Who lied?

Prior to the invasion of Iraq Sen. Dianne Feinstein stated [in a floor speech] that Iraq posed "a consequential threat" to the United States. She claimed that Iraq's military possessed "stores of biological and chemical weapons." She frightened her constituents by warning that California's distance from Iraq offered little protection. "While the distance between the United States and Iraq is great," the senator argued, "Saddam Hussein's ability to use his chemical and biological weapons against us is not constrained by geography – it can be accomplished in a number of different ways – which is what makes this threat so real and persuasive." Further she stated that Iraq "is engaged in developing nuclear weapons" and that, should we not act, it is "only a question of time" before Iraq would become a "nuclear power" ("The Right Course on Iraq, October 10, 2002").

U.S. forces have been in Iraq for three months and have found no evidence that Iraq possessed chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. Does the senator still maintain that Iraq posed "a consequential threat" to the United States? If so, where is the evidence to support her beliefs? If Iraq did not pose a threat to the United States, then who is responsible for what can only be described as a massive political and intelligence failure? As a member of the Intelligence Committee Feinstein has a special burden to answer the following question: Was she lied to or did she lie to us?

Terence Kissack

San Francisco

White novelists, black characters

It is difficult to determine by what standard Paul Reidinger pronounces Margaret Mitchell's black characters to be "rounded and nuanced," except, perhaps, by the standard set by 19th-century Southern society: that black people exist only to serve white peoples' needs ["The Myth of the Great American Novel," 5/28/03]. Gone with the Wind's Mammy exhibits no sense of herself outside of the world of Scarlett, Rhett, and Tara. Who are her parents? What does she think of herself? What does she dream of in the deep night when the mistress (finally) goes to sleep and her chores are done? Mitchell neither knows nor cares. Beyond Mammy, the black characters in GWTW are only cardboard cutouts.

Substitute Reidinger's phrase "the modern liberal's crippling hypersensitivity to race" with "modern America's recognition that black people are, indeed, people, with needs and wishes and wants of their own that have nothing to do with their relationship to white folks," and you find that there is a completely different standard for American novelists, even white American novelists, with which to create actual "rounded and nuanced" black characters. For starters, try Bernice in Carson McCullers' Members of the Wedding, or just about every single black character brought to life in the novels of Shirley Ann Grau (her Roadwalkers still, I believe, sets the standard for white portrayal of black characters). And those are just the white writers I can think of off the top of my head.

As for Reidinger's novel thought that America "hasn't suffered much," well, I suppose that really depends upon what part of America you're talking about, doesn't it? Confederates are by no means the only section of this society who have suffered the bitterness of defeat.

J. Douglas Allen-Taylor Oakland

Ozzie for treasurer!

This recall of Gov. Gray Davis is such an obvious political ploy. The firms in Texas rigged the energy crisis while the Bush team did everything to disenfranchise California and deny any kind of aid to the state. The Republicans are determined to get control of California one way or another. Soon we will have Arnold Schwarzenegger (!) as governor, and while we are at it, let's have Anna Nicole Smith as lieutenant governor and Ozzie Osbourne as state treasurer.

Edan Milton Hughes

San Francisco

Riding to Room 200

Well, Angela's back. But what has she done for us lately while she was off making millions to fatten up her campaign coffers? She's trying to ride into the mayor's office on the back of her father's name.

But at least she earned her money, unlike Sup. Gavin Newsom, who seems to have an easier time getting money from the Gettys than John Paul Getty III's kidnappers did in 1973 (the Italian Red Brigades had to cut off an ear and send it to a newspaper before the ransom was paid). He is using his questionable Care Not Cash initiative to try to ride into the mayor's office on the backs of the homeless, one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

Sup. Tom Ammiano is the only (grassroots) candidate with no ties to big money who is worthy of your vote, and he will ride into the mayor's office on his record and on the backs of his supporters.

Terrie Frye

San Francisco

For the record

The May 28 article "Rents Rise in Lower Haight" stated that the rent for Naked Eye News and Video had increased before the store moved. Actually, the rent had recently been decreased from $2,500 to $2,200 to help the struggling business.

The June 18 story "A Tale of Two Cities" credited the wrong photographer. The photos were taken by Neil Motteram.

June 25, 2003