Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday September 04, 2008 - 09:30:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

If ever a politician could be found guilty of reckless endangerment, John McCain is the one when the 72-year-old candidate selected the totally unqualified Sarah Palin as his running mate. This act calls into question McCain’s judgment and is an omen for the kind of “maverick” judgment he would exercise if ever he were to occupy the White House. He has endangered the country and the world by selecting someone so absolutely unprepared to lead the most powerful nation on earth. McCain has disrespected Hillary Clinton and her supporters and insulted the intelligence of the American people by playing the most cynical kind of gender politics when he chose a female running mate so ill-qualified to be commander-in-chief. Hillary Clinton was and is truly qualified to exercise that leadership; Sarah Palin is not. Americans will see through this ploy. If you see John McCain limping in days to come, it is because he has shot himself in the foot. 

Robert Blomberg 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

True believer Alan Tobey, in his most recent fallacy-filled letter about Bus Rapid Transit (Aug. 28), says “AC Transit has committed to mitigating any potential increase in neighborhood traffic that would result from its project.” But the question is, how? 

This reminds me of when I asked an AC Transit representative where the “promised” replacement parking would be—to make up for the loss of most of the street parking on Telegraph Avenue. He launched into a long, obfuscatory and theoretical reply, containing no reference whatsoever to an actual location, because (of course) you can’t “replace” parking when there’s nowhere to put it. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It looks like Senator Experience just used his good judgment to select the prettiest girl to be his running, er, mate. No more long, lonely hours on the, ahem, Straight Talk Express! The old codger still has a few tricks! Whadda guy. 

Doncha just love the way Republican pundits are spinning her “executive experience!” 

Clearly, the Republican candidate and his party have put political game-playing way above concern for governance, and yet their slogan is “Country First.” Go figure. 

As for her family situation, how can I say this in a politically correct manner? A four-month baby needs a lot of time in the arms of its mother. Most mothers feel a similar need to be close to their baby. And a Down syndrome baby needs even more maternal attention! So what kind of family values is Palin exhibiting by going off on the campaign trail for the next 60 days? Oh, and maybe her pregnant 17-year-old daughter might need some maternal attention as well. 

If she was half as promising a politician as Republicans would like to pretend, she would have sat this election out, developed even more “experience” as governor (of a state whose population is less than many California counties), and then, perhaps, she’d could become a formidable candidate in four or eight years. But youth’s inexperience is to jump at opportunities, even when not ready for them. And age’s desperation blinds McCain on her pretty face. 

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

On the evening news I learned Sarah Palin, the fundamentalist Christian governor of Alaska and John McCain’s choice to be his backup president, opposed comprehensive sex education in public schools and supported abstinence-only instruction. I also learned her 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant. 

Bristol was instructed in her mother’s religious worldview from the get-go. Fundamental to this worldview is the belief God sees and knows everything. The implication of this belief for Bristol’s behavior is that she believed God was present while she and her boyfriend were having sexual intercourse. The question is: Why didn’t this belief in God’s omnipresence inhibit her from doing what her mother and father (and God) disapproved of? 

The answer to this question was supplied by John McCain during the news report of Bristol’s pregnancy. He said of Sarah—while enumerating her many excellent qualifications to be the president of the United States in the event of his untimely death—that she puts her country first; which means she puts governing—wielding political power—before her children. 

Sarah has five children, the youngest of which is four months old. Bristol is five months pregnant, which means that after she learned her mother was pregnant she got herself pregnant. 

What do children do when one or both parents put them second or third or fourth in their priorities? They get revenge. 

We know Sarah puts governing first in her priorities; and it is very likely she puts God (Whose will she imposes on her children) second; so her children are at least third in her priorities. 

Sarah said she unconditionally loves Bristol and supports her decision to not have an abortion. Would she have supported her daughter if she had wanted an abortion? If not then Sarah unconditionally loves Bristol only if she does what she wants her to do.  

Gregory Konakis 

Daly City 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Does John McCain believe in the end of the world like once evangelical spiritual mentor John Hagee? Does McCain believe like Hagee that supporting Israel will bring about the final battle of Armageddon, with satanic armies descending on earth? 

Fire and brimstone Pastor Hagee is best known for denouncing Catholicism as a “godless theology of hate.” Hagee called Hurricane Katrina “the judgment of God” to punish gays in New Orleans. And John McCain declared himself “very proud” to have Hagee’s endorsement. 

Does John McCain’s VP pick, evangelical Sarah Palin, who would be only a heartbeat away from the presidency, think the same way? 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sheila Kuehl’s single-payer healthcare bill, SB 840, passed the California Legislature (for the second time) and now sits on the governor’s desk. There will be an important rally in Sacramento on Monday, Sept. 8 followed by a march to his office to pressure the governor to sign this health care for all bill (SB 840) into law. There are buses coming from a number of cities. However, the media blackout (or brownout) must be overcome if this is to be a major event. Please do consider the importance of gaining more attention and putting more pressure on Arnold around this vital issue right now. To reserve a seat on the bus leaving from Ashby BART at 9 a.m., call the California Alliance of Seniors at 663-4086. Now is a key moment for the public to be visible on guaranteeing healthcare for all. 

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please stop repaving our streets! 

Ever since Channing Way between Sacramento and San Pablo has been scraped for resurfacing, our neighborhood as become much more safe and peaceful. Cars now drive at or below the speed limit and bikes and cars slow down when reaching intersections. Cars that have loud stereos thumping as they drive by now take alternate routes. No one is doing donuts in our intersection any more. 

If you can just get the construction equipment to move along, all the dust and noise will settle down, and we can enjoy our neighborhood again. 

Jeff Troutman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Becky O’Malley’s Aug. 28 editorial gives me a chance, always a welcome one, to comment on the foolishness of TV-hatred. Of all our educational or entertainment venues, O’Malley and many others seem to curiously feel that TV has an edge on “dreck”? Freedom of expression, visual or auditory, will unfortunately include its share of rubbish, including, at times, our wonderful Berkeley Daily Planet. 

Being 81 and disabled, my TV is a miracle to me. I can watch Berkeley leaders at the City Council! Our U.S. Congress on C-SPAN; university lectures; “Democracy Now”; concerts; design; history; health; and at times, we even need to seriously laugh at the comedians.  

As O’Malley described, watching Caroline Kennedy and her uncle Teddy, was an emotional visual gift. This reminded me of the drastic change that television has made in our political education. The old exciting political-conventions acknowledged, we know these candidates a lot better...but, most importantly, seeing “the WAR on TV,” seeing previously mysterious cultures and world attitudes, the face of world communication and cooperation will never be the same. 

Gerta Farber 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing concerning your Aug. 28 article which concerned the Long Haul and referenced me. 

The article stated that I used the Long Haul Office at 3124 Shattuck Ave. as a law office and that I was an ACLU lawyer. 

My office is at 3050 Shattuck (almost exactly across the street from the Daily Planet). It has been there for 23 years. My office has never been at the Long Haul. I am also not an ACLU lawyer although I have done several cases with the ACLU including the litigation that overturned Measure O (the Panhandling law) in the 1990s and the case against the Oakland Police Department when numerous demonstrators were shot with “less than lethal weapons” in April, 2003. However, I am not an employee of the ACLU which does employ staff attorneys. 

Please issue a correction to set forth the true facts concerning me and my office. 

Jim Chanin 


EDITOR’S NOTE: As requested, we have printed a clarification on Page Two stating that Chanin is not an ACLU attorney. Neither of the two articles on the Long Haul, however, stated that Chanin’s office was in the same building. One story stated that it was in the same area of Shattuck Avenue in South Berkeley; the other stated that it was in the block north of the Long Haul building. 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Partisan Defense Committee vehemently protests the Aug. 27 raid by UC Berkeley cops, plainclothes FBI agents and an Alameda County sheriff on the Long Haul community center, a Berkeley meeting place for several radical and leftist activist organizations. With guns drawn, this squad of cops and government agents broke into the center and seized more than a dozen computers, including those of the anarchist newspaper Slingshot and the computer hard drive of Berkeley Liberation Radio. Under the pretext of a search for purported “threatening e-mails,” the cops were supplied with a search warrant that allowed them to go on an all-out fishing expedition for all written, typed or electronically stored documents in the offices at Long Haul. 

This outrageous and chilling police raid comes in the context of the so-called “war on terror,” which has been brought home in a bipartisan assault on democratic rights aimed at any potential political dissent. We stand in solidarity with Long Haul against this assault on the most elementary rights of freedom of speech and association. 

Karen Allen 

for the Partisan Defense Committee 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks for your coverage of the UC/FBI raid on the Long Haul collective, a fixture of the Berkeley community. Local and federal police had no justifiable right to search, let alone seize, the property inside the community center. 

However, your description of the Long Haul’s history is flawed in at least one respect. Not only had the Cannabis Buyers Club of Berkeley (CBCB) operated at the Long Haul without incident for more than 10 years, the CBCB was never “evicted,” as described in your article. Last December, the Long Haul and the CBCB entered into an amicable agreement, which included the Long Haul’s support for the CBCB’s relocation effort. While the CBCB attempts to relocate, it continues to meet at, and has maintained good relations with, the Long Haul. In addition, the CBCB continues to deliver medicine to a select group of low-income patients in Berkeley. 

Before the Daily Planet pegs the CBCB as a “money-maker,” your readers should know that it has operated for its entire 10-year-plus existence as a non-profit. In fact, the CBCB is registered as a Mutual Benefit (non-profit) Corporation with the State of California. Once the CBCB has relocated, which is imminent, it will provide affordable medical cannabis along with an array of community services to hundreds of Berkeley patients. 

Kris Hermes 

Member, CBCB 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks for the very interesting history on the Long Haul. However, writer Al Winslow left out an important tenant after the massage parlor and before the Long Haul. Though not an anarchist organization, from the late eighties until the mid-nineties the storefront was home first to the East Bay Green Alliance, then the Green Party Organizing Committee and then after that historic January day in 1992 when the party was qualified for the ballot, the Alameda County Green Party. 

Green-thinking people across the state ran a tremendous campaign and convinced 120,000 voters to write the word “green” on a California voter registration card. The Alameda County and San Francisco Greens did their part from the storefront on Shattuck next to the Northern California Land Trust and from a storage closet at the New School Building on Valencia Street in the City. Maybe after the police go away, we could erect a plaque. 

Hank Chapot 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s absurd the University of California has stolen the computers from the Long Haul. The Infoshop, Library, and public computer room are an active and obvious free speech and education resource. The premise for the police raid is that threatening e-mails may have been sent from this location. Can the University of California Police seize all the computers at the Berkeley Public Library if someone allegedly mails a threatening e-mail from there? And then can they take all the other administrative computers in the Library building as well? How about if a threatening e-mail is sent from a Cal computer lab? Will all the computers in the lab be confiscated for evidence? This is an outrage. Demand the return of the computers immediately! 

Doug Foster 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I can’t disagree with your editorial on Sarah Palin. But you have to love her charming Annie Oakley qualities, as well as the positive proof that Republicans have sex. 

Carol Denney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In an interview with the Berkeley Daily Planet, Ms. Rashidah Grinage, director of People United for a Better Oakland (PUEBLO) said, “PUEBLO can’t take positions on ballot initiatives.” 

In 2002 PUEBLO issued a flyer, “PUEBLO says Measure FF NO!” At the time PUEBLO was using money granted by the City of Oakland, so both as a tax-exempt nonprofit and as a recipient of public funds, PUEBLO violated the law. (See the flyer, a similar letter, and a phone banking script at 

Ms. Grinage has been with PUEBLO for many years. She has never so much as issued a public apology for this violation. Perhaps she muttered under her breath so that the interviewer did not catch it, “PUEBLO can’t take positions on ballot initiatives—except when we think we can get away with it.” 

Charles Pine 

Oakland Residents for  

Peaceful Neighborhoods 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

This excessive concern for the trees along University and Addison streets which cause a sticky residue that is tracked into homes, drips on cars and buildings while keeping the casual pedestrian stuck to the sidewalk indefinitely comes obviously from those who live elsewhere. Not every tree is a majestic oak or an ancient redwood; some are weeds mistakenly believed to be appropriate street trees. These trees are pests (or at least harbor pests) and need to be replaced with an appropriate tree that will enhance the neighborhood. I am sure there are remedies to mitigate the problem but they are never used no matter how many times the city is requested to do something. I have bought ladybugs and encouraged birds to no avail. I doubt that anyone would be willing to sit in these nasty trees should the chain saws be called. I for one would welcome that day. I love trees and certainly believe more need to be planted throughout the city but someone with some knowledge of trees should make the decisions about what tree and where it should be planted. The wrong tree in the wrong place is not a solution it is a problem. 

Constance Wiggins 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Alan Tobey’s letter in the Aug. 28 Daily Planet stated that “the Willard neighborhood voted down the installation of diverters.” 

I’ve only lived in the Willard for seven years, so Tobey may be referring to some ancient history, but during my time, the only traffic-calming devices rejected in the Willard were traffic circles. 

Traffic circles are not diverters! At best, they slow traffic. The Willard neighborhood hasn’t been allowed to have a vote on any diverters due to the city’s moratorium against additional diverters, conveniently adopted after all surrounding neighborhoods had diverters installed. 

The Willard’s only diverter, at Russell just west of College, does little to stop north-south cut-through traffic between the university and the Oakland city limit. 

Scott Mace 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is a note to ask Berkeley Daily Planet readers to support the East Bay AIDS Walk which takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6 at Lake Merritt. 

One hundred percent of donations pledged go directly back to East Bay AIDS organizations. Did you know that East Bay residents, groups. churches, and corporations provide 30-40 percent of the revenues for the San Francisco Walk, but less than 5 percent is returned? This is why the South Bay organized its own walk 15 years ago and why the East Bay did the same three years ago. 

The East Bay AIDS Walk is community oriented and real. No big name stars, no bells, no whistles—we are the stars and our reward is a BBQ. 

Go to to sponsor me, John Iversen, or the participant of your choice. Allow me to plug my team, Friends of Ugandan Orphans. Google John Iversen, Uganda, AIDS for a Daily Planet article on the group. All donations are tax deductible. 

John Iversen 

Co-founder, ACT UP East Bay and Berkeley Needle Exchange 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In your Labor-Day weekend issue, Rizwan Rahmani starts with the stupid lie that Sen. Joseph Lieberman “agreed totally with” President Bush, and then moves on to the grammatically illiterate, meaningless gasbaggery of “Lieberman....doesn’t seem to have any altruistic allegiances to United States.” 

I’ll bet anything that Rahmani doesn’t have “any altruistic allegiances” either, but that’s not my major point. What really appears to get Rahmani’s goat is that Sen. Lieberman has been a “staunch supporter” of the country that has not only been the number one ally of the United States in United Nations voting, but also is the country which, for 60 years, has had the best record in its region concerning: 

• Environmental awareness. 

• Free speech. 

• Freedom of religion. 

• Rights of gays, lesbians, and transgender people. 

• Free medical aid to Africa’s poor. 

• Medical research and innovation. 

• Rights of women to vote, choose their own clothes, own property, be elected to government leadership, not be murdered after being raped, prosecute others for domestic violence. 

Yes, I refer to Israel which, like the United States and unlike the homeland of Rahmani’s ancestors, has such confidence and moral courage concerning its basic principles that it affords even a Rahmani the freedom to foment factless, factionalist, filth. 

And, in journals that believe in freedom for all opinions, allows me a two-word F-phrase for Rahmani: Foul fool. 

David Altschul 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bill Maher has recently commented that, “Americans are too stupid to be governed.” With John McCain’s choice for VP, perhaps “cynical” should be added to the list. 

Alaskan’s Gov. Sarah Palin (who?) was chosen not simply for being a woman, but with a calculation that she could deliver the neo-con and fundamentalist wing of the Republican party. No Clinton supporter will be fooled by this ruse. Haven’t the last grotesque eight years of Republican rule proved them incapable of running the country? Enough! 

As VP, Gov. Palin would be a heartbeat away from the White House. In these dire times, we cannot afford someone with zero foreign policy experience sitting down with leaders in the Middle East, or anywhere else. The mind boggles.  

Voters should be aware that Gov. Palin is a staunch “pro-lifer;” a lifetime member of the NRA, an avid hunter and fisher. Worse, unlike the majority of Alaskans, she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; endorses the killing of wolves from airplanes (presumably to protect her mooseburger addiction); opposes protection for endangered polar bears; supports the brutal Iditarod dog sled race and is in denial about the realities of global warming. She was also an early supporter of recently-indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens’ infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” Certainly doesn’t sound like any women I know.  

Here’s hoping Palin’s a better shot than Dick Cheney. 

Eric Mills 

Action for Animals 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am wondering why people say that Albany and Berkelely are encouraging smokers to let nonsmokers live a healthy life. Everyday I see smokers sitting on the benches at bus stops, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. After they consume the contents, they stub their cigarettes on the benches and toss their bottles on the ground. They walk away from the mess as if they have a birthright to litter their neighborhoods as they wish. 

I want to request city officials to find a way to protect nonsmokers. Do any of your readers have suggestions about what can be done? 

Romila Khanna 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Neighbors of the French Hotel have received notices of a Zoning Adjustments Board public hearing, where the application of Verizon to install 10 antennas on this hotel will be considered. I have attended many ZAB meetings when applications for wireless facilities were considered. The whole thing is undemocratic and oxymoronic. This is what usually happens. The wireless applicant group that consists of four or five people presents its case. This presentation usually takes 10-15 minutes. Then, members of the public get a chance to talk. Each person gets two or three minutes. Then, the applicant gets a chance to respond. They respond for as long as they wish. Also, in this process, the ZAB members have a dialog with the applicant. However, the public never gets a chance to rebut. So, all in all, the applicant gets 30-45 minutes, whereas the public gets at the most up to 10 minutes. Finally, the ZAB members make their charade and put the case for vote and approve the application in no time. The whole process is like a Stalinist kangaroo court. 

Also, the ZAB keeps telling the public that they cannot deny a permit to the applicant. Here is where the whole thing is oxymoronic. If the ZAB cannot deny a permit, then why do they call for a public hearing? They can approve all wireless applications without the public participation. 

Such undemocratic processes are brought to us by Mayor Tom Bates. The guy was caught stealing and dumping newspapers. In the upcoming election, we should vote him out as well as some other councilmembers who side with corporations. We should bring back the power to the people of Berkeley. 

For your information, the Public Hearing for the Verizon antennas is on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Old City Hall on MLK. Please come to support the neighbors of the French Hotel. 

Afrida Freeman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sarah Palin = A “plan,” sir? Ha! 

Ove Ofteness 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We have never seen such hatred of white women in a position of power. Hillary is a white woman the same color as Nicole Brown, who was murdered by her ex-husband and we all know that reverse racism was involved in O.J. Simpson being declared innocent. 

One day perhaps white bashing will end. Obama is half white and was raised by his white mother who loved him dearly and made sure that he ended up living a life of privilege.  

White folks don’t have to continue to kiss up to the brothers because of the color of their skin. Perhaps it is time for whites and blacks to end their sense of superiority over each other. As a half Mexican half Arab person I understand the anger and mistrust on both sides.  

When my sister and I went to junior high school in San Francisco we used to walk past Lowell and the white boys would shout, “You dirty Mexicans!” We lived in an 80 percent black neighborhood and were treated very well by our black neighbors. 

It has taken my sister and me a long time to forgive this form of abuse. Many of my white friends helped me get beyond these experiences by restoring my faith in humanity. Indeed, we live for the day when all people will accept each other. 

Diane Arsanis-Villanueva