanwhile, the infusion of prejudice and superstition into our schools was prevented.
Thank you, AUSD.
The worst kind of sabotage
One of your letter writers ("Some words for several recent letter writers," Feb. 22) has used my name twice in his letter of rebuke to those who wrote letters with opinions that differ from his. He states that he served in the U.S. Army from 1971 to 1974. I assume that was Vietnam and that probably means he is too young to have any personal memory of WWII. I have a clear memory of WWII and Vietnam and the kind of support each of these got at home, as well as the outcomes of each. I served a full tour of duty in the U.S. Navy and the naval reserve. He misquotes me from my letter. I actually said, "If we feel some guilt for our present condition, we might wonder if the [Iraq] war would have been over by now had it been supported at home like WWII."
As the letter writer states correctly, the Iraq war got "very high" support from our democratically elected congressional representatives, both Democrats and Republicans. Then the letter writer states that support "declined sharply." However, the leadership of this country had not changed during that period. Our letter writer claims support declined because the war is going badly others claim the war is going badly because support has declined. The fact is both occurred simultaneously.
If you want to get more of our sons and daughters killed along with a lot of Iraqis, we should keep talking about how incompetent and corrupt America is and how we can't win. The worst sabotage one can do is telling someone you will support them and then pulling that support sharply when things get tough.
I don't think anyone's defending Diablo
I am concerned that the failing war policies of the Bush Administration are resulting in a loss of domestic civil defense forces here at home. The national security of the United States depends on our ability to defend our own territory. We are losing our National Guard to the Iraq war, we are losing our treasury to foreign debt and corporate interests, and we are losing our focus on what defending this nation really means. Here on the Central Coast, it means defending against attacks on Vandenberg Air Force Base, Diablo Canyon, the refinery in Nipomo, the refinery between Buellton and Goleta, and other targets.
I drive by the ocean in front of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant every day, and I have yet to see any presence of naval defense. I don't believe any exists. None. No guided missile destroyers for air defense or any submarines for sea defense. I believe that just about any country's submarine could surface within 300 feet of the seawater cooling pump intake structure. Perhaps after "softening" the plant with 30 or 40 torpedoes. Perhaps with a suicidal crew and the entire submarine full of additional explosives.
I would like to encourage everybody to write their representatives and ask them about this.
The people make this country great
In the wake of our President's Day holiday, let us not forget that the men we celebrate are not just faces on paper that we exchange in trade. They are men who looked the evil demon giant tyranny in the eye and said, "Our freedom is not something you will take from us today or ever. Our freedom is not for sale at any price." Let us not also forget those who have paid the ultimate price for our precious freedom.
Too often our representatives, once elected, have a corrupt tendency to forget themselves. They forget that they have but one job. I don't believe it takes a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist or an engineer or a retired bingo clerk to do this job. The job of any elected official is to represent the constituency that elected them to office.
Unfortunately, once elected, many of our past and present elected representatives decide to cross a line. Rather than represent the many of their district, they decide to serve the special interests of the few, who will line their pocketbooks with the almighty dollar. With a phony smile on their face and a concealed knife in their hand, they will stab you in the back with their hidden agendas. They will try and convince you, for example, that we can conserve water by allowing further development. Ring any bells? The retrofitting program developers are trying to con our representatives and water providers into is a profiteering shell game designed, not to conserve water, but to fatten the wallets of the developer. In my opinion, anybody who can't see this is blind or corrupt.
Let us not forget that it is NOT our government that makes this country great. It is the people of this country who make it what it is, the people who have the power to remove government and restore freedom when government becomes corrupt and "forgets itself."
As long as "we the people" understand that our government is our instrument and not our dictator, we will continue to be blessed by the freedom we hold so dear.
The media is the enemy
Ironic, isn't it? All this media scrutiny of the 2008 presidential aspirants to focus on the "best person for the job of president," from the same spirited media that gave us our current president and vice president, who coincidentally are the "worst persons in the job" our current flip, inept, unaccountable, "never admit a mistake" nut job president and vice-president.
How could such smart media people end up so wrong? Easy. The media treats even the most serious issues as entertainment. They love double-standards, extremes, odd-ducks, and bizarre things like the late Anna Nicole Smith's life and times and diaper-wearing astronauts, while "golly-geeing" Paul Bremer's amazement: "Gosh, I simply don't know where that $12 billion (363 tons) of cash disappeared to in Iraq."
Neil Postman recognized this pattern when he wrote his 1985 book: Amusing Ourselves to Death. He asserted that "by its very nature, television confounds serious issues with entertainment, demeaning and undermining political discourse by making it less about ideas and more about image."
The media continues to entertain us by giving tough-guy President Bubble Boy and Darth Vader Cheney plenty of front-page attention as they arrogantly put American soldiers in harm's way. What, me worry? Not only do our soldiers risk their lives, but those who return home with injuries and trauma get the bum's rush from these same shameful, despicable neo con warmongers responsible for the decrepit condition of Walter Reed Army Hospital.
As the cartoon Pogo, created by Walt Kelly, once noted: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Perhaps this should be re-worded: "We have met the enemy and it is the media."
San Luis Obispo
Put blame on the right people
Many people assert that serious errors have been committed in Iraq. However, blame for those mistakes seems misdirected. Our professional military has done everything asked of it and done it well, with dedication, bravery, and a minimum of casualties. The Bush administration has removed, at great financial and political cost, one of the world's most brutal dictators and has eliminated the possibility of WMD in Iraq. Congress authorized the war and allocated sufficient funding. So, who is to blame for the horrible mess now festering in Iraq? The culprits are obvious, just overlooked.
We gave the Iraqis an opportunity to build an inclusive democracy, a more just society, and to establish the rule of law. Instead, they are collectively re-fighting a battle of religious intolerance dating from 750 AD. They are conducting an orgy of sectarian torture and killing. Their politicians are obsessed with settling old scores. Official corruption is the norm in Iraq. The Iraqi police and army function as Shiite militias when they function at all. Ninety-five percent of the violence in Iraq is originated by Iraqis, not Americans. So who is screwing up? It isn't the USA.
We sacrificed our soldiers and our money giving them a chance to join the modern world and they rejected it. There are big mistakes being made in Iraq all right and the Iraqis are making them, despite our best efforts. Only the Kurds seem to have established a stable, peaceful democracy in the northern area of Iraq.
I say bring the troops home, or move them to Kurdistan. Not because we are trying to do the wrong thing, but because the irrational, revenge-driven Arab regions of Iraq don't deserve any more of our attention. They are hell-bent to wage a multi-party civil/religious war. Let them have at it and quit throwing away American lives and capital on that portion of Iraq that can't, or won't, get on with modern civilization. The Iraqi War is lost and the Iraqis lost it.