She's a media creation
Re "Why Sarah Palin doesn't get what she deserves," Opinion, April 17
Meghan Daum writes: "Even if [Sarah Palin] retreated to a yurt, she'd still obsess us." No, she would still obsess you, the media.
Seeing Palin for what she is — an opportunistic, celebrity-obsessed individual with little intellectual curiosity and a low intelligence quotient — the majority of Americans have moved on and placed her in proper perspective: an asterisk in the history of U.S. politics.
Palin will continue to be in the public eye, not because of her political and diplomatic skills or her ability to affect meaningful change in our country but because the media refuse to let go of her coattails.
I agree with Daum except for one thing: Palin's speech at the 2008 Republican Party convention was what killed any benefit of the doubt and respect I may have had for her.
Her chosen words were snarky, arrogant and mean-spirited. She showed great disrespect to community organizers throughout history, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Cesar Chavez and many others who put their lives and livelihoods on the line to empower disenfranchised citizens fighting shortsighted policies.
It is hypocritical of Palin to speak of the so-called liberal elite's disconnect with the needs of common people when she speaks so ill of people who have sacrificed greatly for society's most vulnerable. A little discretion goes a long way.
This is not an offer in support of a Palin presidential run, but Daum's Op-Ed article is an example of a pernicious elitist diatribe that exudes hostility wrapped in an exhibition of intellectual superiority.
In place of challenging Palin's views, Daum betrays condescension in carefully diagrammable rhetoric.
Thomas A. Edelman
Daum suggests that because Palin is an easy target, any negative opinion comes across as bullying. I couldn't disagree more.
This divisive figure threw herself and her family into the public eye and didn't hesitate to tell her detractors how she felt about things, which allows those she opposes the right to do the same every time something ridiculous comes out of her mouth.
But when the media asked about her family, she angrily said they were off-limits. She can't have it both ways. You would think that someone who calls herself a "momma grizzly" would be a little more thick-skinned. Treating her with kid gloves is the equivalent of giving her a free pass.
The challenge of saving Medicare
Re "Can Medicare be saved?" Editorial, April 17
Approaching midlife, both Medicare and Medicaid need radical change and cannot be salvaged by defunding them further. Congress has turned them into monsters of bureaucratic complexity. Thank you, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), for bringing the issue to our attention.
The only way to make healthcare affordable and guarantee good care is through a single-payer system for everyone. The government will be forced to control the ever-increasing costs that the insurance industry has failed at and the healthcare reform law only perpetuates.
It is time for our government to take more responsibility and remove healthcare from the vagaries of the financial markets. The entire public deserves better.
Jerome P. Helman, MD
Medicare can be saved. There is a both a revenue problem and a cost problem. It takes real courage to tackle both.
On the revenue side, it would help tremendously if Congress simply raised the Medicare tax to 1.6% instead of the current 1.45%. This would raise billions that would help ensure Medicare's solvency. We should also tax the wealthy.
On the cost side, Congress needs to take on the pharmaceutical companies and other care providers and force them to cut costs. We could import cheaper generic drugs from Canada, and we could tell others that they must accept a more modest profit instead of the current "the sky is the limit" philosophy.
Do this and Medicare will live on.
As elderly consumers of healthcare, my wife and I pay close attention to the cost. With Medicare, we pay about one-third of our income for healthcare. We do not demand any procedures; we rely on the professional services of
our doctors and of our hospital.
The real problem with American healthcare is our attitude toward it. Providers are entitled to a living, but healthcare is not a business. There is no market in healthcare. When we cannot function, we cannot shop for the best deal. There are no shoppers in the emergency room; there are only supplicants.
Irwin M. Heit
May I suggest a bipartisan Medicare compromise? Create more Medicare Advantage-type plans — those highly rated ones that, while costing taxpayers more per beneficiary up front, deliver better preventive care and more bang for the buck over the long run.
Oh, right: "Obamacare" will actually cut more than $100 billion in Medicare Advantage subsidies to existing plan administrators across the country over the next several years.
And now the president reportedly wants Congress to reduce Medicare spending by $480 billion over the next dozen years. Talk about the Democratic pot calling the Republican kettle black!
A UC solution
Re "UC is reaching out of state," April 19
As a 1972 doctoral graduate of the University of California system, I have been following the saga of UC finances for many years. Even with today's tuition and fees, the university is still a great educational bargain for in-state students.
The action by the UC Board of Regents to increase the percentage of higher-paying out-of-state students is understandable, given the fiscal situation. However, it risks violating the goals of the state's Master Plan for Higher Education and also denying entry to eligible in-state students.
I would like to suggest an alternative course of action. There are many in-state students whose families can afford to pay higher tuition. Raising the in-state tuition and then offering more need-based scholarships would boost income for UC from affluent families, while allowing access to more financial assistance for those who need it.
Perhaps, then, the regents would not see the need to reach out of state for more money.
Re "Kindergartner with gun among 3 hurt," April 20
Thanks to the crusading zeal of the National Rifle Assn. and its gun-loving devotees, our society has become immune to gun violence.
Their fanaticism is directly responsible for three kindergarten children's injuries in a Houston school cafeteria.
How long must we celebrate this constitutional "right" before reasonable voices prevail over the disgusting swagger of the gun-toters and the mournful wails of surviving victims?
Walt Kelly's "Pogo" had it right: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
Emery J. Cummins
Re "Fairy tales transformed by Hollywood's wand," April 17
If Hollywood's re-imaginings of classic fairytales cause audiences to become "cynical about the very thing that once seemed so pure and innocent," a history lesson is in order: Many of the well-known stories of the Brothers Grimm, for example, are not timeless but are themselves literary adaptations of preexisting oral narratives.
As such, the messages in them are neither innocent nor universal but instead reflect and promote the prevailing values of their time.
Re "Brewing up a craft cerveza," Column One, April 18
Viva and ole to the hermanos of cerveza south of the border, persevering as they do in the face of the vagaries of brewing and massive competition from the giants that control their market.
I am a home brewer and can at least appreciate some of the production problems with which they are confronted. Fortunately, I don't have to sell my product; my friends and I drink it all.
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the hands of those so willing to dare.