Letters for the week of June 11 

Readers criticize Cal and John Yoo but defend Joe Pachinko and ICE.


"The Torture Professor," Feature, 5/14

UC Berkeley Supports Fascism

Instead of firing John Yoo, Boalt Hall should put him under glass so that the world can study how one individual scripts legal documents that undermine all accountability of the executive branch.

The golden memos written by Yoo did not involve UC Berkeley. The memos were utilized by our the executive branch to override laws in place that protect basic human rights in war time, as established by the Geneva Convention. More emphasis should be put on the fact that we live under an administration that does not recognize nor investigate war crimes. The Supreme Court is contrived and Congress has failed us. Nancy Pelosi, who has the ability to vocalize these injustices and demand accountability, is absent. The balance of power has morphed into an executively fueled fascist state.

UC Berkeley should merely feel embarrassment to employ such a criminal and allow him to advocate torture and educate law students to manipulate the Constitution. Perhaps a better headline would be: "UC Berkeley proudly employs a war criminal."

Clearly, Boalt Hall supports the making of this fascist state.

Paige Richardson, Oakland

Yoo Is Cal's Poster Boy

I'm not looking for Berkeley to discipline or fire Yoo anytime soon. Why? One reason can be found in a brochure that Cal's "University Relations" office recently sent out to alumni and parents: "The Promise of Berkleley (Spring 2008)." This expensive, full-color promotional publication features John Yoo on page 18, in a section that highlights the White House connections of Cal faculty (Robert Reich, who served in the Clinton administration, is also featured on another page). Yoo is quoted as saying that his three stints of government service, in executive, legislative, and judicial branches, "gives me the ability to explain how the powers of the three can lead to cooperation or conflict beyond what we read in Supreme Court opinions." Also, "I think it is important we make a contribution when our government calls."

There is no mention whatsoever of the torture memos or the controversy surrounding them.

Not only is Cal NOT trying to keep him and his situation under wraps, Yoo is actually one of their POSTER BOYS for the university's influence in the imperial halls of power. So I'd be surprised to see even so much as a knuckle-rapping come out of this episode. Perhaps something will happen after the current administration leaves power. Who knows? For now, Cal seems to be swayed by the Beltway reality-warping field.

James Anderson Merritt, Santa Cruz

Waterboard Him

Prof. Yoo should volunteer to undergo waterboarding, sensory overload, and other interrogation methods that he condoned. Afterward, he can tell us if he still believes they don't constitute torture.

Richard Knee, San Francisco

Boalt Won't Get My Money

I am an alumna of Boalt Hall School of Law and a successful attorney. I have disapproved of Yoo for some time and stopped donating to Boalt as a result (I donate to the Berkeley Law Foundation instead). I recently commenced the practice of, each time Boalt sends me a solicitation for funds, scrawling "TWO WORDS — JOHN YOO" across the return slip and sending it back in the return envelope with no money in it. I hope they will get the message, at least from me. The school itself will not see a cent of my funds while he still tortures the reputation of my alma mater.

Lisa Kerr, Charleston, West Virginia

"From Trash to Treasure ... and Back Again," Music, 5/14

Like Inhaling Helium

I am no connoisseur of "experimental music." I know Joe Pachinko as a poet. Before I was a poet I was a very bad violinist in the Punk Rock Orchestra. We sometimes played gigs with the Porn Orchestra and Moe!chestra, so I am somewhat familiar with the concept of "experimental music" — a genre which, like poetry, can become, sometimes, rather pretentious, particularly in the theoretical sense of what it is "supposed" to be. What makes groups like the Moe!chestra and the Porn Orchestra unpretentious is their ability to blend sound and image into comic-erotic absurdity. Likewise, I found Pachinko's performance a delightful audial-visual funhouse of babyheads, bedpans, and clown-horns from an oversized goon who is in love with sound — whether in the made-up words of his poetry, or noise-making keychains of Mr. T's "quit yo' jibberjabbing," or the zip of a kazoo.

All who really know Pachinko will attest to his intelligence, kindness, and utterly unpretentious — and usually drunken — buffoonery. His music on the night of the 10th actually made me feel something akin to the gleeful confusion of inhaling post-modern helium. (Gasp, to think, fun post-modernism?) And though Pachinko's performance was brief, it was not in any way tedious. Sometimes, especially with anything experimental, it is good to leave the audience wanting more.

Nicole Henares, San Francisco

You Need Anger Management

Joe has been very active in the small press and East Bay poetry. He has done a lot of good things like revive Lenore Kandel's The Love Book. He is a smart and gifted fellow who has a passion for poetry as much as art in all its different mediums. I was there and I enjoyed the performance. I agree there is a valid nervous shyness that Joe takes on before every reading/performance. Your buddy must have quite an ego to not appreciate someone's attempt to put themselves out there to create art. The point was an improvisation and a display of the well-constructed instruments. Your buddy should sign up for some sort of anger management support group if he's gritting his teeth over it.

Brian Morrisey, Santa Cruz

"Immigration Officials Aren't Rounding Up Poor Kids!," Seven Days, 5/14

ICE Was There

A bit of misinformation from the East Bay Express? I wouldn't have thought it possible. But yes, printed in Seven Days was a bit about what happened in Berkeley on May 6, and it was, well, misinformed. I spoke with an organizer with BAMN (By Any Means Necessary, a group working around affirmative action defense and the fight for immigrant rights) who told me that the Berkeley High principal can confirm that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were in the school office, that one of the BAMN's organizers and his family were actually detained, and that later they were released because the public profile was so high, ICE had no choice. Good thing the phone calls and so-called "rumors" started flying — without that network, ICE would be unhindered, unaccountable, and arresting whoever fit the profile of "illegal." It's in all of our interest to condemn the presence of ICE in our communities, as I imagine ICE will begin to broaden whom exactly they're looking to detain.

Marit Knutson, Bay Area Radical Women, Berkeley

They Don't Know What They're Doing

While, as a rule, we find Mr. Thompson's articles to be meritorious, sometimes he is not as inclusive about the subject matter as he should be.

The ICE section of USDHS is only doing its assigned job. They are merely seeking to enforce deportation orders issued by USCIS judges. Many, many "illegals" never deport voluntarily even after promising to "voluntarily deport" before an immigration judge.

Children of illegal immigrants, born in America, are American citizens at birth. Thus, USCIS lacks jurisdiction over an American citizen whether he/she is two or twenty! Once an USCIS agent determines that a person is a US citizen, he must fold up his tent and move on to the next case. No child, born in America, can ever be deported!

The onus has always been on the illegal immigrant parent to move for adjustment of status. Either through ignorance, laziness, or economic challenges — the process is not inexpensive — they do nothing to change their status. It is easier to carry signs, parade in the streets, or point to their American-born child who has a right to grow up in his/her country of birth. Under the "seven-year" rule — now, ten-year rule — all illegal immigrants can move to adjust their status before USCIS. This is not some "new" policy. It has been the case for at least thirty years, maybe longer.

Finally, we do not need any immigration reform. What we do need is to better understand the immigration law that we do have. Many of these activist groups and so called "immigration lawyers" do not know that they are doing ... plain and simple!

Joseph M. Palomba, LL.M., Oakland

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