A right, a left, another right: our letters column takes it on the chin.
'TV Eye's Folly
I agree with what Dr. Zelda Austen said in her letter (Sept. 28), especially regarding Belinda Acosta and the "TV Eye" column. I can't imagine why Dr. Austen did not point this out, but in that same "TV Eye" column that she was talking about -- the column of Sept. 21 -- Belinda Acosta actually referred to the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City (the one destroyed in the April 19, 1995, bombings) as the "Edward R. Murra building, obviously confusing the man for whom it was named with a pioneer newscaster Edward R. Murrow. What a lame brain. That is just embarrassing! If she doesn't know what she's talking about, she should just keep quiet.
Tragedy Doesn't Stop Life
In response to the letter from Dr. Zelda Austen, and in defense of the Chronicle, (who certainly need no defense from me). Dr. Austen, please be responsible. I am sure that from the first day of the attack, you were reading the "adult" New York Times. You may also have read the Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News, both of which did a superb job of covering every angle of a very complex news story.
What would you have the Chronicle do? They have no offices in New York, Washington, or Afghanistan. They have no Mideast reporters, no access to top government officials, indeed, the Chronicle did exactly what they should have done as a local community paper. They made note of the tragedy, and then reported the local news that is still of concern to those of us who live and work here. My local Hill Country news did likewise, as City Council and school board meeting still were held.
I realize we are all upset and edgy over this whole affair, but I must say, I would expect a doctor and professor emerita to be a little more understanding of the role of a community newspaper.
We All Live in an Asymmetric World
It's nice to know -- as a former Austinite who's been in New York a year -- that in this dangerous, asymmetric world, the cover of The Austin Chronicle right after the disaster was unrelated.
Broadcast Associate, 60 Minutes II
What About the Ads?
I would like to commend The Austin Chronicle staff for another wonderful "Best of Austin" issue [Oct. 5]. I always embrace learning more about this city and its people.
However, I would like to criticize the editorial staff for lack of credit ["Credits: The Super Powers Behind 'Best of Austin'" and "Contributors"] given to the financial power of your publication. As I browsed through the listed names, and compared them with the Chronicle staff on page 4, I noticed no mention was paid to the advertising department or its members.
Do advertising sales not fund 100% of your publication? Is their contribution deemed unworthy to mention?
A Vintage Sport
Just a little info for whoever wrote the copy on "Best Participatory Sport":
Disc golf came to the world in the 1960s. The basket featured in the photo you ran was invented by a guy who was then general manager at Whammo, Ed "Steady Ed" Headrich. He's member No. 001 of the Professional Disc Golf Association (www.pdga.com).
There are over 1,000 courses just in the USA, with another couple of hundred in other parts of the world. Texas alone sports nearly 100.
Our local group, the Waterloo Disc Golf Club, will be hosting the 24th annual Waterloo Classic tournament, held at -- guess where? Waterloo Park. This is the longest-running tournament in the area, with baskets set up just for the weekend.
We're a nonprofit, with tourney proceeds benefiting the Ronald McDonald House (last year we raised almost $4,000, and hope to do even better this year). It's October 20-21. Hope to see you there!
Sorry, Ivan Garth Johnson
Thanks for having the Ivan Garth Johnson memorial as "best public memorial," but I'm afraid a few of your facts were wrong ["Best of Austin," Oct. 5]. Ivan was not 10 years old, but 17. Also, is 1989 considered early nineties? Oh well, at least you got his name right!
Bad Bridge, Worse Rail
So Chronicle readers feel/believe that the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and the light rail initiative have improved Austin ["Best of Austin," Oct. 5]? Let's examine these fantasies.
The Pfluger bridge cost nearly three times the original estimate and does no more than the Lamar bridge. Pedestrians still have no safe way to cross Cesar Chavez. Quite an "improvement" for 8.8 million dollars.
The unsupported statement "... roads cost too much and do too little and that light rail is the better bargain," is just sad. With a minimum of effort the uninformed author of that bit could have found that cities with new light rail systems have spent billions and not improved traffic congestion or pollution.
The latest incarnation of the light rail initiative has been named the "rapid transit project" in an attempt to disguise it. Make no mistake, light rail will keep coming back until Capital Metro can figure out a way to fool enough people into voting for it. What happens then? You might consider Phoenix, where voters were fooled into approving light rail about a year ago. Now, still two years from the start of construction, estimated costs have already ballooned 20%, up to $52 million per mile.
If Austin voters approve light rail will it become the same sort of "improvement" as the Pfluger pedestrian bridge? Will it triple in cost (to $3 billion) and deliver less than promised? I don't want to find out.
'Stop Misinforming People'
Mike Clark-Madison wrote in the Chronicle under the heading "Work Wiser, Not Smarter" ["Austin @ Large," Oct. 5], "What the city is calling 'neighborhood planning,' as of this week, is more like drive-by planning, with city staff behind the wheel. But that's not such a bad way to produce a real city plan -- which Austin has not done since Kirk Watson was in high school."
Please stop misinforming people. This current style of planning is very bad planning, simply class discrimination prudied up to look like a smart plan.
Austin's much-loved and consistent "lack" of planning that has occurred since that godawful Kirk Watson was in high school is the reason Austin still has such a high quality of life. The very people who fought development planning in Austin are the caretakers of the quality of life Watson and his ilk are trying to rapidly exploit.
I am on the Bouldin Creek Planning team. Bouldin Creek is full of Smart Growth exploiters entrenched in the neighborhood association and they too are "planning" to make a buck off Austin. Do city planning staff work as much as they can with the neighborhood association exploiters? Of course they do.
Put the blame of traffic problems and pollution on the city and state orgs which failed to cope with the population crush the media subjectively brought to Austin.
Wise up Mike -- there's been no planning in place and yet everybody wants to move here!
Pardon those of us neighbors who have slowed growth as much as possible. We do our best to protect Austin from the "plans" of media spin docs, Watson, and others with unlimited vision and bottomless pocket books.
Spare us another round of superior thinking and new planning if you can.
Michael Ventura is a pathetic little asshole, and not too bright at that. His column about "America Ungoverned" ["Letters @ 3AM," Oct. 5] is nothing but a whine contest by someone who would complain no matter what Bush did that day. Ventura is apparently one of the feeble jackasses that needs his hand held by the president on TV so he can find comfort from the cruel world we live in. Unlike most Americans with a brain, Ventura is more than happy exhibiting his small-minded, narrow hate of the president in any way he can. Rather than suggest Bush was a coward hiding "down a rabbit hole," Ventura is apparently not smart enough to know that the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command is in Nebraska. Maybe Little Mike is not smart enough to consider the tasks the president had to deal with on that terrible day. There was no indication this was a terrorist attack when the first plane hit the WTC. There was little question it was when the second plane hit. Then, 20 minutes later, the Pentagon was attacked. To anyone but some blindly partisan flapping little pooch like Ventura, it was obvious we were under attack and did not know from whom or where they might strike again. Would Michael have felt better if Bush had returned to Washington and been the victim of another attack? Apparently, Mikey is one of the feeble few who need someone on TV telling him not to poop his pants. Other people, not so blinded by petty hate, realized the president had a little more on his plate than going on TV and chatting about the attack. He was working. I would rather have him set about the task of finding those responsible and formulating a response than chatting with Andrea Mitchell, "reassuring" those desperate assholes who are lost without directions from the White House. Maybe Mikey would feel better if Clinton was in office. Last time bin Laden attacked, Clinton launched some cruise missiles and then went to play golf.
Grow up 'Chron,' Part 327
There is really no point in questioning why you choose to prominently display the cartoon This Modern World in your "newspaper," since it so poignantly epitomizes your typical written offerings; sophomoric, puerile, and pedantic. It is the political cartoon equivalent of the "Bush Is a Punk Ass Chump" bumper sticker and so, rightly belongs in your left-wing rag, just as your followers can proudly display such vulgar insults to our leaders and institutions.
Similarly, I suppose that it is useless to point out to you that Mr. Tomorrow's comments are hopelessly out of tune with current events. Indeed, he should properly be published under the name "Lester Yesterday." Re-hashed Marxism, even under new crypto-monikers like feminism and environmentalism, remain just as discredited and ridiculous as they appear in the premier spoof of philosophical totalitarianism, George Orwell's Animal Farm (pick up a copy and read it sometime, you'll see yourself clearly in it's pages). Class warfare, white guilt, race baiting, anti-westernism, anti-industrialism, "bite the hand that feeds you" as philosophy, all are the refuge of young minds that perceive simplistic answers to the world's complex questions.
Finally, I am convinced that the irony of seeing Jerry Falwell in Mr. Yesterday's cartoon is lost on your gullible readers since they cannot possibly see that the tripe you call journalism offered up as political thoughtfulness and insight are the opposite equivalent of Mr. Falwell's ill-timed attempt to regain the national stage by making political points out of the tragedy in New York.
So rave on while those who are older and wiser laugh and shake our heads. You too will grow up someday and will reread your words one day and wincingly recognize what our president meant by "philosophies relegated to the dust bin of history."
Richard R. Runde
No Obligation to Afghans
Part of the U.S., British, and allied military initiative in Afghanistan is to drop food to Afghan refugees near the Pakistan border. I trust that this food will only be used strategically and not "charitably." By that I mean that we should use the food to minimize harm to innocents as a means to politically destabilize support for the Afghan Taliban. As far as charitability goes, we owe these people nothing. There is no duty on our part to support these people. If they want support, they should overthrow the regime that outlaws many kinds of productive activity, allows women to be beaten publicly for making too much noise when they walk (or orders them killed for seeking higher education), and allows allegedly moral murderers to train on their soil. They should establish a system amenable to free trade and such individual rights as they can understand and implement in their social context; at that point they will be able to support themselves as many other countries do. The food should be dropped; those lives should be saved. But only that they may learn the difference between Taliban rule and the plenty that could await them when they defeat their unelected "moral" slavemasters.
Bring Back 'World Music'
In disbelief and sadness, I am protesting the nearly inexplicable decision by KUT to cancel the World Music show ["Naked City: We Are the World (Not)," Aug. 24]. One more of Austin's unique treasures just died, almost without a sound, as if it quietly receded into some giant sinkhole of mediocrity.
The "Live Music Capital of the World" had a world-class world music radio show. Every Friday night you could escape from the commonplace grind of your week. Like a spice market, you could enjoy taste-testing from locales like Peru, Brazil, the Caribbean, Louisiana, Greece, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pacific islands. Deejay Hayes McCauley enhanced the human element behind the art by giving background info or translations of lyrics. What better way to further the current drive toward coalition of cultures than the international language of music which has flourished throughout all our civilization?
KUT says the cancellation was due to 30% fewer listeners on Friday night, versus Monday through Thursday. Obviously, the missing 30% were out socializing or enjoying the live music capital. I also see an egregious marketing failure. Many international people who have been in town for years don't even know about this show. Promos and ads for it are minimal to non-existent. Killing the show makes as much sense as blasting the faces off Mt. Rushmore because not enough people came to see them, and then using the rocks to build a shopping center at its base to up the visitor counts.
It's not too late to fix this. If you want the World Music show (and AfroPop) back, tell KUT program director Hawk Mendenhall.
Bikes Are Traffic, Too
Under state and city of Austin law, bicycles are entitled to use most roadways, the exception being some divided highways with limited access, like MoPac and I-35. Lamar Boulevard, including the stretch of Lamar over Town Lake in Austin, is not an exception to the general rule favoring bicycles, and therefore bicyclists have a right to ride over Lamar across Town Lake. In fact, bicyclists have always had the right to ride across the Lamar bridge, even back in the day when signs were posted on the bridge about walking bikes on the sidewalk, since neither the signs nor the city code required bikes to be on the sidewalks.
Drivers thus need to stop their silly ad hoc campaign of honking at bicyclists crossing the Lamar bridge and pointing to the nearby award-winning and much-needed pedestrian bridge. Bikes, like walkers and runners, can use the pedestrian bridge. There are at least two big problems with drivers sanctimoniously and erroneously using their horns and pointing fingers to demand that bike-riders use the walking bridge. One, the Austin City Council needs to finish the pedestrian bridge project and connect it to downtown. Until then, it is difficult and dangerous for a cyclist (or a walker, for that matter) to travel between the intersection of West Riverside/South Lamar and West Fifth/North Lamar by way of the pedestrian bridge, across the busy Cesar Chavez street and up and over the railroad tracks. More importantly, unless and until the Lamar bridge is closed to bicycles, it is just as legal -- and a lot better for the environment -- for me to cross the bridge on a bike than in a car (or, as more likely the case with the sanctimonious honkers and pointers, a corpulent truck or SUV).
In other words, we're not blocking traffic, we are traffic. And each bike is one less car!
Ward Off Moral Relativism
Our leaders do not need to be told that conventional warfare will be unsuccessful in Afghanistan, or that any U.S. action will bring about revenge attacks, or that past foreign policy decisions affect the current state of affairs. This kind of thing is their life's work; give them a little credit for being ahead of the curve.
Regardless of the nature or scope of future U.S. military action, this country will be under attack from anti-U.S. extremists until they give up, we give up, or we eradicate them. Nothing but a long, bloody, costly, and above all unified and unflagging war on those responsible and their supporters will change that. No amount of appeasement, withdrawing troops, cutting off of Israeli aid, or whatever else you can think of will do the trick. Our only hope is to rise up and stop this evil before it becomes unstoppable. Not our children, or some other country, but us. Now.
If you're so upset about new security measures that you think your civil liberties are being unduly infringed upon, you're a selfish jerk. There is nothing noble about being unwilling to accept that times have changed and so must we.
If any of us believes that the U.S. can conduct a perfect and palatable campaign against terrorism, think again. Second-guessing by news- and opinion-hungry networks will be inescapable, but don't buy it. We're going to win. We have to.
Unless you lived through World War II, this is the most important time of your life. We will all be judged when this is all over by those who come after. Make them and yourselves proud, and don't give in to the moral relativism and phony ideals of those who would detract from our resolve and commitment.
Alamo: Thanks 'Chron'
Karrie and I wanted tell you how much we appreciated the coverage in the "Best of Austin" issue [Oct. 5]. We have enjoyed our four years at the Alamo so much and have really been able to do fun events that we could not have done in any other city. We believe that it is largely the support of the Chronicle that makes it possible to do much of the eclectic programming that people might not otherwise take a chance to come out for, and we appreciate it so much, because it is those events that make our jobs fun!
Thank you again for everything, and we look forward to many more fun years ahead.
Tim and Karrie League
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
The People's Choice
It's 10pm, do you know what your government is doing? Just as good parents know where their child is and what he's doing, good citizens learn what their government is doing (usually from the alternative press, rarely from the mainstream). These loyal citizens pledge their allegiance to America, its ideals, its people, and the land, not to the collective of powerful men who run it for their own good. Good citizens speak out -- not against our country, as those in power would have us believe -- but against the corrupt actions of those in power. For a factual accounting of our government's corrupt history, read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
Most Americans abhor a "my child, right or wrong" parenting mentality, yet many practice a "my government, right or wrong" citizen mentality. Willfully ignorant, they choose to ignore or rationalize the heinous crimes of their elected and military officials: the death marches of thousands of American Indians to reservations, the mass murders of hundreds of thousands of people in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Japan, to name a few. We dropped atomic bombs on Japan after intercepting information that it was ready to surrender (Zinn).
Owning up to and speaking out against the crimes our government has perpetrated and continues to perpetrate -- in the name of freedom and God -- on the peoples and countries around the world is analogous to discovering that our father is a pedophile and turning him in. Yet it is our moral responsibility to do so.
To go to war in the name of those killed on September 11 is a hypocrisy. To kill more innocents in their names is to dishonor to them.
Blame Belongs to Terrorists
Some attempt to argue that we have ourselves to blame for terrorist violence. In fact, there is little that we can do to alter the perceptions of Islamic fundamentalists. Blame-the-victim arguments often address the following:
Resentment of American cultural influence: Absent a specific, compelling threat to American interests, there is little within its constitutional powers that our government can do to limit the legal activities of individuals or commercial entities. I suspect that the elements in our culture most disturbing to Middle Eastern regressionists are precisely those most immune to regulation: expressive material in the form of movies, television, social and political commentary, etc. We needn't apologize for our freedom. With respect to economics, the risk of being negatively perceived abroad is eliminated only by hypothetical, perfect isolation. The vast U.S. economy -- and its inevitable reflection of our society and culture -- is an irreducible fact, influential by virtue of its very existence.
American energy consumption: It is ludicrous to contend that our import trade in oil is anything but a benefit to a majority of Middle Easterners. This historically unprecedented wealth transfer constitutes, in effect, a huge, self-perpetuating development fund. (The Saudis in particular protect this trade, raising or lowering their production to stabilize the world petroleum market and ensure a moderate price that encourages U.S. consumption.)
U.S. support for Israel: The Islamic radicals' objective is Israel's annihilation -- unacceptable regardless of how one views Israel's occupation and settlement policies. Israel will continue to exist and to determine its own course in security matters with or without U.S. support. So long as Israel exists, and so long as Islamic fundamentalism and the Palestinian refugee situation persist, there will be hatred of Israel and of the Western nations that have supported its creation and defense. We cannot alter this.
We the Peop-- Wait a Second --
There is a disturbing philosophy that has been exposed in the wake of the September 11 attack. American culture, beliefs, and institutions have been ridiculed for so long in this nation that almost any definition of an "American" will be viewed as intolerant or offensive. Two examples of this self-destructive form of tolerance come to mind. America tolerates public schools that refuse to say the pledge of allegiance; America tolerates a representative in our Congress who believes that the American flag represents oppression.
Now America finds itself at war, and we seem to have trouble defining the enemies living among us. Maybe the problem is that we have forgotten who "we" are. I have a solution that may help clear up the ambiguity. Every person living in this country should read and understand both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Those documents define what America is. Anyone who will defend with their lives all the beliefs stated in those documents is an American; any person who refuses to defend these beliefs is not. If you are living in my country and the preceding statement offends you, go somewhere else.
Scott N. Garland
Do we want to live in a police state? I sure don't. But we are in danger of doing so!
The newest version of proposed anti-terrorism legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate poses significantly more danger to civil liberties than the measure adopted earlier this week by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would:
This is a drastic overreaction! We need to tell our legislators that we won't stand for it.
Repeal Cannabis Laws Now!
Soon, espionage mechanisms may monitor ordinary citizens in an effort to prevent potential terrorism. It is imperative, given this scenario, that we legalize cannabis products so that [the] 30% of American citizens who partake in this victimless activity will not be incidentally targeted by increased surveillance.
Tens of millions of Americans regularly break archaic laws against cannabis, laws that are invasive governmental control of personal preferences. This is what the Taliban's religious police, "The Ministry for Fostering Virtue Suppressing Vice," is doing to the hapless Afghanis, particularly the women.
With increased espionage of American citizens, more and more otherwise law-abiding parents and children will be detained, searched, harassed, humiliated, and impoverished by debilitating and expensive litigation, for a simple personal preference.
The final chapter of "The Rise and Fall of the American Nation," the great democratic experiment, will end with the stalking, inquisition, and incarceration of common citizens due to their harmless pleasure-time preferences. Since 1965, 10 million Americans have been arrested for cannabis possession. These regressive laws must be repealed, as were laws prohibiting alcohol consumption, or that discriminated against alternative sexual preferences.
If we do not legalize this harmless drug of choice we will soon have a nation in chains. It is a marijuana smoker's holocaust when our courts, our police, our prisons, our spies, are bent on destroying all who prefer one type of leisure-time activity, only slightly different from leisure-time activities of those in power -- having two martini lunches while fighting the War on Drugs. The War on Cannabis is turning us into a land of Lilliputians! Or the sad characters in Dr. Seuss' Butter Battle Book -- blowing each other up over trivial culinary preferences or choices of intoxicants.
We must end the regressive, oppressive, counter-productive, costly war on cannabis. We must decriminalize the lives of millions of voting, patriotic, peace-loving, charity-donating, PTA-going, home-owning, lawn-mowing, grocery-buying, defensive-driving, conscientious American citizens, just like you and me. We must immediately reclassify hemp in a similar category as alcohol and tobacco so that we can focus our security efforts on preventing violent terrorist acts -- and stop arresting ordinary, nonviolent citizens for smoking a pipe in the evening in the privacy of their own homes.
Yvette C. Rosser
Restless in the Dark
Reading Ventura's review on the events in Manhattan ["Letters @ 3AM," Oct. 5] really disintoxicates the crap that CNN put on all of us for over two weeks, including some 10-year-old clips from the Afghan region [as rumored]. I read yours two issues ago, and it sounded timid. The only thing he left out, though, was the fact that rescuers were banned from the site for hours, part for the fear of more collapses, but mainly because there were silver, gold, and jewels in the debris. I know, he was focused on government, but I think more lives could have been saved if volunteers have been allowed in right after the crumbling. I've seen the same pattern in another disasters, where these people's interests are caught by surprise. May their souls hang restless in the dark.