Cut Pentagon spending

We need jobs for our young men and women that do not involve guns.

We are training our young men and women in the military to shoot and kill. They come home after their deployments and find themselves lost and without the skills and mentality they need to live in a peaceful society. Too many of our returning military are committing suicide every day.

Let's divert some of those Pentagon dollars to education: reading, writing, calculating, job training and respectful conduct.

Let's spend those dollars on directly creating jobs in manufacturing (build a plant), housing (erect livable spaces), and service (public safety, public works).

Killing strangers who are trying futilely to defend their lands and homes from yet another foreign invader is not the answer.

Restore this land. Make U.S. cities plagued by crime, safe, and let the Afghanis have their freedom.

Hercules Morphopoulos

Kensington

Support for Zionism fading

In his Feb. 8 letter, Desmond Tuck has accused me of being an anti-Semitic bigot, based on my letter of Jan. 25. As usual, this is a way of avoiding serious discussion of the issues at hand, and I would not rise to responding to the personal slur.


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However, in our contemporary society, the charge of anti-Semitism is very heavy and, as in the present case, is used to intimidate those who dare to criticize Israeli policies, so I respond.

How does Tuck know that I am not a Jew? Many of the opinions I express have been more vociferously expressed by American and Israeli Jews. A surname is not a reliable guide to ethnicity. A prominent contestant in the recent Israeli election was a Jew from San Francisco named Naftali Bennett. For the record, I am neither Jew nor Arab. My ethnicity and religion are irrelevant.

I do not confound Jews and Zionists. All Jews are not Zionists and all Zionists are not Jews, the most prominent example of the latter being Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary who in 1917 promised Lord Rothschild a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The only Jewish member of the British cabinet opposed this promise, as did most American Jews at that time.

Today, support for Zionism among American Jews may still be strong, but it is fading, particularly among young people. In Israel itself there has been a post-Zionist trend.

My comparison of the power of Hamas' rockets and Israel's weapons was not to trivialize the small number of casualties in Israel compared to the large number in Gaza, but to point out the futility of any Arab attempt to match Israel's level of violence.

Tuck's historical references are not supported by the writings of recognized Israeli historians.

Larry Waldron

Berkeley

The Mallard is an idiotic bully

I'd like to assure my conservative friends that my objections to the Mallard Fillmore strip has nothing to do with his views or my willingness to hear an opinion I don't already hold. My objections are these: Mallard is a bully, his humor is based on shaming and mockery, and he's an idiot.

The Mallard's current series is about the Head Start program. According to the Heritage Foundation -- oops, I mean the Mallard -- the Head Start program is a failure. What does that mean? Everyone knows that despite claims about academic preparation, the Head Start program really exists to provide child care to the working poor, for kids too young for kindergarten. It's absurd to hold any other expectation.

Thus, the "failure" of the Head Start program is the failure of American society to ensure that poor kids can get a decent education.

Of course, blame for that failure has been assigned to our teachers, because blaming poverty (How could a stressful home environment and malnourishment impair learning ability?) would lead to a discussion about a meaningful redistribution of wealth.

Yet all the Mallard has to say is, "Nah Nah Nah, Head Start is a failure." He's a bully. He's not funny. And if he's not an idiot, he must think we are.

Paul Mackinney

Albany

La Force's dog opposition

Norman La Force, of Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Defense Fund, says he "has nothing against dogs," even though his lawsuit about the Albany Beach Draft Environmental Impact Report is primarily about dogs. In fact, La Force is obsessed with dogs.

  • In April 2012, La Force wrote a "scoping" letter to East Bay Regional Park District, listing the environmental issues that should be examined in the EIR for the Albany Beach project. The list was short: dogs. No other issue was mentioned.

  • In November 2012, La Force was a panelist at the Golden Gate University 2012 Environmental Law Symposium. Dogs were not a topic on the agenda, and no other panelist mentioned dogs. But La Force used other topics and other questions to repeatedly express his opposition to dogs. In response to a question about important current issues in environmental law, La Force gave a speech about off-leash dogs at Albany Bulb, including the telling statement, "Don't leave it to democracy. Officials are afraid of the people."

  • In February 2010, La Force wrote a letter to the Albany Waterfront Committee about plans for Albany Bulb. Again, his only topic was dogs. He identified himself as a Sierra Club officer "and 25-year veteran of dealing with off-leash dog use in the Bay Area."

  • In 2006-2007, La Force served on a Golden Gate National Recreation Area Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, on which his sole goal was to evict all visitors with off-leash dogs from the GGNRA.

    La Force has spent a great deal of time and effort, over many years, to get dog owners out of Bay Area public lands. It is safe to say that he does, in fact, have long-standing, intense animus toward dogs and dog owners.

    It is a misuse of our courts, and a waste of public resources, for La Force to use the Albany Beach DEIR to try to bend policy to accommodate his personal obsession.

    He has now, seven months after the DEIR was published, added eel grass to his complaint, which doesn't conceal the fact that dogs are his real focus. As EBRPD has said many times, the Albany Beach project will not alter dog-related policies at all.

    Keith McAllister

    Oakland

    Save historic post office

    The U.S. Postal Service will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Berkeley City Council Chamber, Old City Hall, at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

    We must be there to be sure the USPS hears our views on its proposal to sell Berkeley's beautiful historic Main Post Office. Berkeley residents need this convenient downtown post office that was paid for by our parents and grandparents.

    We urge residents of Berkeley and of surrounding communities, who care about conserving our historic architecture, to attend this important hearing.

    David Welsh

    Berkeley