Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday December 22, 2010 - 10:54:00 AM

A Christmas Carol 

From its first publication in 1843, A Christmas Carol has charmed and inspired millions. Less well known is the fact that this little book of celebration grew out of a dark period in the author’s career-and, in some ways, changed the course of his life forever . In a very real sense, Dickens popularized many aspects of the Christmas we celebrate today, including great family gatherings, seasonal drinks and dishes and gift giving. Even our language has been enriched by the tale. Who has not known a “Scrooge,” or uttered “Bah! Humbug!” when feeling irritated or disbelieving. And the phrase “Merry Christmas!” gained wider usage after the story appeared. A Christmas Carol may become an even more relevant tale as people cope with what is expected to be an economically bleak holiday season. Fast forward to 2010, and America is in an acute economic crisis. There are a number of similar themes, including the increasing gap between the rich and poor. People in the working class are losing their homes or struggling to heat their homes, and we're going into the holiday season with anticipated layoffs and high unemployment. For many, it looks like a pretty dreary Christmas. The message in A Christmas Carol also says it's not just good enough to donate money, but individuals need to get involved, as Scrooge learns in the end. This is a message we can all keep in mind this year. You never lose by giving.  


Ted Rudow III,MA  

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"Fair Game" 

There is still time to see Fair Game about the "Plame Affair," where Valerie Plame was outed as a covert CIA operative in retribution for her husband James C. Wilson's op-ed piece in the New York Times arguing that, in his State of the Union Address, President Bush misrepresented intelligence leading up to the invasion by suggesting without evidence that the Iraqi regime sought uranium to manufacture nuclear weapons. It was well acted by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. David Andrews and Adam LeFevre made smarmy Scooter Libby and Karl Rove respectively. I was reluctant to see the movie because I knew it would make me angry. It did. Why? Because it reminded me that the Iraq war was a hoax on the American people and the world. I fantasize that mea culpas will be forthcoming from Bush, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzalez, Condoleezza Rice, and Paul Wolfowitz. I won't hold my breath though. 

Ralph E. Stone 

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Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell 

Kudos to Nancy Pelosi for pushing the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" through the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 250-175 in the dying days of the 111th Congress. Separated from the defense bill and with strong House backing, repeal became simply a civil rights issue in the Senate. I will miss Pelosi's leadership in the House and the country will too. 

Ralph E. Stone 

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Republicans Are Everywhere 

Yes Virginia, Republicans in your state, and in many other states, want to repeal the new health care bill. The GOP has also been trying to do the same with Medicare and Social Security since their inception. What have Republicans got against well run government programs? Thanks to saner minds in the past, you're still receiving your Social Security check every month and Medicare services. The rest of the industrialized world enjoy universal health care from birth to death. Is this bad, can all these countries be wrong? If you're Fox News, Republicans and the Tea Party it's bad. If they had their way 300 million Americans will lose the opportunity for health care reform and eventual universal health coverage. Evil stalks the land in the form of the Republican Party who have aspirations to deny you the health care coverage you so rightly deserve; and, if the GOP can find a way to dismantle Social Security and Medicare they will. 

Are you listening America! The 50 million Americans who benefit from these programs seem oblivious to the intentions of the GOP. 

Ron Lowe

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High Contrary Haiku 

who be sole of souls,  

lonesome awesome,  

shepherd of tumbling tumbleweeds? 

Arnie Passman 

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Much Ado about Not Much: Wikileaks Comes to the Berkeley City Council 

I think you are wrong when you say that whatever the decision it is not a big deal outside of the Berkeley bubble. Although Berkeley is known for being what it is, even this goes against the capacity for much of the rest of the country to understand. To be clear, the public has a right to know all of the things that go on in government that do not have the potential to: 

a) Compromise our national security, b) Compromise our foreign policy in the area of national security, c) Endanger the lives of our soldiers, diplomats and civilians around the world through the leakage of classified information. 

The public certainly has the right to know the content of bills produced by Congress which is something that we are not always privy to. The public has the right to know information that concerns our elected officials. The public certainly has the right to know any improprieties that said officials have been involved with. The public certainly has a right to know anything that is not considered classified information and that does not have the potential to make us vulnerable in any way. 

Furthermore, as traitorous as what Pfc. Manning did is, it doesn't even seem as if he had any purpose in doing what he did other than as a means to try and hurt the country. Was there some specific ideology involved, or was it the action of a man upset with "don't ask, don't tell?" Does that go into the thinking of the Berkeley City Council, or is it that anything that has the potential to harm the U.S. is to be honored regardless of the reason? 

If Berkeley ever needed defending by the armed forces they would do so because they are American soldiers who took an oath. Perhaps if Berkeley feels so strongly that the armed forces are so bad, maybe this same City Council should refuse all defense if the need ever arose. 

Crazy times. 


Michael Haltman 

Jericho, NY 

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Happy New Year??? 

"2011 just has to be better than this last year!" That's the weary, mournful sentiment we hear over and over these days. Very likely it's the rain and blustery weather that's dampened the spirits of so many people. This might account for the poor attendance at the Telegraph Avenue Christmas Fair the last two weekends. Shoppers strolled aimlessly through the stalls of merchandise, but with little interest or enthusiasm, making few purchases. 

Could it be worry over the miserable economy, the high unemployment rate, home foreclosures, nuclear threats and the endless war in Afghanistan? Whatever the reason, this widespread ennui -- almost despair -- seemingly exists in Europe, indeed, all over the world. Dare we dream that the tide will turn in 2011 and that by some miracle the problems affecting our planet will be resolved, so that we may truly look forward to a "Happy New Year", and, most importantly, peace at last? 


Dorothy Snodgrass 

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Compassion For the Homeless 


Americans live in a cultural bubble when it comes to the homeless. They are indifferent to the plight of the less fortunate. Can you imagine what it is like to be homeless, without a roof over your head, no heat, coping with the inclement weather?  

I get so tired of hearing conservatives, Republicans and the Tea Party crowd say " They made their bed so now they have to lie in it." Hello... how would you like to be living out in the wind, rain and winter elements?  

Homeless: What does it mean? Did the mistakes someone made, or did the loss of a job or just plain bad luck bring about the current situation? But for the grace of God there go you or I.  

Why are so many unwilling to help those in need? It was the same way 2000 years ago when a young couple were turned away, denied help and shelter. How about a little compassion and assistance for those in difficult circumstances this holiday season? 

Ron Lowe  

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Land Grab?? 

It's sad to see that the NIMBY attitude is alive and well in Berkeley. All those dear Mom and Pop artisans in West Berkeley could best be accommodated in a couple of blocks of dedicated industrial space and we would all benefit from having a major scientific lab in the area, too. 

Have you seen downtown Berkeley lately? Empty! Now the downtown people are trying to promote a Business Improvement District so that the streets will be safe and clean. Of course, this is a task that most cities handle without a BID, but our fearless mayor does not seem to find the money for it and coddles the street sleepers et al. A more vibrant West Berkeley might just revitalize downtown in the bargain. 

Why close your mind to it?i 

Steve Schneider\ 

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Food for Thought 

This week, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act -- first major bipartisan bill enacted since the election by a deeply polarized congress. The act will replace junk food in school lunches and vending machines with more healthful options. 

Several jurisdictions have taken similar action. The Hawaii, California, New York, and Florida legislatures passed resolutions recommending vegan school options. Last year, the Baltimore City public school system became the first in the nation to offer its 80,000 students a weekly meat-free lunch. According to the School Nutrition Association, 65% of U.S. schools now offer vegetarian lunch options. 

In the past, USDA has used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, 90% of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15% eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. These early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. 

Those who care about our children’s health should demand healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items. Additional information is available at,, and 

Jeff Garner  

Walnut Creek