Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:57:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was sorry to hear about the Daily Planet’s decision to only have an electronic version, and discontinue the printed version. However, I understand why the decision was made. 

Unfortunately, I will be hard pressed to remember to connect-up with the electronic version. I have a suggestion. In both my professional life and private life I receive emails letting me know that the most recent edition of an organization’s electronic newsletter is available. The American Institute of Physics, the New York Times, and the Contra Costa Times are examples. Establishing an email address list and sending out email announcements (not more than once a week, please) are fairly inexpensive. If you decide to do so, please add me to the list. 

Don Grether 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to thank you for your great work and also thank your publishers for trying so hard to stay with the printed paper despite all the adversity. Many of us will miss it and I know will continue to read the online version and shop with your advertisers whenever possible. Thank you for your contribution to the local dialogue/discussion/debate, helping to keep free speech real and alive. 

Richard Phelps  




THe Planet’s Value 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It was sad to hear of the passing of the print edition of the Berkeley Daily Planet. It was a very valuable source of information and public comment during the dark days of the Bush fascist regime (2001–2009, RIP). The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld lies about its criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq were exposed on its pages. I pointed out how the Republicans electronically stole the 2004 presidential election by the flipping of some seven million Kerry votes into Bush votes on election night. The corporate TV media and the corporate newspapers just did not want to cover this electronic election theft. They were pathetic. The San Francisco Chronicle along with the San Jose Mercury, the Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune all happily buried this bit of GOP treason. Only the Sacramento Bee even mentioned the protests about this theft (again) of our democracy. 

A few days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the Planet published my long and detailed expose of the Bush flooding of New Orleans. It was important to get these stories into print. Having delivered the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on a morning route for several years back in the 1950s, I quickly became addicted to reading newspapers each daily. It took me about 40 years to break the habit of reading the San Francisco Chronicle; in the 21st century it has become very corporate and very imperialistic. 

The transition from print newspapers to electronic newspapers on the Internet is tough to make, but is seemingly necessary from the economics involved. If follks are willing to pay a dollar to read the corporate Chronicle, might they be willing to pay a dollar to read the progressive Daily Planet? 

To become an electonic community voice in the East Bay, one needs an interactive blog-website along the lines of Think Progress, Common Dreams or the Daily Kos, for example. News articles and editorials need to be posted to the website at least once a day and then commented on, with comments about the first comments, too. One probably needs to have live monitoring of comments to prevent flame wars from erupting, say between partisans for Israel and partisans for Palestine, for example. 

I hope that the online version of the Daily Planet can carry on with this important and difficult task. 

James K. Sayre 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I support the proposed cafe in the Trader Joe’s building, two short blocks from my house, because it would make my neighborhood more interesting and more walkable. 

A few people are opposing the cafe because it does not provide parking. How many existing cafes in Berkeley provide parking? Without the cafe, that vacant space would blight the neighborhood. 

To those who demand parking at the cafe, I suggest the following exercise: Imagine that it is the year 2030, that the world can see the damage that global warming is doing, and that your grandchildren ask you what you did about global warming decades ago, when everyone first became aware of it. 

Do you want to answer that in 2010, after the world agreed at Copenhagen on the goal of reducing GHG emissions, your main political activity was to demand more parking spaces? 

It amazes me that anyone in Berkeley can be so backward. 

The Obama administration has said that, to control global warming, it wants to build “livable cities,” which it defines as cities where people are not compelled to drive because there is good public transportation and many destinations are within walking distance. The cafe in the Trader Joe’s building would help to transform our neighborhood into this sort of livable, walkable city. 

The people who oppose the cafe still seem to be living in the days of the Bush administration. Remember that, when he heard about the idea of building walkable neighborhoods, Bush responded “Our way of life is non-negotiable.” Maybe when they go to city council on this issue, they can carry signs with that famous quote from George W. Bush. 

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a California native born in Sonora, California and raised in the Bay Area, ended up with a family of my own here in the Central Valley. So my roots in northern California and its surrounding waterways and recreational wonderlands has always been a big part of my life, as it has been for many of us here in northern California. Growing up as a kid I would fish the delta often and wonder why the south delta always looked so horribly unfishable compared to the Sacramento delta. I began asking questions, which eventually I found out the source of this mess. The huge pumping stations in Tracy, in other terms I don’t know how to put it just flat out “stealing” water from the rivers that flow to the San Francisco Bay estuary. With recent events such as the collapse of the commercial and recreational salmon fishery, other fisheries such as steelhead trout ,and green sturgeon on the decline in our delta/river system. We have to ask ourself do we really want to let Southern and Central California’s wealthy few obliterate whats left of our already heavily damaged, may I remind you biggest freshwater estuary in western North America? Please read my words knowing that I am one voice among tens, even hundreds of thousands of more than concerned northern Californian’s trying to figure out why we have let this happen so long and what we can do to keep these people from sucking the heart right of our beautiful state further wreaking havoc on local economies and eco systems. I simply cannot stand on the sidelines anymore and allow this happen, and I strongly urge anyone else living,loving, and prospering in the north part of the state to speak up to local newspapers and local congressman/woman and lawmakers. Its past time and with what time we have left im afraid it may already be to late. 

Aaron Gonzales 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The decision to empower corporations as “persons” in this nefarious decision, and thereby disempower the rest of us, is essentially a corporate coup. The national media did not make it an even medium-size story, let alone headline it—instead they were full that week of tales of a senator’s private life! The takeover of the nation went unreported, because the national media is in fact already so much owned by the corporations. We are not getting anything but sophisticated propaganda, subtly slanted national and world news (and meanwhile, as usual, the perpetrators accuse the victims of the crime, saying the media is too “liberal!!!”) This was a hostile takeover of Americans’ freedom, perpetrated by the very people that ruined our economy, took over our agriculture and health, put an unelected man into two terms as President, ruined our moral position as a nation, and told us there is no such thing as global warming. Thank heaven we have President Obama—but in a way the national media blocks his voice by editing many important passages he says. We ordinary citizens have to give him full support. The media will try to make us seem less a majority than we are, I am glad that sites like this one are giving the truth: 80 percent of America is against the corporate takeover—and most of the rest probably don’t know about it. 

Shirley Ann Lutzky 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

If someone flew an airplane into a building full of people to protest the Afghan war, it would be called an act of terrorism. However, when Mr. Joe Stack flew his plane into an IRS building and killed people, the news media calls it. “the accident,” and “the incident.” The local Texas prosecutor declared that Mr. Stack was not a terrorist. But what should you call it when a man pens a manifesto proclaiming, “violence is the only answer,” then kills people because they work for the government? Mr. Stack’s wife apologized on the news to “everyone affected by the incident,” but was careful not to use the term “victim,” when referring to the people her husband murdered. 

  Regardless of the media’s politically correct posturing, the simple fact is this: Joe Stack was a suicide bomber. Even though his name was Joe, and not Mohammed, and even though he was protesting taxes, not Israeli foreign policy, Mr. Stack was, a murderer of the innocent. So why does the media avoid the T-word when referring to him? Because anti-tax politicians are powerful. When Massachusetts’s new Senator was asked about the plane attack, he yawned, “No one likes paying taxes.” That sentiment is quite popular, as so few news outlets see fit to interview the families of Mr. Stack’s victims, or even print their names. Apparently, if you are killed because you work for the IRS, your name is not even worthy of a line in the newspaper. 

  Many have forgotten the violent Tea Party rallies of last summer, the busses full of anti-tax activists appearing at congressional offices around the country with their clubs and fists and foul mouths. Many have forgotten the Sarah Palin rallies of 2008, events that attracted characters similar to the murderous Mr. Stack. But the media has not forgotten those events, because they know that if they refer to Mr. Stack as a terrorist, as a man who killed innocent people to make a point, they’ll wind up in the crosshairs themselves. 

Arthur Plum 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Doing a program on novels a few weeks ago, notably that he believed Cervantes was Jewish—a Spanish converso—the inestimable Tariq Ali, for whom The Beatles and The Rolling Stones wrote, “Power To The People” and “Street Fighting Man,” respectively, was asked what were the great major conflict novels of the past decade. 

He replied with only one: The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Moshin Hamid, a 2007 novel I read a few years back. I don’t recall why I was drawn to it, but it’s a about a young Pakistani Muslim who graduates great from Princeton and goes on to much admired things on Wall Street or thereabouts as the millennium turned. And then he turns.  

By any means necessary, Sikh it out. 

Arnie Passman 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

  Daily, newspaper headlines bemoan the collapse of the California Dream. Today’s San Francisco Chronicle front page prints: “Over 900 Pink Slips Likely for SF Schools” (Feb 23). Yesterday’s asked: “Has the Golden State Gone Bankrupt?” How could anyone be surprised that California has declined from first in education nationally to 47th?  

  The primary reason is simple: California is the only state in the nation requiring an excess two-thirds vote in either state legislative house to pass both revenue and budget measures. This means that a 34 percent minority holds the other 66 percent of our elected representatives absolute hostage. Although California residents are often blamed for this situation, voters elected a majority of responsible representatives—who remain impotent in the face of that minority rule. 

  Fortunately, this gridlock blocking California’s recovery is now surmountable—and it may come as no surprise that doing so involves technology. 

  The California Democracy Act campaign’s goal is to place the following 14-word initiative on the November ballot: “All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be decided by a majority vote.” 

  The CDA campaign is run by volunteers and is not corporate sponsored. So how can these average citizens hope to succeed? A recent editorial by John Diaz (Chron Insight Feb. 21) described how expensive it is to place initiatives on the ballot, implying that corporations will now control the democratic process within our state—or at least to a far greater extent. 

  The campaign development I mentioned above comes from a signature gathering approach the CDA campaign recently instituted. Voters now have the ability to access, print out, sign, certify, and mail in their own single-signature petition form. This puts power directly in the hands of individual voters – returning to a system of participatory democracy run by voters, not corporations. 

As of this week, you may download your own personal California Democracy Act petition at 

  All it takes for you to start California on the road to recovery is Internet access, a printer, and postage—plus your signature. If you don’t have your own Internet access, go to your local public library—one of the branches not yet closed due to budgetary cutbacks.  

  You can now easily participate in taking back control of California. I hope you will join me in doing so. 

David Fielder 




Editors, Daily Planet:   

Republicans say they have finally realized how much good Medicare does—if you believe that you’ll believe pigs fly. The GOP still wants to send the highly effective and efficient Medicare program to the dustbin. How does that grab the 20 or 30 million blue collar workers, conservatives and Republicans who depend on Medicare as their sole health care provider. 

Ever since the Reagan era the Republican Party has had the goal of undermining and dismantling Medicare. This is exactly what they will work toward if they are returned to power. 

And don’t forget what the GOP wants to do with Social Security. They want to privatize it, leaving it and your benefits at the mercy of the stock market. Two of the most productive public programs ever and the GOP is hell-bent on scuttling them. 

But hey, don’t cry crocodile tears over the possible fate of your Medicare coverage. You can always side with the Republicans, the Tea Party and their insurance allies where the bottom line is of more importance than your health. 

Ron Lowe  

Nevada City 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I found an article about the composer Julian White, but I searched in vain for editions of his music,especially sheet-music, scores of his piano-works, I hope you may be of assistance, 

Hans Wallin 

Pr.Bernhardlaan 21 

2264CA Leidschendam 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I ignored the swirl of reports and comments about Tiger Woods’ “…fateful car crash” because they struck me as fresh stirrings of the stinking prurient cesspool where high achieving black men get involved sexually with white women. (What if all of Tiger’s extra-marital sex partners had been black?)  

  I am compelled to throw off my isolating blanket because of the report by Howard Kurtz, “Tiger’s Mea Culpa” (Washington Post, Feb 19, online). Kurtz seemed totally unaware that puffed up self-serving cynicism is fuel for bigotry, a legacy from slaveholders who ranked and treated black people as cattle. 

  Readers would be bored if I detailed Kurtz’s general theme that Tiger’s apology will not save him, or if I itemized Kurtz’s verbal smirks (Tiger’s wife was “…conspicuously absent”) and innuendos (it was a strong speech, “…whoever wrote it”). 

  Kurtz exposed his naked prejudice in criticizing “Tiger’s whacks” at the press. 

  Tiger said that it angered him that people would fabricate a story about his wife hurting him at the time of the accident. “Please leave my wife and kids alone”, he pleaded. 

  Making light of this plea, Kurtz accused Tiger of inviting fabrication. He wrote “…there was media speculation precisely because he (Tiger) never addressed it (the press) before now.” 

  Thus, for Kurtz, if reporters ask a public figure a question and get only silence, then it’s okay to fabricate. Silence licenses speculation.  

  Roll over, Jack Johnson.  

Marvin Chachere  

San Pablo