Our readers talk back.
Governmental Branch Blunder
Regarding the lead headline in this week's "Naked City" [Nov. 8]:
Um, the federal government has three branches: the legislative, executive, and judicial. (Yes, the Supreme Court does count.) Didn't y'all go to fifth grade? For further reference, please consult the following: www.house.gov/Constitution/Constitution.html .
Shaking head sadly,
If you have to ask, "What went wrong?" then it's clear you never had a clue (as usual) in the first place. The election was over way before the campain started. The sweep (you can't have sweep without weep) was a vote against liberalism, and until you're healed of your psychotic delusions of grandeur and groundless superiority complex, you will never figure out reality.
Here's the new deal: You liberals keep up your mindless, agenda-seeking, condescending tirade against President Bush and we of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy will keep pretending to be listening.
Strategically speaking, Texas Democrats should look to the winning campaign of Senator Barrientos for guidance on how to run a campaign and win. Despite being redistricted into a district with thousands of new GOP voters and facing a wealthy opponent who poured hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into the race, Barrientos was still able to win re-election decisively.
He won by sticking to traditional Democratic issues relating to jobs, health care, education, and a fair system of justice. The successful, grassroots Barrientos campaign contrasts sharply to the state Democratic Party's corporate establishment and their high-priced political consultants and anointed statewide candidates, all of whom ran as if they didn't want to offend the electorate by running as proud Democrats. For Barrientos to win so decisively in the middle of a state GOP landslide is impressive, and Democratic party leaders need to take note.
The key to victory -- no matter which particular party we are talking about -- is energizing the grassroots, activist base and not running away from the core values of the party. There will no doubt be a shakeup at state Democratic headquarters, as indeed there should be, if Texas is to remain a two-party state.
Daniel R. Andrade and Scott Cobb
Republican voters pay taxes. Republican voters pay insurance rates. Republican voters breathe air and drink water; they have children and get old. Republican voters think that Republican leaders are one of them.
The Silver Lining
There is a positive side to Republicans controlling Congress.
In the name of homeland security, bothersome human rights will be abolished. (There's evil everywhere!)
The stock market may boom as companies, freer from pesky regulations, lay off more workers, abolish pension plans, and wreak havoc on the environment. Since everyone can find a (minimum wage) job, unemployment insurance will be stopped. As Social Security is privatized to benefit Wall Street, we'll be able to pick stocks for our retirement plans. (Of course, we won't be privy to insider information.)
If we're rich, we'll not have to pay taxes. Others must pay them, however. Federal, state, and local governments will learn to run on air. (Christian churches can take care of social services, libraries, and schooling.)
The Christian right will get a payback for keeping quiet during the elections. So we'll proclaim we are a Christian nation and engage in religious crusades to convert the heathens. (There's evil everywhere!)
We'll save money on presidential election campaigns as the Republican Supreme Court will simply appoint presidents.
The poor will be forced to be healthy or just die as they won't be able to afford medical care or drugs.
We'll attack Iraq and steal their oil to run our gas-guzzlers. Oh, we'll just go ahead and fight everyone who doesn't agree with us. (There's evil everywhere!)
The media will overlook President Bush's gaffs even more. They'll edit whatever he says (after checking with his honchos to make sure what he said is what they wanted him to say).
And finally, the Republicans will not be able to blame Bill, Hillary, or the Democrats for anything.
Claude M. Gruener
An Extreme Reaction
If one thing was made clear in the past elections, it's that Americans are split politically just about evenly. Democrats in national and local elections used their time-honored technique of demonizing their opponents and it didn't work. They tried scaring their constituents, and that didn't work. What's worse for Democrats is that their traditional stronghold on minority voters is slipping rapidly; only 54% of young blacks between the ages of 24 and 35 identify themselves as Democrats, down from nearly 80% in the Eighties. A Kennedy lost the governor's race in Maryland to a Republican in a state where Democrat voters outnumber Republicans two to one. So, since the obvious is, well, obvious, it's a wonder that the Chronicle continues to cling to the lunatic fringe left, intolerant, liberal, absolutist format. Seems you would be doing your advertisers a huge service by trying to have people writing for the Chronicle who are less driven by their own hatred of, apparently, half of "their fellow Americans" and who reached out to what is apparently half of Americans who are not Democrats or worse, fringe liberals. Hightower and his lunatic-paranoid ramblings, King and his pathological hatred of anyone who is not an extreme leftist, and the general tone of intolerance and hate toward even moderate Democrats and almost all Republicans are out of date. The Chronicle might better serve the community by allowing some more moderate or even, dare I say, conservative voices to be heard, might it not? Maybe important local and national issues might be better addressed by people who are more driven by finding solutions to those problems than in finding cleverly insulting names to call their opponents and fabricating the most nebulous connections to "past sins and evil." If the Chronicle is set and determined to only express the views of the extreme left, so be it, but the community and your advertisers would be better served if the paper moderated it's position and considered more than one narrow point of view as valid. Extremists and absolutists, the true protectors of the status quo and enemies of change, have the right to speak. That does not mean that they should be paid attention to, nor should they be allowed to dictate absolutist terms and conditions to anyone serious about addressing issues like the poor, health care, and the environment. Be a little more tolerant and open minded, it won't kill you. I promise.
Carl T. Swanson
Democrats Still the Best Choice
It is depressing to see the Nov. 5 election confirm that some voters are racists and that negative political ads depress voter turnout (35% vs. the predicted 40%).
On the other hand, it is comforting to see that a majority of voters living inside Austin are informed enough to know that Democrats usually are preferable to Republicans. Too bad I can't say the same for a majority of Travis County residents living outside Austin.
In my prejudiced Yeller Dawg Democratic mind, I think if every voter was informed enough of the real issues, about the only ones entitled enough to vote Republican would be folks with a million dollars or more who are selfish and self-centered.
Democratic leaders are far from perfect, but most are better than Republican leaders such as Bush, Rove, Cheney, DeLary, Lott, Gramm, Armey, et al. Democrats need more leaders like Lloyd Doggett who is not afraid to articulate the party differences on real issues such as education, health care, environment, equality, poverty, and civil rights. (Even though I supported Al Gore in 2000, I think he ran a lousy campaign and hope there's a different Democratic nominee in 2004.)
Although I empathize with Green Party principles, I am too old for lost causes. I loved Zeph McKee's Oct. 4 letter to the Chronicle: "Hey Ralph N. and all you Greenies -- can you tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats yet?"
Years ago a wise old politico offered this advice: Choose one of the major political parties, and work to make it even more like what you believe.
Before calling me a bleeding heart liberal, can you prove that more taxes have been spent on human welfare than avoided on corporate welfare? Follow the money: All those high-dollar political contributions have been paying off. (Admittedly, some Democrats helped on these giveaways.)
Long live the Chronicle.
Shudde Fath (age 86)
The Consequences of Apathy
Dear Citizens that Did Not Vote:
To the 60% (national average) that chose not to vote in this last election, screw you. I really don't care what lame excuse you have for your lack of participation, you have now handed over the power of Congress to a dangerous president. The blood of every person that dies because of Bush's agenda is on your hands. You have now defiled the memories of Dr. Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, our founding families, and the millions of people who have dedicated their lives to securing and protecting our right to vote. You have delegitimized the anti-war movement by standing silently. It was a historic vote indeed.
I suggest all you nonvoters slap some duct tape over your mouths, drop your pants, and bend over, because that is essentially what you agreed to. No, really, if you didn't vote, then shut up. You had your chance and you blew it.
Election Could Be a Scam
Do you feel like a pawn?
I question the results of this mid-term election -- I would like to see them verified, beyond a doubt. After all the lies, corruption, and theft of the past two years, who is to say these election results weren't gamed? I have not been satisfied with the "investigation" of the 2000 election, except for Vincent Bugliosi's "They used to call it treason" (TheNation.com) analysis of the Supreme Court's legal determination of the "harm to Mr. Bush" to finish counting the ballots. Did the "Gang of Five" come up with that one on the golf course with Daddy, ex-Director of the CIA?
After the devastation of the Twin Towers attack I am not satisfied with the actions taken to "protect" the people of this country or to produce an independent investigation. Why isn't the Saudi government under investigation? Our "government" continues propping up the oil industry and all its supporting interests! Without capturing the CIA operative Osama (surprise), why now attack the people of Iraq, bombed and economically sanctioned over 10 years, and the old ally Saddam? Could it be to distract the American public from the billions of dollars needed for bridges, roads, dams, water and wastewater systems, schools, and education that need replacement now because they were built after WWII? We have plenty of opportunities to stimulate the economy -- fight the war at home, a class war.
Our government in essence assists, by non-enforcement, CEOs and top-ranking execs to rob the public of their jobs, retirement money, health, and environment. They did it before with the Reagan Administration's Savings and Loan scam. Nothing happened. Crooks in three-piece suits brought to justice? A war with Iraq will be their next cash cow, benefiting this same minority while murdering millions of innocent children. Your children, not the powerful minority.
Are we the cost of doing business?
What was that tea party all about?
More About Monorail
I read with great interest the story ["News," Oct. 4] "The Devil in the Details: Downtown Great Streets Plan Stalled by Commuter Roadblocks." The Austin Monorail Project supports the Great Streets idea and underlying guidelines. However, we would like to point out the advantages of monorail as a rapid transit solution that makes it a natural fit with the proposed Great Streets program.
We believe that Monorail and Great Streets are a "great fit" because:
I invite interested readers to read about monorail and Great Streets in more detail at our Web site, www.austinmonorail.org.
President and founder
Austin Monorail Project
Too Much Libel Man
Dear the Rest of the World:
I want to extend my heartfelt apologies for the self-loathing, full-of-lies, hateful screed of Shannon Wheeler ["Too Much Coffee Man," Nov. 8]. If the United States were a person, it would be able to extract all the money Mr. Wheeler ever will acquire in a successful libel lawsuit against him. The United States has fought wars all over the world to free itself from a British monarchy, to secure the full rights of humanity for African-Americans in our own land, to make the high seas safe from marauding pirates, twice to secure the freedom of Europe from tyrants, and to defend our own nation against those who would kill our citizens -- and after all of that fighting, our "pushing the rest of the world around," and our motive for "power" it has brought us the conquered-against-their-will nations of ... well, in only one of Mr. Wheeler's lies, we have conquered and held no nation against its will.
While we may indeed consume a larger-than-per-capita share of the world's resources, it is done while we produce a larger-than-per-capita share of the world's goods and services -- Mr. Wheeler doesn't seem to understand that the two go hand-in-hand. Indeed, Mr. Wheeler doesn't seem to understand much of anything -- we have less of a problem with the human mistakes of racism, sexism, class division, etc., than the rest of the world. Guess that fact is lost on this lost soul. Mr. Wheeler seems to loath a free world where people are free to be consumers if they want, instead longing for a world which he controls and in which he is alone able to command the world to do his bidding. I'm grateful I don't live in Mr. Wheeler's world!
I apologize for nothing my nation stands for -- I am proud to be an American and proud of our heritage on this Earth. What kind of cruel world would we live in if the United States never existed? The only thing I apologize for is the ignorant rantings of lowlifes like Mr. Wheeler -- except for the mullet haircut that is, for he is right about that.
R. Barry Crook
Once again, this city has lost something that made it special. The best tattoo studio in Austin, Alliance Body Art, closed its doors late last month, due in part to a lack of patronage. This studio had a unique character with its elaborate handmade signs and menagerie of original art and horror film artifacts, but, more significantly, it stood alone in its integrity and talent pool. Both artists Joe Kennett and Jonzig created body art that was unparalleled in this city. Their techniques and artistry stand up proudly the world over (I say this from personal experience, my arm sleeves have garnered admiration all the way to eastern Europe and South America) yet they still were unable to gain enough local support for their business. While Alliance is gone and nothing will resurrect it, I felt its passing was indicative of the larger problem in Austin and the U.S. in general. More and more we tend to respond to what is in front of us, and we are too willing to exchange quality for convenience. Alliance wasn't on Sixth Street or the Drag, and it wasn't the type of studio where one would go to get a flash tattoo of the Red Dog logo or the Tazmanian Devil. There are no rewards for quality and talent in America anymore; wanting to offer more than the lowest common denominator is effectively a recipe for financial ruin these days. All I can say is that it figures and it's one more reason to give up on this McSociety for good. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in getting some truly exquisite tattoos, Jonzig is taking appointments at Aces High in South Austin (sadly, I don't know where to direct people for Mr. Kennett's services at the time of this writing). Also, visit www.jonzig.com to find out more information. These guys still deserve support, studio or no studio, so I ask that readers actually make some effort and find out what they are missing.
Same Old Song
Oh my. We keep running into the same customers. Those fellas from Britain just keep rolling into the White House, taking over the English throne and plopping it down right here in America. I suppose it's been going on since well before the Civil War, when those Tories in waiting began plotting to use good ol' English skull and bones capital to industrialize the East Coast and prepare the factory floors for low wage workers from the South ... after the Civil War ... then marched into the western lands to convert the Mexicans and Indians and freed slaves and sodbusters into wage slaves, free to come and go, creating poverty at the rate of whatever buffalo could be killed off ... more bank financing for big Texas ranchers who eventually came around to crown George Sr. and his royal sons to pave the way for Rick Perry ... a man who can't even keep rhythm with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. And lets not forget the vast accumulation of mineral wealth in Texas and points south and west, getting off the gold standard, printing paper money backed by ... well ... military power ... South African diamonds ... marriages of convenience ... a parking garage.
Oh yeah, a minority of Americans are still in charge of law and politics. They would even have you believe that they are the choicest candidates for the job. Of course, they aren't very good plumbers, but they manufacture very ... er ... functional voting machines. Yeah, I'll save my curses for private meetings, fiction, etc. ... but don't cross me on the soapbox, Rick ... George ... Dick ... I have friends in high places.
Todd Alan Smith