Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   July 23, 2020

Our County… Our Black Hole

So, Bari Weiss (NYT Op-ed writer/editor) recently resigned. What I found sad about her departure was her self-described truth: “Twitter is not on the masthead of the NYT… but it has become its ultimate editor.” This unfortunate reality is even more acute in Santa Barbara where the flames of legitimate debate need as much media-oxygen as possible. Allow me to explain:

In a County of 420,000 residents, no single daily publication (digital or otherwise) reaches more than approximately 20,000 readers. With $5B in traditional advertising disappearing from local news outlets we have fallen victim – as more than 1,300 other communities have – to the loss of even the most rudimentary investigative journalism. Couple this with the need for unruffled political access and the result is an investigative desert. Remember, there can be no investigative journalism without seasoned (and costly) investigative journalists!

In our County, “safetyism” not only trumps free speech, it stifles basic inquiry, as well. SBC is the poster child for the idea that “intellectual curiosity … is now a [journalistic] liability.” Frankly, much of Weiss’s resignation letter channeled a PEN America report that spoke to the death of local journalism: “A vibrant, responsive democracy requires enlightened citizens and without forceful local investigative reporting they are kept in the dark.” Our County’s darkness suffocates us like a black hole!

A recent case-in-point was the release of a 26-page citizen (Did you expect otherwise?) Grand Jury report (READ IT) that was less about Cannabis and more about the deeply systemic issues that make our County a twisted backwater. Anywhere else on earth, this report would have garnered FOIA requests and media-oxygen for months. Not in SB where digital outlets placed it “below the fold” and print outlets buried it on left-handed pages or in their Saturday rather than Sunday editions. There was one lone exception – the Montecito Journal. The story was on the cover, balanced, and gave an opportunity for our justifiably embattled Supervisor to try and explain the unexplainable i.e. MJ told the story, asked the questions and embraced the controversy, Brava!

While some in the Twittersphere were quick to pounce on Weiss’s resignation (“the NYT should just name itself ‘Teen Vogue’ and be done with it”), the sad truth is that intellectual confrontation is imperative, even if it ruffles feathers. As I reminded my Gen Z kids, an important bit of these freedoms arose “thanks to” neo-Nazis in a place called Skokie. Yes, our freedoms are often tested by those who least deserve them.

There is a dark underbelly in this County and the only way to expose it is for YOU to do the digging and hope that BRAVE news outlets provide the media-oxygen necessary to fan the flames of change.

Be vigilant, be involved and stay healthy!

Jeff Giordano

Really, Rinaldo?

I am at a loss trying to understand why you publish “Perspectives” which perpetuate misinformation and posture as virtuous, while insulting anyone who might hold different views. This is a time when we really need to come together, listen to each other, and find our shared values. Tolerance and responsibility are required.

Of course, I am referring to “Death and Taxes” by Rinaldo Brutoco (MJ July 16-13 page 20).

1) How does the author know that “no one seriously complained about taxes during Roosevelt’s New Deal.” Was he there? I recall many of my parents’ and their parents’ generation complaining, and the total tax burden (federal, state, and local) averaged only 15% of GNP in the six years 1933-1938. For comparison, it has averaged 28% over the past six years.

2) “The coronavirus death numbers conclusively prove the necessity for the US to have a better public health system.” A better system is always a good idea, but deaths from CCV19 are about the same other flus and less than for many other health conditions.

3) “Did anyone complain about taxes during the Eisenhower years?” Yes, Rinaldo, they did. And do you really think anyone paid the maximum marginal rate of 70%, or did they use the many tax avoidance loop-holds which existed then, and were largely removed in the O’Neill-Reagan tax reforms of the 1980s?

4) “Reagan ran primarily supported by individuals who wanted to share less of their … wealth with the rest of society in a headlong pursuit of plutocracy.” Oh, those deplorables! Almost 44 million voters supported Reagan to 35.5 million for Carter. How many of the 44 million were plutocrats? By the way, the electoral college vote was 489 to 49; the support for Reagan was as broad as it was deep.

5) “The US has a lower tax burden than other modern western democracies.” No, Rinaldo, our total burden (averaging the past six years) has been 28% (double the level in Roosevelt’s years) while the OECD average is 34%. We provide many services through non-profit organizations that other nations provide through government. Hence, the difference.

6) “We need a federally funded and managed program to end the pandemic.” OK, thanks for the opinion. Would you provide details? If the governments have performed so badly so far, why do you believe that such a program would be effective?

I would be grateful if the authors and editors of MJ would fact check and at the same time avoid inflammatory, as well as erroneous statements, that will divide us. We need to acknowledge shared values and learn from each other. Allowing your pundits to insult and mislead your readership is not helpful.

W Naylor

No Response Needed

James Buckley STILL responding to Letters to the Editor by writing his own “Letter?!” STILL undermines the credibility of the paper and stifles people from expressing their thoughts without concern for being “reprimanded.” Correct if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the whole purpose of Letters!? Jeez.

Remember, James, when you did a survey of your readers a few years ago about your letter responses, and the results were 2/3 AGAINST you doing that? I’m guessing a tad more than that now are against it. Love all the changes to the MJ, but this is one I’m STILL looking forward to!

Lanny Sherwin

Purely Pathetic

In last week’s Letters to the Editor you featured a missive from Bob Handy, in which he describes me as a Pro-Trump “True Believer,” before going on to mislead readers about the contents of President Trump’s speech announcing his presidential run. Mr. Handy apparently sees and hears what other can’t or don’t. “[Mr. Trump] declared that he is racist, misogynist, and anti-immigrant,” Handy writes. Hmm. I remember that speech and, though Mr. Trump did point out that “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems…” and that “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Okay, he is opposed to illegal and uncontrolled immigration, but he is not “anti-immigrant.” And where are the statements announcing that he is a “racist” or “misogynist?” He never mentioned “race” in his speech and certainly never said anything that could even vaguely be called “misogynist.”

So, why do folks such as Mr. Handy make this stuff up?

I have to admit, I did have fun writing about Ms Clinton’s “marital train” as she attached herself to one of the most successful politicians of all time (her husband). Whatever other experience she gained on her own and on government-sponsored tethers was just basic institutional crap.

“As a secretary of state,” Mr. Handy marvels, “[Ms Clinton] was effective and approachable by employees and foreign governments.”

Wow: “Effective,” “Approachable.”

What a woman!

Her governmental effectiveness as U.S. Secretary of State led her to promote and approve the murder of Libyan strongman Muammar Kaddafi, the man who abandoned his nuclear ambitions at the behest of the U.S. Fortunately, Libya then became a free and democratic nation upon Mr. Kaddafi’s ouster, right?

Oh, wait, that besotted country is now ruled by various warlords and gangs. Never mind. No reason to bring up Ms Clinton’s pathetic non-response when it came time to defend U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who, along with members of his staff died in an attack on the grounds of the U.S. Mission in Benghazi.

Back to Mr. Trump’s presidential announcement speech, his closing words were: “Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.”

Many of the promises and hopes President Trump laid out in that initial speech have come to fruition, despite the enormous government-wide attempts to stymie his efforts. Which is why I’ll be voting for his re-election come this November.

As a footnote: at the end of Mr. Handy’s Pro-Hillary, anti-Trump (and anti-Buckley?) screed, he calls me out as “sexist” and a “dinosaur!”

Every man probably has a little “sexism” under his nails; so, admittedly, we have work to do, but a “dinosaur?” The only thing I can say about that is that the Age of the Giant Reptiles lasted 200 million years, give or take.

Not a bad run.

James Buckley

Keep it Coming

As a member of Concerned Carpinterians, it was a great pleasure to read the well written article by Nicholas Schou in his “On the Record” column in your newspaper regarding the cannabis mess created by Das Williams, Steve Lavagnino and the rest of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. It is so refreshing to finally see the truth coming out. We are grateful to the Grand Jury for their report and their findings, and we are grateful for the excellent reporting from your newspaper.

Thank you Montecito Journal.

Sandy Nargi

Mask Mayhem

It is evident that the coming November election will be contested not as Trump v. Biden, Conservatives v. Liberals, Republicans v. Democrats, but simply on the one issue of No Masks v. Wear Masks.

Des O’Neill

Corrections, Omissions and Apologies

In MJ‘s July 2nd edition’s Fitness Front article on acupuncture, “Needles Stress Away,” incorrectly listed one person, Laura Schlieske, as the founder of Downtown Community Acupuncture. It was actually founded by Laura and co-founder, Jennifer Potthast, also a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. The two have been co-owners and practitioners since the beginning of the clinic, over 10 years ago.


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