Our readers talk back.
Is there someone at the Chronicle who dresses Michael King? There must be, because his brain works ass-backwards 24-7 and if he tried to dress himself he'd be wearing his boxers as a cap. What happened with Farmers and other companies ["Naked City: Farmers Walks," Dec. 6]? Simple ... stupid assholes on juries who made ridiculous awards "to get back at the evil insurance companies," something that dipshit Ralph Nader created. Here's a clue for you asshole Naderites and King-readers. Corporations don't pay huge jury awards, their customers do through rate increases to offset the awards. Stupid people on juries, dumbass writers like King who couldn't see the real problem if it was sitting on their faces are the real problem. Twelve assholes give out, what was it, $20 million for a mold claim? I bet Michael would sue if his bread got moldy in his kitchen. And you wonder why companies are not going to do business in Texas? 'Course, King couldn't drag himself to look at the issue without his hate-corporations glasses on so the real problem alluded him. Odd though that King works for a paper, gets his little paycheck from something that is entirely supported by "corporations" like, well Camel, aka evil tobacco. He has his own little insurance which I am sure he whines about, and his sorry words are delivered by oh my god!! trucks fueled by big oil!! Maybe being such a hypocrite is what makes him bitter?
Carl T. Swanson
Low Taxes, Happy People
Although I'm sometimes bothered by various Chronicle writers' penchant for demeaning remarks about anyone who advocates a fiscally conservative tax policy, I applaud the Chronicle's willingness to state its case in a forthright manner. In many cases I agree with your views; e.g., Louis Black is dead-on for criticizing conservatives for their "borrow and spend" policies which simply pass tax increases onto our children's backs.
What bothers me about progressives is the fact that they have time and again broken their promises on taxes. They promised that the income tax would never go over 1%. They promised that the state sales tax would never go over 2%. They promised that the ACC property tax would never go over 5%. We have people whose school tax rate has doubled in the last 15 years. In many cases their housing assessment doubled as well, causing them to pay four times as much.
To make matters worse, they are continually asking for new taxes. Now it's a hospital district tax.
Where does it end? The total tax bite has increased from 5% in 1800 to 15% in 1900 and 42% in 2000. What will they be satisfied with? I believe libertarians are right that we'd all be better off if the load was reduced to 20% or less. Government workers would be better employed producing food, clothing, and shelter rather than taking it from some people to give it to others.
By the way, we'd have fewer wars too.
Yours in Liberty,
Patrick J. Dixon
Travis County Libertarian Party
Don't Let the Poor Fall Through Health Care Cracks
Apparently one of Michele Messina's ["Postmarks," Dec. 13] objections to a public hospital district is that government solutions deprive individuals of the good feelings they would get from private generosity. Although this is indeed a good thing, the reason a public hospital district is needed is that there is simply not enough private wealth given individually to handle the overwhelming costs of health care. True, there are those occasional "Points of Light" who occasionally do very praiseworthy things, but how many cases does Messina actually know of in which a few kindly neighbors holding garage and bake sales were able to fund major surgery? What happens far more often is that people with insufficient or no insurance die prematurely from conditions which are often both treatable and/or preventable. In the current economy more and more are falling into this category.
While individuals helping others is indeed honorable and virtuous, there is also honor and virtue in deciding that our community will not allow any citizen to be forced into ill health or premature death because they are not affluent. Honor and virtue can be civic as well as personal.
Baumgarten's 'Bowling' Blunder
I've been meaning to write this for weeks. I've now seen Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine twice, and I thought it was a thoroughly moving examination of gun violence in a unique, American culture of fear, exploitation, and inequality. I can't understand why the Chronicle gives it only three stars.
Reviewer Marjorie Baumgarten wrote that Bowling made her feel sympathy for Charlton Heston -- the NRA spokesperson who is shown defiantly hosting pro-gun rallies in cities immediately following tragedies like the one at Columbine High School. I felt nothing but disgust for this wealthy relic who seemed to argue that America's unusually high gun-murder rate was due to ethnic differences.
Did Ms. Baumgarten not feel much greater sympathy for the mother in Michigan who was forced to work two jobs, still couldn't afford rent, and was trying to make ends meet at a Dick Clark's American Bandstand while her son took a gun to school and shot a fellow first-grader to death? Apparently not since she was squirming with discomfort as Moore attempted to ask Clark about the "welfare to work" program that kept that mother away from her child and provided Clark with a healthy tax break.
It seems the reviewer would have preferred the movie to end when Kmart agreed to stop selling certain types of ammunition. That would have completely missed the point of a movie that was not about gun control as a solution to crime. Liberals who push gun control yet accept welfare-to-work programs as a necessary solution are part of the problem in this film. They are guided by the same fear and misplaced priorities that Moore was exploring.
Moore didn't provide all the answers to our problems, but he certainly put those problems in proper perspective. I hope the Chronicle's lackluster review deters no one from seeing this incredible film.
Lucky If We Make It Out Alive
I looked, in vain, for hints of Swiftian satire when I read Adam Duxbury's letter in the Chronicle ["Postmarks," Dec. 13] wherein he delivers a paean to the "historical majorities achieved by President Bush at the polls on Nov. 5." Historical majorities, indeed, especially for a regime appointed by the Supreme Court by another historical majority. Whatever, Duxbury fairly quivers with excitement that the Homeland Security Bill has been passed, along with terrorism insurance, and the prospect of Republican judicial appointees being confirmed en masse.
The Homeland Security Bill, as will become more apparent with time, is nothing more than a gigantic assay in union-busting. The terrorism insurance bill is nothing more than a protection for insurance companies from actually paying out damages, leaving them to invest merrily away, unconcerned about bad business decisions. The prospective Republican coup in the judiciary should put to rest, once and for all, the tired Naderite whine about there being no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans -- the rogues gallery of Republican judicial nominees waiting in the wings for senatorial approval should give pause to anyone concerned with the Bill of Rights, or the whole Constitution for that matter.
The court-appointed Bush junta has already proven, and acted on, its total hostility to the environment, the poor, the elderly, and anyone else not rich or Christian enough to meet with their approval. And that was with a Democratic majority (parity plus Senator Jeffords) in the Senate. Now that the last barriers to responsibility have been removed by the Nov. 5 election (35,000 votes made the difference), the American polity will be extremely lucky to survive.
Too bad Al Gore couldn't even win his own state in 2000.
Cultivate the Mind, Not the Body
Oh great! So now we want to cut art and music to make more room for PE ["Defending the Arts at AISD," Dec. 13]. Granted, not all art students will grow up to be Leonardos, and all music students won't be Van Cliburns, but do we really suffer from the delusion that they will all be star athletes if they can just drop a few pounds? Why not cut out soft drinks or meat loaded with growth hormones? Shouldn't they have more choices than the momentary thrill of victory and the bone-crushing agony of defeat? This is yet another example of the tragedy, public education is becoming more and more about the body and less and less about the mind. What do the top PE performers grow up to be other than bullies anyway? Prisons are overloaded with people who never learned how to do anything but play sports and train their bodies to a point near perfection. Are they our role models of tomorrow? Why don't we just do away with education altogether and send kids directly to boot camp? Can we stop this before it's too late? Or will we never learn that all people deserve something better than being viewed like pieces of well-marbled beef?
New York City
Voter Apathy Explained
"First they gerrymander us into one-party fiefs. Then they tell us they only care about the swing districts. Then they complain about voter apathy." (Gail Collins, The New York Times, December 2002.)
Aurora Plastics Co. Correction
I am honored that my band's next gig (Aurora Plastics Company) was chosen to be in the music recommended events for Dec. 13-19. (Thank you, Michael Chamy.) However, my last name is Heller, not Geller -- 'tho I've often wondered what it would be like to be Uri Geller's sister.
Aurora Plastics Company
The Proof Is in the Policy
Gosh, I disagree with Noam Chomsky about Israel, and I'm classified as a right-wing, religious zealot and a rabid hate-talker ["Postmarks," Dec. 13]. Gee, and I voted for Ralph Nader. ...
1) Anyone wanna read about Camp David in 2000 from somebody who was there (as opposed to C.E. Prince or Chomsky)? Check out former U.S. Special Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross' account at www.mideastinsight.org/7_01/policyforum.html.
2) Criticizing aid to Israel needs perspective:
The U.S. gives $13.3 billion in direct foreign aid annually, most of it to nations hostile to the U.S. Egypt and Saudi Arabia receive a combined $12 billion annually, Saudi Arabia in oil sales, yet they print anti-U.S. and Israeli "hate talk" (got that, Luckett?) in their official media and vote against the U.S. in international forums. That's their prerogative, but they shouldn't do it with our tax dollars.
Egypt is sold more sophisticated U.S. weaponry than Israel is. Yet it tortures and imprisons homosexuals, and its television stations broadcast anti-Semitic propaganda. Its government-sponsored daily, Al-Akhbar, prints threats against American landmarks (www.memri.org).
In Saudi Arabia, a Saudi prince's wife sends funds to al Qaeda, 15 Saudis were responsible for 9/11, and open non-Muslims risk arrest and imprisonment as only Muslims can be citizens.
The Palestinian Authority gets over $100 million annually from the U.S., yet it continues to flout agreements with the U.S. and Israel to curb violence and terrorism.
Meanwhile, Luckett and Prince single out Israel with accusations of "slavery," "genocide," and "military censorship." They have proof of this? Because I have proof that the PA has systematically censored and threatened foreign reporters (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 2, 1990; AP, Sept. 12, 2001), illegally incited children to fight and die (www.pmw.org.il), then used these children as shields for their snipers when shooting at Israeli troops (USA Today Oct. 23, 2000).
[Ed. note: Richard Luckett's letter, to which Kapner refers, erroneously stated that "We give Israel more than $12 billion a year in foreign aid (12 times more than all other countries combined)." According to Luckett, it should have said that Israel receives $6.12 billion in aid, "two times as large as all other U.S. Middle Eastern foreign policy recipients combined."]
Clinton Gone, Problems Solved
Government 101 by Louis Black (aka "Page Two," Dec. 13) turned out to be a study in build and lynch the straw man with extra credit in backlash warnings. Remember the poor backlashee Ken Starr? Or how about that backlash of elections 2000 and 2002? What future backlash is in store for the vast right-wing conspiracy pray tell? Mr. Black ends his tirade by wondering how "right-wing revolutionaries will lay the blame on Bill Clinton. I only know they will." What "blame" Mr. Black? With Clinton gone, many problems are solved. Black pouts, "they [the VRWC] have to blame somebody." This from an apologist who favors state-sponsored sodomy yet demands more tax dollars to fight AIDS? The phrase "blame-shifting McCarthyism" was born for such left-wing denialists and hypocrites who suffer psychological anomalies. The far left was not some army of David that lost the elections to a wicked Goliath so much as a mob of "fifty-one-fifties" swept away to political lockdown (for the greater good), kicking and screaming and cursing the victors. The VRWC has never fallen for the manipulative freak-show tenets of the late far left, but the long-winded eulogy from an ink-stained wretch was ironic, yet fitting.
P.S. Man, Fox News sure seems to be a hairball in the throat of liberals who used to have a monopoly on the news, huh? I can barely hear their weeping and gnashing of teeth over their gagging bray. I know it's a lot to do, but don't forget to breath between weeps and gags ... and see a dentist about a splint for the TMJ spasms. Better yet, go for the Randall McMurphy cure. You could swap your "bottle in front of me" for a "frontal lobotomy."
Do have a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! ... The trick is not getting caught.
Face the Facts
On page 17, under "Austin Stories" [Dec. 13], I found a micro note about APD's deputy chief being transferred to High Point, N.C., as a police chief. I don't think it's the same Fealy that conducted neighborhood terrorism as commander in our neighborhood in the early Nineties, and certainly it's not the same Fealy, who in Mardi Gras 2000 authorized the use of rubber bullets against people with your own face, Señor Black. Remember those you called idiots back then? Did you know that he qualified because they hold an annual gathering of tens of thousands in that little town? I thought this asset worked for you when Yaquis and Apaches were giving headaches to people with your face. By the way, the panelists for the $100,000 job included an ex-police chief and two reverends. So, De Laurentiis and Scorsese lied to people in Austin, Texas, and High Point, N.C., about Jesus Christ?