Eugene Weekly : Letters : 1.15.09


I enjoyed James Earl’s take on the myth of Santa Claus, “Better Not Pout” (12/24). After arguing with my best friend that while all the facts made it seem quite impossible, why would my parents lie to me? Then I asked for the truth. My parents told me, and my world was shattered. If they lied about that, then what else were they lying about? This came about as the lies surrounding the Vietnam War were surfacing and Watergate was just around the corner.

Very soon I developed a healthy skepticism towards all institutions (government, school, society, history, religion, etc.) that at times could be lonely and cynical but also made me feel that people could change things for the better and to a lifetime of activism. If more people would have had this reaction, maybe we wouldn’t have been so easily led into the current war(s), voting for George Bush and multiple man-made disasters.

As the old bumper sticker says, “Question Authority.” 

Scott Fife, Eugene


If you want to see first hand what it must be like to be in Gaza City these days, I invite you to view the uncensored, uncut video at the top of the main page at 

It gives some faint idea of what it must be like to be in a densely populated city under siege from air, sea and land. Why would anyone support Israeli state terrorism and pretend that Israel is all squeaky clean, moral and upstanding? OK, OK, Israel is not trying to kill non-combatants, but is doing so nonetheless. 

Israelis have long used the tactic of economic strangulation to subdue and weaken Palestinian mothers and children, many of whom have been suffering from malnutrition and weakened immune systems long before this current bout of insanity was unleashed.

In the old times, economic siege was considered an act of war. Israel has subjected Gaza residents to just this tactic for decades while refusing any real olive branch. And they wonder why Hamas refuses to recognize their legitimacy?

First it was Fatah that Israel wouldn’t deal with. Now — how convenient — it’s Hamas. Fatah good now, Hamas very bad. It’s a shocking disconnect to value human life so disproportionately.

Israel is privileged and pampered. Gaza residents, by comparison, are achingly poor. Have some compassion!

Diplomacy is the only way that Israel will ever be able to feel secure within its borders. When will they put forth a leader who truly understands that?

Peter Holden, Eugene 


Recently I witnessed something that needs to be called to attention. A child was playing with a cat, and she unintentionally mishandled it, causing the cat to grab for a stable surface. She was scratched. She mistook the cat’s behavior for aggression; she reported it to the patriarch of the family, and he immediately punished the cat. This cat is not prone to such behavior and should have been given the benefit of the doubt. But so quickly was a judgment rendered that I wasn’t even in the room to object.

The cat was punished for reacting to a situation beyond its control. I don’t see how it will learn a “lesson” from such. There is an analogy I’d like to make. Our media is singing in concert the need to punish the leadership of the Palestinians for responding to situations out of their control. 

I am not denying the right of Israel nor Palestine to defend their loved ones. I am not asking for punishment and retribution. I am asking for understanding and a righting of wrongs. 

Punishment and retribution are tricky things in a complex world, for seldom are there clear cases of good and bad. It is our duty to right wrongs, and in doing so to not create more wrongs. As the old adage goes, two wrongs do not make a right. 

Trevor Kiel Ballard, Eugene


Just finished reading Taylor Snow’s letter (12/31). Taylor, the term for what you encountered at the bus stop is xenophobia, a $20 word for “You are different from me, so I don’t trust you.” It’s a lazy way of reckoning, and largely inaccurate, but if we weren’t consciously raised to evaluate every person on their own merits as we encounter those merits (or deficits), it is easy to fall into this mental set. Even if we were, this way of thinking is the default for our culture, and it can creep into our decision-making skills without our quite noticing. There seems to be some sort of hind-brain activity that regards difference as a threat.

And the toughest part of your situation is that the person who extended that opinion may have viewed you as “way out there” when you may view yourself as doing what “everyone” is doing. I think there is a reason that humans have lifespans of a century or less; by the time they are 50 (if not before) they begin to whine about how the world is going to hell in a bucket. The Romans did that, and we are no different.

Margaret Weller, Eugene


In response to David Sheehan’s letter to the editor Dec. 3: Your letter to the editor was not kind and it was not creative. Your critique of Jason Blair’s movie reviews was lazy and mean-spirited.

Sarcasm and cynicism are easy. Condescension is easy. Coming up with thoughtful, credible, innovative ways to review movies that have already been reviewed in larger cities by reviewers with more notoriety? That, sir, is difficult. EW could rerun reviews from larger markets; rather, the EW is dedicated to offering local perspective to the arts.

Your suggestion, as I read it, is that Jason Blair doesn’t know his audience (“the hayseed EW reader”). This is a shortsighted accusation. Certainly, Mr. Blair doesn’t pander to the base, but “most of us simple people” appreciate the occasional challenge provided by his intellectually provocative reviews. I understand that what you want is a dumbed-down version of EW movie reviews, but you don’t speak for me. I appreciate that week after week the EW reviewers sit through hours of movies to provide you and me synopses of movies so that we may, as you write, “decide whether (or not) to pony up for a sitter.”

I’d suggest you skip the sitter, keep “the shitter,” stay at home and read to your children. Perhaps while reading from the smallest room in your home you should consider buying a dictionary for the back of the tank. When you come across words you don’t understand you can look them up, thereby simultaneously expanding your mind while lightening your load.

Carey Black, Eugene


EW’s cover story (12/31) urging policy changes was good, but some suggestions need fact checking.

The article claimed that most of our global warming pollution comes from driving, but industrial deforestation also pumps huge amounts of carbon into the air and disrupts rainfall patterns.

EW’s proposed bus line to the greenhouse gas-spewing Eugene airport would be a little used distraction. Oil depletion will reduce airplane travel. Instead, better bus service to the populated Bethel area would be a better use of our money. Preventing cuts to existing bus routes should be a higher priority than Bus Rapid Transit.

It is nice that EW opposes the highway expansions in the Regional Transportation Plan ($817 million), but Mayors Piercy and Leiken joined forces to pass it, which gave Springfield the authority to ask DeFazio for federal earmarks. EW also bypassed scrutiny of the Lane County request in September to ODOT for highway funds to widen Beltline, I-5, Route 126 and rebuild Franklin Boulevard (again) to subsidize the new arena.

It’s good to see EW mention the neglected plans for a Cascadia high speed rail system, but this system could not connect Eugene and Portland in “30 minutes.” The Amtrak Cascades train can go 124 mph (200 kph), at least in theory. If the tracks are ever upgraded for faster service along most of the route, then the train would take about a little over an hour to get to Portland.

Obama wants money for “bridges to everywhere,” and Kulongoski’s Jobs and Transportation Act has a half billion dollars for highway expansions and toll roads.

 Mark Robinowitz,


Capitalism is basically a crazy, dippy and greedfull system of human commercial interaction which requires an uncorrupted and rational guide system to operate smoothly, predictably and without gross pollution or goofy mood swings or war. Let us create a government that is worthy and corruption-free and warmongering free so that it is able to properly regulate the greediest among us.

Bob Saxton, Eugene


Great job on your New Year’s resolutions for Eugene and Lane County (12/31). All good ideas to help our city and county be greener and more sustainable.

So why the disposable diaper on the New Year’s baby?

Happy to be cloth-diapering mama,

Nikiyta McDonald, Eugene


Besides a ban on Styrofoam containers (cover story, 12/31), we can use a durable plastic alternative made from sugar cane and grass that is 100 percent biodegradable. 

There are several manufacturers of items such as “clamshell” containers, cups, straws, spoons, forks and food handler’s gloves. The conscientious Adam Bernstein has been using them at Adam’s Place for years (call Sysco Food Service of Portland).

We can insist that our deli, bakery and café managers utilize these items. Even if the sustainable containers are slightly more expensive at the moment, eventually, they will order the better alternative.

Warren S. Anderson, Eugene


To Senator Bill Morrissette, regarding the Dept. of Human Services: An 18 percent cut to SDSD would be horrific: 5,792 clients would be denied long-term care; Oregon would lose out on $339 million in federal funds, 11,000 health-care jobs and almost $588 billion in statewide economic activity.

I worked at Eugene’s SDSD for four years — an amazing group of wonderworkers. They squeezed the tax dollar till it bled and were inventive and creative in seeking solutions, with a true heart for their

The toll on family caregivers of dementia sufferers alone is devastating. It literally wears them out. Studies show caregivers age at a rate of three years for every year they put in at this exhausting and often thankless labor. What will they do without this safety net? More and more of us are living longer and longer. Alzheimers got Ronald Reagan. Are you luckier than Reagan? How about your loved ones?

Most of us will have some contact with SDSD, even if only for information and referral. SDSD is a crucial resource when the illness becomes unmanageable. My mother has Alzheimers and would have been dead five years ago without the compassionate services of SDSD and a wonderful facility they monitor, ElderHealth & Living in Springfield. I have never met two more caring and dedicated groups in 46 years of employment. Both sets of workers provide $5 in value for every dollar they get. 

Please ask Gov. Kulongoski not to cut one single penny from DHS.

Rita Castillo, Springfield


Many people think the crooks who have stolen all of the money should go to jail. Most politicians and the media think we should just “move on” and let the crooks keep the money they stole.

Instead of sending the crooks to jail or giving them “get out of jail” cards, I think we should be compassionate. The crooks who stole — and are still stealing — all of the money need help.

They are kleptomaniacs. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines kleptomania as an impulse control disorder characterized by a recurrent failure to resist stealing. They can’t help themselves.

The Pentagon crooks, the military contractor crooks and the U.S. and Iraqi government crooks in Baghdad can’t help stealing hundreds of billions of dollars.

Help is needed for the real estate agents who made billions on crazily overpriced houses and the bankers who made the loans they knew would never be repaid, then offloaded them to mortgage security bundlers who sold them to other investment brokers who also knew they were worthless. Everybody stole money at each step of the pyramid.

The Wall Street banks who invented “collateralized debt obligations” and “credit default swaps” were masking their illness. Federal regulators who looked the other way for a price were hiding their kleptomania. Rating agencies like Moody’s declared the bogus mortgages as credit-worthy as they stole billions.

Obviously we need to borrow billions of dollars from the Chinese in order to provide help for the kleptomniacs who run our country.

Roscoe Caron, Eugene


Rick Levin’s response in the Dec. 31 EW (“Smoking Gun: A Writer’s Response”) left me scratching my head. He decries the Bush Administration’s “ravaging of our civil liberties” yet uses precisely the same rationale to diminish the Second Amendment that Bush and the Congress have used for the last eight years to subvert those liberties. If we trade in enough rights we will be safer, or so say G.W. Bush and Rick Levin.

 Many years of jurisprudence have affirmed gun ownership as a protected right. Like every other right, it is not absolute and is subject to conditions and exceptions. “Unregulated private gun ownership” does not exist in this country and is just a straw man phrase used by firearm opponents like Levin, in much the same way that “partial birth abortion” and “Christian persecution” are used by other special interest groups.

Levin’s freedom to state his opinion was secured by privately owned firearms, as is my freedom to reply. The men who wrote and ratified the Constitution were impressed enough with the power of an armed populace, having witnessed it first hand, to secure the right for future generations. Levin may consider them fanatics and wackos, but history has proven them prescient.

Anthony Carbonisi, Eugene