Our readers talk back.
More 'Evolution' Than 'Revolt'
You described a "revolt" at Circle C Ranch in your Feb 28 Chronicle ["A Revolt Brews Among the Circle C Masses"]. What is happening here is a latter stage in the "evolution" of our homeowners association from developer-controlled to resident-controlled. The bylaws of the Circle C Ranch Homeowners Association (CCHOA) allow for free board of directors elections, and anyone living in or outside of Circle C Ranch may be nominated. Any neighbor can volunteer and demand to join any committee or special project and be of service to our community. CCHOA enjoys a large number of activist residents, and this is a good thing. As Circle C "builds out," the developers and builders will gradually go on to other projects and the residents must be prepared to manage the common areas and zoning and services relationships. Forging a strong homeowners association takes hard work and planning. Our annual fee can only be controlled, and perhaps reduced, through volunteerism and resident participation that helps reduce the cost of doing the neighborhood's business.
Having lived in over 20 cities, I have found Circle C Ranch to be one of the best neighborhoods of all those I have experienced. And, I am pleased to have great neighbors here. The amount of open space, the Slaughter Park, the hike-and-bike trail, disc golf course, Veloway, soccer fields, great bicycle access and road striping, the landscaping, and the number of trees left intact, all contribute to an area where one buys more than a house and lot. I agree there is room for improvement in the way we run our homeowners association. There have been some actions taken by the board where I would rather have seen more of the residents have a say.
Now, that there is more and growing resident activism, I am confident the present board and hopefully, a new resident board member to be elected on March 26, will team up with neighbors and take action to listen effectively and to promptly satisfy our homeowners' justified concerns to make a great neighborhood even better.
Stephen M. Sackmary
How refreshing to come across the snide aside in the Vann/Alarcón feature on ethnic markets: "... if indeed, it can be said that the Brits have cuisine" ["Around the World ..." Feb. 28]. Silly me to have, all those years, assumed the Chronicle to be an island of tolerance and liberal thinking in the sea of ignorant, insular, provincial thinking that surrounds us! But, judging from the ethnic provenance of the authors' names, one can expect no less. After all, we all know that the Dutch/Germans have no sense of humor and the Mexicans no savoir-faire, n'est-ce pas?
Nudge nudge, wink, wink,
Creative Commons Correction
I read Michael May's article on the Creative Commons effort ["Postmarks" Feb. 28] with great interest. However, May's attempt to demonstrate a connection between Creative Commons and the "open source" software movement contains a glaring inaccuracy regarding the terms of the General Public License. The GPL does not, in fact, prohibit the distribution of copies or derived works for profit. This is an unfortunately common misrepresentation. The GPL allows one to distribute modifications and even verbatim copies of software -- for free, at cost, for a beer, or even for profit. The license makes one exception: When binaries are distributed without their corresponding source code, the distributor must make available, upon request, a copy of the source code, for no more than the cost of media. This provision keeps people from charging exorbitant fees for the source code to a work, which would effectively make it proprietary. This provision is also seemingly behind a lot of confusion about the GPL. But the reality is that people can and do profit (legally) from GPL'd software such as Linux -- just ask Red Hat, IBM, or Hewlett-Packard.
I invite readers of the Chronicle to learn more about the GPL, Linux, and open-source software at the following sites:
Long Live Sixth Street's King
Dear Mr. Black,
I would like to call your readers' attention to an appalling example of Austin's hypocrisy in calling itself a Music Capital. I have the good fortune to be a nightly busmate with Gerry van King, otherwise known as "The King of Sixth Street." This talented musician has been entertaining patrons of the city's busiest street for over 15 years with his wonderful playing and charismatic aura. No doubt hundreds of thousands of visitors to Austin have come across him and walked away with a warm glow. He was featured just last month on the cover of the Statesman, showcasing his beatific smile and cool glasses. Last week, his guitar and amp were confiscated by the police, and he was given a final warning: If he ever played "on the street" again, he'd be arrested. Good God, there was a time when a man like him would be given the keys to the city and acknowledged for what he is: an ambassador of good will. It boggles my mind that he would be harassed and deprived of an outlet he and so many others clearly enjoy. I cannot say I know him well -- when "off-duty" he seems very quiet and introspective. He is obviously highly intelligent and dignified: When he told me about this, he used calm and unangry tones. I write this not on his behalf, but at my outrage that one who is such a shining example of all that is best about Austin music should be so mistreated. He might get his equipment back, but we may never see or hear him on Sixth Street again, and that would be criminal.
A Thoughtful Response
Interesting paragraph from Stephen MacMillan Moser ["After a Fashion," Feb. 28]. Anyone that spells out his middle name is obviously an authority or press pundit ... or at least a clown's ass. Lets see -- he doesn't like President Bush, SUVs, importing oil, or being bothered with security alerts, he suggests that Bush and Blair are gay and that AOL is dividing the country. He does hold France, Germany, and Belgium in high regard for their circumspect approach. Wow! I can't believe that anyone who can cover this much territory in one paragraph cannot advise us how best to deal with the Iraqi/Hussein problem. I would like to offer a suggestion -- Stevie could load up and go to Iraq as a human shield. I will be glad to furnish a bull's-eye target for his butt, and maybe Amy can get him a bicycle for the journey.
Anti-War Protesters Fuel the Fire
Watching TV and reading the newspaper you can see there is an increasingly vocal movement that seeks to engage America in war, leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths. This movement calls itself the "anti-war" movement. These groups are staging peace rallies where people gather to voice their opposition to an invasion of Iraq on the war of terrorism. The goal of these rallies, so they claim, is to promote peace.
If dropping bombs won't work, what should the U.S. do to obtain peaceful relationships with these regimes? These so-called peaceniks offer no logical answer. Anti-war protesters do not help to prevent war, they make our enemies more aggressive. The absence of a peace plan is no accident, and pacifism is inherently a negative doctrine.
Military inaction sends the message to our enemies that they will benefit by attacking the U.S. The Iranian regime should have been annihilated years ago, and maybe we could have thwarted terrorism at the beginning.
Laying down our arms will not achieve peace.
War Part of American Lifestyle
I would like to thank those staff members of the Chronicle who are speaking out against yet another war.
Look at our war record. The U.S. has either supplied or dropped bombs in many places since the end of WWII. China 1945-46, Korea 1950-53, China 1950-53, Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-60, Guatemala 1960, Congo 1964, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-73, Cambodia 1969-70, Guatemala 1967-69, Chile 1970-73, Grenada 1983, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1980s, Nicaragua 1980s, Panama 1989, Sudan 1998, Yugoslavia 1999, Afghanistan 1998 and 2003-? Iraq 1991-2003-?
Unless extremely wishful thinking is applied, a realistic, American-style democracy has failed to appear in any of those countries.
For around the last 50 years, Americans have been encouraged to accept war as a routine part of the American lifestyle. Roused by politicians and the media, we are a people who have been conditioned to think that "war" is the only response to problems in other countries.
War has become a national policy. We waged the "Vietnam War," while at home we were encouraged to engage in a "War on Poverty." Come the Eighties in Latin America we waged war, while at home we fought a "War on Crime." In the Nineties, we waged war across the globe while within our borders we ramped up our "War on Drugs."
We enter the new millennium with yet more new wars in the Middle East. At the same time our national policy makers enact new tax policies and development/housing policies in our cities which pit the haves against the have-nots. These new policies have led to blatant "Class Warfare."
If we continue on our current path the "Iraq War Version 2.0" will be the start of a new, global "Hundred Years War."
Conservatives Question War as Well
I wish to clarify misconceptions some may have about the recent protests in Austin against an attack on Iraq. Firstly, these are anti-war protests foremost, not anti-Bush protests. It should be well-known that a number of prominent Republicans have come out against the war. Among them are former Chief of Staff James Baker, former Joint Chief of Staff Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger, Pat Buchanan (changed his position), columnist George Will (ditto), and Texas' own congressman Rep. Ron Paul. Surely there are more conservatives who question the war but choose to stay in the closet. They follow the Bush administration's line blindly, fearing the political implications in this thought-stifling, post-9/11 era. I personally know one self-described Republican who marched on Feb. 15; no doubt there were others.
Secondly, we protesters are a broad coalition of peace activists, Christians, Muslims, Arabs, Kurds, human-rights activists, environmentalists, feminists, families, other "ordinary people," and yes, anarchists, isolationists, and socialists. We cherish freedom of speech, and individual protesters or groups of protesters may wave whatever banners and carry whatever signs they choose to. We do not discriminate among groups -- all are welcome to protest the impending death of over 100,000 Iraqis and hundreds, possibly thousands, of American servicemen and women for a foolhardy, shortsighted, and dangerous invasion of Iraq.
Lastly, I wish to address the charge that has been made that protesters were somehow absent during the Clinton administration ["Postmarks" Feb. 28]. A number of Austinites did protest the Clinton administration's deliberate bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory and the Unites States' first bombing of Afghanistan as well as the bombing of Serbia, although admittedly in much smaller numbers.
Children Are the Future
It's ironic that the wealthiest institutions in the world spend so much time arguing about finances. One would think that, in the centuries since schools were invented, we would have found the real treasures that nearly overwhelm them. Those young, energetic, and infinitely capable young people who we seem to regard as a burden are the real currency of education. The success or failure of our culture will be measured in their successes and failures, not in dollars. Education is something that occurs when we are left to our own devices. It requires little more than liberty and safety. Learning is a burning force inside every child, and we couldn't stop it if we wanted to. Yet, we insist on reducing this sacred ability to a controlled, confined, and mundane institution. Children are endlessly diverse while schools are strikingly uniform. As long as we conform to the dollars-per-head paradigm of educational support, we are condemned to a pennies-in-return future. Should school voucher programs be allowed to redirect money away from public schools? Some have said it's fair; others are outraged. I say it's hard to get the right answers when you're asking the wrong questions.
Dear Chron Crowd,
Very sorry to hear about the crappy weather there in Central Texas. Here in the Katmandu Valley, at the base of the Himalayas, it is warm (70s) and sunny.
Our carpenter friend Bear, who works on our houses there, informed us that there was a leak in our living room ceiling during one of your recent downpours. Upon looking in the attic he discovered the cause of the leak:
The Austin Chronicle.
All of 'em.
Well, all right, not that ugly-ass, purple, eyeball-hanging-out prototype first issue, but pretty much all the rest, with plenty of dupes.
The weight is straining the ceiling joists, cracking drywall, and splitting the roof. So, could you tell me please:
How much do all the Chronicles weigh?
A Bitter Pill to Swallow
These leaders around the world truly believe that they were sent to rule and set policy among us by the hand of the almighty. Yet the very things they do, and the course they set is wholly ungodly. They tell us to pray to God while they hone their special interests inside their think tanks and deep within their bunkers built to withstand Armageddon.
In between lunch and dinner they send out their spin to their doctors strategically placed close to us, to rationalize across this planet that when your time is up, it's up. We're told how ill we are and that they have got the medicine for what ails us. And no matter how bitter it may be we must take it, otherwise we would retreat into fear and doubt, and that is not an option. It's for our own good; for our mutual benefit. So purse your lips and hold your nose, but swallow your medicine.
For every leader there has ever been, in every cabinet, every parliament, every politburo, every house of worship there has been two of us killed in their name. I have in my left hand three one dollar bills and in my right hand one twenty dollar bill. It cost more to make three dollars than it does to make 20.
Susannah Alabama Ohltorf
I am responding to the letter written by Carl Anderson, "Anti-War Protests Are Anti-American" ["Postmarks," Feb. 28]. Mr. Anderson, I am vehemently opposed to a war on Iraq, yet, surprisingly, I am not a member of any of the groups you find objectionable. I base my opposition to this war on membership in two global groups: mothers and human beings. While I dislike Saddam Hussein intensely, I am not willing to let the blood of one innocent Iraqi child be shed in a U.S. war to oust him. I spend a lot of time imagining what it might be like for a mother in Baghdad to protect her frightened children when the U.S. "shock and awe" bombings begin, when the water and electricity have been cut and there is no food to be had. I also spend time thinking about the uniformed people of this country, asking myself if their deaths in this war will ever truly be "worth it." It takes me no time at all to answer "no." There are many mainstream Americans opposed to this war. Some of them are Republicans. To love this country is to not want red, white, and blue to equal senseless death and destruction. To love this country is to love the constructive potential of its people, not the destructive potential of its weapons. To love this country is to say "No, I will not let one administration undo decades of international cooperation and diplomacy." To love this country is to demand that our riches be invested in productive endeavors, like educating our children, caring for our environment, and protecting our resources, instead of blowing up Iraqi children and families and taking any number of U.S. lives with them. Check out the next peace rally from the inside, and you'll see that people of all stripes love peace; think about it a little more and realize that wanting peace and prosperity for all is humane, not un-American.
Day Dream Believing
Just so you know (beyond the rumors subliminally established throughout renowned dictionaries and other sources of referential standard reading materials): "Anarchism: The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by manmade law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary" (as stated by Emma Goldman in her book, Anarchism).
The need of a government to ensure our well-being, happiness, and liberty is unneccesary. We as individuals have the basic understanding how to govern our individual lives, and live happily on this earth, even if there is no god.
We have to face the possibility that a heaven does not exist; therefore, our only chance for heaven is within this life now.
I challenge you to imagine yourself living in a world of complete freedom. Now tell me, do you live in a world of complete freedom?
If you are one who has low self-esteem and no faith in anything other than death, you probably believe that a world of absolute freedom means a world filled with murders. Why will we rejoice in a land of complete freedom by killing everyone? Especially since the root of murder and all crime stands behind the dollar signs.
People should not be intimidated by police, armies, prisons, social poverty, etc.
Nobody should have the right to control someone else's life.
I have a few comments regarding Carl Anderson's letter in "Postmarks" [Feb. 28]. In short, Mr. Anderson claims that protesters are not only anti-American but also hypocritical since those of their ilk were silent during all the Communist-led invasions. If a person protests the U.S. war with Iraq, does that necessarily mean that person belongs to the Democratic Socialists Party or the Socialist Workers Party, as Mr. Anderson implies that they do? Actually, there are quite a few Republican leaders who also oppose the war. When you get down to it, this impending war has nothing to do with one political ideology over another despite that fact that protesters and nonprotesters alike may occasionally bring their pet agendas to the front.
The war with Iraq can be summed up by a simple phrase -- power corrupts. The Soviets manifested proof of this phrase through their invasion of Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia just as the U.S. now manifests proof of the phrase though their impending invasion of Iraq.
Ultracapitalism and Soviet-style communism have at least one thing in common. They thrive on structures in which the power of a gargantuan entity is centralized among a few. And if the entity is a monopoly, so much the better (just look at Wal-Mart)! And those in power have a lot more to lose, which is why major magazines such as Time or Newsweek offer very diluted coverage of what exactly the protesters are protesting and who they are. This makes it very easy for many, such as Mr. Anderson, to see the protesters in a two-dimensional light. To see the collective, in all its complexity with its many voices, would be dangerous since each of those voices might resonate with different cross-sections of the public.
Iowa City, Iowa
I'm Right, You're Wrong
It's been said, by Hitler or one of his henchmen, that it's hard to sell the people a lot of little lies, but that they'll eagerly believe a big lie.
Carl Anderson of Kyle ["Postmarks," Feb. 28] believes one of the big lies. In his third-to-last sentence, he equates Bush and America, stating that mistrust of the former is treason against the latter.
Mr. Anderson is an ideologue who believes the big lie, as do millions on both sides of the moot debate, that "his side" is righteous and the other is no less than evil. The soulless corporations (which the Bush elite represent) and the UN (darling of the liberals) are two huge tentacles of the same hydra.
America is a constitutional republic, perhaps the purest -- albeit flawed -- form of government in all of human history.
The Bush administration (as was its predecessor) is filled with criminals -- thieves, murderers, drug smugglers, pedophilic rapists -- sociopathic liars, and hypocrites, who speak of morality and law, but are engaged in the worst depravities and in organized crime.
They have eviscerated the U.S. Constitution and must be repudiated now!
Bush and Trial Lawyers
During George Bush's State of the Union Address in which he bashed trial lawyers, he was surely referring to those evil lawyers who attempt to hold doctors and megacorporations accountable for negligence. Mr. Bush doesn't even have a handle on who trial lawyers are. Who does he think defends the doctors in a malpractice case? Of course, the typical American juror is so ignorant, the trial lawyers just run all over them and force them to award large monetary damages.
The last time I sat through a personal-injury case, the trial lawyer did not determine the monetary award. The jurors decided that. In fact, the jurors all appeared to be intelligent and made their award after consideration of the facts of the case. I suppose Mr. Bush would limit the cap on pain and suffering for the woman who recently suffered a double mastectomy because of a mistaken pathology report. Malpractice and negligence is rampant in this country. The poor doctors and insurance companies that are so abused by the trial lawyers want to be even less accountable than they already are. I'm recommending we limit the price of an mcf of gas and a barrel of oil. Let's put a cap on the profits that are produced by the natural resources that helped make millionaires of Mr. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Halliburton.
Hard to Believe
I find it hard to believe that such an intelligent species can be so stupid. Blame it on vanity.
Todd Alan Smith
Don't Believe Everything Our Leaders Tell You
It cannot be assumed that pronouncements from the Bush administration have any relationship with truth. Take, for example, the assertion that Saddam Hussein gassed his own people. The event occurred in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War in the Kurdish city of Halabja. On Jan. 31, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Stephen C. Pelletiere, the CIA's senior Iraq analyst during the 1980s, concerning this topic. The gassing occurred during a battle in which Iraqi forces sought to recapture Halabja from the occupying Iranian army. Pelletiere stated, "We cannot say with any certainty that the Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds ... both sides used gas at Halabja." He also revealed that a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency classified report alleged that Iranian gas killed the Kurds. Considering its source, the Reagan administration, and that the U.S. was officially an ally of Saddam at that time (while cynically arming both sides), this latter assertion should also be considered suspect.
Recently, a WWII veteran told me he simply couldn't conceive of U.S. leaders purposefully lying to us. So in the finest tradition of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and with the corporate media's full compliance, the Bush administration continues to spread its propaganda rationalizing aggression in Iraq to its constituency among the indoctrinated. Don't be deceived.
Bob Graham for President
It's time to start thinking about 2004, folks. Certainly it must now be apparent to all that there was a ton of difference between Bush and Gore in 2000. I seriously doubt Gore would have had us on the edge of the abyss we're looking over today. So let's start thinking about which candidate has the best shot at defeating the madman in the White House next year.
I submit that that candidate is Sen. Bob Graham, Democrat from Florida, who announced his candidacy last week. A two-time governor, then three-time senator, he is widely respected as an intelligent, moderate candidate from what we all now know is a crucial Southern state. He's no Republican in Democratic clothing. Don't confuse him with Phil Gramm!
He voted against the resolution that gives Bush the power to declare war on Iraq any old time he feels like it. Every other Democratic candidate from the House or Senate (with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, who will be elected president when hell freezes over) voted for it.
Democrats almost certainly must nominate a Southerner if they intend to win the presidency. It's as simple as that, folks. The last non-Southern Democrat to win was JFK, 43 long years ago, and nothing is going to change that electoral equation between now and November of next year. That narrows the field to two, Sen. Graham and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. John Edwards is an up-and-comer, but is still young and not nearly as qualified for the job as Sen. Graham.
So for those of you thinking about the next presidential election, think Sen. Bob Graham.
Florida Recount Rehashed
In November of 2000, during the Florida recount debate, everyone assumed that if Al Gore did not accomplish a complete manual recount he was not going to succeed.
It was that exact assumption that allowed the Florida secretary of state to submit as certified the recount of Nov. 8 as required by state election law, even though Katherine Harris knew in advance that the certification was void due to the contamination of manually counted ballots within that recount.
The recount was conducted properly, and although the Florida election law provides for an automatically instituted machine recount, it does not restrict that recount to machine-counted ballots only. In a North Central county of Florida where the machinery was optical scanning equipment that separated and ejected each "no vote" as it was encountered, the poll workers took it upon themselves to manually count the "no votes" and add them to its canvassing board totals. This was reported on TV. The reporter was checking on the canvassing boards that were not yet ordered to recount their "no votes."
Everyone should have recognized the Supreme Court had just removed Florida's right to participate in the election of the president due to its ruling on restricting the state from having any manually counted ballots in their certified count.
Florida law requires the use of the ballot recount. It made no difference to the state of Florida that the manually counted "no votes" were included within the ballot recount.
At that point the secretary of state of Florida had the legal option to go to her state legislature and request them to submit a legislative slate of electoral votes which did not have to be honored.
Instead ... Katherine Harris chose to conspire with others to appoint their president.
Van Nuys, Calif.