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Letters to the Editor


When I saw the cover photograph of Valerie Jarrett, I was reminded of the school fight song referring to "Stanford Red." I am quite dismayed that this radical leftist is featured ("I Want Her Inside the White House," September/October). She is, as you might recall, the one who recruited the self-avowed communist, Van Jones, to be part of President Obama's inner circle. [Jones was special advisor on green jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality from March 2009 until his resignation in September.]

Some have also likened her to a slumlord, er, lady. According to the Boston Globe's Binyamin Appelbaum on June 27, 2008, Grove Parc Plaza, a slum housing project in the very district that Obama represented for eight years, is 20 percent uninhabitable because of "unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale—a score so bad the buildings now face demolition. . . . Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems."

As Appelbaum reported, "Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama's close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the [federal] subsidies even as many of Obama's constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted." Among those [profiting] was convicted felon, Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Need I go on?

I located this information with a few mouse clicks. You could have done so as well. How far left has the Farm become? Is this cover an indication? Valerie Jarrett has no business being lauded by our magazine, despite her connection with Stanford and the current administration. Shame!

Ward S. De Witt, '62
Missoula, Montana

How timely to see Valerie Jarrett on the cover. You have highlighted the woman who has just been exposed as one of the most vocal advocates for Van Jones, an avowed communist and public supporter of a cop-killing murderer [death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal], now exposed and removed from government.

What a great lesson: Valerie's Stanford education did not provide her with a moral compass sufficient to recognize that Jones would be bad news in any administration. I'm left wondering if Jarrett, or Stanford, can recognize the immoral shamefulness of her actions?

As a senior mentor in India once told me, "An educated scoundrel is still a scoundrel." How true it is.

Pete Holzmann, '79
Black Forest, Colorado

You cannot imagine my dismay to learn that the architect of the Van Jones debacle is a Stanford graduate.

Tom Flood, '66
Danville, California

The ill timing of the Valerie Jarrett cover story was really quite ironic. Far from being a canard of the right, the Van Jones affair is troubling on many levels. In his own words, Jones, a self-proclaimed communist, attributed his conversion to people he met during his incarceration: "I met all these radical people of color, I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. It was like 'this is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary." In 1994, Jones was one of the founders of STORM. Among other things, he accused "white polluters and environmentalists" of deliberately poisoning people of color. There is much more, all of which can be easily sourced, but to the point of Jarrett, it was she who, last month, told conferees, "Ooh, Van Jones. We were so delighted to recruit him to the White House. We were watching him . . . for as long as he's been active out in Oakland."

Jarrett's role in the circumvention of confirmation proceedings through the appointment of "czars" is profoundly disturbing. Sen. Robert Byrd, among others, has warned of the danger of these "czar" appointments. The concentration of power in the executive branch, coupled with the circumvention of the confirmation process, is a serious threat to our nation and our way of life.

I hope that this story doesn't end with the glowing endorsement of the September/October Stanford.

Thomas A. Keiser
Wexford, Pennsylvania


Congratulations on the gold award for general excellence ("Stanford Earns Gold," September/October). I can understand why you received it. Between my husband and me and two sons (one of whom is a Stanford Law student) we receive publications from 10 schools. Yours is the only one I read.

Holly C. Wolff
Ridgefield, Connecticut


In Teachable Moments"(September/October), Arthur Barnes says, "The big mystery for me is how the "All Right Now" JUMP got incorporated. No one seems to know, but maybe someone out there does!"

Well, we know! We are the 1974-75 Dollies and the JUMP was part of our original "All Right Now" choreography. That routine, with the JUMP included, was used by many subsequent sets of Dollies and eventually picked up by the Band and the fans.

Greetings to Arthur Barnes!  We miss you!

Denise Gallardo Doyen, '77
Pacific Palisades, California

Terry Bowman Gilberg, '76, MA '77
Phoenix, Arizona

Hilda Hutcherson, '76
Pelham, New York

Loretta Churchill Miramontes, '75
San Antonio, Texas

Linda Buddenberg Reed, '77
Manhattan Beach, California


In last month's issue, John Hennessy lauded Abraham Lincoln for enacting the Pacific Railway (transcontinental railroad) and Morrill (land grant colleges) acts, and asserted, "Leland Stanford was a visionary who . . . understood the need to question conventional thinking, to build something that had never been attempted ("Imagining the Possibilities", President's Column). But this ignores the ugly reality that railroads were not built using government funds previously because governments lost money investing in canals, much as it does today investing in banks, houses and car companies.

Leland Stanford was a former governor of California who benefited from Lincoln's legislation at the expense of the taxpayers, and he used his position to prohibit competition and gain a monopoly of California railroads for the Central Pacific. The eastern half of the road was even more corrupt as the site of the Credit Mobilier scandal, where executives robbed Union Pacific shareholders using bogus construction contracts. It was unnecessary to rob taxpayers and shareholders to construct transcontinental railroads, as James Hill proved when he built a profitable private Great Northern Railroad from St. Paul to Seattle.

Presidents Buchanan and Pierce vetoed the Morrill Act because it is unwise and unconstitutional for the federal government to be involved in education, and the legislation was enacted during the Civil War when Southern states were absent. Government monopolies always prey upon the masses, and the result of this malevolent legislation is that nearly all colleges are dependent on the federal aristocracy of politic pull to survive, with associated corruption of research priorities in agriculture, medicine, economics and other sciences. If Leland Stanford had been as "visionary" as Hennessy claims, he would have ensured independence by placing a clause in the founding document prohibiting the Farm from accepting government funding. If he were as "visionary" as Buchanan and Pierce, he might even have established a public interest lobbying fund to oppose the predations of competing universities.

Frederick Bastiat
Paris, France


Thank you for your interesting and stimulating article on Professor Girard's mimetic theory ("History Is a Test. Mankind Is Failing It," July/August). His thoughts remind me of the words of the poet: Man acts "as if his whole vocation were merely endless imitation." Considering the events of history and contemporary culture throws a new light on much that has happened and continues to happen in our world.

However, with regard to his belief that language is learned the same way, i.e., by imitation, Noam Chomsky's insights and his exposition of the child's being born with a "language acquisition device" indicate that such a belief is inconsistent with a plethora of examples from child language and indeed incorrect.

Kenneth Chastain
Kennewick, Washington


I loved the July/August issue. However, there was one glaring omission that I am hoping that you can quickly correct.

In the article that featured Andrea Wong ("Project Lifetime"), you ran a picture of the cast of Army Wives. Sterling Brown, who plays Dr. Roland Burton on the hit show, graduated from Stanford in 1998 with a BA in drama.

We can always improve the vast network of Stanford alumni who are in the entertainment field. We can start by correctly identifying and acknowledging them whenever possible.

That said, the article on Wong was stellar, as was the entire issue.

Ryan Michelle Bathe, '98
Culver City, California


Frankly, I was embarrassed to have graduated from Stanford after reading Professor Barton Bernstein's letter to the editor ("A Rebuttal to Lyman," July/August). Is the span of U.S. history so short that the professor had run out of research material other than an argument he had well into the previous century? Surely there must be some notable event in our nation's history to use a Stanford-funded mind to analyze other than his own obscure "he said, she said" tirade. What a comic image I had in my head of his combing through the archives in an attempt to accurately cite his own life! Reading about his personal vendetta made me feel as if I were watching a reality TV show produced by the AARP. Someone please get this man a research grant or a Club Med vacation . . . quickly.

Sean Lim, '01, MA '02
Seoul, South Korea

The following letters did not appear in the print edition of Stanford.


Stanford has been embarrassing me over and over in recent years. To make that statement have weight for you, here's who I am. I was vice president of the student body (ASSU). My major was Hispanic regional studies with minors in U.S. history and music. Later I received an MA from Texas Western University in Spanish and U.S. history. I am recommended as a “native speaker.” I have made my living as a teacher.

The first time Stanford embarrassed me was when the History of Western Civilization requirement was eliminated from the curriculum.

The second time occurred when I brought my husband, full of East Coast arrogance (Exeter, Amherst, Phi Beta Kappa) to a class reunion.  He always looked down on Stanford as an insignificant Western college. Confronted with my husband's stories of Lord Jeffery Amherst, who refused to fight against the colonists, I sought to show him with pride our campus, starting with our dear little historic wooden firehouse, only to find it festooned with signs proclaiming it the Gay, Lesbian and Transsexual Center of Stanford.

The last time was when I found Valerie Jarrett's picture on the cover of my alumni magazine (September/October). This was an embarrassment because it brought to the very front Stanford's abandonment of the broad sweep of intellectual issues that I had in the past so admired and supported. Stanford has become an apologist for the left through political correctness and has arrived there by applying draconian methods that kept our magazine from . . . [doing] book reviews of constructive thinkers like Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell, who are hiding out at that “wicked” Hoover Institution.

The result for me is that the only service that remains for me to do for my beloved Stanford is to absent myself from the coming Reunion.

Erline Anderson Reber, '49
Yakima, Washington

Did Roy S. Johnson, '78, personally interview Valerie Jarrett for his cover story, or is the story based on information and quotes made by her friend Gwen Poindexter? I have a bet riding on the answer.

Robert L. Peterson, '59
San Marino, California

Editor's note: Johnson interviewed Jarrett.

I was disappointed that Roy Johnson's glowing review of Valerie Jarrett failed to mention much of the well-documented controversy surrounding her rise to political power in Chicago. Her personal financial involvement in the public-funded Grove Parc Plaza apartment project, her hiring of Michelle Obama and current scandal surrounding her financial gain from the 2016 Olympics are [examples]. She is one of many “advisers” who followed Mr. Obama to Washington.

Dan L. Andrus, '68
Fallbrook, California

Valerie Jarrett is indeed one of the most powerful women in world. Unfortunately, she is also on the Judicial Watch organization's list of the “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Officials in America” for 2008. Oh well, she was still one of us.

George B. Everest, '64
Universal City, Texas

While it astonishes me that you even bothered to run a cover story on Chicago power broker Valerie Jarrett, your piece conveniently passed over a number of key issues. Such as the fact that Jarrett's company, the ironically name Habitat, Inc., managed Grove Parc Plaza, a Chicago slum complex regarding which Jarrett has refused to answer questions. Grove Parc, now to be demolished due to virtual inhabitability, just happens to be located near the proposed site for the Olympic Stadium. Unsurprisingly, Jarrett served as vice chair of Chicago's Olympic Committee. (I guess the inappropriately awarded Nobel was the consolation prize.)

As merely another example, Jarrett served on the board of the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she created yet another job for her pal Michelle Obama, who in turn introduced the facility's notorious patient-dumping scheme.

Stanford again is blessed to have within its midst a true patriot and esteemed scholar and administrator, who also happens to be an African-American woman. Of course, I refer to Condoleezza Rice. The Stanford community as a whole should be treating her better, not groveling at the feet of another Obama henchperson.

Mark Williams, '74, JD/MBA '93
Menlo Park, California

Sam Simon, a tasteless cartoon creator who can be seen in his element playing poker on the Playboy Channel (“Sam Simon's Next Trick,” Planet Cardinal) and Valerie Jarrett, a racially polarizing elitist with roots going back to SDS radicals who has been heard loudly extolling the virtues of that great American Van Jones, are featured in the September/October issue. Who makes these selections, and is this a reflection of Stanford University's values?

There are thousands of alumni far more worthy of recognition in your magazine.

Stephen Hare, '64
Newcastle, California


I appreciated your recall of the exploits and daring of Robert Prince, '41 (“The Untold Story,” First Impressions, September/October). It surely was deserved.

I matriculated at Stanford with my twin brother in '41, so I never met him. However, I was pleased that you eulogized Capt. Prince, as editor of the alumni magazine of a national school that I recently discovered rejects the concept of ROTC.

Both my brother and I joined the ROTC as Stanford freshmen in September of 1941 and were called up from the reserves in April 1943. My brother Warren's name is listed on the tablet in Memorial Auditorium as one of Stanford's ROTC men lost in World War II. He was a member of the 104th Infantry Division in action along the Siegfried line in November  '44, counterattacking after the 'Bulge.' After my own service with the 97th Infantry Division through Europe with the 3rd Army to Czechoslovakia and transfer to the Pacific to Japan, I returned to Stanford and rejoined the Stanford ROTC (distinguished military graduate '49) and was cadet CO leading Stanford's 600-man unit honoring Gen. Mark Clark, commander of allied forces in the Mediterranean in the spring of '49.

I was disappointed, perhaps more accurately appalled, to discover that Stanford no longer offers ROTC as part of its educational selection. Considering the variety of societies now extant around our globe, one can still find attitudes and behavior that mirror the savagery of any of the centuries since man organized into social groups. ROTC doesn't advocate war but deals with the unfortunate reality of the world we live in. I recall a situation where I was given an order to perform a fearful task on the front and remembered Col. Allen sitting on his horse lecturing to us from his experience in World War I similar to the one I faced. What he said gave me confidence to perform where others wouldn't. We survived. In the real world education does help, military and otherwise.

Again in the September/October issue, I refer to Carly York's letter regarding poor coverage of the women's crew national championship (“Crew Coverage”). As a member and manager (1947 to 1949) of the first Stanford crew to row at Poughkeepsie, congratulations! After I returned to Stanford in 1946, a number of students restarted Stanford's participation in 8-oared crew. It was a hard start—no University support, no money but what we students could afford, no publicity, no shells, oars, docks, sheds, etc. After a couple years of diligent work the coaches and students organized a schedule against other far-west universities including California's Olympic champions, Washington, UCLA, Oregon State, etc. Then with Cal's help we flew in a beat-up C-47 to participate in the Poughkeepsie Regatta. Although our performance wasn't up to what we wished, we had a great time. I painted a large red and white block 'S' on the sheer palisades and a blue and gold 'C' for Cal both as large as the 'P' for Princeton, 'C' for Columbia and others who had colored those precipices (photos available).

However, for York's information, in 1949 as manager I took the crew's wishes for a block 'S' award to the Block 'S' Society. Mark Hatfield, MA '48, a member of ASSU executive committee (later governor of Oregon), helped us present our cause. Block 'S' rejected our argument on the basis that the crew had not won a national championship. Based on York's letter, the women's crew deserves the Block 'S' award instead of the Circle 'S' which has been awarded in the past to the men's crew at least. She can refer to the minutes of the Block 'S' Society for 1948-1949. Go get 'em, Carly.

Mort Gollender, '49
Forest Grove, Oregon


Every year, as Big Game approaches, I remember something from the same time in 1940. In those days, a few evenings before the Game, undergraduate living groups staged a parade along what is now Mayfield Avenue. In 1940, shortly after I had finished my graduate work, I watched the parade with great interest. In that season, prior to the Big Game, Stanford, under its new coach Clark Shaughnessy with his innovative T-formation, had won all its games and was going to the Rose Bowl even if it lost to Cal. This was in dramatic contrast to the season of 1939, in which Stanford, with mostly the same players but the previous coach Tiny Thornhill, had won only a single game.

These circumstances are well known; the thing I especially remember is not. One of the living-group floats in the 1940 parade was a flat, plainly covered trailer pulled by a car. At one end of the float was a chamber pot; at the other end was a flush toilet. In between on the side of the float was the sentence, “Last year we went to pot; this year we’re going to the bowl.”

Undergraduate humor doesn’t come any better than this.

Walter G. Vincenti
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics Emeritus
Palo Alto, California

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