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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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Delusional Leaders?

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 12, 2005

Dear Editor,
    We've been told that there were weapons of mass destruction, that we were to bring Saddam Hussein to justice, that we must spread democracy in the Middle East, and most recently that Iraq is the central front on the war on terror (perhaps because of all of the above). However the real reason will be aired on a BBC documentary, where Bush explains that God told him to invade Iraq. Once again the age-old justification of one persons fanatical superstitious beliefs (religious fundamentalism) is the instrument for so much human misery and death here on Earth.
    Come on people! When are we going to wake up and realize that it is us gods and goddesses here on Earth loving, hating, creating, killing, living, dying, and making a heaven or hell of this miraculous world spinning in the heavens? The absolute reality that brought us and everything else into existence does not play dice with the universe. That reality is much more elemental and transcends this human world of concerns. When will we grow up and realize, just like we do as children that there is no Santa Claus? With that awareness comes greater joy and responsibility for the welfare of our children and for the life here on this precious Earth.
    The government of the people by the people and for the people (that's us) needs to begin electing clear-headed realists who are not guided by fantastical visions that border on the insane. History shows that the price is very high when our leaders are delusional.
Drumsing Habib

Why Can't Americans Be More Intolerant, Bigoted, Small-Minded, and Prejudiced?

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 12, 2005

Dear Editor,
    The Lord said to his disciples, anything they ask if any two of you agree as touching, it shall be done for them. Matthew 18:19.
    The sad thing is that earlier in scripture at the Tower of Babel, when all mankind spoke the same language, the Lord looked down and saw that they were all in agreement and that nothing (even evil) was withheld from them – so God created the races with different languages, confusing their ability to agree. Genesis 11:1-9.
    The United States today reminds me of the Tower of Babel, when many of us vote for officials who support abortion, gay marriage, sodomy, and removal of nativity scenes and the Ten Commandments from public places, showing our agreement with them (officials). Are we building another “Tower of Babel"?
Daniel Younger
Itasca

Red Cross Needs to Help Texans

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 12, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I live in Jasper, Texas, and my family and I are victims of Rita. As of right now we are still without lights, and that's OK because people are working as hard as they can and doing a wonderful job. My problem is with the Red Cross. When Katrina hit, Texans opened their hearts and homes to those victims and continue to do so. But I can't say the same for us. When we applied for Red Cross assistance we were told that an inspector would have to come out and see if our homes were damaged enough for us to receive $360 a person up to five people. Now I wonder if Katrina victims were told the same? No. And I was told that Jasper was not one of the harder-hit areas; well I would like to invite anyone to come and look. We are spending $100 every other day on gas for just our generator. I have five families in my house right now for shelter because their homes were damaged and they can't stay in them. I would like to ask anyone, how far do you think $360 per person up to five is going to get you on repairs? This money should be given for finicial help not home repairs. Come on, there are people who don't qualify for FEMA and they need help. Red Cross needs to help Texans too.
Patricia Barthol
Jasper

Big Thanks to Austin

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 12, 2005

Dear Editor,
    We came to your lovely city for our first visit for the ACL weekend. Thank you, we had a great weekend, made all the more pleasureable with the warm welcome we received everywhere we went. A special mention to the barman at the Embassy Suites whom we met at the Coldplay gig on the last night and Genette Danials, front of house, who guided us around the town. But a big thank you to the people of Austin for helping us Brits find our way around and to the parents of the Austin youth that we encountered. It was a pleasure to be in their company. They are a credit to you all. We were only with you for four days but you have a special place in our hearts, and we will be back.
Thank you Austin,
Helen and Paul Quinn
Stockport Cheshire, England

Is It Just That There Are a Lot of Idiots Running Your Town?

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 12, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Never in my wildest dreams would I think of having to pay a fine for yielding to traffic (they called it impeding traffic), but that is what happened to me, an out-of-towner, while visiting Austin in 2004. You see, I am not used to Austin traffic at rush hour, and I cannot drive like Mario Andretti. So, I decided to fight the ticket in Austin's municipal court, only to find that the judge and district attorney are just as closed-minded. I have read a few stories lately about how your Austin Police Department has been criticized. For shooting people in the back and for enjoying a business going up in flames. But I never thought there was a lot of merit in the stories. Now I see what is the deal. I will pay my fine like a good citizen should, but beware. Either the city of Austin really really needs money, or there are a lot of idiots running your town. But then again, maybe you already know that.
Stephen Thun
Waco

'You Belong to FEMA Now!'

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
    A few weeks ago, I was on a plane bound from Austin to Houston, and seated a few rows behind me were a few firefighters. As we deplaned, someone spoke to them to ask where they were from and where they were going. They answered that they were just coming back from a convoluted trip to Atlanta. They had volunteered to help in New Orleans, and instead of going there they were sent to a hotel in Atlanta. They were given sexual harassment training for days, and when they complained they were told that they belonged to FEMA now, and they had better just do as they were told. They were to wear FEMA T-shirts and hand out pamphlets. PR work! Insulted and angry, they left. They said to all who would listen while we walked off the plane, "Sorry to say it if you don't want to hear it, but your federal government doesn't give a f*** about you." I shivered. Whatever happens after this lame-duck presidency finally expires, we as voters must choose wisely. These hard days bring important lessons. Use your vote!
Stefanie Moore

To Many the American Dream Is No Longer Available

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
    The appointment of Harriet Miers demonstrates the real priorities of the Bush White House. Conservatives have been led to believe their leaders would hold back gay rights, roll back abortion rights, and protect the cultural mores of traditional America. What they don't realize is that the first priority of the people in power is to make America safe for the new “über-class.” Corporate executives, financiers, and the investor class are the real beneficiaries of the Republican majority. John Roberts and Harriet Miers aren't social crusaders. They are corporate lawyers. Their job is to protect corporations from accountability.
    Pension funds, retirement accounts, and mutual funds give the common man ownership, but control remains in the managers and executives. They're the ones who bought the Texas Legislature. They're the ones who put G.W. Bush in the White House. Our productive assets have gone overseas, but they are still controlled by the same good ol' boy network. They profit while our ability to make a living crumbles and fades. If you aren't credit worthy or “club-able” the American dream is no longer available. They've got us distracted with wedge issues, while they take the prize.
R.K. Crowley
Arlington

Is It Fair That Hurricane Victims Will Get So Much Aid?

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
    If you heard Bush promising the billions dog-eared for flights to the moon by 2012, you would have heard history in the making: While tens of thousands are still suffering after Katrina & Rita, Bush tries to make positive for space workers at NASA and their subcontractors, such as Halliburton, Bell Helicopter, and others.
    www.jasonleigh.org/vetissues.htm.
    Ninety percent of those people who stayed, but were later rescued in New Orleans, were the poorest of the poor. Some will get FEMA mobile homes for 15 years to life, with no payback.
    Couldn't a homeless veteran lose everything as well, devoid of a hurricane, still have nothing, while those who lived on welfare in New Orleans will continue to collect, but who are now “given” extra perks that veterans will never realize with what little life they may have left?
    And who picks up the tab for higher interest rates? The poorest of the poor‚ that's who. Have you noticed that the highest “tax cut” in USA history was given to the richest Americans, which includes the people who have billions and more than 10,000 others with millions of dollars, but will Bush reverse that tax cut? You bet he won't! That would be reneging on his promise to his rich family and friends.
    The recovery money will come from cuts in programs for the poor.
    We all know this. True?
    What happened to this land I love so very much that cares so little for the heartbeat of this country, the veterans, whom we owe more to than forcing them into being helplessly homeless nomads.
    The evacuees are given‚ homes, food, clothes, and money-filled ATM cards. Aren't homeless veterans and their families evacuees?
    The evacuees from New Orleans will gain even more than they had prehurricanes‚ and post-hurricanes.
    Is that fair?
Jason “Greywolf” Leigh
Cleburne

Pay Attention to Amendments

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I hope your publication will spend some time and energy on the two constitutional (absolutely criminal) amendments being put on the ballot by Governor Rick Puppet. I'm sorry, I meant Perry.
    These are Propositions 1 and 9, I believe. While you're at it why don't you mention the less than trustable/honest electronic voting machines we are forced to use. Go to www.blackboxvoting.org.
Sincerely a true independent voter and reader,
Rob Broussard

BBQ Fest Needs to Get Bigger

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
   The music was plentiful and quite good.
   However, can someone please tell out-of-town BBQ vendors that they need to triple the size of their tiny booths when they exhibit in Austin? The football-field-length lines of hungry people waiting for an hour to get food at multiple BBQ vendors, vendors running out of food at 3PM, and the refreshment stand running out of soft drinks at 3:15 let the crowd know that some out-of-town vendors don't know that Austinites love BBQ and can eat a lot. The crowning moment that drove this home was when two extra large Papa John pizzas were spotted, being delivered in the middle of a barbecue festival, because food was running out (where's the TV crew when you need them?).
Bruce Reilly

Church and State Should Be Separated

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
   First let me tell you that I think it is great that your newspaper prints both sides of the debate [Postmarks, Oct. 7].
   It still surprises me that people forget why people come to America. I thought the phrase went, "Land of the Free," not "the Oppressed." Once again, I am frustrated with people speaking of the Bible only when it suits them. It's odd that they themselves do not follow the Bible in its teachings. Besides stating, "one man, one woman," it also states that you will not lay down with your wife in the same bed while she is on her menstrual cycle and that you have sex to propagate. Odd, I don't see these people being condemned or a law being passed. Seems that the Bible is no longer teaching people to forgive, to be kind to others, and to not judge.
   And, why are we even speaking of the Bible when it comes to laws and the Constitution? Our laws are not derived from the Bible or we would have a law that read, "Love Thy Father and Thy Mother."
   It is beginning to feel like if you are not white or married and do not go to church, then you are different and have no place in society. And if you are not careful, there will be a law passed restricting you from being who you are.
   If people really feel this law should be passed, then there should also be an attachment that exempts me from paying property taxes. I own my own home and pay taxes to the school district so their children receive an education. Taxation without representation. Sounds familiar.
Valerie Whitney

Too Stupid to Know Better

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
   Hey, it's really simple. If you don't want to get shot or Tasered, don't run from or try to fight with a cop ["Tased and Confused," News, Oct. 7]. Darwin's theory sometimes applies to those who are too stupid to know better.
"Citizen" Grady Ellis

Isolating Pemberton Heights

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 10, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Having rerouted most of the buses on route 19 to the edge of Pemberton Heights, Capital Metro is apparently now planning to complete the isolation of Pemberton Heights from downtown by moving route 3 away from its northeast corner. Their reason for doing this is explained as increasing volumes of traffic on Lamar Boulevard. It is a strange principle that whenever more than a certain number of private vehicles want to use a bus route, the buses should be removed.
Martyn Hitchcock

Remembering When It Cost $1.50 to Vote

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 10, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Hey, I am old enough to remember the voter registration fee of $1.50, but you forgot something that went along with the $1.50 – a prospective voter must answer one or more questions to see if they knew how and for whom to vote [“The Hightower Report,” News, Sept. 30].
    Heck, if they had the $1.50, which for me was four hours of work in 1949, and being white (really Indian but I never told them), I did not have to answer questions but could get my poll tax receipt.
    Never forget the KKK has a member in the Congress of the United States and one or two others who like them.
Bob Cowger
Poteet

City Enforcing Codes Is Unusual

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 10, 2005

Dear Editor,
    The only thing that is really unusual about Trudy's South Congress Cafe building without getting the proper permits and clearance from the city is that for some reason the city has chosen the really unique position of actually enforcing the city's own building codes [“Illegal SoCo Cafe Deck 86ed for Now,” News, Oct. 7]. This in itself is a real rarity. Has anyone noticed the decks and patios just two or three blocks north of City Hall that protrude out over the sidewalks forcing pedestrians to cross the street or walk in the lanes of traffic in order to pass by these businesses? Geez, I sure wish I could just extend my property lines onto what is supposed to be public right-of-way!
Delwin Goss

The Good and the Bad of Barbecue Fest

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 10, 2005

Editor and staff,
    Thank you so much for sponsoring and promoting the Central Texas Barbecue Festival [“Sausage Shrines,” Food, Oct. 7]. It was such a refreshing mix of people and y'all had great weather. A few bits of feedback:
    Good – all the food, bands, and cold beer. Great attendance and enthusiasm for barbecue.
    Bad – the venue was way too small and way too crowded.
    Please do this again at a bigger or open space.
Regards,
Matt Dussling

Hurricane Damage More Extensive Than Being Reported

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 10, 2005

Dear Louis Black,
    Just like you, I've been touched by the disaster that is New Orleans. From the damage to the city to the loss of life. When Rita started heading our way I worried and watched as the people of the Gulf Coast scrambled for higher ground.
    As the "dust" cleared it looked as if Houston and Galveston dodged the bullet. Geraldo and Shepard Smith packed up the camera and ponchos to move on to the next disaster. I have a vested interest in the Gulf Coast because my family lives in Beaumont and I was born and raised there. For the last two weeks my wife and I have hosted family members at our home in Austin and made hundreds of calls a day trying to keep up with friends and family that were until the last couple of days displaced from their homes.
    What worries me is that no one seems to know that the towns near the border of Louisiana were hit pretty hard, thankfully not as bad as New Orleans, but nonetheless it isn't just another day down there. My family runs a church in Nederland/Beaumont/Bridge City that has been feeding the citizens of that area since the day after the hurricane hit. There are many hungry and displaced people there. People have lost their jobs and are not getting paid. Some people have lost everything. Schools aren't sure when they will reopen. It's not over for these people; it's just beginning.
    When I speak to people here in Austin, no one seems to know. They believe that since Houston is OK the rest of that area is OK, which is not the case. Sabine Pass is pretty much wiped out.
    I would just ask that you please explore doing a story about this area. This area (Gulf Coast) still needs help. FEMA is a joke down there and the Red Cross isn't doing much. The people are helping one another and it's working. I just feel that the people of Austin and Texas need to realize that we have had a disaster in our own state. Right now I'm not even sure how to help other than going there and assisting in the cleanup. If there were some coverage maybe they could get the help that they need.
Thank you for your time,
Courtney Perkins

Need an Intercontinental System of Bike and Walking Paths

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 7, 2005

Dear Editor,
    One reason for the failure to evacuate New Orleans was that there was no way for people without cars to walk away from danger. The emergency plan for Austin is probably just like the one for New Orleans: Assume that everyone will get out by private car. Ignore the fact that people without cars won't dare leave on foot or on bicycle, for fear of being run over by people with cars.
    Suppose we had paths for walkers and cyclists that connected Austin to other towns and cities. (Such paths exist in Europe, in the northeastern U.S., and in some western states.) Then, in an emergency, people could flee on foot, on bicycles, and even in wheelchairs. Feet and bicycles are faster than cars in traffic jams or cars without fuel. The most effective way to move large numbers of people is to make use of the most basic means of transportation – walking.
    Austin's mayor, Will Wynn, has asked for ideas for ways to permanently commemorate Lance Armstrong's seventh consecutive victory in the Tour de France. What better way than to build hike-and-bike paths linking Austin to other cities? That way, Austin could actually evacuate in an emergency.
    And should we be lucky enough to have no emergencies, those hike-and-bike paths won't go to waste. They would become lined with small, local businesses – inns, restaurants, stores, and campgrounds – that could lead to a new sort of car-free vacation, recreation, and tourism. You could walk to San Antonio and gain weight on the way, if you stopped for food often enough. It could be like Quebec's Route Verte.
    This is an idea whose time has come.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

Gray Wrong on Butterfield

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 7, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Let's all hope the mighty Sir Douglas Quintet finally makes it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year, but it's a burn that Christopher Gray so easily dismisses the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's qualifications because they're not “rock & roll enough" [“TCB,” Music, Oct. 7]. Has Gray ever listened to their first two albums? Those mind-warping sets are still unequaled for sheer inspiration and accomplishment. Maybe that's why Bob Dylan asked the Butterfield Band to back him when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, or how almost every San Francisco band had their minds blown by the Butterfield bunch's ability to improvise for hours when they ruled the ballrooms there in 1966. I'd go as far as to say that the early Paul Butterfield Blues Band was one of the most influential groups in the history of rock & roll. I'll never forget reading Rolling Stone magazine's 1969 report on the Woodstock festival, where they said that of all the musicians backstage at that event, none got more respect from the other musicians than Paul Butterfield. And he's not even a Texan!
Bill Bentley
Studio City, Calif.

Yes to Hall of Fame?

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 7, 2005

Dear Editor,
    The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is notorious for the blatant snubbing of some great bands. But it seems that the greatest slap in the face is saved for purveyors of that much maligned genre – progressive rock. The legendary Yes has been producing music since 1968. They have sold more than 35 million records. They have charted several times. Yes has been touring the world to sold-out arenas for decades. They even beat Led Zeppelin for the most consecutive nights selling out Madison Square Garden. Yes has been at the vanguard of rock music. They were one of the first bands to use synthesizers and exotic world instruments. The members have appeared with some of music's most creative geniuses – from John Lennon to Vangelis. Yes is on equal footing with some of rock's royalty – including the Who, Pink Floyd, and the aforementioned Led Zeppelin. A display at the Hall featuring Yes would be a visual treat. The band's look has been forever linked with the otherworldly art of Roger Dean. Their stages and costumes are almost as legendary as their music. A Minimoog synthesizer belonging to Rick Wakeman, a triple-neck bass belonging to Chris Squire, or any one of Steve Howe's legendary guitars would be equally as compelling. Of course we're sure to hear from the critics (ya know, the people who haven't struck the first note on stage or sold a single record). They'll reach into their grab bag of descriptions of Yes music, and we're sure to read "bombastic, overblown, and pretentious." They also love to cite Yes as one of the reasons "punk" music emerged. That's fine with me. As long as these misunderstood master craftsmen get the recognition they earned a long time ago. Maybe those of us who have been petitioning for years to have Yes inducted should insist that they be redefined as the first "punk" progressive rock band. Then the critics would love them. Either way, rock & roll belongs to the fans, not the critics! Say yes to Yes.
Greg Baumgardner

'Chronicle' Needs to Cover More Rap

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 6, 2005

Dear Editor,
    No disrespect but I don't see how the Chronicle can go week after week of not covering rap music. It's kind of funny to know that hip-hop music has some of the biggest albums every year but you wouldn't know that people listen to rap if you read the Chronicle. And I don't mean doing another feature on Overlord, Bavu Blakes, or some other UT co-op performer. There are real hip-hop Austin artists and producers with styles that are definitely street, groovy, and jumping. Your reporters just have to know who they are and where they at (and no you can't find them on Sixth Street). I have the scoop. I'm in the business because it's the music I love and I'm tired of Austin being overlooked by Houston when it comes to talent in the rap category. I sent my last CD in and even dropped one off personally for Christopher Gray and didn't get a call back, interview, nothing. And that's cool if the paper doesn't want to cover our music. But at least be up-front about it. Austin, "Live Music Capital of the World but No Urban Music."
Gabriel Williams

Supports Union

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 6, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Take notice, Austin employers who serve the public. If provoked, your employees will rise up and strike like a big old Texas rattlesnake. Capital Metro found this out the hard way with the Sept. 22 shutdown of the transit system by the courageous women and men of ATU 1091 [“Bus Driver Standoff Going Nowhere,” News, Oct. 7]. The transit authority has lost its way in its mission to serve the public. Two-tier wage systems are intolerable, even in the private sector. Plundering future generations with wage rollbacks to satiate stockholders' greed is unacceptable. A nonprofit bus company forcing future Austin workers into poverty is downright immoral. The workers of ATU 1091 took a stand for our children and grandchildren. All of us must now stand with them in this struggle, in gratitude.
Glenn Gaven
ATU 1549 member

Stand Up Against Racism

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 6, 2005

Dear Editor,
    On Sat. Oct. 1, about 75 people rallied at the Capitol in support of “securing our borders” and keeping “illegals” out of the country (see “Naked City,” News, Oct. 7). Almost all in attendance were white (as in ancestors of immigrants of Western Europe descent who “illegally” raped and pillaged this land and the indigenous people on it) and their cry for “homeland security” reeked of our neo-conservative fear-mongering administration, and is also, I might add, the theme used to justify the extermination of 6 million Jews. These same people organized a counterprotest recently at the Diez y Seis march, yet they claim to not, in fact, be racist. Whatever.
    About 25 people counterprotested: mostly some anarchists and socialists and a few others‚ like myself. There were understandably few representatives from the Latino community, since they don't need any more abuse than they are getting from this upsurge in racism.
    Curiously absent (not for lack of prior knowledge) were the liberals and progressives who say they oppose racism and stand for justice for the oppressed. It's a simple question I pose to them: Do you want racists terrorizing immigrants at day labor sites and passing state law to legitimize vigilantism? Can you sit comfortably at home knowing this is growing because you just don't want to make a fuss or feel it might be violent to directly confront racism? What would MLK say? Cesar Chavez? Gandhi?
    It is the job of whites to directly confront racism in this country. If we don't, then we allow it to grow, which is equivalent to supporting it. This tactic is important, and not meant to patronize the oppressed; it is about not allowing hatred to grow. It affects us all.
    To learn more about the Minutemen, contact the local AFSC to organize a viewing of a documentary.
Thanks,
Debbie Russell

County Voters Need a Choice

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 6, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Are you fed up with politicians who ignore the will of the people, load you up with higher taxes, and then proceed to give themselves a raise? Our county commissioners did just that! They did so even though it was against the recommendation of their own budget office.
    What does this mean to you? Higher taxes and more tolls, that's what! It means they are still adamant about making us pay twice for roads we paid for over the years with our taxes. They want to toll us to use our own roads!
    Travis County desperately needs someone to run against Commissioner Sonleitner. As of today, she is running unopposed. Please run and give us a choice, Travis County needs you!
    If you are opposed to double taxation: 1) Cast your vote against Sonleitner, Daugherty, and Biscoe for county commissioner. Then, 2) Run for office yourself!
Marcia Ann Silha
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