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Letters to the editor

A gay GOP candidate; California's water wars; Jonathan Gold on eating shark fins

August 14, 2011
  • Fred Karger, Republican candidate for president, spent nearly 30 years as a campaign adviser to several of California's top Republicans and served as an election strategist for corporate clients, including cigarette maker Philip Morris. (Bret Hartman / For The Times)
Fred Karger, Republican candidate for president, spent nearly 30 years… (Bret Hartman, For The Times )

A cautionary tale

Re "No illusions, just a message for gays," Column One, Aug. 10

GOP presidential hopeful Fred Karger has no message for gays. But his life does serve as a cautionary tale.

As a therapist who often works with men and women coming out of the closet, one of the first lessons in building self-respect is the importance of having people around you who value you as you are. Karger, a longtime Republican operative, surrounded himself with people who actively worked against people like him.

A second lesson might be to do things you can be proud of. Karger's biggest achievements seem to be his ability to lie about himself to everyone around him, his divisive political campaign featuring Willie Horton and his ability to convince people to hurt themselves by smoking cigarettes.

Finally, a lesson for Karger: Whether you are gay or straight is not that important to most people. Whether you are honest, fair and caring is.

Greg Gearn


No matter how much gay voters would like a gay president, it's hard to warm up to Karger, about whom the future narrative will undoubtedly be like his past: a boy who grew up a child of privilege, a closeted man who reaped the benefits of success while the braver, non-secretive homosexuals suffered his silence, and a person who chose to belong to a club that disdains him with formidable hostility.

And it seems his credentials entail no public service except to serve and promote himself. Karger is no Harvey Milk.

Jerry Lewis

Los Angeles

Managing the water supply

Re "Follow the water," Opinion, Aug. 7

Victor Davis Hanson is fixated on the "3-inch" size of smelt, a fact he mentions twice, as if importance was a function of size. Would the logic of the argument be reversed had he instead focused on the "3-foot" salmon versus the "half-inch grapes"? And how does he justify blaming this mess on the Democrats? He doesn't. Instead he just invokes the party name three times in quick succession, as if repetition is evidence.

The messy reality includes these facts: It's a legal challenge to be settled in the courts, not the Legislature. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 underlying it was signed by Richard Nixon. And Democrats have historically been the strongest supporters of big public works projects like aqueducts and dams as well as of the farmworkers whose jobs are threatened by the water shortage.

If there were ever an issue that cuts across ideologies, it's water management

Jack McGregor

Woodland Hills

Characterizing environmentalists as wanting to return to the past betrays the author's bias as a part-time San Joaquin Valley farmer, which is not mentioned. That bias ignores the effects of California's variable water supply rather than examines the unrealistic water supply contracts for farmers.

The real issue is the over-allocation of water rights and the unrealistic amounts provided to farmers by state and federal agencies.

Hanson's mischaracterization of the "dire" condition of California farming because of the "green dreams" of environmentalists is also misleading. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are thriving. Their crop production during the last decade has steadily increased from $14.4 billion to $22.1 billion, with a small dip in 2009 from the previous year. That hardly qualifies as dire.

Nick Di Croce


Shark fins and elephant trunks

Re "Taste of extinction," Opinion, Aug. 7

I support Jonathan Gold's call to reduce consumption of sharks. But I disagree that the solution is to ban shark fins, an approach he concedes discriminates against a minority group. There is a better, nondiscriminatory solution: Ban the sale of all shark products.

California law bans the sale of sea turtles, not just sea turtle skirts; the sale of elephants, not just tusks; and the sale of bears, not just paws.

I cannot support AB 376, which would ban a restaurant in Monterey Park from serving shark fin soup, but allow a store in Beverly Hills to sell a shark skin belt.

Government has to be fair, and I will not vote for a bill that writes discrimination into California law.

State Sen. Ted W. Lieu

D-Redondo Beach

Did you know that there used to be elephants in China? And that elephant trunk tastes like piglet? It looks like sharks will soon follow Chinese elephants into oblivion.

In the book "The Retreat of the Elephants," Mark Elvin writes, "More than a millennium ago, a writer declared that Chinese 'competed to eat their trunks, the taste of which is said to be fatty and crisp, and to be particularly well suited to being roasted.'" No doubt there was much "tradition" in eating elephant trunks.

It is a crime that our urge for tradition is based on the crass exploitation of other species.

Gayle Roller


Solutions for traffic woes

Re "Let's get moving," Opinion, Aug. 8

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