Our readers talk back.

Eat at Joe's!


Hi, I am Joe Sullivan, the proprietor of House Park Bar-B-Q. I just listened to the confession of a firefighter who told me he was responsible for getting me taken out of the Restaurant Poll. He claims to have mailed hundreds of rigged polls in the Nineties because he was so crazy about my barbecue all in the same mailbox. Is there any truth to a crazy story like that?



P.S. The size of my stationary was made possible by the amount of coverage y'all have been getting out on us. Virginia, the hip's better. Love ya, Joe.

[Ed. note: In its polls, the Chronicle weeds out votes that have the characteristics of ballot-stuffing, such as similar ballots mailed in similar envelopes. However, this would not impact the other votes that a particular restaurant may receive.]

Cowardly Killer D's

My fellow Americans,

I can't wait to read the next issue of The Austin Chronicle. I'm certain there will be high praise for the democratically elected representatives of the citizens of Texas turning tail and running from a fight. I don't agree with everything either party is doing and agree with some of what both parties do. But if I don't like new rules or the way things happen at my job, I make my voice heard to whoever will listen and might be able to make something happen. If I don't show up, I'm out of a job, just like 99% of the other people in the real world. People who run away from a fight just because they no longer possess the biggest weapon are a bunch of wimps. They can stay in Mobilehoma (as John Kelso would say). I took the time out of my day to vote, unlike most Austinites (whose voices should not be heard if they did not do the same, as they are too apathetic). I want the government we put into office to stop acting like a bunch of junior high children and be adults. Learn to compromise, people.

Rick Bateman

Oak Hill

Proud of Michael King


I looked forward to Michael King's article on the Killer D's. I was planning to send it to friends, knowing that it would be complete, penetrating, and witty. Then it occurred to me, this is no small thing to be the best political writer in Texas, so thanks Mike, and keep 'em coming.

Paul Sherr

Alamo Wisdom From N.C.


If Texas has people like your Democrat legislators, the cowards would have snuck out of the back door at the battle of the Alamo. They should be expelled from your great state. What a dirty trick to delay legislative agenda. G.I.s are fighting for our independence from such cowardly acts from your leaders now in power.

John D. Nash

Supply, N.C.

Perry's Idea of Work


For all the mudslinging from both sides, there is a big issue that no one seems to want to remark on.

Rick Perry said his "Democratic friends" needed to come home and "do the people's work." I just have to comment that Rick Perry isn't exactly the best person to talk about getting work done.

From your paper: "On June 17, 2001, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed 78 bills passed during the recently adjourned 77th session of the Texas Legislature. Earlier, he had vetoed three other bills, plus certain appropriations items in the budget bill, SB 1, for a grand total of 82 vetoes."

What bills, you may ask? Here are just a few ...

  • HB 236: Ban on Executing the Mentally Retarded

  • HB 396: Allowing Alternative Driver License for Illegal Immigrants

  • HB 546: Judicial Training in Ethnic and Racial Sensitivity

  • HB 1004: Work Activities for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families

  • HB 1006: Exemptions for Work Requirements Under TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families)

  • HB 1862: Prompt Payment for Health Care Providers

  • HB 2839: Low-Interest Loan Program for Green Building

  • SB 161: Transitional Support Services to Former TANF Recipients

  • SB 350: Living Wage for School District Construction

  • SB 730: No Arrests for Traffic Violations

    At least the Democrats were willing to compromise ... Perry just slashed and ran. Chicken D's my ass. ... Don't believe the hype.

    Joe Finfer

    Wanted: Raging Intellect


    You praise the actions of the House Democrats for taking the only course open to them to preserve their principles and then you spend the next 10 column inches explaining why you quit the radio show. You could have saved some space for more of our letters if you'd simply said your feelings got hurt. When the going got tough, you bailed. I had expected better of an intelligent man like you.

    Tenderfoot newcomers still have a lot to learn about Texans. Left, right, or center, we are a thick-skinned breed. Ask Hightower or Strayhorn.

    The Cassandra-esque fatalism I've been reading in your column these last few months doesn't sound like the same Louis Black that used to get my dander up. Where's the fire? Where's the raging intellect throwing down the gauntlet in the arena of ideas? I guess the whole 2000 election/war thing has got you way off your game. Please get it back! Yes, we thinking, conservative Texans exist. We read you and we need you. You keep us sharp and I am grateful. And know that most of us don't call in to talk radio though we enjoy listening to the rubes who do. It's all part of the great theatre of life. You've got to roll with it. Alas, the withering of their opposition has dulled some of our current leaders. Craddick and Perry come to mind. Running away, spewing money without aim (remember Tony?), or leaving the airwaves doesn't help. Pull yourself together. Dust off your best arguments or come up with some new ones. And above all, grow another inch or two of hide. Then get back in there. We're ready.

    Scott Hendrix

    High Tech Redistricting

    Dear editor:

    The determination of 53 Democrat members of the Texas House of Representatives to deny a quorum to the current session is misguided. The present court-approved districts will not carry over to future elections, and the next plan submitted to the federal court is likely to resemble the one the Democrats are trying to prevent by their boycott.

    Rather than taking this action until their demands are met that no district plan be adopted, they should instead be demanding what we have needed all along: adoption of a computer program that will draw district lines based only on population and not other demographic factors like voting history, yielding districts that are compact -- that is, with boundaries of minimum length, subject only to the need to snap to existing political boundaries like county and precinct lines.

    It seems clear that no plan drawn by human beings is going to be politically neutral or uncontroversial. There are computer programs that can do the job impartially. I propose this matter be resolved by adopting one such program, letting it draw the map, and acquiescing in whatever it draws. Then get on with the state's legislative business.

    Redistricting Software:

    Jon Roland

    Nicolai Deserves Better


    I have never written a publication before, but I feel compelled to do so now. I was shocked by the amount of venom in Jim Caligiuri's CD review of Mike Nicolai's Rooster Nudes ["Texas Platters," May 16]. I will not respond in kind. However, I would like to address his review.

    The writer does not like Nicolai's lyrics, complaining that they are "overwhelmingly linear" and "nonsensical, silly stream of consciousness." I don't understand how they could be both. However, I find his songwriting style challenging (in the best sense of the word).

    I have listened to this CD 50 times and still pick up on things I had not caught before, lyrically.

    I also consider his sense of melody and arrangement one of the freshest and most exciting that I've heard in a long time. Regarding the obtuse and "insider" style of writing, the same was said of Rilke during his lifetime and of Dickinson when she was first published. Just because you don't get it doesn't mean that it's not there to be gotten. In a post-Freudian world, much poetry began slowly turning inward. This style of writing is not as easily connected to, but no less valid.

    As far as the cute(!) criticism regarding Nicolai's use of choruses, I count seven songs with choruses, not one as Caligiuri implies. With one instrumental on the CD, that's seven out of 13 songs with lyrical refrains. As for the other six, have you ever heard "Masters of War," or "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," or "Don't You Take It Too Bad," or "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" or ...?

    Finally, the pure belligerence of suggesting that Nicolai "get over himself" is interesting. We're not talking about someone who is constantly piped into our living room with a forum for his propaganda. We're talking about a guy sitting in a room alone trying to make sense of his world. I, for one, hope he keeps doing it.


    Beaver Nelson

    Wake Up, Savlov


    I really think you guys should dispose of Mr. Marc Savlov because honestly I think he has never left Travis County. The way he writes his reviews reveals a complete lack of education and a very closed mind. But I am afraid that, like everything in Austin, it's because he has been there for a while or because you consider him "cool." And not only me but a lot and I mean a lot of people agree with me on that one. We don't want him reviewing things since his taste is definitely a bad, bad one.

    But anyway, you would do me a favor if you could explain to him what Matrix: Reloaded is all about. It is groundbreaking in terms of systems theory, quantum physics, and even regarding ancient philosophies. Whoever thinks it's a bad movie please see (with the help of psychotropics, meditation, you name it) how the universe (or universes) work, how everything is endless possibilities and in the end it's just cycles and events inside one of the infinite layers of a gigantic onion which is the infinite.

    This movie is not for middle-class America and you won't understand it unless you have experienced "reality," i.e., altered states of consciousness. If you don't understand it please don't judge it from your insignificant point of view. Thank you and I hope you wake up some day.

    Sib Barim

    The System Does Work


    Our Democratic House members deserve recognition and praise for their principled stand against redistricting. It's encouraging to see democracy at its best -- the system still works.

    Maria Esther Moro-Garcia

    Thanks to the Killer D's

    Re: Killer D's

    Thanks for Givin' 'Em Hell!

    Jeremiah Spence

    Listening to Talk Radio in Ill.


    I was appalled today to read in my local paper (Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.) that a group of Texas lawmakers were going purposely absent to thwart the legislative process of the state. I understand that one of their main concerns was over redistricting, but other issues they wished to stop were proposals on limiting lawsuits and also a proposal to avoid new taxes, but make spending cuts.

    I guess the part that really upset me was that this was the first time since Reconstruction that Republicans had controlled the House; and yet the AWOL legislators had the gall to say ... this is unfair!

    Gentlemen, life is not fair; get over it and do your jobs. I view your job as building a better state of Texas for all Texans, not just Democrats. If that means you do not win re-election, so be it. Are you serving yourself or your state?

    As for the issues on the table: Where does spending ever stop vs. raising taxes and who, other than the lawyers reaping the benefits, believes that there are many instances where lawsuits should not be capped? I truly believe that a cap on medical lawsuits would allow us as a nation to really provide decent health care for all citizens of these United States!

    A first-ever writer to any paper; just wondering where our nation is headed with leaders of this mindset

    Kenneth A. Koch

    Tremont, Illinois

    Proud to Be a Democrat


    It's been quite some time since I've been willing to publicly "out" myself as a Democrat. I mean, who wants to admit even a passing affiliation with a group that has so consistently disappointed over the past 30 years? Hell, I'd sooner don a Clippers jersey than show anyone my voter registration card. But that all changed when 51 brave members of the Texas Legislature hopped the border into Oklahoma, rather than stand idly by as their Republican counterparts attempted to greedily carve up the electoral pie under the banner of redistricting. The Republican gambit was shameful, a blatant attempt to parlay their recent victory into a permanent advantage, against and in spite of the will of Texas citizens. Now, it is the Republicans' turn to hide their heads as we Democrats proudly salute that rarest of American commodities: political courage. And here I thought capitulation was the only strategic option in the Democrats' political arsenal. Let's hope the lesson isn't lost on the party's national "leadership."

    David Breshears

    I Quit Over Secondhand Smoke

    Dear Editor,

    I quit bartending because of secondhand smoke. Bartending was a fantastic job -- great money and a lot of fun. What I couldn't take anymore was showering at 3am and putting my work clothes in garbage bags so I could sleep without the stench of smoke on me. I got tired of constantly coughing and drinking Theraflu before shifts at work. I was taking five-minute "fresh air" breaks out back, the way office workers take smoke breaks. I sacrificed a good wage and good job for my health.

    I hope the City Council passes the ordinance to make public places in Austin smoke-free. Workers and nonsmokers in these places have a right to breathe clean air. It's not a problem to go outside at your friends' house to smoke, and it won't be a problem to show the same respect at a bar or restaurant.

    Ryan Steglich

    Wary of Computer Voting


    Could someone please tell me why I'm the only one who is not OK with computer voting as was the only form of voting allowed in this last election? Where's the evidence of the vote once it's cast, and how do you prove to society "at large" that the candidate did actually garner said votes to win an election? Can't your vote be "tampered with"?

    Larry Hubbard

    Democrats Did Their Job


    Republican State Rep. Fred Hill criticized Democrat legislators for choosing "to walk rather than engage in an exchange of ideas" about the GOP's redistricting plans. Would that one could have an exchange of ideas with Texas Republicans, but they don't listen. Their minds are already made up. Republicans believe the state's Congressional delegation should reflect the party that got the most votes, but they sure don't seem to feel that way about the presidency.

    But because the Texas House Democrats thwarted the plan that was on its face ridiculous to look at (in place of one that ensures Austinites the ability to send one of our own to represent us in Congress), who knows what other regressive and repressive laws will not be inflicted upon Texans for at least two more years.

    Thank you Democrats.

    Greg Gordon

    Creatives Against Republicans


    The abuse of power and hatemongering going down in the name of American justice is appalling. Anyone with any reason can see through the charade of hypocrisy perpetrated by the band of renegades from the Constitution that operate out of the Republican Party. They are determined to usurp power at the cost of your own power and then profit from the transaction. These wolves in the sheep's clothing of "Christianity" stop at nothing to unseat your elected representatives, cause a series of unending wars, subvert peace and diplomacy, take away your jobs, take away your health, take away your education, take away your money, take away your voice, and hand it over to the rich and the powerful and more bombers and more angry Limbaughs ranting and raving about what other people ought to be doing, or not doing.

    We have a way to fight this scourge on our democracy. There are creative ways to shape our world so we can overcome the fundamentalism that shall perish like fascism and communism. They always come after us first: the writers, the performers, the musicians, and the artists among us, because they want the people's soul. They discredit, they slander, they accuse, and they arrest. But we are eternal and we always prevail over the forces of evil in whatever form it comes. We show the truth in our art and touch places of our being that cannot be taken away.

    So come on Creatives, what are we going to do about it?

    Bob Carstensen

    Homeland Insecurity


    Why is it that the concept of "Homeland Security" makes me feel anything but secure? Hmm ... let me see ... is it the fact that the government is now giving itself the right to record everything you do, listen to everything you say, in feigned concern about the threat of good ol' terrorism? Or is it the fact that, suddenly, my mother's conspiracy theories don't seem so absurd ... at all? Or maybe it's that I'm steadily becoming more and more convinced that even trying to "fight the power," my trusty motto, is beyond useless; in fact, it will probably land me in jail with all the other people classified as public enemies because of their race, religion, or views. What happened to free speech? What happened to the privacy of your own home? Homeland Security is 1984 meets here. Now. And I'm afraid that if you're an optimist in this world, you might as well roll over and die, because things are not looking up. Sure, it's sunny all the time but maybe that's because there isn't any ozone left to protect our most unworthy existence. This too depressing for you? Well too bad, because it gets a whole lot worse. I'm beginning to think that just walking out of your government job and hiding in Oklahoma or wherever would in fact be not only the best thing you could do, but the only thing. That's right, cover your eyes and hide under your covers. Ladies and gentlemen, this is it. And may America rot in the depths of its nonexistent soul.

    Aimee Grainer

    GA Checks In


    I have watched the news this week in utter disgust at the behavior of the Texas Democratic legislators. It is amazing how upset they get when the tables are turned on them, and the Republicans use their own tactics against them! This complete disregard for their constituents and the taxpayers' dollars (footing the bill for their playtime in Oklahoma), just confirms my decision to become a Republican. Do not get me wrong, I don't like a lot that they do, however, I would be ashamed to be a Democrat today! Wake up and smell the roses, ladies and gentlemen, the taxpayers are tired of you wasting our hard-earned dollars. Grow up and do the job you are paid to do!

    B.G. Hoffman

    Atlanta, Ga.

    Vaccinations Save Lives


    My beautiful granddaughter is dead.

    Serena's death was totally preventable, but someone made a bad decision not to get immunized for whooping cough.

    Her mother, my daughter, went to all her prenatal doctor appointments, watched her diet, took care of herself so she could take care of her baby. Serena was too young to even begin getting vaccinations, but you can be assured she would have received all her shots on time. All the love and caring our family gave Serena ultimately made no difference because someone else chose not to be immunized.

    Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a totally preventable disease. But only if everyone lives by the Golden Rule and does the right thing. No one has the right to make a decision for himself that can hurt others. And that's what happens when all children are not immunized. Their parents make the wrong decision, and someone else's child gets hurt!

    Serena lived 27 days in the loving arms of her family. She died because someone in the community did not get immunized.

    You can do something to make sure other families don't suffer the pain we are suffering. You can get immunized. And you can ask your state senator to support two bills pending in the Texas Senate: HB 1920 and HB 1921. One bill calls for the Texas Department of Health to keep a database that doctors can use to see if a child needs to be immunized. The other provides vaccines for children who don't have the insurance coverage to pay for the immunizations.

    Please, don't let another Serena die needlessly.

    Troy Rickabaugh

    Folk Music Is Above Criticism


    Caligiuri needs to remove that cotton from his ears next time he hears the true talent of Bill Passalacqua ["Texas Platters," May 16]. Bill's fine singing voice, guitar, courage, and wit are inspiring local and international movements for peace and justice in the fine traditions of Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, and the Indigo Girls. Bill's music went with us in spirit on our Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera trip to see our friends struggling for life in the maquiladora factories of Reynosa this weekend. Bill's songs enliven the road when he plays on the peace buses for the past several years to Fort Benning, Ga., to shut the School of the Americas, the U.S. military-operated terrorist training camp. You know not whereof you speak, Jim, if you think he is only attempting a political message. Learn from the friendly ways of your fellow KUT Folkways deejays and don't slam a folk musician, none of them, especially not such a fine, dedicated one as Passalacqua. Bill, keep rocking the movement, brother, with your humor and love!

    Donna Hoffman,

    Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera

    Bill Deserves Better

    Dear Editor and Jim Caligiuri:

    I've been to several shows, heard him at many rallies and received feedback from a lot of folks in town regarding Bill Passalacqua's music. I haven't heard one bad review except from Mr. Caligiuri ["Texas Platters," May 16]. Is this a case where all of Austin is wrong and he is right? Or is this a case of a reviewer of a political songwriter putting politics over musical critique?

    Luckily, Bill's the kind of guy who is assured of his positive effect on this town and doesn't need the back-patting of a reviewer ... it's just too bad the Chronicle's editors didn't take the time to listen to Bill's new CD first before publishing such a misnomer of a great musician -- risking that unfamiliar Austinites are not being let in on a good thing.

    Shouldn't reviewers get reviewed?

    Debbie Russell

    A Smoke-Free Supporter


    I would like to express my support for a smoke-free Austin. The benefits far outweigh the inconvenience to smokers.

    Thank you,

    Nancy-Jane Griffith

    Thanks for the Memories Rusty


    Everything in that story about Rusty Wier ["I Before E," May 31, 2002] is by god the truth!! I could listen to Rusty all day long -- and have, but it's been awhile. Your article has me missing him and I think I may be waltzing into the Saxon Pub here in a few Thursdays from now. He has been present at nearly all major events in my life. My wedding, my second wedding, my birthday (25th), the birth of my son, several rodeo events, and probably some others that I don't remember for some reason or another. Oh, then there was Billy Bob's. I even booked him a few times but needless to say I never made him any money and lost both of us even more. Oh well, we had some fun. We ain't never had too much fun. I am glad to know he is doing so well. He sang "Blue Haze" as I walked down the aisle to marry my knight in shining armor, who knocked me up and blessed me with a son. That song, well, I can't even listen to it anymore. But it's my song. Anyway, great article about Rusty. You told it like it really is. Thank you.

    Missy Lloyd


    The Republicans Have Gone Too Far


    When a political party can use the government's resources to search for opposition members based solely on political interest, America needs to notice. This illustrates that our men in power can, on a moment's notice, enact law enforcement to track and locate persons of their choosing without regard to law, ethics, or proper procedure. Regardless of who is doing the actions, America needs to address this behavior objectively. Republican constituents focus on the chain of events as if Democrats had been the party to use the government to track a Republican plane after Republicans had walked out due to Democratic redistricting.

    Issue 1: A political party attempted to use legislation to increase its strength through redistricting of opponent districts. This is unethical and arguably illegal behavior by elected officials. Americans should not allow themselves to be distracted by campaigning from either side -- the media and the public need to look at this situation without party bias. To use legislation to increase a party's power through redistricting is called gerrymandering -- this is illegal, and this has occurred.

    Issue 2: Using government resources for political interest should be illegal, and this too has occurred.

    None of the "missing" representatives had been reported as such. Republicans were clearly putting their noses and resources where they don't belong in reaction to Democratic revolt. Republicans did not search for these individuals for reasons based on national security or concern; rather they did so for political interest. When men in power react without exercising restraint and respect, they have displayed a major weakness that cannot be tolerated in democratic government. Proper leaders must exercise caution and concern, not impulse and retaliation. An American political party has gone too far and Americans should be concerned, regardless of which party they associate themselves with.

    Parker Jackson

    Leave Nicolai Alone


    Jim Caligiuri, FYI -- Nicolai's song, "Mammoth," is about Van Halen ["Texas Platters," May 16]. He lists the band's albums in chronological order through 1984 when he stops and sings (in key) "That is really all you need/there were dark days to follow/Enter Hagar." A joke that more than just "Nicolai and his acquaintances" would be in on, as you wrote. Also, you suggest Nicolai have a producer "or at least someone to bounce ideas off of before they let these things loose on the public." Why? So his recording could sound like some homogenized crap out of Nashville? Anyway, Nicolai did have someone in the studio to ask his advice. His name is Slim Dunlap, formerly of the Replacements, a musician that many folks (more than the number of Nicolai's acquaintances, less than the number of Van Halen fans) would trust in that capacity. Finally, you complained Nicolai's songs lack choruses and that he whines too much ô la Buckner, although Buckner can pull it off. How cheap. Buckner's later albums (i.e., The Hill and Impasse) contain few choruses in the songs, proving one does not necessarily require the standard pop song structure. In fact, it sounded as if you had your mind made up before you even heard the record. Perhaps you should consider re-reviewing Rooster Nudes. After all, Lester Bangs slammed the MC5's Kick Out the Jams in his initial review of the record for Rolling Stone and then later was a huge fan of the album and the band (please read Griel Marcus' introduction to Bangs' book Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung). Hey!!! Now you're in on the joke, Jim! Feel better?

    Lauren Fogel

    An Advocate for Clean Air


    Thank you to the members who voted for a smoke-free Austin. All of us who breathe really appreciate it. To those who voted for dirty air, please reconsider and vote for smoke-free Austin. Not only for Austin but for the rest of the world.

    Mary Anne Cecil

    Back a Smoke-Free Austin


    Imagine returning from a long night to find that your clothes are not saturated with cigarette smoke. That smell is just proof of how toxic smoke really is. I am writing to the people, asking you to back a smoke-free Austin. Smokers should not see this as an invasion of rights, but as a promise to their selves and others that secondhand smoke will not prevail over our health. It really is that bad for you. Austin, I urge you to embrace change and evolve to a higher level of health consciousness.

    Caroline Riley

    Wild Basin, an Austin Treasure


    Thank you for your coverage of the Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing at Wild Basin Wilderness last night.

    A wonderfully patient crowd gathered at the Bee Creek overlook with the astronomers and their telescopes to enjoy the evening, despite the haze and clouds. It was a pleasant night to be outdoors and a rare opportunity to experience Wild Basin after dark. People sat on the ground for hours looking at the glow of the moon behind the clouds and enjoying the breeze, the view, and the company.

    Thank you for letting Austin in on one of the best places to watch the moon.


    Jerome Collins

    Wild Basin Wilderness

    Kelley Knight

    Austin Astronomical Society

    Support Local Breweries, 'ACL'

    Dear Editor:

    I attended both days of last year's ACL Fest and had a wonderful time. I am so glad that Austin has something like this to call its own and am proud of my city all over again. I am confident that as the event grows, it will attract people from all over the country, some of whom may never have been to Texas -- a state full of heritage, pride, and local businesses.

    And then, when these "foreigners" step up into the beer lines (assuming the contracts from last year carry over), they will get to choose between Heineken (based in Amsterdam, headquartered in White Plains, N.Y.) and Amstel (also based in Amsterdam, owned by Heineken International), along with whatever other random megabeer happens to show up.

    Certainly Heineken International has the money and the clout to get an exclusive contract, but is that what Austin is all about? Between Heiney and Amstel, they might as well add whichever pop bands are on the Billboard Top 5 this week to the festival, and the effect would be the same.

    Austin City Limits isn't about the mainstream and doesn't (always) follow pop culture. I hope the festival's promoters don't turn the ACL Fest into a monoculture pop party, and that they won't offer only monoculture beer. Let's bring in the micros, the local brewpubs -- hell, at least a Shiner! -- and let the out-of-towners have a taste of what people in the Austin city limits really drink. And for god's sake, let's keep the money in Texas and out of White Plains.


    David Wynn

    Boyz Cellar Not a Live Music Venue


    For the love of God, Jehovah, Allah, Yahweh, El, Bull El, Zoroaster, Zeus, and Odin, stop placing those horrifying Boyz Cellar ads in the middle of the music listings section. Every time I look up a show, I'm forced to look at an ad for "Oily Frat Boyz." Please place this ad (and others like it) in the pornography section in the back of the paper with all the other revolting ads I try not to look at. And if no such section exists, then please create one so I can be sure and avoid it.


    Bill Baird

    Continue the Fight Against AIDS


    President Bush and the Senate have recently received praise for a bill that authorizes $3 billion to fight global AIDS. AIDS kills 8,200 people daily and has orphaned 14 million children. After a decade of inaction, it appears that the United States is finally taking this epidemic seriously.

    Unfortunately, while the bill is a significant step forward, the Senate undermined our best weapon against AIDS -- the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria -- when it failed to approve Senator Durbin's (D-Ill.) amendment mandating a minimum contribution of $500 million to the Global Fund. The Global Fund is a proven mechanism for fighting AIDS that has increased six-fold the number of people on life-saving medications in Africa while consistently keeping money from corrupt and wasteful governments.

    Some wish to minimize our contribution to multilateral efforts until other countries step up, but that is cowardice, not leadership. Leadership is America refusing to stand by while millions die of this preventable disease, even if the rest of the world is doing little. By contributing our fair share to the Global Fund, we will convince the world of the urgency of this pandemic and our commitment to ending it.

    Both the Senate and House have the power to redeem this egregious mistake in the bill if they can actually appropriate -- or cut the check for -- the full $3 billion the bill authorizes, with $1.2 billion going to the Global Fund.

    I am embarrassed by Senator Hutchinson's work

    against a better global AIDS policy, and urge them to push for the necessary appropriations to the Global Fund. We must use what works, and what will build international cooperation against the greatest threat to humanity.

    Ronz Rivera

    Rehabilitate Our Leaders

    Oh Gods and Goddesses,

    Please forgive George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, and John Ashcroft for their cynicism, belligerence, and shortsightedness. Please help them to see the error of their ways. I'm serious. Please do all in your power, O' Great Ones, to help our leaders grow into people whom we can all respect and love. May they never kill another person, no matter how indirectly. May they eschew greed and the hunger for power. May they always use their position to help the sick, the poor, and the disadvantaged. May they always think of the less fortunate, not of themselves or their cronies at companies where they used to sit on the board of directors. Make them, O' Lords and Lordesses, workers for peace and justice -- not a self-interested bunch of rich imperialists and warmongers. And please hurry. Or, if you can't do that, at least give us a candidate in 2004 who does have all these qualities, and let that person win the election. Thank you, O' Great Ones, and have a nice day.

    Yours Truly,

    Jeremy Edwards

    Bush's Tax Plan Illogical


    I don't think people that support the Bush tax cut can really understand what it means. Imagine that you call your credit-card company and ask them to quadruple your limit even though you're two times over your limit already. They grant you your wish. Then, you decide to quit your job and spend the available balance of your credit card to its newly quadrupled limit on stocks, hoping that the return will be greater than the interest rate. You can only speculate how well those stocks will do, and the return on the money that you've spent has to not just match your previous income, but exceed it by so much that it appears you've gotten a 1,000% raise with separate fistfuls of money to pay off the credit-card balance before the interest rate grows your debt to quadruple what it was when you started! Are you willing to take this gamble? As it turns out, many of you are, along with most Republican legislators. But this is my money you want to do this with.

    Bush people claim that spending money we don't have will generate 1.4 million jobs. This is based on the idea that companies out there are not as interested in making money as they are in the altruism of creating jobs for the good of the people and growing the economy for the good of the country. Corporations operate on the idea of spending as little as possible. Small business is not about to hire somebody just because they can. They need the confidence of a strong economy the same way the average consumer needs confidence to spend those extra dollars ($3.15 per day for a family of four, if you ask Bush).

    Finally, will somebody give me a guarantee that none of those theoretical 1.4 million jobs will be sent overseas? It's too late where I work -- congratulations India and Panama!

    Ben Burroughs

    Focus on the People, Not Politics


    I am so very proud of our Killer D's, taking a risk to put our government's priorities back in order. Please stop wasting time, energy, and money on power plays such as redistricting. Let's focus on the people of Texas for a change. There are many more important issues, such as health and education, that require your attention at this time. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to those courageous people who took a stand!

    R.A. Hays

    Fighting D's Restore My Faith in Texans


    My wife's uncle got married in El Paso this last March. I really didn't want to attend because it was in Texas. Alas, I had no choice.

    I felt uneasy driving into Texas. I wanted out as fast as I possibly could get out. The wedding and reception couldn't get over soon enough for me. "Why?" you might ask.

    Texas politics and the jerks that the Lone Star State sends to Washington, D.C., have made Texas a laughingstock. How can it be otherwise when Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Phil Gramm, and both the presidents Bush all came from Texas? Ah, but at least you have Molly Ivins, the greatest columnist ever to write about politics.

    Yes, I felt uneasy in your state. I pictured it as being full of raving conservative fundamentalists.

    Now, however, I feel good about Texas once again. Your Fighting D's have restored some of the luster to the second biggest state in our union. God Bless Texas and "go, fighting D's." You guys are number one in my book.

    Gene W. DeVaux

    Greenwood, Mo.

    Take Back the Country

    Dear Editor:

    We are writing to say that we admire the Democrats in the Texas Legislature for standing up to Tom DeLay and the Republicans. Many people have wondered when the Democrats were going to stop letting the Republicans bully them around. We Americans have lost our Freedom of Speech under this Republican dictatorship. Everything the Democrats say or do, Republicans say "This will hurt you in the 2004 Election." It was all right for the Republicans to try to destroy President Bill Clinton and Hillary, but you are not allowed to say anything about Bush. It is time the Democrats stand-up and fight for what is right. Bravo to the Democrats.

    Mildred and Travis Wallace

    West Jefferson, N.C.

    Good Morning, Austin


    You know, you'd think Robin Williams was talking about Texas in that scene in Good Morning, Vietnam when he says, "It's hot!! Damn hot!! Real hot!! So hot in my shorts, I could cook things in them, do a little crotch-pot cooking!! It's damn hot!! How hot is it? Fool, were you born on the sun? It's damn hot!! It's so damn hot, I saw one of those guys in the burnt orange shirts just burst into flames, it is that hot youknowwhatImean?" (OK, I upgraded it a little.)

    Or how about Robin Williams' Walter Cronkite's bit:

    "The weather out there today is hot and shitty with continued hot and shitty in the afternoon. Tomorrow a chance of continued crappy with a pissy weather front coming down from the north. Basically, it's hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut."

    Aaron Kapner

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