Our readers talk back.
How Clever to Call Us Stupid
A suggestion for Greg Gerig ["Postmarks," June 18]: If you want to really impress your friends with ad hominem attacks on the left, just call us stupid. Or better yet, stretch those creative writing impulses and call us really, really, really stupid. That should do it. Oh, just one more thing: Out of the thousands and thousands of Iraqis that we have killed and maimed since 2003, how many were rampaging religious nihilists bent on our destruction?
Regarding Patricia Fraga's letter ["Postmarks Online," June 11]: While APL is busy creating wireless Internet access, they are too busy to stamp the due date in books. Internet access is a waste of the library's time and money. Let them spend their resources on real books (no self-help books allowed) and on basic library services, provided by real librarians.
Explains What Candidate Meant
I was pleased to see "The Sayings of Candidate Badnarik" in the June 11 issue [News], based on an interview given to Devin Greaney last year. Knowing Michael Badnarik and his inclination to impart his wit even when he is deadly serious about promoting liberty, I feel I must clarify a statement which may be misconstrued.
That statement is, "The campaign occupies literally every moment of my time. ... I would rather be skydiving, drinking beer, and chasing beautiful women." Yes, the campaign has taken every moment of his time, and now that he is the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, that will continue through Nov. 2. He is a skydiver and even a certified tandem instructor. (He also scuba dives.) I can hear him making the statement about beer drinking and women chasing, but I'm sure that his sense of humor was activated when those words left his mouth.
Although I believe he has tried alcohol during his lifetime, I know that he only drinks nonalcoholic beer (he prefers Kaliber, btw). And he may jest about chasing beautiful women, but this man is no "skirt-chaser" and always behaves in a most honorable manner around and regarding women.
One need only spend some time with this Texan-by-choice to be impressed by this intelligent, witty, articulate, and dedicated human being. His solid character comes from his Midwestern parents (he grew up in Indiana) and their strong sense of values.
This highly principled man is nothing if not a gentleman and, like the signers of the Declaration of Independence, would pledge his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor to fight for all of our individual rights and liberties.
He may be the most honest and ethical person I have ever met. He does his parents and all of us proud.
Privileges for the Wealthy?
I read in the Chronicle "Food-o-File" [June 4] recently that all the businesses at Sixth and Lamar were feeding the construction workers because they were so pleased in how quickly the project in front of them was finished. I am a little lost on how all this roadwork is done here in Austin. South First has been torn up for more than a year. Any word on why the expensive part of town is put back together so quickly and the not as expensive area is torn to pieces for so long? Instead of finishing the north part of the project, they just tore up the southern part of South First by Ben White. Why not do one at a time so one can be finished? Some bright Austinites have started businesses in lovely South Austin on South First and they are being screwed by the construction. Will the city give the Chronicle a straight answer as to why they start more projects than they can finish? Or why the Sixth and Lamer one got so much preference to finishing on time? These shops are going to go away and we will be stuck with corporate crap that can afford to wait for Austin to get their !@#%* together.
If you can help answer these questions maybe I can quit thinking about leaving the best part of this beautiful city over the hill of South Austin where the people are the most beautiful and independents have a chance to make a long standing living with their own ideas.
[Mike Clark-Madison replies: I think the writer's question answers itself; the Sixth and Lamar project just involved improvements to that one intersection (in connection with the construction of the new Whole Foods complex), whereas the South First project like those on Enfield, East Cesar Chavez, and elsewhere on Lamar are major road and utility reconstruction efforts that are going to take months, if not years. I doubt the folks along Enfield, wealthy though they may be, feel they're getting any break from the city.]
How the Arab World Thinks
I read with amusement the endless letters, written by liberals, decrying the efforts of George W. Bush to bring democracy and stability to Iraq and Afghanistan. I think we can all agree that the entire Arab world hates George W. Bush. However, the real reason they hate him so much is not about oil. The reason they hate him is because he is willing to fight to defend the beliefs and lifestyles American liberals espouse. The right of a woman to "choose" (or for that matter, any rights for women). The right to live together and have sex without being married. The right to drink alchohol. The right of admitted homosexuals to simply keep breathing, much less get married. All these things are such serious sins in the Arab world that many are punishable by death. If you stood in the town square of most any city in the Middle East and uttered just one word in favor of any of these things, chances are you would not live another day. It probably wouldn't be extremists who killed you, just everyday people. We, in America, cannot imagine the restrictions an Islamic state imposes on its citizens. With the advent of global satellite television, the liberal American lifestyle and culture has been thrust into the living rooms of millions of Islamic people. Without a doubt, they are horrified, disgusted, and filled with rage by what they see.
Actually, George Bush's religious beliefs are much more in line with Islamic tenents than the professed beliefs of the people who write letters to this magazine. The Arabs don't hate Bush because his family bought some oil from them. The followers of Islam hate Bush because he represents and defends the American free lifestyle. The very lifestyle liberals enjoy and consider their right to live. Dear liberals, your "Islamic brothers & sisters" hate you and want to kill you for the things you believe in. Elect who you want, it won't make one iota of difference in the way they feel toward you.
Alan Moe Monsarrat Johnson City
[Ed. Note: Bush favors a woman's right to choose?]
Cars Better Than Buses
Dear Heidi Dues,
Your question is flawed ["Postmarks Online," June 4]. (What are travel options other than car?)
All forms of transportation require energy to operate (gas, diesel, coal, hydro, wind, solar, etc.). All sources of energy have some sort of "pollution" (i.e., destruction of global environment). Some examples: Wind pulls energy out of weather patterns, solar has factory waste, hydro reduces fish populations, and hydrocarbons you've mentioned.
Our society is built upon working and living fairly far apart. Few individuals have the choice to work within walking distance from where they live.
My car gets roughly 30 passenger miles per gallon of gas (I ride alone). As my gas-engine car has been regulated for years, pollution per passenger mile is fairly low. A diesel engine powering a train or bus will create significantly more pollution per mile, but if ridership is high enough, pollution per passenger mile should be less. An electric engine powering a car, train, or bus has the pollution of whatever created its electricity. (From a societal standpoint an electric engine powered by a coal-fired power plant may be the worst polluter.)
The pollution a car or rail creates per passenger mile is probably on the Web. With buses we should be able to get the numbers directly from Cap Metro. But I would hazard the guess, Cap Metro will not report their total amount of fuel purchased per year. Mostly because I've never heard of Cap Metro publishing this and therefore, my guess is, they are a significantly higher pollution source than a car per passenger mile.
So, regarding transportation and pollution, your question should be something like, "How do we, as a society, achieve the least total pollution for the most number of passenger miles traveled?"
Dare Answered; Dare Trumped
While I do attempt to look forward and not back on a stolen election, I am glad that Mr. Foster ["Postmarks," June 11] was good enough to include his source that Bush won the popular vote [www.fair.org/activism/usatoday-recount.html]. It is quite a shame that Mr. Foster did not actually read the article he cites. The actual article states that the headline, "Newspapers' Recount Shows Bush Prevailed in Fla. Vote," was false and misleading. Fortunately, I have grown not to simply accept what comes out of the mouths of those on the "right." While the investigation found that "Bush likely would have won" a recount had the Supreme Count not blocked the hand recount of 60 counties there, they state that "the official hand counts in the remaining seven Fla. counties, completed before the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in, had missed hundreds, even thousands of potential Gore votes." They surmise that if those votes had been properly counted "Gore would have won the entire state by 300 to 400 votes." Thank you, Mr. Foster for pointing me to further evidence that the election was stolen and for displaying your ignorance by not reading. Any more dares?
Remember the Patient
Mr. (I assume) Aguirre is laboring under the impression that breast-feeding is easy and requires no expertise. ["Postmarks Online," June 11]. As a determined new mother, I needed a seminar and several hours of individual instruction to breast-feed successfully. In the past, grandmothers and aunts would help new mothers learn to breast-feed, but several generations of being discouraged from breast-feeding by the medical community has eradicated such knowledge from the community at large. Generally only lactation consultants know how to assist with breast-feeding now. And while paying a lactation consultant to successfully breast-feed your child pays back the mother and baby in benefits tenfold, some mothers may not have the resources to hire a consultant. Clearly, the central Texas community is at risk of losing the knowledge of breast-feeding.
Furthermore, Seton itself insists that it cannot operate Brackenridge without the revenue from the maternity ward. (The city offered to take over its operation and Seton refused, citing finances.) However, it is possible that Seton doesn't want an organization to operate the maternity ward that will consider the best interests of the patient first and offer whatever services the patient needs such as birth control, tubal ligations, or lactation services. Another organization might put the patient before its financial and religious agenda.
Ms. Kendall Kelly
Against Toll Roads
Imagine the day when you finally pay off the 30-year mortgage on your house, and it is yours, free and clear, except for property taxes. (I guess that means that joint ownership of your house now involves only two parties you and the county instead of three you, the county, and the bank but I digress.)
Imagine that the county then informs you that the doors to your house have been replaced, on the county's authority, by coin-operated doors belonging to Acme Vending and Septic. The decision as to how much it will cost you to enter and exit your home (one family member at a time) is not fixed, but subject to increase at Acme's discretion. Would you stand for this?
Will you stand for the privatization and tolling (sometimes in 3-mile stretches) of already-paid-for Austin roads? Don't forget, incidentally, what time consuming bottlenecks the toll plazas will be.
There are places in Austin where we can spend five minutes per mile (remember, driving a mile at 30 mph takes two minutes) at red lights, and the city blames us for the pollution. If this tolling plan goes into effect, the city will blame us for the snarl-ups.
And Your Point Is?
It has been reported that the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 will receive an estimated $10 million for marketing efforts leading up to its U.S. debut. This is an unprecedented amount of money for a full-length documentary and further evidence of a major trend in our society.
Philosophers have long argued over the relationships people have with mass media. Jean Baudrillard and colleagues went as far as to say that the correlation between individuals and their television sets dictate their socioeconomic class. Whereas the lower classes treat their television as a shrine, placing it in the middle of the room as its focal point, the bourgeois shutter it in a cabinet and rarely allow visitors to know that it exists.
Although this sweeping generalization has some merit, the augmentation of mass media over the past two decades has blurred the lines between socioeconomic classes much as it has removed our ability to distinguish between the spectacle and the real. Before the dawn of "reality TV," base programming dramatized for effect was largely appealing to the lower classes of American society (you didn't see a CEO watching Days of Our Lives); however, in today's society populations from every rung of the ladder will tune in simultaneously to watch Trump and his cronies play with the fates of aspiring materialists. Finally, the blurred line of meaning has successfully removed socioeconomic class as a determinant for viewership tasteless and tasteful have joined en masse.
The lucrative silver screen is the latest realm for mass media to infiltrate. As recently as five years ago, documentaries were largely entertainment sources for the socially couth. However, with foreseen profitability, the people who brought us Temptation Island are on the verge of destroying any ability for us to discern reality from spectacle in the full-length documentary format.
[Ed. Note: Just a clarification, the wording "Fahrenheit 9/11 will receive an estimated $10 million for marketing efforts" is a bit misleading. Some might believe that "will receive" indicates funding from outside sources. Any money spent on the campaign will be charged to the film's revenue. Moore is the most commercially successful documentary filmmaker of recent times; the film has gathered an extraordinary amount of publicity. The $10 million, although unprecedented for a documentary, is not unreasonable given the film's likely box-office performance. If initially it doesn't do as well as expected, then a lot less money will be spent on marketing.]
Dear Austin Chronicle,
I just read your article "Pop Rocks" [Music, June 18] and think it's cool that y'all are giving props to the Renaissance men of this town who are doing both the family and the music "thing" both admirable ventures.
I also wanted to thank my wife Andrea Gentry and my son Asher (16 months) for supporting me and my choice to be both husband/father and a member of two bands the Ugly Beats and Donna Lynn Kay.
It's a great life, and I hope my son benefits from this by being an intelligent, well-rounded individual and maybe a drummer someday; we need more drummers!
Jason Gentry: husband, dad, bass
Community Colleges Are Important
The emphasis on the TAKS Test was to improve the comprehension level of students in order for them to enter the workforce. I would be interested in a story of the number of high school students prepared to enter a community college, the number of students needing the approximately one year of remediation, and the graduation rate from the students entering a community college and actually transferring to a university or completing an AA degree. Community colleges are important for their open-access policy for all members of society, the need for lower tuition and lower costs of textbooks, the need for increased grants and scholarships based on need rather than strictly merit in the face of increasing enrollments. Community colleges represent 60% of the students attending higher education institutions. A continued educated workforce will depend on legislators having the will to fund community colleges when the result will be economic development and educated voters.
I imagine from all the hysteria from the left that "it's the most important thing in the world to get rid of Bush," most decent, honest Democrats would step up and do what they could to defeat him in the upcoming elections. The most powerful democrats in America are uniting in an unprecedented effort to get Bush out of the White House. Well, all but two. Hillary and Bill Clinton have decided to sit this one out; in fact, considering that the deliberate release of his book at this point of the campaign is going to take the spotlight from John Kerry when he desperately needs to begin defining himself seems calculated to hurt his chances at winning, not helping them. And without a doubt a Kerry/Hillary Clinton ticket would win, easily, but that might lead to her being a two-term vice-president, which would stop Hillary from running for president for eight more years, when her age would be a consideration. So, rather than step up and do what it takes to remove Bush from office, Hillary is sitting this one out, waiting for her own chance to be president. Nice, eh?
Carl T. Swanson
Dear Mr. Monsarrat,
I'm very glad to know that you have this incredible vision into the Arab mentality and their reasons for hating our government or us ["Postmarks Online," June 17]. Have you actually been there or did you figure all of this out from your home in Johnson City? Could it have anything to do with our country (which used to be considered the good guy by most of the world) invading and occupying a foreign country without being provoked, based on speculative intelligence, a president with a personal agenda, and reasons given to us 16 months ago that turned out to be mostly simple lies? I don't know about you, but I'm not fond of being lied to. Especially when the stakes are so high. I have a son dodging bullets in Baghdad daily with the Army, and let me tell you, lots of those boys are getting pretty damned tired of being lied to also. About coming home in July for two weeks R&R only to be told the other day that they are going to draw lotto numbers. The few winning ones will come home for R&R, and the majority get to go to Kuwait for two weeks. They also were sent over for a one-year tour of duty and now have been told that 90 more days have been added to that one year. That's the caliber of leadership that we have calling the shots from the White House. They do all of this and then tout their "support" for the troops. They're begging the U.N. (remember the guys whose approval they didn't need to start this war) for help and anybody else that they can get to help them clean up this pile of sh-- that they've made. I've got another news flash for you, Mr. Monsarrat, there is a heck of a lot of the non-Arabic world that is not fond of American foreign policies right now and the aimless, clueless direction and waste of lives and money spent on this Iraq debacle. It has also destabilized the entire Middle East. It will be a miracle if the royal family hangs onto control of Saudi Arabia. Think what that's going to do to the Western world, the price of fuel, and how it will affect our way of life if they are toppled. Add all of this up and truly ask yourself was this war worth it? Thank God most of this country, unlike yourself, are starting to view the whole situation a little differently than they did a year and a half ago.
I want to see Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling over at Enron sent to a maximum-security prison. I want to see their personal finances confiscated as well. I don't give a damn about corporate laws that make their "business" an entity that is responsible for their actions. Their bureaucracy didn't mastermind their crimes, they did.
And to Robert Lucadello ["Postmarks," June 18]: I bet you are one of the fascists calling us protesters un-American. I'm a "poor little baby" who has a job and is getting my ass worked off. I have news for you Democrats and Republicans are beholden to big money. ExxonMobil is the highest power, pays the least taxes, and is behind the war in Iraq. It's about oil, not terrorism. I'm voting Libertarian.
Suicide Journalism Is Needed
I was too young to remember, or perhaps not even alive yet, but I have been told of a time when the journalists of our fine country were seen almost as a fourth branch of our government, another set of checks and balances. Talented, dedicated, and intelligent persons posed the tough questions to our leaders, refused to accept mishmash for an answer, and shed light on issues which then became political agendas. Sadly, in these days of corporate-controlled media, our news anchors come from substandard schools of acting, not schools of journalism, and allow the political climate of our country to be set in boardrooms, relayed to teleprompters, and transmitted to the brainless masses via idiot box.
It is time for our media to reclaim its cojones. Imagine journalists willing to risk their careers to bring up dangerous issues. Imagine a news anchor replying to a politician, "I'm sorry, sir, but that reply is not in any way a legitimate answer to my question. Would you care to try again?"
What this world needs now is suicide journalism.
Kill your TV and live free,
Who Supports the Troops?
There seems to be some confusion over who supports the troops and who doesn't. So, being the faithful American I am, thought I'd set the record straight. The people that support the war don't support the troops because they are trying to get them killed. The people that don't support the war do support the troops because they are trying to keep them from being killed. President Bush Jr. doesn't support the troops because he lied to them more than once about why he sent them over there to be killed. Not one of these gung ho, terrorist hunter wannabes has come up with a plan to pay for this military boondoggle. Which means, the next president and you or I will end up being the ones who support this war.
The Myth of Reagan
Now that it's been over two weeks since Ronald Reagan's death we will be hearing more about the real man behind the myth. Hopefully, the truth will come out about his Iran-Contra and S&L scandals, the billions he wasted on anti-missile schemes, and about his huge budget deficits, which tripled the national debt. Also, we'll hear about this ruthless leader's unlawful invasion of tiny Grenada and his winking approval of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and later massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Because Reagan sided with the tyrannical white South African government, when Desmond Tutu received his Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, he called him "immoral, evil, and totally unchristian." Reagan became anti-union and anti-environment and turned his back on AIDS research. While serving the rich he was indifferent to the needs of Latinos, blacks, and the poor. House Speaker Tip O'Neill said Reagan "has no concern, no regard, no care for the little man of America. ... He never meets those people." Except for his extreme hatred toward big government and communists, Hollywood actor Reagan wasn't really too bad of a human being. But then he started associating with filthy rich Republicans, a segment of society not exactly known for being people of good conscience. He and Nancy started to become extremely selfish and elitist like them. Reagan may be gone but unfortunately his brand of cruel conservatism continues to infiltrate our society through Bush and the right-wing movement. These heartless people, who include the Young Republicans of Texas, continue their campaign to crush all the progress made by the civil rights and peace movements. Hopefully the Reagan myth, which was created by an irresponsible media, will be exposed by an ethical one that believes in reporting the whole truth.
In Favor of Stem Cell Research
President Bush's 2001 executive order limiting federal funding of stem cell research was a harmful rejection of science in the name of ideology. His rationale was misguided in my opinion. It's like saying a heart transplant should not be allowed because the heart is still beating. The focus should not even be about a stem cell's right to life, but about offering medical advances and hope to millions of suffering Americans. How can one claim to affirm life when effectively cutting off new treatments for diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, as well as spinal injuries, heart disease, and muscular dystrophy.
"We have lost so much time already. I just really can't bear to lose any more." Nancy Reagan in a speech June 10.
Why Would Anyone Run for President?
The news media's endless characterization of President Bush (and President Clinton before him) as a power-hungry, lying scumbag begs the question: Why would such a scumbag even want to run for president?
No self-respecting dictatorial sleazeball could possibly tolerate such a constant barrage of attacks on his character. Typically, an American president gets hammered on a daily basis for what he did or didn't do; for telling lies that he didn't tell; for neglecting dangerous overseas threats but not staying the hell away from them; and for being both an evil mastermind and a complete idiot.
The only rationale for even wanting the job in the first place is that he must be an incurable masochist. Of course, that's a perfect fit ... since many members of the press (liberal and conservative) are incurable sadists.