Our readers talk back.
Disingenuous Protest Over Nuke Article
William Adler's disdain for nuclear energy in general and the Nuclear Energy Institute in particular came through loud and clear in the essay "Will Shill for Nukes" [News, April 16]. We have heard Mr. Adler's intimations that constitutional guarantees of free speech end where discussions of nuclear energy begin, and we reject them.
If U.S. citizens engineers and academics included choose to express their viewpoints publicly on nuclear energy and its myriad benefits among which are helping to meet growing electricity needs and helping to clean the air then that is their right. These accomplished professionals deserve better than to be maligned as "puppets" as your newspaper permitted Mr. Adler to do because they choose to exercise that right.
A closing word of advice to Mr. Adler and the Chronicle: Steer clear of this year's political campaigns, lest you see like-minded phrases like "cut taxes," "increase funding for education," "protect the middle class," "save Social Security," and "reduce the deficit" coming from more than one candidate.
Nuclear Energy Institute
[News Editor Michael King responds: As Mr. Peterson is well aware, it's not "free speech" that is at issue in "Will Shill for Nukes" it's speech purchased by the nuclear lobby under the pretense of academic and institutional respectability. If he or the Nuclear Energy Institute want to submit op-eds to newspapers applauding nuclear energy, that's their right but one should at least be honest enough to do so under his own name and commercial affiliation. As for the professors, they have their own reputations to answer for, as well as those of their universities, and they certainly know better than to do so with other people's work.]
Likes Paper but Not Review
I don't know if you remember me, but way back around 1967 and 1968 I was an undergraduate student in the Department of Radio-Television-Film. I think we had a film criticism class together ... possibly several other classes as well. I do recall going to several of the same parties during those years, and I also remember your bowling shirt collection that I thought was pretty cool.
In any event, I have now moved back to the Texas Hill Country, and while having lunch at Threadgill's today I picked up the latest copy of The Austin Chronicle. My congratulations to you and Nick and Marjorie. I was aware that you guys had stayed together and were the forces behind the newspaper, but I was surprised that the Chronicle has grown to being over 150 pages/issue. Congratulations! I know this is the result of a lot of hard work, so please do pass along my admiration to all involved.
I couldn't help but take a look at the film reviews (for two years I wrote reviews for a local paper in Colorado), and I had to write to say that I disagree with Marc Savlov's reaction to The Passion of the Christ. In fact, let's say that I disagree quite a bit.
All the best,
R.I.P. Wade; 'Chronicle' Still Sucks
I enjoyed the tiny square on Wade Longenberger ["TCB," Music, April 23] but really, it angered me. He should have been on your cover, and there should have been at least four pages of photos and stories about the most talented, original, and unique musician/performer/artist that Austin has had ever. Your priorities are all screwed up. You guys were never there. He would be walking down Sixth Street on stilts in an orange stuffed jumpsuit breathing fire, and you guys would review some crappy blues band across the street that nobody cares about. He was Santa Claus on roller skates, and the crowd went crazy, and you guys sent some drunk who wasn't even there who said the crowd just sat there when there was a slamming riot danceathon. Your magazine sucks and always will.
Praying Against Taxes
Louis Black says that Gov. Perry is "battling back the statewide demand for an income tax" ["Page Two," April 23]. I have to pray there is no such demand.
I added up all of the taxes I paid for federal income tax, local property tax, sales tax, fishing license, boating and vehicle registrations, vehicle inspections, etc. for 2003, and our federal, state, and city governments got approximately 57% of my income.
How much more in taxes do you think I should pay? Sixty percent, 70, 80? How much total should the government get of my hard-earned income?
When our government cuts back on kickbacks, corruption, overruns, waste, and good ol' boy politics and our taxes actually go toward the intended beneficiaries including poor people, libraries, education, health insurance, etc., I will agree to increased taxes. But the more money in taxation the government receives the more it fraudulently wastes, and the level of service to the needy never seems to increase.
Despite this, all government agencies always ask for a larger budget. This happens no matter whether a Republican or Democrat is in office. Both parties are inherently corrupt. Americans, like sheep, keep voting for one of these evils and cannot figure out why things keep getting worse.
I do not know what the answer is, but more taxation certainly is not the way.
A very concerned taxpayer
p.s. Anyone who thinks that increased taxes, especially property taxes, have not forced people to sell their homes as they can no longer afford the monthly payment is out of their mind. We need some relief now!
[Louis Black responds: Without getting into a detailed discussion on taxes, I was being sarcastic about Perry battling a statewide demand for an income tax. The point was that Perry has acted as though coming out against an income tax is a heroic stand, whereas in Texas it certainly isn't.]
I'm afraid your "Page Two" editorial of April 23 was a complete waste of time; most Republicans appear to have been born without a sense of irony.
Calling legislation that strips Americans of basic constitutional rights the "PATRIOT Act," lambasting Democrats for Bush-hating after eight years of hurling excrement at Clinton, claiming that shipping jobs overseas is good for the economy (which is totally not in the toilet), blathering about intrusive big government while supporting constitutional amendments against reproductive freedom and gay marriage, claiming to be Christian while hating and exploiting their fellow man surely they must simply lack the irony gene. The only other explanation is that they're a bunch of thundering hell-bound hypocrites.
At any rate, all your editorial will likely inspire in Republicans is a smug sense of a job well done. Another Lib'rul Media type has seen the light! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
Iraq War Is Righteous
I would like to remind some of you that America is at war. It isn't a war against al Qaeda as John Kerry has suggested, but rather a war to determine whether some nations can both harbor terrorists and develop (or otherwise acquire) nuclear weapons. This war will not be decided without the loss of American lives or the demonstration of American willpower and it will not end until moderate governments have been established in the Middle East. It is a war that must be fought, sooner or later.
Religious extremists know that America is the one thing standing between them and Taliban-like religious terror states (which someday would possess nuclear weapons). If you think this is a United Nations problem, you obviously didn't learn anything during the Clinton years. The era of burying our heads in the sand is past. We cannot leave the economic well-being of our country and the security of our citizens to the good intentions of Osama bin Laden and Jacques Chirac.
The petty dissent of opportunists like John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Terry McAuliffe during a time of war only gives comfort and hope to those men trying to kill American men, women, and children. For that reason, their actions are disgraceful.
[Editor's disgraceful question: Nick, are we bringing democracy to Iraq and the Middle East or establishing "moderate governments"? What if after democracy is established Iraqis vote for a religious fundamentalist extremist government? Do we go back in until they get it right?]
What's the Story on SH 130?
Back when State Highway 130 was under consideration, many of us opposed it because it would cause more urban sprawl, already Central Texas' nemesis. We were assured in rotund tones by the Texas Department of Transportation, city leaders, and land speculators that sprawl would happen with or without State Highway 130. Now the very same people are saying that State Highway 130 "will open new opportunities to attract new residences and new employers" [Austin American-Statesman, March 27].
Now which is it? One day we're assured that highways won't make a difference in sprawl, then, once the bulldozers are rolling, the story changes and highways become powerful engines for growth. I guess the investment folks are simply trying to have it both ways.
Wants More on Norquist
On Gov. Perry's recent trip to the Bahamas he was joined by a man named Grover Norquist. Who is this man? Mr. Norquist is a policy guru who has advised many Republicans recently, including George W. Bush. This is the man that (in his own words) wants to dismantle the entire federal government except for defense and law enforcement, and push all other services off on the states. His theory is that 50 state bureaucracies could operate more efficiently than one federal bureaucracy could. His theory is that state governments would be forced to compete with one another, and if you don't like your state government, you can move to another state. His theory is that our nation was built upon the idea of "armed revolt against the central government."
So presumably Texas would have its own Food and Drug Administration, its own Communications Commission, its own Transportation Agency, its own Social Security Administration, its own Trade Commission, etc. We would have our own banking rules, our own safe water standards, our own new drug-approval process, and these would all be different from Louisiana's. Doesn't that sound like fun! And of course in order to support all these bureaucracies at the state level, we would have to double or triple our state taxes.
Mr. Norquist lives in a right-wing ivory tower. He should not be advising anybody who has to live in the real world. He should go back and read the Federalist Papers, in which the founding fathers argued that one federal government is preferable to three confederacies. Fifty is just plain ridiculous.
Ivins, Hightower, Black y'all need to start talking about this man!
A Texan in the White House!
Regarding the letter of Lynn Hereford ["Postmarks," April 23], questioning Gene Elder's letter ["Postmarks," April 16] on a Texan being in the White House during the filming of the John Wayne version of the Alamo. Hereford said "Unless Dwight David Eisenhower was a Texan, there was not a Texan in the White House when the film was released in 1960." The Hereford assignment is to look at a history book. Dwight David Eisenhower served as president of the USA from Jan. 20, 1953, to Jan. 20, 1961. He was born in Denison, Texas, on Oct. 14, 1890, although his family moved to Abilene, Kan., when he was a child. However, after his graduation from West Point in 1915, he returned to Texas when he was assigned to Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, where he met and married Mamie Geneva Doud.
Gee, I wish there were a real Texan in the White House now.
Linda L. Wiles
Have you ever heard a deer bleating? Maybe out in the woods, but I have been hearing this deer bleating in distress since last night, and I live in the city, in an apartment complex in North Austin, near development and construction. It's heartbreaking. Over the past few months I have noticed with the increase in development in this area there has been an influx of deer in large numbers in my complex. Not only have I seen live deer, I have seen so many more dead deer on the road as well. These deer are being forced out of their homes to make room for car dealerships and storage facilities. It disgusts me. I feel helpless. I feel angry. I see old houses that have been torn down to make room for the road expansion on 620 and wooded areas demolished to make room for a strip mall or whatever it is they are going to build. But those people asked to leave their home were given money; they can go to another place to live. These deer have no place to go, but an apartment complex, where they sit all day and bleat in distress. Or there is the other alternative ... wander around until they are hit by a car. I'm not the most gifted writer, and I don't know how to put into words my feelings when I hear this deer bleating. When I see these helpless animals congregating on the complex lawns instead of their homes. What a sad, disappointing species us humans have become (I'm even disappointed in myself at times). So far removed from our roots. I sit here with my window open, still hearing this deer, and also in the background I hear the beeping from a construction machine of some kind we are all too familiar with.
Don't Wait for Legislative Action
Hold on to your hats, folks. The legislators are back in town. They're promising to give sorely needed financing to schools and relieve homeowners of some property taxes. Wonderful! How are they going to do it? Nobody knows. Gov. Perry says that "this is an issue that is very important. The most important issue that the vast majority of legislators will ever deal with, and we're gonna get it done" (from www.news8austin.com). Just how does the governor himself want to solve the problem? By advertising and promoting vices so the state can cash in on them. Perhaps soon Austin will overtake Vegas and Reno as "Sin City"?
One interesting fact is that during the past five years many of the current members of the Select Committee on Public School Financing have been on similar committees and have researched the topic "to death" at a cost of millions to taxpayers. To name a few legislators: Chairman Kent Grusendorf, and Reps. Rene Oliveira, Harold Dutton, and Jerry Madden. So you may be tempted to ask, "Why haven't they come up with some top-notch resolutions by now?" Good question. Perhaps it's just too hard for Texas legislators? Perhaps so much studying has given legislators "burnout" from forming intelligent resolutions. Or perhaps special interests are at work again at the Capitol?
In retrospect, mankind is lucky that back in biblical times Noah didn't have to wait for legislative consensus and approval on how to build his ark.
Tax Everyone, Especially Parents
Tobacco and Public Education: I am against it for two reasons. First because it is taking advantage of people with addictions. Similar to kicking a dead horse. Secondly because to tax is to destroy, ergo, after a while there will not be any smokers and the public education fund goes belly up.
It seems fairer to have a general tax like raising sales tax a small percentage. Also nice for single people because then actual parents are paying for education in the form of buying diapers, toys, and clothing for their children.
Possibly taxing several different areas would work. I don't know though. It was a while back, but I thought using student absences as a way of identifying children with problems would work better. Not everything is the teacher's fault, although that is what popular opinion is. Lots of things happen outside of school that affect student performance.
They are sending out a survey so people can decide how to make up for the deficit capping property taxes will create. If sales tax is not there, I will check other.
It is more than obvious, tobacco and public education do not go together.
A Novel Suggestion
Let's think "outside the box" for a minute. We have our men and women in desperate need of adequate gear including boots and protective armor. There have been so many stories about families, towns, and organizations raising money to help our military.
Now we have two major political candidates for the presidency spending millions of dollars on media ads. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our candidates declared a moratorium on political ads for three or four months and donated the millions saved to fund necessary supplies for our troops? I can hear the cheers already (at least in my dreams).
Of course it is a dream. Instead we will suffer the nightmare torture by ads and hearing or seeing continuing lists of dead or injured military personnel.
Armchair Freedom Fighters
The Republican Attack Machine has cried for complete details on John Kerry's military service, and that's what John Kerry delivered highly decorated I might add. Nothing to hide. What will RAM do now? Well, there's always Kerry's wife. I suggest an anger management course.
Here's a quick rundown on those most influential in RAM, details on their own military service, or what they refer to as "war record." The term "war record" is appropriate I suppose considering they work for a guy that has labeled himself a "war president." These guys should have served in the Vietnam War with Kerry in order to avoid looking like complete hypocrites. So, did they?
George W. Bush National Guard. Big AWOL questions. No Vietnam. No combat. No comment.
Dick Cheney did not serve.
John Ashcroft did not serve.
Rep. Tom DeLay did not serve.
Rep. Roy Blunt did not serve.
Dick Armey did not serve.
Karl Rove did not serve.
Bill Frist did not serve.
I think the fact that Paul Wolfowitz never served in our armed forces surprised me the most. After reading Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, Wolfowitz was extremely passionate about sending our sons and daughters into Iraq Bush (bless him) was convinced it was the right thing to do. I assumed Wolfowitz had been shot at before, fired back, thrown a grenade, and dealt with a guerilla or two. Nope.
It is this reader's opinion that the current commander of our armed forces and his advisers are nothing more than armchair generals, the same dismal corporate think tank that killed over 40,000 of our troops during the Vietnam era.
In 1954, the year I was born, Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy was wrapping up his reign of terror hunting down phantom "commies." In 1965 LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act sending scores of closet segregationists running into the Republican Party (think Trent Lott). In 1972 we had Watergate. Enough said. In 1983 the great spiritual father of conservatism, Ronald Reagan, sold arms to our alleged enemies to fund an illegal and secret war. In the late Nineties the hitmen of the GOP wasted over $40 million of our money and created immeasurable national misery trying to destroy Bill Clinton. In 2000 we had the dubious election of our current Republican in Chief. And from 2002 to the present we get Iraq and WMDs (not to mention secret meetings to determine national energy policy), neatly tying up a 50-year history of deceit, abuse of executive power, and fearmongering. And people wonder why I am a Democrat! Support John Kerry for president.
Dream Becoming Nightmare
This war in Iraq has signaled the low point in American history and culture. The neo-con warlords (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.) have blatantly lied over and over again to the American people, have initiated two wars and the killing of thousands of innocents, and are running up huge deficits for the benefit of their personal corporations and have instituted the framework for a real "police state" with the passage of the PATRIOT Act and homeland security. Their behavior does not surprise me, because they are unashamedly pirates; what does astonish me is the massive apathy of the American people. Subconscious fear vibrations have debilitated the "peace movement," and today there are very few who are willing to stand up and speak the truth. However, people must understand that their "silence will not protect them" and unless we rise up together to say no to this insanity that the American dream will turn into a nightmare it is our choice!
Back to bin Laden
So now we are back to bin Laden. After a two-year distraction in Iraq, the total cost of which cannot yet be tabulated in money, lives, or international good will, we are back to bin Laden. Just in time for the election. Anyone care to review? Al Qaeda's financier and leader slipped from the top of our list of "most wanted," replaced by the familiar scoundrel Saddam Hussein. Though it is now widely accepted that Saddam/Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, preinvasion it was hard to tell the difference between bin Laden and Hussein. Frankly, we weren't supposed to.
The war isn't going well, you know. Not at all what they expected, those chicken hawks who ignored veteran, combat-experienced top brass when they cautioned against such action with such stated means and methods. Perhaps Bush and co. thought simply because they put on a white hat that made them the good guys, deserving of victory. This was to be a "cakewalk," remember?
The ramifications with regard to future consequences for us at home are hinted at daily in the reports of the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, evidence of the fertile ground of Iraq sown and sprouting a new generation of terrorists, and in the chronic underfunding of homeland security due to the hemorrhaging of funds to Iraq, something that will continue unabated for some time.
Like the 9/11 Commission, the public is asking questions and has become, if not overtly critical, then at least concerned. The administration is starting to feel the heat. As November approaches, they'll look for something to bump Bush in the polls. Don't you be surprised if they trot out bin Laden, dead or alive, just before the election. But don't you be fooled, either.
Goering Quote Surfaces Again
I came across a good Web site today that I feel every voter should at least read and consider. The Web site is www.theboywhocriediraq.com, and the opening quote grabbed my attention immediately.
"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same in any country." Hermann Goering (1893-1946)
Commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, president of the Reichstag, prime minister of Prussia, and Hitler's designated successor.