Sicko, Costs of Iraq War, Barry Bonds…

by on July 9, 2007

Dear Paul,

Well, yes… [Michael] Moore could have made a movie that only a leftist sophisticate like me or you could have loved. It would have contained fewer anecdotes, more experts, and a critical assessment of the universal health care systems in other countries; it would have been the rage in art houses from San Francisco to Northampton, MA.

But I think Moore knows his heartland audiences better than most lefties. There’s something to be learned about Reagan’s use of anecdote and narrative. Would the use of experts leave such a lasting impression on the audience? And, as a political advocate, does Moore really need to confuse the issue by introducing critical and conflicting “on the other hand” information which would have audiences leaving the theater shrugging that, well, no system is perfect?

As it is, the health insurance companies are beside themselves with how to react (see the Capital Blue memo on his web site). Hopefully, Moore’s movie will be the opening salvo in a larger debate.

I agree with some of your critique, as in Moore’s visit to a French home. But I especially enjoyed his ironic comparison of Stalinist era film clips with contmporary American scenes set to socialist realism type music. It was also a rush to see him visit the grave of Karl Marx. Now there’s something a leftist sophisticate could love!

Vince Bonfitto


As the Senate prepares this week to debate the Iraq war during hearings on the military authorization bill, it is appropriate to remind ourselves of the heavy toll our Iraq invasion and occupation has exacted on the nation’s psyche. The following statistics tell a sobering story. As of July 8, 2007, the Iraq war has exacted 3,605 U.S. military deaths, and through July 4, 2007, 26,558 wounded.

A 2006 study, “The Human Cost of the War,” published in the British medical journal, “The Lancet,” estimates that since the U.S. invasion in March 2003 through July 2006, there have been 654,964 “excess deaths” of Iraqis due to the war, or put another way, 2.5% of Iraq’s population have died above what would have occurred without conflict. In addition, it is estimated that 2 million Iraqis have been displaced inside the country and another 2.2 million have sought shelter in neighboring countries. Finally, the Iraq war costs to date exceed $441.3 billion.

Here’s what we have achieved in Iraq: a civil war; a fertile ground for future terrorists; and the world’s condemnation. Isn’t it time to end the Iraq misadventure and support our troops by bringing them home now?

Ralph E. Stone and Judi Iranyi
San Francisco

Thank you! Thank you!!!

The media terrorist attacks on Barry Bonds have caused me such stress that my family has banned me from, particularly, The Chronicle including the front page and sports day by day hate-filled articles directed at Barry Bonds. Those two smug law-breaking reporters and the editor are such racists that I find myself filled with hate toward them. I know they are trying to market and make money off of their illegally obtained Grand Jury testimony and their book, but our family has enjoyed Barry Bonds’ SF career to the fullest. He has entertained us with his spectacular play each and every year. That is all I expect of a MLB player. My kids’ role models were never sports players or movie stars or politicians or journalists!

Finally someone in the SF media gets it. Thank you for your column. I hope others in the Bay Area read the facts and stop parroting The Chronicle.

Thank you.

-Peggy Hanson

Your article confuses what is a very simple point. You could work for the Bush administration with that strained effort to defend what is obvious to most baseball fans. Ask Mr. Bonds one simple question… “Is it okay for players to take steroids?” See what he says … it’s really very simple.

Well written … Dick Cheney would be proud.

-Tom Wilson

I agree 100 percent. I have always made the argument that players in the “golden era” did not have Ben Gay, lifted weights, worked out year round or had professional trainers. Back in the day baseball skills were based solely on one’s natural ability to throw, catch and hit. Today’s professional athlete is a combination of natural ability and a regimen of weight lifting, legal vitamins and supplements and access to medical treatments like MRIs that can have an injured athlete back on the field in a few day from an injury that a generation or two ago would have knocked out a player for weeks, if not an entire season.

-Harrison Chastang

Hello Peter,

It’s my firm belief that whatever a person wishes to put into their bodies is nobody else’s business. Having said that, the thing that I have always held against Bonds and other modern players is the body armor they cover themselves with. No one seems to ever address the advantage this gives to the hitter.

The first thing about hitting we were taught was to get over the fear of being hit. With the advent of the first primitive batting helmets as a protective measure, not only were serious injuries averted, but it took some of the fear away from the hitter and encouraged them to dig in and try to take the outside part of the plate away from the pitcher.

Now, as much as I dislike pitchers as a class, it’s still only fair that they’re able to own at least part of the plate. All the great bush back pitchers insisted that the hitter could have half but that they had to have half as well. Some of the greatest confrontations of all time resulted from this struggle but today have been eliminated in a game seemingly determined to avoid anyone being hit at all cost.

Enter now the body armor. How wonderful to be able to stand in knowing that if by chance, a pitch should stray inside and perhaps contact and elbow or arm, that it’s protected from not only deep bruising but also from even more serious injury. Maybe the next step forward would be protective batting gloves, jackets, leg and calve guards as well.

I can only wonder what effect it might have on these hitters if they knew that they have no protection when they dig in too deeply and lean out over the plate too far…. Would that uncertainty be enough to keep them enough on edge to not have that extra split second to wait to the last possible moment? Would that slightly shift the edge a bit more against the hitter and make it a little fairer for the pitchers?

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts and the thoughts of others on the subject. Even more interesting would be to see MLB outlaw this gear and let’s see if and how much of an effect there might be.

All the best,
Vinnie Terranova


You could not be more wrong about your comparisons between Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds.

First, Ruth did what others couldn’t do sober while he was drunk. That’s the exact opposite of an athlete who takes performance enhancing drugs like steroids, regardless of whether they’re legal.

Second, while Ruth was beloved, Bonds seems to have alienated everyone by his behavior, including the way he treats teammates and reporters, the latter who make far less money than he does for a full year’s work.

Third, when Ruth played, the ball was “dead.” Today’s “live” ball carries much further and makes hitting home runs much easier. My dad played with both and said the difference was enormous. Also, until the mound was lowered sometime in the ’60s, ERAs were much lower and so were batting averages and home run totals. These two things made it much harder to hit, despite the extra pitchers in today’s game. (Another problem today is that the game is watered down by the presence of too many teams, making it impossible for teams to have enough competent pitchers and therefore making it much easier to hit.)

Finally, Ruth did not merely break records, he dwarfed them. If he were playing today he’d almost certainly be hitting a home run almost every game.

I too dislike it when old fogies discount current accomplishments by saying “in my day …,” but in this case it truly was much harder for Ruth to do what he did than it is for Bonds or anyone else to do it today. Just compare how Ruth’s home run totals compared to his contemporaries to how Bonds’ compares with his. While Bonds will hit more home runs than anyone, and thus deserves all the acclaim that goes with doing so, he has not dwarfed his contemporaries like Ruth did.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

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