Letters for the week of February 22-28, 2006

Allow us Indians the dignity of going through our own growing pains; The Fall is just what the Warriors need; and John Perkins fans fire back.

“Eisenhower Princess,” Music, 1/25

You could look it up
Please tell Rachel Swan and her editors that it’s not possible to “descend into the bowels of some West Oakland garret.” A garret is a room just under the roof, usually unfinished. Unless your reviewer was descending from On High, she used the wrong word. You could look it up.

Courtenay Peddle, Oakland

“Identity Theft,” Feature, 1/25

Bravery under fire
Great job on the article. You were brave in the face of a daunting topic that most writers don’t have the time for.

Eric Enriquez, Ukiah

Indian givers indeed
I find it ironic that Eliza Strickland’s article on disenrollment was tagged as “Indian Givers” on the front cover. She suggests in her article that we should support legislation to take back tribal sovereignty so that a few people can take their disenrollment cases to federal court.

The term “Indian giver” refers to a person who gives something to a Native American and then takes it back. The term describes for me the decades and centuries in which the United States government has promised and given things to Native Americans only to later take them back. I do think that the disenrollment cases she cites are heartbreaking, but putting these kinds of decisions back in the hands of the federal or state government is not the answer. Allow us the dignity of going through our own growing pains, whatever they may be, as we move away from centuries of economic hardship.

I tire of the paternalistic argument that the US government is somehow better than tribal governments. I’ve watched Court TV; I don’t think US courts would handle these cases any better. Also, keep in mind that legislation regarding Native American land and sovereignty is usually twisted to further erode Native rights.
Melanie Lewis, enrolled member, Pueblo of Laguna, Concord

“The Case Against Tenure,” Feature, 12/7

The real left behind
I just ran across your article on tenure. The majority of my daughter’s fifth-grade-classroom parents have tried all year to remove a teacher that we feel is incompetent. No luck.

Though we knew it would be a hard fight, we thought that the principal, district, and fellow teachers had our children’s best interest in mind. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. It all came down to the almighty dollar and saving face. I placed my child in private school because I can. Others cannot. I want to still work on this issue for the sake of those left behind.
Jeanne Swenson, San Jose

“Rethinking Arena Rock,” Down in Front, 1/25

Turn up the violence
Rob, you’re wrong on two points:
1. The Fall are exactly what the alienated, pissed-off, very young Warriors need. I suggest the Warriors send a scout to Manchester to recruit Smith and his band of young’uns to become the new house band. Extra security may be required as well, to quell the parking-lot violence.

2. I have drunk in virtually every off-Strip casino in Vegas, and while I’ve had drinks that were mixed with a variety of cheap toxins, I have never once had a “watered-down” drink off the Strip. I believe there’s a vigilante club of Vegas senior citizens that performs ritual executions on off-Strip bartenders who pour with anything less than a fully leaded hand when mixing drinks. Perhaps it was your drink of choice — rum and coke is quite foo-foo, and I’m surprised some Vegas granny didn’t kick your ass with her walker when you carried that wanna-be booze past the poker room.

Yours in bitterness,
Michael Van Kleeck, Portland, Oregon

“Hit and Miss,” Culture, 2/1

Straight-up hackery
I guess all the hullabaloo about the Express getting bought up by large corporations was correct — right-wing hackery is now prominent in the pages of the Express.

Shorter Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins: “The US government uses supposedly international organizations like the World Bank to drive already-poor third-world nations into further depression.”

Shorter Eliza Strickland: “John Perkins sucks, so there.”


Along the way Ms. Strickland makes fun of all us “believers” for believing in conspiracies. I guess 9/11 was a case of “the magic pilot” who flew multiple jets into multiple buildings. And she makes fun of us for believing that the World Bank and the WTO actually do bad things to the citizens of already-poor countries. Straight-up hackery. What was the East Bay Express doing in San Francisco anyways? Used to be a decent paper.
Peter Smith, San Francisco

About that flier
I am writing because I was troubled by some of the things you wrote in your recent article on the John Perkins event. Not by the claims you made about his book; I haven’t read the book yet so I can’t judge that, but I have heard from some that it isn’t the best-written book. But rather regarding more general things you wrote about the assertions Perkins is making, regarding the character of the audience, and particularly about the 9/11 flier, since I was the person handing that flier out.

You wrote, “including one that suggested that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by explosions planted by the US government.” But, in fact, the flier doesn’t suggest any such thing. Rather, it reports the fact that there were dozens of firefighters and first responders who heard and saw explosions in the towers, as did many other witnesses, and the fact that there was no attempt to interview these witnesses, or to ascertain what the explosions were, by officials investigating. It reports that all the firefighter testimonials, including these, were kept from the public until a judge ordered them released last year. It documents the fact, as reported in The New York Times, that the steel from the towers was destroyed in violation of federal law, and that the investigations of the collapses were severely restricted. And all of this information is well sourced on the flier so that it can be verified by the reader.

The other claim you made is that “For those not up to date, conspiracy theorists suggest that the World Trade Center’s Building Seven was actually demolished by the government in order to destroy Securities and Exchange Commission files of ongoing investigations.” I assume you are taking this from the flier too, as I don’t know anyone in the 9/11 Truth Movement who has ever made that claim. I don’t mean to sound rude, but this is just a sloppy reading of the sentence according to laws of English grammar. It clearly says that the destruction of the files was an effect of, not the cause of or motivation for, the fall of the building. There is a pretty significant difference.

Are you aware that the owner of the building stated in a PBS documentary a year after the attacks that he and the fire chief thought it might be best to just “pull” the building, they made the decision to “pull it,” and then “watched it fall”? Have you seen the footage of the fall? Are you aware the building fell at near-freefall speed, symmetrically into its footprint, suggesting that 47 stories of concrete and steel created no resistance? And, while no steel-framed skyscraper has ever done such a thing before as a result of fire, this is totally characteristic of controlled demolition.

So the owner says they pulled it. That would seem to explain things. But, in fact, it just raises more questions. Because if they decided to demolish the building, why on earth would they have let FEMA mount a taxpayer-funded investigation to determine what made the building collapse? This investigation was inconclusive. This is because the truly best hypothesis to fit the collapse characteristics seen — demolition — was not considered by them. Also, it takes weeks with blueprints to plan and execute a controlled demolition well, to achieve perfect symmetry so that surrounding property isn’t damaged (as was the case here), suggesting that, if the owner and fire chief had made that decision to pull, it would have to have been long before the first plane hit. (Ample time to get those files out if they wanted to.) Those conclusions or speculations are not in that flier. And, unlike the claims you make about Perkins’ book making strong assertions but being weak on documentation, the flier is all documentation and no specific assertions as to exactly what happened.

How much do you know about the events of 9/11? Do you know what the standard operating procedures are for US air defense? How long they’ve been in place? And how often and how well they had worked prior to 9/11? Do you know how many countries gave advance warning of the attacks, which countries, and what type of warnings they gave? And what non-nation-state organizations and people offered warnings? Did you follow the commission hearings at all? Do you know what the relationships are between the testimony given and the commission’s final report? These are some of the most basic issues related to the attacks. If you don’t know even these basics, then you’re writing about something you know nothing about, and I’m sorry but that is just bad journalism.

So I heartily encourage you to read some more. Stick to the mainstream press and government documents. That way it’s a body of information we can all agree upon. The best book for this is Paul Thompson’s The Terror Timeline. Published by Harper Collins, this book is a compilation of 9/11 information, taken only from mainstream press and government documents, with all sources put within the text itself. Or better yet, you can go to his Web site to view “The Complete 9/11 Timeline” at CooperativeResearch.org.

Also, I’d like to invite you to an event Thursday, February 23 at the Grand Lake Theater, where they will be premiering a new video of David Ray Griffin called Flights 11, 175, 77, and 93: The 9/11 Commission’s Incredible Tales. (There will also be another short video, speakers, and plenty of progressive lefties.)
Rebecca Medcalf, Oakland

Eliza Strickland responds
Not only does your flier imply that the US government was complicit in the intentional destruction of the World Trade Center and the SEC files located in Building Seven, so does your letter.

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