MAILBAG: Religious voices fought for our civil rights

I need to point out some inaccuracies in the Freedom From Religion Foundation's full-page ad in the Coastline Pilot last week (Oct. 31). Contrary to the ad, people of faith were among the most vocal to speak out against capital punishment, women's right to vote and especially slavery. In fact, many of the strongest voices against slavery, such as William Lloyd Garrison and Martin Luther King Jr., were committed Christian leaders.

The ad admits that those advocating a world or government free from religion have been marginalized. That's because discerning people know a nation void of moral absolutes and restraints will ultimately collapse and plunge headlong into complete chaos, with every man doing what is right in his own eyes.

JAY GRANT

Sewage spill is a poor way to treat the coast

After reading the headline "4 miles of coast shut by sewage" (Oct. 31) a thought occurred to me that after the city and its residents have enjoyed using this magnificent coast for pleasure and the commerce dollar, that this is the best payback to nature. Rather creepy, or should I say crappy. The problem has been known for years "” shame on them.

GARY SIMPSON

Laguna Beach

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Economic panic will lead nowhere, so calm down

These are terrible financial times. Most people are worried about their financial futures, and rightly so.

There is a general lack of confidence in our government and our financial institutions. We have a lame-duck president whose public approval rating is lower than low, and there is a vacuum in world leadership. To make matters of confidence worse, our Treasury Department seems to be top heavy with former Goldman Sachs executives. One of them is our treasury secretary. Another is a 35-year-old who has been handed the management of the $700-billion "Financial Recovery Program" (aka "Wall Street Bail Out" ). It makes one wonder how anyone can attack President-elect Barack Obama for lack of experience.

Goldman Sachs: Didn't the Feds arrange for them to buy Solomon Bros. at a "fire sale" price? Insider advantage or shrewd business? Then the Feds let Lehman Bros. go belly up. Strange coincidence?

Despite the complex financial doings, lack of confidence, negativism of the media and their rejoicing over our financial crisis, panic will get us nowhere but deeper into this mess.

Oh, "ye of little faith." To worry is one thing, to panic is another. Believe Franklin Roosevelt: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

DON KNAPP

Laguna Beach

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Patriots disagree with country's direction

Ever since Gov. Sarah Palin raised the issue of what it means to be patriotic, living in a pro-American state, I have been asking myself this simple yet telling question: As a native Californian and lifelong Democrat, am I patriotic?

Because I have voted since 1972, I thought I already knew the answer to that question. The fact that the Republican vice presidential running mate continues weaving this topic into her stump speech suggests the issue cuts deeper than I ever imagined.

You might say that, in its most basic form, Palin's question goes to the core of who we are as a nation and who I am as a citizen. How can this be? After all:

I was raised in Palo Alto (what some consider not-so-pro-America) and attended USC during the height of the Vietnam War (the quintessential bastion of patriotism in those days). I remember reading about Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground.

That doesn't make me a "pal" of his, does it?

After graduating from USC, I attended graduate school at UCLA (the scene of many anti-war demonstrations) and then went to work on Capitol Hill (besides the White House or Mount Rushmore, it is arguably the most pro-American symbol on the planet). As a young congressional staffer, I remember reading the first 1-inch story in the Washington Post about the Watergate break-in. That Richard Nixon was some kind of patriot.

Years later, I simultaneously raised campaign donations from Orange County's Lincoln Club (perhaps the best-known source of GOP funds in the nation) and helped Tom Hayden run for office (is there anyone my age, 60, who doesn't remember Hayden's wife at the time "¦ "traitor" Jane Fonda?). A decade after her declaration from North Vietnam, Jane's workout videotape was the gold standard of a new, American industry.

I represented San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach in their fight against offshore oil drilling. To drive home the point, my office arranged for 22 Republican mayors to publicly oppose the Reagan administration's plan to open Orange County's coastline to massive drilling. Today, there is a renewed interest in offshore drilling. Having written numerous pieces on the topic, I take a back seat to no one on energy independence (every patriot's dream).

Patriotism is commonly defined as love of or devotion to one's country. It comes from the Latin patria and Greek patris. If Socrates was alive today he might say, "Patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his (or her) country does. Rather it would promote analytical questioning in order to make the country the best it possibly can be."

No one, including Alaska's governor, needs to look any further than when real-life patriot Colin Powell endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

No sooner had the former national security advisor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state made his views known, than his critics began trashing him for his decision.

It was as if the likes of Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh were calling Powell unpatriotic for "turning his back on the Republican Party." Nothing I heard in the former four-star Army general's comments about the presidential race could be further from the truth.

In picking Obama over John McCain, the ever-thoughtful and courageous Powell decided that country trumps party. If pundits like Buchanan and Limbaugh actually had taken the time to process what Powell was saying before jumping all over him, maybe they could appreciate, as I do today, how ironic "” and pathetic "” their knee-jerk reactions were.

What Powell was arguing for was a way to make the country the best it possibly can be. To underscore that, he took a page out of McCain's own campaign playbook. It's too bad the irony of "country first" was lost on Buchanan and Limbaugh.

I don't know how Sarah Palin feels about Colin Powell's decision, but I do know this: I support his pick of Obama over McCain. My hope is no matter where someone lives or which party that person identifies with, the general's act of courage will help all Americans understand just who and what a true patriot is.

DENNY FREIDENRICH

Laguna Beach

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Maternity closure cripples hospital

I think it takes some cajones for Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Kinsman to give herself credit for our city having a hospital. Kinsman started on her hospital campaign trail two years ago when she used it to boost her campaign. If she were to strap herself to the hospital, as she claims she will do, I would attend the event. I would even buy a ticket to have the opportunity to see one of their counselors 51/50 her into their Chemical Dependency Unit for a reprieve. The insurance billing for her stay would probably be her most meaningful contribution.

The recent "revamping" of hospital services as an economic strategy was just the soft sell to the community as it puts one foot in the grave and has the other on a banana peel slipping. During this "revamping," the OB unit was closed, and the facility claims it will focus on trying to attract patients interested in high-end elective surgical procedures. Isn't maternity care elective patient care?

With the climate of our current economy, people are just not spending money on high-end elective surgical procedures. In addition, where traditionally these types of procedures may make a lot of money for the physician, the same is not necessarily true for the facility. Quite the contrary, facilities often grapple just to break even but do it for the added publicity. I believe folks in the community know the facility is there. It is my belief that providing a broader base of reimbursable community services would fare them better. That is what San Clemente and other hospitals of similar size are doing to stay solvent in other communities.

In addition, where a physician referral is one means in which patients may come to a facility, the facility can do this itself in its own right. However, we do not see that sort of strategy at play here. Recently the hospital announced that it would be closing the obstetrical unit. It was not long ago that SCMC was considered to be the place in the county to have your baby. Women used to put their name on a waiting list, hoping for the opportunity to give birth there.

One reason for this was that the facility allowed women the opportunity to use the "birthing chair." The appeal of this chair is that it allows women to use gravity to facilitate the birthing process as opposed to having to lie flat on your back. However, modern docs do not like to use it because it is not necessarily easier for them. Maybe we need to drag that chair back out of the closet and dust it off. The unit also allowed women the opportunity to have a midwife assist them, yet allowed them to be in an acute care facility, should their circumstances change during the labor process.

So in deleting these services, not only did the facility give up the opportunity to provide the community with one of the few pleasant, elective services, it provides less "womb to the tomb" or comprehensive healthcare services that contribute to the essential healthcare needs of a community.

DEVORA HERTZ

Laguna Beach


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