Postmarks

Our readers talk back.


Benedict Demands Change

Editor:

The Chronicle endorsed my opponent based on a country-club-style "gentlemen's" agreement that limits the City Council to one African-American and one Hispanic. Yet, Hispanics comprise over 30% of Austin's population. The Hispanics and blacks I hear from want affordable housing, lower property taxes, and better maintenance of the roads, parks, and facilities in their neighborhoods. They want to move an annoying power plant and a pungent landfill. The so-called liberal white gentlemen provide "Smart Growth" instead. Smart Growth has taxed blacks and Hispanics so corporations get incentives to cram downtown. While the middle class is forced to plug up I-35 and MoPac to commute from the suburbs, the wealthy are logically building mansions in downtown neighborhoods to avoid the congestion. The skyrocketing property-tax appraisals are driving the rest of the blacks out of the city limits. The gentlemen have offered a few subsidized cheap, affordable apartments and a recreation center to buy off the blacks and Hispanics, but minorities are wising up.

The gentlemen built an elaborate $7 million pedestrian bridge and a $26 million events center, and are building or proposing a $30 million City Hall, $20 million to pave Waller Creek, $4 million to put trees in the streets, and $2 billion for light rail. East Austin pays, but hardly benefits.

We have handpicked minority representatives who serve at the mercy of the white elite liberals who lead most of the special interest groups in Austin. But, the gentlemen are losing power to minorities, independents, and conservatives. Single-member districts would insure election of black and Hispanic council members who truly serve the needs of their constituents. My election would inspire an immediate and overwhelming demand for this change once and for all.

Wes Benedict

Candidate for Austin City Council, Place 6


Explain This to My Son

Editor:

The story that was written concerning me and my issues ["Rounding Out the Ballot," April 18] were not only incorrect, but filled with downright made-up lies. Even my 11-year-old son read your article and asked me why they were being mean to his daddy and why they would say things that weren't true. If you don't want me to win this election that is one thing, but if you are going to print lies about me that is another. The plan I have for Austin is nothing like what was stated. I thought that the Chronicle was a voice of truth when truth was hard to find, but I guess that it's turned into just another rag like the Star or Enquirer. When I am called the "Anglo" candidate and anti-government, where does this come from? I most certainly did not say that, and furthermore I am for a limited government, not anarchy. Anarchists are those who want a society with no government, which would be the anti-government that was mentioned. Does the reporter/editor know or realize the difference? I'm fairly sure that your readers could figure out for themselves that I am white, seeing as you included my picture. What kind of racist bigots are you? As far as I know the City Council is a nonpartisan election. I believe that this means that a candidate cannot run on a political party ticket (i.e. Republican, Democrat, etc.). The article mentions that I am a Libertarian, but I don't seem to recall reading anything that mentions the fact that my two opponents are Hispanic Democrats. It looks as if you can't look at a man's heart and thoughts, you have to resort to name calling. At your request I took time out of my day to come and speak with your so-called reporters and all they do is write things about me that aren't true and things I have never said. Why was this done? I told my son that there must be some kind of mistake. Maybe you can explain to him why such a thing happened, because I sure can't.

Steven Adams


Endorse This!

Editor:

Thank you for printing your endorsements for the May 3 election. Now I know exactly for whom I shall not be voting.

David Rigsby


ACC Has Huge Impact on Community

Dear Editors,

Thanks for your excellent article on Austin Community College in today's Chronicle ["May 3 a Turning Point for ACC," April 18].

Although I've been teaching at ACC for many years, I have learned a lot about the college during this campaign season.

First, I did not realize that over 70,000 students attend ACC each year, and that 60,000 of them are local residents. That means ACC has more students from Central Texas than all the other colleges and universities in this area combined -- including UT, Southwest Texas, St. Edward's, Southwestern, Huston-Tillotson, and Concordia.

Get this -- ACC recently did a study that showed people in the Central Texas workforce benefit from more than 8 million credit hours of education. That's incredible!

Please remember to vote yes for ACC May 3. ACC makes a huge impact on the lives of Central Texans.

Becky Villarreal

English Instructor


ACC's Future Is Your Future

To the readers of The Austin Chronicle,

On May 3, the citizens of Austin will be asked to vote on a tax referendum to benefit Austin Community College. I teach physics at ACC. Simply put, students generally do not take physics for fun. They take physics because they want to be engineers, technicians, and doctors. They come to ACC to get a good start.

If the tax referendum doesn't pass, I'll still have a job, but we'll likely have to turn away even more students than we already are. UT isn't accepting many new students, so these students will go elsewhere to get an education.

When the economy recovers, businesses will be looking for skilled workers. If businesses can't find skilled people in Austin, they may go elsewhere, too, taking jobs with them.

If this tax referendum passes, a person with a $100,000 house will pay about $2 a month extra for the first year. That's right, less than the cost of a burger and fries every month.

And what's in it for you? Let's put it this way: Most of you out there own a business or work for one. Who will be more likely to purchase your goods and services: one of my former students making engineer money or someone who couldn't get a college education?

I'm writing this letter not as an ACC employee, but as an Austinite who hates paying taxes just like you. If you live, work, or do business in Austin, ACC's future is your future. Please get out and vote for the ACC tax referendum on May 3.

Sincerely,

Jim Heath


Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Editor:

Many Democrats in Hays, Caldwell, and Blanco counties worked very hard to get Patrick Rose elected. I am the former chair and may just run again to make sure that this Democrat in name only does not secure the nomination. He has voted with Craddick and his cronies across the board. Watching this bunch "in charge" in Austin is like watching a bunch of grackles in a bird bath ... it's noisy, it's dirty, and in the end nothing good is going to come of it.

Charles Soechting

San Marcos


What About Nofziger?

Editor:

Gee, I'm trying to make sense out of the unanimous media endorsements in the mayoral election. The only candidate with nine years of experience in city government and a stellar track record would seem like the best choice. But that would be Max Nofziger. I seem to remember that he was the first council member to propose moving the airport to Bergstrom and worked doggedly to make the convention center a reality, a project that came in on time and on budget.

Max was the first council member to recognize the importance of music to the local economy. The Austin Music Commission, a music staff position, and the music industry loan program are just some of the concrete results of his vision. Austin has become a leading light on the national arts map.

And I recall that he worked to shut down high-dollar electric utility projects like the trash burner, the lignite plant, and the proposed coal-burner plants, thereby saving Austin ratepayers millions of dollars and protecting our quality of life.

Max opposes the huge tax abatements granted to national chain businesses which may drive out uniquely Austin institutions that provide the local color we all love. And wasn't Will Wynn head of the Downtown Austin Alliance and a major player when the CSC incentive package was developed?

Personally Max walks the walk -- literally -- rarely driving a vehicle, living a minimalist lifestyle consistent with his core values. If that's too weird for you, then elect a mayor who may be a nice enough guy, but who doesn't have the experience, vision, and commitment to lead Austin while resisting pressure to back policies that could make the best qualities of Austin life only nostalgic memories.

Amy Yearwood


Griffith Alienated Voters

Dear Editors:

I disagree with Amy Smith's assessment of ex-Council Member Beverly Griffith as someone who "stayed intractably true to the principles she rode in on in 1996 -- and got booted out because of it in 2002" ["Seven of Five," April 18]. Griffith was not booted out because she alienated her peers on the council. She was booted out because she alienated the citizens who vote in council elections. Griffith wisely chose not to participate in the run-off that she barely squeaked into. She finally realized how unpopular she had made herself.

Donald Dodson


Inequality in State Tax System

Editor,

Re: Fair state taxation

The poorest 20% of Texans pay 17.6% of their annual income in taxes.

The wealthiest 20% of Texans pay 5.1% of their annual income in taxes. Is this the kind of society we want?

The average Texan pays $2,456 a year in local and state taxes. That's less than 38 other states. These figures are from the state comptroller's office.

Leroy H. Haverlah Jr.


Stop Printing 'Letters @ 3AM'

Editor:

Please, please, please just quit running Michael Ventura's column ["Letters @ 3AM"] altogether. He has never, ever had anything constructive to say about anyone or anything. One week it is the girl with the swastika on her ankle on the bus [Dec. 27]; the next time it is the depleted uranium which we are still purposely using to kill everyone in Iraq [April 18]. He just fills his columns with rehashed buzzwords and long chains of "ifs." His conspiracy theories are really not a bit genuine or original and he always thinks someone in "authority" is "out to get him." There is a name for that. At least publish his e-mail or mailing address so I can tell him personally.

Stuart Hillyer

Herndon, Va.


Keep Ventura Coming

Editor:

Just wanted to say I look forward to "Letters @ 3AM." Very much. Count me as a person in favor of keeping these coming. You guys are awesome.

Lance Wechsler


Libertarians Tell It Like It Is

Editor:

First you said you don't endorse Libertarians because they are "anti-government" ["Endorsements," April 11]. You were rightfully called on the carpet for that incorrect phrase ["Postmarks," April 18]. The next week, it magically disappeared from your endorsements. Unfortunately, you replaced it with a phrase that wasn't much better -- Libertarians "are almost invariably more ideological than pragmatic (delivering a dogmatic 'less government' solution to virtually every issue)."

I have two points to make: 1) You say tomAYto, I say tomAHto; you say "dogmatic" and "ideological," I say "consistent" and "principled." 2) What's so wrong with offering a "less government solution"? Austin has been traveling down the "more government" route for years and years, and I dare say we're in a worse position than ever before. The roads are a mess, the city wants to legislate more and more of our lives, and City Council meetings are at best a three-ring circus and at worst a contact sport. Maybe it's time to try something completely different!

In this day of candidates spouting bland platitudes just to get elected, I realize it's shocking to you to hear folks like Steve Adams and Wes Benedict call it like it really is. What you see as dogma, I see as a desperately needed approach to fix what the government has broken. The D's and R's won't give it to you like it really is -- only the Libertarians will.

Robert Hansen


Business Is No Friend of Mine

Editor:

The City Council campaigns are in motion and "business friendly" is in the air. A better slogan would be "business cautious" or "business cynical," or maybe just "business businesslike," but not "friendly." Don't expect "friendly" from business. A government can be friendly, but a business is there to make a profit, not a friend. Drop your guard and you may get fleeced.

Our Intel skeleton says it all. That decision was made a thousand miles away by someone who thinks that Austin is in Kansas.

So, candidates, just remember, if you're going to get in bed with business you'd better be ready to cuddle with a cash register.

Dick Kallerman


Another Floridian Boasts Bush

Editor:

Today is the first time I have ever visited your Web site. I clicked on title "George Bush" [in the News Deep Focus section]. I thought I would get to read some wonderful things about him since he is from Texas. I thought you would have written some nice things [on] this "Freedom Iraq." What a victory for him.

Boy, did I ever get a surprise. It looks as though you are another "Bush Basher." You must undoubtedly be a Democrat. I am so sick and tired of people trying to put our president down. The Democrats have not gotten over the 2000 election. I do mean election. GW is too honest for you Democrats. You are trying to find anything to discredit him.

Needless to say I will not be visiting this anti-Bush paper online anymore.

Wanda Scott

Belleview, Fla.


Maximum Nofziger

Dear Editor,

Your endorsements have become a running joke -- Will Wynn takes the cake. I've been following Wynn since 1999 when Clare Barry (who you wisely endorsed) and myself missed forcing Mr. Money Bags into a run-off by 5%. Wynn, the obvious heir apparent of Austin's failed economic policies, has become a standard bearer for Smart Growth -- that is, infrastructure giveaways of over $100 million to corporations, under the guise of environmentalism. Why haven't you asked Wynn, a downtown developer, how much he or his family profited from the giveaways? Why haven't you held him and the current Council accountable for a $70 million deficit and severe budget crisis?

Neighborhood leaders are exasperated by Wynn's unwillingness to meet with them, can't get him on the phone because he fired his staff, and when they go to meet with the council, Wynn leaves the dais! The councilman has even become "affectionately" dubbed by city hall insiders as "the screamer," for his nastiness to others around him.

Your endorsement likens Max Nofziger to Leslie Cochran. It's pretty clear that you've had it in for Max for not having gone along with the selling-out of Austin when Kirk Watson had to spend nearly $1 million to stop Max in 1997. It's too bad we haven't a consistent independent voice in the press. Voters are just going to have to figure this out for themselves. Go to www.austinmayor.com and make your own decision. Then go join Independent Texans -- it's free. We're supporting Max to the max!

Independently yours,

Linda Curtis

www.independenttexans.org


Vote 'Yes' on May 3 for ACC

Dear editors,

Thanks for your insightful endorsement of the Austin Community College referendum ["Endorsements," April 18]. You really get it where ACC is concerned.

During this election season, I am really seeing how much people value ACC. It's incredible to me how many people I talk to have attended ACC -- or their spouse or child or parent has attended ACC. And they all talk about how great their professors are and how much ACC helped them. This is very gratifying to me, as a longtime teacher at ACC.

Every semester I teach a lot of students who are the first members of their families ever to go to college. ACC really does open the door to a better life for many, many people.

Vote Yes May 3!

John Herndon


This Sucks!

Editor:

Ha! Ha! We won! Nah-nah. Wait, why am I cheering? I get nothing out of this. Bush's cronies make billions in rebuilding contracts and oil contracts. I get a big war bill. Plus everyone hates me because I'm American. Hey, wait a minute. This sucks!

Arthur Lauritsen

Seoul, Korea (hometown Austin)


The Eighties Have Died Again

Editor:

Say goodbye to Eighties music in Austin. 107.7 KTND changed formats over the weekend, apparently to another Tejano station. Hopefully another radio station will pick up where they left off playing Erasure, Depeche Mode, and Thomas Dolby. Maybe we can convince 97.7 to change formats ... again. If not, then I guess that's what a 5-CD changer and satellite radio are for. I don't believe four Tejano stations are nearly enough. Do you?

Toby McClellan

Round Rock


Get It Right, Hernandez!

Editor:

Just read Raoul Hernandez's The Beatles' Anthology DVD review ["Phases and Stages," April 18]. Raoul is on the mark for most of the review, but he should have checked his facts. The first sentence of the review states, "When all 10 hours of the Beatles Anthology aired on PBS in 1994 ..." Huh. I coulda sworn it aired on ABC in 1996 ... in fact, it did! He also writes, "While no one disputes that the Beatles were ultimately Lennon's band ..." Well, I dispute it. What about Paul? C'mon Raoul! When talking about the greatest band ever, please, please, please get it right! I'm gonna go listen to Revolver now and try to calm down.

Thank you,

John Hawkins


Bush's Misunderestimated Résumé

Dear Carolyn Gunn,

You have got to be kidding. You compile a Bush's merits catalog that epitomizes how well he rests on others' laurels, and imply that, because of these achievements, he is irreproachable ["Postmarks," April 18]. The man who refused to answer a reporter's question "Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican" was admitted to Yale thanks to that other method of affirmative action, the admission of multigeneration legacies. His Harvard education and wealth are also attributable to his being a Bush. As to "distinguish[ing] himself ... financially" -- which Steve Davis, whose movie review you found offensive, apparently cannot, as if that mattered -- how can you even list this as a point of praise for someone in the public service? Since when does personal affluence have anything to do with how well one meets his constituents' needs? You mention finally that Bush serves as head of state of a nation. You may find this a trifling point, but he was never elected to that position (why didn't you mention his relationship with Katherine Harris among his outstanding achievements?). He's there now, yes, so perhaps he isn't a hack after all. But, how else can you describe an Oval Office occupant who has said, "Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease," or, "They misunderestimated the fact that we love a neighbor in need"?

If you want to convince someone of Bush's effectiveness, don't repeat this empty laundry list of nonachievements. Mention, rather, the way he brokered a peace agreement between two enemy states, how he supports civil rights, or how hard he worked to pull his country out of a recession.

It's true what you say: Casting aspersions is easy "when one has nothing at stake." It is also easy when the object of those aspersions lends himself so well to censure.

Leah Hesla


Confidentiality Is Crucial

Dear Editor:

As a social worker I would like to express my satisfaction with the passage of HIPAA regulations concerning protection of patients' medical information. I worked for some time in a hospital and one of my greatest concerns was the ease with which records were accessible to unconcerned parties, whether intentional or accidental. Finally, I feel that something is being done on a large scale to protect ordinary citizens from their private information being reviewed by unnecessary persons. This is a time for our nation to be proud of the judicial system which has worked to benefit those it serves. In a profession where confidentiality is crucial to our work, I feel some relief regarding this issue.

Thanks for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Rose Herr, LSW


Buskers Are Tourist Attractions

Dear Editor

Being a Scotsman born with an American father who was a GI in World War II, I was interested to see the letter pertaining to buskers in Austin ["Postmarks," March 28]. I have been a street singer and musician all over Scotland most of the 60 years of my life, and in our country we are treated as tourist attractions and many ancestors have always played in streets to entertain the public. We sing and play the songs and tunes that always stay in our minds, and we enjoy singing the songs and playing tunes of long ago, because old songs and music are the best. I for one when visiting the USA, will make a point of visiting Austin to see your street musicians, and after all if it wasn't for the minstrels, news wouldn't have been passed on. And thanks to America and the Highland Regiments that freed Iraq.

Thank you,

John Redmond


Ben Kweller: Musical Wonder?

Editor:

I know this was nearly a year ago, but I really think you should rethink your stance on the phenomenal but young musical wonder Ben Kweller ["Phases and Stages," April 26, 2002]. After listening to his CD and a live performance, I find that his music has a real down-to-earth feel and something for everyone. Since when does an artist have to pick one genre? Ben Kweller is 21, he is still discovering where he belongs musically, and so what if he finds out that he doesn't belong anywhere in particular? His unique lyrics are so refreshing and such a new way for an artist to express himself. He is an incredible live performer, whose musical style is not a pop clone, but one of genuine musical talent. With the piano in "In Other Words," the upbeat rock song "Wasted and Ready," and the real experiences and real talent in "Commerce, TX" Ben Kweller proves his musical diversity. He is the real deal, he plays and writes his own music (wow, what a concept) and his matchless combination of musical styles allows him to relate to anyone with musical appreciation. In a few months he is going to begin recording his next album, and hopefully by then you can open your eyes and see past all the pop trash out there and realize that Ben Kweller is the next big thing.

Allison Christensen


Public Spending Isn't the Answer

Editor:

Mr. King states, "Public spending is one of the most efficient sources of economic stimulus available in recession" ["A Lege Too Far," April 11]. I have to ask, when and where has this happened? History shows that this is not the case. Japan has had three major recessions in the past 10 years. Japan, in attempting to spend its way out of its economic problems, has run up a national debt equal to about 120% of its GDP and about equal to the United States' own debt in dollar amount. We have double Japan's GDP so we are not as bad off. Most of Japan's debt has been accrued in massive public works projects such as undersea tunnels and superlong bridges. Not to mention its spending on social programs. Japan still has a weak economy with a banking system near collapse. More public spending has not solved Japan's problems, and it won't solve ours.

Public spending under the New Deal with programs such as the TVA, CCP, WPA still left the United States with an unemployment rate of about 17% at the start of World War II and on the verge of another economic downturn.

If public spending were the answer, the old Soviet Union along with Cuba and North Korea would all have been economic powers instead of basket cases.

All free economics is cyclic, what goes up comes down and then goes back up. Public spending will not change that. Not even wasting money on music networks for garage bands in Austin or a stadium for a pro sports team in Dallas. Taking money from the taxpayer/consumer and giving it to the government to spend is not going to help the economy.

Respectfully,

Carl A. Anderson


Shame on Craddick

Editor:

This letter is to shame Mr. Craddick for proposing doing away with home health care for the elderly. These people will no longer be able to bathe, sleep in a clean bed, have meals, have a clean house, etc. Who could be this cruel? Mr. Craddick might as well put a pistol to these poor people's heads and save them the slow death he has in mind for them. I am a Republican, but I can't believe our party is doing this. I'm sure this will haunt us forever and be the end to our recent political gains. He might as well put a pistol to his head also, as I'm sure this will be the end of his career, and any others that vote for it. Of all the money that goes to illegal immigrants and foreign aid to countries that hate us, and he does this to people that worked hard and paid taxes all their lives. Shame on you Mr. Craddick, and all the other senators that supported this. Also, if Gov. Perry signs this it will be the end for him. I'm so ashamed to be a Republican at this time. Maybe those that care should change parties.

David Anders

Retired teacher


ACC Is Worth It

Dear Editor:

As a resident of South Austin, I support Austin Community College's plan to build a South Austin campus. South Austin really needs more educational opportunity.

That's why I'm voting yes in the ACC election going on now. ACC is only asking property owners for 5 cents -- about a dollar a week. That seems like a small amount to pay for such a large amount that ACC gives back to the community.

ACC is worth every penny.

René Vacchio de Capra


More American Cynicism

Editor:

I've recently started a patriotic service designed to show support for our troops. The service I'm offering is a patriotic stars-and-stripes flag painted on their curb. The response I'm getting is pretty dismal. No one seems to want to show their support of our troops. I'm just asking for a donation so I can buy materials and donate the money to "TAPS." Where is our support? Do we really support our troops or is it just the media saying we do? Since I've started this, I've become very cynical of our intentions as Americans.

Steven Kruse


Lack of Counseling Is Serious Problem

Editor:

Over a year ago a friend of ours decided to have an abortion. The only counseling offered at the clinic was a brief preoperative consultation regarding the abortion procedure and its physical ramifications. There was no mention of possible emotional trauma. For the next year she found herself falling deeper and deeper into depression, contemplating suicide many times. She had horrific nightmares and felt utterly alone. After following referral after referral she learned that she was experiencing post-traumatic stress syndrome, which is prevalent in women who have received abortions. She felt validated to know that she had a legitimate illness and just needed some professional assistance. However, secular or nonjudgmental counseling was nowhere to be found. To make a long, sad story short, after many failed attempts to receive any kind of immediate professional help, she gave up.

Whether you are pro-choice or anti-abortion, accurate psycho-educational counseling services are desperately needed to be available for women who seek them. What can you do? Make your opinions known and do all that you can to increase awareness on local, state, and national levels. Call or write your senator or local representative and tell them that you do not support needless suffering.

Elizabeth Guernsey and Summer Sorley


Max's Record Speaks for Itself

Editor:

Wait! Stop the coronation! What do we usually get when we are informed that there is only one truly viable candidate in an election? We get the person who won't upset the insiders' apple carts. If the citizens of Austin really want vision, leadership, and integrity, they must do their own research before they vote in the pending mayoral election. As an Austinite of 32 years, I am astounded at the insidious attempts to marginalize the candidacy of Max Nofziger. Check out his record at www.maxformayor.com. Max's tenure on the City Council has been characterized as "undistinguished." But the facts tell a different story. A few examples:

  • First elected to the council in 1987, when the local economy was tanking, Max led the way in restoring balance to the city budget, making hard decisions in very difficult circumstances.

  • Max introduced the city's first nondegradation water quality ordinance to protect Barton Springs. This evolved into the SOS ordinance, approved by voters in 1992.

  • He first put endangered species on the local agenda, which resulted in voters approving millions of dollars to purchase habitat.

  • Max's Austin Clean Air Transit plan is a sensible, cost-effective, multifaceted alternative to the impractical and hugely expensive light-rail plan.

    So how weird are we, Austin? Weird enough to elect a mayor who cares more about preserving our precious environment and local culture than about lining his own pockets? I have known Max for 25 years. A hardheaded realist, he has studied and worked on quality of life issues in Austin all that time. He always conducts deep research from which he develops his positions. He is not afraid to take a position contrary to that of powerful groups of all stripes, if he sincerely sees a better way.

    Tamara Sbelgio


    Vote No to SB 1361

    Editor:

    The state Senate Natural Resources Committee is considering a very bad bill, SB 1361, authored by Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine. This bill attempts to prohibit the use of any credible, citizen-gathered evidence in any environmental enforcement actions. It is bad for several reasons: It undoes a pivotal portion of the Sunset Legislation passed last session; it prohibits the public from fully participating in the environmental permitting and enforcement process; and it takes away a free tool that the TCEQ can utilize to help enforce environmental permits. In these trying fiscal times, it simply does not make sense for the Legislature to prohibit citizens from participating in the enforcement process. Citizens help the TCEQ protect the environment and public health in Texas. Passing this bill would be as ridiculous as passing a bill that would prohibit an eyewitness to a crime from testifying in court. I am sure that law enforcement officials would not be in favor of such a law. It would create havoc in our legal system. This is exactly what would happen to environmental enforcement if SB 1361 were to be passed. It simply does not make sense. Senators, please vote no to SB 1361.

    Christine Wilson

    Lakeway


    Ventura's Voice Is Heard

    Editor:

    I have read Michael Ventura's essays for nearly 20 years (and had the pleasure of his dinner company once in Las Vegas), and he continues to astonish me with his hard questions and his even more difficult answers. I live in an extremely conservative community (Palm Desert, Calif.), and have rarely heard a dissenting word about the war. (Fighting with one's girlfriend about the immorality of this conflagration does not constitute a debate; it leads to accusations that filter into the bedroom.) Anyway, please feel free to edit this rambling mess, but please convey this message to him: I measure my silent cowardice against his eloquent courage. I continue to be grateful for his columns, and will seek out his wisdom as long as we both reside on this peculiar planet.

    Robert Chancey


    The Peace Doves Were Right

    Editor:

    It is great that Operation Iraqi Freedom has been a huge success. Fighter jets, tanks, bunker buster bombs, and cruise missiles have managed to take out a horrible dictator possessing weapons of mass destruction, and bring liberty to Iraq. The success of this operation without the use of weapons of mass destruction demonstrated the point that a lot of peace doves have been claiming all along: America does not need so many weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and President Putin agreed last May to reduce levels of nuclear weapons to about 2,000 per country in the next 10 years. Let's hope that future leaders realize how useless these harbingers of massive death and destruction are and can do better. Hopefully they will be able to plan for the day when the number of nuclear weapons worldwide is zero.

    Eli Shirayanagi

    Santa Cruz, Calif.


    Where Are the WOMDs?

    Editor:

    How long do you think it will be before the American public snaps to the lack of "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq? I mean, the reason we went in there and bulldozed the country was because of the WOMDs all over the place, and now we can't find any.

    H'mmm?

    Even though we changed the "tone" of the war by calling it a liberation war (immediately after the opening bell, as I recall), how exactly do we justify having attacked a country without them attacking us first? And if Saddam was responsible for 9/11, then why are we chasing some loon all over the far Middle East?

    It seems the real reason was because Mr. Bush had a vendetta against Mr. Hussein, but that didn't fly so it became an egg hunt for all those WOMDs we knew were there (see the fuzzy pictures?), then it became the American Liberation Front.

    Doesn't it bother anyone that we just pulled an imperialistic war for reasons unspecified? We ignored the constitution, the war powers act -- hell ... we ignored our actual rules of engagement. Then we have the balls to call the Germans and French a bunch of weenies for not joining in.

    Damn we're good!

    Art McMillian


    Show Us the Money, Wee Jimmy

    Editor:

    Jim Hightower lies flat out in his columns, and the Chronicle knows it and still prints his trash. Why? Someone recently called the Chronicle "a progressive paper." After laughing for two weeks, I took time to correct this misstatement and to prove Hightower's lies.

    I would hope that a "progressive newspaper" would include more than the fringe rantings of lunatics and liars like Hightower. I would hope that all rational views would be given equal time and consideration in a "progressive newspaper," but the Chronicle presents only one very narrow point of view, that of the extreme left and just about anyone who hates Republicans in general and Bush in particular. Which is fine, there are a lot of fringe rags out there posing as newspapers, posing as "progressive." But the Chronicle isn't interested in any real debate on any important issue; it's only interested in allowing narrow-minded, intolerant liars like Hightower to spew their lies.

    Wee Jimmy claimed a few weeks ago that President Bush had spent, get this, more than $7 trillion dollars, wiping out, as Wee Jimmy claimed, a more than $5 trillion surplus and an additional $2 trillion or more ["Hightower Report," Feb. 28]. He's a liar and he knows it. He was claiming that President Bush had spent the projected 10-year federal surplus, not the actual cash. "Projected Surplus" is kinda like Jim planning on growing tall enough to ride the Ferris wheel at Six Flags, but oddly enough, he's still not taller than the cutout at the entrance to the ride. "Projections" are "best-case scenarios" and didn't take into account things like terrorist attacks which cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars, and things like the recent strike by West Coast longshoremen which cost the U.S. economy almost $10 billion. Pretending President Bush "spent" money that was only "real" through "projections" is a deliberate lie and Hightower knows it. It's like if you were $300 in debt right now, the "projection" over 10 years would be that you'd be in debt to the tune of $108,000. In a year that the entire federal budget is less than $2.7 trillion, Wee Jimmy claims that in fact we spent $7 trillion or more. Prove it, Jim. Show us the documentation, show us the money trail, give us a link where you can back up your bullshit. It's all bullshit, as most of his "work" is, and Hightower knows it, the Chronicle knows it, but doesn't care. "Progressive newspaper"? What a joke.

    Carl T. Swanson


    Viva la Revolution

    Editor:

    Prior to the 2000 presidential election, 60 Minutes featured a group of rich guys called Safari International, dedicated to "hunting" endangered species. The viewer was treated to footage of a mountain goat being felled by a rifle fired from a helicopter, and a caged tiger, sedated (to prevent flailing damage) and shot point-blank with a pistol. George H. Bush Sr. and W. Jr. were both members of this gang of sickos at the time of airing.

    What could be more despicable? Killing humans for sport or Satanic sacrifice, which evil the elite of this world has perpetrated for millennia.

    The coat of arms of the Bush boys' fraternity is a skull and crossbones, the mark of pirates. What was Enron but piracy?

    I've heard institutionalized crime justified by, "our guys are less evil than their guys." Our guys made their guys. No one on Earth is more ruthless! They're not evil because they fight fire with fire; they're sworn to evil.

    Germany handed over power prior to World War II to a sociopath bent on genocide, who was financed in part by Prescott Bush. Treason. During the past century, Americans have slept while legislation was passed -- and a massive prison system was populated by millions of drug users -- which is more draconian than laws used by Hitler to build his horrific prison state.

    Every major corporation on Wall Street has its stock value appreciated with laundered drug money. Under the Reagan presidency, with former CIA chief Bush as VP, the CIA shipped massive quantities of cocaine into urban America by the USAF. Treason.

    If demand for drugs was eliminated in the U.S., a stock market crash and job losses across the board unparalleled by the Great Depression would occur.

    We could save our national soul with another revolution.

    Most sincerely,

    Kenney C. Kennedy


    Get Our Post-Bush Priorities Straight

    Dear Editor,

    The great orgy in Iraq is winding down. Untold death, suffering, and destruction has been inflicted on innocent people. A juicy contract -- a sort of WPA/CCC for the Middle East -- is safely in the clutches of the Bechtel Corporation -- a generous donor to the 2000 Bush presidential campaign. Colonization of the Tigris-Euphrates valley, the cradle of civilization, is underway, and artifacts that date back 7,000 years and testify to that history are destroyed or forever gone, thanks to "planning" done by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld triumvirate.

    This may be yet another new form of compassionate conservatism that will be noted in documenting the history of the Reich.

    Now we must make a new pledge of allegiance -- to the idea that the regime responsible for the rape of the Iraqi people and their country must be removed. We will not sit on our hands or minds like people did in 1933, when another compassionate conservative came to power in Germany. It is our right and our duty to do everything in our power to remove the regime in Washington, D.C., from power by election day 2004.

    Then I hope we can get back to promoting peace and understanding among peoples and nations -- a task not as glamorous or titillating as waging war and imperialism, but requiring thought and true compassion, infinitely more valuable and useful for us and our neighbors on the planet -- and worthy of a super power.

    Edward Sledge

    Member, Austin Human Rights Commission and Community Race/Cultural Relations Group


    A Poem for W

    Editor:

    American cowboy and British gent

    before the questioning crowd ...

    Photogs whirring and notebooks scribbled

    record these men uncowed.

    Artful dodging, elusive quarry

    these boastfully fearless leaders --

    propaganda readily apparent

    to we newspaper readers.

    But all the same a certain pining

    strikes me at the heart

    when I compare the great Tony Blair

    with ours -- who ain't worth a fart.

    Devin Walsh


    A Need for Checks and Balances

    Editor:

    I would like to voice my concerns of how the warrant process is handled throughout the state of Texas. My recent experiences with Williamson County, especially, have led me to believe that the system needs some serious checks and balances.

    I spent three days in Travis County Jail because the warrant division could not afford to send a notice that a warrant was issued on me for a failure to appear. I was not given the opportunity to address the situation by mail, phone, or in person because I had no idea there was a warrant outstanding. When pulled over for a minor traffic violation, I was informed the warrant was issued over a year and a half ago. Mind you ... this was for a failure to appear at a child support hearing that I could not attend because of a serious illness. I rescheduled the hearing, obtained a recall of the warrant and assumed it was recalled.

    The general public does not have access to the warrant information though TCIC or any other avenue. The warrant divisions of most counties and cities do not, will not send you a notice of a warrant.

    Once in jail I could not make bail or bond. Strange ... a rapist, murderer, thief, or other criminal accused of a crime could bail or bond out, but not a dad who missed a court date. Apparently, dads are worse criminals than those accused of a serious felony.

    All of this could have been avoided with a 37-cent stamp. You could be next.

    Jim Wardlaw

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