Our readers talk back.
Crap by Any Other Name --
So here I am reading the Chronicle like I do every day at lunchtime on Thursdays at the gym, and lo and behold here is this "Open Letter" [advertisement, p.27, July 18]. I loved the use of nonfactual data presented in a factual kind of manner. I am sure that Dell can refute most of the statements made in that page of crap. Baby, if you have time to write and clear a full page like that, then you have too much time on your hands. You should either focus on helping others or educating yourselves.
Stephen K. Shoup
The recent "An Open Letter to Michael Dell" advertisement that ran in your paper (July 18, p.27) suggested that Dell has not stepped up to meet its environmental stewardship responsibilities. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Dell's goal is to make recycling easy and affordable, and we think we have shown real leadership in this area. For example, our recycling offer for home users -- which make up less than 20% of the installed base of computers -- includes home pickup and recycling at the lowest cost in the industry. We have also just completed a 15-city tour, where we collected more than 950 tons of computer equipment -- all of which we either recycled for free or donated to local community organizations for reuse -- as well as raised awareness about the need to recycle computers.
For corporate, government, and education customers -- which have over 80% of the installed base -- we have been providing recycling services since 1991 and have just launched the industry's lowest-cost offering. These offers are absolutely competitive in terms of ease and affordability with what we provide in Europe and other countries.
We are pleased with what we have done to accept our share of the responsibility for computer recycling -- and many others have added their support. For example, socially responsible investment groups Calvert and As You Sow issued a press release in April stating that "Dell's commitment [to setting global performance goals and developing a system of measurement for success of its global product recycling program] is an important first step in addressing electronic equipment waste, and one that we encourage other computer makers to follow."
We know that true environmental stewardship is an ongoing journey, not a destination. We are committed to being leaders on that journey.
Director, Public Affairs
Intelligent Design Refutes Itself
I was most impressed by Michael May's penetrating and reasoned dissection of the ideological motives and dishonest practices of the "intelligent design" or I.D. movement and its attempts to derail the teaching of science in the interest of promoting a fundamentalist religious agenda under the guise of education ["Ignorant Design at the SBOE," July 18].
What I found most insulting and dishonest about the I.D.-ers' presentation was that they claimed it constitutes censorship not to allow I.D. to be taught as an "alternative theory" to evolutionary biology. Of course, one must point out that we do not allow Holocaust revisionism to be taught as an "alternative theory" in history classes, we do not teach astrology in astronomy classes, and we do not let the Flat Earth Society send speakers to geology classes. Why? Because their "alternative theories" are scientifically unverifiable at best and superstitious claptrap at worst, motivated by ignorance and political/religious ideology. It is not "censorship" to refuse to fill impressionable school kids' heads with things that aren't true.
Claims that I.D. is more scientific than old-school creationism go out of the window when you ask the I.D. crowd to explain its designer; specifically, who or what designed it? In these instances, they always retreat into theology, just as their overtly evangelical predecessors have always done. And what is most ironic about their main criticism of evolution -- that it is scientifically flawed because it leaves, in their opinion, too many unanswered questions, and the more unanswered questions your theory leaves the worse your theory is -- is that the designer they propose essentially constitutes one big unanswered question that is larger than the entire universe and everything in it! While intelligent design fails to refute evolutionary biology, it does a fine job of refuting itself.
Error in Rose Article
In your recent story about Patrick Rose ["Wanted Man," July 18], you included the line, "When the vote was taken July 7 on what is now HB 3, Rose joined all of the House Democrats (and four Republicans) in voting no."
The House Journal on record votes 13 and 15 clearly shows at least two Democrats voted for the plan (Wilson and Luna). As a conservative Republican I expect to agree with very little in the Chronicle, but sometimes find thought provoking ideas and commentary. Seeing obvious errors like this is a disappointment.
[News Editor Michael King replies: Mr. Fairbrother is absolutely correct, and the mistake was the editor's, not the writer's. Speaker Tom Craddick and Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview, abstained.]
A Republican at War With Rose
Re: Amy Smith's profile on State Rep. Patrick Rose ["Wanted Man," July 18].
Representative Patrick Rose's TDY up to Ardmore amply demonstrated to disgusted conservative voters that, when the political chips are down, he's really a Democratic lieutenant first and a representative to ALL his constituents second. His debts to party movers and shakers obviously had him by the short hairs.
The article mentions his Princeton background and several pieces of conservative legislation that he's supported albeit at the displeasure of his party's senior officers, but when all's said and done, he's still a Democrat in elective office, another "soldier." And, whether or not he personally believes in the entire Democratic philosophy, his presence in office gives overall aid and comfort to his party in the serious political and cultural war that exists with us Republicans.
I don't know about Mr. Rose, but this is one Princetonian (1960) and USAF retiree who understands both the motto of our alma mater, "Princeton in the Nation's Service" (note that it's "Nation's," not "Democratic Party"), and the term, Dereliction of Duty. We Hays County conservatives plan to work hard to make this "Lieutenant" Rose's first and only legislative stint.
Maj, USAF (Ret.)
In his review of Cremaster 3 ["Film," July 11], Marc Savlov defines the cremaster as "the tiny muscle which controls the contractions of the testes during ejaculation." According to every dictionary I could consult, and specifically Merriam-Webster's online, the cremaster muscle surrounds and suspends the testes, and is responsible for testicle movement in response to stimuli. The distinction is important; the series gives too few objective suggestions for any to be taken for granted. Perhaps a more thorough foreknowledge of Barney's strategies would've warranted more stars than the measly three that were assigned.
Measures of preparation and even caution are to be expected before adventuring with a work so ambitious as Barney's Cremaster cycle or Joyce's Ulysses, or even, as Savlov suggests, the Mona Lisa.
Nichols Is an Elitist Snob
In the July 11 "Naked City" section of the Chronicle, I read your blurb of Willie's choice of presidential candidates and your opinion of Toby Keith and "Ignorant Rednecks." Although I share your opinion of T. Keith, I do take exception to your insult of ignorant rednecks.
Mr. Nichols, exactly which ignorant rednecks are you sitting there on your lazy air-conditioned ass talking about? The redneck that fixes your AC so you don't have to ruin your hair or pretty clothes by sweating or maybe the ignorant rednecks that built your comfortable house, or are they the stupid rednecks that keep your phone working and your car running?
Although I am sure that an elitist snob like you must be a genius and can build and wire a house, repair an AC, or V8 engine, you might want to thank those folks instead of looking down your nose at them.
As a geologist, I have had the misfortune of working with snobs like you who sit on their fat butts in an air-conditioned office and think they are better than others and the pleasure of working with rednecks.
To be honest, I would much rather spend an afternoon fishing and drinking a cold one with a good ol' boy than having to spend a minute listening to you and your kind of elitist crap.
Geologist and Ignorant Redneck
Missing the Mark on Benson
Regarding your review of my solo CD Beyond Time ["The Cult of Ray," July 18]. Although Mr. Caligiuri feels I missed the mark on my solo effort it is obvious that he missed the mark entirely by calling the amazing guitarist Stanley Jordan, who played on my CD, Stanley Clark, who is a bass player and appeared NOWHERE on my CD! Obviously the detail and nuance of my recordings and vocalizations are lost on your reviewer. If he cannot discern the difference between Mr. Jordan and Mr. Clark, who's to pay attention to his opinion! For another opinion please refer to www.countryinterviewsonline.net.
I'm sorry, after reading the July 18 issue article by Mike Clark-Madison regarding the City Council taking some action on the smoking ban ["Austin@Large"], my opinion of your paper plummeted. While there are valid arguments on both sides, describing not having a smoking ban "progressive" is just plain ridiculous. His ridicule of those who support it has alienated many of your readers from you, I am sure.
Heroes and Schmucks
Michael King, in his article "Unalterably Opposed" ("Capitol Chronicle," July 18) quotes El Paso Republican Rep. Pat Haggerty as saying, "When this goes down in history, [the Democrats] will be the heroes, and we'll be a bunch of schmucks."
Perhaps Rep. Haggerty is unaware of the true meaning of the word schmuck. Leo Rosten in his book Hooray for Yiddish reports that the word is "obscene as all get-out, but effective."
Though the word has more than one meaning, the primary entry states that schmuck means penis. The word is considered taboo and should not be used in front of children or strangers.
However, in this case, the representative may have been correct. The Republicans may indeed be viewed as a bunch of "male members."
Keep Coverage Local
Y'all have an excellent newspaper -- it does what it does best. Namely reporting in-depth on the local Austin and Texas issues. You do it so much better than the local daily, and I look forward to each issue.
Yet at the same time, you are like a good local meal -- accompanied by a good deal of heartburn and acid indigestion. Why, because you persist in using your excellent local venue as a soapbox to editorially rant and rave about national issues and national politics. You don't have to pretend to be evenhanded, because national news and issues are not your specialty.
You used to make some excellent points in your editorial comments on local issues, but have totally shifted (99% anyway) to national & international comments on the USA.
Even your assistant editor (the man with 3 names) can't miss an opportunity to rave in his local issues pieces. Plus, give us a break. Put all your comments on national issues in one insert section so they can be tossed out in one swoop.
Regards & keep up the good work,
Conservative's Soapbox Is Suds
Dear Mr. Edmon,
Who cares if you don't like the Chronicle? All of your arguments were weak and practically apologetic. The Right has a lot of organization and a lot of money behind their own television, radio, and print media from which they loudly cry that the media is Left -- while they own all the big corporations that own the mainstream media outlets & firmly control what those outlets espouse. It's a fine bit of brainwashing on their part, proved soundly by your uncertain, thoughtless, "my daddy told me so" style arguments.
The Right has its pundits and lots of 'em. It's your right as a citizen to freedom of speech. So why would you become so enraged upon seeing a publication that does just that? Did you not realize that others are afforded the same protection under the Constitution?
Sounds like you forgot that all of our freedoms are interdependent. If one group loses freedom, others are sure to follow. The Chronicle has every right to lean Left, just as you have every right to lean Right. I'll bet you never dreamed that many feel that the Chron is not liberal enough. And as to your vow to not "read your left-wing garble," you know you're reading this right now. You had to see if anyone "dared" to respond. What was so daring about it? Think we were all cowed by your limping little bit o' rhetoric?
Your soapbox is just suds.
Respect the SOS Ordinance
Lauri Apple's July 11th article ("Battle of the Big Box") accurately represents the widely attended town hall meeting regarding the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter over the Barton Springs Recharge Zone at South MoPac and Slaughter Lane, and the burgeoning coalition of neighbors and environmentalists united to keep the world's largest retailer from building a new store where the community overwhelmingly does not want one.
One clarification is needed. Apple writes that Council Member Daryl Slusher compared locally based developers Endeavor "unfavorably to Stratus Properties and even Gary Bradley, both of whom, Slusher noted, had agreed to abide by SOS [Ordinance]." We agree with Slusher's critique of Endeavor, but the City Council permitted both Bradley and Stratus to exceed the on-site impervious cover limits of the SOS Ordinance on certain tracts while leaving less developable and marketable tracts at or under SOS impervious cover standards.
As the 11th anniversary of the voter approved Save Our Springs Ordinance approaches (Aug. 8), Barton Springs and neighbors are threatened with the proposed Wal-Mart and a proposed Lowe's that both drastically exceed the 15% impervious cover limit mandated by the SOS Ordinance.
We call on Wal-Mart and Lowe's to respect our community -- don't build in the Barton Springs watershed (your stores and parking lots generate polluted runoff and too much traffic). If you choose to build there, comply with the current law.
We are encouraged by public pronouncements by Mayor Will Wynn and Council Members Slusher and Brewster McCracken opposing the Wal-Mart over the aquifer. We ask the City Council to enforce the SOS Ordinance in full on the proposed Lowe's property and prevent the proliferation of big-box stores over the state's most vulnerable watershed -- the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. To get involved, visit www.noaquiferbigbox.com.
Save Our Springs Alliance
Black Enrages Reader
Ooohh, Louis Black, you make me so-o-o mad!!!! I read your column ["Page Two"] and your opinions and attitude cause my blood pressure to go up 'til I want to explode. Especially concerning the Naderites. You have sold out so far and so long ago that you don't remember what it's like to believe in something. I don't think people voted for Nader to punish the Democrats. They voted for him because they believed in him, were energized by his message. The Democrats have laid down for so long, they are afraid to get up and take a stand. (I know, I know -- there are exceptions like Lloyd Doggett, who should become an independent.) Your cynical, arrogant stance is similar to that of Mr. Oppel at that other newspaper. I fully expect you to reply to this because I've noticed your desperate need to get the last word. I encourage you to step down from your position at the Chronicle. You are no spokesman for any counterculture. You are a lazy, sold-out old man with a worn-out strategy. You and your opinions have become irrelevant and your stale approach is reflected in the bigger, sold-out, mostly commercial Chronicle.
I apologize for making this so personal, but, ooohh, you make me so-o-o mad!
Dear Austin Chronicle,
I love your left-wing garble. I want to wrap myself in every freedom-soaked page. I will dress myself in your editorials, your film reviews, and your policy analysis ... I will sleep with you and turn your pages in the humid morn.
I have pedaled harder on my commute contemplating your supple leaves ... and I have schemed radical vengeance upon your enemies.
But alas, I've set all such plans aside since you offer me alternatives:
With peace, reason, laughter, and hope,
I Just Wanna Flyover
Ho, ho, the Bolm flyover is complete. It was almost finished the last time I was by. I haven't had occasion to see if it helps anything, because I avoid roads where the lights take longer than the stretches of driving between them. Let me know if I'm wrong to doubt that it has helped.
Why was it built? The light at Bolm and Bluestein was hard to get through. Why was that? So the flyover would get built?
So give me a flyover at every bad light. For instance, they're doing something of the sort at Bluestein/290, where they seem surprised that a 90-second red light on a road where a vehicle passes every second or so will collect, oh, say, 90 vehicles.
Come to that, give me a flyover straight from my driveway to the parking lot at work. Just don't put a 10-minute red light at either end.
Ms. Stobaugh ["Postmarks," July 18] is not the only woman who has been involved with addiction recovery and feminist issues for many years, and her own unresolved issues, so clearly communicated in her whine, are readily apparent for all of us to see. But she does not represent the vast majority of women! Come on, Willie is Willie! There are millions of people who smoke pot who do not have "addiction" issues related to their use, and Willie certainly is among them! Loosen up that tight vagina! It smells if you clench it too tight, too! However, I fear from your rant that the smell from yours is little more than rust. Get a sense of humor. Don't personalize everything. If you do, you will find yourself alone with your "the end is coming" sign, walking up and down the sidewalk of life, with that wafting odor of rust bothering everybody who passes you by.
Re-Rebuttal of Owens Case
I just read Mike Clark-Madison's rebuttal ["Austin@Large," July 11] to my letter regarding the death of Jessie Owens. He chose not to refute any of my main points concerning Owens' culpability in his fate. All endeavors come with a risk; if you choose to be a criminal and perhaps drive down the street with a policeman sticking out of your car, then you will most certainly pay a price for this action. I understand your point regarding the officer's negligence in waiting for backup; he should have followed proper procedure. If he didn't and his rashness cost Owens his life, then he too needs to pay for that mistake. We do not need "cowboy" cops roaming the street. See how easy it is to see the other fellow's point of view on occasion? You could try it sometime, just for fun.
In your rush to align yourself with a cause or crusade, you are exposing the same bias that frequently comes up in letters regarding the Chronicle's reporting. I am certainly not a part of any cop lobby, as you so glibly stated; if anything I am distrustful of law-enforcement officials. That is just my nature, but I try to weigh it out with some bit of objectivity from time to time. Finally, your cute little slam presuming that I think I deserve to live because I haven't stolen a car is pure rhetorical garbage, especially when I clearly stated just the opposite. You lost it on that one.
We Deserve Guns
Seven years after the concealed handgun law went into effect, I am surprised by the number of "no guns" signs that we still see in local establishments. There hasn't been the wild West show the anti-self-defense crowd has promised. It's always about feeling good with those folks. Gun-free zones may make you feel safe, but unless you can mount a decisive response to a criminal attack you are not.
How safe am I going to be if I am sitting in a high school teachers' lounge without so much as a fingernail clipper when psychopathic students come in with guns and start shooting the place up like Columbine high? What good did "no guns" policies do then?
How safe was Dr. Suzanna Hupp as she watched from close range as her parents were shot in the Killeen, Texas, Luby's restaurant in 1991? She left her gun in the car because there were no provisions for lawful handgun carry at that time. Could she have saved her parents and many of the 21 others who died? We'll never know.
And finally, how safe were the passengers on the hijacked flights on 9/11? That is perhaps the ultimate failure of gun-free zones. When decent people are stripped of their ability to defend themselves, they will be at the mercy of thugs with box cutters.
Gun-free zones will never deter those bent on criminal intent. Our prison system is an example of the perfect gun-free zone. There are no guns, and cops on every corner. Yet violent crime including murder is rampant.
Our country will be safest when all law-abiding citizens have the tools to ensure their own safety, rather than relying on criminals to abide by "no guns" policies.
Na, Na-Na, Na, Na, Smokers
As the Chronicle and bar owners throughout Austin holler and moan about the smoking ban, I think you should consider the fact that you are all fighting inevitability. It's not a matter of if the smoking ban will pass, it is a matter of when. So inhale deep while you can.
Remember when people smoked in their offices? How absurd does that seem now? Today, anyone who lights up a cancer-stick at work is considered the most inconsiderate jerk of all time. In the near future, after inevitability has run its course, it will seem ridiculous that people were ever allowed to smoke in bars and clubs. So get ready, smokers. Prepare your lungs for the long hike, from your barstool to the inhospitable outdoors, that will be required for that sweet, sweet taste of nicotine. Just hope I haven't taken your seat when you get back, because I only have to get up to take a leak.
Truth Not Partisan
I am responding to Mr. Edmon's letter concerning the "left-wing garble" ["Postmarks," July 18]. The sentiment pretty much reflects what I've seen of the conservative mindset regarding, well, anything not gung-ho-conservative, i.e., I wasn't shocked or awed by any of it. What amuses me about the talk of the media is that both sides cry "too liberal" or "conservative" and "America needs true news." I agree that we deserve the truth, but how can America get honest news if nothing is accepted as such? Doesn't it seem plausible that if there was no pressure on the media to report in a way that appeals more to the left or right, that they would report the actual news? (I apologize for the generalizations; I only have 300 words, but I acknowledge all the different views.) If all of the news stations reported that no WMDs have been found as just that, instead of the nefarious hiding of the weapons, the right would deem the news liberal and anti-American. But if all of the news stations reported that no WMDs have been found but "we know they're there, we know it!" the liberal would be wary and demand evidence. Isn't that what's going on now? Instead of name-calling, shouldn't we all say, "Give us the Truth, whether it supports my views or not!" We control the truth more than the news people do.
Mr. Edmon, there was no need to dare responses nor to assume that all liberals cringe at the mention of God. I, a liberal, ask God daily to help our leaders do the just thing, and to keep the troops safe. Oooh, a liberal that cares about the troops, believes in God, and wants the truth? As open-minded as you see yourself, I hope you're not surprised by the combination.
'In Thanks' to Ventura
In response to Michael Ventura's article, "In Thanks" (July 11), I think he hit the nail right on the head. So often people, especially fellow conservatives, seem to view things in a very narrow perspective. The argument Ventura makes in support of the Lawrence v. Texas decision is really in line with conservative thought.
If we are intellectually honest and truly advocate the notion of limiting the power and scope of government, the Lawrence decision supports this notion. Furthermore, I must reiterate Ventura's position of thanks from the nongay community, because the point is, if government can do it to you, they can do it to anyone.
Ventura's application and knowledge of the Ninth and 10th amendments is interesting, in that former senator and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole went around on a daily basis citing these amendments as the basis for a limiting the power and scope of government. Let's be honest, either we are for or against limiting the power of government in our personal lives. Too often, especially among blind-following social conservatives, limiting government is great when it is in regard to something they oppose. However, when it's something they are in favor of, they always seem to strongly advocate more government intrusion. Such is the case for all the proposed constitutional amendments. They want less government on one hand but more government on the other. They can't have it both ways.
An Atheist Speaks Out
Being new to Austin a few years ago I was amazed at how conservative the town was. I was told that Austin was much more progressive (liberal) than the rest of Texas. I am grateful I moved here then. I have been a Chronicle reader for a while and really looked forward to the article on ignorant design by Mike May. I stumbled on a reader's comments about how liberal the Chronicle and even the Statesman are. I have submitted no less than seven opinions to the Statesman all within their guidelines. Of the two that did print the first was so edited from my theme I wished they hadn't printed it. The most recent printed as I left out my usual view.
I am an atheist and if anyone thinks the Statesman will print the words "God is nothing but a myth" you are joking. In some of the ignorant design opinions printed in the Statesman they mentioned God wasn't part of science. The point being it is making a statement that God exists. I will continue to read the Chronicle because free speech is what the right-wingers want, their free speech and the Chronicle doesn't just print that. God is an imaginary friend.
Keep Austin Employed
I have a beef with the Keep Austin Weird campaign. I am a dedicated supporter but now find myself a little frustrated over the whole ordeal.
My husband and I have spent our hard-earned dollars (and barely earned due to the faltering economy and job market) supporting local businesses, motivated by our deep-seated belief in the virtue of small businesses. When we found ourselves without jobs this summer, we wanted to continue that support by seeking employment by Austin's own, as opposed to Wal-Mart or someplace like that. Sadly, many of these businesses turned us away, due to our lack of experience. (Keep in mind that the jobs we were applying for were either food-service jobs, retail, merchandising, etc., so nothing requiring a degree in rocket science.) So where do we get experience? We tried other Austin-owned joints, to no avail.
Out of desperation we turned to large chain restaurants and stores, various corporate-owned institutions, and (brace yourself) telemarketing for employment. We gave in to the dark side because Austin's weird workforce was not strong enough (to keep us employed, that is).
Keeping Austin weird requires a two-way, give-and-take relationship between local businesses and the consumers. I hope consumers continue to give to these local institutions plenty of business. As a Keep Austin Weird consumer, I would also love to take a little by asking these businesses to give us Austinites the jobs we need.
There's No Liberal Media
Please clarify: What's the charm in being a reactionary, i.e., to have tendencies toward former and usually outmoded political policies or such a social order? To be a true conservative is to want to preserve what is established; something "Neo-Conservatives" can't claim with their present skullduggeries, e.g., redistricting, phony reasons for the Iraq invasion, Camp X-Ray injustice, ballooning federal budget deficits, et al. Par for the course for the right if one takes a look back: McCarthyism, the opposition to civil rights, Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal, S&L boondoggle, support for Saddam Hussein. The USA's history is peppered with these scandals, but the question is: why wouldn't Texans choose a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties, viz., liberalism? Lack of education can be the only answer, that and a diffidence bred from overwork and the lack of time to properly participate politically and inadequate resources to stay informed. Rightist usurpers somehow get elected and, in the universe's cesspool theory where feces floats to the top, hold key offices by means of perpetuating voter apathy, running down and "dumbing-down" public education, and successfully cultivating alienation within their constituencies via simple negligence. Somehow, the right feels Federal deficits are OK for "guns" but not for "butter," so Afghans plant heroin poppies and Saddam's old crew runs a revolt against invaders. Foreign "butter" comes with U.S. GIs' and Marines' blood and at the price Americans' own butter, monies in the past that provided public access for the physically challenged, aid for the elderly, schools for the disadvantaged, ideals the right now claim as theirs which the "liberal media" fails to point out. Possibly there's no liberal media and truth's what's convenient.
Shame on President Bush
Although there may be no lack of precedent for lying presidents, the magnitude of our current president's lie is far greater than many of his predecessors.
This lie perpetrated by the Bush White House leading our nation into war and a protracted peacekeeping agenda has been vastly more costly to Americans and the people of the world for years to come than, say ... President Clinton's lie regarding a matter of a more personal nature. Now is the time to be outraged!!
This lie has a cost and is costing American and innocent Iraqi lives.
This lie has weakened our overseas alliances with our European partners.
This lie will cost the middle-class and poor taxpayers billions if not trillions of dollars for years to come.
This lie sets a terrible precedent for pre-emptive military action by ignoring the UN Charter specifically stating that no nation should attack another without first being attacked by that nation.
This lie has increased the risk that American interests will be targeted by terrorist groups.
There is no comparison between Clinton lying about his personal indiscretions and Bush lying to the entire world to get us into this continuing war.
All of this could have been avoided through diplomacy. Come on, people, it's time to get our priorities straight! We should be much more indignant and ashamed of these lies coming from President Bush than we ever were about President Clinton's personal life.
Paul D. Habib
Hats off to Sen. Ratliff
Texas Republican state Sen. Bill Ratliff took a principled stand by throwing his support to the Democrats in an effort to end the madness over the redistricting fiasco. Elected officials should have more respect for the voters than to engage in a partisan battle for territory in order to create "safe seats" for their colleagues on either side of the aisle. People have enough suspicion about the government without adding to it by redrawing districts for personal gain. Running for office should always be a challenge, not a guarantee. My hat's off to Sen. Ratliff; it takes courage to put politics aside and do what's right for the people.
Bring Home the Troops
After $80 billion for the war, the "peace" in Iraq is now costing an estimated $3.9 billion per month. That is a pretty high upfront investment cost to the taxpayers just to secure Haliburton's contract to rebuild Iraqi oil-production infrastructure. Why was that contract awarded without competitive bidding? The dollar cost is cheap compared to the blood of 212 of our nation's young people killed so far, with daily additions to that toll. Scorekeeping to date: Zero weapons of mass destruction found. Zero days of democracy in Iraq. Zero dictators captured or killed. Zero Iraqi connections to al Qaeda found. Support the troops, BRING 'EM HOME! For more information see www.veteransforpeace.org on the Web.
Enforce the Smoking Ban Now
Do not postpone the smoking ban! Do not give in to the economic pressures!
In theory, the fundamental factor that should decide when our freedoms should be restricted is to determine if our freedoms infringe too much on the freedoms of others. Smoking is clearly a case in which the smoker is infringing on the freedom of nonsmokers without providing them any direct or even indirect benefit. At least factories and refineries produce things for us that we have decided are worth the byproducts as long as they are regulated. If we can regulate the pollution released by these corporations, then why would we balk at restrictions on individual pollution?
Besides, exposing nonsmokers to smoke is rude and selfish. The only friends of mine that smoke are polite about it. They won't smoke in my car or in my home. They have respect for me. Most of us agree that burning garbage in your back yard is not being respectful of those around you, so it is banned within city limits. How is that different from burning a carcinogenic and offensive-smelling product in public buildings?
Smoking that cigarette may kill you but stepping outside to light it up won't!
Every time you publish a letter from some poor misguided soul asserting that Al Gore won the election in 2000, I wonder where your responsibility to educate your readership has gone.
Since, I presume, as a part of that noble body collectively
called "the press," you believe in the first amendment to the
Constitution ("Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom ... of the press"), I'll assume you guys believe in the rest of the Constitution as well. Of course I refer specifically to Article II, Section 1, and Amendment XII, which describe the manner in which the president of the United States shall be elected.
Specifically, on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November in years divisible by four, the people in each state cast their ballots for the party slate of electors representing their choice for president and vice-president (although as a matter of practice, general election ballots normally say "electors for" each set of candidates rather than list the individual electors on each slate).
The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for president and vice-president. The president of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the [electoral] votes shall then be counted; the person having the greatest number of votes for president shall be the president, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed.
So, the fact is that the number of individuals who voted for electors representing Al Gore was larger than the number of individuals who voted for electors representing George Bush (commonly called "the popular vote") is completely irrelevant, since that's not how the whole thing works ... it's the number of electors who vote for Al Gore versus George Bush that matters, and George Bush got the larger number, thus was legally elected president. As proscribed, the president of the Senate, in front of the Senate and House of Representatives, legally certified this result, and George Bush was sworn in, and the whole thing worked just like it was supposed to.
Now, if people would like to change the Constitution, specifically to amend Article II, Section 1, and Amendment XII, they have the means at their disposal.
So, we (as citizens) have this great document that determines how much of our government is supposed to work. Would it be so hard to help your readership understand what that document says from time to time?
Fox Offers Mainstream Fodder
I hardly knew whether to laugh, cry, or choke over Trent Edmon's letter taking to task the Chron for its ultra-liberalism ["Postmarks," July 18]. His statement that Fox News is any kind of alternate view was funny; I can't think of a media source that is more mainstream or lowest-common-denominator than Fox. Trent's possession of absolute knowledge is awe-inspiring.
It was in August 2001 -- the same week that Vicente Fox was honored with a three-minute ovation in Congress and a pyrotechnic display on such a dry night in Washington, D.C., that it was heard miles away, scaring many people who had no idea fireworks were happening there -- that I realized the letters f-o-x all correspond to the number six on the letter chart, by which the occult practice of numerology is ciphered. About one month later Americans would painfully realize how vulnerable we are in this unstable and volatile world.
Every person I told that f-o-x equals 6-6-6 (the mark of the beast), without exception, said that it referred to the Fox network, not the Mexican president; and that Mupert Rurdoch (sic-kk) is generally recognized as the most evil man in the world. That his media empire has reinforced the belief that dissent in American politics is unacceptable to such impressionable young minds as Mr. Trent's corroborates that opinion.
Speaking of unacceptable, I wrote in a recent letter (online edition) that Americans will have deserved the loss of the Bill of Rights and the death camps that have already been built for them, due to their complacency. I no more believe that than I believe the Jews, gypsies, and gays deserved extermination by Hitler, or the Russians by Stalin, or the Chinese and Cambodians by Chairman Mao and Pol Pot. I'm alarmed and frustrated that most Americans are so insulated and isolated from this very recent history that they do not comprehend what is happening here.
Compassion, Enlightenment, Love, Transcendence,
Kenney C. Kennedy
Rebuttal to Black's 'Perfect Liberal Response'
What a perfect liberal response (and in the same issue! thanks, Louis): ignore the larger themes, find the least critical point, and latch on. Perfectly in line with this "Bush Lied" nonsense, a pointless focus on one of a thousand details so you can ignore the fact that we're more likely to fail in Iraq if we're spending our time quibbling over bullshit.
There is no way in hell Saddam was going to use WMD on our troops for the simple reason that there is no possible advantage to be gained. Saddam may be crazy, but he's not stupid enough to lose any remaining world opinion and pull the stops out on the U.S. revenge machine. I'm sorry, Louis, your argument that they don't exist because he didn't use them is just dumb.
And by demanding a pointless investigation that will send a clear message that what the American people are really interested in is a scandal, not the freedom and prosperity of oppressed Iraqis, you're willing to throw away any potential for success in Iraq over a sense that Bush is a bad guy. What's the payoff? If you think W is the only one who loses in that case, you're more delusional than I thought. You may prefer Saddam to Halliburton, but the vast majority of the Iraqi people sure as hell don't.
Your final analysis is half right. I do think of you as an appeaser who never saw a war he didn't hate, and I think that's unforgivably irresponsible and denotes an ignorance of history (not so much ignorant, I hope, but ignoring). You may have wanted to give Saddam infinitely more time, but the entire world has known for a decade that he was a real threat that needed managing, and for you to pretend otherwise for political reasons is despicable.
Be Careful What You Pray for
I am sorry to say that Pat Robertson's call for everyone to pray for the retirement of three Supreme Court justices is not going to work. How do I know this? Well, the homosexuals prayed to God for the sodomy law to be overturned, and guess what -- he did answer our prayers, not the prayers of the religious right. We are again praying, this time for all the judges to stay on the bench until Mr. Bush is out of office. I think he will listen to our prayers again; we seem to have his ear at the moment.
This country was founded not only on religious freedom (the freedom to worship whomever or whatever you want) but on tolerance, also. Mr. Robertson and Mr. Bush seem to have forgotten or are completely ignoring the principles upon which our nation was founded. This fundamentalist jihad against those who hold differing views sounds awfully familiar. There is a fine line between steadfast beliefs and fanaticism. Pat doesn't ask God to remove the three conservative judges who ruled just as the three "liberal" judges did. This only illustrates his disdain for a specific type of people (liberals), not his disdain for the ruling. Pat Robertson should be ashamed and ask for God's forgiveness. He should also lose his tax-exempt status because this sure does sound like political rhetoric.
Proof of a Dying Culture
Gremlins got into my letter at some stage after you received it, altering the title of Roy Bedichek's Adventures With a Texas Naturalist, which I submitted in its correct form (copy enclosed). More evidence -- if any were needed -- that Steve Moore ("Salon of the West," July 4) was right in his assessment of Bedichek's readers as a dying breed.
When a respected journal messes up the title of a once widely respected book, it's just another reason Bedichek was a topic in an issue called "Lost Austin."
Barton Springs Spoiled by Bongos
A message to the guys playing the bongo drums (and more) at Barton Springs on Sunday afternoon: I can only hold my breath so long. I feel compelled to tell you this because the only refuge from your incessant cacophony of sound I could find was underwater. I'm usually cool with the typical didgeridoo, guitar, or hand drums, but these guys had claves, a foot pedal, cowbells, and bongos bigger than most of the children swimming. The only thing they lacked was a sense of rhythm (maybe a lesson from my washing machine?), and their volume was loud enough to make Stubb's noise levels sound like a mere mouse squeak. Do we need a Barton Springs noise ordinance too?
We spent $40 million to prove that President Clinton lied about an extramarital that affected only himself and his family. There is no valid excuse for not investigating whether or not President Bush and/or his administration lied in order to bring about an action which killed hundreds of Americans, killed thousands of Iraqis, adversely affected millions of people in both countries, diminished our credibility all over the world, and cost tens of billions of tax dollars in a year in which we are projecting record budget deficits.
Please join me in insisting that an independent investigation be mounted immediately to determine who knew what when and whether additional "darned good intelligence" was fabricated or exaggerated. Call or e-mail your senator and congressman today. We owe it to ourselves and the many millions of others who have been so deeply effected.
D. Scott Harris
Following in Daddy's Footsteps
The "Neo-cons" need a new name in view of recent events that reveal the true nature of the current Republican administration and its motivations: Republicon.
Republicons were out in force on the Sunday news shows insisting to all that this was a closed matter and looking quite indignant and defensive. The only way there ever was to diffuse this was for Bush to come out immediately after the yellow-cake news broke and take responsibility. That moment is gone. We've all seen it before, and it's happening now. First it's yellow cake. Then aluminum tubes. Now 45-minute deployment capability ... on and on. Powerful men being torn down by the daily revelations of the fourth estate, the American public's only immediate check on the balance of power in Washington. The truth will show a petty, incompetent, vengeful president, manipulated by seasoned, skilled politicians into a series of actions that has resulted in the deaths of young men and women on false pretense. Whether motivated by extreme ideology or their close ties to the U.S. military industrial complex, these Republican con men and their intelligence con game have succeeded in shattering any patriotism generated by 9/11 and have destroyed American credibility abroad, at home, and with the grunts in the military.
We are becoming an imminent threat to our neighbors. American foreign policy today is perceived around the world like a toddler wandering around the neighborhood with an M-16. Little logic, no reason, and lots of shooting. No wonder people around the world live in fear of what we might do next.
Bush Jr. will suffer the same fate as his father. It's the family curse that causes the Bush males to bungle away the most powerful job on the planet. It's the Bush legacy: Like Failure, Like Son
Special Place in Hell
As much as we in the bright-eyed set stayed alert for what really makes the regime in the White House tick, we proceeded from the fact that greed was a given, but that they honestly had convinced themselves that they were acting at least at some other level. Alas, this is not the case. They sacrificed over 7,000 lives, 200 and counting Americans included, to re-elect the new Hitler. I say that without flinching because the mustached one was really no more delusional than the twisted frat in the oval office. The axis of evil has its epicenter in the pea-sized brain of 43. Every passing day heaps further proof that these are madmen at the helm, and the fatted-up, dumbed-down Average American is too stupid to figure it out. The ones with regurgitational abilities spew filthy ideology like vomit from a besotted bum, similar to 43 before Billy the G got hold of him. For these people there is a very special place in Hell, which they are attempting to bring out of the closet and onto the surface of our gasping planet. But our planet cares as little about us as these rotten greedheads care about it. It will survive in the long run, well after the tycoons take us down with them. As Gram Parsons used to sing, "On the 31st floor, a gold-plated door, won't keep out the Lord's burnin' rain."
Democrats' Pants Afire
If President Bush was lying about Iraq, was everyone below lying as well? And how come they've apparently changed their positions for the upcoming election?
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York: "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members."
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York: "It is clear that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security."
Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida: "Saddam Hussein's regime has chemical and biological weapons and is trying to get nuclear capacity."
Sen. Kerry, D-Massachusetts: "I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan: "It's obvious that Saddam Hussein is trying to compile weapons of mass destruction."
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia: "We have a paper trail," Byrd said. "We not only know that Iraq has biological weapons, we know the type, the strain, and the batch number of the germs that may have been used to fashion those weapons. We know the dates they were shipped and the addresses to which they were shipped."
Were these people lying then and are they telling the truth now, or were they telling the truth then and lying now, in a political effort to gain the White House?
Carl T. Swanson
Those Who Can't Teach, Blame Teachers
I came across an article by Michael May that I found both heartening and infuriating. The article detailed the Grusendorf legislation attacking public education and teachers in particular ["On the Lege," May 2]. Such attacks are not limited to Texas.
Here, in British Columbia, Canada, the Provincial government has hijacked the teachers' professional oversight (the B.C. College of Teachers) body by firing its elected members and filling it with government-appointed school-system management people and anti-education gadflies. It is now little more than a kangaroo court. As a result, anyone can now lay a complaint directly to this body without the teacher even knowing there is a problem, if, in fact, there is one at all.
Even more chilling, in my mind, is something entirely new and sinister. Teachers are now required, by law, to inform on their colleagues if they "suspect" that they are guilty of "incompetence." Should a teacher be accused of this undefined shortcoming, fellow teachers can now be punished for failing to inform on them. This sounds exactly like the network of civilian informers once employed by the government of the Soviet Union.
Just what is going on here? What is behind this hatred of public education and of teachers? I don't know about Texas, but British Columbia's public education system is consistently ranked among the top school systems in the world. What does the far right want? Is it that they want the right to fire people arbitrarily and without reason? Is it because they want to undermine the idea of an educated citizenry because they fear it endangers their political base if people are knowledgeable? Just once, I'd like to hear some of these people spell it out. What do they think is wrong, and how is attacking teachers going to fix it?