Letters to the Editor

Friday October 07, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Oh, the horror, the horror! Republicans, in a direct display of political conviction, do not want to name a post office after Berkeley’s leftist icon Maudelle Shirek. All of the local handwringing does not obliterate the fact that no such postal monument would be needed if Ms. Shirek had not been dirty-tricked out of her City Council seat by a campaign filing “mistake” made by one of her staffers. Every single political insider in Berkeley knows that the likelihood of this being a mistake was about the same as Shirek’s lucky council replacement, Max Anderson, voting for George Bush. 

On another equally-off note, Berkeley’s left political establishment will not be happy until every school, public building, street, park and possibly tree, is renamed in homage to themselves.  

Barbara Gilbert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Like Brent Plater (Oct. 4) I was appalled that our Congresswoman Barbara Lee failed to show up and vote against Republican cowboy-developer Richard Pombo’s bill derailing the Endangered Species Act. Short of an urgent medical emergency (e.g. heart attack) there is absolutely no excuse for the representative of the most progressive congressional district in the country not to find a few minutes in her work schedule to vote to uphold the strongest environmental law in our nation’s history.  

Pombo’s bill squeaked through the House of Representatives in an extremely close vote last week. Had Barbara Lee and a number of other truant Democrats bothered to vote the bill would have been defeated and our nation’s imperiled wildlife and plants would have a more secure future.  

Pombo’s bill was one of the most high profile and controversial pieces of legislation before Congress this year.  

Every major environmental organization in the country—including the Center for Biological Diversity of which Mr. Plater is a staff attorney—sent out action alerts urging people to contact their Congress members immediately and tell them to vote against Pombo’s bill. I almost didn’t bother contacting Barbara Lee’s office assuming that her vote against Pombo’s bill was a given.  

Her predecessor Ron Dellums had a stellar record as an environmental advocate. Dellums could always be counted on to champion strong environmental protections. 

As Barbara Lee’s constituent I feel horribly betrayed. Sadly, I can no longer say “Barbara Lee speaks for me.” 

Chris Keyser 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Concerning Michael Hardesty’s letter of Oct. 4, I would like to add my two cents. As a red diaper baby, I came to despise the old left. I embraced Christianity and for many years preferred Republicanism to the hypocrisy of the left. What brought me back to Communism was taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ seriously. I have come to realize that the left is right for the wrong reason. I now consider myself a Christ Communist, and I believe that Christ Communism is the wave of the future, whether the rabid fascist pigs (like Hardesty) like it or not. I actually agree with him, however, about the hypocrisy and uselessness of Berkeley “Communists.” One on the Rent Board once told me, after making a bad ruling in my case, that I should fight for revolution because until then he would have to go on making bad rulings, lest he be voted out of office. Such hypocrisy and spinelessness is worse, much worse, than Bushism, in my opinion. With friends like that who needs enemies? 

Peter J. Mutnick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s contortion time again as the race-baiting troglodytes are once again confounded by the real class issues trumping their race-laced concoctions. As Berkeley streets are littered with the broken dreams of homeless people, the newspaper is filled with stories of housing being handed to hurricane victims who can stay in Section 8 housing “as long as they want” with subsidized sub-market rents.  

Local business swells, taking credit for their generosity point to such acts as evidence of their commitment to a better world. Where were these models of civic virtue before the storm, and why wasn’t this assistance offered to those who need it now and needed it yesterday and last month and last year?  

A victim is given a home except in his own home town. Now that’s a concept that Becky O’Malley can get her head around. Let’s return to relevancy and let the holy land boil to death in its religious oil. We have important work to do, let’s begin.  

Ben Reitman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Congratulations for the Jimi Hendrix article by Winston Burton.  

I just would like you to give to Winston the exact dates where he attended the concert: not 1967 but Feb. 21 or 22, 1968. Support bands were Woody’s Truck Stop (21st) and Soft Machine (22nd), both shows presented by Larry Magid and the Spivak Brothers, with 2000 people in attendance. 

Yazid Manou  






Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley Honda’s full-page advertisement in the Sept. 30 edition of the Daily Planet, in which they make themselves out to be benefactors of humanity, hardly absolves them of their unethical business practices.  

The ad says that “sales and service increased 27 percent over last year and that provides a huge and direct contribution to our city’s revenue.” Since—to our knowledge—their service is down by about two-thirds compared to last year at this time, and sales are at best about the same, their claimed increase is not entirely credible. But even if we give them that, let’s ask: At what human cost is this revenue obtained? Slave plantations in this country contributed revenues to their local communities, I suppose. Does such a contribution warrant slavery? Berkeley Honda’s business practices are not as manifest or terrible as slavery, but they’re pretty onerous, aiming to debilitate if not destroy the union, since the current owners took over this auto dealership on June 1.  

The exploitation of the Katrina disaster in the ad, by showcasing their new employee, a hurricane survivor, is unconscionable as well. And management lauds themselves for the money they’ve raised for hurricane victims. Are we to think these gestures make up for what they’ve done to the local victims of their own business?  

In the ad, management refers to their business as “our Berkeley Honda family.” Well, they WERE somewhat like a family, before the current owners took over. Most of the workers had been there for years. Today these men are grieving not just the loss of their jobs, but the support and companionship of longtime associates.  

If parents cast out their children and replace them with new ones, restoring their family to “harmony,” are we to give them pats on the back? The kind of “family” that Berkeley Honda has become is hardly a humane one.  

Berkeley Honda is a happy family and a contributor to the Berkeley community. Yeah, right. If we in the East Bay wish to advance humanitarian values, let’s make that community an authentic one and give the fired workers our support.  

Raymond Barglow  

Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I agree with J. Douglas Allen-Taylor that it is bad public policy for Oakland police and the CHP to harass drivers in east Oakland just because the sideshow thing is out of hand, but how far does his freedom of assembly argument go? 

On Saturday night, Oct. 1, we had a little activity of the unneighborly kind on my block of 58th Street near Shattuck, that spoke volumes about the lack of space for Oakland’s teenagers to hang out and to the inability or unwillingness of the Oakland Housing Authority to supervise its property, which happens to be across the street from my (rented) house. Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but this is the site of two border dispute murders within five weeks in the summer of 2003. 

There were no deaths this time but lots of broken bottles, a few car windows smashed and a lot of police time wasted because a 13-year-old’s birthday party, perhaps turned into a flash crowd by the ubiquitous cell phone, spread out into the OHA parking lot, then the street with cars blocking the street, fighting, drinking, loud music and waves of youths running away from the eventual swarm of Oakland police. 

Adding insult to injury, my call to the housing authority police dispatcher was answered by, “we only have one officer tonight, and he’s busy.” (This on a warm Saturday night for an organization with more than a thousand units). I waited on hold for 10 minutes, hung up and called back, very angry this time, and finally got her supervisor, a corporal named Jerry Williams. He said “I only have one officer and what am I supposed to do about it?” Continuing, he said, “What can one guy do against a crowd?” 

While many homeowners on this block want the place shut down, even considering a nuisance lawsuit against the housing authority in the wake of the murders, I am one of the few who’ve supported keeping the place open because people need housing. But now I have realized that the OHA can’t control its own property and can’t keep the peace on 58th Street. 

How would J. Douglas Allen-Taylor answer this freedom of assembly issue? 

Hank Chapot  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to David Nebenzabahl’s criticisms of my letter to the editor: Yes, I know that a person is “innocent until proven guilty,” and no I was not there at the time of Ignacio De La Fuente Jr.’s alleged rape (but thanks for the keen and original insights). Like I said at the beginning of my letter, the alleged “rape and beating” was the charge that De La Fuente’s was “arrested” for (not convicted). And I assume that anybody but a nit-picker such as yourself would have no problem understanding what I was referring to. If I was a professional journalist—as opposed to a guy dashing off a half-assed letter to the editor—I would have couched my comments with an “allegedly” or two, and other forms of legalese ass-covering, to satisfy inquiring minds such as yours. (Perhaps you show a “breathtaking ignorance” of basic common sense, dude.) As for your second alleged point: I never said “De La Fuente Sr. shouldn’t run (for mayor) because his son was arrested for rape.” What I took issue with was Allen-Taylor’s assertion that this shouldn’t be an issue with voters. It certainly doesn’t have to be an issue with him. But it is certainly an issue to ME. And I alleged that it was an issue with many other voters, too. This is the only point I was attempting to make, Mr. Nebenzahl, and you’re welcome to dispute that (as opposed to the imaginary issues you seem bent on projecting on me).  

And speaking of projections, why in the world you would assume I’m a “progressive” and believe Mumia Abu Jamal “to be innocent” is beyond me (everything I’ve read of the case makes me inclined to believe he’s guilty; though I could see, considering he has dreadlocks and is African-American and shot a cop, that he would make a convenient symbol for people like you who seem to operate more on a symbolic, as opposed to actual, level of reality). And by the way, I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly “incisive political cartoonist” (but thanks for the compliment), but at the least you don’t seem to have been a particularly incisive reader of those cartoons.  

Ace Backwords 

P.S. Like I said, Mr. Nebenzahl makes a keen observation when he points out that I wasn’t there at the time of Ignacio De La Fuentes Jr.’s alleged kidnapping, rape and beating of the 15-year-old girl. Nor was I there in regards to the second assault charge that was filed against Junior involving a 21-year-old woman. According to alleged San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson (May 6), that charge was “based on a DNA ‘cold hit’ match.” And, needless to say, one’s DNA should be considered innocent until proven guilty.  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In two weeks, we will be hearing the Bush regime and folks such as Rice and Rumsfeld declaring success in Iraq once the new constitution is approved by the majority of Iraqis. This approval is being engineered by the US. First, the Iraq parliament is reviewing the referendum rules and plans to change them so that the constitution will be passed with no opposition. Also, the U.S. forces have been targeting most Sunni cities and towns since a few weeks ago and will continue doing so till mid October. These attacks force people out of their towns to refugee camps. When the U.S. forces enter these cities, they destroy whatever infrastructure there is so that residents will be unable to come back. Therefore, there will be almost no Sunni to register to vote and cast vote. Naturally, there will be no opposition to the constitution by Sunnis. I can already hear the success stories being trumpeted by Bush, Rice, and others. In reality, nothing will change though. Iraq will be a mess and killings and abuses will continue. 

Mina Davenport 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Ms. Zelda Bronstein does an excellent job in making her case (Oct. 4), but like many who are advocates for one way of thinking, she fails to offer her opponent the same rights she demands. 

Bronstein is right in many ways: The Honda dealership should not be giving out free alcohol on campus, they should be a little more compassionate in how they treat their employees, and people should be able to pass out flyers at the game explaining why they are boycotting this Honda site. However, Ms. Bronstein’s closing point in her column calls for the same repression of free speech that she claims is such an unfair activity when used against her and her cause. Bronstein questions whether UC Berkeley should allow Berkeley Honda to donate to UCB sports and gain the label of a “Golden Bear partner” as would any entity that donated a large amount of money to support athletics. Bronstein implies that UCB has poor values and is teaching its students a bad lesson by allowing Berkeley Honda the right to donate. 

That donation, of course, is a free speech issue. Berkeley Honda should be denied the opportunity to donate money and support the university because people do not agree with its actions? That would be a blatant denial of free speech to make such a move, and after writing a column full of demands that her own free speech must be respected, it’s rather hypocritical of Bronstein to easily deny free speech rights to Berkeley Honda just because she doesn’t like them or their tactics. 

Berkeley Honda has not broken any laws. I may disagree with their actions, but my response is to not take away their rights. My response is to not give them my business. My response can even be to suggest to others that they don’t give Berkeley Honda any business. But asking the university to refuse to accept their kind donation and refuse to give them the opportunity of being known for that kindness is just repression and denial of rights and someone who screams to protect her own rights should know better. 

Free speech is not just for the people you agree with. If you truly honor free speech then yes, the Nazis get to march in Skokie, Fred Phelps gets to taunt gays, people get to say they like country music, and yes—Berkeley Honda gets to donate to UC Berkeley and assume the title of Golden Bear Partner. Ms. Bronstein should know that. 

Sherman Boyson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have followed with interest the problems of Berkeley Iceland in providing a cooling system consistent with current safety standards. 

Here are my thoughts: the rink was built in 1942. The child care facility, senior citizen facility which I believe is near and the school were all built within a 10-year period. Why was the area deemed safe from ammonia leaks at that time? What has changed to cause the current sudden crisis? 

A temporary cooling system was proposed until upgrades in April, 2006. Neighbors complained of potential noise from the temporary system. In this case the needs of the many certainly outweigh the inconvenience of the few for only six months. This facility has provided wholesome entertainment for countless thousands of children and families for 64 years. The neighborhood is transitional, and not always a savory one after dark. The presence of Iceland brings in a much needed demographic that continues to anchor the neighborhood in a way that is safe and desirable for the entire city. The neighbors should be begging the city to put up that temporary cooling system! 

This building belongs on the National Historic Register. The city should take immediate steps to see that this happens, and assist in any possible way, including financially, in preserving a slice of Berkeley history. The short sighted handling of these problems is truly a case of “take Paradise and put up a parking lot.” 

Susan Groszkiewicz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Kudos to Zelda Bronstein for her thoughtful “first person” account in Tuesday’s Daily Planet about events at Memorial Stadium last Saturday. 

I wonder just what “particular circumstances” the university and its police might use to justify muzzling the Berkeley Honda Labor and Community Coalition while sanctioning and protecting Berkeley Honda as they gave away free beer with their propaganda and sales pitches at a jolly “tailgate party” that day? 

Perhaps the sanctity of football itself? (The incident is a little reminiscent of how the Academy Awards accused Michael Moore of betraying the purity of the film extravaganza by daring to speak of real life matters while accepting the award for best documentary.) 

Perhaps a few major contributions or an endowment or two funded by people associated with Berkeley Honda? We certainly know how George Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger accommodate major donors and fund-raisers when it comes time to push or veto bills, or enter into lucrative government contracts. Could Berkeley Honda be getting favored treatment for comparable reasons? 

Either way, let’s remember that there are substantial, real-life issues behind the university’s prohibition on giving away free alcohol at school-related events. It isn’t a picky-picky matter: many college age kids abusing alcohol wreak havoc on their own lives and on the neighborhoods where they live and spend time. Some even die of alcohol poisoning. Giving it out like candy samples only makes it seem benign and harmless. I believe Berkeley Honda was even giving it away without checking id’s, and if so, this only added insult to injury. 

Either way, too, this was a thinly veiled assault on the freedom of speech many of us thought had been won after a hard struggle 40 years ago on this campus. All people were trying to do was distribute informational flyers, not block anyone’s path. 

Berkeley Honda sent out its own promotional flyers recently. The one I received promised a free “backpack cooler” if I spent $50 in October at their service department—the one where they ditched the older and union-active workers when they bought the dealership in June. The one where many of the current work force are fresh trainees earning $12 an hour, but I would pay the usual rates. I guess they want me to act as if that was fine, and then fill the cooler up with their free beer too, contributing to the festive mood at other games? 

If you are offended by any or all of this, I urge you to write a letter to Tim Beinke, the owner of Berkeley Honda, 2600 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley 94704, and/or to Chancellor Robert Birgenau of UC Berkeley. He made a dandy, sentimental speech honoring Mario Savio last year when Molly Ivins spoke at the FSM commemoration. 

Donna Mickleson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Like some no good, two-bit, meddling carpetbagger from the early days of his Republican Party, Iowan Congressman Steve King has successfully conspired to abrogate our lawful states’ rights to name a local institution like the Berkeley post office as we damn well please without any corn belt interference! What federal presumption, what shameless arrogance inspired Mr. King’s bald usurpation of local Berkeley, California jurisdiction is beyond the bounds of conception. 

After all, do the world-renowned social activists of Berkeley or their elected representatives ever attempt to dictate or influence the symbols and cultural values of other regions of our great nation? Do we take an interest in the Confederate flags flying over other state capitals? Do we give the slightest hoot about a Ten Commandments monument in some rural courthouse? Do we ever attempt to extirpate the faintest echo of prayer from a one room schoolhouse in the most godforsaken backwaters of the United States? Do Berkeley activists care if your farm town wants a creche scene this Christmas? Do we want to aggressively invade your local jurisdictions to invalidate your age old sodomy laws or ram our vision of gay marriage down your gagging throats? Of course, not!  

Last, but no least, could anyone who has read the classic book about civil rights crusaders, “Praying for Sheetrock,” imagine that a renowned civil rights advocate like Maudelle Shirek would countenance this sort of outside meddling in our local affairs? No, Congressman King, we here in Berkeley value old-time Federalism and we respectfully suggest that it’s none of your cotton picking business if we want to name our central post office after one of our most venerable “good ole’ boys,” 94-year-old Maudelle Shirek! 

Edna Spector 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Somehow or another (maybe I didn’t read that issue of the paper) I just became aware of a few responses to a letter I wrote talking about cars as the mode of transport we are assigned to kill each other with; and burning petroleum as the way to do it. 

Let me just say that I raised two children in Berkeley, starting in 1967 when my daughter was 7 years old. If not for having all of the many, many old and troublesome yet extremely necessary cars I have owned over all of those years, I don’t know what I would have done—getting to various schools with the children, stores, places of entertainment. Traveling across the country with them several times would also not have been possible.  

So, I have seen relatively pleasant roads and highways become massive and overpowering freeway systems—and too many cars on the road and on the streets become huge huge and even more huge. 

I know very well that our infrastructure nationally is built to almost wholly guarantee that cars will be the most depended upon mode of transportation. I’m glad there are hybrid cars now—it’s good.  

I have very little other to say about this entire situation than this: The sun, my loves, can do everything. We have been brainwashed. Bleeding the earth dry never was what we, as living beings, needed to do or should have done. The sun is for us to channel for our needs. It can do all that we need here on this earth. Please don’t try to explain why what I am saying is impractical and look into your souls. I am not suggesting tearing down the infrastructure. I am suggesting providing an equal alternative to it based on our wonderful, magnificent sun and understanding all of the wonders of its powers. Commerce itself could be based on the sun and only the sun for energy and gee maybe we would not need all of the plastics which have invaded our lives, including our minds—and the vitality of our imaginations. “In your wild imagination, for each other let soar. We are here for each other...that’s all. That’s all. That’s all. That’s all there is. We are here for each other...and that’s all.” That’s a line or two from a song I wrote. If you want me to sing it for you (and others I am writing and trying to write), you can e-mail me: irisc@neteze.com. 

Iris Crider 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission at their September meeting passed a resolution advising the Berkeley City Council to request that Lawrence Berkeley National Lab cancel their plans to demolish the Bevatron, a defunct nuclear accelerator, or atom smasher from the 1950s, and preserve it as a historic museum and education facility. Famous for the four Nobel prizes awarded for research conducted there, the Bevatron is a winding maze of overhead circular metal pipes and machinery contained in a unique circular building with a conical roof. This would be a wonderful opportunity for historians, students and the general public to experience one of the more interesting landmarks of atomic research in a nearby accessible setting. LBNL did apply for and was granted eligibility status for the Bevatron in the National Registry of Historic Places.  

Another reason for not demolishing the Bevatron is that by leaving it intact, the significant quantities of toxic and radioactive substances locked up deeply in the walls and shielding blocks would be able to remain safely sealed with some able to decay in place, which is what is recommended by leading environmental organizations. Like the lead paint on many of the older houses in our community, it’s better to leave non-spreading toxic substances contained and undisturbed at their site instead of spreading them around through a dusty demolition and transport process only to contaminate some other community. The toxics in their present state represent no significant danger to guests or workers.  

The proposed demolition will require more than a thousand trips on canvas-covered flatbed trucks through Berkeley onto the freeway and on to waste dumps as far as Nevada where the radioactive waste will be dumped. The environment impact analysis is tiered, or extended off a 1986 study that does not adequately evaluate the effects from all the truck trips on Berkeley’s air, creeks, streets or citizens. The potential damage from this huge demolition project on the complex interwoven creek and spring system at LBNL has not included updated research and thus represents a threat to Berkeley’s creeks and emergency water sources. The $85 million allocated for the demolition could be saved and directed toward other toxic clean up projects at LBNL still waiting for funding.  

LBNL has conceded that they have no plans for the demolished site so with all the potential benefits and savings to the various communities it is hoped that the Berkeley Council will agree when the resolution comes before them at their Oct. 25 council meeting. Concerned citizens can attend at 7 p.m. and sign up and if picked, can speak for up to three minutes to the council. Hopefully they will agree to petition the lab and the Department of Energy to spare this interesting landmark from the wrecking ball. Anyone who wants to help can also do so by calling or writing your councilmember.  

Mark McDonald  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If the Berkeley Adult School—with its 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours and its hundreds of students, many of whom drive—could be plopped into the middle of our neighborhood, surely the Derby Street neighbors can shoulder their share of the general burden in the form of a high school baseball field. 

The City Council would be well-advised to keep this basic fairness in mind as it considers whether to close Derby Street.  

Moreover, the population in this city has changed since the council last crept past this issue. These days, people want to see their politicians produce creative solutions to problems, not relive the fights of yore. Voters are impatient with sacred cows and slogans; many new voters don’t even understand the references.  

Politicians who understand the hunger people have for a fresh language, a new approach, will be rewarded. 

James Day 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If you wanted to reduce racism, you could—if that were your sole purpose—abort every white baby in this country, and racism would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but racism would go down.  

Peter Rasmussen  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I don’t know why smokers are excused by the city or state when they smoke in the public places like bus stops or near rehab centers where smoking is prohibited. They should bear the cost of problems that the commuters and others face by inhaling secondhand smoke. The state or city should do whatever they can do to stop this nuisance. Smokers are doing such harm to the public and themselves if they come and smoke, for example, on the benches at a bus stop where signs say, “No Smoking within 20 feet of Bus Stop.” Every day at the Russell and Shattuck bus stop I see people sit and smoke all kinds of cigarettes or other things; as a result I miss the bus. I am not used to inhaling such smoke. I think these addicted people should be treated and given help to quit smoking. If not, they should be required to pay fines to the city to deter them from smoking in such public places. 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet:  

Trees are, frankly, quite nice. They are often tall and green, offering shade and beauty and a sense of serenity. Some even sacrifice a part of themselves to other organisms for sustenance, shelter or warmth. How thoughtful. When gathered together in groups, they refer to themselves as forests; well, not always. If their clump is not too big, sometimes they refer to themselves as a copse, or simply a wood. The latter is a bit unusual linguistically—to call a group of oneselves by ones essence. We humans, when there are lots of us, call ourselves a team, a crowd, an army, a city—we don’t usually refer to a group of us as a flesh, or a meat, or a protoplasm. Do other organisms refer to themselves as a group by their essential elements?  

A month or so ago, we passed a week—our twelfth year—at the UC Berkeley family camp in the Sierras. The camp is nestled among second growth pines and cedars, mostly pines. Some of them reach way up. Because the camp was an old logging camp site, the trees had been thinned—probably even more since the camp started in ‘48, no doubt to make room for the pool, lodge, and tennis courts. But generally, the surrounding forest is pretty great, and reasonably dense—kind of “natural.” Typical of the region, there are plenty of squirrels of various stripes, perpetually squawking jays, and a very occasional bear—though by our week, the local bears have usually traveled to lower elevations to forage. The deer are in hiding—it’s hunting season the week of camp. Big men with camouflage clothing and unbelievably frightening modern bows are out in the wilderness—I always have a twinge when hiking there—”hey, see those Berkeley hikers—let’s bag one of them.”  

Across Highway 108—the road to Sonora Pass (which is a stunning drive if you haven’t done it)—at the entrance to the camp, stands a large grove (ah-ha—more tree-group nomenclature) of pines and their cousins. Again, all second growth—the 19th century loggers had had first dibs on these forests once upon a time. But, the second growth looked beautiful, healthy, and reasonably dense.  

Do you remember the fires in San Diego county a couple of years ago? They were pretty disastrous for many folks (sympathies to all who lost in those conflagrations). But, as always, out of misery arose opportunity—for both capitalizing on the misery and making horrendous and stupid and selfish governmental policy. In order to protect homes—mind you, ones consciously constructed in forests subject to forest fires—and to protect the forest from itself (really)—the Bush administration established a plan called—more or less—the Fuel Reduction and Forest Health plan (I kid you not). There was much disagreement about the effectiveness and/or necessity and science of such a plan, but it was an interesting way for the timber industry to make a huge profit from public lands, previously not open to logging. The Bush Administration orchestrated and whole-heartedly supported the plan. More profits for its contributors.  

The plan was activated and I got to see the results across the road from camp. A beautiful section of national forest had been reduced to a scattered collection of amputees. It was just short of clear-cutting. For every remaining tree there were a dozen stumps. Oddly, the quantity of debris from this slaughter laying about among the stumps looked like a perfect medium for the next major fire. It was a very disturbing site/sight. Reminded me of the “we have to destroy your village to save it.”  

Meanwhile, back at Katrina, just watch how the rebuilding will be in the pockets of the cozy pals of the Bush administration, environmental laws will be conveniently waived, and wages will be lowered to the minimum, and the black residents will be left out in the cold. Oops—it's already happening. National disasters are scoundrel times. Watch out. 

Jeffrey Carters