Did Richmond learn its lessons?

Sadly, Richmond Progressive Alliance members seem to be missing the real reasons for their defeat on Nov. 6.

Forget the outside money; the real reasons are that the soda tax was unpopular and that the RPA, mayor and City Council majority were out of step with the needs of the city. They have focused on "nice to haves" as opposed to "must haves."

For example, "must haves" include bringing jobs to Richmond and decreasing violence. Those interrelated issues are the most important to Richmond voters, but they are not even on the political agenda for the RPA, mayor or council majority.

Bike paths and community gardens are "nice to haves," but if it isn't safe for citizens to use them, then they are useless.

Frugal use of the city's resources should focus on the "must haves" because Richmond has serious financial challenges.

Randall Franklin

Richmond

Remembering the late John F. Kennedy

This year, Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 22, which is the 49th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

For those of us who lived during the Kennedy years, nothing has come even close to that glorious time when a young man and his beautiful family inspired the world.

What Kennedy managed to do, no world leader has equaled. He was able to rise above mere politics and transcend to a level of consciousness that was sublime and exciting. He embodied hope in a way that had never happened before.

And so, when he was killed so tragically, it was hope that was the worst victim. Hope springs eternal, they say, but with the death of President Kennedy more than anything else, it was hope that perished and hope that remains lost.

A. J. Buttacavoli

Walnut Creek

Thanksgiving pardons for tea party turkeys

An innocent Thanksgiving tradition is the presidential pardoning of a turkey, releasing that turkey from becoming a victim of the ax.

It seems appropriate to me that, in this same seasonal spirit, President Barack Obama should issue a blanket pardon to all those tea party turkeys who have unwittingly violated their constitutional oath by signing the irresponsible and unpatriotic Grover Norquist pledge.

Thus released, those members of the House and Senate could begin this lame-duck session by doing the business of government for which they were elected.

James Brennan

Walnut Creek

Football helmets must be made safer

I would like everyone to please take a minute to join me in insisting that every football helmet that is manufactured, sold, lent, borrowed, used, worn, traded, given or in any way put on someone playing football anywhere in the United States, be covered with a half-inch of stiff rubber.

It doesn't take an engineering genius to know that the extra 1 inch of two helmets coming together would be good for the heads and brains of our young men, and wouldn't degrade the contact sport that is costing the health of the players.

Tom Deal

Hayward

Must remember a few facts about Mideast

Amid the storm of coverage of the conflict in Gaza, several key facts must be remembered:

Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005; the Hamas leadership in Gaza has sworn to destroy Israel; Israel has been subject to ongoing attacks from Gaza for years; and these attacks intensified in recent weeks. Those attacks have been targeted at civilians.

No nation can stand by idly while its citizens are forced to take shelter from rockets fired by nearby enemies.

Israel has displayed endless patience, but is finally acting, in self-defense, to send a message to the Hamas leadership that it must stop its attacks.

Israel makes unprecedented efforts to attempt to avoid civilian casualties, but when Hamas places its weaponry in populated areas, and fires from these areas, some civilian casualties are inevitable.

The blame for such deaths lies with Hamas.

Dan Fendel

Piedmont

Not being told proper sequences of events

Nov. 15 and 16 articles describing the Israeli assault on Gaza fail to tell readers the full story of provocation that led to the rocket attacks.

Israel was the original aggressor, invading Gaza with eight tanks and four bulldozers on Nov. 8 and killing a boy playing soccer. Israeli shells then continued to fall on Gaza civilians, leaving at least six dead over four days.

Gaza fighters responded with rockets, but on Nov. 12 Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire.

Two days later, Israel broke the agreement, killing a party leader and beginning an aerial assault with the full might of its sophisticated weaponry.

And yet we are told nothing of this sequence of events. Instead, Hamas alone, not Israel, is accused of initiating hostilities. And Israelis alone, not the people of Gaza, are allowed the right to self-defense.

Barbara Erickson

Berkeley