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Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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We Need Bicycle/Walking Paths Between Cities

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 29, 2004

Dear Editor,
    Recently, New Orleans was evacuated for Hurricane Ivan. Everyone who had a car got into it, and a grand traffic jam was the result. My brother and sister-in-law, who live in New Orleans, planned to drive their car to Austin to wait out the storm. They didn’t get that far. They sat in their car for six hours and went 10 miles. That’s slower than a slow walk. Finally they stopped in Baton Rouge.
    If there were bicycle/walking paths between cities, it would be much easier to evacuate them in an emergency. Bicyclists and pedestrians don’t jam up and stop moving nearly as fast as cars do. In the case of New Orleans, there were 100,000 citizens without cars. If there were intercity cycling paths, people without cars and without much money would also be able to get out.
    If Austin needed to be evacuated, there would be big traffic jams, and all roads out would be blocked by stalled cars. So please, for the sake of public safety, let’s connect the cities of Texas with paths for cyclists and pedestrians.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

In Memory of Those Killed in Iraq: VOTE

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 29, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I’m writing from a very small town in upstate New York. We take our local newspapers and learn about the library fair and the school taxes. We also take The New York Times, where, deep inside and low on the page, the names of the war dead are listed. I see that just recently, your community has lost Seth Huston, Nickalous Aldrich, Nicholas Perez, Thomas Garces, Jacob Lugo, Chad Drake, Ryan McCauley, and Jason Poindexter. In the way that families everywhere in the world understand, my heart goes out to you. I have tried to write a letter of condolence to the family of each soldier killed, but these losses, so many at a time, and from a state I lived in and love still, brought me to tears. Who were these sons of Texas? I will never know them. What kind of men were these? What would they have done with the rest of their lives? Their futures are lost to all of us.
   We can all acknowledge the sacrifice of these lives in one way: by exercising our right and responsibility to vote. Every single one of these deaths has to count for something.
   Please don’t forget about these boys – and all the others – when November comes.
Sincerely,
Suzanne Caporael
Stone Ridge, N.Y.

Doesn't Trust UC or UT

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 29, 2004

Dear Editor,
   We do not believe that UC or UT are qualified to manage a nuclear weapons facility as long they are capable of committing scientific misconduct even on the most trivial level, as shown on our Web site link below.
   www.bccmeteorites.com/scientific-misconduct.html.
Thanks,
Bill Cutler
Fort Worth

Don't Give Handouts to Panhandlers

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 29, 2004

Dear Editor,
   First off, this is a first-class publication and a great forum for the community. I am a new addition to Austin, and the Chronicle has made my transition seamless. I love the liberal perspective and emphasis on giving back to the community. However, I think this city's liberal spirit may be fueling an immense panhandling network.
   I have traveled to countless metropolitan cities all over the world. I find that Austin has the most inanimate and least creative panhandlers I've ever seen. When I'm idling in my car at the intersection of Brodie Lane and MoPac I fantasize about the amazing street performers and window washers found throughout Mexico. The Mexican work ethic teaches that everyone must pull his or her own weight. And this applies to the panhandlers as well. If you're not blowing fire out your mouth, washing my windows, or making my commute any better, then I'm not giving you a dime.
   However, in Austin, a large group of good-natured and compassionate people reinforce the idea that someone can make a living by simply standing, and in some cases sitting, near the intersections of major streets. These panhandlers have developed careers and territories due to this abundant generosity. And unfortunately several of these panhandlers are developing a sense of entitlement after logging several days at one spot. Today alone, I saw three different people having a confrontation with a panhandler. Honest working people shouldn't be harassed into giving someone money because they couldn't make the traffic light in time.
   To date Austin does not have a law or policy against panhandling. However, I read recently that a group called Real Change, a program led by six Austin charitable organizations, is combating this problem. They share my opinion; giving simple handouts to panhandlers does more harm than good. If you want to give your money to charity, please give it to one of these Austin organizations: Capital Area Homeless Alliance, Caritas of Austin, Foundation for the Homeless, Life Works, or the Salvation Army.
Sincerely,
Chris Castle

Are the Hurricanes Hitting Florida Meant to Tell Us Something?

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 29, 2004

Mr. Louis Black,
   Last night I was watching CNN when the question came up inquiring why Florida was experiencing four hurricanes in one year (a historical event of biblical proportions), and I immediately thought: Well, God is punishing Florida for getting Bush appointed to the presidency. I considered pretending to be a Christian fundamentalist and sending a letter to the editor of our local daily. However, being an atheist and morally opposed to hypocrisy and deceit (hence the atheism) I did not. Then today I picked up a copy of the latest edition of the Chronicle and read your editorial ["Page Two," Sept. 24]. My jaw dropped when I reached the conclusion! I am not alone! Thanks.
Don Silver

The Hope Is We Learn From History

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 28, 2004

Editor:
    Politicians prove themselves most dubious when they manage to transfer certain "hard truths" to the realm of a higher purpose. The 9/11 attacks, for instance, quickly developed into a spectacle, exploited for clearly ulterior motives. Reactionary forces, which are always present in our government, displaced freedom in the name of "freedom," repeating the rhetoric of the most ancient tyrants. Thus, the signs of democracy were substituted for the more difficult conditions of democracy. We stood silent as a national tragedy was transformed through the quick-change artistry of Democrats and Republicans alike into a war on terror – as if terror could be conquered. Terror is a duration, or, as the Sufi poet Kabir sang, "no man is terrified forever."
    The scope of our basic civil liberties was narrowed with a speed that rendered many of us speechless, and what we failed to put across in our political dialogue was quickly lost. Now, it must be understood that the people are, first and foremost, a language. The media grasps this point, and surrounds its sadistically repetitive messages with a dull and mollifying noise, pushing dissent to the outermost zone where protest is portrayed as an impulse to open the gates of chaos onto the world. Democracy is, after all, a loyalty to something deep and irrational, an acknowledgement of the altruistic impulse in humanity. Democracy finds its greatest potency in some beautiful shared vision, though, of course, what democracy at street level must first address is a behavioral issue – order. The concept of order is essential to democracy, and we find that the baser the action of an "enemy," the more jubilant the public reaction, according to the extremity of steps taken to restore order.
    What we are left with is a sham, a mere modicum of democracy. Just enough wiggling room remains to keep the workers at their station until the great apparatus of capitalism can afford to readmit fuller liberties. One can only hope that we will learn from history in time that a nation is a finite resource, and tappable just like energy to the point of exhaustion.
Registered to vote,
Opal Walker

Life Enhanced

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 28, 2004

Dear Louis:
    My dictionary doesn't help me much when I look for "epiphany," but I've heretofore limited it to "life-changing," perhaps because Saul became Paul that way. Nevertheless, it certainly could, without too much damage, be extended to mean "life-enhancing," as well.
    If so, your beguiling phrase, "Just there, on the boat in the pond, and nowhere else," raptly describes an epiphany ["Page Two," Sept. 3].
    I was immediately struck, when I read yours, by its echo of that magic line in Hammerstein's lyrics for "Oklahoma," "We know we belong to the land, and the land we belong to is grand." There is something in us that gives us balance when we are in receptive communication with our setting.
    I went on to think of, and remember with great pleasure, two epiphanies, both musical, I've been lucky to have in recent years here – a Hobby Lobby sing-along in Wimberley during which an accomplished flutist played, solo, Schubert's "Ave Maria." When he came back to his seat, next to mine, I thanked him and told him I'd been some other place. He replied he had been, too.
    The second, some years earlier, was when Stoltzman played Mozart's clarinet concerto with the Austin Symphony. In the celestial second movement, we, the entire hall, sat entranced, hushed, hardly able to breathe. We were somewhere else then, too.
    I am so glad we have the Chronicle here. Keep up the good work.
Appreciatively yours,
Quentin Eyberg
Wimberley

Complaining Doesn't Get Rid of Waste

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 28, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Re: your complaints of cronyism, etc. ["TCEQ: Get the Lead Out," News, Sept. 24]. Your answer to disposing of all the low-level wastes currently stored all over Texas including hospitals is ??? And I expect that you have a similar plan for the high-level wastes generated by the South Texas (nuclear) Project (Austin Energy being an equal opportunity polluter), or is it OK to send them to Yucca Mountain?
Cheers,
William Roberts
Blanco

Cover Copy Missed Boat

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 28, 2004

Dear Editor,
   It is a catchy cover but I beg to differ ["If You're White, It's All Right," News, Sept. 24].
   A little more than six years ago I got to tangle with Williamson County. I lost. I lost big time, as a matter of fact.
   As I was told by Ken Anderson and then Judge John Carter, "We have a 98% conviction rate in Williamson County. We don’t care about the particulars of your case or what caused what. You are now a part of our conviction rate."
   So, when you say, "In Williamson County, if you’re white, it’s all right …" I must gently let you know that you are missing most of the boat.
   But thanks. Anytime some light can be shed on that opportunistic, self-serving, moneymaking, laughingly referred to as a justice system in that county, I appreciate it. However, dig a bit deeper. There’s a lot more there than meets the eye!
Thanks,
Arthur McMillian

Weeping Tears of Joy

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 28, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Each time a pastor has the courage to stand with the gay community, I weep tears of joy. Your article on the Rev. Jim Rigby made it all the way up to Minnesota ["The Rev. Rigby Welcomes Same-Sex Showdown," News, Sept. 24]. As lifelong Lutherans, our spirits were crushed not when our son told us he was gay but when we realized that our faith communities deemed him an outcast. When will the churches realize that a gay person is a child of God, created by him and loved by him? When will they follow Jesus and love them as he loves us all?
Randi Reitan
Eden Prairie, Minn.

Rep. Stick's Questionable Motives

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 28, 2004

Dear Editor,
    Jack Stick used to work for Ronnie Earle, and knows the Travis County district attorney has prosecuted more Democrats than Republicans over the years. As a former prosecutor himself, Mr. Stick was in a unique position to understand how effective the Public Integrity Unit has been. So when I noticed in the Houston Chronicle ("Public Integrity Unit Might Lose Funding," March 4, 2003) that the former prosecutor was interested in transferring the PI Unit away from the Travis County district attorney to place it under Republican control, I couldn't help but wonder, what does Mr. Stick know that he doesn't want the rest of us to find out? Now we all know! Do we really need a state representative who wants to undermine law enforcement when an investigation gets too close to his big campaign contributors? Mr. Stick has betrayed traditional Republican values. Our families and businesses are not served by people like Jack Stick (and Todd Baxter) who see nothing wrong with lining their campaign pockets with contributions. We would all be better served by Mark Strama and Kelly White, people with clean hands untainted by dirty money. Instead of people who drag the Republican Party through the mud, maybe we could have representatives who actually work for our community. Imagine that!
Stephan Windsor

Bloody Cotton Balls and Painful Swelling

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 28, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Homosexuality's future is enigmatic.
   I came across this insight while getting my wisdom teeth pulled. Right before I was to go under the knife, my dentist claimed that our children's children would not experience the bloody cotton balls and painful swelling I was about to endure. He claimed that this human trait is being phased out of the human body through evolution.
   Before I could call him a quack, he shoved a gas mask over my mouth and asked me to breathe like Darth Vader.
   Dental evolution doesn't just happen. If natural selection remains a theoretical truth, factors other than mere time would decide the persistence of a tooth – wisdom, bicuspid, or other. For example, if wisdom teeth caused mouth rot, which prevented us from eating, we would be reduced to malnourished and feeble creatures incapable of breeding. Only those lacking wisdom teeth would survive, much like the long-necked giraffe. However, modern medicine and my Darth Vader helmet prevent evolution – society removes natural selection with day surgery.
   Although homosexuality is nothing like tooth decay, gay empowerment has unsuspectingly factored into the stability of the homosexual population. Homosexuals once remained shuttered in a closet and bred heterosexually, thereby passing their genes onto another generation. Now, with our newfound acceptance of homosexuality, gays and lesbians are entering into unions with one another, sidestepping sexual suppression and the process of having offspring. If this trend persists, homosexual genes will be naturally phased out of the breeding pool; numbers will be reduced over multiple generations.
   Could acceptance and tolerance be the outside forces foreshadowing homosexuality's demise?
   Or could Darwin's theory be dated? Procreation without intercourse is already possible, and genetic science will soon allow us to choose our sexuality. Man's meddling with the natural order may be homosexuality's last hope. How ironic.
Rad Tollett

Liberalism Fundamentally About Freedom

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 28, 2004

Dear Editor,
   As so eloquently expressed by Richard Harvey ["Postmarks Online," Sept. 24], the definition of liberalism is fundamentally about freedom. Somehow, the definition has been highjacked and twisted in recent decades by powerful and influential conservative voices and institutions. So successful has been their propagandizing, that truly liberally minded, if not left-leaning, individuals are now afraid to be labeled something that, by definition, is a beautiful thing to be. So successful, that both Gore and Kerry painstakingly avoided the label for fear of a loss of votes. This is unfortunate since the alternative label, though seemingly popular these days, is not nearly as cool.
   Everyone within the sound of my keyboard that believes fundamentally in liberal causes, critical analysis of established authority, dignity versus dogma, and everything else that Bush and company, the religious right, and neo-conservatives hate, stand up and be counted! Repeat after me: "I'm a liberal, and I'm proud!"
Jonathan Bert Hoopes

Supports National Flood Insurance Program

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

Dear Editor:
   I was shocked to read Mr. Hightower's recent lambasting ("Hightower Report," Sept. 17) of the National Flood Insurance Program. Millions/billions of dollars are paid annually in federal disaster relief to communities that have been impacted by flooding; these costs are ultimately borne by you and me, the American taxpayers. The NFIP is a way to shift the financial burden back onto the minority of people who reside in these high risk areas (commonly referred to as the "100-year floodplain," with the misconception that a flood will only happen once every 100 years (false); a more appropriate definition is a 1% probability of a flood occurring during any 12-month period). Flood insurance policies are underwritten by the federal government, not private insurance companies. This program has been active within the federal government for more than 35 years, supported by both Democratic and Republican administrations.
   Most people are unaware that basic homeowner's policies rarely (if ever) cover flood-related losses, even if you live on a hillside, far from any water bodies or regulatory floodplains. Education (including the mailers such as Mr. Hightower referred to) is a key component of making the program effective. Everybody is at some flood risk; just to varying degrees. Please visit www.fema.gov/fima/nfip.shtm for more information.
   I have spent the majority of my career trying to help people, getting communities and residents to participate in the NFIP (I have never had any ties to the insurance industry, but have worked for local governments, responding to the death and destruction that floods have brought to Central Texas), and seeing this baseless attack on the program was especially discouraging. The bottom line is that flood insurance can be a key part of reducing taxes and improving quality of life. It is not a scam!
Sincerely,
Andrew Rooke
   [Jim Hightower responds: Apparently, you misread my piece. I'm not against flood insurance, but against 1) a saturation mailing that tries to scare people who do not need the insurance into buying it, and 2) a mailing that favors one or two insurance agents over all the others.]

Do Something! Vote!

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

To the editor,
   Most of you say you wouldn't want Bush in office another day, much less four more years. Why then, I constantly have to ask myself, are you not making it to the polls?
   I know you are appalled at Bush's decision to start and continue a war based entirely on lies, and I know I've heard you say you wouldn't want any child left behind. Forty-five million of you can't afford proper health care. The money you earn is spent on merely living, and your families can't afford to help you. You complain about the job market, yet most of you have accepted it as a sacrifice we've had to make for the war on terror. You are outraged by the obliteration of our environment, but you've refused to do anything about it.
   Aren't you the same people who announced you would stand up and fight for your rights when you thought they were taken away by terrorists? Open your eyes, your rights are diminishing! While more than a thousand people have sacrificed their lives for freedom, you are a prisoner right here at home. Bush has hijacked this country, our rights, our environment, and our children's future, and it's your responsibility to change it. Stop sitting on the sidelines and do something. Vote!
Sincerely,
Sandra Dietze

Release CIA's Report

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The CIA delivered a report to the president in July outlining how the war could go in the future. Reportedly, a range of possibilities was described.
   Now, representatives of both parties – despite election-year battling – want the report released. Respected senators such as Sen. Graham, D-Fla., and Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., are joining together in calling for the release of the CIA report on Iraq.
   I hope President Bush listens and releases the report. We can't afford to be optimistic, as Bush continues to be on Iraq, if there's no rational reason for it.
   On the other hand, if Bush's optimism is supported by the facts, we should listen to the president. So let's see the facts.
Sincerely,
Ms. Priya Hudson-DiTraglia
Wimberley

Vote for Kerry

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

To the Editor,
   Bush says he's the education president – but the results show a different picture.
   Bush's "leave no child behind" plan is not being funded properly. The result is that he has punished schools rather than rewarding them.
   He has not responded to the needs of our local school districts and has failed to provide proven methods – like sending educational teams into failing schools – to help with the funding they deserve. And during Bush's term, tuition at public colleges and universities has gone up 35%.
   Kerry promises to establish a National Education Trust Fund to ensure that our schools have the funds they need to succeed and the accountability measures in the educational program.
   Kerry's plan for our schools includes recruiting and training 500,000 new teachers. He'll make sure 1 million more students graduate high school. And he'll make sure college is affordable.
   We've had four years of failed policies. I want all Americans to get equal rights and the education they deserve. I plan to vote for John Kerry.
Sincerely,
Jennifer McMillian

Teen Supports His Country

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I am very proud of my 14-year-old son. He took it upon himself to put out our American flag in front of our house every morning and bring it in every afternoon. He plays "Taps" on his trumpet every afternoon before removing the flag and bringing it in. I am so proud to see that some kids still can be patriotic and support our country. He also joined the Young Marines at Bedichek Middle School. I feel this is a good story to let our society know some of our young teenagers can do good and support our country.
Sheryl Nelson

Karl Rove and Satan

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

Dear Editor,
   In response to Samuel M. Smith ["Postmarks," Sept. 24], Bush may very well win the upcoming election, but certainly not for the reasons you give. While Truman was a good man who rose to greatness, Dubya rode to "greatness" on daddy's coattails. Bush would not know "good" even if his lackeys looked it up and read it to him. When Dubya wears his religion on his sleeve, I am reminded of how evil often appears as "an angel of light." Why elect Satan's lapdog? Just write in Karl Rove and go straight to the source.
Max Minor

Empower Voters

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I want to thank the more than 82,000 Texans that signed our petition this year to have Libertarian Party candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot. Many more registered voters wanted to sign our petition, but due to unfair state laws were prohibited from signing.
   Only Libertarians, Democrats, and Republicans will be on the ballot in Texas this year. I think it is unfortunate that Texas has the most difficult ballot access laws in the USA, and that independent candidates such as Ralph Nader are excluded. The Libertarian Party thinks voters should choose their representatives; the major parties think they can rig elections by choosing the voters. Voters should be empowered, not political party bosses.
   I hope you appreciate having another Texan, Michael Badnarik, on the presidential ballot and appreciate the choice of Libertarian candidates for federal, state, and county offices on Nov. 2.
Patrick J. Dixon
Chair, Libertarian Party of Texas

Car-Free Bike Lanes Blocked by Neighborhood

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

My Dear Editor,
   I'm afraid I'm a little behind in my reading.
   In "City Hall's Bumpy Road" [News, May 23, 2003], the Chronicle refers to a "successful mediation process involving motorists, bicyclists, and Shoal Creek neighbors" about getting car-free bike lanes on Shoal Creek Boulevard. Actually, the mediation was anything but successful, at least from the bicyclists' point of view. All we wanted were bike lanes without cars parked in them. But that was "mediated" away. It was a mistake to give the neighborhood de facto veto power on this issue, as they ultimately decided that their convenience was more important than our safety. This sets a pretty lousy precedent – that neighbors can demand to be able to park in bike lanes. Why should they get to make those kinds of decisions?
   The tragedy is not just that car-free bike lanes were apparently too much to ask for in supposedly bike-friendly Austin, it's the "way" that came about – by the city effectively giving the power to block the car-free bike lanes to the neighborhood.
   There's more on this debacle at www.bicycleaustin.info/shoalcreek.html.
Michael Bluejay

The Truth About Iraq

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 24, 2004

Dear Editor:
   When a respected senator such as John McCain is calling for the release of the CIA report on Iraq, Americans need to take notice. Our soldiers' lives are on the line. Our sons and daughters, husbands, wives, sisters, and brothers will continue to die as long as we are in Iraq. For their sake, we need to know all the facts and assess them honestly.
   We need to know the facts so that we can decide whether the president is telling us the truth about Iraq. Is it really a war on terrorists? Is it really stabilizing the region? Where are the facts and why is the president afraid of them?
Sincerely,
Ms. Roselyn Kubek
Pembroke, Mass.
   [The Chronicle has received many letters similar to this one.]

Americans Are More Liberal Than They May Think

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 24, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The following is a definition of what "liberal" means:
   Liberal, adj
   – free from prejudice or bigotry;
   – open-minded, tolerant, fair, generous;
   – favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties;
   – favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression;
   – free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, or values;
   – advocating measures of progressive political reform.
   I believe that most Americans, if they spent just a little time and effort and honestly looked inward at their core values, would come to realize that they are by definition – liberals.
   Some are just too conservative to admit it.
Richard Harvey

God's Warm-Up

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 24, 2004

Dear Louis,
   Regarding hurricanes and the wrath of the god(s) ["Page Two," Sept. 24]: I remember when I was a kid, getting ready for a basketball or baseball game. The first few shots or throws were always a bit off, until I warmed up. So it must be with the theists' god. He's trying to oust Jeb, but just needs to get warmed up a bit before he hits the mark. A few dozen innocent folks killed in the meantime? No biggie. So it must be with W's god: He wanted the U.S. to go in there and pull Saddam out of that spidey hole, but perhaps he needed a few months to warm up before he could guide our hand. A few tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi's killed in the process, prematurely cutting off all their hope of converting and being saved? Who cares?! Send 'em straight to hell, because the theists want to spend a few more years/decades on this rock before going "home" to heaven, and in their world-view, thrashing Iraq gives them a little better chance of making it to a ripe old age. Strange isn't it: Theists will support assuring untold thousands of innocents' eternal torment to keep their earthly skin and delay going to eternal bliss for a few measly years. Even granting beyond all reason that the Iraq foray improved their chances of worldly survival, it makes no sense when put in the theist heaven/hell cosmic context. Just another intellectual knot one can get twisted into when trying to superimpose a god's approval on one's own selfish impulses. It would be funny if it weren't so murderous.
Regards,
Phil Hallmark

Russell McCulloh Resurfaces

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 24, 2004

Dear Editor,
   For my fellow classical music discophiles who felt that Tower Records' closing was a cruel joke to deprive us of Russell McCulloh's encyclopedic expertise yet again (after Wherehouse Music folded less than a year earlier), take heart: Russell is now working at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Round Rock.
Michael M. Simpson

Shame on Us if Bush Wins

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 24, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Many people now know what a mess we've created in Iraq and are finally beginning to question our reasons for being there. I guess it's better late than never, but for some who've opposed this war from the outset, it's too little too late. A reminder: There were no WMD in Iraq. There was no link to al Qaeda. Over 1,000 U.S. soldiers (and counting) are dead. The list goes on and will only get worse.
   Now the war machine is starting to churn out the same lies as reason for invading Iran. More spiel and spin about WMD, nuclear power plants, enriched uranium, and weapons inspectors. The Bush administration lied to the American public to start this war, is currently lying about the reality in Iraq, and wants us to swallow the exact same lies as justification to invade another sovereign nation. Shame on them.
   Enough is enough. We are losing the war in Iraq. No WMD were found. The "insurgents" are fighting for their country and freedom, and thousands of lives have been needlessly lost. We have a chance to let the warmongers and the rest of the world know how we feel in November. Please don't let them get away with murder for four more years. Shame on us if we do.
Shawna Blount

Unhappy With CAMPO

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 23, 2004

Dear Editor,
   As the curtain has opened up on CAMPO's toll plan and as Austin citizens become more and more outraged, one has to ask: Who are our representatives representing?
   Our representatives are supposed to be better informed about issues so that they can make better decisions than the average citizen. But with the vast majority of Austinites against the toll plan, either 1) Austinites are all a bunch of ignorant dolts or 2) many of the CAMPO members are being coerced by special-interest groups who will profit by the toll plan. I choose No. 2. And we continue to uncover new information every day to prove it.
   What is most disturbing is that so many on the CAMPO board must actually think we are idiots! Tolling most of our existing highways is not "making a tough decision" – it is just a sellout.
Jeff Thayer

An Unhappy Taxpayer

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 23, 2004

To whom this may concern,
   As far as toll roads are concerned, not only do they want to make the new thoroughfares toll roads, but the existing roads, such as 290, I-35, parts of 183, and so forth. These roads have been paid for by our taxes already. Now, can anyone define to me the meaning of extortion? Talk about smog. 1) Traffic stalled at tollbooths waiting to go through. 2) Travelers avoiding toll roads will clog up the access roads, making travel time a nightmare. Not to mention smog. 3) Emergency vehicles of all sorts, stuck in traffic not only on the access roads, but at the tollways. Think the traffic won't be backed up? Even if they have access to get by the tollbooths! The so-called governor of Texas, Perry, mentioned that only the new roads were up for tolls. The City Council sort of mentioned he did not understand the total concept of the toll roads, that this would include the already-paid-for roads! Again, can anyone define extortion to me? There will never be enough roads in any city across the U.S. That is reality! Name one city or even one state that cannot complain? And who does the City Council think they are, that this issue was not put up for the taxpayers to decide? It is truly sad that more people do not get out and vote these people out! Too many think that their votes won't make a difference. Sad but true. Now granted, I'm not saying that extortion is being forced on us by anyone, I just want to know the definition of extortion. Thank you very much.
Signed,
An unhappy taxpayer
Eugene B. Coy

Jack Stick Is Just Plain Rude

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 23, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Well, I guess now I know that Jack Stick is not only rude to his constituency, he's just plain rude to everyone! His little letter-writing campaign to supporters of Mark Strama is just too typical. I'll preface my complaints about Stick by saying that I am the former Travis County Democratic Party chair for precinct 222 and Mr. Stick was aware of my party affiliation when he was less than professional toward me. For one of the few town hall meetings Stick ever scheduled in Pflugerville, he decided to host it on the same night as a TCDP executive committee meeting and the first ever visit by Howard Dean to Austin. When I informed Stick that his meeting seemed unfortunately timed to prevent any of his opposition from being available to attend the town hall meeting, I was informed that he could not "adjust his schedule to meet every soccer game, piano recital, and Tupperware party." He went on to say that when "my party" was in power, maybe I'd have more of a voice in the political arena. It's this partisan attitude that is prevalent in everything that man does! Jack don't know Stick!
Thanks for your time,
Laurie Gonzales

Let's Really Support Our Troops

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 23, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I'm a former Austin resident who still reads your paper online since I left. In response to several recent articles on the presidential election, I'm sick and tired of the Republicans repeatedly implying that they're the only ones who "support our troops." The idea that if you don't support the war you don't support the troops is ridiculous! Everyone supports our troops. They are putting their lives on the line for all of us, and the war isn't their fault. Well, after quite a bit of searching online I finally found the perfect answer to the yellow "support our troops" ribbons being distributed by the Bushies. A blue (the international color of peace) ribbon that says "bring our troops home" at www.troopsribbon.com. Now we all understand that we can't just walk away from the mess we've made in Iraq. Our goal should be to finish it up as soon as possible, because what better way is there to support our troops than to bring them home to their families.
Sincerely,
Colin Ernst
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Praise for Cat Powers

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 23, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I got the chills watching Cat Power play at ACL Saturday. She said she thought the set sucked. Some people did walk away confused. Something in her set hit me hard. The combination of her ghostly voice and beautifully basic arrangements is so refreshingly honest, especially in this election season.
John Mullaney

ACL Too Crowded

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 23, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The ACL Festival is very much a microcosm for the quality of life in Austin. There are just so many great things to love about the ACLF (and Austin) that it makes it a truly awesome place to be. Unfortunately, with that success comes the consequences. In the case of the 2004 ACLF it was the mass of humanity that filled Zilker Park. The crowds on Saturday were especially ridiculous. Your choices were to either 1) sit close enough to see the band and hear the music and get trampled on as people shoved their way to the front or 2) sit so far back as to be comfortable and end up not seeing or hearing the band. Dear Capital Sports and Entertainment, do you need to make that much money that you can't afford to cut the limit back down to say 60 or 65 thousand people and make it a truly enjoyable experience for all? If it is indeed about the almighty dollar, then just charge $15 or $20 more and cut the number of people back.
   While the downward spiraling quality of life in Austin (i.e., traffic) may be more difficult to solve, let's at least make this signature event a high-quality offering.
Lee Rusk
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