Our readers talk back.

Battle Springs Anew

Dear Chronicle readers:

Please plan (once more) to stand up for Barton Springs, for local control, and against corporate bullying on Thursday, Nov. 30 and Thursday, Dec. 7, at 6pm. On those days the City Council will hold hearings on the latest version of the "Barton Creek PUD," Jim Bob Moffett's development scheme that triggered an all-night citizen uprising in June 1990 and was subsequently voted down again in 1993 and 1995.

So what has changed in the last 10 years? While the exact land is different (some has been developed, mostly at very low densities and at a much slower pace because of citizen resistance, while new land has been added at Circle C) the current deal actually proposes more development on less land than the original 1990 PUD. Jim Bob Moffett will likely not make a personal appearance; instead, his handpicked CEO, Beau Armstrong, will be there. Ten years has pushed Barton Springs much closer to the brink, with pesticides, herbicides, toxic petroleum hydrocarbons and other pollutants increasing, and a near perpetual algae bloom regularly reminding us that scum does, in fact, rise to the top.

And, of course, our elected officials have changed. The "Green Council" is smarter and more committed to protecting Barton Springs and saving our city than previous councils.

So why is this deal on the table? Why are we faced with the exact same weak rationalizations for "doing a deal," e.g., the alternative is far worse, they will hurt us in the Legislature, this is "almost" protecting water quality, we need to move on to other issues, etc. Why would such a strong mayor and council assume such a weak position? Why would the most offensive corporation in Austin be handed city sewer service and other special privileges? Why are we so richly rewarding such bad behavior? Why was this deal hatched in secret? What is the hurry?

These are a few of the questions. Come to the council hearings, hear some answers, and, most important, provide some of your own.


Bill Bunch

Executive Director

SOS Alliance

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

Honky-Tonk Heaven


Please pass this on to Jerry Renshaw and John Carrico: Thank you both so much for your article and photos in the Nov. 17 issue ["Honky-Tonk Heroes"].

The article was right on the money. As a person who lives in Philadelphia and who has many friends in Austin I am always gnashing my teeth as they tell me about all their great shows.

As a photographer I really appreciated the photos. Thanks so much for capturing the Texas musicians, some famous and some not so famous. Your work is appreciated.

Jack Scully

Springfield, Pa.

Alvin Crow, Honky-Tonk Hero


After reading "Honky-Tonk Heroes" in the Nov. 17 issue of The Austin Chronicle, by Jerry Renshaw and photos by John Carrico, I was heartbroken to have recognized that you have left out a major honky-tonk hero in the Austin area. In fact, he was here way before Wayne Hancock, Dale Watson, Damon Bramblett, Don Walser, and others came on to the scene. Are y'all not from around these parts? Alvin Crow has kept Western swing alive in the Austin honky-tonks for 28-plus years that I know of. Y'all did not even mention the Split Rail! What's the real deal here? Thank god for Alvin's music ... a real honky-tonk hero.

Thank you,

Barbara Geller

If I Could Only Get the Facts Straight

Dear Jerry Renshaw

Merle Haggard's album and the title track that you reported as "I Wish I Could Fly" is actually titled "If I Could Only Fly" ["Record Reviews," Nov. 10]. The inaccuracy and the difference in meaning between these two phrases are further enhanced by your not reporting that "If I Could Only Fly" is a Blaze Foley composition. Jerry, if you could only read. I wish you could read. Thanks for pointing out that Merle Haggard at age 63 is aging graciously. (What did you expect?) At least you can write. Sort of. Your writing skills are matched only by your superior intelligence. Ha! A minor point, but I'm curious: Is there any reason why you lowercased "god" and uppercased the "Seventies"? I wonder who wrote the other songs on the album. Including songwriter credits in a city brimming over with songwriters, musicians, and music lovers would be appreciated.

Wali Stopher

[Ed. Note: In casual phrases such as "god knows," it is The Austin's Chronicle's style to lowercase "god"; it is also our style to uppercase references to particular decades, i.e. "Seventies."]

U.S. in Waco: Covert & Clumsy


Your Nov. 17 article "Killing the Messenger" was really an eye-opening news account that deserves to be published far and wide. The fact that John Danforth's final report on Waco was posted on the Web at 11am on Nov. 8, when everyone's attention was focused on the election outcome, says it all. Thanks to the Chronicle and thanks to Robert Bryce for publishing information on the less-than-adequate government investigation into the Waco incident and the government's craven attempt to retaliate against former federal prosecutor Bill Johnston.

Richard Fry

Gone Soft?

Dear Mr. Black:

I have been a consistent reader of the Chronicle for 18 years now. In the last seven or so, I have seen a definite shift to the center by yourself. Funny isn't it, the radical ideology you once held, your commitment to what was right, instead of what was popular, easy, or profitable? Now you (and the other Louis) sting Ralph Nader and especially his supporters with a venom I've not seen you inject into anyone, except perhaps Jim Bob Moffett ["Page Two," Nov. 10 & 17]. Do you really see us as as bad a threat as Jimbo? Christ, is that ironic. In your latest written diatribe you invite readers to examine the latest batch of letters from Nader supporters for the supposedly obvious "holier-than-thou" attitude you say they contain. I read the letters. And I'm sorry, but all I find when I read these letters is commitment, honesty, and a knowledge that sometimes you lose a battle or two, but you still fight on, because it's the right thing to do. Why don't you pull out some of your own editorials from 10 years or so ago, and try to regain some of this dedication to fighting for a better world. Instead of settling for something a little less rotten.

Guy LeBlanc

PS: I used to think that Michael Ventura just loves to "read himself write," but by saying that Ralph Nader is as dishonest as Gush or Bore, Ventura has clearly shown himself to be supremely qualified for institutionalization. What a whack!

Greener Pastures a Pipe Dream


While I appreciate the sanctimonious self-righteousness of the local Greens, I must point out the sobering reality of the results of the recent election. In the presidential election the Greens succeeded in garnering barely 3% of the popular vote. That means they are a marginal party who reflect the interests of only a tiny minority of white college students and college-educated white liberal progressives.

Though I much prefer a Green agenda to a Pat Buchanan Reform Party agenda, they are both nonetheless reflections of an extremism. Where the religious right would use state-sanctioned coercion of various kinds to try to force non-Christians, gays, the poor, and intellectual leftists to conform to its conception of what citizens of this country should be like, I can only surmise that the Greens would have to violate their own high-minded idealism and resort to such methods to force citizens to recycle and to use public transportation to get to work rather than drive single-occupant, gas-guzzling SUVs. Otherwise they would find they were just like the, oh my God, Democrats in attempting to use legal and economic incentives to entice people to adopt these practices for "the greater good."

I believe under the current state of general economic well-being at home and lack of conflict abroad that the best the Greens can hope for is to have a broad intellectual/philosophical effect on the Democratic Party. I don't know if it's because many Greens are of the mindset that regards TV as a satanic influence rather than as a technological tool, but they apparently completely missed the importance of Al Gore's televised speech at the DNC. Gore employed rhetoric that was far to the left of Clinton; in fact it was probably the most populist, anti-corporate speech a mainstream American presidential candidate has made since the 1930s. I think this was an attempt to garner support from the very people who championed Ralph Nader and also an acknowledgment of the effect those courageous individuals who protested in Seattle, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles had on the rest of us mainstream moderate liberals.

Jon Pearson

Holier, Purer, Better

Dear Louis Black:

When you dismiss Nader supporters by sarcastically saying that they're "a little better than the rest of us, a little purer" ["Page Two," Nov. 17] aren't you really describing yourself? All the Nader supporters I know believed in their candidate and criticized Gore himself, but they did not criticize people who voted for Gore. But not so with you -- you openly show your contempt for people who voted for Nader. You know, those people who didn't vote the Louis Black-approved way. Look, Naderites haven't slammed Gore voters the way you've slammed us, yet we're supposedly the holier-than-thou sect? How goddamn dare you! Look in the mirror, Louis.

The rest of your editorial doesn't hold much water, either. You decry that the left's abandoning Hubert Humphrey in the Sixties because of his war agenda meant that we forfeited his progressive positions on social and economic justice issues, and left us with Nixon. Nice try, Louis, but Al Gore is no Hubert Humphrey! Politically, he has more in common with Bush. We've endured your wrath because you think that W. will screw the poor and neglect the environment -- as though Clinton/Gore didn't?

Louis, go on deluding yourself about the supposed differences between Bush and Gore if you must, and continue to think that somehow it would have made a difference if Texas Naderites like me had voted for Gore (even though Bush won Texas by way more than the Nader votes), that's all fine. But please keep the name-calling (and the incredibly ironic "holier-than-thou" charges) to yourself.

Michael Bluejay

Chronicle reader since '85

Wash This Off Your Hands, Chron


I found the cover and editorial in the Nov. 10 issue to be infuriating. In the interest of full disclosure, I did vote for Nader, and would do it again even if I lived in Palm Beach County. I believe myself to be a strong enough person to handle a difference of opinion regarding, of all things, politics, and I was disappointed when the Chronicle did not seem to have the same attitude.

The caption "wash this off your hands, ralph" suggests not that the editors of the paper merely had a political disagreement with Nader or those who voted for him. Instead, such a vitriolic response implies that Mr. Nader has done something morally reprehensible. If contributing 3% to Al Gore's possible defeat deserves what Nader got from you, I can't wait to see the scorn that will be heaped on Bush voters next week, and after that all those people who didn't vote at all -- Al Gore's real nemesis.

Clearly, there is something ridiculous about Democrat supporters coming down on Republicans for believing in their candidate. Why, then, is it so fashionable among Democrats to bash the Greens? It only makes sense to claim that the Greens have wronged the Democrats in a way that the Republicans have not if one assumes that Greens are all really closet Democrats throwing a tantrum. Such an assumption is the height of disrespect, and I believe it is not inappropriate to expect better from this publication.

The editors of the Chronicle have a political disagreement with Nader and his supporters. He thinks the Democrats and Republicans offer few possibilities for important substantive change on the issues that affect us most, and you think that the Democrats do offer such a possibility. Such disagreements are what democracy is all about.

But don't pretend you're taking the moral high ground when you are merely using your paper to punish those with whom you disagree.

Mike O'Connor

Go, Jolly Green Giant, Go


Somebody give Louis Black a pacifier, because his whining about Gore's predicament has become unbearable ["Page Two," Nov. 17]. It's ironic that all the letters containing facts about Gore were left out of the printed issue but included on the Web site and yet, the rather emotional ones were printed on paper. I didn't vote for Nader just because Texas is Bush country -- if I was in Florida, I'd still vote for him. It's unbelievable that Gore Democrats are quick to point out the environment and the Supreme Court as doom and gloom if Bush is elected. Let's see if Louis Black can remember who Gore supported when Scalia and Thomas were confirmed and, oh yeah, which vice-president's family owns large shares of Occidental Oil, the company that is currently tearing down the South American rainforest and terrorizing the U'wa Indians in Colombia and Ecuador. I guess a bunch of brown Indians walking and playing in oil-sodden dirt doesn't matter when you compare them to the cute little animals up in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

What about the Arctic National Petroleum Reserve and the Elk Hills Petroleum reserve (the latter owned by Occidental)? As for Bush's serial killing spree of death row inmates, just remember Gore's stance on the death penalty from the second presidential debate. No, Mr. Black, it's not that Naderites are a bit closer to the holy light, but rather a bit more informed than the bunch of sofa liberal Democrats who sit in front of the TV staring at the mainstream media drivel they are told regarding Al Gore and George W. Bush. While Bush's idiocy is readily apparent to any Democrat, I hope Gore wins the presidency, if only so that four years from now we can tally up his broken promises and highlight his hypocrisies. As part of the younger generation supporting Nader, I can assure you that we are here to stay, so step aside and watch our Jolly Green Giant grow up.

Sincere to my conscience,

Marisol Trevino

Grass Isn't Greener


Man, those Nader people are a pissy lot, not too bright, and seem to be confusing fast food and microwaved macrobiotic tofu with politics. They want ol' Ralphy Boy in there big time, because, according to them, all politicians are crooks who are bought out by special interests. Since Green Party politicians would, duh, be politicians, according to the carpers' own logic, they themselves would be corrupt, hence we would have three corrupt political parties. Ol' Ralphy Boy is a longtime hack for some of the most disgusting people in America: trial lawyers. Ralphy Boy has cost American consumers hundreds of billions of dollars over the past 35 years, he is the one most responsible for the rash of bullshit lawsuits against corporations in America. Since any judgment against a corporation is passed on by that corporation to the consumers, Nader's Raiders have screwed the consumer, not championed or benefited them. Politics is a slow, deliberative process of concession and compromise; these "third party" hacks are simply instant gratification junkies. Get a life. There are two sides to most issues that concern Americans; pick the party that best represents your ideals and work within that party. If a politician is corrupt, vote his ass out of office. If Americans spent more time fulfilling their responsibility to this nation and overseeing the representatives that they elect instead of waving signs for two weeks before the election and then forgetting about politics for another two, four, or six years we would not have "corrupt politicians." Anyone stupid enough to say "all politicians are bought off" fails to realize that would also indicate that their own vote is for sale.


Carl Swanson

Divided We Fall

Dear Mr. Black,

Your all-prevailing "us vs. them" attitude perfectly illustrates the problem of your viewpoint and that of the Democratic Party ["Page Two," Nov. 17]. When someone disagrees with you, you revile them. How creative! What problem-solving skills! "If you don't think like me you're naive. You're not pragmatic like I am!"

Was it pragmatic to alienate the Greens? If the moderate Dems saw a threat from the left they should have made some attempt to compromise with us. They might have tried to convince us that our concerns would be addressed. Instead, our worries were reinforced that the "centrists" will pursue only those issues that have been deemed appropriate by people with lots of money. For the Democrats to compromise with the right is virtuous, but somehow we are the enemy.

Our votes were not spitefully or cynically cast. I did not root for Bush. But the passionless, poll-driven Democrats couldn't even carry Gore's home state. We in Texas (your readers) did nothing to harm Gore's bid for the presidency. Still you pout. In the end, we have to realize that neither the Greens nor the Democrats are going to get much done without cooperating with one another. Let's join forces and do something here in Austin, where we live. This is the truly pragmatic viewpoint.

The country and Congress are split down the middle. The Democrats and Republicans in Washington are unlikely to do more than snipe at each other for the next four years, and what does pass will be centrist, just the way you seem to like it.

I say let's start something that we all can be proud of. If the balance of power is precarious enough that the Greens are the swing vote, doesn't it make sense to try and get together and create something of lasting value? Don't treat your friends as enemies. That's what got us in this situation in the first place.

Larry Strub

Car-Free in Colombia


If I were making a commercial for light rail (to paraphrase Louis Black), I'd focus on global warming and our nation's role in scuttling world air quality standards. But then again, if I were making a transportation commercial, it might not be about light rail. It might be about what Bogota is doing.

On Oct. 29, 2000, Bogota held a referendum on two proposals. One proposal bans car use from 6 to 9am and from 4:30 to 7:30pm on weekdays, beginning Jan. 1, 2015. The vote was 51% in favor, 34% against, and 15% blank. The second proposal establishes an annual car-free day, to be held on the first Thursday in February. The vote was 63% in favor, 26% against, 11% blank. Bogota held its first car-free day (called Sin Mi Carro en Bogota) on Feb. 24, 2000.

Bogota already closes some streets to cars on Sundays, so that people can bicycle and walk for recreation. In the past four years, the portion of the city's population that bicycles for transportation has grown from 0.5% to 4% -- a 700% improvement. Bogota is building 200 kilometers (120 miles) of new car-free cycle paths. Car-free cycle paths and footpaths are the cheapest, cleanest transportation facilities there are.

Colorado is building a car-free cycle path from Denver to Boulder. Marin County, Calif., is building a 22-mile car-free cycle path.

You won't read of such matters in the car/oil- sponsored press. But they're happening. What if Austin built car-free cycle paths (or even just closed some car lanes), closed some roads to cars on Sundays for recreational purposes, and held its own Car-Free Day? Something might change.

For more on Bogota, in Spanish and in English, see or

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Stuck in the Muck Again


The barely legible six words that tainted the left-hand border of the Nov. 10 Chronicle prompted me to write this. The words simply read "wash this off your hands, ralph." I am utterly disgusted with this covert attempt to place the possible win of Bush II upon Ralph Nader.

The fact that Nader is singled out as a scapegoat for the Democratic Party's wrongdoing is pitiful. I don't suppose the reason Gore lost those votes is due to his constant move to the right, giving most disenchanted voters no other option than to vote for Nader. Essentially, American voters are being blamed for voting their hopes and their dreams by supporting a candidate who actually represents their interests, Nader. You are condemning those voters, mostly liberals and progressives, for not giving their vote to Gore. In your eyes, Americans using their vote to bring about change somehow constitutes "throwing the election to Bush," to quote Nov. 17's "Letters at 3AM" column. Well that mentality makes me ill.

CNN exit polls actually show that in a two-way race, only about 47% of the Nader voters would have voted for Gore, 21% would have voted for Bush, and 30% would have abstained from voting in the residential election altogether. In the swing state of Oregon, where Nader is chastised for Bush's victory, Bush won the state by a margin of 23,000 votes; Nader had received 54,000 votes.

Now had the presidential election been a two-way race between Bush and Gore, Gore would have received 47% of those 54,000 of Nader's votes, around 25,400, and Bush would have won Oregon regardless with a victory of approximately 8,000 votes. Do the math.

Don't believe the hype, the democratic propaganda, or the Chronicle. With respects to the writer of those six dirty little words, who did not back up their claim, try thinking before you slander. It must be so easy to use clandestine child-like tactics of mudslinging, than to actually inform oneself. Then again, ignorance is bliss, isn't it? Well try washing ignorance off your hands.

Aubrey Edwards

Student & Green Party Supporter

Miss Nina Messed Up


For the love of God, would the besotted Nina Simone backers ["Postmarks," Nov. 10 & 17] please wipe the foam from the corner of their collective mouths? Having attended the performance, let me reveal my version of that night's events: The deafening applause emanating from Bass Hall was the sound of mostly white, middle-class liberals vigorously patting themselves on the back for being so enlightened and politically correct. I'm sorry, but does Miss Nina have divine dispensation or can she be critiqued like the rest of us unwashed, sloped-forehead, knuckle-draggers?

You loved the show? Great. Some of us didn't. Doesn't the possibility exist that her repeated appeals for more and more applause might be, I don't know, maybe a wee bit contrived? Doesn't the possibility also exist that 15-minute drum solos -- followed by a five-minute bass solo, mind you -- might be friggin' stupid? Nina may not have received the memo while living in self-imposed exile in France, but after her Sixties heyday came the 1970s. That's when drum solos and bass solos were flogged to death by an endless succession of self-indulgent rock and jazz bands with too much ego, and often, easy access to mind-altering chemicals. Finally, some of us are actually sick of hearing the all-too-familiar roll call of black icons we're supposed to applaud on cue -- Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, Bob Marley, and MLK. At the very least, can people like Nina and her backers update the PC roll call to include contemporary individuals (and concerns) so we don't have to continually crane our neck to genuflect over the past -- especially the, ugh, 1960s?

Was the show without merit? Certainly not. Her slow, nearly a cappella dirges ("Four Women," for example) were, indeed, transcendent. But those 15 minutes or so aside, this was a performance painful in its political correctness and showbiz schmaltz. If that's your thing, fine, but some of us actually want the artists we pay $30 to see stepping their game up. And we definitely don't need the show to be an exercise in self-congratulation.

Lance Davis

PS: R.I.P. Doug Sahm

Revenge of the Nerd


Last week Mr. Smarty Pants asserted that "Dolphins get ulcers from the same bacteria that cause them in humans," which, so far as I can tell, was taken from a recent scientific article (if you're really interested, skip on down to the library and pick up the Nov. 6 issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology and read "Isolation and characterization of a helicobacter species from the gastric mucosa of dolphins, lagenorhynchus acutus and delphinus delphis"). To pick nits, the existence of the bacteria doesn't really ensure that ulcers show up; indeed, recent studies with dogs and cats have failed to conclusively produce a correlation between the presence of the bacteria and disease (see J Vet Intern Med 2000 Mar-Apr; 14(2):125-33).

That's okay. There is a long and protracted history of weird helicobacter studies in the scientific literature, which is far more interesting than any real questions that might get answered anyway. Take, for example, the curiously titled "Marked enhancement by fish meal of Helicobacter pylori-induced gastritis in Mongolian gerbils," published in August's issue of the Japanese Journal of Cancer Research. The authors assert "fish meal contains factors which greatly enhance H. pylori-induced gastritis in Mongolian gerbils." No kidding.

Bolder still are the authors of "Concurrent enteric helminth infection modulates inflammation and gastric immune responses and reduces helicobacter-induced gastric atrophy" in last May's Nature Medicine, who suggest that intestinal worm infection might prove beneficial to those suffering from ulcers. However, these studies were done in mice. One hopes they repeat this study with humans, but procuring experimental subjects might be difficult. After all, the investigators would be forced to request that subjects receive an ulcer, an intestinal worm, or both. Perhaps high pay might entice potential participants to sign up. All I can say is, don't look at me.

So, to sum up: Dolphins may or may not get ulcers from the same general bacteria as people; eating fish is bad if you're a Mongolian hamster with an ulcer; eating a tapeworm is good if you're a mouse with an ulcer.

Hope that clears things up.


Ian Quigley


History house

Big Money the Big Winner


Laugh about it, shout about it,

when you've got to choose,

every way you look at it you lose ...

The current circus surrounding the presidential election should not obscure that there was a clear winner in the Nov. 6 election -- big money. Why is everybody so concerned about Florida? This year's biggest winner is the financial services industry, which contributed no less than $195 million, predominantly to Republicans. As expected, the Democrats' hands are not clean either; lawyers and lobbyists contributed the lion's share of $85 million to the Dems' campaign chest. Upon reflecting on the estimated total federal campaign fundraising bill of $1.3 billion, an innocent may ask, "What are they paying for?" Companies are quick to explain, "We just believe in the system." Whose system? Attentive capital city observers may recall last month's Fortune 500 meeting where numerous CEOs lounged about in the Texas Senate Chamber with their feet propped up on our members' desks. Whose government? Our democracy is soiled when citizens' voices are drowned in the sea of corporate cash and influence. Despite all the hoopla of the "invigorated public" bedazzled by 24-hour news coverage of "he said, she said," the choice has already been made -- and every way I look at it we lose.

Statistics: The Center for Responsive Politics --

Tim Morstad

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.


Brad Rockwell

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.

Carl Villarreal

Blame Only Yourselves & Gore

Dear Editor,

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.


Gloria Shen

Round Rock

3% Solutions


I'm not sure, besides the victory of George Bush, what Nader has to offer me or anyone else. I am truly sorry that Gore doesn't agree with Nader on every point. Maybe we can keep electing members of the Bush clan till we find someone who is acceptable to Nader's 3% of the voter populace.

Of course, it might be more effective to outreach into the 50% of the population that doesn't vote instead of giving $10-a-seat Madison Square Garden speeches to the converted. Or it might be more effective to build a progressive alliance beyond the white upper/middle-class liberal elite. Or it might be more effective to back progressive ballot measures to get some tangible results. Or maybe accepting a Gore presidency with a moderate judiciary and working for change on a local level.

But who am I to question the superiority of the Nader logic. I am probably brainwashed by the big campaigns anyway.

Arthur Lauritsen

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