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<b>A 'Constitution man'</b>

EDITOR: I disagree with James C. Pera ("Snowden's a traitor," Letters, Thursday). Edward Snowden didn't go to a foreign country unless you call Glenn Greenwald a foreign country. And he only requested asylum because he could not receive a fair trial anywhere in the jingoistic atmosphere that Pera's letter indicates.

When Greenwald writes his new book on the National Security Agency and its unconstitutional practices, the focus will be where it belongs, on the NSA and not on the whistle-blower.

Everything changed after 9/11. If we all agreed it was OK to give up our privacy for a little safety, that would probably be the end of it. But some people believe their private lives are worth dying for. That is what Snowden stands for. He is more of a Constitution man than most of us.

As for politicians, they are in alliance with security first, Constitution second. For them the idea of preservation is more important than Jeffersonian idealism.

ED ROSENTHAL

Santa Rosa

<b>Vigilante injustice</b>

EDITOR: Apparently anybody can shoot somebody if they feel threatened, even if they created the threat in the first place. The trick is to make sure to kill them so there is nobody to question the claim of "self-defense." Under those rules, nobody is safe from vigilantes. A great day for justice, indeed.

BETH WARNER

Santa Rosa

<b>Conquering, not taming</b>

EDITOR: David Brooks' ideas about the "taming" of the West seem to come right out of a Hollywood movie script ("Men on the threshold -- but not moving forward," Wednesday). He conveniently ignores the fact that while the John Wayne stereotypes were supposedly going about this taming business, other human beings had been living in the Americas for thousands of years, not by taming the wilderness but by learning to live with it. It is possible to consider that Columbus and his ilk might have chosen to learn from these people rather than to conquer them, but that was not their way. And so as civilization advances, we will continue to discard the washouts who can't fit in to the new order. Cleverness is paramount in our world; wisdom not so much.

RICHARD SALZMAN

Sebastopol

<b>Zen center permit</b>

EDITOR: I support the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center's application to amend its use permit ("Zen center plan hits a snag," July 12), which, in the end, will simply permit the center to continue to exist — but in full compliance with county code requirements.

The center isn't responsible for the abysmal state of the county's roads, which are the result of political and financial decisions made by the county.

The center is located on Sonoma Mountain Road and suffers the same aggravations and inconveniences as its neighbors. Denial of the amendment won't repair, or improve, the road in any manner. It will not fill one pothole.

Nor will permitting the amendment cause any significant deterioration of the road since the center holds only one or two public events a year that draw more than a couple dozen people.

The center isn't seeking to expand but merely to replace, over time, its aging, non-compliant facilities with newer, environmentally friendly ones that will meet the latest code requirements.

If the object is to protect the environment and maintain the natural beauty, openness and serenity of the area, while assuring that structures are code compliant, the county ought to permit the amendment, not impose onerous conditions and penalties that serve only to discourage or delay the improvements that need to be made.

RAY C. ESTABROOK

Santa Rosa

<b>What's more insane?</b>

EDITOR: I suppose it's valuable to see what kind of grotesque nonsense passes for thought in the mind of a left-wing extremist such as Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank ("GOP tests the meaning of insanity," Friday) . But the question needs to be asked: Is it more insane to pass a very bad train wreck health care law without even reading it or to repeatedly try to repeal it? Only a biased columnist who lives out in left field could come to Milbank's crazy conclusions.

MICHAEL SHEEHAN

Rohnert Park