Reader: As much as I like Peter Wonderly, I must strongly oppose his suggestion that evangelical Christians should "Vote for the common good" (Community Voices, Oct. 30) by selecting Democrat candidates. Even if I agreed with Peter's talking points questioning the morality of Republican positions on social policies, his position ignores several more important long term issues.
In the current political climate, a vote for perceived Democrat compassion is also a vote for unrestricted abortion, reduced religious liberty, open borders and judicial activism, just to name a few.
— Greg Lamb
Price: Well, none of that is true. If you voted for Democrats on Election Day, you did not vote for unrestricted abortion, reduced religious liberty, open borders and judicial activism. Likewise, if you voted for Republicans, you did not vote to abolish car emission standards, outlaw contraceptives, eliminate campaign finance laws and invade Iran.
Those blanket statements may contain a grain of truth here and there but they're substantially false — and that represents one of the great challenges that newspaper editorial page editors routinely face — fact-checking letters to the editor.
We're obligated to verify the stated facts in letters to the editor, just as we are obligated to verify staff-written articles. It can be difficult because we give letter writers some leeway to inject their opinions with a certain amount of hyperbole and sarcasm. Sometimes we outright reject letters that go too far and sometimes we ask the authors to rework them. (And sometimes we fail to apply our standards with the consistency I'd like — and readers usually let us know.)
Greg, your letter is a case of hyperbole taken so far it's just flat-out incorrect, and it simply serves to widen the divide between liberals and conservatives.
Unrestricted abortion? A Gallup poll released June 13 found that 82 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaners oppose third-trimester abortions, which strikes me as a pretty good gauge of how Democrats feels about "unrestricted abortion." Fifty-four percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaners oppose second-trimester abortions as well. Democrats are still clearly more likely to support abortion rights than Republicans but linking a vote for a Democrat as a vote for "unrestricted abortion" is miles from the truth.
Reduced religious liberty? The Pew Research Center polled people on the importance of religion in one's life by party affiliation and found that 76 percent of Democrats believe in God ("absolutely certain" or "fairly certain") and 72 percent find religion "very important or "somewhat important," compared with Republicans' tallies of 91 percent and 84 percent, respectively. Again, Republicans tend to be more religious, but Democrats as a whole are hardly intolerant of religion, at least based on their own beliefs and practices.
Open borders? Again, wrong. As The New York Times reported on June 27: “In 2013, every single Democrat in the Senate voted for the so-called Gang of Eight immigration overhaul bill that would have provided about $40 billion for border enforcement, including deploying thousands more agents and building 700 miles of fencing. … And in 2006, 26 Senate Democrats voted to build 700 miles of walls and fences on the southwestern border.”
The Times also noted that all 193 House Democrats have signed onto a proposal that “enhances technology used to monitor the border, and provides $110 million in grants annually for collaboration between local law enforcement and Border Patrol agents.” Democrats might have different views than most Republicans on immigration policy, but I have never heard of one advocating for anything remotely close to "open borders."
Judicial activism? In a Harvard commencement address in 2010, former Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a George H.W. Bush appointee, figuratively rolled his eyes at the argument that liberal judges make law while conservative judges simply apply the law as it is written.
It is rarely the case, Souter pointed out, that a constitutional claim can be resolved by simply applying that particular legal template. Sure, it's possible: If a 32-year-old were to try to run for president, the court could simply point to the constitutionally dictated age requirement of 35. But the rights of due process and equal protection, for example, were purposely written to demand interpretation based on the case at hand.
Many constitutionally described rights and duties clash with others. Time magazine's Adam Cohen, writing in June 2010, cites the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, in which the First Amendment demanded publication, but national security weighed against it.
So, along comes Chief Justice John Roberts who, at his confirmation hearings, said he would act as an "umpire." "It's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat," he said. Then the Roberts court, in the Citizens United case, promptly strikes down a federal law that prohibited corporations from spending on federal elections — a ruling which, Cohen points out, 80 percent of Americans opposed (including 65 percent "strongly"). The Constitution says nothing about money in politics (among many sound arguments against the decision), so Roberts and the conservative majority were clearly not just calling balls and strikes. That's as good an example of judicial activism as any you might have, Greg.
Reader: The Nov. 7 article "County, city taxes appear to fail" says Donny Youngblood "said the county needed the sales tax in order to alleviate a shortage of deputies with low morale." Following this reasoning, Youngblood believes there aren't enough deputies with low morale. Aren't there easier ways to lower the morale of deputies than to pass a sales tax?
— Alison D.S.L. Arnold
Price: You're right about that. The number of morale-lowering strategies must be limitless, but inability to pay a competitive wage is certainly up there.
All I can say about that painful sentence structure is, reporter Sam Morgen wrote a lot of stories really fast on election night, and almost all of them made perfectly good sense.
Reader: It is difficult to know who you can believe these days. As I recall, Robert Price took me to task last year for suggesting editors there take coffee breaks. Now it turns out Herb Benham has not only vindicated me ("Happy to put the new in newspaper," Nov. 6) but confirmed that these editors indeed have a break room — with doughnuts, at that!
So, indeed, who can you trust? One Californian hero says no breaks, only hard work, and the other admits to a break room with coffee and doughnuts. The fact is, it doesn't really matter. It is just the old Republican conservative Christian habit of stretching the truth to make themselves look better. Well, here is to you, conservative to the core, Republican by nature and Christian mythologist forever.
— Panfilo Fuentes
Price: You got me, Pete. As do most of us Christian mythologists, I do occasionally enjoy a doughnut. You'd think, looking at me, that would be obvious. Thanks for selling me out, Herb.