Letters for March 20, 2003

Poison ivy
The local leadership of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) are a belligerent bunch. CNPS leader Tanya Henrich calls me “brutal” on these pages for proposing to protect currently unprotected native trees, on the grounds that it doesn’t go far enough [“Harebrained herring,” Letters, March 13]. CNPS exotics chair John Copeland last year proposed banning all bikes on the south side of Upper Park. And CNPS programs chair Josephine Guardino just recently hired a lawyer to demand that disc golf be closed and foot trails be obstructed. I’m a CNPS member and do flower guides for the Yahi Trail, so we’re not all anti-people. But a majority of our local CNPS leadership is an embarrassment.

Michael Jones

The big picture
Although you presented some inkling of the true reason for the impending war against Iraq, I feel you have not done enough homework [“Iraq War for Dummies,” cover story, Feb. 27]. In light of the one and only true reason, control of Iraq’s oil, may I recommend a Web page that was truly an eye opener for me and one that deserves critical attention: www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html. You would be doing a great service by getting this crucial information out to an ill-informed public.

Roger Nevins
received via e-mail

Ironic irrelevancy
Lately it seems that columnists and politicians, primarily from the right, have discovered a new word to describe people with whom they disagree: irrelevant. For instance, George Bush and Colin Powell declare that the United Nations is facing irrelevancy because this body will not sign on to the Iraq war. Columnist George Will happily jumped on the U.N. irrelevancy bandwagon a few days later in one of his columns. France, due to the common sense of its foreign policy, is incredibly irrelevant. And, after millions marched for peace worldwide, Mr. Bush stated that their actions were not relevant to his decision regarding Iraq.

To tell the truth, this is actually a trend that began well before our current problems with Iraq. Mr. Bush was placed in the Oval Office despite the fact that his opponent received more than 500,000 more votes than he did. These citizens were obviously irrelevant. He was able to do this with the assistance of the United States Supreme Court, whose majority decided that neither the laws of this nation nor a true count of the votes in the state of Florida were relevant to George Bush’s right to be president.

How ironic if the next election were to find all of the Bushies irrelevant?

Dennis Duncan
received via e-mail

Legal irony
You might think this is the dumbest idea ever, but, depending on your personal drug habits, it may save your life. Approximately one out of five Americans will die from tobacco-related disease. It’s usually a slow, painful death often taking years, and ironically you do quit smoking during that final “stay” in the hospital. Approximately one out of six Americans has used marijuana for health or happiness reasons. You can have legal problems if you use grass.

Tobacco causes emphysema, throat, mouth, lung and bladder cancers and several other illnesses. Marijuana smoke doesn’t seem to cause these illnesses, but if you are caught the police will arrest and jail you and if convicted you they will keep a legal collar around your neck for years.

A large majority of tobacco smokers want to quit but haven’t been able to. They are by definition addicts who won’t stop unless physically forced to. In federal prison you can smoke tobacco but not in California jails and prisons.

My idea is that, if you’re addicted to tobacco, blow a puff of grass in a California narc’s face and let California prison guards save your life. If you’re one of the more than 400,000 Americans dying from tobacco this year, this idea may not sound so dumb to you. Doubtless the 646,042 (year 2000 statistic) Americans caged for simple possession of marijuana might see some irony.

Marvin Wiseley

Free Dr. Li
I would like to call your attention to a heartbreaking situation. A U.S. citizen from Menlo Park, Calif., Dr. Charles Li, has been detained in China since Jan. 22 for practicing Falun Gong. Falun Gong is a peaceful meditation and exercise practice introduced in China in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. It spread rapidly. By 1998 there were 100 million practitioners around the world. It is practiced peacefully and legally everywhere except China.

In 1999 the Chinese Communist Party began a vicious crackdown against Falun Gong and began arresting and torturing the peaceful practitioners. Details of the persecution have been documented by Amnesty International and the U.S. Department of State. China’s treatment of Falun Gong has been condemned by international organizations and governments throughout the world, including both houses of the U.S. Congress. Now China is trying to export its irrational persecution overseas.

Dr. Li is the first U.S. citizen to face long-term imprisonment for practicing Falun Gong. He is a respected medical doctor and business owner. He was probably targeted because he is listed as a volunteer contact person for Falun Gong in the Bay Area. Recently 82 members of Congress signed a letter to the Chinese ambassador demanding Dr. Li’s immediate release. For more information or to see if you can help, please visit www.rescuecharles.org.

Michael Courter

Hear me now?
Dear President Bush,

As a believer, I am enlightened and unquestionably believe that, as a Christian, you speak the truth advancing my faith, our government and freedom of our press. Thus, there is no need for questioning any of it. Delivering the proclamation of ultimatum, “you’re either with us or against us,” is wise and pious.

There are dissenters among us who say that, because your family and affluent friends from America and England are highly invested in weapons, they will profit greatly from wars. They will destabilize and divide our country and the world. They further claim this is racketeering, conniving and putrid. I won’t hear it.

There are non-believers who affirm your father carried out the secret arming of the Khomeini regime in Iran by the U.S. government during an official U.S.-decreed arms embargo against Iran. They also say he and his cronies provided the chemicals for Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons of today. I won’t hear it.

There are people who believe that in October-November 1942, under the Trading with the Enemy Act­Order Number 248, the U.S. government seized Nazi German weapons and financial trading operations managed by your Grandfather Prescott Bush and his father-in-law George Herbert Walker. I won’t hear it.

There are people who believe the way you became the leader of our country was a scam; the democratic election was overthrown. Along with your rich, arrogant upbringing, this is the reason you are so unaccountable to the American people.

Scott Love

Hot seat
President Bush reportedly cites Jesus as his “political philosopher” and the Bible for political advice. The president’s piety, however, doesn’t appear to extend to actually obeying Jesus or the Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Eighty thousand innocent victims died in the first Gulf War. When Bush gives the orders for the new war, the dead women and babies will each be a step toward what seems to be Bush’s ultimate goal—the seat at the right hand of Satan.

Richard Shutt Jr.