Our readers talk back.

End the Transportation Wars


Kudos to Lauri Apple for aptly describing the Austin transportation mess: Everyone has an agenda, but few have a workable plan ["City Hall's Bumpy Road," May 23]. We fail to realize that the agendas are really all the same: safe, convenient, and reasonably quick transportation. It's great that Katie Larsen can use public transit to travel from her home to work in 50 minutes and have time to drop off her kids. I admire Mike Dahmus and Patrick Goetz for having the energy, time, and courage to choose bikes as their mode of transportation. I also respect all the folks who choose to or must travel by car. So why can't we all just get along? Tim Taylor had a great idea: Let's end the "wars" by organizing a citizen coalition (and not stack the deck this time!) to get everyone together and talk about it instead of waiting for staff to come up with something nobody will like? The closure of Riverside lanes is a perfect example of staff's disconnect. Do we really need to be spending $600,000 in this time of the "city's strapped finances" to tear out part of a road that carries five million vehicle trips a year? That money would pay half of the city's share of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway. The bike folks should be falling all over themselves to grab that money!

Richard Maier

Clear the Path


The city of Austin likes to make grand and expensive transportation plans, but fails to focus on problems that are cheaply and easily fixed. For example; if you were walking on the north side of 38th Street going west, the sidewalk ends and becomes a dirt footpath just before Bailey Lane. The footpath becomes more rugged at Tonkawa Trail going down to Shoal Creek; this part of the trail is overgrown and strewn with debris that will force you to walk in the road at one point. After getting past this point you can walk down to the well-manicured Shoal Creek Trail. So hey, don't we already have crews on salary that can go clean out the brush and undergrowth? They don't need to lay a sidewalk, just make the existing path useable!

The Hike and Bike trails are nice, but are not enough to make Austin a pedestrian-friendly city. If Austin is truly interested in becoming a clean-air city, then city officials need to get out of their cars and walk the streets of Austin to see all the obstacles in the way of people walking to everyday destinations. Remove these obstacles and maybe people would be more likely to walk to shorter destinations than drive there!

David Cheeseman

Both Sides of the Story

Dear Chronicle:

Thanks for the insightful coverage of the transportation issues affecting the city ["City Hall's Bumpy Road," May 23]. However, I thought I should mention that I'm not a "cyclist" in the sense that Tommy Eden and Patrick Goetz are. They have made a much stronger commitment to living as car-free as possible; and rarely, if ever, drive. I, on the other hand, still work in the suburbs and must drive at least a few times a week. That frequent experience on both sides of the transportation divide is the most important thing I bring to the Urban Transportation Commission, since the other commissioners, while all open-minded, well informed, and well intentioned, tend to either be drivers or cyclists all the time. I find that commuting by both car and bike makes it fairly easy to tell which transportation proposals are reasonable (Lance Armstrong Bikeway, if done well), and which create a disproportionate burden on the other modes of travel (bike lanes on Guadalupe/Lavaca).


Mike Dahmus

Stay Radical, KOOP


Austin, really.

What Miss Apple doesn't seem to understand about KOOP ["Naked City: Austin Stories," May 23] is that it is made up of a diverse cast of characters who do not always get along. This means that when the going gets tough, the tough produce receipts for donations they have made over the years and post boycott stickers on light posts.

While KOOP Radio enjoys seeing its name in print from time to time, we object to being sneered at as "superrradical." When did "radical" become a bad word, I ask you? Is it that Ms. Apple would prefer our community station to be uncolorful and pedestrian? Or is she referring to the "superradical" KOOP board members, who concern themselves with plots like scouting a new location, streaming live on the Internet, mailing invoices, and hosting fundraisers. Yikes! I see what she means: What a madhouse!

Lonny Stern

Outspoken -- Fridays at 6pm

Do More Talk Radio

Dear Editor:

Thank you so much for trying to tackle talk radio, Mr. Black ["Page Two," May 16]. Texas Democrats have been far too mild-mannered for the Republican sharks currently posing as Texas leadership. The House Democrats should also be celebrated for their little victory in Oklahoma. It's beyond time for Texas Dems to show some teeth. Given the current world political climate, we may need the right to bear arms to protect our other constitutional rights. Alarmist? You should do some more talk radio. There's some really troubling souls occupying our new corporate democracy.

Peace through strength,

Todd Alan Smith

Smoking Ban Good for Austin

Dear Editor:

As the leading source of information about Austin music, I'm sure you are monitoring public opinion regarding the proposed no-smoking ordinance for bars and clubs. I would like to add my name to those who support the ordinance, and to disagree with those who believe the ordinance will adversely affect business in those establishments.

As a dedicated nonsmoker who braves the smoke to enjoy the musical opportunities in Austin, I would go more often if smoking were not present. It is nonsense to think smokers would give up the music scene simply because they would have to go elsewhere to smoke. There is also a third group, those who have stayed away because they can't tolerate the smoke. Their return will more than compensate for any loss of customers. Here's hoping Austin will join other large, progressive cities who have banned smoking, and that we will soon be a truly "Clean-Air City."

Amy Wilson

I Vote and I Smoke

Smoke-Free Ordinance Supporters,

I don't live in Austin, but am there often spending money in your local music venues and aiding your economy (but may not be for long if this ordinance passes). The smoking ban (which may or may not have passed by the time this is read) blows my mind. What happened to freedom and capitalism? Business owners are losing their rights, and with that, these vocal minority groups won't stop at just smoking. It will continue beyond that, be sure. These people aren't happy unless they have something to protest. The poll about the public opinion of the smoke-free ordinance found at is not valid (in my opinion), as they called random people at home. These are the people who aren't going out to the bars and clubs, and who probably won't regardless of the smoking ordinance. Yet, these are the same people supporting a law that won't benefit them, but will only take the freedom of others away. To take an accurate poll, try asking clubgoers down on the street on any given night and find out the truth. As for the workers in these establishments exposed to these conditions, why work in a place that you know will have smokers in it? As a consumer, why go into bars or clubs knowing that smoking will be going on? If the smoke bothers you, don't work or go there. In comparison, if you don't like something on TV or the radio, change the channel, don't ban that type of programming. Our freedoms are slipping away, slowly and quietly, unless we stand up to the excrement being force-fed to us from City Hall. Say no to this ordinance and yes to freedom.

Arlo McCalla

San Antonio

musician, clubgoer, smoker, and voter

It Ain't No Stinkin' Sorbet


As the three-time winner of Bruce Elfant's Ice Cream Social ["Naked City: Austin Stories," May 23], I hope in issuing your correction, you can at least acknowledge our names -- Ann Denkler and Jett Hanna. But we're not sore or anything. ... As far as ballot stuffing goes, I make what my six- and three-year-old will vote for and it ain't no stinkin' sorbet!!!

Ann Denkler and Jett Hanna

Honor the Veterans, Avoid War


This Memorial Day of 2003, I remember that I was named after my dad's twin brother who was killed in Europe in 1945 by a land mine. I remember Vietnam, where I spent nine months of my 22nd year of life. I remember my Platoon Sgt. Perez who had two stars on his Combat Infantryman's Badge and was killed by friendly fire because his appearance was similar to the Vietnamese. I remember being awarded my own CIB because I saw the orange tracer bullets flying into a moonless night a mile away from my hilltop bunker. They were fired like a chain reaction by one of our line companies as they patrolled a dark and foreboding jungle so full of anger and fear that they shot themselves up. I remember my own battalion commander, a green lieutenant colonel that wanted to know the enemy body count before the body count of his own troops. Herbie, we called him, changed his tune when he was wounded by an ambush. I remember getting dysentery, leeches, and strange rashes. I remember the lies that brought us to Vietnam, to kill millions, to destroy homes, families, and a beautiful environment. I remember smoking gan sai nearly every day, with my friends, the Bloods in the firebase, and listening to sweet soul music for a little relief from the prevailing winds of insanity. I remember the encouragement I felt reading about the people back in "the world" at home who were protesting and fighting to end this atrocity. And today I remember that our corporate/government hasn't yet learned that life is more important than property or products, and by that they continue to disgrace and dishonor those whose life and love we have all lost.

Thomas Heikkala

Let Your Rainbow Flag Fly

Dear Editor:

Wow, Bill Baird ["Postmarks," May 23, Web edition], so the Boyz Cellar ads are so hot they make it impossible for you to enjoy the Chronicle? Got to run off and "take a cold shower" right that minute, huh? Come on Bill, lighten up! Everybody needs an "Oily Frat Boyz" every now and then. Even if the Chronicle does move the ad, it won't make you any less in the closet. Let your freedom flag fly!

Julie Thomas

AISD Has History of Heartlessness


I was touched by Ms. Samuel's comments that she has yet to receive any sympathy call from anyone from the AISD ["A Shining Star Goes Dark," May 16]. My father broadcast and worked closely with AISD staff for over 25 years, but when he was killed in a car accident going to a game, my family got nothing from the school district. Not a phone call, not a flower, not a card. Nothing. It's been almost two years now, still nothing. We received condolences from people all over the United States, but not a word from our own back yard. However, I was not surprised by their silence. Ms. Samuel, you have my condolences. Your daughter's life does not have to be verified by anyone at the AISD to be remembered as important.

Bill Martin

Credit Where Credit Is Due


Just wondering how is it that you call this song "Bright Lights and Blonde Haired Women," Ray Price's ["Phases and Stages" review of Dale Watson, Aug. 9, 2002]? This song was written by my father, Eddie Kirk. To take the credit away from him, the writer, seems to be the way in country music. Nonetheless, my father did write this song and should be credited as such, not Ray Price!

Thank you,

Dru Shepherd

Think Globally, Brew Locally


Ya gotta be kidding! All the great coffeehouses in Austin and we are still stuck on the mighty corporate cup o' Joe from the Pacific Northwest ["Restaurant Poll Results," May 23]. What a sad statement. I'm hoping it was all the furriners that voted. Surely Austinites are really getting their caffeine from Ruta Maya, the Sacred Cup, Jo's on South Congress, Bouldin Creek, Flightpath, Cafe Mundi ... The conversations, artwork, and general ambience make these coffeehouses worth the visit. Try it, ye darned Starbuckers.

Pamela McAlpin

Up-Close With McCracken

Dear Editor:

This past weekend I received a knock on my door from Brewster McCracken, who was canvassing my neighborhood. Prior to this encounter, I hadn't put much thought into the City Council race. After talking with Brewster about the issues that concern my family and me, I have no doubt that he would represent the interests of Austin residents.

As a concerned pro-choice advocate, I am comforted by Brewster's commitment to help bring money to reproductive and family nutrition programs that so many mothers need. Brewster expressed a strong commitment to preserving a woman's right to choose, and with the Texas Legislature working to curb this right, it is crucial that we elect leaders who will fight to preserve our rights. Over the course of our discussion, Brewster proudly mentioned that his mother was one of the founding members of the Nueces County Women's Political Caucus, which exemplifies his longstanding involvement with women's rights. I reviewed Brewster's Web site to see what type of support he received across the community and I was impressed to find that Brewster had received the endorsements of organizations such as the Texas Environmental Democrats, Travis County Democratic Women, and the Austin American-Statesman. Once I discovered that Ann Richards endorsed Brewster, my decision was made.

Austin needs elected officials who understand the priorities and share the values of their constituents. I whole-heartedly endorse Brewster McCracken for Austin City Council.

Carly Smith

What to Do With My Tax Cut?


I'm trying to decide what to do with my tax cut. Should I donate it to the Democrats to help them stand up for what is right? Or should I donate it to the children, elderly, disabled, and poor who got the ax by the Republicans? Maybe I'll send it to Afghanistan or Iraq for the reconstructions that have been bungled.

Bob Carstensen

Smokers Paying the Bills

Dear Ryan ["Postmarks," May 23],

Listening to you complain about secondhand smoke at the bar you worked at was like hearing a topless dancer complain about the way men look at her when she is working: "I had to quit my high-paying job at the Yellow Rose because men wouldn't treat me with respect while I wore a thong." The bar environment is a smoky environment. It always has been. This is no secret. Everyone knows this. It is no more secret than it is a secret that being a police officer or fireman is dangerous. You don't hear high-rise construction workers complaining about how unfair it is that they had to give up their well-paying job because it was too dangerous.

And furthermore, may I point out that all that money you were making at your good-wage job was supplied by smokers. If you have such disregard for your main clientele's wants, why were you in that line of service in the first place? It was obviously not for the love of your primary customer or for your appreciation of bar and nightlife culture. Sounds like you're just a pampered college kid in it for the money. There is a huge nightlife culture here in Austin that is the lifeblood of the bar industry and you are obviously out of touch with it. Realistic bartenders (most all of them) appreciate who is maintaining their good-wage job.

You do not represent the bartending community here in Austin, and don't pretend for one second that you do, you selfish baby.

Alex Abel

A Republican Advises Us

Dear Sir,

If these Democrats had been at the Alamo, they would have left it in dresses, speaking in high falsetto voices, pretending to be women to escape the fate that awaited them. They would have disgusted Travis and Bowie, who both gave their lives in a lost cause.

They were elected to cast a vote, not to run to another state to prevent a vote from being cast. If there is any justice in this state they will be dismissed from office for failure to do their duty. Win or lose, fight! If you lose, do it heroically, not cowardly!

From Alonzo to Wollens, they all need to lose their jobs. We voted in a Republican majority, if they had fought and lost, there would be no shame. But they fought and ran ... so are Texas Democrats more cowardly than all other states' Democrats? God help us ... it looks to be true!

Lyndel Beckwith


One of Us, One of Us

Dear Editor:

Having been a Republican during most of my voting life, I am certainly taking a second look at my party affiliation. I am in support of the Democrats who decided to hole up in Oklahoma to stop redistricting legislation by preventing a quorum.

Two observations: first, U.S. Rep. Tom Delay, R--Sugarland, was inappropriately greedy for the Republican Party or he wouldn't have pushed the redistricting issue at this time. After all, it was a state matter dealt with two years ago. We all are aware there are critical issues needing legislative attention that both parties should be addressing now. If the majority of Republicans supported Mr. Delay and this waste of time, then they are not doing their job any better than the Democrats who decided to block legislation by fleeing the state.

Second, have you noticed that we didn't have this kind of behavior when Pete Laney from Hale Center, a very dedicated Democrat who had a way of working successfully with both parties, was speaker of the House? He possessed a talent for bipartisan effectiveness that others seem to be lacking.

I would like to see our Texas politicians refrain from the fifth-grade behavior exhibited with partisan politics and get to the business of handling state affairs. The aggressiveness and poor judgement demonstrated by the Republicans may turn some of us longtime Republicans into Democrats in the next election.

Susie Karrh

Pro-Choice on Everything


Jesus Christ never said safety first. Neither Martin Luther King nor Stevie Ray Vaughan lived safely first. I don't hear Willie Nelson singing, "Maria, shut up and be careful!" Yet, our City Council justifies smoking prohibition at nearly all gathering places to protect "public health" as if health and safety were the only important things in life.

Shall we close Barton Springs to protect sunbathers from skin cancer? What about bicycles -- Daryl, and basketball -- Danny, and good food -- Betty, and real Mexican men -- Gus? Are they just too dangerous?

So many people resort to drugs, extreme sports, and wild, hot, promiscuous sex because the life offered by our government, churches, and schools is totally devoid of adventure. From wimpy boring Baptist men to hairy-legged atheist busybody granola bitch moms, their primary message is, "Don't do that. Somebody might get hurt!"

As a hairy-legged Baptist libertarian, I'm pro-choice on everything. People should be free to explore, experiment, succeed, and fail. They should be free to choose whose help they want when pursuing health, safety, and morality.

Would you rather be a cowardly councilperson who issues ordinances to send out the Austin Police Department to shape other people's lives? Or do you prefer Jesus and Willie, who use their talents to persuade hearts and minds?

Choice one involves threats, fines, closures, and ultimately the violence of gun-wielding police for people who refuse to cooperate. Choice two means some people will be more like Jesus, others more like Willie, yet all can coexist peacefully, passionately, and differently. And, yes, some may not live to be 100.

Wes Benedict

Follow the Tax Money


If it is possible to drive through customs and immigration on our southern border with huge trucks loaded with illegal immigrants then what in the h--l are the massive amounts of our revenue for homeland security being spent on? Is it being used by Tom Ridge "Homeland Security director" and John Ashcroft "attorney general" to monitor our reading, viewing, electronic communication, and daily activities when vehicles large enough to carry troops, nuclear weapons, and missiles can drive across our borders with little or no problem? It certainly appears there is far too much political posturing and not enough intelligent and logical activities to provide our nation with the security we are paying for.

Jack E. Rogers

Music Scene in Danger

Dear Editor:

What is the difference between good live music in Austin, a chicken house, a dairy barn, and a clear-cut timber stand? Obviously a whole lot if you only consider smells, sights, and sounds.

However, all these diverse operations have a close relationship in one very real aspect. They all are in danger of being shut down by good folks who love the environments granted them by these various enterprises so much that they moved to live among them.

Is it possible to have the music scene of Austin without loud music? People who have chosen to live in this exciting downtown district have passed a law against the noise and are demanding it be enforced. Thus, according to The Dallas Morning News, the music scene of Austin is in danger of disappearing.

Is it possible to have the rural pastoral farm scene and open spaces without farming? Chicken houses, dairy barns, cattle, and crops are as essential to farming as sound is to Austin's music scene. Farming creates odor and dust, thus irritating country-loving city dwellers that have moved into the area to enjoy it.

Is it possible to have beautiful managed forest without the tools such as clear-cuts to manage them?

Everyone loves to live near the forest. However, a tree farmer cannot afford to keep his land in trees without income from forestry. At certain times in a forest's life, clear-cut and replanting are necessary. Thus neighbors are aggravated by the logging operation, the log trucks, and the scenery change; therefore wanting laws passed to control forestry.

Would rural zoning help? Austin has zoning and still has problems. County zoning authority would probably just create another layer of headaches. No law can bridge the gap between cultures, outlooks, and the differing thought processes coming from an individual's background. Only a willingness by all parties to educate themselves on the issues and a willingness to look for doable compromises can help these musicians, crop farmers, cattlemen, tree farmers, and loggers as well as their new neighbors.

If our free enterprise society is to continue to exist, one could only hope and pray for common sense and realistic lawmakers and judges.

John Bradley


Support Farmers' Markets

Dear Louis Black and Cindy Widner:

As an advocate for small farmers and community-based economic development and as a consultant for more than 70 farmers' markets, I would like to congratulate Austin on the opening of the new downtown Austin Farmers' Market.

This is the time to show your support for local farmers who sell what they grow. More than 3,500 people came to the kickoff at Fourth and Guadalupe on May 3. From an initial 35 vendors, the market has grown to more than 60. The new Austin Farmers' Market had one of the most successful openings in the history of Texas markets. In fact, it would qualify among the top 10% of farmers' markets nationwide. So what's so important about citizens shopping at a farmers' market?

Buying from farmers' markets where 100% of the produce is grown and brought in by the local farmer is good news for farmers. By selling direct to the consumer, farmers can garner about 95 cents on the dollar instead of 7 to 20 cents that they might receive by selling wholesale or under contract. Many factors, including the lessening return on labor and inputs, have led to our loss of nearly one-half of the nation's farmers between 1950 and 1990. Today, less than 2% of the American populace lives on farms.

Local food generally means fresher, healthier, more nutritious food. And it means you keep local dollars in the local economy. With a farmers' market, of which there are several in Austin, everyone wins: the city, the farmer, and the citizen.

Congratulations, Austin. To market, to market!

Vance Corum

Co-author, The New Farmers' Market: Farm-Fresh Ideas for Producers

Vancouver, Wash.

Countdown to Election Day


The end of President Zealot is coming next year. Since his zenith of power, when the Hypocrite-in-Chief landed on the shore-hugging carrier and strutted like some cartoon hero in the prettiest photo-op ever seen, the veneer of righteousness fades every day. You have to give it to him though, he sure looked dashing.

He hands out big fat tax cuts to big fat cats and sells it as a Jobs-and-Growth program. Never mind what the best minds of our times say. Never mind the states are broke and people are out of work. Never mind the boomers will soon retire. Never mind that warlords rule Afghanistan, let alone the war and crisis in Iraq. Never mind the children, elderly, disabled, and veterans. Never mind homeland security. Never mind that all reason is against it.

The good people of the Republicans who reject this madness must stand up and demand that this president should represent the majority and not just a select wealthy, ideological few. The future of our American Way depends on your courage, and depends on the courage of the others who can no longer stand by.

Not so long ago, we achieved peace and prosperity. Budgets were balanced, people were empowered, and our culture flourished. Now look what we have. That is why I volunteered with the Democrats to defeat the ruthless power grab and that is why I will continue to stand for our common rights.

Bob Carstensen

Accountability Concerns

Dear Editor:

A handicapped citizen was beaten severely by a gang after being removed from a bus by a Dallas bus driver. The Texas Supreme Court held that even though the driver promised to let the man back on the bus to protect him, and then failed to do so, the driver was protected by sovereign immunity. The Texas Legislature is soon to pass a bill (HB 4, among others) broadening immunity to include teachers, school bus drivers, firemen, and many more government employees. When this bill passes, and your child is attacked by a gang, the school bus driver that fails to protect him will himself be protected by immunity. As will the teacher or other school employee that neglects his duty to protect your child. When your house burns and a fireman fails to rescue you, or a member of your family, it will be impossible to hold the fireman accountable. After this session, our representatives will have expanded the immunity of government employees to such an extent that no citizen's life will be secure, no citizen's property will be secure, and no citizen's contract will be secure. What a horrible thing to do to our citizens.


R.C. Crawford

Round Rock

The Evils of Diversity and Whatever


Nineteen Mexicans died in Victoria last week, seeking the lowest-paid jobs in our country. This is not the first time such an atrocity has happened in our state, yet it's difficult to get anyone to even talk about it.

President Clinton appointed the latest commission to study this massive scam and put Barbara Jordan at its head. This and Father Theodore Hesberg's group recommended a tamper-proof national ID and the criminalization of illegal employers.

Business interests, civil libertarians, and now academia and the media see that this method is ignored for several profitable reasons. As the deaths continue.

Mexicans understand and watch and grieve as we chase truck drivers and smugglers and pretend the INS is to blame. Could it be that "diversity" is a bogus ideal and "whatever" a cowardly ethic. All seem to now serve these two words.

Have we forgotten Jefferson's presentiment: I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just? His vision was politically incorrect, religiously biased, and wholly justified by what is now history.

Jerry Gaskin

The Rules of Right-Wing Radio

Dear sirs,

I have concluded one year of research listening to the best and the brightest that the Clear Channel Corporation has to offer. The following is a result of my research:

The Seven Cardinal Rules of Right-Wing Talk-Show Hosts

1) Receive a thorough training in sports broadcasting. You are going to be reducing incredibly complex issues of government, diplomacy, and economics into categories of "good and evil" or "us versus them." There is no more appropriate model for this view of the world than professional sports, particularly football. Also, it will increase the volume and hysterical quality of your voice, and enhance your bullying technique.

2) Embrace the bunker mentality. Even though your party controls all three branches of government, it is most important that you portray yourself as a heroic, besieged minority surrounded on all sides by marauding hordes of Marxists (Democrats), gays (Democrats), welfare cheats (Democrats), and wacky environmentalists (Democrats).

3) Stay on message. All hosts for the duration of the broadcast day will follow the talking points of a designated conservative think tank. Never forget that when you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. (WMD's? Liberal media? Welfare moms?)

4) Issues, No; Character Assassination, Yes. Why get stuck in the boring details of deficit and unemployment figures when you can stage whisper rumors of infidelities of opposition candidates or mock decadent Hollywood celebrities. Spew bile! It's fun!

5) Rewrite the Past. Denigrate the accomplishments of honorable people (Jimmy Carter: limp-wristed liberal appeaser) as you resurrect the careers of calcified old spooks (Newt Gingrich: distinguished and virtuous public servant). Can you say: G. Gordon Liddy? ... Oliver North? ... Earl Butz?

6) Remember that there is absolutely no disaster or catastrophe that you cannot blame on the Clintons.

7) Perfect your balance of piety and viciousness. The self-righteous fervor that allows you to destroy people's lives and careers, or encourage your listeners to ridicule tolerance or to salt the earth to annihilate the opposition is what made you what you are today. Remember: You are a Neo-Conservative. There is not even the slightest chance that you could be wrong about anything.

Russell Scanlon

Dixie Chicks Tell It Straight


It seems to me the people who booed the Dixie Chicks last Thursday at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Mandalay Bay Casino, Las Vegas, hadn't investigated both sides. They timidly went along with the president for fear of being called unpatriotic. The Dixie Chicks praised the performance of our troops. Their criticism was for the man who sent them into Iraq. Many people believe that the Iraqis were not connected with the World Trade Center bombing. They believe Bush should have kept after Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. The terrorists were Saudi Arabians, not Iraqis.

Bush disgraced our country and the image of democracy in the eyes of the world by ignoring world opinion. Now we are left with a terrible, costly mess in the Middle East while domestic programs go unfunded.

Texans have extra reasons for disliking Bush. First, he isn't a real Texan. He moved there and bought a ranch to give him a macho image and a political base. It let him rub elbows with oil millionaire friends of his father. The Texas millionaires joked about investing in the enterprises of young Bush (the Shrub) when they needed to show capital losses for tax purposes. They rescued him from bankruptcy half a dozen times before he found "success" with some shady dealing over a baseball team that cost local taxpayers several million dollars.

One more bone the Texans have to pick with Bush, he miraculously got into the Texas Air National Guard ahead of more than 100,000 real Texans who had their name on the list. This and a year he spent technically AWOL from the Guard politicking for Republican candidates kept him out of service in Vietnam. I call the Dixie Chicks patriotic for boldly opposing this man who is leading the U.S. over a cliff.

Paul Gwin

WW II veteran

Las Vegas, Nev.

Regime Change in 2004

Dear Editor:

Are you better off than you were two years ago?

Probably not, unless you are very rich. An unpredictable war in which we attacked first, in defiance of worldwide opposition (from a little multimillion person "focus group"). Economic decline, bankruptcy, and scandal all through the corporate world, deepening job loss. Environmental degradation on every front. Diplomatic failure after diplomatic failure. Isolation from the world community. Serious loss of freedom and free speech in the nation. The certainty of more terrorist attacks on our soil. How could all this have happened so fast? How could we have fallen so far?

I think the explanation is clear to everyone except knee-jerk jingoists in an advanced state of denial. So, how do we get out of this mess? The answer is simple. Regime change in 2004. Those of you who are worse off than you were a few years ago, take a vow right now to oppose Smirk and Sneer (Bush and Cheney) in the next election. Maybe we can still save ourselves. Perhaps we had better do something while we still can.

Bob Russell

Country Can't Take Four More Years

Dear Editor:

We've had some distractions lately, but let's keep our eye on the ball. Halliburton and XOM have secured the oil fields in Iraq, but what else is going on over there? And in Afghanistan? Where are Osama and Saddam? The middle class (who are convinced they are "rich") still strongly support Bush, even as their 401k plans fall. Even Warren Buffet (who stands to make an additional $350 million under Bush's tax proposal) was on Nightline preaching his disapproval of the Bush budget and tax proposals. If we really want to stimulate the economy, says Buffet, why not give his $350 million to 350,000 low-income families via tax relief ($1,000 each)? Now they will spend it and pump up the economy! Warren will just reinvest it -- rich people already spend all they want. This doesn't stimulate the economy -- it just makes a very rich man very much richer. Meanwhile, under Bush's budget proposal, states and localities (which, unlike the federal government, operate under balanced budget requirements) will be pushing more and more of the tax burden to property and sales taxes, while simultaneously cutting services. The middle class (remember, they still think Bush is looking out for their best interest) continues to support Bush as they bear the brunt of the tax burden so Warren Buffet, Kenneth Lay, and the other richest 0.5% of America roll in the loot. Boy, that $300 tax relief Bush dangles before their eyes doesn't look so good as property taxes go up $750, your kids have fewer teachers, and the company you work for has either frozen your salary or let you go. And who is going to finance the federal debt Bush is pushing on us? The same people we pissed off over Iraq? France and Germany are getting pounded over the weak dollar policy Bush has instated so they won't have money to buy our bonds and further drag down the world economy. Also, hunters and fishermen for Bush -- have you looked at Bush's environmental policy actions? "Independent Texans" for Bush -- have you looked at the USA-PATRIOT Act? Ha ha ha. Is anyone awake out there? Bush/Orwell 2004. Four more years of this administration and this country is toast.

Mike Fitzsimmons

Valuables Not Safe in Car

Dear Anyone:

While visiting our daughter in grad school Mother's Day weekend, our car was broken into. It was parked at the Greenbelt, after taking the Capital of Texas exit, from S. MoPac, on the afternoon of Friday, May 9. Two purses were stolen. My mother's Louisiana driver's license was behind mine, in my checkbook. Her name is Frances Stovall Walters. She died two years ago, so I am desperate to get it back. If anyone finds a driver's license, in that name, please call me at 318/865-8068, or mail it to Debbie W. Harrison, 7717 Creswell #27, Shreveport, LA 71106. A kind man found mine, by the side of a road, in Del Valle. He mailed it, and my checkbook, back to me. I received it yesterday and I am very grateful to him. I had hoped my mother's license would still be there, but it was not. I will ask no questions and will reimburse any expenses incurred.

After this unfortunate incident, we were told this has been happening more and more, as people, unknowingly, enjoy this great attraction in Austin. Of course, after the fact, we noticed broken glass all up and down the roadside, where more than 50 cars were parked. Another car, parked two up form ours, was broken into also. If this outdoor activity is going to be advertised as "things to do" in Austin, I wish the city would consider more security in this area.

Thank you very much and I will appreciate any help in this matter.

Debbie Harrison

Fine Dining at Bismillah

Dear Sir/Madam,

On a recent visit to Austin, we ate at Bismillah Restaurant. We were warmly greeted by the proprietor/chef, Mr. Abdul Rashid, and found the dining room décor to be very pleasant. We tried several dishes which were delicious and very well prepared and the quality of meat was excellent. As we were so happy with our initial visit we decided to go the next day and again Mr. Rashid was very gracious. We tried several more dishes, and were again very satisfied and impressed with the quality of the food and ingredients. I strongly recommend Bismillah to anyone in the Austin area to visit and enjoy a delicious meal at a beautiful restaurant prepared by a very dedicated and committed chef.

Abdelaziz (Abdul) Hanif


Parents Need to Step Up

Dear Editor:

Re: New York Times article: "1 in 5 Teenagers Has Sex Before 15, Study Finds," by Tamar Lewin (

Quote from the article: "This is a wake-up call that the efforts that we make toward young people have to start early, that teachers looking at a class of 13-year-olds can't assume they're in a state of latent innocence."

This statement begins with a solid point, but by the end it has exposed another issue. Efforts that will help minimize adolescent problems like this do need to be made at early ages, but looking at this problem as only that of sexual misconduct in children is fallacious. We often fail to address the root of the issue and the latter half of the quote distracts the remainder of this article.

The trends in the sexual behavior of children are parallel to that of American family values. Child misconduct is an effect linked to a decreasing ability by parents to lead children toward functional and acceptable behavior. By addressing the effect instead of the cause, we are treating the symptoms rather than facing the origin. The quote suggests that teachers need to address this problem earlier. The wrong people are facing these issues, and parents increasingly have an attitude that teachers need to do more. This is absurd. Parents need to do more.

For generations, decreasing family values have led our society to where it is today. This has led to an increase in dysfunctional families and resulting from that are children with problems -- and the problems in children are only getting worse. This is a problem for society, not teachers, to address with its families, not their children. Child behavior problems are family development problems. These problems will not improve until adults display the skills necessary to produce better families.

Adults learned less from their parents and as a result dysfunctional families are the norm. This trend has been in place for generations. The questions we should be asking are: If this continues, what will come of the children that are raised in a society of dysfunctional families? Will these children be able to produce functional families? Where will those children lead our society when they become adults?

Parker Jackson

Long Live Stephen Moser

Dear Chron,

OK, I'll admit it. I have deemed Stephen Moser as "Austin's Greatest Natural Resource"! He's our own André Leon Talley, as if Vogue's André could even begin to compete with him. The quality he brings to every single one of his weekly columns is so refreshing and his "take" on the Austin scene really lends an urban feel to the Chronicle's editorial. If I know that Stephen is at an event I am attending, it is guaranteed that when I read about it in his column, I'll see it through a set of fresh eyes. His radar is tuned into the subtlest nuance of every occasion and the good he does by spreading the word about worthy causes and people making a difference in the city is immeasurable.

His column is indeed one of my favorite things about returning to Austin from over 15 years in Sin City, aka L.A., which I am not sure if SM would have the patience for. Stay tuned for more great things from Mr. Moser, the King of All Media, as we continue to read with rapt attention of his journeys in Austin. I can only hope his work will one day be told en masse, ô la Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City books.

From a fellow journalist and fan,

Lance Avery Morgan

Austin Monthly, Elegant Texan, and "Capital Culture" on FOX 7 News

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