Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 02:26:00 PM

Republicans Again; “The General Welfare” and Other Meaningless Abstractions; Federal Budget; The Budget; Sunday Morning Funnies; The Truth; A Sad Case; Needy; Priorities; Unions; Bees; Republicans Again 

Republicans Again 

Do you remember the 8 years of the Bush presidency, with White House
spokesman Ari Fleischer saying, "People should watch what they
say." There was the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus, stolen
elections, and dissent was characterized as treason by the Bush administration. 

From illegal wiretaps, the unlawful imprisonment of American citizens,
and the creeping influence of religious extremism at the highest levels of the
U.S. government, we saw it all.
Is that what you want again? Do you think Republicans have changed one
iota except to become worse? The GOP, and its joined at the hip sidekicks the
Tea Party, will do anything to regain power and the White House in 2012.
That includes derailing the economy. We're already seeing Republicans
using budget cuts at the federal and state levels, trying to suck the life out
of the improving economy.

Ron Lowe 

* * * 

“The General Welfare” and Other Meaningless Abstractions 

Like 'public welfare,' 'national defense,' 'national security,' 'public accomodations,' 'equal opportunity,' and 'fair housing' the 'general welfare' is a limp, rubbery abstraction that means everything and nothing. You have, say, 308 million people living in the USA, but there is not additional entity called 'society.' Society is simply a mental abstraction, like the above terms, that we humans invent for purposes of classification and organization 

because the trillions of actual physical concretes would be way too much to even begin to carry around in our minds. If we always recognize them as mentally created abstractions there is no problem. Imagining them as real physical entities is the beginning of insanity. 

In actual practice, 'the public welfare' is whatever the gang in power can get away with at the moment. 

If Nixon's President then the Imperial Presidency is a bad idea but if an FDR or LBJ or JFK 

is in power then it's great and whether wars are declared or not becomes an irrelevancy. 

The Lefty Libs march in goosestep to their Supreme Leader. For further details watch Rachel Maddow any night. 

Since all collectivities, groups are solely composed of individuals they have no existence and thus no rights separate from and superior to the their individual members. 

What modern 'progressivism' in all its guises from communism-socialism to fascism-to misnamed 'liberalism' attempts to do is take us back to the status society of medieval time or the primitive tribal societes in the so-called 'Third World.' 

The 20th Century was the century of rebarbarization, of collectivism. 

It has always been a failure because Raul Castro just put it so well, "four will always be four, never five, much less six or seven as we have pretended. No individual or country can spend more than they have." 

With all due respect to your Dad, Becky, Thomas Kuchel was as much a "Republican" as Lowell Weicker, Jr., Pete McCloskey, Earl Warren or Jacob Javits. All were actually New Deal Democrats. 

To answer your question as to what we owe the intellectual see change since the late fifties, it comes to four of the most beautiful words in the english language, Ayn Rand'sAtlas Shrugged. 

Nathaniel Branden prophetically predicted in 1957 that if Atlas Shrugged sold 10,000 "this culture is cooked." Sales of Atlas Shrugged are now approaching ten million. 

Michael Paul Hardesty 


Federal Budget 

I am not sure who came out on top in the budget negotiations. The Democrats blamed the Republicans for threatening to shut down the government, but the Democrats should have passed a budget before the fiscal year began on October 1st when they had a majority on both houses of Congress. Republicans supposedly were trying to cut government spending and help the economy, but if they had indeed shut down the government, it would have damaged our economy. The shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996 cost the government more than $1.4 billion to repay salaries of employees on furlough, lost national park and museum fees, etc. In short, the budget war reflects incompetence and cowardice. As Will Rogers said, "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

Ralph E. Stone 


* * * 

Sunday Morning Funnies 

All our famed political pundits of any stripe seemed to be stuck on one subject this morning.....THE BUDGET, of course. And round and round it goes.....each party blaming the other. The Republicans hope that we have amnesia about Wall Street and bank bail-outs. After all, if they could sell our government on spendingour tax dollars to save big-business.....why not try our naiveté again? 

A favorite attack on spending was for our Medicare & Medicaid! Are they kidding? 

Well, senior memories, after all, may be fading. Yes, a democrat did have to finally remind me that a large obscene portion of Medicare cost are DRUGS! Rather than apologizing that seniors will just have to pay a little more for their benefits, he suggested that the government can be buying drugs at wholesale prices, rather than giving BIG-PHARMA more billions! 

I don't remember his name, of course, but I love him! 

Gerta Farber 

The Truth 

We don't get to know the real truth. Who are the Americans who are able to influence their representatives in Congress? They are the richest people and the big corporations. Because they have lobbyists these rich people and these rich corporations pay very little tax while we working people pay full taxes and break our backs trying to make ends meet. It seems a nation founded on good and caring neighbors is disappearing. Members of Congress seem to remember only Darwin's message of survival of the fittest. Maybe only the wealthy people should be allowed to live so they never have to hear about poor, low income fellow human beings.

The poor and elderly population can't be treated like rubbish.
There will be an awakening of fellow feeling and common humanity some day. But till then let's find a way to balance the budget which doesn't mistreat the low income end of our crumbling social structure.

Romila Khanna 

A Sad Case 

Berkeley Daily Planet readers probably remember Dan Spitzer, who was leading the campaign to get advertisers to abandon the Daily Planet. What’s he doing now? He seems to be making life hell for rational people at J Weekly, the Bay Area’s Jewish publication. He comments on the J Weekly website are often so extreme that the editors see fit to delete them, though they have a hard time keeping up. 

His latest concerned the kidnapping of Vittorio Arrigoni, the human rights activist kidnapped in Gaza. He posted the following comment in the Letters section of J Weekly before the news came that Arrigoni had been killed by a small group of Palestinians, one with a worldview somewhat like Al Qaeda. 

“Finally, some good news: a member of ISM (the administrators of the notorious flotilla) had one of their pro-Palestinian activists kidnapped by a Palestinian splinter group today in Gaza. I cannot say that I wish him well…” 

This comment has since been deleted by the overworked editors of J Weekly. 

Dan Spitzer may have the distinction of being the only open supporter of kidnapping residing in the Bay Area. He is truly a sad case. 

Jim Harris 

* * * 


IHSS, a $5.8 billion program that relies on county, state and federal funds, provides services to about 440,000 low-income elderly, blind and disabled Californians. Advocates say many enrollees would otherwise use more costly care at nursing facilities, paid by Medi-Cal. In an effort to trim state costs estimated at $1.3 billion this fiscal year, the Democratic governor proposed slashing services by 8.4 % across the board. He wanted to stop paying for domestic services provided by caregivers who live with their IHSS clients. As of Feb. 1, IHSS cut another 3.6%, so the total is 12%

Democrats shelved cuts pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown in favor of alternatives backed by allies in organized labor. Brown proposed saving $365 million by reducing In-Home Supportive Services across the board and eliminating paid domestic services provided by live-in caregivers, often relatives. 

There are a few rare examples of real Christians or magnanimous rich or rich about to die who want to make a few peace offerings to the poor. But the poor get poorer in cutting the program. But I've said time and again the rich will never give up their riches unless forced to at the point of a gun! So they didn't. 

Ted Rudow III, MA 


When a household has limited resources members of the household will not spend on themselves but will think instead about their responsibility towards their dependents. I am not able to think how at the national level we can abandon our dependents, cutting, for example, funding for early education. Are we not keen to educate our youngest citizens? Will cutting off aid to early childhood education fill the budget hole? 

Romila khanna 

* * * 


Wisconsin wasn't about budget deficits as Gov. Scott Walker claimed. Wisconsin struck a nerve in the American psyche. Very few
stories captivate the American public and dominate the news cycle as long as Wisconsin did unless its a war , disaster, or an O.J. trial.
Republican Governor Scott Walker's story is about weakening unions' strength and influence so they won't be a force in raising money and "getting out the vote" for Democrats in the 2012 election.
The problem is, the plan backfired and they awoke a sleeping giant in America's labor unions. The Republican's strategy
of blaming Wisconsin's budget deficit on union's blew up in their face as they raised public awareness about unions, and unions are now more energized than they have been in decades.

Ron Lowe  

* * * 



As millions of Americans prepare to file their income taxes ahead of Monday’s deadline, corporations and the wealthy use offshore banks and tax havens to avoid paying taxes and other governmental regulations. 

"Tax havens have grown so fast in the era of globalization, since the 1970s, that they are now right at the heart of the global economy and are absolutely huge. There are anywhere between $10 and $20 trillion sitting offshore at the moment. Half of world trade is processed in one way or another through tax havens."  

--British journalist Nicholas Shaxson 

They'll pay them anything, because they're the ones that rake in all those billions of dollars that the U.S. Government has available to throw around and waste on arms, missiles, atom bombs and a huge paid military! No one is any longer a poor underpaid soldier. That why the U.S. debt is now running around 14 trillion dollars. 

It is the only budget plan that calls for a responsible end to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing our troops and our tax dollars home. It is the only plan that calls for real tax reform, addressing the giveaways to billionaires, millionaires, and corporations. It is the only budget plan that calls for continued and substantial investment in job creation, education, and infrastructure. And it is the only plan that won't destroy or severely restrict critical social spending. 

Ted Rudow III, MA 

* * * 


We're sinking like never before.
How low can we go from the floor?
We'll end this descent
And I won't be content
Till the party of "no" is no more.

Ove Ofteness 

* * * 


Steven Finacom deserves a hearty pat on the back for his piece on how the Civil War is a largely forgotten event in this part of the country. While the distance of time and the absence of those who were actually there dictate that the events of those years fade with time, there are still those who find ample relevance and meaning in the sacrifices our country's citizen soldiers undertook to preserve the nation. In some ways, however, we are not that far removed from those events. Currently, there are a handful of children of Civil War soldiers still living today, and there are still at least two individuals who receive (as a result of lifelong institutionalization) pensions from their Civil War father. 

Other reminders of that time are in our midst as well, albeit sometimes forgotten. Alcatraz, which everyone remembers today primarily as a prison, was at that time an Army fort used to protect the bay and also to imprison local Confederate sympathizers, a large concentration of which were located in Contra Costa county. Mare Island was a busy place, built in the 1850's under the direction of the soon to be famous David "Damn the torpedoes" Farragut. 

In addition to that, and as mentioned in the article, The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War remains a loyal and active organization across the country and in the Bay Area. We have camps in San Jose, Castro Valley, Santa Rosa, and Sacramento, just to name those in proximity to Berkeley. In addition to appearing in various parades on patriotic holidays, marching in uniform, we also tend to the graves of the veterans of that war and catalog memorials such as the tree on campus so that they do not become forgotten. 

Thank you again for this concise yet expansive piece. 

Joe Marti 

Senior Vice Commander 

Phil Sheridan Camp 4, San Jose 

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War 

* * * 

Mentally Ill 


  • Finally, I think it is safe to say that the mentally ill person in recovery should be in the process of learning how to socialize and mix among the “mainstream” population in society. The recovered person may still be awkward and may still not know all of the rules of etiquette, but has the social bravery to mix with people in spite of that.
Bragen offers a view, it is his, a perspective with which he is familiar. Mine is broader, of people differing in no way from those around them other than experience with an illness, people with doctoral degrees, professions, careers, neither tied down nor defined by illness. 

And a great many views in between. 

Harold A. Maio, retired Mental Health Editor 

* * * 

Non-voters are not "no" voters in union elections 

The new rules the House passed last week in the FAA Re-authorization Bill to make nonvoters count as “no†voters in railway and airline union elections are undemocratic and make it much harder for workers to form unions.

This legislation essentially stuffs the ballot box with anti-union votes in railway and airline elections -- or any other elections. Not one representative in the House would be in office today if their elections followed the same rules they´re trying to impose on workers.

Instead of attacking workers, our elected officials should focus on restoring balance in our economy and creating good American jobs that empower people who work for a living.

When Congress returns to Washington after this recess, they need to solve problems for working Americans instead of making our problems even worse. 

Marianne Robinson 

* * * 

Rainbow Over City Hall 

I always thought that City Hall was a "pot of gold" for some people. 

John Feld 

* * * 


You write:

> Back in 1923, scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner observed what was happening in fields of his Austrian homeland and correctly predicted the honeybee’s global tailspin in 80 years. It was in 2005-2006 that “colony collapse disorder” (CCD) swept through a dozen countries around the world, leaving hives mysteriously empty.

In the first place, quoting Rudolf Steiner on bees is like quoting the Three Stooges on decorum. Secondly, nobody has ever clearly defined Colony Collapse nor have its actual causes been determined. In the absence of definitive information, speculation has run rampant like dandelions on an unmowed lawn.

Bees are actually thriving in most countries, with the exception of parts of the US and Europe. Steiner suggested that human breeding of queen bees would cause this collapse, and there is absolutely no scientific evidence that such a procedure is behind the current problems.

Most likely the cause is a combination of known pathogens reaching the tipping point, exacerbated by the stresses on the bees produced by long distance hauling. Despite the doom and gloomers, pollination is getting done, and we are still capable of feeding ourselves. The world as we know it will not vanish any time soon.

Peter Loring Borst 

* * * 

Republicans Again 

Communication is the lifeblood of democracy. How sad then, the current
efforts by Republicans and the Tea Party to defund NPR. National Public Radio
keeps its 27 million listeners in tune with reliable and diverse broadcasts
which run counter to the Republican agenda of "dumbing down of America" to the
Fox News level. The GOP can't sell its pack of lies to a well informed and
intelligent population.
Remember when Republicans and Tea Party rowdies tried to shut down the
diologue in town hall meetings, well now they're trying to do the same thing to
NPR, using budget deficits as an excuse to silence this media outlet. 'Using
budget deficits' that they themselves created by huge tax cut to
corporations and the wealthy. Nothing like creating a problem and then
capitalizing on it!

Ron Lowe