Letters for October 13, 2005

Solomon’s wisdom
During the crises that have wracked the Gulf Coast, a refrain continually plays in my head. It goes like this. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signals in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed…” Spoken by the Republican president and World War II hero I grew up listening to in the 1950s, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans about the prospect of a “military-industrial complex.”

His words now seem especially prophetic and the tentacles of that complex threaten to destroy our democracy. Private security forces from companies like Blackwater roam the streets of New Orleans and Baghdad. Halliburton gets the contracts to rebuild Louisiana and Iraq. This transition to empire threatens us all, not just the poor of the Gulf Coast. Indeed, we are a society at risk.

So how did this occur? How did a public citizenry come to embrace this development, many unknowingly? How did the empire emerge? Above all, how did “war become so easy?”

Chicoans have a unique opportunity this month to hear Norman Solomon whose latest book, “War Made Easy,” answers this question. He will speak at the Chico Peace and Justice Center’s Annual Dinner at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 19 at Sierra Nevada Brewery.

Solomon is the founder and Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and has doggedly attempted to hold our media accountable for its complicity. In his new book, he debunks many of the oft-repeated rationalizations for wars and weaves a story that recounts events from Democratic presidencies like Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton to invasions under Ronald Reagan and the Bushes. Solomon clearly explains that this is not a partisan issue. Pro-war propaganda has a long history.

The book jacket describes Solomon’s research as a “user-friendly guide to disinformation.” If you don’t have time to read the book, come to the dinner and inform yourself. Visit his Web site at www.normansolomon.com. Paul Rogat-Loeb who spoke in Chico a few years ago writes that Solomon “looks at the lies we tell ourselves as we annihilate life and liberty and call it freedom.” Prevent the erosion of this liberty and the further expansion of this military-industrial complex. Affirm democratic principles and an informed citizenry. See you at Sierra Nevada on the 19th!

Ty Benoit

Hell for breakfast
I’ve noticed a lot of changes in this country and on this planet, I say this planet and not our planet because it obviously belongs to someone else now, any rich, murdering dictator can do as they wish without question, because we were misinformed, you’ll die fighting for me, or you’ll die trying to fight me, that is the apparently new definition of freedom, where your ejected from an airplane for a T-shirt and when a person so much in the media can be whisked away with no questions asked. Where is Cindy Sheehan now? Why was she shackled? And who really cares? Is this the land of the free? And will this be printed?

Sid Locksley

Wake up
I would have hoped your concern for breaching “a sacred line that keeps the government out of the way the press does its business in service of the public” might have impelled you to denounce New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s shocking collusion with the Bush administration’s propaganda for war in Iraq [“The cost of a reporter’s freedom,” Editorial, Oct. 6]. Instead you ask us to “forget the fact” that she was a “cheerleader” for war (as if this wasn’t the real sacred breach), and instead implore us to worry about the endangered free press because some judge blundered into a decision that rescued Miller’s dying career and turned the hack reporter into a martyr. Miller was even released from her confidentiality agreement by her source. Apparently she knew that jail time would achieve what she so desperately lacked: a glimmer of integrity.

Yet you want us to believe that this inadvertent reversal of an unethical and discredited reporter’s reputation is an alarming sign of the precarious condition of our free and independent press. May I ask where you’ve been for the last 5, 10, 20 years?

Julie Cambridge

No urban connection
In your well-balanced account of the City Council hearing on the Doe Mill row houses, you identified me as the operator of “an Urban Builders Web site” [“Row houses a go-go,” Newslines, Oct. 6]. This conveys the impression that the Web site is operated on behalf of New Urban Builders, the project developer.

Please note that both of my Web sites (www.doemill.org and www.tndwest.com) have no connection with New Urban Builders and are independent educational and research projects. While the doemill.org web site obviously is focused on Doe Mill Neighborhood, it is financially and editorially independent (as is tndwest.com that provides capsule descriptions of 100-plus New Urban projects in California, Oregon and Washington).

James R. Horne

Can’t get there
Fred Davis points out that Kentfield Parc subdivision doesn’t meet the General Plan provision that new development maintain the character of adjacent neighborhoods [“Kentfield Parc—a planning disaster,” Guest comment, Oct. 6]. The General Plan is required by law to be internally consistent, but it is not and so we have this recurrent problem.

Woven throughout the General Plan are provisions for compact urban form, infill development and higher density standards, and then tacked on as an afterthought is the consistency with existing neighborhoods concept. So Kentfield Parc follows the first three concepts standards as directed, but in doing so it cannot meet the last. This is an error in the General Plan, and the responsibility lies with the city manager circa 1994, when the plan was written.

Michael Jones

Avian pandemic: one flu over the cuckoos’ nest.

Stephen T. Davis