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Huffman’s humanism

EDITOR: Kudos for the thoughtful and respectful article on the evolution of Rep. Jared Huffman’s choice to officially identify as a humanist (“Huffman the humanist,” Nov. 10).

As the lines between church and state become more blurred, and religious intolerance becomes more normalized, it was refreshing to hear of his stance, which reflects that of many of his constituents in Northern California. His honesty is especially courageous in the context of current-day Washington, where he reports for work.

I have long identified as a “spirit-filled agnostic,” meaning that while I happily appreciate that there are forces at work in my life that are older, wiser and more powerful than myself, I choose not to limit the mystery and wonder of those forces by naming them or by adopting the names others might prefer me to use. Life’s just more alive for me that way.

On the other hand, I respect the choices of all people to perceive and give thanks as they will: Namaste; blessed be; Insha’Allah; praise the Lord; have a nice day …

Let’s just keep our individual choices out of the law books, OK?

JEFF FALCONER

Agua Caliente

Lethal failure

EDITOR: The decision to not send out an Amber Alert-style warning was an epic failure by the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services Department. The excuse that it would have clogged roads is weak. They could have sent out rolling alerts — evacuate this area, followed by evacuate the next area, etc. Lives have been lost. The individuals who failed to make the correct decision should hang their heads in shame (and be removed from their positions).

DAVID JOSLYN

Santa Rosa

Franken should go

EDITOR: I am a male Democrat, and I liked Al Franken. I am sad to say I think he should retire. I think he did a good job, and he wrote some wonderful books. “Giant of the Senate” was a primer for good governance. If a man like Franken doesn’t have moral certitude, then it’s never going to stop.

Donald Trump should never have been facilitated into office by the GOP. Bill Clinton should have been removed from office. Clarence Thomas should never have been made a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

It’s not a partisan issue. Women are more important than party.

STEVE CARTER

Santa Rosa

Corrupting the system

EDITOR: How is it donors can threaten to pull campaign donations from lawmakers who don’t vote as donors demand and that isn’t considered the same as bribery? Does it not undermine the very fabric and definition of democracy? Elections are a farce if politicians can be bought and sold.

It’s evident in today’s politics that what the majority of Americans want is irreverent. Money is now the majority, and our votes are nothing more than a procedural nuisance. Money muddies definition, free speech, fair elections, our ability to control our own destinies and, most important, to know what the truth is.

Trickle-down economics is nothing more than an insult to your existence as without money you are nothing but a parasite.

WANDA HALE

Petaluma

Preventing carnage

EDITOR: Your comment in the Nov. 10 editorial that “the system failed” refers to the government that we pay to protect us (“Another mass shooting, and a chilling warning”). Luckily, a private citizen (a National Rifle Association member, no doubt) intercepted and prevented further carnage. I can’t think of a better argument to celebrate the success and of the Second Amendment.

NANNETTE ROTHE

Santa Rosa

Hijacking thoughts

EDITOR: The corruption of social media and other tactics by Russia were instrumental in altering the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. If this sabotage isn’t stopped, the 2018 and 2020 elections are also likely to be undermined and delegitimized.

Twitter is attempting to cull fake tweets and suppress bots. Facebook is belatedly trying to stop fake news feeds and ad buys. Google has targeted fake search results and ads. These strategies (algorithms) are difficult to implement, and, to succeed, they would need to act collectively as a firewall, intercepting fakery in real time.

By contrast, Vladimir Putin’s successful asymmetrical cyberwar (which is not “meddling”) is very easy and inexpensive to implement. We missed a chance to head this off years ago when we failed to heed the prescient warnings by Jürgen Habermas, a noted German philosopher, regarding social media’s vulnerability to manipulation. But we seem incapable of doing anything other than shutting the proverbial barn door when it’s too late.

The hijacking of information and hence people’s thoughts, opinions and knowledge base won’t end anytime soon, if ever. Consequently, Putin, his minions and those under his sway will continue destabilizing our and Europe’s increasingly fragile democracies.

RICHARD CLEVERLY

Santa Rosa

The next gold rush

EDITOR: I would like to comment that I think it is great that the Santa Rosa Planning Commission has approved the recommendation for Santa Rosa to allow adult-use cannabis businesses in the city.

It makes sense that the city should follow what the state is doing and try to make rules for medical and adult use cannabis as similar as possible to ease the burden of regulating the two markets. And if the two are being treated so similarly by law, there is no need for extensive review and planning by the city because they’ve already done the work when they took on the medical cannabis project.

The passing of Proposition 64 has California poised to have its next gold rush, with the adult-use cannabis market expected to bring billions of dollars of business to the state. I think Santa Rosa should get its slice of the pie, and being one of the first jurisdictions to allow for adult-use permitting for cannabis businesses is the way forward. I hope the City Council will approve the Planning Commission’s recommendations.

KATE PRICE

Cotati

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