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February 7-13, 2007

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Letters to the Editor


Fleecing the Taxpayers

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Metro, for your article exposing Senator "Auntie Warbucks" Feinstein's war profiteering ("Iraq and Dianne," Cover Story, Jan. 24). Since Reagan's gross expansion of defense spending, it seems nobody in the press or in politics has dared point out the fleecing of the American taxpayer by our elected officials to the benefit of the military industrial complex. We have somehow accepted that if we only spend trillions—at the expense of health care, education, and infrastructure—on faster, stealthier, more sophisticated weapons, we can ensure our freedom to consume as we see fit. Even after a handful of men armed with box-cutters deliver the most lethal blow on our soil since Pearl Harbor, we are still asked to believe that spending more than the 20 top defense spending countries combined is making the world a safer place.

After so-called Democratic senator from Georgia Zell Miller's screed at the 2004 GOP convention, I waited for the rebuttal. He claimed that Democrats Kerry and Kennedy who voted against some huge Defense weapons systems when we at peace, after the Soviet Union was a chapter in history, were weak on defense. In fact they shared responsibility for encouraging terrorism by making us vulnerable. I waited, and the response was weak or nonexistent. Nobody pointed out how much Mr. Miller's collusion with Georgia defense contractors. No Democrats challenged Mr. Miller's, Dick Cheney's, or Fox pundit's calls for giving Bush a blank check for defense spending, because they too have been lining their pockets.

Ken Yates, Mountain View

Disgusted Democrat

I am both disheartened and disgusted as a lifelong Democrat to learn that my own senator has been ripping off the taxpayers just as badly as any GOP member ever has.

I rejoiced at the recent election. As many of my fellow citizens, I'm fed up with the lies and policies of the current administration. I did not, however, vote for the same old crap with a new name. We want reform.We want honesty.

Dianne Feinstein, you should at least be censured by the Senate and at most leave the Senate. This is not the first time your ethics have been brought into question. Many years ago, you voted for students to get tuition and books paid for to those fly-by-night colleges. Your husband owned some of those did he not?

Enough. No representative nor senator should be allowed to skate by doing this kind of blatant dishonest behavior. It's about time both parties clean house. We need Mr. Smith to go to Washington again!

Kama M. Scott, Reseda

Give Me a Bathroom Break

Re article in The Fly section about "No Baño Park" ("The Fly," Jan. 24): It was a privately funded park, so I guess they can do what they want, but a park with no bathroom sure sends a message that the general public (that I guess doesn't live in the surrounding housing development) is not wanted. But even if I lived in the surrounding development and had kids, I'd want a park with a bathroom. Doesn't the city have a recourse in this (i.e., some code that needs to be followed or something)?

As for comments in the article by MaryBeth Carter, City Landscape Architect—does this person have kids and/or actually plan to use parks like this with no facilities?

If she's on the San Jose City payroll, she should be fired and replaced with someone with a little more common sense. Geez.

Randy Breunling, San Jose

Many More At Agnews

Thank you for the article about the former Agnews resident, Donald Santiago, who passed on after being placed out of Agnews Developmental Center into a care home in the community ("Mismanaged Care," MetroNews, Jan. 17). I also have a brother who still resides at Agnews. My family and I are facing the impending closure of Agnews and placement of my brother. Moving many of these clients is very chancy simply because they are attached and happy living at Agnews. They are a very fragile population. Some misfortune is seemingly unavoidable. I hope and pray the transition from developmental centers to the community will work out for all involved.

Lorraine Kowaleski, Sacramento

Standards Must Be Raised at Homes

Thank you for publicizing the death of Donald Santiago who formerly lived at Agnews Developmental Center.

As a parent of a son at Sonoma DC and having attended AMRA (Agnews parent group) meetings for over three years, I concur with the parents' fears that the quality of care, currently in the community, is a far cry from what we know is now available in all of the DCs. This isn't to say that the community will never provide the oversight needed to keep profoundly retarded clients safe, but moving a large group of medically fragile and behaviorally problematic clients into community care now is dangerous. Get the community facilities up to higher standards, then move the Agnews residents.

This may seem like an insignificant comment about the responsibility of who sends a sick client to the hospital: The daycare program should expect the residential staff to send the person to the hospital when they are informed by daycare that the client is ill. That is exactly what the daycare people did. If enough readers are made to understand the real problems facing Agnews residents and their families in the rush to close the DC, the community care providers will be forced to raise their standards of care. This can only be a positive thing for everyone.

Thank you, again, for caring enough to write the story about Donald.

Enid Emde, Pacifica

Perverse Reading Of Pullman

Annalee Newitz has totally misread His Dark Materials (Techsploits, Jan. 24).

She seems to think that the book is soft-minded and akin to intelligent design because it uses Dust and angels allegorically to tell a fantasy/science fiction story. She is disturbed that Pullman uses dark matter as an entry to Dust, because that is messing with observable science. Isn't that what science fiction does? Comes up with alternative science? Pullman doesn't believe that Dark Matter is conscious, or that God is a decrepit angel. It's metaphorical, a point not lost on young readers but apparently lost on Newitz.

Of all the things to criticize the books about, hetero-normativity? Did she not notice the gay angels? Where in the rest of the fantasy genre have you seen such a positive treatment of homosexuality? And yet she claims that Pullman only approves of those who are "heterosexual, in love, and conforms to appropriate gender roles."

She finds Freudian imagery in Will's subtle knife, and leaps to the conclusion that Lyra and Will have sex (a conclusion that a number of critics of the book seem to come to based on no hard evidence at all). She claims that it is Lyra's attachment to Will that causes her to lose the power to read the alethiometer, instead of the simple fact of growing up.

Yes, Lyra's world is completely backward in terms of gender relations. But Pullman does not approve of that! Implying that Pullman is sexist is appallingly untrue. Nor is Pullman against science, goodness knows! He is an avowed atheist and friend of science. His books are probably the first fantasy novels to be based on enlightenment rationality rather than superstition. But Newitz can't tell the difference between allegory and reality. She claims that Pullman thinks the new "Republic of Heaven" will be "better" than the old one. Well, if by "better" she means "extant," "rational" and "individualistic," then yes. Comparing the two on the same terms, as if Pullman were espousing some supernatural reward world is a perversion of the books, which champion instead a metaphorical Republic of secular enlightenment.

The books are, essentially, anti-Christian, although they are sufficiently allegorical that many devout Christians can enjoy them, too. Clearly not certain critics.

Jason Perlman, New York City


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