Gore vs. Bush vs. Nader vs. Ventura vs. Hernandez vs. Simone, approximately.
The Rainey Plan
To the Editor:
In response to statements made in the Chronicle's article on the Rainey Street National Register District ["Down Came the Rainey," Nov. 3], HSA indeed supports revitalization efforts and to that end has met with all interested parties, including residents, surrounding neighbors, city representatives, and the potential developer.
Unfortunately, we were never contacted by the Chronicle to comment for this article, so in the interest of presenting valid information to Chronicle readers, we, the undersigned, submit the following:
The preservation of our community's cultural resources, like environmental protection, should be a key element of successful Smart Growth initiatives. We believe there are a number of issues that should be addressed to ensure that the proposed development is in the best interest of Austin's future:
1. OPTIONS. There are compelling financial incentives that benefit the partnering of preservation with new development. Shouldn't this option be fully explored?
2. NATURAL ENVIRONMENT. Are the shores of Town Lake really the best place for an arena and a 5,000-space parking garage?
3. PRECEDENT. Is the razing of an existing historic neighborhood a negative precedent for redevelopment of historic East Austin, Sixth Street, or Hyde Park?
4. ABSENTEE LANDOWNERS. Should the large number of absentee landowners in this area (per TCAD records) be considered a factor?
Our organization is very committed to the revitalization of downtown. In fact, we are so committed that we are restoring the 1873 Castleman-Bull House on its new site, located along Waller Creek near both Rainey Street and the proposed Vignette headquarters, for use as our offices and a community resource center. Naturally, we are talking to Vignette in hopes that their project might complement our own, but we have not taken any formal position on the Vignette proposal.
What is currently being proposed for Rainey Street is more akin to classic, discredited Urban Renewal than to true Smart Growth. Before a mistake is made that Austin ends up regretting, and because all of our historic and natural resources are irreplaceable, let us all insist on smart and thorough planning for our future.
Julie Morgan Hooper
[Ed. Note: This letter was signed by 20 others.]
Do It Again!
Well, the black cover [Nov. 10] was a nice rhetorical touch, although it did rub off on everything, but don't forget that this is postmodern America. The City Council held multiple votes on the Nuke before it got what it wanted, held multiple votes on the airport before it got what it wanted, and, I'm sure, will hold multiple votes on light rail until it gets what it wants. That's just the way things work these days. Just you watch Florida; the Democrats won't stop whining till they get results they like. It's the liberal American way -- no one should have to accept any outcome that they don't like. Just sue someone. Works for me.
Pressing the Issue
Dear Editor and Visiting TV press reporters,
We appreciate some press people visiting Austin.
I am in 100% absolute agreement with the nightmare black "W" on the front of The Austin Chronicle.
Let us explain to the visiting press: In one symbol, The Austin Chronicle has explained seven years of Mr. George W. Bush's influence upon Texas.
If you would like more details, might I suggest that you pick up a copy of Molly Ivins' book; she is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and details the facts beyond what is investigated by national news. It would provide you more facts in 10 minutes about "W" than all the propaganda that odd campaign can imagine.
Oh, The New York Times (the Statesman obviously cannot) shows that as of Friday and Saturday of last week Mr. Gore is 216,427 votes ahead of Mr. Bush.
We will see if the national press is owned by the majority or by 1% rich Republicans before this is over.
Believe it or not,
Frank D. Bartlett
[Ed. note: Molly Ivins co-authored Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush with Austin Chronicle Politics Editor Lou Dubose.]
Austin, Houston, Whatever
Light rail would not have solved all your problems, but nothing will; there is no cure-all. And now, rather than doing something, anything, and trying a different direction, all of the bitching will only perpetuate a new generation of bitching and inaction with nothing to show for either side of the debate but wasted time (oh, and bitching, of course). Congratulations, Austin! Voting down light rail was the surest bet to give the capital city a pseudo-facelift to mirror every other sprawling Anytown, USA, both sides of the Mississippi! Light rail naysayers are nothing more than a bunch of jackass mofos who've condemned the rest of Austin to Li'l Houston status. Start adding those surrounding communities to your tax base to pay for those roads! It's consumption time, y'all!
Trains, Pains, & Automobiles
It looks like 50.00001% of Austin thinks that light rail is wrong for Austin. We lost federal funding, we lost an opportunity to keep Austin from becoming the next Los Angeles, and we still have a traffic problem.
Every day we fat Americans get out of our fat La-Z-Boys and walk 10 feet to get into our fat American cars to drive to our fat American jobs. An hour later, we get out of our fat American cars and walk 10 feet to our fat American offices and sit back down in our fat American office chairs. Once the day is over, we get back out of our fat American office chairs and walk 10 feet to our fat American cars and get back into our fat American traffic jams. An hour later, we pull into our fat American driveway, get out of our fat American cars and walk 10 feet to our fat American homes and get back into our fat American La-Z-Boys.
It must be hard to imagine walking to a train station to get to work, or taking a train home from Sixth Street after a night of drinking, or taking a train to the airport to save on parking expenses. And what about urban sprawl? Who cares right? What is wrong with sitting behind the wheel all day, when we could have the right to do something productive? Why create communities where locals could meet daily at nearby restaurants, parks, or pubs? Instead, we live in our own suburban world that knows or cares little about our neighbors.
We still have a choice. But we still have some educating to do. Most light rail movements in other communities did not pass on their first appearances on the ballots. We can bring up light rail again on the next ballot, or we can build more roads and continue to pollute this great, beautiful city. A lot of people thought Los Angeles was a great, beautiful city once too.
Get on the Bus
I would like to thank and commend Kate X Messer for recommending a car-free day trip in her article "Giving Thanks." I really appreciate it. Usually Chronicle writers assume that the one and only way to reach a destination is by car.
The light rail proposal failed by a hair at the polls. This is not a vote against public transportation; it's a vote against one light rail proposal. Austin has the best bus system in Texas (admittedly, not much of a distinction). Why can't we have a first-class bus system? I keep hearing that many things in Austin are going to be "world class." But this word is never applied to our future bus system. Why not?
Capital Metro has saved money to build a rail system that will not be built right now. Why not use the money to fix the bus system? When buses come every seven minutes, many people ride them. When buses come every half hour, few people ride them. Let's buy more buses (electric, please), hire more drivers, and run buses every seven minutes.
Our extravagant overconsumption of oil is overheating the world and destroying life on earth. Let's not be too busy and prosperous to notice what we're doing. It's time for individual people to start thinking. Government will not solve our problems for us. Take personal responsibility for the greenhouse gases you generate. If we're all too busy to stop overheating the world, we are doomed by our own stupidity. Please, let's wise up. Thanks again, Kate X Messer. You give me hope.
What a Decade Will Do
Maybe I'm unclear about this whole voting/democracy thing, but I thought it was my right and duty as an American to vote for the candidate that represents my values and beliefs. Am I naive to think that voting shouldn't be about strategizing my politics?
Well maybe if Nader wasn't an option Gore would have won handily. But maybe if Gore was 30 feet tall with a seven-foot dick he might have won as well. And if Bush could lay golden eggs, he might have won. And if it was 10 years ago, the Chronicle would have been behind Nader.
They Both Suck
Tell Michael (Little Jessie) Ventura to put a sock in it. I would not have voted if there weren't choices other than "the evil two" ["Letters at 3AM," Nov. 10]. All this Supreme Court worry is a laugh. Go back and see who Al Gore voted for when Thomas and Scalia were being blessed by the Senate.
As for the environmental worry of a Bushbaby regime, that's so funny I forgot to laugh. We've shit in our own nest for so long I figure George II will only hasten Mommy Nature's revenge and frankly I can't wait. Even if the people were to mobilize on environmental issues (SOS anyone?), the ruling class will still bend you over and I can assure you they won't use KY jelly. Or jelly made in TX for that matter.
Yours in exile,
Michael Mouths Off
No wonder Michael Ventura does not have an e-mail address on your Web site. If I wrote nonsense like that ["Letters at 3AM," Nov. 10], I would not want to hear from people either. I ran out of toilet paper this morning. Thanks, M.V., for providing me with something of the proper value to wipe my ass with after my morning bowel movement. All I want to know, Michael, is would you like your article back now that it has been appropriately decorated? What Nader was conveying is that he feels, as I do, that Bush and Gore are both special interest pigs, not that they are identical on the issues. I guess you didn't get that? You sound like Rosanne Rosanadana from the old Saturday Night Live. Just because you didn't clearly understand what the man was stating is no reason to call him an out-and-out liar, or to babble on incessantly about things you very loosely have a grasp on, at best. It is the easiest and oldest, most useless practice in the country to hack on politicians (not that I care for them myself). Nader told people to vote their conscience, that is all. I admire the man for standing up against big industry and the like. That type of courage has proven to be dangerous in this country. All M.V. has done in his writing is bitch and complain, not taking a side really on any issue. M.V. complains that no candidate is speaking of the real issues because of fear of non-acceptance of those type of remarks. Isn't that exactly what Nader is trying to do -- fly in the faces of the special interest establishment by speaking honestly about issues even though he knows this will not get him elected, instead of telling people what they want to hear in spite of his record and beliefs to gain political momentum? He wants to be in the televised debates to elevate the legitimacy and importance of the topics raised. Is he supposed to back down from what he believes altogether so Gore can move into the White House? No he should not, because that would be an action motivated by fear, not an action taken by someone who is trying to make a positive difference in our nation. M.V. is the only fish hack (newspaper man) trying to call Nader a liar. Like most people that engage in political diatribes, he has only succeeded in making himself look a fool. But hey, his name is in print again, which, judging by the content of his writing, I'm sure is all he was after in the first place.
Truth & the American Way
In regards to the November 10 issue of "Letters at 3am," it appears that the writer could use some sleep. A second look at the words that he delivered to the readers of Austin will reveal the frustration that could have been a bit less polar.
Reading a suggestive view of this experienced writer is exciting: Recent facts and figures on our nation's big election are great, but it is a mission to figure out his resource! Mentioned were repeated "truths" that could only be determined by misleading opinions and personal dislikes. We're all doing just fine in that category. A sensitive issue was represented by the writer and those who are responsible for publishing it.
The article is digested by Austin people who attempt to form their own points of view on the recent election. This leads us to the subject of free speech, which is fantastic! Unfortunately, a dwarfing effect occurs when the speaker takes advantage of the matter and draws attention to their self, rather than the topic at hand. The presidential candidates are handling dirty politics created by people like this, hollerin' "wolf!" when it's only a sheep passing.
The three men who wish to keep our country on track should be somewhat admired for wanting such a lousy job, dealing with the uneducated, overeducated, and all those people in between!
Let's give a little hope for the next four years, at least look at what we can do for ourselves.
What Show Were You At?
Raoul Hernandez's review of the Nina Simone concert couldn't have been worse if it had been written by a Spice Girl. I have no problems with critics who disagree with me about a piece of art or performance, but Hernandez takes it a step further and implicates the audience in his shoddy, ham-handed scribble about a momentous concert. First off, the fact that Nina Simone has gained weight and is elderly are hardly very good foundations for a music review. But Hernandez leaves no rock safe from crawling under, and attacks Simone for her age, weight, and even makes some veiled reference to possible dementia. When he's not maligning Ms. Simone for her irresponsible surrender to the laws of physics, he's busy reading the audience's intentions and reactions like he's Holden Caulfield, but without the wit and wisdom. Apparently, I was applauding so loudly because I thought I should be, because, as Hernandez puts it, I had marked the event on my calendar. It's so impossible for Hernandez to imagine genuine enjoyment from the rest of us that he revels in his secret stash of our intentions. Or maybe it's just a critic's desperate justification for his singularly curmudgeonly outlook. I don't know. I don't have Hernandez's faculty for mind reading. For me the concert was amazing. Although a bit rough in the beginning, it took no time for Simone to find her customary bellow and belt out the very best of her anger-tinged classics. She was kind and confrontational at the same time. Her performance of "Mississippi Goddam" was the best I've ever heard, a gut-diggin' howl of a rendition. Simone had managed to refract her years of love, loss, and struggle into the songs of her youth. I left in reflective euphoria, having seen an artist I love challenge me with a heart-rending voice and a strong admonition that the struggle for freedom lives on. And contrary to what Hernandez says, I wasn't faking it.
Nader & Nina
Two things -- first, Michael Ventura and some of your readers have been bewitched by the popular and wrong sentiment that Nader's campaign undermined Gore's, and probably on purpose ["Letters at 3AM," Nov. 10]. Sadly, this has been repeated enough times to be generally accepted, but it assumes that a) Nader voters would have voted for either major candidate, or at all, and b) Gore was somehow cheated. Seems to me he did a fantastic job of cheating himself in the debates, and like Nader and others have said, anyone who can't build up at least a five-point lead on a guy like Bush with little or no effort wasn't exactly inspiring voters in the first place.
Mommy, Mommy, the mean bad man made me lose! Pretty whiny, I'd say. What happened to the Gore of '92? He was a far different man than the one we see today.
Second, I was at the Nina Simone show that two of your readers wrote about ["Postmarks," Nov. 10], and although I didn't see the review ["Live Shots," Nov. 3] the readers objected to so viciously, I can tell you that I have never felt such pressure to be appreciative of a performance. I got glares for not singing along, not keeping time by clapping along, not standing for the invariable standing O, and especially when my girlfriend and I left early. We weren't the only ones.
Living legend? Sure. I could tell that from the rapt adoration on the faces in the crowd. I'm not dumb enough to detail what I didn't like about the performance; music appreciation is a very personal thing. The reviewer in question must have been tearing his hair out, knowing that if he told the cold, hard truth he would be widely hated.
The gentlemen who wrote the angry letters use such glowing terms to characterize Ms. Simone and such hateful terms to characterize the reviewer that I wonder if they understand that a reviewer's world should have no sacred performers; everyone is fair game, and the lack of objectivity means death. I'm sorry everyone does not share your opinions. Is name-calling really the answer?
Ralph & Two Evils
The Nader/LaDuke Green Party campaign made me hopeful again. I had naïve hopes that the sleeping American public would be awakened by Nader's powerful message of truth (the truth that our lives, our environment, our government are currently owned by corporate interests); hopes that people would see Nader as the obvious choice, the honest one, one who cares about the people's interests; hopes that both the Democrat and Republican voters would realize that their parties have betrayed the American public. Did anyone actually like either of the two candidates who we were told over and over were our only choices? To vote for someone you dislike out of fear of the other is a truly pitiful act showing weak character. Acting out of fear will ensure that you are always a victim. C'mon, it's easy being Green. Nader in 2004. VoteNader.org
Those of you who constantly say, "If the election had been about the issues, Gore would have won," do you honestly believe that? Or do you instead say that to make yourself more comfortable? Stop ignoring the reality that 50 million Americans voted for W., and not because of his endearing pronunciation problems or quirky laugh. W. was successful because of his ability to represent half of the American citizens' beliefs on a variety of issues ranging from a distrust an overreaching federal government to the desire for the appointment of strict constructionist Supreme Court Justices.
Liberals of Austin, please face it. Conservatives take positions on "the issues." A lot of your friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and Chron readers voted for W. because they agree with W.'s ideology on the role of federal government in daily life. And yes, while these voters may like W. as a person (which is not a bad thing), they really like his stance on the issues!
Spewing at 3AM
After reading "Reflections on Campaign 2000" ["Letters at 3AM," Nov. 10] it is clear that Michael Ventura is a dolt, plain and simple. Al Gore an intellectual? Al Gore could not find his own ass with both hands if he was shitting a 50-foot rope with lights and bells on it. Al Gore is a jackass who believes all whites are racist, all women and minorities are ignorant morons who could never compete with pasty-assed white men like himself. What kind of helpless jerk thinks they need someone in the White House to "fight for them"? Most people with brains larger than that of a deer tick don't need someone fighting for them, they get by on their own merits. Ventura then goes on to spew the typical, mindless, idiotic crap about Republicans that liberals have been spewing for decades. George Bush wants to end race-based affirmative action, meaning everyone in America in need of assistance would qualify regardless of skin color. As for reversing some of the EPA's mandates, good for him, the freaking EPA is a joke. More than 80% of all money that the EPA has gotten since its inception has gone to trial lawyers. Anyone who supports national medical insurance should go to a VA hospital next time they get sick -- the VA system is a nightmare. Heaven forbid people be able to take care of their own insurance. Get a life, Michael, your 1960s BS is out of step with America in the year 2000. People are not evil, vile racists, minorities are not helpless ignorant fools who cannot compete with whites, and abortion rights do not define "women's rights" by a long shot.
Your spineless jab at Ralph Nader on last week's cover ("wash this off your hands, ralph"), was a despicable attack on a man of great integrity and vision, unmatched by that of your endorsee, Al Gore. After countless articles against the failed war on drugs, the death penalty, environmental disregard, corrupt politics, and discrimination against gays and lesbians, one would assume that you would endorse Nader, who agrees with your positions on all of these issues and has a record to back it up. Instead you endorsed Gore, who supports none of them, as his record shows. You admit the facts but ignore the solutions. You suggest that we suck it up and accept piecemeal pandering from half-ass candidates like Al Gore. This is no longer acceptable. When you settle for the lesser of two evils, the politicians elect themselves.
In "Letters at 3AM," Michael "I am far to the left of Nader" Ventura asserted that Gore would protect American prosperity while empowering the powerless. Let's see how Gore's record (not his rhetoric) stands up to Ventura's far-fetched praise: 30% increase in uninsured Americans since 1992, a total of 46 million; Defense of Marriage Act; welfare "reform" that left millions without any safety net; voted for Scalia; opened the Arctic National Petroleum Reserve to drilling; sold off the Elk Hills Petroleum reserve to Occidental Oil, his own family's patron company, and accepted millions in corporate funding for his campaign.
Gore can only blame himself for his poor showing at the polls. He sold out his progressive constituency in an attempt to reel in the precious, "undecided moderate" voter, assuming that the left was locked for the Democrats. That is not true. There is a choice for voters with the courage to choose it. The Chronicle does not have that courage. I am proud that I voted for Ralph Nader, and I will do it again in 2004.
Freedom of Choice
The Democratic Party is not "entitled" to my vote.
As a party, it abandoned many values I hold dear long ago and has continually refused to stand up to the right wing. This has resulted in my still being a criminal for loving who I am "married" to, at risk of going to prison for smoking pot, daily assaulted by the corporate "values" of wealth and power at the expense of people and the environment as good and decent goals, and of our country sending troops or bombs into some new country every time we turn around.
The Democrats are funded and guided by the same corporate entities as the Republicans, and you know that as well as I do.
As a citizen am I not free to express my choice for who holds public office? Have I lost that choice because voting my conscience complicated the election or because the TV guys said he couldn't possibly win? I don't think so.
I had the privilege this Election Day to vote for a man I truly agree with on most issues. This was a strange and wonderful feeling. My only regret is that more Americans did not have the opportunity to even hear what he stands for -- and for me, the big boys truly look like Tweedledum and Tweedledummer.
I don't like Al Gore. I don't like George W. Why in hell would I vote for either of them? The Democratic Party neither courts me nor cares about my concerns. Why should I give them the only polite political gesture I have left?
Blame the failings of Al Gore on Al Gore and the increasingly right-of-center policies of the Democratic Party, not on Ralph Nader and the Green Party.
A Former Republican and a Former Democrat,
Your friend and admirer,
Bad Taste and Worse Manners
Shame on you, Raoul Hernandez. And shame on your editor. Not only for allowing such an ignorant review of Nina Simone's performance ["Live Shots," Nov. 3], but for putting your racist ("Homeless from a rent party in Harlem") and sexist ("Bursting at the seams in her dress") remarks in print. Your piece read like some snotty diatribe by someone incapable of appreciating what transpired that evening.
I was at the Nina Simone show, and after having seen Dave Brubeck, William Burroughs, Patti Smith, and Brian Wilson in live performances, hers stands out as the most singularly moving show I have been privileged to attend. As I read your piece, I resented being characterized as part of an audience who was "horrified and shocked" at her performance. I felt none of that personally, and certainly not from those around me in the audience.
But here's where you made your most obvious mistake: The drum solo/intermission weak? When I read that, I felt I was no longer just reading the words of a critic who didn't appreciate a good show, but a critic who wasn't really qualified to assess the quality of a performance. You can't fool those who know better, particularly musicians who were there.
Maybe next time, someone else with more experience and taste should handle these reviews.
Much as it pains me to disagree with a respected community leader such as Shudde Fath, her recent letter doesn't tell the full story. Fath describes Gore's budget plan as sensible by explaining how it will offset "the huge Republican debt inherited by the Democrats in 1992." But the truth is, the Democrats didn't really "inherit" Reagan-era debt, they gave it to themselves. The president only proposes budgets; they're not official until they're approved by Congress. And who controlled the House during the Reagan years? The Democrats. Heck, Congress passed budgets higher than what Reagan asked for seven out of the eight years he was in office!
Let's not forget the Democrats' role in executing the Republican agenda.
Lay off the Green
I was disappointed to see the Chronicle's flip-flop with respect to Ralph Nader. Your post-election lamentations that he ruined the outcome for Gore are much like those being heard from Democrats all over the country. I am proud of what Ralph did; he and the Greens ran a good campaign, and it doesn't surprise me that Ralph is sticking to his guns now, after the election. In my view Nader was right to stay with it until the end; it would have undermined greatly his criticism of Gore as just as beholden to corporations and special interests as George W. Bush if he had dropped out at the very end.
It is irresponsible to blame Nader for the capriciousness of the U.S. electorate or the inability of either Gore or Bush to "close the sale" to the American people. I am glad that someone as committed to progressive change as Ralph Nader is willing to serve as president; I only wish people would open their minds and see just how badly our country needs the kind of fundamental reform Ralph would pursue if given a chance.
In Florida, four individuals received more votes than the difference between what Gore and Bush each received (as of Nov. 12). They are Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, Harry Browne, and Howard Phillips (Constitution Party). If Pat, Harry, and Howard had dropped out of the race as Democrats and even some former Nader's Raiders urged Nader to do in the closing weeks of the campaign, Bush would have carried Florida by a far larger margin. Yet I don't hear much about how Pat, Harry, and Howard ruined the election for Bush.
I was a little confused and a bit peeved at last week's "Page Two" column. Confused, not because the "Page Two" column actually appeared on page 6 (it seems rare when the column runs on page 2), but for the lambasting of Ralph Nader. Just a few weeks ago in these pages, the Chronicle split its endorsement for president between Al Gore and the Green Party candidate.
While everything is still up in the air at this point, it's true that Gore would have won easily if those Nader votes had fallen into his camp. But this is Gore's fault, not Nader's. I don't pretend to speak for everyone who marked their ballot for Nader, but I suspect many others are like me -- lifelong Democrats who've become tired of Gore's lip-service liberalism and corporate cronyism. Nader did not pull us away from Gore; Gore drove us out. And things got worse in the final weeks of the campaign, when it became obvious to the Democrats how tight the race would be. Instead of attempting to lure us back to the fold with an offer to address some of the issues we hold dear, the Democrats tried to bully our votes from us with threats like "It's your fault if Bush wins." The Democrats also launched into character assassination mode against Nader, a tactic that proved so effective against Bush that he may actually waltz into the Oval Office once the smoke has cleared.
If the Democrats have any hope of taking the White House in 2004, they'd better spend more energy repairing this split in the party instead of trying to fix the blame for losing the election.
Greens: Real Reform
Dear Chronicle Editor:
I am so tired of liberals in the Chronicle and elsewhere accusing the Green Party of everything from depriving Gore of a victory to "moral bankruptcy" and "responsibility for the suffering of the poor." There are plenty of people like me who agree with almost nothing that the Clinton/Gore administration has done and who have worked hard against rigged odds to create a democratic alternative we can support. Our candidate, Ralph Nader, didn't deprive Gore of a victory. To the contrary. By their cynical posturing and fear-mongering, Gore, the Election Commission, the beltway liberal groups like NARAL and Sierra Club, and their wealthy benefactors deprived Nader of a place at the presidential debates and siphoned away from him the votes he needed to reach the 5% federal campaign financing goal.
As for the poor, it was neither the Greens nor a Republican president who pushed through the brutal "welfare reforms." Rather than endorsing Gore (and City Council candidates who criminalized homelessness), you would have a little more credibility as advocates for the poor if you required candidates that you endorsed to commit to universal health care, the absolute elimination of child poverty and hunger, significant increases in the minimum wage, full and equal funding for public schools, and the elimination of military programs sending billions of dollars to support death squads and herbicides targeting peasants in Colombia and elsewhere. These are not radical positions, but positions and programs that for the most part have been adopted and/or accomplished by other nations and communities. If political candidates and the press were to focus on these substantive issues, rather than fixate on short-term political games, significant reforms to help the poor and all the rest of us might actually occur.
Nader Not a Spoiler
It is appalling how vicious liberal Democrats have become over the Nader candidacy. Desperate for the crumbs that they may have gotten from Gore/Lieberman and fearful of a Bush candidacy, they have trashed the Nader campaign as if it were as bad as, oh, I don't know, the Democrats!
In Ventura's post-election "Letters at 3AM," Nader is bashed as a spoiler and liar while Gore is treated with sympathy. When did the world get turned on its head?
On Gore's watch, welfare has been slashed, wealth inequality has skyrocketed, the U.S. has been involved in more foreign conflicts than under Bush and Reagan combined, and the prison population has soared. The U.S. now leads the world in incarcerating its own citizens. Gore/Clinton's cutting of welfare combined with their lack of support for public funding of abortions has meant that the right to choose means very little to millions of women who need it most. Should we be concerned that the courts might go conservative? Well, Gore wasn't when he voted, as a senator, for the appointment of Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court.
The fact is that Nader had one of the toughest campaigns in U.S. history. Not only was he up against corporations, the Republicrats, the media, and liberal issue groups spending millions on anti-Nader campaigns, (how often do third-party candidates have ads run against them?) but he had to deal with "supporters" like Ventura, Louis Dubose, and The Austin Chronicle who treat Gore as if he were an imperfect, yet well-meaning statesman and Nader as if he were a spoiled child. I, for one, will proudly keep my Nader sticker on my car no matter which fool is in the White House.
Light Rail: Another Chance?
Light rail is too vital for the quality of life in Central Austin, and remains the only environmentally friendly mass transportation alternative that would be practical for our city. Despite an extremely narrow defeat in the recent election, the fact remains that 50% of citizens did vote in favor of light rail, with a much higher percentage of favorable votes in central neighborhoods -- the very neighborhoods that would be most impacted by a light rail line going through our streets.
Since most votes opposed to light rail came from the outlying hinterland and already isolated suburbs, the practical solution would be to propose an initial line serving the central core, say from Koenig Lane to Oltorf. The reduced scope of the starter rail line would keep the project below a billion dollars (obviously the much higher cost of the Howard Lane to Ben White route that was on the ballot scared off many voters). Once this scaled-down route was introduced, the rest of the residents to the north and the south would see the benefits that rail has brought to the community, and would be more likely to welcome it in their neighborhoods.
More buses are not the answer, since the vast majority of middle-class commuters have no desire to deal with confusing bus routes and schedules, numerous transfers, and the ever-present danger of boarding the wrong bus and winding up somewhere miles from your intended destination. Light rail is a dedicated, fixed route that even the first-time tourist to Austin could easily navigate.
There is too much at stake to let this vital issue die, and it is impossible to ignore the wishes of 50% of voting Austinites. We ask that light rail remain on the ballot during the next city election.
Scott M. Barnes
I am hoping that your publication will be able to provide me with some information regarding the electoral college in the state of Texas. The Austin American-Statesman has stated that all of the electoral college votes from Texas will go to George W. Bush regardless of how the popular vote comes out. I wrote to the editor of that newspaper asking for some information about this. A few days later they ran an article with some general information about the national electoral college, but they did not address my specific question about the situation here in Texas in the upcoming election. I have never voted for a Republican in my life, and I think that a Democratic vote by me should count for something. I do not understand how the members of the Texas electoral college can justify the idea that they can ignore the will of the voters in this election.
I would greatly appreciate it if you could provide me with some information about this. Thank you!
Gary L. Zimmer
Blame Only Yourselves & Gore
I have had it with the media and the American public blaming Ralph Nader for possibly ruining Gore's chances of being elected president. If Gore loses the presidency, he really has only himself to blame. Gore had eight years in a key role to establish an exceptional record for himself. Had he been so effective in office, he would have led Bush on election day by a complete landslide. And why, pray tell, wasn't that the case?
Ralph Nader has devoted 37 years of his life effectively and selflessly serving the American public. He was the only candidate with a record of impeccable integrity. Anyone who complains that Nader is a spoiler is only using him as a scapegoat for Gore's average performance on November 7. Each of you whiners was entitled to cast one vote for the presidency, as was each person who voted in Florida, including the ones who chose to vote for Nader. This is America, and we have choices. Not everyone will agree.
And for those of you who still know nothing about Ralph Nader, I shall note a few things for your edification: Nader has put half a dozen laws in the federal books on behalf of consumers' rights; he has fought against corporate corruption when no one else would take a stand; he is also the reason seat belts are a mandatory feature in cars today. Consider all of the lives that have been saved or improved over the past three decades because of his work.
I say, quit the whining and the finger pointing! Ralph Nader is a true American hero. He should be praised for his numerous accomplishments and for his role in galvanizing a party that captures the essence of what the Democratic party once was.
Trust Us, George
On November 7, at least 200,000 more Americans voted for Al Gore for president than for George W. Bush. In Palm Beach County, Florida, thousands more had their votes for Gore nullified by a faulty ballot. Yet, George W. Bush intends to take the White House by accident, by computer glitch and by relying on an arcane and outdated Electoral College system. This is a monumental display of the arrogant, anti-democratic, and inbred sense of "entitlement" that has characterized George W. Bush throughout his career. During the campaign, Governor Bush said, "I trust the American people." He should now trust that we have made our choice ... and concede.
Shame on Both of You
Regarding the presidential election:
I would like to express my disappointment in both the Gore and Bush camps for their arrogant attitude and behavior these past few days.
First, the Democratic side has set a terrible precedent by involving the courts in the electoral process by initiating lawsuits in Florida. Elections nationwide for all offices could become routinely subject to civil litigation concerning things like the legality of ballots preapproved by both parties and lost, overlooked, or rejected ballots. This would hopelessly bog down the processes of our democracy and the orderly transitions of power.
What I find equally disconcerting about the Bush camp is the way their spokesmen called for Gore to rush to concede the election "for the good of the country" without Florida completing its recount according to their state- and country-mandated procedures and without a full count of the absentee ballots from overseas when it is these votes that can make a difference in this election. Theoretically, a citizen's vote cast from overseas is equal to a vote cast within the country on Election Day. So what message was the Republican side sending? That these citizens' votes do not matter, have never really mattered, and never will matter? This is an insult to the voters overseas, especially our military personnel. The right to vote (and to have that vote matter) is one of their psychological links to home. I wonder how those lonely soldiers, sailors, and airmen feel about a candidate for president (and commander-in-chief) saying, in effect, "forget about you; you just don't matter."
Nader Not Gore's Only Problem
To the Editor:
Those who now castigate Ralph Nader for causing Gore's defeat should consider other options. They should start by asking why a sitting vice-president in peace and "prosperous" times would lose his home state to an airhead governor with a pitifully slim resume. They might also consider how blowjobs in the Oval Office cost Gore states Clinton won. They might also blame the corrupt anti-democratic system that allows the winner of the popular vote to lose (and where money is equated with free speech), of which the electoral college is only the currently most obviously faulty part. They might also reconsider their candidate's long history of talking the talk, but not walking the walk, by naming the eight achievements of the Clinton/Gore administration they agree with.
They might also tell me who I was supposed to vote for if I support progressive taxation, health care as a right, handgun registration, and oppose the death penalty, NAFTA, $300 billion-plus defense budgets, corporate welfare, loss of national sovereignty to the WTO, and $5 billion a year in aid to Israel.
I personally had no other choice than Nader/LaDuke since I don't vote for presidential tickets that don't include women or minority group members or that are predominantly financed by corporate interests.
The Green Mile
When is a political party not (like) a political party? I would love to be able to answer that question in the definitive, however, I don't believe that is feasible. Ask the question of a hundred people and you would get a hundred different responses. Does a party become a non-party when pundits and "experts" decry its (rightful?) participation in the American system of democracy if they sense it has the potential to upset their oh-so-precious "official" two-party applecart?
Either I am still painfully naïve or just really, really stupid about what has transpired this election cycle. The Green Party involvement has served two irrevocable purposes. First, it stripped away the paper-thin veneer covering the American political system to reveal the fetid vermin lurking beneath (surprise!). Secondly, like an Austin flash flood through a long dry creek, it has flushed out years of dry-rot and invigorated our political ecosystem which far too often and much too quickly becomes a stagnant, putrid wasteland of indifference, but I digress.
While I voted for some Greens/Libertarians, I did not vote for Nader. I, like many others, voted my conscience. I voted for alternative(s) to the major parties because I could, not because I felt compelled nor because I particularly subscribed to their ideological dialogue but simply because I could. But, what truly disturbs my sensibilities is the implied message that if you voted for Nader you were somehow going to muck up a perfectly functional system and if anything went awry you were going to be blamed is absolutely bone-chilling.
Perhaps I am truly naïve, but if all of the history I have read and studied about American politics from post-revolution forward holds any veracity, then alternatives, whether political parties or political candidates, are what constitute our revolutionary democracy. One of the founding fathers (memory fails me here) declared the formation of "a government unlike any the world has ever known."
Homer's Iliad describes a young soldier named Thersites who dared scold Agamemnon for his greed. I.F. Stone in his book The Trial of Socrates iterates that "... it's not so much what Thersites said that riled Homer ... but that a common man dared to say it."
If I come away from the incredible excitement and inspiration of election 2000 with nothing more and nothing less than a new perception of the status quo I shall not quibble.
Onward through the rhetoric,
Bush's Cheating Heart
I am shocked at the lack of outrage and the lack of scrutinized coverage the media is giving the Florida voting irregularities situation. They are quick to call for Gore to concede even though he is the obvious choice by the will of the people. Where is the outrage at the Republicans' cheating and dirty tricks that are becoming more and more apparent every day? Bush should concede. He is not the real leader the people chose. He claims to want to bring people together and reach across the aisle to work with Dems and Repubs, but even before he is in office the very questionable election tactics used in Florida, where his brother is governor, are tearing this country apart.
What about all the rhetoric the Republicans were making on how they would make sure there would be a public outcry if Bush won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote? Now that the shoe is on the other foot their tone is much different. But the national media won't report that. How can any fair-minded person not agree that if those 19,000 people would have cast their ballots properly, Gore would already be picking his cabinet? And what about those people, why no in-depth coverage about why they should not get a vote that counts? After all that is what democracy is and what America stands for.
Ironic how I heard over and over again by the media on election night that this election proves how your individual vote counts, but in fact not counting the votes of those 19,000 voters is what may prove to be the factor in picking the next president.
Roy Cipple Jr
Nader the Face of Democracy
To the editor:
In the recent election, I recommended the Ivins Strategy to friends: In swing states, vote Gore as a defense against a Bush administration; in solid Bush or Gore states, vote Nader as a step toward building a progressive third party that can raise issues the two major parties, awash as they both are in corporate money, would rather ignore. Alas, but Nader's identical 2% in both swing-state Florida and Bush-state Texas is mute testimony that this strategy did not pan out. Or perhaps, given the fact that Nader got virtually no mainstream media attention until just before the election (and then only because the pundit class perceived him as a threat to Gore), that not enough Nader sympathizers knew about it. But be that as it may. Now I must endure the spectacle of prominent Democrats heaping abuse on Ralph Nader for supposedly costing them the election. Note to Democrats: Your party is not entitled to progressive votes simply because it is there and it is not the Republican Party. If you learn nothing else from this election, learn that. And stop bashing Ralph Nader, whose long record of public service -- consumer empowerment, clean air and water legislation, the creation of public interest watchdog groups, the Freedom of Information Act, etc. -- puts most of you to shame. I'm sorry if it bothers you that he had the temerity to run an independent campaign on issues that your party increasingly ignores. That's democracy. Deal with it. Perhaps, with the dust still unsettled in Florida, one issue around which Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and everyone else can unite is electoral reform. One solution is Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which has been used successfully in other countries and which has been championed by Nader and others here. IRV and other systems of ranked voting empower voters by allowing them to cast votes for multiple candidates in some order of preference, as opposed to the current all-or-nothing system, which effectively marginalizes third parties and thus ill serves democracy. Let's capitalize on the mess in Florida and urge our elected representatives to change the electoral system for the better. Now, for a change, even the Democrats and Republicans might be listening.
Whoever Wins, W's a Loser
If Bush wins, he won't be able to deliver on any of his promises, tax cuts, etc., because the Congress is virtually deadlocked in the vote area. Nothing will ever be accomplished at all as far as campaign promises go. So basically, he has lost. On the other hand, if Al wins, the machinery of the past eight years will continue on momentum, even if no new legislation is passed. I believe that this whole thing is really about the national debt -- the Republican banking faction wants more money in the hands of the rich (tax cuts) and wants to keep the federal government in debt so the banks can live off the interest on the loans. This situation gives power to the wealthy and keeps power of the government in check. The Republicans hate the fact that the Democrats can end the national debt that has gone on for 200 years and take the meal ticket away from the bankers. The Bush camp has reassembled the Reagan-era players to resurrect the savings and loan scams where the rich guys can rape the banks and the federal government bails them out -- and pardons the offenders (like Neil Bush)! Nice game if you can get in on it!
A Raspberry Rant
Today The New York Times carries a front-page article detailing a lawsuit brought into federal court by the Bush campaign to stop the hand-counting of ballots in several contested Florida counties. James Baker attempts to justify this hypocritical strategy by suggesting that the Gore campaign began the legal battle. The Gore campaign has filed no legal action in this situation. The legal actions have been filed by the citizens of Florida. In effect, George W. Bush is bringing countersuit against American citizens, the very citizens he is claiming elected him to office. In addition, Florida state law (and Texas state law, for cryin' out loud), demand hand recounts when machine recounts are in question. So not only is George W. Bush suing the citizens he claimed elected him, he is actively undermining state law in an effort to further his own political aims.
This is not a man who should lead our country.
It is my sincere hope that should Bush come out the winner at the end of this recount, the shadow of his behavior in the face of this extraordinary situation will cripple his presidency, and effectively prevent him from carrying out the draconian conservative policies he is almost certain to attempt.
On the other hand, if Gore prevails, I hope the good citizens of Austin will join me in blowing a big fat raspberry at the Governor's Mansion.