Letters to the Editor

Death penalty, Trump’s nationalism, Clinton’s obstacles, and concealed carry permits

A view of the lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison. Support for the death penalty, which peaked in the mid-1990s, has dropped to a four-decade low, according to a new study.
A view of the lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison. Support for the death penalty, which peaked in the mid-1990s, has dropped to a four-decade low, according to a new study. Los Angeles Times

Life sentences are the new illusion

Re “End the illusion: Abolish the death penalty” (Editorials, Oct. 9): Reducing death sentences to life in prison without parole is no solution. The ongoing custodial and medical costs remain. There will be more trials because the death penalty threat won’t be used for plea bargaining. The defense lawyers are already gearing up to challenge the constitutionality of life sentences – their published blueprint sits on my desk right now.

Life sentence cases can also last for decades. Most importantly, the last murderer executed in California was Clarence Ray Allen, a murderer already serving life when he had three more victims killed on the outside. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considered Allen’s case an example of a need for the death penalty. There was no other option in Allen’s case.

The editorial makes no principled argument otherwise. The only appropriate response is to reform the review process under Proposition 66.

Ward Campbell,


Raising awareness about obstacles

Re “Clinton faces new version of an old bar” (Forum, Oct. 9): Susan Osborn reminds us that women are still barred from management positions because they are considered too emotional and intuitive to make rational, fact-based business decisions.

Now, along comes a candidate for president whose calm, rational style conspicuously contrasts with the hypersensitive, irrational style of her male opponent. But instead of supporting Hillary Clinton, many voters fault her for being too cerebral, eagerly rallying behind Donald Trump instead because his narcissistic arrogance and overt hostility toward all things politically correct (read civilized) apparently excites them.

A woman who subordinates her feelings to calm, clear intellect is within reach of the White House, so our patriarchy adjusts by changing the rules.

Thank you for publishing Osborn’s guest column. For raising awareness, mine anyway, this column gets all five stars.

David Barrett, Sacramento

Dark underside of nationalism

Re “Trump’s “nationalistic” agenda not that far outside American mainstream” (Forum, Oct. 9): Donald Trump is proposing a new version of the sullied America First Committee movement that was championed by disgraced aviation hero Charles Lindbergh.

Ben Boychuk may be right in saying Lindbergh was not a Nazi, but he sure liked a lot of their ideas. In fact, he was so impressed after visiting prewar Germany many times that he was going to move to Berlin. America First was an isolationist movement in the 1930s to keep America out of the war in Europe.

It’s a messy, dangerous world out there. We don’t need another misguided charismatic bonehead calling for another America First. Or a Christian America, as Boychuk suggests and the Constitution forbids.

Dave Walker, Sacramento

Trump is no Abraham Lincoln

Ben Boychuk tries to deflect criticism of Trump’s racism and xenophobia by comparing him to Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln, however, spoke out many times against Trump-like attitudes, saying, “When the Know-Nothings get control, (the Declaration of Independence) will read, ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for example, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

Lincoln opposed “any project for curtailing the rights of other men, even though born in different lands, and speaking different languages from myself.”

Lincoln encouraged immigration. In his last annual message to Congress, he outlined a policy aimed at protecting immigrants so they can “secure here a free choice of avocations and places of settlement.”

Donald, you’re no Abraham Lincoln.

George Sheridan,

Garden Valley

Boychuk misses the mark

For Ben Boychuk to refer to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as nationalist is a misnomer – as we learn by reading Boychuk’s semantic contortions and references to notable Americans of earlier and quite different eras and conditions – and presented without any real evidence.

Indeed, it’s an insult to compare Trump’s thinking on government in any way to Theodore Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton, Daniel Webster or Abraham Lincoln. Judging from his ever-changing one-liners, Trump’s candidacy is based on protectionism, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, an empty promise to somehow create jobs, and the old tea party Republican bromide of tax cuts for the rich without regard for the nation’s debt and existing income inequality.

It’s not clear how any of that is nationalist or tied to American mainstream thinking. On the other hand, if Boychuk’s assertion is actually true, we’re in a world of hurt.

Chuck McIntyre,


Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer

Ben Boychuk claims that Charles Lindbergh “was emphatically not a fascist or Nazi sympathizer.” In Lindberg’s own 1970 memoirs he re-records his journal entry for Oct. 8 1938, describing how on that 1938 date, while in Germany, he received the Service Cross of the German Eagle from Field Mashall Herman Goering.

A few weeks later, the infamous anti-Jewish “Kristallnacht” occurred, leading many to ask Lindbergh to return the Fuhrer’s medal. Lindbergh refused and bestowed many compliments on the Nazis.

David Bass, Roseville

Views of a nationalistic agenda

We’re a very young country that started with colonies, then states, and came very late to a national identity. Even our national anthem and flag rituals weren’t in place until about the time of the Great Depression. We’re also a nation made up entirely of immigrants except for the small remaining native population.

Nationalism is related to patriotism, involving feelings of superiority and separateness which can degenerate into jingoism and false flag-waving by those who’ve actually made no sacrifice to the nation or paid any of its costs. That’s exactly what we have in Donald J. Trump.

I don’t buy Ben Boychuk’s Americanism equation, and his conclusion is dead wrong. The agenda Trump espouses is not American and panders to the worst type of jingoistic nationalism, which is the type that begets racism and discrimination and can lead to imperialism, even totalitarianism. This is how wars get started, including race wars.

Nora J. Coryell, Jackson

Marijuana tax may not go up in smoke

Re “Hopes for revenue from tax on marijuana could go up in smoke” (Viewpoints, Oct. 9): Board of Equalization member George Runner worries that a tax break for medical marijuana will doom tax revenue if Proposition 64 passes. He writes that recreational marijuana users “who are desperate to save money” could skip the 7.5 percent state sales tax on recreational marijuana by paying a doctor for a medical marijuana recommendation.

He suggests that in Colorado, where medical users avoid taxes of 25 percent – three times the tax break in Prop. 64 – “every marijuana user suddenly becomes a patient.” But two-thirds of sales in Colorado are non-medical, and fully taxed – and that fraction is growing. Some patients, meanwhile, are outraged that Prop. 64 would make them, like recreational users, pay both a 15 percent retail tax and a $9.25 per ounce producer tax.

With both sides complaining, Prop. 64 starts to look like a sound compromise.

Patrick Oglesby,

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Not a good measure for CCW

Re “Be skeptical about benefits of concealed carry permits” (Viewpoints, Oct. 9): John Donohue attempts to paint concealed carry permits as ineffective and of dubious value. Maintaining that very few mass shootings have been stopped by CCW holders, he fails to point out that it is not known how many mass shootings even had CCW holders present at those times.

If none were there, can you expect them to involve themselves? In fact, the chances of a mass shooting occurring and the chances of being involved in a mass shooting are extremely remote. This is hardly a meaningful measuring stick for the validity of permit holders.

James Miller,

El Dorado Hills


Find them at:



Online form (preferred):


Other: Letters, P.O. Box 15779,

Sacramento, CA 95852

150-word limit. Include name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, brevity and content.