Coastal Post Online


April, 2003

Letters To The Editor

Impossible To Straddle Fence

The war against Iraq will begin any day now and, of course, once it does there will be those Americans who will try to straddle the fence by claiming, "I don't support the war, but I do support the troops."


How can someone support the troops who are fighting the war he is against, the troops who are dropping the bombs and inflicting the death and mayhem?

The higher-ups give the orders but the underlings carry them out.
Keith Bramstedt
San Anselmo

Bush Is Lead Lemming

it's quite obvious...

The only parts of the Bible Bush reads...
are The Old Testament...
and The Book of Revelation...
neither of which...
have much to do with CHRISTianity...
Bush is the lead lemming...
hell bent for Armageddon...
The worlds number one...
weapon of mass destruction..
. eager to unleash...
The dark site of "Christianity"...

Ample Reasons for War

The Gulf War is NOT over, but merely halted by a cease-fire, not a permanent peace treaty -- a cease-fire, moreover, that Iraq has violated by numerous acts of war against the US, launching almost daily missile attacks at US planes patrolling the no-fly zones -- ample reasons to reopen the war.

Meanwhile, France undermines US-UN efforts to enforce the cease-fire provisions and today still violates the UN arms embargo, clandestinely selling Iraq spare parts for Iraq's Mirage fighters and Gazelle helicopters, pretending they are destined for the United Arab Emirate -- which has neither Mirage fighters nor Gazelle copters.

nry Kissinger characterized this latest perfidious French betrayal as "the most shameful act in French history." US Senator Ted Stevens called it "international treason." Both are correct.

Patrick Henry said, "Gentlemen may cry peace, peace -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun... Why stand we here idle?" As another brave American said, "Let's roll."

Fielding Greaves
San Rafael

Sutter Health Spin Machine

Sutter Health, the Sacramento-based chain which runs Marin General Hospital, is a bottom-line operation. Sutter understaffing at MGH was covered in a three page letter to CEO Margaret Sabin from a neurosurgeon, Dr. Archimedes Ramirez. The Coastal Post published Dr. Ramirez' letter this March and previously the elected Marin Healthcare District board asked Dr. Ramirez to discuss his experiences at their monthly meeting. How does Sutter handle the problem? The first choice seems to be spin.

While MGH once relied on one publicist, Sutter has a six-person spin staff. My guess is that along March 14, Marin Independent Journal op-ed piece signed by Dr. Robert MacInnes and Vicki White, RN, was, in fact, generated by the Sutter spin staff. These two Sutter employees should have known better than to attach their names to the article.

Much of the IJ article was devoted inexcusably to impugning Dr. Ramirez, the whistleblower. The rest of the article was the usual self-congratulatory pap which is spoon-fed the IJ repeatedly and published repeatedly. IJ readers were told once again: "Since we have no shareholders, we reinvest all of our earnings into providing you with the high quality care that you've come to expect and deserve." Dr. MacInnes and Ms. White, what about the millions siphoned to Sutter Health annually?
Norman Carrigg, M.D.
San Rafael

MDs Owed Special Thanks

Almost everyone living in Marin during September 1997 recalls the Jennifer Childs story. The young woman sustained a head injury in an auto accident which required the services of a neurosurgeon. An ambulance brought her to the Marin General Hospital parking lot. Since no neurosurgeon was on call, her next stop was Kaiser, San Rafael. What with a neurosurgeon not available there, she was transferred to a Santa Rosa hospital where she died. This tragedy made us aware how necessary neurosurgical coverage is in Marin. Unknown to the MGH emergency room, a neurosurgeon was home nearby and would have come, if called. Dr. Archimedes Ramirez is one of Marin's most accommodating doctors. Possibly Ms. Childs' life could have been saved and it would have required by one phone call. Neurosurgical coverage at MGH was a problem in 1997. It still is in 2003.

Neurosurgeons have their problems caring for patients. In a three page letter addressed to MGH CEO Margaret Sabin, Dr. Ramirez called her attention to his experience with deficiencies in the operating room and inadequate nursing staff in the intensive care unit where his neurosurgical patients begin their recovery. A copy of the letter sent to the elected Marin Healthcare District board was enough to get him on the February 11 meeting agenda. As the neurosurgeon was telling it to the board in a public meeting, CEO Sabin departed in a huff with her coterie and in the hall announced her disbelief. Dr. Ramirez is credible and I find him believable. He and another local neurosurgeon, Dr. John Grollmus, have made extraordinary efforts to ensure ER neurosurgical coverage is available at all times. They may be replaced by non-resident contract neurosurgeons shortly. We owe special thanks to these two doctors who practice in a hospital where chronic understaffing is a challenge to all MGH doctors.
Norman Carrigg, M.D.
San Rafael


To: Marin County Superior Court, Small Claims Division, Commissioner: (Acting Judge) Harvey Goldfine
Re: Small Claims Case No. 0310014
Dear Mr. Goldfine:

We recently received a judgment in our favor for the damage to our 1971 Fleetside Chevrolet C20 long bed truck.
The repair estimate we turned in to you was for $2,134.17. Your award was $1,100 plus $52 for court costs.
the reason for the lower amount was as you explained. Reasonable value of (pick up) only less salvage value.

During the hearing, you asked my wife how much the truck was worth and she said she had no idea. At no time did the defendant raise the issue of our truck not being worth the amount for repairs. Had I known that the value of my truck was in question, I would have told my wife what I had paid for it and I would have had an appraisal.

How you came up with the idea that our truck wasn't worth more than $2,134.17 is beyond me. You are obviously not a car collector. How can you come up with a fair estimate value with the pictures of the damage that were given to you?

A classic car is a vehicle that is over 30 years old. Three years ago, I paid $5,500 for the truck. Unlike new vehicles that depreciate every year, my truck goes up. It was just appraised at $6,500.
I do not have the right to appeal and I'm out $1,134.17 for the balance to my repairs.

Next time you appraise an older vehicle, I would suggest you guy a copy of the magazine Old Cars Price Guide. It comes out every other month and can be purchased at any good book store for $4.98. You might even suggest adding this paragraph to form SC-150 (Information For The Small Claims Plaintiff):

"Anyone with an older vehicle should get an appraisal to determine vehicle price. Otherwise judge might determine vehicle is a total. Meaning the repair cost is more than the vehicle is worth. Outcome being that you will get less than what the repairs cost!"

Enclosed is an appraisal I just had done and two pages from the April 2003 Old Cars Price Guide.
Bruce Carlton
Mill Valley

Hang In There, Senator To: Honorable Senator Robert C. Byrd Dear Senator Byrd: My apologies for giving you the wrong first name (Harry) in the letter I wrote you some time ago after your first speech (televised n C-Span). Now, I would like to say that your speech of 2/12/03, as printed in our dynamic local publication, The Coastal Post, is the most astute, accurate and dynamic assessment of current events to date. It falls into the same class as the 'great books' I studied when I was a student of St. John's College. You have delivered what is almost tantamount to a funeral oration for the US Senate. It's a pity that so few people in the US would read your speech or listen to it, and a greater pity, I suppose, that even fewer would know you made the speech or have the opportunity to hear or read it. This is history. In any event, hang in there. We need you. Harry Rockey Santa Rosa Courage, Courage, Courage Mr. President and non-Jewish members of our government, you should not be intimidated when called Anti-Semite if and when you have the courage to voice your non-biased opinion on the tragic situation in the Middle East. To the Jewish members of our government who have voiced the allegiance to the Israeli Government, no matter what this government does, surely your vision is clouded by the support of the Jewish Lobby and the very effective Anti-Semite weapon. One wonders what people you are sworn to represent; this applies to everyone in our government. The situation in the Middle East should have been resolved many years ago. The suffering of Jews/Arabs has been unbearable and now the escalation of terror on both sides is horrifying and not a whimper from our leaders. Over the years we have lost many service people and now civilians due to our lack of courage to deal objectively with this situation. To call ourselves the greatest nation in the world should embody character, integrity, compassion and courage. The backbone of our country is greatly weakened when our government lacks the courage to vote for what is right but unpopular. We have doled out billions of $ to governments whose citizens seldom reap any benefit and have been subjugated for the benefit of our corporations; Swiss banks must be bulging at the seams. Corporate welfare has repaid us with greed and great damage to our economy. Our democratic ideology is in need of review; bipartisanship is lost in the philosophy of revenge. Our representatives answer to the deepest pockets they can find. They do not work for the greater good of our country and citizens. Our elderly citizens are deprived of necessary drugs to stay healthy, we see young mothers with week old babies in daycare going to work to survive in this economy. This is a great cost to the fabric of our society. Our children are being kidnapped, abused and murdered daily. We are not safe in our homes or streets. We have our own brand of terrorists. Over 11,000 people murdered last year. We are spending millions in Columbia to fight drug war but nothing in our country to help people be free of drug addiction.

The perpetrators of violent movies/lyrics who poison the minds of our young people while they hide under the 1st Amendment, they need a dose of accountability.

We are in great need of an International Society whose goal is respect for all people regardless of Race/Religion; our great country is capable of leading other nations to achieve greatness for its peoples, but only when our leaders have the courage to do the right thing.

We should not be supplying weapons and $$ to countries whose philosophy is adverse to that of our great Nation.
Catherine Davis
San Anselmo

Need Real Homeland Security Dept

The Department of Homeland Security is an idea that is two hundred years overdue. The founding fathers of America should have had such an agency in place and functioning effectively by the year 1800. With extreme decisiveness, the DHS should long have been operating to incapacitate the following dangerous threats:

1) Lying politicians who take bribes and betray their fellow human beings, and oaths, for financial and political profit.
2) Corrupt police, prosecutors and judges who heartlessly engage in doing widescale injustice under color of law.
3) Corporate criminals whose rapacious greed is nothing short of evil.
4) Warmongers who diabolically create and perpetuate strife as a means to gain and maintain power, not caring about the harm and misery they cause.
5) And all other types of human garbage who strive to elevate themselves by stepping on other people.

The nation would now be much safer if this Department of Homeland Security had, for centuries, been permanently imprisoning the above types of vermin. Today? What is being pimped off as the DHS protects and further empowers those sorts of harmful parasites. Do you feel more "secure" in the gradually heightening climate of fear they are generating? Look at your powerless children and grandchildren then contemplate whether or not it is morally right for you to stand by and do nothing as their world and future is being made more dangerous.

"We shall only be governed as well as we deserve." -- George Bernard Shaw
James Samuel Kor, Jr.

A Reason To Gather

As progressive political pundits scramble to explain the scale of public participation in anti-war protests, I prefer to ask why it doesn't happen every day. The prevalent explanation is usually comprised of laundry lists of distractions, obligations, or disillusionment. So why all of a sudden the Battle in Seattle and the billions against Bush?

Well, in a word, because it's fun. What a concept, huh? No meetings, no membership, no admission. Just turn up with some friends, share a sack lunch, and show off your homemade artwork. It's communal, it has a purpose, and for once you get to let the assholes who are ruining our world know how you feel.

So now that we've blown off some steam marching, and flexed our fingers forwarding faxes to fascists, what do we do next? How do we build on the awareness and enthusiasm for changing American culture and politics?

My first response is what we should not do, and that is to channel all this democratic fervor and goodwill into progressive consumerism like we did with the environmental movement. I'm not saying people shouldn't contribute money to organizations they think are doing important work. I am saying that checkbook diplomacy is not involvement. Slogans do not a citizen make.

On the other hand, I have a hard time picturing some of the Gray Panthers I rode to the San Francisco protest with locking themselves down or doing tree- sits or attacking fighter jets with hatchets.

Some of my more creative friends have taken over local branches of the Democratic Party and ran authentic candidates for a change. Others have started newspapers, collectives, and co-ops. One organized an adult study group; another free civics classes. And this got me to thinking, what is it that generates this seemingly spontaneous community action?

Upon investigation, the answer I turned up was that it was not spontaneous at all. The initiators, in all the cases cited, had previously chatted up their frustrations, grievances, and ideas with other like-minded people at work, church, school, campfires, potlucks or parties and slowly worked it out in their heads what needed to be done. And this led me to the not-all-that-profound a conclusion: the democracy movement needs social clubs-a place where we can gather impromptu any day of the week, sit around the fireplace telling stories, make fun of politicians, and hatch schemes to take back our communities.

For those of us who aren't Rotarians or Elks, it's a place to belong and talk face-to-face. Internet communication has its place, but it isn't reality. Voices have to be heard and faces have to be seen to get acquainted. And like civic organizations that do good deeds for their communities, social clubs can support efforts of their members.

It really doesn't matter whether a group buys, builds or leases space; the important thing is that they do it together. It's one old American tradition I can get behind.
Jay Taber
Marin County

White House Equals White Wash

Hey, Americans wake up!

Yes, the current Administration is on a target to win a war but that should not be our concern-we already won this war 12 years ago. It's winning a peace that must concern us but every day, we're slipping further away. War rhetoric and hollow assurances are poor substitutes for a domestic policy but that's all we go from this Presidency. Turning surpluses into deficits, friends into enemies, resources into commodities, forests into clear cuts and 9/11 empathy into Y2003 horror is gwb's specialty. Like the deficits that extend as far as the eye can see, this reprehensible behavior will continue until we wake up and take our country back.
Jay S. Lustgarten
San Anselmo

Outrage Over Complacency And A Poem

World events and our illegally appointed "president" and the complacency of the American people outrage me. I want to scream, "Wake up and smell the petroleum!" I have abstained from driving for 30 years because I perceive private automobiles as an inherently failed system. Instead, I have chosen to be a Conscientious Objector to the petroleum industry. Many might feel that I use this term incorrectly since it specifically refers to war resistance. I believe that current events prove that I use the term correctly. If so, then the questions I put forth in the following poem should be asked of every American. This is my call for daily conscientious action. This is my plea for peace.

Driving To Iraq

Does it matter if you drive an SUV or an affordable little compact?
Either way, my friend, you're still driving to Iraq!
Can't you see what is so painfully plain to me?
Get a clue, Luke. The oil companies are the real enemies.

Look how petroleum fouls our air with filth and carbon monoxide.
Watch our critical food supply being willfully toxified
"Fertilized" with pesticides and herbicides.
Leaching from the dead soil this toxic brew
Moves relentlessly through the planets water cycle
Completely contaminating absolutely everything.

Petroleum, in every breath of air
Petroleum, in every bite of food
Petroleum, in every swallow of water.

Does it matter if you drive an SUV or an affordable little compact?
Either way, my friend, you're still driving to Iraq!
Can't you see what is so painfully plain to me?
Get a clue, Luke. Corporate greed is the real enemy.

Tell me, exactly how much is it worth to you
This cheap gasoline and poisoned food?
How much environmental degradation can you survive?
How many American troops are you willing to sacrifice?
How many innocent civilians are you willing to slaughter?
How much blood for oil is acceptable on your hands?

Does it matter if you drive an SUV or an affordable little compact?
Either way, my friend, you're still driving to Iraq!
Can't you see what is so painfully plain to me?
It's your consumer habits and apathy that are the absolute enemy!

How much blood for oil is acceptable on your hands?
How much blood on your hands?

(If you don't like what I am saying, kill me, too. It's the American way)
Clive Julianus

A Letter To Feinstein

Here is my letter to Diane Feinstein who has yet to sign on to the measure repealing the abrogation of our elected officials constitutional duties. When the spineless democrats "bent over" and allowed the Bush War Machine to wage "all war, all the time" we should have castigated them mercilessly (many of us did) and we should do so now if they continue to ignore the people who put them in office. I sent a similar one to Barbara Boxer, who has also not added her name to the measure.

Dear Ms. Feinstein:

You gave GW Bush, the most dangerous man in the world at present, a blank check to wage war. Our constitution says only congress can declare war. You alienated your constituency when you did this, now you have a chance to redeem yourself, to be a genuine part of the "opposition party" you are supposed to be.

You have not yet signed on to repeal this measure as have many other senators. I urge you to do so now. I will never vote for you again if you do not as I'm tired of democrats being the right wing of our one party system, the other wing being the far right.

The entire world is saying NO WAR IN IRAQ.

Do you not hear us?
Meg Brizzolara
San Rafael

Human Rights

If I am to consider your right to enforce or require protection of your belief systems please take a few minutes to review mine.

What if my sexual preferences, religious beliefs, and race are so unique that I am the only one that exists with this combination? Who is going to lobby for me? Why is anyone going to care about the injustices I must endure? When minority groups and coalitions request laws be passed to protect them or enforce their right to be who they are does this help me? For the most part this is causal of the separatist feeling.

The opposite approach is in order; we must tell government, business, religious institutions, and schools to stay out of our personal business. They should not be allowed to categorize us by having any knowledge of gender, race, or religious preference. The only class they should be concerned with is that of human being, birthed at a specific nation of origin capable of choosing where to live and pledge allegiance to a country of choice. Once allegiance to a country is chosen must abide by the laws of that country but none to be based on gender, race, or religious beliefs.

At face value this seems as naive as the principle that if each man loved one another as some religions prescribe no laws are necessary. If true love existed no one would harm someone he truly loved. But you would be requiring that everyone believed in this system. The system I propose is that government forces itself and everyone else not to differentiate between gender, race, or religion. All laws must be prescribed for inclusiveness of these precepts and enforce the right of equality to all aspects of the right to choose any expression of these protected rights. If a business has a requirement for clothing or uniforms specific to safety at work this requirement could be allowed as long as the clothing was not gender specific. Holiday pay and days off would need to be limited to a specific amount but allowing employee choice of days to observe their specific religious activities. Now in this country most holidays are Christ oriented and do not allow for only but a handful of other religious choices.

The most ironic of all rights is the government enforcement of minority issues. The only minorities addressed are the ones with a majority number of involvement leaving the rest to be lumped together as other. The Inuit and Tsimpshean have little in common with Ojibway and Cherokee. The blacks were not the only people brought to this country as slaves. Is man a more important and valuable part of society than a women? How can a religion determine what is appropriate sexually and enforce these beliefs on government. Our government has caused prejudice against any of us at one time or another by concerning itself with the classification of humans.

The government must no longer differentiate between male and female. It must no longer allow the sub-classification of ethnicity. It must no longer require us to claim a religious preference. As a human being I should be free to keep my gender, race, and religion a private matter. They should never have bearing in the job market, government, or public education systems in any country.

Time is precious. Thank you for spending some of yours with me.
Chuck Wallace
Corona, CA 92878

Inspections Forever Equal Real US Safety

President Bush has repeatedly said his goal is to protect Americans from Saddam Hussein and terrorists. Protecting America from harm is certainly the first duty of any president. Since at this point we would be wise to give the President the benefit of the doubt, let's just say that he has been given some bad advice about preemptive war really protecting America. Large numbers of Americans, from one end of the political spectrum to the other, feel infinitely more endangered by the prospect of preemptive war on Iraq than by inspections forever. Global ostracism and increased terrorist retaliation abroad are just one predictable outcome of preemptive war. Even more dangerous is the specter of endless retaliatory domestic terrorism here at home, for which we are still woefully unprepared. We would be much safer traveling the path of ongoing, deepening inspections of Iraq instead. I write for all who hope and pray the President will choose real protection of America by inspections forever. We want him to back away from the extreme dangers for America of preemptive war.

Please find a way to get this message into your publication.
Susan C. Strong, Ph.D.
The Metaphor Project

Marin County's Coming Water Shortage

In 1975, I moved to Marin County from Contra Costa County because I had heard that water was scarce and that building permits were even more scarce. I had gotten tired of the too much traffic and too many people. It seemed like the intelligent thing to do, move somewhere where there was some kind of a moratorium on building permits and growth. Boy was I surprised. They're still building like crazy!

During the years of the severe drought I gladly complied. It was no big deal to live tenaciously with the conditions of a drought. I remember the pipe line was built across the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and I also remember seeing the cracked muddy bottoms of the reservoirs, like Nicasio. I visited the other bigger dams in the state like the Oroville Dam and Shasta Dam and got great photographs of the view behind the dam with no water. But somehow we got past the drought. Everyone went back to their old ways.

In 1984, I moved to Sonoma County and now my source of drinking water is from the ground. I live in Rohnert Park and Rohnert Park has all these wells, at one time 44 wells. Some of the water in "G" Section was not good. The neighbors there complained of the bad odor and the discolored water that came out of the faucet. The wells were taken out of service and not much was thought about it. When I first lived here I had some episodes of coffee colored water coming out of my faucet and so I installed a pair of water filters on the incoming line to the house.

Some time in the next couple of years the Rohnert Park City Council came up with the idea of a 200 units per year building moratorium because of the lack of sewage treating capacity and because of water. Of course, that moratorium was only on paper. Along came a couple of developers and they put in several hundred houses, and another well. We didn't hear to much about it at first but that new well and another one put in by Hewlett Packard caused a lot of problems for people in nearby Penngrove and in Canon Manor a little unincorporated tract of half-acre lots. As time went by the issue of water became more and more vocal.

Today, it is a hot topic. The County of Sonoma is in the process of updating its General Plan. It is also adding a new element to the General Plan to deal with the issues of water. And that is where you folks living in Marin County are going to see some drastic changes on the water you get from the Sonoma County Water Agency via the Russian River pipeline that runs to Stafford Lake just west of Novato.

There is a water shortage in Sonoma County. There is a water shortage in Marin County and it is going to get even more severe. The people in Mendocino County want to stop diverting Eel River water to the Russian River. What? In the early 1900's two dams were built on the Eel River and a power plant was built and the water diverted from the dams, through the power plant and on to the Russian River. The Russian River would not flow like it does in the summer time if it were not for the Eel River water. But the folks in Mendocino County want and need that water, along with the fish in the river. The federal and state governments are looking into the issue right now and have made an initial proposal of cutting back the flow by 15%. There is more to it than that. PG&E; owns the power plant and wants to sell it off because it is not cost-effective. People in Mendocino County want to shut it off and stop the water diversion all together.

So, with water already short for Marin and Sonoma Counties, think about what it will be like without the Russian River water. Think about the next drought. Build a water desalinization plant? Well, they are expensive. They produce waste materials, mostly salts of various kinds and where are you going to put it?

What about the grand idea of putting a limit on population growth? Better yet, how about setting a finite number of people who can live in these two counties? What? Yes, unfortunately everyone cannot live in California because there isn't enough water. Of course, this will make the developers mad. It will make the building contractors mad. It will make the pro-growth chambers of commerce mad. But in the long run what about you? Are you going to get mad when you have to live under drought conditions as a way of life? Yellow water in the toilets. Brown lawns and maybe no landscaping. When do we blow the whistle and say stop! Do we do it now while things are still okay, sort of?

As for those meetings going on in Sonoma County, do you think you should be going to them? Do you think that you should have some say as to what Sonoma County is going to do about water because it does affect you in Marin County.
Paul Stutrud
Rohnert Park

MOAB Will Kill Civilian Population

The testing debut of the Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) has soundly established America's devastating omnipotence in the arena of conventional firepower. If the deployment of such omnipotence were to swiftly result in Saddam Hussein scrambling for exile or extinction, then, all glory to America's military objective.

Unfortunately, it will be the civilian population -- 50% of whom, according to US Senator Robert Byrd, are children -- who will be put to the harrowing test of this horrendous weapon, which has been deliberately designed to send a cataclysmic wave of fire and blast over an enormously enraging radius, and in the process, flatten trees, knock over structures, collapse cave entrances, et al.. In brief, aside from inflicting catastrophic death and destruction within the impact zone, it is also intended to demoralize or subjugate all beings far beyond that zone.

Only the survivors of this impending blitzkrieg will narrate if instant death would have been more preferable to the psychological malignancy of the MOAB. And in their narration, America's conscience will either stand trial or vindication.
Dom Martin
Mill Valley

Need For Bush To Justify His Iraqi Stance March 13, 2003

The confidentially, concerning the merits for attacking Iraq, prevents the populace from reaching informed decisions. Hence, we can only be hopeful that those in charge have the proper mind set and motives-this, however, poses many troubling concerns.

Since assuming office Mr. Bush has sold us out to his supporters and special interests on crucial environmental, conservation, family planning, health issues, and corporate reform, often in secretive manners on scales I have not found for any past presidency. Big oil, tobacco, industrial polluters, auto makers have profited, and he has staffed his team with personnel from the very industries that he has favored-and belongs to himself.

His destruction of worldwide environmental and social reforms have caused damage that will prevail for years, even if corrective measures are now commenced. His bellicosity and disregard for treaties have generated an unprecedented international distrust for the USA.

We now learn that he has alerted potential contractors (many whom are Bush affiliates) for rebuilding Iraq without even informing congress. Several people will reap significant monitory gains from this war.

It has also provided a timely distraction from his many past scandals.

If Mr. Bush could satisfactorily explain these issues, distrust in his motives for the Iraqi war would be far less justified, and the demonstrations against them would be much fewer and less provocative.
Robert H Settgast
San Rafael

Old Thinking

President Bush chastised European nations for being seeped in "old thinking". Who really embraces old thinking? The US is the only industrialized nation without universal health care coverage for all its citizens while old thinking European countries have universal health care that protects every man, woman and child. Guaranteed health care should be a universal right for all citizens because it allows everyone the freedom to experience life to its fullest. When we're talking about health care, I'll take European "old thinking" over American corporate greed any day.
Ron Lowe
Nevada City

The Inconvenience Of War

To all those who were inconvenienced by our anti war demonstration in San Francisco on Thursday, we have nothing against you (or anyone) personally. We know how frustrating it must be to sit in traffic on your way to or from work while we are in the streets.

We are angry that our Government in the White House has refused to listen to those of us against this war, refused to listen to the United Nations or the world.

We have NO OTHER WAY to express this. All the thousands and thousands of phone calls to the White House and our senators and elected officials have been ignored. Our letters go unanswered unless they are an "auto reply" or a form letter with platitudes about "freedom"

We cannot sit at home and watch sitcoms while George Bush massacres innocent people in Iraq in our name. It is not only you who have been inconvenienced, similar demonstrations have taken place all over the world in major cities. Let's just say that the families in Iraq right now are a bit more than just late for work. They will be dead, bombed with ordnance we have paid for.

We feel we have no voice any other way but to take to our streets and make ourselves heard. Life is NOT business as usual for people being massacred and we cannot sit by. Democracy is messy, it is inconvenient, but it's what we have. I'm sure you boss will understand.
Meg Brizzolara
San Rafael

Reason For Optimism

Daily life is a perpetual fooling of ourselves: we wake refreshed, ready to embark on another day's journey, get up and hit it. It's only much later, way down the road, when our bodies tire, that we lose our freshness. Incredibly, we repeat this self-deception day after day, task after task, trip after trip, throughout our days.

Part of it is, whatever reasons we have for optimism remain. Spring is here: I walk up to my mailbox and pass dozens of towering fat-trunked firs, each growing so straight up, so optimistically.

Each generation complains about things going to hell. Global warming enthusiasts claim evidence in dramatic weather changes: too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter.

Logically, reason for personal, physical pessimism increases with age. Our conversational topics gradually switch from discussing deaths among our parent's generation, to death among our own; we're facing the approaching likelihood of our own demise.

I'll learn at the service on Sunday how Don died. Years ago, after Don split from his family, he ended up barefoot, pushing a grocery cart around town, eating out of dumpsters. Eventually he cleaned himself up and became a quite respectable person. The only conversation I had with him was about footwear: he was admiring my Tevas, and I was admiring his ability to wear regular pool sandals, with the plastic thingie between his toes. Don didn't waste effort on glib talk: he was always concise, serious, profound, and, above all, extremely warm, soft, and loving.

We are like rows of carrots: if they didn't pull us up when we get round and fat, yummy and rooty, there wouldn't be enough room in the row.
Harry Holdorf
San Rafael

Repeating History

On the heels of a bogus ultimatum based on completely contrived pretexts and now on the eve of the premeditated war in the name of Oil (not Lebensraum, not just yet) it stands to compare our situation today to another time and place when another erstwhile great country embarked on a similar drive to satisfy its leader's reckless lust for adventure.

Then, as now, insidious enemies and traitors to the fatherland were made out to lurk around every corner, supposedly committing all form of mayhem up to the torching a national landmark of popular symbolic value. Later it would be revealed that, in fact, it was that self-same Party just elected that had surreptitiously committed the arson, effectively, against itself to concoct the casus beli, that henceforth legitimized the persecution of the accused scapegoats, communists and Jews, on the national level, that had been, a priori, just a private vendetta of that Party.

While conjured up security concerns were being drummed up in order to eliminate domestic opposition, individual liberties and to completely annul the Constitution in the end, abroad, more and more similarly manufactured provocations followed, to justify an escalating series of ultimatums and incursions that ultimately climaxed in a conflagration that sent most of that Party to Valhalla. I say most, but not all, since I suspect that certain individual members must have made their way across the ocean where they set upon their work here, somewhat more quietly at first, but more brazenly as time went on, until now, today, with their progeny in power, we find ourselves under a leader of dubious origins in a way repeating history.
Vladimir Hrycenko
San Rafael

Support The Troops?

Sunday, we found a note on the windshield of our car. It said, "if you love your country you would support the troops." Evidently, whoever left it for us disapproved of our bumper stickers, which expressed opposition to the war on Iraq. What follows is an open letter to the anonymous writer of that note:

What exactly do you mean by the phrase "support the troops?" Just how we are supposed to give that support? Most of us fervently hope our service men and women live through this war and come back whole to their families. If wishing them safety is "support," then we support them. But if what you mean by your admonition to "support the troops" is to "give our assent to the war," you ask too much. Many of us believe this war to be profoundly immoral. Are we supposed to ignore the voice of our own conscience?

At some time our troops now fighting in Iraq will become veterans. I cannot speak for others, but I have very protective feelings about combat veterans. These are men and women who have made a trip through hell and returned. War leaves many with great physical and emotional trauma. A substantial number have health problems as a result of exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic substances. Many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A large percentage are unemployed. And a quarter to a third are homeless. The Veterans Administration tells us that more than 275,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and more than 500,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Government money is limited and the VA reaches less than 10 percent of those in need, leaving 450,000 without services. Is this any way for a nation to repay those who have answered the country's call and risked their very lives for its perceived interests? Is this the way we "support the troops" on their return?

The most effective programs for at-risk and homeless vets are community-based, nonprofit veterans groups helping other vets. One is Swords to Plowshares, an organization which works with city, county and state agencies to assist the reintegration of veterans into civilian life. It uses a four-part approach, consisting of: (1) mental health counseling and interventions for vets with substance abuse problems; (2) employment assistance; (3) legal assistance to obtain government support for disabled veterans; and (4) residential programs which provide transitional and permanent housing.

My question for the writer of the note left on our windshield and for the yellow ribbon people: what will you do to provide "support" for the troops when they become veterans? Will you "support" them with your money, time and energy if they need your help? Will you do what you can to assist them in getting work? Will you visit the disabled in the nearest VA hospital? Will you write your elected representatives and tell them our combat veterans need financial support for measures to assist them in coping with service-related problems? Will you demand that our government make good on the promises it made when they enlisted? Do you now do any of those things for the present veterans of earlier wars?

Or do you plan to just go on writing anonymous notes criticizing others who work for an end to the carnage? Tying yellow ribbons on every tree between here and New York won't do a damn thing for our service men and women when they return.

Readers who care about fair treatment for veterans and who want to insure such treatment for the troops when they come home can contribute time or money to Swords to Plowshares. Their address is 1063 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. You can also help Veterans for Peace, a group which works with Swords to Plowshares. You can reach them via email at [email protected] Donations to both are tax deductible.

Beth Grimes

Really Supporting Our Troops

The use of the phrase "supporting our troops" has been used as shorthand for supporting their involvement in the war on Iraq. To be supportive of our soldiers does not necessarily mean that.

I think this war is a travesty, but I do support our troops in the sense of being concerned for their well-being and hoping for their safe (and speedy) return.

I also support our troops returning to a decent economy (not likely).

I support our troops having decent, well-paid jobs when they return (also not likely).

I support our troops having full, reasonably-priced medical benefits when they return (impossible as long as corporations run this system).

I support our troops not having to live with the horror that they may have killed innocent people (definitely not possible).

Of course I wish the above for all of us. If I sound cynical, it's because of the devastation this war will wreak on so many, not just our soldiers. We will be paying for this debacle for more years than I care to count.

The toll will be in bodies, ours and theirs.

The toll will be in an economy that is cruel and unable to offer anything but debt.

The toll will be in a country whose spirit is bereft of benevolence and kindness as we try to pay for this war on the backs of the aged and disabled by cutting their services and care.
Gianna Easson
San Rafael, CA 94901

It Turns My Guts

America! Why is it that you fight the smallest and the weakest weakest like picking on the littlest kid on the block and stomping his head in? When you call somebody evil there is a lot of evil to fight.

I truly love this country, but the people in it make me sick! I can't stand this guy up there getting in without really being elected. It tuns my guts!

With all these foreigners getting arrested for doing nothing and getting thrown in jail without a lawyer we are losing more and more of our rights and before you know it, we won't have any left.

Everybody's worried on how much this war will cost. The price we will pay will not be in dollars but in lives.
Worried in Willits

Compassionate Conservative

If the US military attacks Iraq, mothers must learn to lie to their children to avoid confusing and hurting them with the truth.

A child asks, "Mommie, where's daddy? He's been gone a long time."

To save the child's feelings the mother must answer with a lie. "Your daddy is far away defending his country."

The TRUE answer would be too painful. "Your daddy is away killing little boys and girls like you."

The child would then ask, "Why is he killing other children?"

The mother's TRUTH answer would be, "Because a lot of people told your daddy he would be a hero if he did this. Then he was commanded to do so by a very "Compassionate Conservative."
Guy W. Meyer



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