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Thank you, OC Weekly and Anthony Pignataro, for "Constitutional Cuisinart," a thoughtful alert to the authoritarian inclinations of Orange County-based congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce (The County, Feb. 19). Pignataro and the Weekly contribute to our civic culture and demonstrate public service in revealing Rohrabacher and Royce's federal legislative proposal to undermine the 14th Amendment and its guarantee of citizenship to all those born on U.S. soil. Their House Judiciary Resolution 10 would prevent a cornerstone of democracy to those children born in the U.S. whose parents labor in the most precarious and dangerous corners of the private sector in Orange County without the protections of citizenship or permanent residency. Rohrabacher, Royce and many of their Republican colleagues would like to restrict citizenship, but they do not concern themselves with the grave problems of child labor, below legal minimum-wage remunerations, workplace health-and-safety problems, and employer coercion suffered by many of the parents of the children who would lose their citizenship under this resolution.
The larger problem avoided or neglected by these Orange County Republicans is the apparent association between economic growth in this county's service sector and the increasing reliance on laborers without the legal and constitutional protections of citizens and permanent residents. Orange County should embrace the 14th Amendment by ensuring that those who contribute to society and labor in our economy be given the opportunity to obtain the legal protections necessary to raise their children and protect themselves against the growing cadre of coercive employers and their subcontractors who exploit the vulnerable members of our society.
Having had personal experience with Mr. Rohrabacher stemming from the fact that a non-Christian like me also deserves representation from my U.S. congressman (the only one I get by law), I must conclude that Dana baby is simply furthering his personal apparent cause of determining for himself who gets representation and civil rights and who doesn't.
By the way, his scheduler, Kathleen, has told me that his only legal responsibility to his constituents is to be on the floor of the Congress when a vote is being taken. Well, what should we expect? He's a Nixon lover and was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan.
Of people born in the U.S. to non-U.S.-citizen parents, Rohrabacher says, "They're really taking money from the pool of resources we have for poor people." As Pignataro pointed out, the majority of transferred money is going to retirees, who for the most part are white and middle- to upper-middle-class. For most Republicans, it is not that "those people" are getting money, but rather the fact that "we" may lose some of our welfare. I don't just want to pick on Republicans; I heard Rohrabacher's 1998 congressional Democratic challenger Patricia W. Neal at a debate, where she said many of the same anti-immigration statements, yet she smiled and complimented the hard work of many undocumented immigrants. I guess kicking people out with a smile is the Democrats' version of compassion.
Being forced to choose between policies such as these, I can understand why most people stay home on Election Day.
-Mark Hilgenberg, Vice Chairman, Libertarian Party of Orange County
MURDER, HE WROTE
I wouldn't expect anything less than typical left-wing historical revisionism when describing the story of Ho Chi Minh, and in Nick Schou's article "The Ho Story" (Feature, Feb. 19), I wasn't disappointed. The first page of the article is quick to bring out one of the Left's favorite tools, moral equivalence: Ho Chi Minh is declared to be just as murderous as Johnson and Nixon! Perhaps Schou should take a look at R.J. Rummel's Death by Government, in which he documents how Ho massacred about 25,000 non-communist nationalists and imprisoned another 5,000 between 1945 and 1947. Schou claims that Ho is innocent of the subsequent class warfare against feudal landlords and gives no numbers. M. Gerard Tongas believes 100,000 Vietnamese were murdered in this period, including the starvation of women and children. Rummel believes this to be an underestimate.
Another inconvenient fact is that Ho and other communist leaders went so far as to implement a quota on murder. Contrary to the implication that the U.S. was responsible for most of the deaths, the killings continued when the Americans left. Revenge was quickly exacted on those who supported democracy and on their families. A united Vietnam went to war against Cambodia and China. All this resulted in perhaps an additional 160,000 deaths. Those Vietnamese who escaped often lost their loved ones at sea, either through harsh ocean conditions or through murderous pirates. It seems to me that those protesting Ho indeed have something to protest against.
-Richard Mendoza, Santa Ana
Nick Schou responds: Let's take your assertions one by one. The most accurate portion of your letter deals with the suffering of people who fled Vietnam. I agree: those Thai pirates were obviously communists hired by Ho Chi Minh. That said, the estimate you cited of 100,000 landlords killed as a result of Ho Chi Minh's personal leadership is way off. If, however, we accept the premise that Ho indeed was a mass murderer, then the cap fits even more nicely on the noggins of Nixon, Johnson, Kissinger and the rest. These folks were responsible for the greatest single contribution to the so-called "body count" by ordering massive air bombardments of every major industrial area in North Vietnam, plus huge tracts of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead. This is no fantasy of the Left. (I was fully aware of this fact even as a gung-ho high school student who wanted to fly choppers, so get over it already!)
Our bombing in Cambodia, for example, grew from pounding the jungle along the border with South Vietnam to leveling the entire country. This campaign, intentionally carried out by Nixon without the knowledge (or support) of Congress or the public, helped turn a ragtag band of Maoist thugs known as the Khmer Rouge into a guerrilla army with a popular cause-ousting the military regime in Phnom Penh that had allowed the U.S. to bring in its warplanes and rain terror on the people of Cambodia. On CNN's Cold War series, Kissinger himself admitted that he opposed Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia, on the basis that it was a terrible error of judgment. (If you are going to kill a million people, don't try to do it in secret, he reasoned.)
Meanwhile, you assert that "a united Vietnam went to war against Cambodia and China," causing the deaths of 160,000 people. Apparently, you're unaware of the fact that China invaded Vietnam in 1979, not vice versa. China did this for a number of reasons, chiefly because it supported Cambodia's late dictator Pol Pot. If you're looking for a communist leader guilty of the genocide you seek to blame on Ho, try Pot. If you're as familiar with history as you claim, however, you should already know that it wasn't the Americans who finally stopped Pot's genocide in Cambodia-we were too afraid of crossing China to oppose the killing-it was the Vietnamese government that finally invaded Cambodia and stopped, not started, one of the worst atrocities in modern history.
WATCH, DON'T RUN
I find Anthony Pignataro's consternation about his articles not being posted on the El Toro Info Site to be disingenuous (Wyn Hilty's "Don't Leak on Me," Feb. 26). The first 11 El Toro Airport Watches were manually re-typed by me as a volunteer, since Pignataro claimed not to have had them in an electronic form. Subsequent Watches were regularly e-mailed to the site by Weekly reporters.
Suddenly, last April, the Watches stopped coming. Repeated calls to Pignataro got responses that "he was too busy, lost his intern, or was just lazy." Coincidentally, this happened when Project 99 was offering the 1997 Watches as a means to raise funds, a fact that was mentioned in each column. Several of us, though, continued to manually re-type the missing Watches (this was before they were available on the online edition of the Weekly), yet their presence on the El Toro Info Site was no longer mentioned.
Since we were now re-typing the Watches manually, we selected only the columns that offered fresh ideas not expressed anyplace else. We have never considered regular posting of other, non-Watch articles by Pignataro, like the one from Jan. 22. Had Hilty taken more time to study the topic, she would have found that Watches 68, 69, 70, 73, 84, 85 and 91 are not posted, either. We, the volunteers for the El Toro Info Site who also hold full-time jobs, can be lazy, too.
An average dope responds: Your biggest criticism about Hilty's article has . . . nothing . . . whatsoever . . . to do with Hilty's article. Her point was that Kranser systematically elects not to run on his Web site articles critical of the anti-airport coalition. That's an undeniable fact-and one that Kranser himself acknowledged when interviewed for Hilty's article. Pignataro's "consternation" was hardly "disingenuous." He only said he disagreed with Kranser on that issue and that Kranser "can post whatever he wants to. It's his site."
BREAKING THE RULES
Concerning the Best Manifesto winner, Dogma 95, in the "The Third Annual Calleys" by Nathan Callahan (Film, Feb. 26): Callahan suggested that since Celebration and Breaking the Waves were made under the guidelines of a vow signed by the filmmakers, somehow it gave the films a certain something that made them "more riveting than anything George Lucas could dream up." I don't argue that setting restrictions upon one's self may bring out a certain aspect that other filmmakers with free reign may not be able to attain. But I think it is worth noting that the filmmaker confessed to having broken the vow in the production of Celebration.
So what use is a vow if you don't live by it? What that means is up to individuals to decide. You make the call. I just thought all the facts should be known. The Web page where this confession is published is at www.octoberfilms.com/thecelebration/confession.html.
Nathan Callahan responds: What are you, Rob, some kind of film fundamentalist? The Dogma 95 Manifesto was created as a "rescue operation to counter certain tendencies in film today-namely lazy-ass filmmakers" over reliance on illusion and special effects. Celebration complied with the principle of that manifesto and 99.9 percent of its strict "Vow of Chastity."
As far as I can tell, director Thomas Vinterberg's worst offenses in breaking the vow were the draping of a window (artificially altering the light of a scene) and building a desk (rather than using furniture that was already at a location). His confession was the equivalent of a Catholic's concession to taking the Lord's name in vain, not murder. What do you suggest for him? A celluloid hair shirt?
Even without the fundamentalist rigor you seem to require, the Dogma 95 Manifesto has succeeded in giving the world two of the best films of the decade. That in itself would seem to answer your question "What use is a vow?"
ERROR OF OMISSION
Asked for a 1998 Top 10 list, I threw caution to the wind and handed over a 1,000-word essay ("The Third Annual OC WeeklyTheater Awards," Feb. 26). I regret that my favorite performance by an actress, Helena Schmied in Pygmalionat the Long Beach Playhouse, got lost in the shuffle of that effusiveness. Humbled by this experience, I will keep my praise to a minimum in the future.
-Dave Barton,OC Weekly theater critic