Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday February 05, 2008


Editors, Daily Planet: 

This morning I opened the sports page of my local newspaper and was momentarily bewildered by stories about the usual basketball and football games, reports, and scores. I realized that I was expecting to see the latest results and stories regarding the presidential primaries...right there on the sports page! Although there was no mention of the primaries on the sports page (at least not yet), my expectation to see it written up in the sports section is indicative of how perverted presidential electoral politics has become. 

Instead of a composition of viewpoints and serious problem solving energies, we are left with an American Idol-like mentality juxtaposed by a battle of wit, rhetoric and interpersonal one-upmanship. What should be a platform for an assortment of perspectives and candidates has turned into a two-horse race for the democrats, and is quickly being whittled down to the same farce for the Republicans... and we’re barely out of the month of January! Meanwhile, no other ‘ratings-challenged’ candidate or party even gets a mention. 

Is this what why we fought in World War II, Vietnam, and now in Iraq? Perhaps the media is as much to blame for this facade of democracy as any party or persons. Driven by myopic and avaricious concerns for ratings, they have created a popular culture incapable of the patience required to see further than the interim images of bogus blowhards projecting their hyper-happy countenance in defiance of the grave threats that confront us all. 

What we need, instead of this posturing and posing, is for congress to declare a general state of emergency and reconstruct the electoral process as well as the office of the president. Any declared candidate should back up his or her ambition for high office with a commitment, win or lose, to serve on a team of consultants to the candidate that is elected “president.” This way we will be more likely to have a process representative of the constituent perspectives and energies that should ideally contribute to the critical decisions a person with as much power as president of the United States has invested in his or her office. 

Such a reconstruction of the process will assure that those who believe themselves worthy of presidential office are in pursuit such position out of a bona fide will to be part of an assiduous strategic and tactical problem solving process, contributing to something beyond their lust for power. If candidates are serious about “change” then they should start by recognizing and reforming the degrading nature of the circus-like spectacle that they, the viewers, and the media perpetrate....a spectacle in which we all are embroiled...a pageant of pomposity and pretense that, in the final analysis, will serve none of us. 

Marc Winokur 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the commentary “Council, Police must enforce traffic laws,” Steve Douglas says “Most importantly, we need have the City Council direct the Police Department to enforce the existing having no tolerance for “failure to yield,” rolling stops, and other careless driving.” Taken literally, this is an insane statement. No, the City Council shouldn’t tell the police how to do their job. Rolling stops through empty intersections are not the issue. They do not deserve a sting operation (as he calls for). What does that even mean? Is there a conspiracy among drivers to constantly roll through stop signs? I really do not understand reactions like this one. If we were really concerned about deaths around us, we should be distraught about Oakland’s murder rate. Pedestrian accidents are awful, but don’t overreact. 

Damian Bickett 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Except for Ron Paul none of the “presidential” candidates are worth anything. Becky’s backing Obama for racist reasons solely because he’s half-black and the Clintons aren’t “left” enough for her and the ever diminishing numbers of true believers of the New Deal era. Oh, and anyone who denounces the vastly out of proportion percentage of black crime is a “cultural racist,” unlike the black bloc vote for Obama in South Carolina. 

Well, this is not a prejudice but a postjudice for many of us who have experienced the ongoing war against Whitey and other “progressive” causes. We have made our judgments after the facts, not before as in prejudge or “prejudice.” Cognitively speaking, Obama is running on empty as is Hillary, McCain, et al. As was JFK in 1960 with his notorious lies about a nonexistent “missile gap.” 

The good news is that the people in “your circle” are not typical. Most of them probably voted for the Gus Hall-Angela Davis ticket. Come November, you will be pulling the lever for Hillary along with the rest of the sorry ass left libs around here (I might too if the alternative is the McCainiac.) 

Becky, your stupid editorials are going to start reinforcing stereotypes about Berkeley and females. 

Michael Hardesty 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Once again, the news reported that Exxon has “earned” record-breaking profits. Once again, its profits are higher than ever before, just as the profits last year, and the years before that broke those previous records. People are losing their homes and having to decide between food and fuel, while the richest of the rich are getting richer.  

Our senators and House representatives can reverse this malicious distribution of wealth—this ongoing theft—that is ripping our society apart. They can end the tax breaks for oil companies and the very, very rich. They can enact laws against oil and gas price-gouging. They can stop money being siphoned to off-shore hiding places like Dubai.  

Our prosperous democracy is being broken up into a third-world oil plutocracy so long as Congress fails to act.  

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I had to miss reading the four editions of the Daily Planet preceding this Tuesday’s election. I caught up on them yesterday. 

I was disappointed that none of the articles nor letters addressed the option of voting third party. All bought into the theory of one has to try to decide which democrat would be best. The mainstream media hype of choosing between Hillary or Obama. Does no one see the building of a third party as a viable possibility? Voting Green or Peace and Freedom is certainly a possibility I wish I had seen one writer raise. 

Ruthanne Shpiner 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his last State of the Union Address, President Bush lauded the achievements of the Iraq troop surge. As I remember, however, the surge was supposed to improve security so that Iraq could find a political solution for its internal conflicts. In urging support for a surge, the president argued: “Victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world—a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties and answers to its people.” That’s not today’s Iraq. Iraq is no closer to a functioning government or to a reconciliation among its various religious groups as when the surge began. In fact, a September 2007 BBC, ABC News, and NHK poll of 2,000 Iraqis found that about 70 percent believed that the surge “hampered conditions for political dialogue, reconstruction and economic development.” 

How will we know when it is time to pull our troops out? A recent analysis shows that President Bush and top administration officials have issued 935 false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. I for one am extremely skeptical about anything this administration says about the war’s progress. How long should we wait? 2015? 2020? Forever? Meanwhile, the costs of the war mount. As of Feb. 2, there have been 3,944 U.S. military deaths and 39,298 wounded in the Iraq war; depending on the count methodology, there have been from 80,000 to 655,000 Iraqi “excess deaths” due to the war; and two million displaced Iraqis inside the country and another 2.2 million have sought shelter in neighboring countries.  

The dollar cost of the war exceeds $491 billion and could eventually reach $2 trillion. The trade-off is less money for health care, affordable housing, new elementary schools, college scholarships, homes with renewable electricity, Head Start places for children, and elementary school teachers. 

Clearly, there will be no troop withdrawal during this presidency. Let’s make sure each of the Democratic presidential candidates solemnly pledge to pull our troops out in 2009. 

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I find your recent editorial cartoons intemperate. Hillary-haters align themselves with the conservative right, whether knowingly or not.  

Obama supporters might want to check out a story published in the Feb. 3 New York Times article entitled “Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate.” 

Both candidates exemplify politics as usual. Take your pick. I did not vote for either of them. 

Jenifer Steele 






Editors, Daily Planet: 

Richard Brenneman has given us a very good look at some of the many instances of skullduggery that followed from the deregulation of savings banks and savings and loan associations in 1980, and he rightly predicts that there is even more of the same in store for us in the sub-prime loan debacle. He is in good company. A few prescient economists, especially Robert Kuttner and Hyman Minsky, also predicted the inevitable consequences of elimination of federal controls over the financial industry.. 

But, your headline “Bush Sub-prime Collapse Echoes Regan Disaster” gets it all wrong. It should read “Clinton Sub-prime Collapse Echoes Carter Disaster.” The savings and loan disaster was a result of the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act, signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. The sub-prime disaster is a result of the repeal of the Glasss-Steagall Act by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, and of Clinton’s disastrous reappointment of arch-deregulator Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in 1997. 

The only relatively bright spot in this dreary history was the re-regulation of savings institutions by the Financial Institutions Recovery and Enforcement Act, signed by the first President Bush in 1989. 

There is a lesson in all this. Democratic administrations have been just as much in the service of Wall Street as Republican administrations and should not be given a free pass when their turkeys come home to roost. 

John G. McGarrahan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As Dean Jones, that great icon of Disney and Americanism, used to say: “Lord love a duck!” I’m not sure why, but the fact that Kucinich didn’t get anywhere brings that unforgettable saying to my mind. Don’t ask why. I just held my head in shame and despair as the poor guy was trashed, and ignored by the corporate media and his running mates. Everything Dennis said I agreed with, with passion! It made me want to weep. And now, were going to get Hillary, or Obama. Same old same old. “Lord love a duck!”  

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Go look at a map. You will see that BART and the Telegraph-East14th BRT route is only a couple blocks away for almost the entire distance. If AC Transit and Bart were one agency, they would coordinate their services, making both more effective, rather than duplicate and compete for the same north-south customers. 

Any longer distance commuter would normally favor BART for more comfort, speed, and schedule reliability, making AC Transit’s argument of saving time relatively moot. For short distances, the wait time is the major factor, not the saved travel time. 

If AC Transit had the commuter’s best interest at heart, they would provide lots of local east-west routes as feeders to Bart and develop combined trip vouchers rather than compete in the north-south direction. 

Probably the major reason that AC Transit is proposing such an expensive $350 million BRT project is because of the potential “free-to-them” funds available for the project. The federal government may kick in 75 million dollars, and the increased bridge toll may add 65 million dollars. This is in addition to the sales tax and gasoline tax they get. 

Also read the excellent East Bay Express articles on the AC Transit and the van Hool buses at 

Osman Vincent 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just read Susan Parker’s column: “If You Mean It, Don’t Exploit Children” and am concerned with the accuracy of the reference to The intro sentence reads: 

“A friend asks me to check out the website I click on their URL and up pops a paid plea from Children’s Hospital Oakland, (CHO). It asks for help distributing 50,000 “Vote Yes on Measure A” yard signs. That’s one helluva lot of soon-to-be-thrown-away plastic signs.” 

If Susan can re-create her experience for me, I would appreciate it. does not accept any advertising—paid or unpaid—on our website. We never use pop-ups and are very careful about harassing our visitors in such a way. In addition, I just visited the Children’s Hospital Oakland page on Idealist and there is no pop-up (I didn’t expect there to be, but I wanted to double check). There is no reference at all to the campaign mentioned in the editorial. If Susan did experience a pop up by visiting, I would very much like to know about it so that we can investigate further. 

Here is the link to the page on Idealist: 

I would appreciate having this inaccurate reference to removed from the editorial. Thank you for your help in this matter. 

Lorene Straka 

Chief of Staff