Another way to skirt the War Powers Act
Re "Presidents can't declare war? Just watch them," Opinion, March 29
Michael Kinsley is correct that it is the function of Congress to declare war. However, the wars since World War II have not been wars. They have been "police actions." The Constitution has nothing to say about those. Therefore, the president can declare these "police actions" without consulting Congress, God or the devil.
The Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya have all been "police actions," not wars, even if millions of people have died in these little squabbles.
In truth, these transient tiffs have been "peace offenses," in which the United States has bombed masses of people into oblivion to force countries to behave in a democratic manner and accept peace. No one would be absurd enough to condemn the president for declaring peace against other countries.
War is peace.
"70s law' aids jobs and health
Re "That '70s law," Opinion, March 30
Bill Allen and Maura O'Connor ignore the importance of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to public and economic health. We use CEQA in our lawsuits and activism to ensure that the people who will be most harmed by a project's environmental impacts have information about those impacts, are able to provide input and have the recourse to fight for their rights.
Gutting CEQA is not the way to promote job growth. In fact, CEQA spurs the creation of less polluting alternatives. Investing in these technologies is the only real, long-term solution to grow California's economy.
The writer is staff attorney at Communities for a Better Environment.
Thanks to Allen and O'Connor, I can see clearly now how CEQA has cost us jobs and tax revenue. But why stop there?
What about other well-intentioned job-killing laws, such as the seat belt law passed in the 1960s? It jeopardized thousands of EMT workers, nurses and doctors, not to mention all the workers who manufactured windshields and dashboards. And as Allen and O'Connor correctly point out, no jobs means no state income taxes.
It's funny how the authors want full disclosure by groups that challenge destructive mega-developments, yet they don't reveal their own backers. The group they lead, the L.A. County Economic Development Corp., is a front group for big real estate developers.
One need only look at their website to see their backers. Among them are the Irvine Co., Newhall Land and Tejon Ranch.
CEQA was written to make developers and polluters reveal their projects' impacts and pay to fix the problems they create. The L.A. County Economic Development Corp. prefers that taxpayers get stuck with the bill. Gee, privatize the profits and socialize the costs — where have we heard this before?
Sharing the cost of sugar's harm
Re "Soda tax fallacy," Opinion, March 30
Rather than subsidizing it, the U.S. ought to be taxing sugar it as it rolls out the warehouse door. The cost of all the problems caused by high-sugar ingestibles could then be shouldered equitably by those who consume it. Likewise, all products and activities known to contribute to higher medical bills should be taxed and the proceeds earmarked for a national health plan.
As David Gratzer writes, this wouldn't stop people from drinking milkshakes or snowboarding, but those who engage in safer, healthier lifestyles would effectively lower their own healthcare costs. How hard could it be to calculate what typically sends people into emergency rooms?
But sadly, those making money by sending us to the hospital are largely corporate "citizens," and thanks to the Supreme Court they now control the legislative process. So don't expect this kind of cure any time soon.
One thing is for sure, a tax would cause me to stop buying soda. A second thing is for sure: I will not buy the higher-priced alternatives. Good-old tap water will be just fine.
When I go out to dinner, I no longer order wine, which costs $8 or more for a single glass. Maybe moving to Scandinavia, even with the high tax rates, I would come out ahead.
Recalling the Yang-nas
Re "Batting first for the Yang-nas…," Opinion, March 29
Not only does this piece contain offensive misconceptions — that little is known about the people of Yang-na, that they are "extinct" and that they are forgotten — but it makes light of one of the most offensive ways that Native Americans have been portrayed in American society: as mascots for sports teams.
For proof of the continued existence and vitality of the Gabrieliño, Leon Furgatch need look no further than The Times' own coverage of the dispute over the excavations adjacent to the Plaza Church and the bones that have been unearthed.
The Gabrieliño do deserve a better fate. But lampooning them in this manner only adds insult to injury.
Steven W. Hackel
In 1957, my 9-year-old self and my mom sat on our patio in Bell, gluing on twigs and straw to make a model of a Yang-na "wickiup" for a fourth-grade social studies assignment. I remember being really proud of my project and thinking my mom was especially clever in knowing how to construct it.
Fifty years later, I was the person evaluating my students' fourth-grade California Indian projects, none of which included the Yang-nas. I thank Furgatch for rekindling my memories of the time I created a Yang-na village.
Let me be one of the first to join in a "wave" for the L.A. Yang-nas!
A dubious suit
Re "Wal-Mart sex-bias case splits high court," Business, March 30
Let's hope the Supreme Court says no to this obvious abuse of the legal system. As The Times noted in a previous article, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in his dissenting comment said the workers of this supposed class action "have little in common but their sex and this lawsuit."
This dubious new theory of class-action lawsuit could be a windfall for those who file them, but at a high cost to the rest of us. Businesses are already forced to spend huge sums of money on lawyers and courtrooms, reducing their ability to expand and hiring new workers. We need more jobs, not more lawsuits.