Coastal Post Online

January 2001

Letters By Readers

Secretary of Defense Flunked Test

A fundamental credo of our military is that "Loyalty runs both upward and downward." When Defense Secretary William Cohen said he would not contest the nullification of military absentee ballots lacking a dated postmark, he deserted his troops and flunked his loyalty test.

As to nitwits (including Supreme Court justices) who urge voter intent be divined from dimpled ballots, those ballots could as well be interpreted as deliberate non-votes by disenchanted voters who started to vote, then drew back and refused to vote for either candidate.
Fielding Greaves
Lt. Col., US Army, Retired
San Rafael

Another $1 From Loyal Reader

Here's another dollar from a loyal reader. Happy New Year to the free press leader of Marin, the Coastal Post, and its readers.

A topic suggestion: touch deprivation. I recently read that America is the most touch-deprived civilization in the world. That makes sense to me considering the puritanical underpinnings of our popular belief system.
Alex Caylee
San Rafael

An Idea For Non-Voters

The 49 percent who didn't vote...

An idea...

The "D.C. in 1/2" party in 2004...

Would you vote?
Stinson beach

When I Signed the Recall...

When I signed the Recall Kamena Petition, I had no idea DA Kamena was being recalled for ignoring state law by vindictively prosecuting medical marijuana users.

When I signed the Recall Kamena Petition, I had no idea DA Kamena was being recalled for the politically-motivated persecution and intimidation of Marin citizens such as Martin Silverman, Carol Mardeusz, Sean Hannigan, and Christian Hassold.

When I signed the Recall Kamena Petition, I had no idea DA Kamena was being recalled for disregarding her oath of office in refusing to investigate alleged wrong-doing by her friends and political allies such as Judge Dufficy (corruption), Justice Kennard (drunk driving), and Supervisors Rose and Kress (personal use of County credit cards).

When I signed the Recall Kamena Position, I thought I was voting for Pat Buchanan!
Tom Van Zandt
Mill Valley

"2000 Votegate 101"

Projection is ascribing to others one's own tendencies. The Florida Republican conservative mob (politicians, judges, police, and others) has violated one or more of the basic Ten Commandments when they stop: voters from voting, voters votes from counting, and voters from voting their choice, and therefore let George W. Bush steal the election - the very same thing that they accuse Al Gore of doing. If it were not for the Bush mob attacks on democracy, Al Gore would have won Florida by a landslide, and he would be president-elect.

Wonder what Ronald Reagan would think about George W. Bush stealing the election. I do not believe that he would approve of this theft. I deeply believe that Ronald Reagan would want George W. Bush to win fair and square, like Mr. Reagan did in his two presidential elections.

The Republican conservatives give little or no thought to the repercussions that might follow from the first great crime of the century. The Bush Administration will absolutely reap in proportion to whatever damage they did-will do to others. It has already started. A lot of voters in our District 6 changed their vote from Chris Dittenhafer to Chris Daly when they learned that the former is in the Bush camp. Mr. Daly won 85 percent to 15 percent. Our own family will never ever again vote for a Republican, even if the person is running for dog catcher. The decisions of a president, a vice-president, and the entire administration are very important. Their decisions affect everyone in this country and in all other countries.

"2000 Votegate 101" could be a course for all schools.
Ricardo King
San Francisco

CP Outlet For Witless Cranks

As a newcomer to coastal Marin and a first-time reader of your paper, I'd like to share with you some observations.

The most striking feature of the Post is its stridency. If there is any commonality to the paper's contents, it is in your willingness to accommodate the angry of all ages and all levels of literacy. Certainly part of the reason people move here is to distance themselves from the culture of excess. Isn't another part of the reason their love for the beauty and wildness of the place? There is nothing in the paper to connect the reader with the natural world, except for some articles written in a passive voice, which make it appear that "ecosystem concerns" is the most boring topic on earth.

Clearly, you are unwilling to read this drivel yourself, as your confess on page one of the December issue. If you were more involved, you would probably have a clipping of the page three Brower obituary by Louis Nuyens hanging on your bulletin board as an example of the most atrocious lead paragraphs in the history of journalism. You would probably also clean up some of the more obvious barbarisms, such as the attempt to converts "its" to the possessive it already is by the insertion of an apostrophe.

This is not a plea that you convert the paper to a poetry journal. On the other hand, if you recognized that your potential readership savor rain, fog and the migrations of creatures more than conflict in the Middle East, you might not have to hype your circulation figures. You might even be able to persuade advertisers that the Post is something more than an outlet for witless cranks, most of whom seem to live in Dixie.
Kevin Hughes
Editor's Response: Welcome aboard!

Trying to Get a Fix on America

America is a curious and complex composite. The level of "know-nothing" ignorance and academic-technical expertise are equally pervasive in US society. Its tradition is a combination of Jeffersonian intellectuality and Wild West devil take the hindmost. It's one vibrant marketplace where first and second generation immigrants have gate crashed into the Millionaire's club, and aggressive vigilante style individualism remains the dominant content of TV shows with cop and killer car chases and facile gunplay ubiquitous in most dramas. But behind the vastly expanded entertainment and communications industry, are well-trained technicians and artists who produce the scenarios, the music, the special effects, the fabulous animation, the editing, the acting, and the persuasive advertising that has penetrated the video screens of the entire world.

Here is a nation of inexhaustible resources whose productive facilities have never been bombed and whose inventive genius has been generously supplied by a continual flow of educated immigrants, often the post-war brain-drain from shell-shocked countries.

A strange but benevolent side-effect of the national obsession of "catching up" with "latest feature" gadgetry is the rapid obsolescence of perfectly useful commodities, pushing these off the market. For example, in a decreasing book-reading computer-hypnotized public, one finds a vast surplus of second-hand books (takes up too much shelf space) that are available at incredibly low prices in the flea market. The same with long-laying record albums now that CD players and discs are the updated items offered in the electronic shops. Now vast numbers of these "useless" LPs (hold on to your turntables) are available at flea markets and second-hand outlets at a fraction of the cost of compact discs. Just think, five decades of recordings covering 400 years of outstanding compositions available for the low-budget music lover. And people cross the border from Mexico to join the less affluent Americanos to buy Good Will clothes, not quite fashionable but decidedly wearable at a fraction of their original cost.

All this reflects the recycling of excess baggage (garbage) in a country that has nurtured an oversized middle-class (much of it a media psychic projection) who are drugged on self-centered importance and acquisitive consumership. Though many have gone to college (I daresay a higher percentage than Britain) most are sorely lacking in an historical sense - a paucity of social consciousness with a high degree of self-consciousness (often considered "psychologically aware"). Money, sex, beer, cars, and sports, are the dominant interests and movies (usually 12 decibel bloody ones) the prime art appreciation.

A sizable section of the American public is indifferent to politics, and despite their "nice guy" conformity, see themselves as rugged individualists. They are concerned about their health and looks, about what other people think of them. They tend to be emotionally adolescent with permanent teenager enthusiasms, easily distracted with a limited attention span, but are seriously tuned into job matters or business concerns. They love to have fun, to whoop it up on the right occasions and practice their charm on boss and customers - sell themselves, sell their products.

Their great fear is solitude, loneliness, and lovelessness. Their leisure is spent on half-watched TV shows, or rented videos and videogames. Some are regulars in pubs and indulge in bar dating, others are impulsive lotto gamblers. What seems "real" is making money. The prime "creative activity" is a fresh market idea that works, or a smart investment, or finding the "creative broker" who will make your money "earn" more.

Finally, with the burden of guilt, loneliness, and depression (so much entertainment will do for you), they find religion and glorify "family values," perhaps even come across a guru to inspire meditation, or go on a health binge to renew themselves. All these multiple directions and alternative trials are facets of a churning American culture, which, on account of the vast satellite media tentacles, is becoming global indoctrination. Not only are American films, with their supersound and sense-provoking violence most popular around the world, but the computer world-wide Internet is providing websites for the more affluent people to make ersatz contacts. Will we have a worldwide cultural burnout or will the Great American Expectations become the "Holy Grail" for the five billion who are watching?
Herman Berlandt

Al and George

The election ended a month later, after a Supreme Court decision, when Al finally

conceded the victory to George. By winning the popular vote (probably even in Florida),but losing the Electoral College vote, Al got set up big time. Election night, when the Florida vote came in close, Al made the biggest political mistake of a hundred years, sending seventy lawyers to Florida to protest the vote and demand recounts in highly Democratic counties. This monumental error continued and compounded itself over the next thirty days, slowly destroying Al, pinning his head back at an awkward tilt. Al's supporters sat helplessly transfixed on their guy, unable to see George's point of view.

George's supporters correspondingly opinionated, unable to see events from Al's position.

The country's not going give up the electoral college for a while; we're not yet one big city. Our representatives represent the land too: the rivers, mountains, and squirrels. We don't yet want elections decided simply by the greatest numbers of people.

The Florida month awakened and nurtured the political minds of hundreds of thousands of us. While my wife was at home, laid up with bad knees; her superior mind used MSNBC to develop a political savvy worthy of veteran DC political matrons, while falling in love with Chris Matthews.

George comes on TV, accepts, takes the high, high ground, brings in Colin Powell and Condelezza, calls a church service in the morning. Al runs his demise party 'till dawn, sweatily arm-pitted, swinging a beer bottle, while Tipper drums.

On the West Coast, the grassy green is greatly growing, before the trees shake their leaves, and we each grow older. Our kids exit teenager-hood and leave home; we turn around and wonder what we're supposed to do next, where we shall apply our energies, what's important, what are our life's priorities now, how we really want to spend what remains of our lives.
Harry Holdorf

Alan Hale's Open Letter To The Presidential Electors Of The United States

Dear Electors,

I think you've probably heard of me, during my 15 minutes of fame 3 ½ years ago. If you remember the comet named Hale-Bopp, which was shining in the nighttime skies during the spring months of 1997, well, I'm the "Hale" part of that. While that comet was around I encouraged everyone to whom I would speak to take some time to look at that majestic visitor, and to try to think of ways to make the world a better place for us and our descendants. Even during the dark days following the Heaven's Gate incident I tried to encourage all who would listen to me to try to put the ignorance associated with incidents like that behind us, and instead look to the promise of a future that we have the power to build.

I don't know about that any more. The United States has always been a nation that has set itself as a shining example to the rest of the world as to the way things could, and should, be. But that is no longer true. We have defiled ourselves in front of the world. We have lost all credibility. We shook our heads at the electoral cronyism that took place in Yugoslavia a few months ago, and now we find that we are no better. We piously send observers to oversee elections taking place in other countries around the world, and now we find that we can't properly oversee our own elections. "We the People" have become "We the Political Cronies" and now we must bear our shame for it.

Tonight I had to tell my 13-year-old son that everything he has been taught in school about democracy in our nation, and how every vote is supposed to count, is nothing but a lie. I told him this with anger in my heart and with tears in my eyes. You see, I was taught this in school, too, and I believed it. But no more.

My father married my mother in 1941, but four months after their marriage came Pearl Harbor, and my father had to leave his new wife and spend the next four years fighting in World War II for this country. He fought for a lie. My older brother fought in Vietnam, but he fought for a lie, too. Me? Well, I attended the U.S. Naval Academy, and spent four years hearing about things like "honor" and "upholding the Constitution," and then I spent some time in the Navy. Fortunately I never had to confront the hideous decision about whether or not to kill a fellow human being. Nevertheless, it now seems that everything I was told was a lie.

This country is about ready to install as its leader an individual who has not earned the right to lead this nation. This individual lost the popular vote for President. Furthermore, as I'm quite sure we will all find out eventually, this individual almost certainly lost the popular vote in the decisive state of Florida. But rather than see what "We, the People" had to say, this individual and his cronies took things into their own hands. Voters who would have cast votes for his opponent were illegally and immorally prevented from casting those votes. Officials who were attempting to carry out a legal and court-mandated tally of the votes were harassed and physically assaulted by people hired and brought in from out-of-state for the purpose of shutting down that tally, and who were then congratulated afterwards. This individual and his cronies did everything in their power to delay the vote tally to which his opponent, and all of America, was legally and morally entitled, until the time for such a tally had run out and the votes could be ignored. Shortly before I wrote these words, the U.S. Supreme Court irreparably shamed itself and this nation by running out the clock and then handing the Presidency to an individual who has not earned it and who has demonstrated to the entire world that there is no limit to the depths to which he will stoop to take it.

When these same things happened recently in Yugoslavia we shook our heads in disgust. However, it doesn't have to be this way. We can rise above this. We can show the world that we really do mean what we say about democracy, and about how "every vote must count," and that the true government of this nation indeed rests with "We, the People." You have the power to do this. You have the power to demonstrate to the rest of the nations of the world that we really are the shining light that we claim to be. You have the power to prove me wrong to my son. You see, I really do want him, and his younger brother, to believe the things they are taught in school. I still want to believe those things myself. You know which candidate really won this election. You know which candidate was selected by the people of this nation. You know which candidate has been attempting all along to obtain a fair and accurate tally of all the votes, and who was willing to accept the results they gave, but who has had to confront his opponent's cronyism at every turn. You have been entrusted to represent the people of this nation in making the final selection for our President. I urge you, I implore you, I plead with you, to listen to the voices of the people, especially to all of those whose voices were silenced. When you cast your votes, I urge you to think about how the rest of the world will judge us, and how history will judge us, and how our children will judge us. Will we do the right thing, and stand up for the principles that we have been preaching, or will we take the easy way out, and legitimize the same tactics that we deplore everywhere else in the world? That choice is ours, and you will be making it for us.

I realize that this will take immense courage. Along those lines, allow me to share something personal with you. You know me because of a comet, but there's actually something else I've been involved in recently that I'm much prouder of. The story starts over 20 years ago, during the fall of 1979, when the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized and several of our fellow citizens were taken hostage. I was a Midshipman in my senior year at the Naval Academy at that time, and like many of my fellow Midshipmen, I was ready to take up arms and go to Iran and fight to get our people back.

Things change over time. During the past eighteen months I have led two delegations of American scientists and students to Iran to engage in peacemaking efforts with our counterparts in that country. A lot of people told me I was crazy for wanting to go over there. I guess it did take some courage, but I don't think I was crazy. I met many wonderful people in that country, and I have hopes that the dialogue that I and my fellow delegation members have facilitated will someday lead to a climate of trust between our respective nations.

Purely by coincidence, today -- the same day as the U.S. Supreme Court ruling -- I received a letter from one of the Iranian students I met during my most recent visit there. She tells me that they have been following our election there, and they're wondering what's going on here. She did say that this election reminds her somewhat of their recent Parliamentary elections. Nevertheless, the people of Iran choose their President, and they have a powerful voice. They have an uphill struggle ahead of them, and they will need a lot of courage, but I believe they have that courage, and I believe they will succeed.

Perhaps we need to learn from their example. For the sake of our nation, and for our children, I ask you to please cast your votes for the Presidential candidate who was selected by the people, and help give back to our nation its light to the world. Please, please, allow me to look my son in the eye and tell him that, yes, the principles that we have tried to teach him that our nation stands for, really indeed, are the truth. Respectfully,
Alan Hale
Cloudcroft, New Mexico

America Is Dead... Long Live King George?

Ignoring half of America today is the civil war that never ended, as the nineteenth century South denied blacks identity as human beings. Was America founded on flawed principles indeed? Are these flaws our doom as a nation? We think so.

Partisan politics have precipitated a national crisis of faith in our legislatures, our courts, from the highest to the lowest. How unwise of the US Supreme Court to interject themselves into the process once again, willfully unmindful that a split nation is a house divided...a house that cannot stand. Historians of America's demise will find themselves beginning America's flawed founding, expanding forth with this December 9/2000 halt of examining undercounted ballots in Florida. Pearl Harbor Day will become a footnote against the totality of events showing the right wing in America is willing to commit national homicide/suicide in step with a philosophy saying 'there is no way but our way.' That flawed dogma energizes the other half of America...and the doom which awaits our nation. My husband and I, aged 59 and 62, are bereft this Saturday afternoon.

We had faithfully relied on The United States Supreme Court our entire lives in redressing wrongs performed against the most weak, the most powerful.

Today we see only the powerful matter, and that power is allotted to the right wing.
Brian and Mary Titus
Hillsboro, Oregon
Registered voters
email reply: [email protected], [email protected]

Wait Cause There's Not Enough Time

Scalia emerges as the real Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Imagine chickens in black robes. They had no guts; they remanded the decision back to Florida Supreme Court to give them the black eye. If the Florida Supreme Court had set standards on how to determine the intent of the voter, then the US Supreme Court would have ruled they were making legislative law. They interfered with the time allowed for the vote and then said, sorry there isn't enough time to recount the vote.
Karen Boerboom
Platteville, WI 53818

Historic Legacy Tarnished

The cold hand of the Supreme Court on the Florida ballot raises ghosts from that court's checkered past, notably its decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford.

In 1857 the Scott court decreed that a slave could never become a citizen. It struck down the Missouri Compromise, which had prevented slavery from entering the new Midwestern territories, as an unconstitutional interference with property rights" i.e., the right to have slaves. The Brethren, in short, gave a major assist to the turmoil that culminated in a long and bloody civil war.

Analyzing the current court's motivations in the kindest possible terms, it would appear the conservative majority believes itself called to save the nation from turmoil by sweeping disputed votes under its collective robes. To the contrary, the courts unseemly political meddling undermines the authority of its office.

Even the most centrist legal scholars have their mouths agape as the high court pokes its large and powerful stylus through the last hope for anything resembling a legitimate vote count.

Apparently the Supreme Court's partisan underpinnings have defeated any concern for it's historic legacy. History will serve up its fate, just as it bestowed shame and notoriety on the Dred Scott brethren. But this is cold comfort to a nation, which faces serious questions regarding its presidency, and now must contend with a muddied high court as well.
Cameron, Esq.
58 Claremont Avenue
Buffalo, New York
[email protected]

Reno Should Investigate

Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Madame Attorney General:

I respectfully request an immediate investigation into the unprecedented allegations of fraud, intimidation and civil rights violations in Florida's 2000 Election. I further request that you consider seeking injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. ß1983. The Secretary of State, Palm Beach and Seminole County Elections Supervisors; Palm and Miami-Dade Canvassing Boards and other election officials as described in points b through j are alleged to have taken actions which denied Floridians their right to vote or to have their vote counted in a national election. If true, at minimum, the 14th Amendment rights of these Floridians - and perhaps all Americans - were infringed. Following are some of the allegations I believe to be violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and/or the Fourteenth Amendment:

a. The Republican Party paid political operatives and protesters from out of state to storm and shut down recounts. And for telephone banks to recruit more of the same. Intimidated Miami-Dade representatives stopped their recount, leading to an incomplete vote count.

b. Black American voters were stopped on the road; intimidated; given inoperable ballots; had their identity questioned; did not appear on the voter rolls or were denied their right to vote in other ways. Poll workers were instructed to deny some requests to vote, and affidavits of challenge were not provided. (Please refer to NAACP hearings, which suggest an intent to dilute the black vote.)

c. Hispanic and black voters were required to produce two kinds of identification; Haitian-Americans were denied legal translators.

d. Palm Beach voters, many elderly, disabled, Jewish or black were told voting time was limited; denied help and refused replacement ballots, by direction of the Elections Supervisor. County assistance was not available for Election Day complaints. Poll workers gave wrong instructions that may have led to dimpled ballots. Remarkably, thousands of sworn affidavits have been filed.

e. The ballot in Palm Beach County was designed so that only one candidate could be chosen without confusion. The wrong Party was listed second on the ballot. This ballot is alleged to be responsible for up to 22,000 Floridians losing their vote.

f. Ballots ran out and polls closed with voters waiting; mysterious boxes of ballots appeared after Election Day. The box from one black precinct simply was not picked up.

g. Seminole County's Elections Supervisor allowed Republican activists into the office to alter disqualified absentee ballot applications. In Martin County, Republicans were allowed to take the ballot applications out of the office and alter them. No voters were notified, and Democratic ballot applications were simply disqualified.

h. Absentee ballots were admitted without postmarks, the primary safeguard against fraud. Further, only military ballots were so admitted, and they were given expedited delivery. Civilian absentees did not receive this treatment.

i. Florida's Secretary of State and Republican observers actively slowed or stopped hand recounts; two counties were unable to finish. The Secretary of State consistently tried to block votes. Hundreds or thousands of voters are disenfranchised as a result.

j. Florida's contested election was overseen by the brother of a candidate and the candidate's State campaign co-chair. This bears careful scrutiny, particularly in light of the foregoing.

I strongly feel that any effort to overturn democratic practices and ignore the rule of law in pursuit of victory is a danger to our republic.
John Elder
754 Sheldon St.
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 322-8061

Save Energy Tips

I am very sorry to hear about the energy shortage there in California. I am an expert in energy conservation, and have a large website with many ideas that you might like to pass on to your readers.

My textbook from McGraw-Hill is called Retrofitting for Energy Conservation, and I have a free abridged edition on my web site at . On the "Abridged Edition" tab there is a link to a long list of one-line energy tips that might be helpful to your readers. I had a regular column in the Austin American-Statesman that featured these ideas, and also a daily radio spot on a local AM station. The book itself has a whole chapter on energy tips, with many more ideas. There is a link for the book to from which you can read reviews, author interview, and order the book if you like.

Bill Clark
Clark Engineering
Lago Vista TX 78645

Why Are PG&E; Profits Up?

I don't really understand. PG&E; is "surprised" by the energy shortage, yet ran a series of public relations advertisements that must have taken months to produce. PG&E; is "suffering" from the necessity of buying power from other sources, yet their profits are up.

What I do understand is that PG&E;'s 24 hour customer service number is 1-800-743-5000.

I also understand that complaints to the PUC should be mailed to:

CPUC - Consumer Affairs Branch San Francisco, CA 94102

Steve Wallis, MA
[email protected]

Mountain Bike Rebuttal

The front page article by Terri Alvillar ("Mountain Bikes too Costly For Taxpayers," Nov. 1, 2000) finally blew the lid of the mountain bike conspiracy in Marin County.

I see it all now. The evil consortium of "advocacy groups who have financial backing from corporate sponsors such as car manufacturers, bicycle manufacturers, the outdoor adventure tourism industry, and manufacturers of accessory products."

Outside agitators in the form of "large numbers of visitors to Marin County public lands who are not Marin residents."

The secret cabal that bounced this sizzling conspiracy off the powerlines and directly into Ms. Alvillar's dental fillings, "Increased bicycle access to public lands translates into profits for motorized and human-powered vehicle manufacturers, the tourism industry, and all related businesses."

It's a shame Ms. Alvillar resorted to such hysterical arguments, because she brings up some perfectly valid points: the difficulty in sharing public land, the potential danger of soil erosion and siltation by hikers and bikers, and the infrequent, but never-justified building of illegal mountain bike trails.

Ultimately, this sort of screed contributes nothing to the resolution of these problems. They only serve to inflame passions and mislead the easily swayed.

I'm just glad that she hasn't seen the black helicopters flying low at night, parachuting armies of ninja mountain bikers like spoor onto the hills and ridges on Marin. Because they do.

I've seen them.
Gordon Wright
San Anselmo

Police Militarization

In his article on the militarization and shoot-to-kill training and attitudes of today's police, Charles Simmons has the problem right, but fails miserably at defining the solution.

More government-school "education" which is nothing more than politically-correct indoctrination will not work. Until we re-learn how to develop individuals who think and act for themselves, their families and communities-a people who understand that our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights all exist to limit government, not empower it-we will continue in the slide toward socialism and ultimately communism or some other fascist form of government, where all the power and guns reside with the government, and the people are disarmed, ill-educated slaves.

Journalism professor Simmons ought to study a bit more history. He might learn that the United States is a republic, not a democracy.
Jeremy Fox
WANS, Sebastopol

Counter To Attack On Christianity

Gopal Saraswat's attack on the foundational beliefs of Christianity (Coastal Post Dec.1) was itself "fundamentally flawed." Mr. Saraswat attempts, as many Christian-haters are apt, to insinuate that the Nazis and specifically Hilter were Christian-based in their dogma and actions. They were decidedly not, although Hitler was well aware of the power that many Christian images and relics hold, and as such, attempted to co-opt them for the affect they would have on his followers. This behavior was somewhat similar to today's so-called "new age spiritualists" when they speak of the "Christ-principle." Indeed, if one were to associate the Nazi movement with any current religion or belief system it would have to be spiritualism. The Nazis were a mish-mosh of atheists, animists, earth-worshippers, environmentalists, and occultists. Drug use and homosexuality were also quite popular among the Nazi elite.

Politically, the Nazis, or National Socialist Workers Party, were believers in state socialism. As such, they would be most closely related to today's liberal wing of the Democrat Party, albeit their flavor of fascism sprang from the extreme right rather than the extreme left...the only significant difference being who ultimately gets sent to the camps.

But back to bashing Christians. Mr. Saraswat also condemns Christianity for bringing down the Roman Empire. He'd be well served by reading "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" and re-think his position. It simply wasn't so simple. What Christianity and Christian-based cultures, such as the United States, have done is to bring more freedom and a better quality of life to more people than all other cultures and religions throughout history combined. Anyone who doubts this is invited to take a little tour of the globe, go to the third world nations (as I did compliments of Uncle Sam), and judge for themselves.
Geoff McNew
Novato, CA

Should We Continue Down This Path?

Amnesty International Report 10/19/2000 - There is overwhelming evidence that on many occasions the Israeli Defense Forces have opened fire on stone throwing demonstrators, killing and wounding Palestinians, including children, when there was no imminent danger to the lives of the Israeli law enforcement personnel or others.

There is also evidence that individuals who were walking in areas in range of Israeli military posts were fired on and sometimes killed (for instance Mustafa Farajeh, killed as he was walking with a friend in Beit Sahur on 5 October 2000 and Hisham Muqbel, aged 43, killed on 8 October 2000 by an Israeli soldier several hundred meters away).

On 10 October Amnesty International delegates witnessed the aftermath of a stone-throwing demonstration in Rafah on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip. Sami Fathi Abu Jazzar was declared brain dead after being wounded in the head when Israeli soldiers shot at a crowd of some 400 people, mostly young elementary schoolchildren, throwing stones at an Israeli military post. Six others were injured. The delegates concluded that the lives of Israeli soldiers, whose position was heavily fortified and located far away from the stone throwers behind two wire fences, were in no danger from the stone throwers and there was no justification for the use of lethal force. Sami Abu Jazzar died the following day, on the eve of his 12th birthday.

A large proportion of those injured and killed include children. Bystanders, people within their homes and ambulance personnel were also killed. Many persons were apparently killed by poorly targeted lethal fire; others, as the case studies below indicate, appear, on many occasions, to have been deliberately targeted. In many of the locations where children were killed there was no imminent danger to life nor reasonable expectation of future danger.

Resolution 242 passed unanimously by the UN Security Council on 9/22/1967, requires withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict. Israel has not complied with this world decision. When Israel shoots Palestinians it shoots them in their own towns which are outside of Israel. Israeli soldiers are not legally allowed there. Amnesty International makes one error calling Israelis "law enforcementā" since Israel's occupation is illegal. We have failed to enforce the resolution. U.S. support for Israeli military aggression has forced the kids with rocks to become the ā "law enforcement." Would you accept an illegal military occupation in your town? Should we continue down this path?
Al Mayberry
Stinson Beach

Israel's Desperate Struggle

Arafat cannot act as a partner of peace since he is a promoter of war. It is now the time for Israel to accept this fact even if it allows an abrupt end to what was called OSLO. There is no authority in PA land which has control over those who are actively working to rid the "land" of Israel and the Jews. All Arabs see Israel as a thorn in their side and are actively trying to extract it from its home. Just as Lebanon had its Hezbollah and Hamas, Israel is plagued not only Hamas and Hezbollah but also with Fatah and an additional force uncontrolled by Arafat or PA Authority, the "Palestinian Gunmen". The bottom line becomes clear that Arafat and the PA is using all these non governmental (?) forces to rid the west bank and in reality what is known as Israel off the face of the map. This is not so strange since on Arafat's maps there was never any Israel. The time is quickly approaching for those who believe that Arafat wants peace should come to acknowledge that his words to the west are hollow as he encourages his fighters to continue their dirty work hoping that Israel will abandon its life.

Since the legacy of Rabin and Peres' Oslo has only led to disaster, Israel should reassess its relationship with its Palestinians. Ehud Barak who allowed himself to be led into this maze cannot and is not capable of finding his way out. No further peace talks should resume until a period of time of quiet has elapsed. In the meantime all land transferred to Palestinian Authority should be cordoned off and separated from each other site. A "cordon sanitaire" should be established around each Palestinian entity and sufficient open space between Israeli residential areas in Westbank. Should any gunfire come from such areas decisive action must be taken to reduce the sanctuaries letting it be known that all the residents bear the responsibility for the action of terrorists. This should be accepted as a policy of self defense and it is up to the inhabitants not wishing to be collectively punished, to root out the terrorists or else they must be seen as partners and accomplices. Israel must once and for all close all commerce between Gaza, Jericho and the fragmented Palestinian Westbank sites. The airport must not be returned to Palestinian control as well as all foreign commerce from the sea. All roads to Israel settlements must be wide enough and be able to be patrolled and protected and any fire from these areas will result in loss of cover be it trees or buildings.

Israel must come to terms with its desperate struggle for survival. Arabs who have historically been involved with internecine rivalries and conflicts have to, if possible, come to terms that they can have peace and bounty, but they must accept Israel and understand that their plight is directly the results of their Arab brother's desire with themselves, to eliminate Israel from their lands. Once and for all they must realize that they (Israel) will not go away. The Arabs can not have it both ways. "Their Intifada" has reaped its tragic results. They are akin to the child who has murdered his parents and asks for mercy because he is now an orphan. Without referring to the poor excuse that Sharon made them do it, there would be no casualties. Arafat controls nothing other than to rape of the funds provided from the outside world. He is playing "his intifada" for all its worth. Israel is fortunate in that no more land has been turned over and that the Golan Heights remains solidly in Israel hands. Israel will have to let the Lebanese and Syrian government bear the responsibility for Hamas or Hezbollah intrusions from the north. These are tough times for Israel but the friends of this beleaguered country must stand fast and do what ever must be done to render support.
Dr. Norman E. Mann
San Diego, Ca.

Another Small Business Bites The Dust

After years of struggling to stay afloat, one of my favorite locally owned small businesses will be closing. Due to lack of foot traffic, and competition from chain and online stores, Listening Pleasure, on 4th Street near D in San Rafael, will close forever near the end of January.

Like many people, I feel a sense of loss every time a small business, uniquely suited to local needs, fails. Locally-owned businesses almost always add so much more to a community than just a place to buy the goods they sell.

Small business owners are the most likely to customize their services in tune with local interests. Small businesses create the outward civic face reflective of the local residents that defines local character. And small business owners frequently become involved in their communities, outside of business, in proactive ways that a large, distant company could not.

In the modern context, small businesses fill gaps in customer service left by larger companies. Managers like Rich at Listening Pleasure, Michael at White's Booksmith, and dozens of other managers at local shops and eateries, set the standard for consistent, knowledgeable, personalized service.

I'm proud of how well Marin patronizes local business. I'm hoping we can keep it up. And if anyone has any post-holidays music shopping to do, please check out Listening Pleasure during its last days. You might pay a tiny bit more than at a megastore, but you won't find better service anywhere.
Louis Nuyens
Forest Knolls, CA

Skipping A Step In Repairing Sir Francis Drake Supervisor Kinsey:

I just finished reading Mr. Halstead's informative and matter-of-fact article, "$1.4 mil OK'd for hazardous Marin road."

I am pleased that the County has committed serious funds to repair the failing roadway over White's Hill.

However, I am surprised and concerned that the West Marin residents which you represent and who daily travel over White's Hill haven't had a chance to review and comment on the County's plan to repair the failing roadway.

Might I suggest, before the County proceeds with its roadway repair plans, more specific information be provided to the West Marin residents through several County sponsored community workshops to address: why a bridge vs. other repair alternatives; possible road closures and for how long; alternate routes to Fairfax; how the repair will impact work/school schedules if everyone must use Lucas Valley Road; and the impact of additional vehicles on Lucas Valley Road.

I believe, the West Marin residents are entitled to provide input to the County before the County travels too far down a road which goes in the wrong direction to fix a hazardous Marin road.
Denis/Mercedes Poggio
Forest Knolls

Supreme Injustice?

I remember the day I decided to give up my Italian citizenship and become an American. The Italian Consul in New York would not sign the form that would have allowed me to return to Italy for a visit without the danger of being drafted in the Italian army.

I quickly decided I would leave the infamous Italian bureaucracy behind, and with it, what appeared to me a sense of injustice, by becoming a US citizen. In the United States I saw not just opportunities, but the idea that people were more important than rules. The comparative lack of American bureaucracy and by extension a sense of justice represented to me a true government "by the people and for the people." The recent Supreme Court decision not to allow the recount of votes in Florida shattered my faith in American justice, which, as an immigrant, I cherished.

The most disappointing aspect of the Supreme Court decision is embodied in Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. You would expect the Justices to be impartial since they are appointed for life. Yet, their family connections make me wonder.

One of Scalia's sons, Eugene, is a partner in the Washington law firm of Theodore B. Olson, who twice argued for George W. Bush in the Supreme Court's hearings. Another of Scalia's sons works in Florida for lawyers who represent George W. Bush. Perhaps the most blatant example of Scalia's apparent partiality is the moment during the December 11 hearing when Olson was having difficulties answering Justice David H. Souter's questions. Scalia cut in and virtually finished the argument for the lawyer.

Clarence Thomas' family also raise questions about his impartiality. His wife Virginia is helping the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, which collects applications from people seeking jobs in the Bush administration.

Both judges would tell you that their family connections had no effect on their decision and that's why they did not recuse themselves. They were concerned with the rule of law and the "irreparable damage" the recount would have had on George W. Bush.

Sorry. I don't buy it. As an immigrant who struggled to succeed in this country, I have little sympathy for a rich boy who has been given everything, including the presidency of the US. I am more concerned about the irreparable damage done to the immigrants in Florida who were not allowed to vote because of some technicality. I am concerned about the thousands of Florida voters who may have lost the opportunity to cast ballots because their names were wrongly placed on a list of felons.

I am concerned about the thousands of African Americans who voted, but who were told by Scalia and Thomas that their votes were "of questionable legality."

I suspect I am most concerned about the irreparable damage done by the Court's decision to the more than 50 million Americans who did not vote for Bush. Scalia and Thomas told us "Sorry, your votes don't count."

Of course, Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and William Rehnquist also voted with the majority. All five were appointed by Republican presidents. Smell a rat? I do. Even Professor Cass Sustein of the University of Chicago, an admirer of the Rehnquist Court, called the decision an "embarrassment."

The decision stated that the manual recounting of ballots in Florida would have violated the "equal protection clause" because it was proceeding under somewhat uneven standards and would have caused irreparable damage to George W. Bush.

But if the manual recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court was unconstitutional because of uneven standards, so was the original count. The initial count, in fact, included different kinds of machines. The optical scanners, used in primarily rich and Republican counties, captured more votes than the punch card machines used in the mostly poor and Democratic counties. In the past fifteen years the Rehnquist Court has accepted almost no claims of unequal treatment. The Court ruled against the right of African Americans, gays, and even taxpayers to equal protection. But suddenly, when a Republican presidential candidate is in trouble, they develop a great affection for equal protection. If you listen to the Rehnquist Court, you'd think the only people who are discriminated against are rich white men whose fathers used to be president.

When the Freedom of Information Act enables non-partisan agencies to finish the recount aborted by the Supreme Court we will know the name of our legitimate president. Regardless of the outcome, it's likely that George W. Bush will nominate one or even more Judges to the Supreme Court, since it's no secret that Rehnquist and O'Connor plan to retire in the near future. Will they be replaced by Scalia and Thomas clones?

It's possible, unless the 50-50 split in the US Senate protects us by rejecting such extremists. It's sad to have to pin our hopes on politicians to provide us with justice. But then, the recent ruling by the Supreme Court brings the majority of the Justices below the level of politicians. I have just one question: When do we get to vote against them?
Domenico Maceri
Santa Maria, CA 93454

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