Tim Rutten on the ‘tea party’ movement; the Air Force discharges a lesbian officer; the effects of living longer lives

Rutten disparages “the chattering classes infatuated with the ‘tea party,’” noting that only 1 in 5 Americans support it.

As a member of the chattering class, I’d like to point out that this amounts to millions of Americans.

I’d also like to refer Rutten to another recent poll, by Rasmussen Reports, which finds that 48% of Americans feel that the tea party is more representative of their views than President Obama. Including, presumably, 48% of Times readers Rutten feels so free to insult.

Gwen Sunderland

People of color who’ve observed the ascent of the so-called tea party movement didn’t need a poll to tell them that this spasm is merely a racist backlash to the election of the nation’s first African American president.

By failing to critique the tea party’s Obama-as-socialist/illegal alien/terrorist rhetoric, the mainstream media have been complicit in legitimizing these canards.

The “anti-government” propaganda that the tea party spews about the healthcare overhaul was never in evidence during George W. Bush’s massive expansion of government spending. And the privileged all-white tea party mobs who storm the Capitol in “outrage” over the Wall Street bailout have never felt motivated to challenge the GOP’s welfare-for-corporate-America, free-enterprise-for-the-poor platform.

Sikivu Hutchinson
Los Angeles

It’s quite a Catch-22

Re “Air Force changes course, discharges lesbian officer,” April 20

With the Air Force deciding to discharge Lt. Robyn R. Chaurasiya after first declining to do so, we have “don’t ask, don’t tell” revealed in all its hypocrisy:

If you’re out of the closet and wish to remain in the military, you’re ejected because it’s bad for morale. But if you’re out of the closet and possibly want to quit the service, you’re stuck in place because obviously you only came out in order to be disqualified from serving.

In which case your presence is no longer a morale problem? Just asking.

Stephen C. Lee
La Habra

At war with warming

Re “Climate law foes keep at it,” April 19

You’d think Californians would be wary of more meddling from Texas — particularly after the Enron affair, which siphoned billions from our state — but it’s happening all over again. This time with oil.

Now it seems Texas oil giants Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. (with some help from our own Occidental Petroleum) are trying to water down or kill our critical climate laws just so they can reap more billions from us. And they may well succeed.

It’s time for us to say thanks but no thanks to the oil giants. We’d prefer to save our beautiful planet instead.

Todd Mason
Mar Vista

It’s how we live

Re “Can we live too long?,” Opinion, April 19

As a rapidly aging 63-year-old, I’m immediately taking Gregory Rodriguez’s advice and stopping my exercise regimen, adopting a daily cheeseburger diet and upping my beer and spirits intake.

He didn’t suggest a target age for us boomers to exit stage right, but might I ask for 80, one year longer than my dear departed father made it? And hopefully he’ll excuse my 90-year-old mother — who’s active, alert, paying taxes and unfortunately enjoying life — from prematurely joining the dearly departed. I’d really miss her!

In the meantime, let’s deploy unused stimulus dollars to construct a national network of Planned Euthanasia Centers to which all boomers must report annually after, say, age 75.

Maybe I missed Rodriguez’s tongue in his cheek, but somehow I doubt it.

Ken Artingstall

Many older Americans (myself included) are engaging in better health practices to forestall chronic illnesses associated with aging and to prolong life. I am trying to figure out if Rodriguez is saying that we should quit doing that.

It’s not just about the possibility of living longer; it’s about quality of life.

Growing older will always be about loss and facing death. And for any of us, time could be up tomorrow, no matter how old we are.

In the meantime, shouldn’t we try to live as well as possible?

Nancy Melucci
Huntington Beach

With all that’s going on in the world, it’s amazing that Rodriguez is fixated on Americans living too long. He must have been stumped for column ideas.

However, with proposed reductions in Medicare spending and probably not enough doctors to treat everyone, enough of us oldsters will shuffle off this mortal coil to avoid being a national burden.

Mati Kuuskmae
Manhattan Beach

I would argue that the problems Rodriguez cites related to long life spans, especially in Japan — “boredom and loneliness” — are the result not of the length of the lifespan but of social isolation. There is no inherent reason why elderly people should be either bored or isolated, if they choose to cultivate their minds and their social lives and are given the encouragement and resources to help them to do this. The assumption that elderly people must be bored (and boring), lonely and unhappy is part of the same “ageist” rhetoric that assumes that they must also be a drain on society.

There is precious little evidence supporting either contention, or the premises about aging on which they are founded.

Gayle K. Brunelle

Can we live too long? Absolutely!

I watched two friends die recently, and it was an awful experience. Both had been diagnosed with terminal illnesses and were in excruciating pain that could not be relieved by drugs. Their families had to endure day after day watching (and hearing) their last miserable days. My friends pleaded, “Please let me die!,” on and on, to no avail.

Why couldn’t they have been given a life-ending sedative early on that would have relived the anguish and pain — to say nothing of the expense of 24-hour care? Death is inevitable, yet the law requires that we prolong it as long as possible. Let’s face it, medical science allows us to live longer, but what kind of final years are these? Why can’t responsible adults, together with their families, decide when to say enough is enough?

Robert J. Banning

Kids know what’s fair

Re “When money talks to kids,” Column, April 17

Sandy Banks writes that it’s hard to explain the concept of fairness to her nephews when people who purchase Premium Play wristbands are ushered to the front of the line at Legoland. Then she describes the delight the children felt when she sped ahead of traffic in the carpool lane.

Kids are smart. They know that fairness doesn’t mean that everyone is the same. They understand the difference between equal rights and equal wealth, ability or beauty.

The lesson children need to learn is that they are not entitled to special advantages without effort, accomplishment or talent. Do some undeserving people get priority treatment ? Yes. But the answer isn’t to duplicate the behaviors we resent in others. Let’s encourage children to apply their diverse talents to creating a world that is more just and sane.

Evie Tole
Rancho Cucamonga

Animal rights

Re “High court strikes down cruelty law,” April 21

I am absolutely outraged at this decision. Does this mean it’s OK to hurt animals as long as you are going to put it out there for people to see?

Why doesn’t this also apply to child pornography and adult “snuff” films? The justices are totally out of line on this ruling.

Beth Gothrick