Dismissing Tea Party protesters a mistake

To the editor:

Clearly, John L. Smith was amused by his field trip to view the simple rustics and their quaint handmade signs at the Tea Party Express rally on Monday (“Tea Party Express runs on slogans — a whole lot of them,” Tuesday column). No doubt Mr. Smith would have been much more at home with the sophisticates at Harry Reid’s invitation-only rally at UNLV later in the day, where the crowd was pre-screened to ensure the absence of the unwashed. And I suspect the pro-health care signs in evidence at the senator’s rally — conveniently downloaded and printed from the Center of American Progress Web site — would have been far more aesthetically pleasing for Mr. Smith.

As a professional journalist, Mr. Smith’s observational skills are no doubt more well-honed than my own. But it seemed to me that the crowd was significantly larger than “a few hundred.” And is it possible that Mr. Smith’s existence is so detached from the working world that he is unable to recognize that the reason the crowd was “mostly older and grayer” is that at 11 a.m. on a Monday most taxpayers are at their jobs?

Perhaps Mr. Smith should get past his smug amusement at the crowd and give some thought to the motivations of individuals who prepare their own signs and show up, unbidden, at a rally against a growing and increasingly unresponsive government. Contrast those motivations with those of the bused-in union members at Harry Reid’s “rally” who were handed pre-printed signs to hold and dutifully applauded on cue for the cameras. Which group do you think will be more active and influential in the upcoming 2010 elections?

While it is certainly acceptable to disagree with the opinions and beliefs of the crowd at the Tea Party Express rally on Monday, it would be a mistake to dismiss them.



Superior Smith

To the editor:

Obviously believing himself intellectually superior to those making up the so-called Tea Party Express, John L. Smith wrote hundreds of words mocking their efforts so he could finish with a flourish, quoting Samuel Johnson’s snarky line, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” (Tuesday column).

Mr. Johnson’s comment was made 250 years ago and spoke to what he considered the mores of the English of that time. He wasn’t so much a philosopher as an individual with a critic’s sarcastic mind-set selling his wares, i.e., words. Perhaps that is why Mr. Smith chose his profession? While it appears that Mr. Johnson and his modern day acolyte Mr. Smith spoke of statesmen using or abusing patriotism as a means to gain politically or even financially, there are generations of Americans who would disagree that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Many of us, starting with current members of the military and around 26 million veterans, believe that patriotism is worthwhile, and our veteran cemeteries are filled with those who lived and died and are honored for being patriots. Some died in war, some died with memories of war. Damned few of those were scoundrels.

I called Samuel Johnson’s quotation “snarky.” John L. Smith’s use of the quotation is below that. He owes an apology to every current and past member of the military and every citizen who believes in the basic goodness of the United States of America. I might add that our political leaders more often than not call upon patriotism when it suits their purpose. No apology is owed them because Samuel Johnson’s words oddly fit their hollow calls to patriotism.

Vernon Clayson


No raise

To the editor:

I see that President Barack Obama, in a fit of fiscal responsibility, has stated that he will reduce the amount of federal employee pay raises from 2.4 percent to 2 percent. Wow! I’m sure that will be a big help in reducing our multitrillion-dollar deficit.

More to the point: Why are these people getting any raise at all? Because the cost of living hasn’t gone up in the past year, seniors won’t be getting an increase in their Social Security (even though Medicare premiums will go up). So why doesn’t this same logic apply to federal employees?

Sandra Mihail


Give it to me

To the editor:

I don’t just want some watered-down public option or co-op. Give me good old government-run Medicare for all health insurance, or at least single-payer health care. If some Americans are just determined to pay more for health care, let them keep their private insurance policies. I don’t want any insurance executive coming between me and my doctor.

There is no doubt that the government can do it cheaper. It doesn’t have to make a profit or hand out bonuses for denying coverage. Everybody would be covered.

You can call it socialized medicine if you want, I don’t care. Just give it to me. I’m all for the government doing something that will benefit me and my family. I’m all for a government that recognizes that basic health care should be treated as a right of every citizen insofar as the state can provide it. I’m all for a government that takes seriously the credo “united we stand,” not “I’ve got mine and screw you!” Hasn’t corporate greed done enough damage to this country already?

Richard Secrist


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