Union Democrat staff

Nearly statistics

To the editor:

My wife and I nearly became traffic statistics Sunday evening crossing Washington Street. We were in the middle of the crosswalk just south of the Red Church, when a car with two young people in it came sluicing around the corner from the direction of Columbia, causing us to jump out of the way.

If we had been elderly or otherwise incapacitated, it would have hit us, as the driver showed no intention of slowing down. About five minutes later, another car came up Washington in the other direction and did a left turn without stopping or signaling, right in front of us. If we hadn't been watching carefully, we could have been hit there as well.

What is the problem with these people, are they blind or something? I guess it is pointless to ask where the police were, as I am sure they have more important things to do than play traffic cop. But this was on Sonora's main street, for heaven's sake. If one can't be safe there, where can one be?

Another place I am seeing a lot of illegal speeding is at the corner of Restano Way and South Stewart, where people are zipping down the hill onto South Stewart, totally ignoring the 25 mph posted speed limit and pedestrian crosswalk signs along the street. Speeds of 40 to 50 mph are not uncommon.

The local constabulary could make a fortune by setting up a speed trap on South Stewart. But in the meantime, a stop sign or speed bumps would be useful. Are we going to have to wait for a serious accident before the city does something?

Malcolm Carden

Long Barn

Bring it on

To the editor:

Medical bills for my recent spine surgery are arriving. To date, the bill has reached $150,000. As I have reluctantly passed the age of 65, Medicare and my secondary insurance picked up the tab. So my life style remains the same. I didn't have to sell or mortgage my home, sleep in my car, borrow from my kids or file for bankruptcy, which can happen to many of those having inadequate or no health insurance.

It's time for our citizens to stand up to the HMOs and for-profit insurance companies, and demand that Congress guarantee health care for all Americans. Opponents of health care reform will try to kill it by labeling it "socialism." Well, if the law enforcement and fire protection agencies, the public school systems and Medicare are examples of socialism - bring it on!

Ruth Godbout


No socialist

To the editor:

When a moderate like myself suggests that perhaps a return to socially responsible and responsive democracy might be in order, ruggedly individualistic dittoheads like my buddy Mike Schmidt (letter, March 16) too often are sucked into the right-wing soundbite undertow and think they see communism on the march.

The overpaid right-wing,hate-radio pundits of the rich and greedy have been spewing a handful of Democratic hypocrisies as if they prove that the Republicans are somehow absolved of leading the disastrous deregulation charge over the past 30 years.

As Mike knows, because I've told him at least 100 times, I love real capitalism - the kind that flourishes because a socially responsive government protects small businesspeople from corporate monopolies and oligopolies (a handful of powerful corporations with control of a market such that they can set prices and drive the small business out).

As a small businessman himself, you'd think Mike would figure this out on his own. But he's to be forgiven because, as Thomas Frank explains so clearly in "What's the Matter With Kansas?" the right has been skillful in creating outrage against the "liberal elite" using ridiculous examples of liberal hypocrisies and rallying many working-class citizens to support the right - though they wind up suffering socially and economically as a result.

Note to Mike: A socialist does not believe in a vigorous competitive marketplace, but I do. Those who've studied the way to achieve that kind of marketplace all come to the same conclusion: It takes good government regulation to prevent the greedy and powerful from spoiling real democracy.That's not socialism.

Bob Wetzel


Defending seniors

To the editor:

I was reading an article (Chris Bateman column, April 4) about seniors being targeted by law enforcement, and having their drivers licenses revoked.

These same seniors are the ones who paid the taxes, and are still paying taxes so our law enforcement and DMV can even exist to be what they are today. How our government employees soon forget who really signs their pay checks.

It is one thing if a senior is going blind or has some other form of disability that make him or her a real hazard on the highway. Just because they look old and drive a little slower, like old people do, is no reason. After many years working, fighting and paying taxes to make this country what it is, they have the right not to be in a hurry and drive cautiously. I can see in some cases restricting their license to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or giving them plaques saying "senior driver," but grounding them should be a last resort.

One in 31 people are incarcerated in this country, with family values being one of the causes. This is the same deal, if law enforcement or DMV personal or Joe Citizen had some family values, they would look out for seniors, and remember, with any luck, that they might be old some day. In light of our economy maybe some of these government employees and politicians will be on the unemployment lines and the citizens of the U.S. will finally realize we didn't need half of them in the first place.

Michael Henaults

Don Pedro

Columnist insulting

To the editor:

Are you paying for the double-wide 20 inches featured on the April 23 Opinion page (Victor Davis Hanson)? Or are its originators paying you for "placement"?

Despite the eulogy implying that the columnist speaks with authority ("... military historian ... classics professor with a PhD from Stanford ..."), you have printed an article offering propaganda right out of the Norquist playbook. We read ad hominem insults, tired code words and unsupported generalities and innuendo masquerading as thought. For example:

"... an American president praised multilateralism (code) and followed by "... a new administration to the left of themselves (the Europeans) ..." (Leftier than socialism? The hard right already has spread the misinformation that socialism equals Marxism.)

We are also expected to accept that the columnist is a political prophet, even while the claims in this column are being refuted daily in the actual news: "Given Obama's plans to emulate Europe's expensive socialist entitlement system ... a leftist America ... a brave new multipolar world ..." (more code).

We also find some of the NeoCon's resurrected rewriting of history creeping in: "Despite Bush's efforts in his second term to work closely with the Europeans ... Bush removed the Taliban from power ..." in what other-galactic planet? Why do we have to endure years more of war - and casualties - in Afghanistan if the Taliban had been removed from power?

Your columnist closes with a final personal insult: "... a Barack Obama whimper."

Surely The Union Democrat can afford columnists who are insightful and mature, and who address issues, public performance and citizens' concerns rather than offering endless smears and insults. (See how easy it is to churn out such stuff?)

Tongue-in-cheek, bitten.

David Self


Missile launch

To the editor:

I question all of the hullabaloo about the recent North Korean missile launch.

We (the United States) were the first and only country who used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The characteristics of those acts liken to the Holocaust.

Who are we to be the big-daddy police of world affairs?

I'm all for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide. My question is who's going to be the first to do so and who is going to be the last?

With the issues of health care, the dismal economy and the present environmental concerns at hand it seems there's plenty of work to be done here at home by our so-called leaders.

I say if they can't collect their efforts together on these issues, it's time to do a vote-out-of-office procedure.

Larry P. Johnson


Endorsements made

To the editor:

In an effort to promote positive change, the Big Oak Flat-Groveland Teachers' Association has chosen to make endorsements in the upcoming election. First, we endorse a yes vote on the recall of the current school board. Second, we endorse the following candidates: Ian Morcott, Paul Spring, Lori West, Gloria Marler and Mike Malloy.

It is our belief that these candidates will make the education of students their top priority. We trust these candidates will meet the needs of students while being fiscally responsible and including the community in the decision-making process.

We look forward to the positive change that will make our community proud.

Wynette Hilton,

Big Oak Flat-Groveland

Teachers' Association

Leadership Team member