August 1, 2012
Letters to the Editor: David Mamet, Dennis Prager, USC Hillel
Their Country, Right or Wrong
In “At What Cost?” (July 27), David Mamet asserts that the national debt has doubled under President Barack Obama and that government has increased massively in size. Both are inaccurate; see for yourself at factcheck.org. If the armed forces have been depleted, they’ve been depleted by wasting resources and lives on a pointless war in Iraq for which there was never any valid justification and which has destabilized the Middle East and presented Iran with unprecedented opportunities. President Obama has in fact boasted inaccurately of military spending cuts that he actually has not managed to make. The crippled economy was brought to us by the two terms of President George W. Bush.
As for Mamet’s vague claim that there has been “a decrease in the freedom of the individual and of the states,” I can’t imagine what that could be — I got a jury duty notice recently, but that’s about it. His piece was a sad illustration of the old adage regarding the man who knows (and repeats ad nauseam) the cost of everything but the value of nothing. Our rabbis have given us a hefty legacy of the obligation of all of us to care for one another. We’re all in this together, and we rise or fall together as a community. Whether one isolates oneself at home reading too much Ayn Rand or not, no man is an island.
Kudos and bravo to David Mamet for his spot-on article about the current state of affairs in this country and how tragic is the road we are currently heading down. I have voted Democratically my entire life, however as Mamet captures in his article, the past four years have all but broken our country — certainly another four years of Obama will put the nail in the coffin. For the first time in my life I will be voting for the Republican nominee, and I do hope there are thousands out there like myself who understand the ramifications of what is going on and who wish to preserve what this country stands for, having been built on principles of capitalism, the American Dream and freedom — not socialism and government control.
Prager Is Blowing Smoke
Dennis Prager’s article on the tobacco tax (“Why I Voted Against the Tobacco Tax,” June 29) cites no scientific evidence or logical arguments supporting his opinion. Instead, he uses the standard debating tactics of straw arguments writing about the evils of alcohol and abortion. (Does he wish to bring back Prohibition?) The tobacco companies spent $50 million to defeat Proposition 29. Scientific evidence clearly shows that raising the cost of cigarettes decreases their consumption. Decreasing cigarette consumption will lead to fewer tobacco-related illnesses, which cost $193 billion in annual health care and lost productivity. Rather than restricting civil liberties of the smoking population, a tobacco tax would help cover the added costs of smoking-related illness in these Americans. Statistics provided by the American Lung Association indicate the lifetime medical costs for smokers is 32 percent higher, smokers take 25 percent more sick days, and, on average, companies spend $1,100 more per year on health care for smoking employees.
Dr. Andrew Wachtel
Inaugural Board Member,
American Lung Association of Los Angeles
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine,
UCLA School of Medicine
USC Hillel’s Mission
In response to David Suissa’s article “Passionate Judaism” (July 20), I’m compelled to share that USC Hillel does not offer another denomination to which we hope young Jews will affiliate. While we look at participation, we are equally focused on creating meaningful Jewish experiences for students who never enter our doors and for whom being Jewish is a choice. We do this by going to them.
USC’s recent trip to Israel, the Casden Institute, HUC, USC’s Jewish Studies program and the Shoah Foundation Institute all paint a picture of a vibrant Jewish story on our campus. USC Hillel has spearheaded activities such as a retreat for LGBTQ students, a Jewish & African-American initiative to connect our two communities, and a basketball tournament to raise money — to name a few. Birthright, the Campus Entrepreneur Initiative (CEI) and the Jewish Film Competition will engage and help more than 1,000 students build Jewish community this year.
Regarding the engagement of students, there is no magic bullet; however, when we widen the lens, you can see how our Hillel collaborates to inspire one Jew at a time. Mr. Suissa and others, if you want the real scoop about USC and campus life, e-mail me anytime.
Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director
USC Hillel Foundation
An Embarrassing Peep(s) Show
This showcase of Mike K. in My Single Peeps (July 27) floored me and, frankly, embarrassed me as a Jew. I have no animosity nor prejudice toward Mike K., and I wish him well, but to showcase someone wearing a tattoo and in the porn industry — as he quotes, “It’s something that I know how to do better than anyone else” — is way out of line for a “Jewish” publication.
You should try to keep this more in line with what is proper for a Jewish publication and not try to placate everyone who might read it. The quality and selection of some articles leaves something to be desired for the Jewish community at large.
Steve Greenberg’s disgusting cartoon in the Jewish Journal portraying Orthodox Jews as bloated obese non-working, military exempt, separationist charedim, crushing the weight of the Israeli chair, is deeply offensive, and demonstrative of the self-hating-Jewish anti-Orthodox animus that permeates the Jewish Journal. The menacing black faceless grotesque Orthodox behemoth threatening Israel’s existence is reminiscent of anti-semitic caricatures of Jews in Nazi Germany’s Der Strumer. If the point of Greenberg’s cartoon was to show how the Orthodox population has increased from 400 to tens of thousands, then he could have drawn the 2nd panel of his cartoon of the increased masses. Instead, he stooped to the gutter, and portrayed Torah scholars as caricatures of evil. It is simply shameful.
Baruch C. Cohen, Esq.