‘Straw Man’ argument
Re: “Out of Balance,” Letters, Jan. 24:
The fallacy of Steve Lamb’s argument in favor of doing nothing about gun violence in our society is most clearly evident in his characterization of his opposition as an “anti-gun movement.” How appropriate, then, that his letter appears directly above the Tom Tomorrow cartoon addressing “NRA Debate Tips.”
The first image shows President Obama speaking on TV with the words, “And so I propose these sensible gun reform measures,” and two pistol-toting men commenting “Did he just say he’s going to confiscate our guns?” and “That’s what I heard!” There is no “anti-gun movement,” only a movement against making the tools of mass murder easily available to the mentally unhinged.
And no, Steve, one can’t equate deaths from physician “medical malpractice and negligence” with gun homicides. Not until you can cite for me, from the hands of one or more medical personnel, 27 deaths in one public place within a matter of minutes — as recently occurred at an elementary school in Connecticut.
It’s a straw man argument at its worst. Let’s “stay on message” (Tom T’s first NRA Debate Tip) and discuss what’s actually being proposed, instead of wandering off into side issues that have nothing to do with the place of guns in civil society.
~ GORDON SEYFFERT, ALTADENA
The flu epidemic has invaded 48 states, overwhelming medical facilities, exhausting vaccine supplies and killing 29 children and thousands of seniors. Both the problem and solution to this disaster hinge on how we relate to animals that are raised for food.
Indeed, 61 percent of the 1,415 pathogens known to infect humans originate with animals. The more recent, contagious and deadly viruses among these include Asian, dengue fever, Ebola, H5N1 (bird), HIV, SARS, West Nile and yellow fever. The pandemic “Spanish” flu of 1918 killed 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, and the World Health Organization predicts more pandemics in the future.
Today’s factory farms are virtual flu factories. Sick, crowded, highly stressed animals in contact with contaminated feces and urine provide ideal incubation media for viruses. As these microbes reach humans, they mutate to defeat the new host’s immune system then propagate by contact.
Each of us can help end animal farming and build up our own immune system against the flu by replacing animal products in our diet with vegetables, fruits and whole grains. These foods don’t carry flu viruses or government warning labels, are touted by every major health advocacy organization and were the recommended fare in the Garden of Eden.
~ PHIL GARGALIS, PASADENA
FROM THE WEB:
Re: “Roadblock to dissent,” Dec. 27
Mr. [Ara] Najarian was approached by two separate people in the moments prior to the start of the City Selection Committee meeting and both came to him to let him know that Barbara Messina was at the door, talking to everyone as they came in and telling them not to vote for Najarian. These are reliable sources who can confirm this. I am from one of Mr. Najarian’s North County/San Fernando Valley Sector cities, and I am outraged that Messina and Fasana conspired to override the unanimous choice of my sector’s cities for their MTA representative. If Fasana and Messina are so certain that this project is the answer to the perceived problems, why won’t they support the effort to provide the public with credible information BEFORE mega millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on the EIR? Why would they not support a cost-benefit analysis to determine the worthiness of the project prior to approving $40 million in consultant fees? Fasana and Messina may view Najarian and his questions about the project and the process as obstructionist, but the public views Najarian’s approach as acting in the best interests of his constituents. Who is really the crybaby here?
Barbara Messina and John Fasana have circumvented the democratic process of discussion and debate by conspiring to oust Ara Najarian, an elected member of the MTA Board. Najarian represents his constituents who have been asking important questions regarding the feasibility of constructing a 710 toll tunnel. If Messina and Fasana are so sure that this tunnel will help ease traffic congestion, then why not let Najarian ask the difficult questions? Why not let him educate his constituents about the downside of such an enormous undertaking? Messina and Fasana are afraid once the public becomes informed about the price tag in the multibillions, the toll charged by private investors, the pollution, the environmental degradation, and the fact that the tunnel will be used by trucks from the Ports, residents in the San Gabriel Valley who supported the tunnel will have second thoughts.
As a member of the MTA board, Mr. Najarian singlehandedly demonstrated leadership on the 710 extension issue. He asked the right questions about the proposed project, questions that have yet to be adequately answered by Metro. As a resident of Pasadena, one of the communities he represents, I was grateful to have Mr. Najarian represent me. Therefore, I was outraged to learn of the recent actions of John Fasana and Barbara Messina, which resulted in the removal of Mr. Najarian from his MTA position for spurious reasons (according to this article): being an obstructionist and muddying the waters during the EIR study. If being an obstructionist is asking questions like how much will the alternatives cost, then it’s clear we need more obstructionists on the MTA board. As for muddying the waters, I’ve been to several Metro-sponsored meetings and have yet to hear anything that clarifies what the project is, how much it would cost and why one alternative is better than another. Perhaps Barbara Messina can clarify this for us.
I am a crybaby, Barbara Messina. I cry for those who have lost their homes, who will lose their homes while you laugh so cheerfully. Alhambra is not The Alhambra of Spain. The people there revere their oldest history. The streets remain narrow even after all of these years of motor cars. The people walking are the ones treasured. It is a walking place unlike your overdeveloped, crowded postage stamp of traffic you have created by ignoring transportation needs in planning massive residential accommodations. The people of Granada cry for you. The birthplace of Fredrico Garcia Lorca has a deeper vision that welcomes further understanding. A bigger freeway is no longer the answer for your Alhambra. A tunnel into the earth of sacred ground of the Arroyo Seco is an abomination.