GOP budget proposal
Re "GOP's budget shifts health burden," April 6
The first rule for any savvy shopper or business is to eliminate the middleman. Now the GOP is proposing to add a middleman to Medicare when common sense tells us that this could not possibly save money without reducing benefits. We also know that it is more likely to produce fraud, waste and abuse as chief executives pay themselves millions and charge the government top dollar to administer these programs.
Maybe it's time for the Democrats to stop making arguments about protecting the most vulnerable and hit the GOP where they live, in the world of dollars and cents, and stop letting them pretend that they are the best decision-makers when it comes to fiscal prudence.
We might as well ship all of our elderly, poor, sick and disabled to Afghanistan and let them live off the land there. Maybe they could grow poppies.
Aren't we ignoring the elephant in the house, our military spending overseas? Where's the balanced approach to deficit reduction?
Behind the GOP effort to alter Medicare and Medicaid, and move them into the hands of for-profit interests, is a key question of fundamental American and human values: Is healthcare a basic human right? Their answer is no. I say yes.
Until Republicans advocate for closing corporate loopholes, such as what General Electric uses to not pay any taxes, and talk about raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans, they are not serious about lowering the national debt.
And if our military isn't paid during a government shutdown, members of Congress and their staffs should not be paid either.
Re "High court shields prosecutors," April 3
It's always been my belief that our court system, especially the Supreme Court, is designed to provide justice for all. But it seems that justice depends on who is sitting on the court, and whether they believe in justice.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas appear to believe in a very reactionary sort of "justice," in which evidence supporting the innocence of a defendant can legally be ignored or concealed. Along with Samuel A. Alito, these "justices" don't care if an innocent person is convicted and sent to prison, even when the true perpetrator is found.
Someone please tell me why people like this are allowed to be on any court, let alone the highest in the land, and what, if anything, can be done to remove them, on the grounds that they are preventing justice from being done.
The conservative majority on the Supreme Court has once again convoluted reason to protect the powerful against the weak who seek justice. How can one possibly read the Constitution to give prosecutors the right to conceal evidence that could exonerate a defendant?
Thanks for this excellent article.
Lessons on gays' contributions
Re "A fight over gays in textbooks," April 2
I am a black male Democrat. I believe homosexuals are born as such because of factors beyond their control. So I don't view homosexuals as wrongdoers who chose to be different.
That said, I disagree with gay rights activists supporting legislation to require teaching on the contributions of homosexuals in our society, extending recognition to gays that has been historically given to racial minorities. The experiences of homosexuals simply aren't extensions of those of racial minorities. There's no comparison between race and sexuality.
I'm sick and tired of gay rights activists and radical liberals attempting to hijack the struggles of racial minorities to advance their agenda. It's insulting to me, and I suspect the vast majority of racial minorities feel the same.
All I need is another bureaucrat dictating what I teach. I cover gay authors every week — not because of their orientation, but because they have made great contributions to the canon of literature. My students learn of literary greats like Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich as artists first.
It is an insult to my professionalism that I am not considered responsible enough to select material that is representative of our diversity as my students practice living and thinking in the safety of a classroom that is more tolerant and pluralistic than any other place in our democratic society.
My students — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight — discover heroes as they read, both like and unlike them. Those giants continue to inspire, teaching tolerance by greatness rather than a state-dictated curriculum.
Research on climate change
Re "Review backs climate findings," April 4
The Koch brothers have spent millions trying to debunk climate change and to vilify climate scientists. Now their charitable foundation has spent $150,000 funding a study led by a well-known critic of climate scientists. Surprise, the study appears to confirm previous results published by climatologists.
Now let's stop denying science and get on with understanding the research into climate change. And we need to figure out what the country and the world need to do to minimize the inevitable changes.
So House Republicans called a hearing to try to rebut climate-change findings. Perhaps they also need to convene a panel to teach them that the Earth is round and not flat.
Helping our own
Re "Texas' demographic time bomb," April 1
Ronald Brownstein describes the situation in Texas as a "clash in priorities between a youthful minority community that believes it needs investment in public schools and other services to rise and an aging white community that increasingly resists funding such programs through taxes."
Do we older white folks forget that most of us were children of minority groups that the public schools educated? We complain that jobs shouldn't be sent out of the country, and we certainly don't want those immigrants sneaking over the borders.
It seems clear then that the best thing we can do is devote our resources (yes, that means more taxes) to educate these young people already here so they can help our country compete as well as be intelligent voters who do understand this is a matter of social justice.
Re "A Nile view of a nation's chances," Column One, April 2
The piece on a fisherman's view of Egypt's fate after the people's successful efforts to achieve freedom brought out a more introspective perspective on the link between the past and the future.
However, the biggest reason for lack of fish in the Nile has little to do with Hosni Mubarak and everything to do with man's over-engineering of this great river. With the Aswan Dam, countless flow diversions and more than a dozen locks, Egypt's Nile bears little resemblance to the mighty river that provided sustenance for ancient civilizations.
The fate of the Nile, like the Yangtze, Yellow River, Indus and our own Colorado River, demonstrates that the immediate needs of humanity always seem to trump the sustainable needs of riparian ecosystems and the people who rely on them.
The writer is president of Heal the Bay.