FEEDBACK
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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Outraged

RECEIVED Wed., July 26, 2006

Dear Editor,
    If someone was bombing the shit out of the U.S., wouldn't we all expect "peaceful nations" to insist on an immediate cease-fire, even in the face of ongoing conflict? The fact that Bush and his people say it would be "unproductive" for Israel to stop bombing Lebanon right away – that it would be "premature"?! – it's clear as day that the Lebanese lives being destroyed daily are just tactical misfortunes to this administration. (Save every last embryo, but ... living, breathing humans? Let's not be hasty. After all, we've got an alliance to support.)
    A New York Times article reported that a small group of demonstrators followed Condi Rice's armored procession in Beirut. One sign read “Be outraged.” I am.
Ginger McGilvray

How About Helmets for Car Drivers?

RECEIVED Wed., July 26, 2006

Dear Editor,
    The city of Austin claims to support clean air and clean transportation. Purchasers of electric or hybrid cars get a year's free parking Downtown. People who walk for transportation get nothing, and now those who bicycle are threatened with a mandatory adult bicycle helmet law. As Bill James notes [“Postmarks,” July 21], the state (not the city) has an adult motorcycle helmet law, but most motorbikers are exempt from it, and police do not chase motorcyclists for riding bareheaded. Should the proposed law pass, police will chase bicyclists, but not motorcyclists, for riding without helmets. Would the City Council consider a law requiring riders in electric and hybrid cars, but not in regular gas-guzzlers, to wear race-car helmets?
    Helmet law proponents, such as former Mayor Todd, are nearly always sport bicyclists, not utility bicyclists. For them, bicycling is a sport that comes with sports gear. In cities like Amsterdam, where utility cycling is mainstream, people ride bicycles in suits, tight skirts, high heels, and so on. They don't usually wear helmets. And they have far lower death and injury rates than helmeted American bicyclists.
    Why do some sports cyclists feel they must force helmets on all utility cyclists? Amateur race-car drivers don't try to put race-car helmets on ordinary motorists, although such helmets would no doubt save lives and reduce medical costs.
    In 1996, Austin's City Council unexpectedly imposed an all-ages bicycle helmet law. While circulating a petition to put this law to a vote, I spoke with a young nurse. She said she liked helmet laws, because she had seen head trauma in some injured bicyclists. I said, “I bet you've seen a lot more head trauma in people injured in cars.” She said yes, that was true. I said, “Would you support a law requiring people in cars to wear race-car helmets? It would save lives and reduce head injuries.”
    “For cars?” she squeaked, in a voice that went up two octaves. “No!” Then she actually ran away.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

'Chronicle' Music Coverage Not Fair and Balanced

RECEIVED Tue., July 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    It certainly strikes me as odd that Austin never has had a music critic that is worth a shit. What is really funny is that critics from other parts of the country have a better and fairer handle on the local music scene than the people who write for Austin papers. The Washington Post or The New York Times have more balanced coverage than the Chron ever has.
    The problem I have with the Chronicle started with the demise of the Back Room and the lack of coverage of the metal scene in general.
    Metal heads and prog rock fans have never had anyone willing to stand up to the nerds at the Chronicle, who would love to rewrite history with the Ramones or the Clash as the Beatles!
    I just want to know what the Chronicle plans to do about it? There is a large group of readers that are being left out because the Chron chooses to slam and or ignore certain music styles. I am certainly hoping for a change in a more fair-and-balanced way.
    Thank you and goodnight.
Jack Pennington
   [Editor's note: See this week's “TCB” for more on this subject.]

Austin Will Just Be Concrete and More People

RECEIVED Tue., July 25, 2006

Dear Louis,
    I just finished the article about the "new" downtown project and was so sorry to see such an article [“My Migas, My City,” News, July 21]. Of course, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
    Just please, please people get it done right or Austin will be just like the sucky, uncool, soulless city of Houston. As it is, when I do head toward Austin, all I see from the east side of Elgin (Yes! Elgin) is concrete and more people.
    Unnerving and disturbing how we tear up this planet like we have all the rights in the world. My theory/opinion/saying: "Most of the problems on this planet are due to the stupidity of arrogance."
    Imagine how hot it will be with all of that concrete in a confined area – oh, and how about the demand that will be placed on city services (i.e., water, waste water ...) – oh, and how about the traffic when all of those who live downtown but do not work downtown leave for their jobs, in those vehicles, that will need their "own space.”
    Later dude ...
P.K. Landry

Shocked at Electroshock

RECEIVED Tue., July 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    ECT or electroshock therapy has never fallen out of favor with the psychiatric community [“Naked City,” News, July 7]. It fell out of favor with the public and was always despised by the majority of shock survivors. Any psychiatric survivor group in the world you can find is against this form of treatment. In China, Falon Gong practitioners are electroshocked to force them to renounce their beliefs. A Cuban expatriate complained of politically motivated electroshock torture while the offending doctor swore it was treatment. Turkey will probably not be let into the EU for all of the electroshock they were doing on the mentally ill without anesthesia as punishment. I find most people I talk to about this cannot believe that it still goes on. "They don't do that anymore do they?" is a common response. Some facts that I find interesting are that, before some brainiac thought to drug the shock patient, after a victim was shocked they would flop around and commonly break bones. Also a gel is applied so that the amount of electricity does not burn the temples of the head. There is a review of the amount of voltage used on the Web that explains that the weakest machine at the lowest setting would kill someone if they ran the current through a person's chest. It's really an extreme way to treat a human being. We need to allow all of our citizens a chance to recover without brain damage. I also feel that drug-treatment failures and the potential lawsuits can be swept under the rug with shock therapy. Everyone I have interviewed that received shock spent years recovering. The two-year limit on lawsuits is usually up by then. Shock is a great way to prevent a lawsuit and hide treatment failures.
Jim Moore

Austin: Grow Up and Be a Real City!

RECEIVED Tue., July 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: “My Migas, My City” [News, July 21]: The Austin Chronicle apparently can't see the forest for the migas. Austin has already made "a bargain with el diablo" by ignoring its growing population and fighting development at every turn. While Katherine Gregor is getting readers riled up on what are essentially rumors, Austin's culture is already falling apart. Austin has two choices here: Either we get distracted by one block of development while the city continues to sprawl, or we decide that Austin has to grow up and be a real city.
    The loss of culture is a legitimate concern, but really, the worst that can happen here is that Las Manitas moves into the La Pena building and has more customers because there are more people Downtown. Maybe they can stay open past 4pm? By the same logic, maybe Escuelita will have more families to serve.
    The city and builders know these are valuable businesses. I fear the spirit of cooperation and compromise mentioned at the end of the article will get lost in a knee-jerk reaction to development.
Shannon Jordy

Bentley Informative About Jerry Williams

RECEIVED Tue., July 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I just stumbled across Bill Bentley's article on Jerry Williams from January while I was trying to find some info on Williams on the Net [“The Lone Ranger,” Music, Jan. 27].
    I still have a copy of Gone that I bought back in 1980 ... and it has driven me crazy trying to find out what happened to this guy.
    I knew he had written a lot of songs, but I never knew he wound up here in my state.
    Judging from the topics of other articles Bill has written, I need to check out austinchronicle.com more often.
Tony Sellars
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Against Electroshock

RECEIVED Tue., July 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    About electroshock [“Naked City,” News, July 7]. It causes convulsions and coma, a critical condition. After each one, I came to increasingly confused, wobbly, and terrified. About 30 are usually given every other day for two months. The person is reduced to a fog and comes out getting muscle control back and laughing.
    But I didn't enter into this fogged confusion. I escaped after four, stumbling from my head injury and running for my life. Just like after having escaped alive from any horror too horrible to be real, the next day I had hysterical amnesia. I could dimly remember that I had been locked up in a psychiatric hospital but none of the details. In deep psychological shock, terror undulated underneath my hysterical laughter. Psychiatry calls the high anxiety and hysterical laughter of hysterical amnesia the relieving of depression.
    Nine years later, the flashbacks started; 13 years later, I was engulfed in the memory and exploded into suicidal and homicidal terror. Then I was forced on drugs. After years of drugs and suicidal attempts and real hospitals saving my life, a nurse in an emergency room said, “Go to Alcoholics Anonymous. They teach people how to get well there.” And in six months, I had quit all psychiatrists' drugs and acquired the mental tools I need to live in this world and enjoy it.
Sincerely,
Clover Greene
Ignacio, Colo.
Author, Escape From Psychiatry
Founder and director, Welcome World

Shandon Sahm Checks In: 'Of Course It's Doug!'

RECEIVED Tue., July 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Okay, this is getting stupid! I would expect this in the Ohio or Iowa type Chronicle. But The Austin Chronicle? Yes, the guy in the picture with Jerry Wexler is the one and only Sir Dad Sahm [“TCB,” Music, July 14]. Why did no one call me or Shawn on such a simple thing as the Atlantic Session photos? How do I know? Well, for one, Dad used to carry a white comb in his back pocket! Plus, the Sahm family has tons of photos of that same session! Still, no phone call to back that up! I'm so sad, Raoul; now that you have confirmation tell everyone, OK? Here's a little bit of info that you don't know ... the Atlantic Session is also the Red Headed Stranger era. Wexler signed Willie right after these sessions! Again, no phone call! You've gotta be on crack! Call next time, OK?
Shandon Sahm
P.S. p.s. Check out the white comb in his back pocket in the photo.

Health Has Little to Do With Drug Laws

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Regarding Jim Hightower's thoughtful July 21 column [“The Hightower Report”], if health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.
    The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best. White Americans did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.
    By raiding voter-approved medical-marijuana providers in California, the very same U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that claims illicit drug use funds terrorism is forcing cancer and AIDS patients into the hands of street dealers. Apparently marijuana prohibition is more important than protecting the country from terrorism.
    The following Virginia Law Review article offers a good overview of the cultural roots of marijuana legislation: www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/vlr/vlrtoc.htm.
    For additional historical background please see the Canadian Senate report: www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/ille-e/rep-e/summary-e.pdf.
Sincerely,
Robert Sharpe, MPA
Policy analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
www.csdp.org

Unhappy With Kyle Councilman

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Kyle councilman Todd Webster has tried to criminalize public dissent and free speech, using government abuse of authority funded with taxpayer money to help him punish those who would disagree with him.
    Attorney Sheila Limon's memorandum to the Kyle mayor and City Council regarding the council-approved Kyle Klips investigation transported me back to the shameful Fifties when our nation struggled in the grips of Sen. McCarthy and the House of Un-American Activities Committee witch-hunting investigations. After renowned newscaster Edward R. Murrow spoke out and helped end McCarthyism, I thought never again would I see our government so blatantly trample the constitutional rights of its citizens. I am stunned to see McCarthy-style tactics reappear, and, of all places, in Kyle, Texas.
    Under the guise of a “possible Election Code violation,” councilman Todd Webster has turned back the clock to those dark days of McCarthyism as he turns the power and resources of local government against citizens who would “complain about the City Government” and “encourage voters to vote against Webster and a proposed charter amendment.” Webster's city-government-financed campaign to harass and intimidate citizens who disagree with him should be repudiated universally by those who hold dear our constitutional freedoms that generations of Americans have shed blood to protect.
    Spending more than $20,000 of taxpayer money to finance this charade investigation is simply outrageous and should be soundly condemned by the press and by all freedom-loving and fair-minded citizens. Sen. McCarthy was only able to operate behind a cloak of public silence. Good citizens throughout our community should speak out against councilman Webster and his McCarthy-style tactics. If he believes an election violation was committed, let him file a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission. He should not be permitted to take the law into his own hands as McCarthy did.
Charles O'Dell, Ph.D.
President
HaysCAN

God Will Pick the Winner

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Well, I think all these wars are cool, cuz it'll show the world whose religion is right. Finally, because God will pick the winner.
Blair Bovbjerg

Holy War Is Sick

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor of The Austin Chronicle,
    I'm pleased to read Jim Hightower's vent (“The Government's Sick War on Marijuana”) [“The Hightower Report,” July 21] but can't believe it still needs to be written.
    “Holy war against marijuana” and “holy warriors”? As Christ God Our Father indicated, He created all the seed-bearing plants, saying they are all good on literally the very first page of the Bible (see Genesis 1:11-12 and 29-30); people who would stick a knife in the side of the Christ should be confronted.
    Ironically, while many people know of cannabis (marijuana) as the tree of life, the very last page of the Bible (Revelation 22) indicates the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations; thus cannabis was and is created to end war. All war.
    Prohibitionists (“holy warriors”) don't want cannabis/the tree of life free because it exposes them, and their holy war for what it is, which is sick.
Truthfully,
Stan White
Dillon, Colo.

Applauding Moser

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Thank you Stephen Moser for contibuting to beauty and peace in Austin: first, by publishing that exquisite photograph in your column [“After a Fashion,” Arts, July 14]. It is a work of art. Second, by reminding parents that their child-rearing responsibilities do not cease when they walk into a restaurant.
I applaud you,
Declan Mantis

MetroRail Night Owl Service?

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Capital Metro unveiled its MetroRail line this week [“Naked City,” News, July 21]. As a rail-supporting, sometime-bicycling, New Urbanist, music-loving, crunchy-liberal Austinite, I can't help but wonder: Why will the trains only run at rush hour?
    The current MetroRail plan serves urban professionals that live or work Downtown. In time, the plan will attract additional development along the line. Great! But, what if you are a night reveler in this town? Will the train serve you?
    MetroRail should offer Night Owl Service. Most everyone who has ever headed Downtown for a band, a premiere, a dinner, or even – dare I admit it – gelato, knows nighttime parking is a bitch. It's either $7 a spot, endless circling, or sharing a sloppy road at 2am. With Austin nightlife an honored institution, it seems that those heading to and from Downtown from 9pm to 2am might prove a loyal rider base. I know I'd certainly ride it then.
    But don't listen to me. Apparently I live too near the worst block in Austin.
Yours,
Lonny Stern
Rosewood neighbor

It's Very Dangerous Right Now

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Despite insistence from our right-wing media and government that Israel is targeting Hezbollah and rocket sites alone, the facts speak of a much different reality.
    The UK's Guardian reported that early estimates of the damage to Lebanon are in the billions of dollars. Fifty-five bridges have been destroyed, electrical grids have been decimated, airports and hospitals are inoperable. The economy is failing, and banks are limiting terrified customers to $1,000 withdrawals in an attempt to prevent total currency failure.
    Targeting civilian infrastructure and "collective punishment" are war crimes under the Geneva Convention. But that's just a "quaint" document with no bearing in today's modern world, isn't it?
    Hezbollah is, unsurprisingly, still at large and as capable as ever.
    Isn't it time the West learned that military action against "terrorists" is a failed tactic? How can one destroy an ideology with bombs? How many hearts and minds can be won through senseless destruction?
    From the blood and rubble of Lebanon will rise such seething hatred and fury that no amount of brutal occupation will contain it. Terror thrives on violence and fear, and our "strongest ally" in the Middle East is pouring gasoline on the flames in an attempt to extinguish them.
    The best part: Your tax dollars (more than $2.3 billion a year) go directly to the Israeli military! So when you see those pictures of children blasted to pieces on CNN, you can feel proud that your money is actually accomplishing something.
    My fellow Americans, we are entering into a very dangerous time and are supporting a very dangerous government in a very dangerous part of the world.
Peace to you,
Mike "Dub" Wainwright

A Voice of Sanity in a World of Fruitcake

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: Michael Ventura's Got a Light? [“Letters @ 3am,” July 21]: I have always enjoyed Mr. Ventura's delightful perspective of the world's woes. His latest article compels me to write and applaud him as a genuine voice of sanity in a seeming world of fruitcake. Bravo.
Wayne Wylie

Save Las Manitas

RECEIVED Mon., July 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: Las Manitas [“My Migas, My City,” News, July 21]: So this is progress? Is every vestige of weirdness in Austin doomed?
    I've been going to Las Manitas since it was created, and Lidia and Cynthia Pérez are my heroes. Feisty Cynthia always has a wry and very welcome comment on current politics – and sometimes she even gives a much-appreciated back rub. (Definitely not the Bush surprise version he stupidly bestowed upon German Chancellor Merkel!)
    Other cities have saved social landmarks. As but one example, legendary P.J. Clarke's restaurant in the middle of Manhattan was saved from the wrecking ball when a huge 45-story skyscraper was designated for the block. As the Web site says, the restaurant has stood on its corner site for some 130 years (www.pjclarkes.com).
    Of course it didn't fit in with the developer's design to have one corner removed from a building site where the value of land is virtually measured in square inches. But P.J. Clarke's was left virtually undisturbed on its corner, regardless of the cost and design changes necessary.
    It's easier and cheaper, of course, for a developer to level a block and start from scratch. But in this instance, a major part of Austin's soul would be destroyed. Can we allow that? I hope not.
Claude M. Gruener

Jeffs Just a Runt

RECEIVED Fri., July 21, 2006

Dear sir,
    Thank you so much for your informative and detailed article on Warren Jeffs [“Meet the New Neighbors,” News, July 29, 2005]. I live in Britain, and last night there was a TV documentary on Warren Jeffs, and I was just curious to know more. He is a total runt, to put it politely, and to be honest, I doubt very much if the FBI will ever catch him. He has so many followers who believe him to be sent from God that they will keep him from being caught, which is a shame. From what I can gather, he has done so much damage that he needs to be punished. Thanks again for your informative article. Well done.
Angela Bond
Upminster, Essex
England

Defending Whistlers

RECEIVED Thu., July 20, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I would defend whistlers as a group from critics such as Ms. Jackson ["Postmarks," July 14] on the same grounds that I would defend public singing: It is healthy to have a song in one's heart. Indeed, whistlers, singers, and other musically inclined people depend on song to ease them through the mundane and difficult moments of life, and this is why they react with hostility when asked to stop.
    Besides, I should think that living in New York with taxi cabs, jackhammers, exploding buildings, and Robert De Niro constantly shouting out the window would rather inure a person to the more benign sound of a whisting human being.
Sincerely,
Sean Ragan
   [Editor's note: The article in question is a little piece called "This Blows" by Jay Hardwig and first appeared in The Austin Chronicle in 2000 (austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/issue/story?oid=oid%3A77448). We're thrilled that a feature from a beloved long-lost freelancer is generating interest today. If you are interested in more Jay, check out our author archive: austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/authors/jayhardwig.html.]

'Legislators Fired!'

RECEIVED Thu., July 20, 2006

Dear Editor,
    “Legislators Fired!” That should be the next headline in newspapers throughout Texas. What a sham our elected officials are. Instead of working for Texas families and their children, they continue their ineptness and special-interest motivations. It is an outrage that so little was accomplished once again in a legislative session, and elected officials must be held accountable by the voters from the governor on down the line. For Texans to permit the ongoing abuse and variable transgressions to continue is a travesty. Voters need to get smart finally and vote out the vermin proliferating at the state Capitol. Furthermore, special interests must be banned from contributing huge dollar amounts to legislative campaigns.
    Corruptness and self-profiteering must not continue to be the prerequisites for a career in politics. It's time for Texans to hold elected officials accountable and to take back their Legislature.
Jamey McGhee

Fixing Education Easier Said Than Done

RECEIVED Thu., July 20, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Golly, thank god all the candidates for governor are going to fix education; now all our kids will be going off to school at Harvard and MIT. Wonder how they're going to "fix" education? The problem is not something a governor or a school superintendent can fix, or they would have, right? This "crisis in public schools" bullshit has been going on for 30 years; one would have to assume that if "the government" had a solution or fix they would have implemented it, yeah? The problem with public schools is unfit parents and people like our own superintendent, who constantly suggest they can "provide an education.” If a parent were not feeding his or her kids, they'd be declared unfit by the state and everyone. Yet, when a parent robs a child of his birthright of achievement nothing happens. Parents need to be involved in their kids' education, they need to teach their kids to read and do basic math before they get to school, they need to make sure the kids are doing their homework and projects and know what kind of grades they are getting. The big mistake was removing parents from education, and not one candidate has even mentioned parents once in their campaign speeches on “the big fix.” Wonder what the cost per grade per student is going to be when they're all making straight “A”s?
Carl Swanson
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