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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Proud to Have Voted for Kinky

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 15, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I would like to respond to the two gentlemen who wrote in to your fine publication ["Postmarks"] believing that Kinky Friedman was the Texas version of Ralph Nader in his garnering 12.6% of the vote in the last election, and therefore possibly costing another candidate the win over Perry. You somehow believe that all of the votes that went to Kinky would have gone to Bell or Strayhorn. Ludicrous. A high percentage of those that voted for Kinky rarely vote and wouldn't have voted at all had it not been for his honest approach to politicking. Would you rather they remain indifferent to political elections? The rest of the Kinky voters would have voted for Strayhorn, an independent, because she supposedly would have been the candidate for all people ... which is true considering this is the third party she has represented. And considering she did far better in the polls than Kinky did, it would seem to a logical person that she was the real Nader in this scenario. Stop blaming the guy who got 12.6% with his truly independent, grassroots campaign, and go after the pandering, flip-flopping Grandma for splitting the vote. It would make more sense.
    Also, I am proud to be one of those who "wasted" their votes by selecting Kinky for governor. No, he didn't win, and maybe he shouldn't have, but it gives me hope knowing that there are a few others out there like me who think assholes do a much better job of running things than dicks.
Lucas Pierce

Reckless Behavior With Vehicles Is Never Acceptable

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 15, 2006

Dear Editor,
    We are all part of the same community and many motorists who are not bike riders do not differentiate between bicyclists who follow traffic laws and those who do not ["Riding at Risk," News, Nov. 10]. When motorists harass bicyclists by following or passing too close or yelling for us to move out of traffic and onto the sidewalk, they may be demonstrating their objection to the reckless behavior of some bicyclists. Reckless behavior includes blatantly running stop signs, going the wrong way down one-way streets, weaving in and out of traffic, and even rolling through red lights. They have a right to be upset because these rogue bicyclists are putting lives at risk. APD officers are too lenient in issuing citations for these violations.
    Bike messengers and young adult riders are among the chief culprits of running red lights.
    The entire mainstream bike community and local elected officials should demand that the police and sheriff deputies better enforce these basic traffic laws. Motorists can be reckless as well, and equal enforcement of traffic laws is needed.
    Austin has missed opportunities to incorporate bicycle and pedestrian facilities into roadway planning due to a myopic view that moving vehicular traffic is basically the only consideration. Improvement is happening slowly, but institutional inertia against comprehensive land-use/transportation planning is constrained by some career engineers and managers in the city's Public Works Department. The former department director of the now defunct Transportation, Planning, and Sustainability Department that had purview over the bike program is a prime example.
    Bicyclist's safety would be greatly enhanced by more thoughtful roadway design and better enforcement of traffic laws. These areas are the responsibility of Central Texas cities and counties. Finding the leadership to effectively implement design and enforcement policy decisions is a challenge that’s unaddressed for now.
Sincerely,
Scott Johnson
90% of my trips by bicycle

Support Balanced Immigration Reform

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 15, 2006

Dear Editor,
    With Democrats in Congress and Bush in the White House, there is a rare chance for balanced immigration reform. But if those reforms are merely a combination of enforcement and work programs (as seems likely), they will fail. True reform must level the playing field of trade. Current U.S. policy allows the U.S. to subsidize our farmers but prevents Mexico from doing so. That unfair policy destroys many thousands of Mexican agricultural jobs and sends Mexicans north across the border. If we want to limit immigration to legal channels, we must reduce demand for work in the U.S.! Removing subsidies will also save taxpayer dollars. I urge farmers to support this plan by declining subsidies. Rather than perpetuating entitlements, let's give the farming industry a real reason to innovate with resource efficiency, organic produce, and value-added products. That would bring farming into the 21st century. Isn't it time?
    Please support comprehensive immigration reform, including a look at fair agricultural trade policies.
Will Cain

No Better Than Dirt

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 15, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Nancy Pelosi, what the hell do you mean "off the table"? Impeachment is job No. 1! If you don't stand for justice, you're no better than the dirty Republicans I didn't vote for.
    So, the Dems win and immediately give up. Big surprise.
Ben Hogue

Austin a Yuppie Sink

RECEIVED Tue., Nov. 14, 2006

Dear Editor,
    The "Icon or Eyesore?" [Web extra, News] feature is really pathetic. As a resident of Austin for 20 years, I find it hard not to be cynical at the state of this city. The list you have going of the remaining icons is scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point in the game. These are the last of the Mohicans, the last gasp of our cultural identity. For all intents and purposes, Austin has become a yuppie sink. Take a look around and one sees our "icons" replaced with lofts, condos, banks, Starbucks and office buildings. I'm not knocking progress, but it's becoming clear that the progress foisted upon Austin is so Dallas, and for that matter pretty much the standard model around the country. I think this all began with the "Keep Austin Weird" bumper sticker plague a few years back. Anyway, I hope all the newly arrived transplants like all the new, homogeneous cultural icons being built for their pleasure. At least Tamale House on Airport is still around (maybe they'll franchise?), but I'm betting that too will be bulldozed for a Chipotle's. How many hungover musicians and college students do you think will be protesting that? I say raze the icons, pave it over, and get it over with.
David Dennis

Respect the Laws of the Road

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I was very angry at Detective Mike Sheffield's comment [“Riding at Risk,” News, Nov. 10]: "I see bicylists – while I'm off-duty driving – run red lights, run stop signs, and fail to obey traffic laws on the street, and I don't stop and give them tickets every time that happens." Why doesn't he stop them and give them a ticket? I really wish he would. I'm an avid cyclist, and I respect the laws of the road. It's not just a matter of respect; it's a matter of safety. As cyclists, we need to make this a priority. If we want the same rights as motorists, we have to abide by the same rules.
Kim Stephens

No Hope for Black

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: "The Time of the Toad" [“Page Two,” Nov. 3]: If Louis Black, at this late date, can't distinguish between a government deliberately destroying the careers of people who speak out against it vs. an audience choosing not to buy an artist's CDs or concert tickets because they disagree with the artist's statements – or even because a voice on a radio tells them not to – there's probably no hope for him. I do hope, however, that the great majority of Chronicle readers do know the difference because the continued existence of the American essences of free speech and free markets depends on it.
Sincerely,
Alan McKendree
   [Louis Black responds: Okay, so I'm a little surprised at some of these responses. As I made clear in the column, my concern with free speech is not based on the Bill of Rights. I am speaking out in that column. I do not and would not suggest censuring anyone or denying their right to say, buy, do,and/or think what they want, even if I find it odious. But, as an act of intellectual engagement and dissent, shouldn't I be allowed to disagree, even violently disagree, with public dialogue? I would think there would be some awareness and annoyance at the amount of media manipulation involved here. The situation was hyped up by C&W radio stations and really exploited by talk radio, where it was brought up day after day after day by the hosts. Was this really such a burning issue that it justified this coverage, or was it just pandering, using the Dixie Chicks as a convenient target of hostility and attacks? Criticism is not censorship, expressing concerns is not demanding legislation, and disagreeing with people is not telling them to shut up. I am just asking people to think, and if they do, whether they disagree with me or not, that's all and the best for which I hope.]

'Page Two' Did Not Champion Free Speech

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Page Two” [Nov. 3]: OK, but isn't buying or not buying a Dixie Chicks CD an avenue of free speech, too? I love your passion, but I do wonder, what if the message were reversed, and the Dixie Chicks freely pronounced love and support for their president overseas and their followers rallied and refused to buy their CDs because they disagreed with their point of view? Would you have written the same type of article? Would you (still) vehemently defend the Dixie Chicks for exerting their free speech rights and forcefully denounce their followers for disagreeing and not buying their CDs and discussing it ad nauseam on talk radio? Isn't that reaction an example of free speech? Either way, aren't we missing the point of freedom of speech when we only defend one side of free expression (of any issue)?
    If any public figure makes a public statement [which they are free to do], do not all people have a right to freely respond (pro, con, and in the middle)?
    I do not see this article as championing free speech for all – rather it defends expression of only one side in this particular argument. The Dixie Chicks have the freedom to say and do anything they choose. Should not their fans be afforded equal freedom?
    When a political movement arises from disagreement over a public figure's position, is that also a travesty of freedom? Hardly. It's what free people do when they disagree. They express themselves, whether it's at the ballot box or the cash register or otherwise.
Helaine Thornton

Most of the Time Car Drivers Are at Fault

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I ride [my bike] as a form of transportation 15-30 miles a week, usually from South Austin to Downtown. I evade at least one collision a week (it usually averages closer to three or four). Most of the time, it’s a driver who is just not paying attention. But sometimes it’s aggressive/reckless drivers [“Riding at Risk,” News, Nov. 10].
    I have the required lights and reflectors, and I obey all the traffic laws. I understand that many drivers feel that all cyclists have an arrogant disregard for traffic laws. And every time one of my fellow cyclists rides like an ass, running lights and weaving in and out of traffic, it only contributes to the climate of hostility that drivers have for cyclists. There are, however, a great number of responsible cyclists out there, and unfortunately, they also feel the heat from motorists.
    Twice this year, drivers have thrown things at me while I was riding in the bike lane on South Congress (the cup of ice narrowly missed, but the half-full beer landed squarely in the center of my back, nearly sending me into the curb at a high rate of speed). By the way, I don’t know if anyone has tried to grab a license-plate number while recovering from a sideswipe or an attack from a speeding vehicle, but it is nearly impossible.
    It’s a shame that this aggressive attitude exists, especially in such a friendly town as ours. Many cyclists ride for health and environmental benefits. I have a vehicle but choose to bike for these reasons. It’d be nice if drivers could appreciate the fact that each bike is one less car on the road, one less vehicle spouting emissions and contributing to traffic congestion.
    One last challenge: I dare anyone who thinks Austin is a great cycling town to ride his or her bike from Manchaca Road to Downtown via South Lamar. And for the return trip, try South First Street. Hell, for that matter, take a cruise down Manchaca Road itself. You’ll quickly learn that the majority of routes leading to and from downtown Austin are some of the most dangerous and difficult to navigate roads for bicycle travel. I hope Austin gets its head out of its ass and addresses the needs of the cycling community, which are also the needs of Austin’s commuters. Let’s not forget that they are one and the same.
Bob Ray

Kinky Lived Up to His Name

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I couldn't agree any more with Cathy Thomas' letter regarding the "independent" vote [“Postmarks” online, Nov. 9].
    When Kinky first came out with his new PR campaign, ahh, election campaign (book sales slow, I guess), I listened with interest. His quips, one-liners, and clever clichés got a laugh out of all of us. He really seemed to feel the pulse. And we liked him because he was funny and, well, folksy.
    It became apparent, however, that beyond the one-liners, etc., there wasn't a lot of substance. And the debates! My God, he just bombed – deer-in-the-headlights look – shuffling and stammering. If nothing else, it warned folks; that was the clearest indication yet of a "substance-lite" candidate.
    And, the fact that he did not concede and get out before he did the real damage he did by taking votes indicates the degree of his self-absorption and/or the effects of years of smoking pot. Yeah man, he did live up to his name by throwing a real "kink" into the defeat of Perry.
    As to the "Nader" vote, that was Strayhorn. Kinky's run was just material for a new book or song and a way to pick up lagging book sales – gig attendance. Gee, what a rush, man.
Bill Jackson

Kinky Proved Disappointing

RECEIVED Sun., Nov. 12, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I welcomed Kinky's candidacy at first. I even bought one of those T-shirts that says, "Kinky for Gov., How Hard Could It Be?" Like a lot of people, I hoped he might be a viable candidate, but of course, we all wanted to know more about him and specifically what his plans were for the state.
    Well, other than the fact that he's a great champion of homeless dogs, which I already knew and appreciated, nothing I learned about Kinky was encouraging.
    For one thing, he's rarely bothered to vote at all, but the last time he did, it was for GWB. Not a good sign in my book.
    And then there was the debate; just as soon as he began to speak and to be asked questions for which he had only lame wisecracks, all hope was lost; this guy was obviously wildly unqualified to hold any public office, and it was hard to believe he was serious about it. I expected he'd drop out after disgracing himself at the debate, but either he was pleased with his performance, or he knew that the people more likely to vote for someone like him wouldn't be watching, and he was probably right about that.
    Chris Bell, on the other hand, was consistently, impressively eloquent and obviously qualified, but not at all flashy or charismatic. Even so, if more people had just seen the debate, I know Bell would have received a lot more support and Kinky a lot less.
    As the campaign went on, Friedman actually seemed proud of his ignorance and lack of qualifications, as if actually understanding history and the workings of government would have made him some kind of political hack. He acted like he was above all that, when exactly the opposite was true.
    By Election Day, we'd seen too much of his immature, insulting behavior to be at all surprised by his sulky, sour grapes attitude upon losing ["The Kinkster's Farewell: Leave Me Alone," News, Nov. 10]. The fact that he seemed truly surprised that he didn't actually win just indicates how totally out of touch he was. We've had quite enough damage done by opportunistic politicians who are totally out-of-touch with reality.
Cathey Thomas

Fed Up With Politics as Usual

RECEIVED Sun., Nov. 12, 2006

Dear Editor,
    The people have spoken. We took steps in this last election to take our country back from far-right political extremists, from the politics of doom and gloom and fear and political corruption run amuck. Last week the people found their voice. We threw out the macaca haters, the war hawks, and the fear mongers. Americans went to the polls to change the direction of this country, to support the values that this country was founded on, and to regain our moral compass. Six years under Republican rule, Katrina, and the quagmire in Iraq have taught Americans an important lesson: It does matter who runs our government, and competence is key.
    Many in the mainstream press and FOX News (“Fair and Balanced”) are labeling the Democrats who won last week as “conservative,” but do not believe them. The values and issues supported by the Democratic Party are supported by a majority of Americans. Do not believe them when they tell you that Americans are conservative. Americans are a progressive bunch, and we are the center.
    For those of you not up for re-election last week, this is your wake-up call.
    We are fed up with politics as usual. We are tired of the corruption and the scandals and placing the needs of rich corporations over the needs of working Americans. And voting to give yourselves raises, while not raising the minimum wage for 10 years. For lying to us and talking to us like we are stupid. For spending $2 billion on those ridiculous, embarrassing television ads. The people have spoken. We pay your salaries. You live in the people’s house. We want to be listened to. Not ignored. We expect our leaders to be honorable and to tell the truth. We expect you to represent the people’s interests. Not the special interests. We want to be inspired. Please inspire us. And remember ... we vote.
Jessica Ritter, Ph.D.

Cheers for New/Weird/Experimental Austin Scene

RECEIVED Sun., Nov. 12, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Explosions in the Mind” [Music, Nov. 10]: Thanks for the great article on Ecstatic Peace! Records, especially the interview with local wunderkind Rick Reed. Austin's new/weird/experimental scene is thriving with great work by Reed and too many others to even attempt to list.
    It's great to see the Chronicle mention that there's a lot more than retro blues rock and carbon-copy singer-songwriter music here in town. Keep it up.
Alex Keller

And the Christians Were at Peace the Whole Time!

RECEIVED Sat., Nov. 11, 2006

Dear Editor,
    If it is true you can tell the nature of a tree by the fruit it bears, Islam has more than 1,000 years of historical evidence it is not a "religion of peace," unless you are willing to submit ... and it ain't gonna happen here!
Vernon Lawrence
Vian, Okla.

S. Moser's Column Bewildering

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 10, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I find Stephen MacMillan Moser's style column bewildering [“After a Fashion,” Arts]. I cannot imagine why he thinks that people want to read 400 words about the ice cream trucks outside his window or his thoughts on health insurance. More importantly, I wonder why he consistently neglects to write about the quality design our community is producing. We have some incredibly talented fashion, jewelry, and furniture designers working in Austin whose work not only deserves to be written about but would be of real interest to your readership. Instead, week after week, we are treated to ramblings on whatever pops into Moser's head or vague references to some party he went to. Austin deserves a column that actually provides insightful commentary on what's stylish about our city. It shouldn't be that hard; this is a pretty happening place.
Elisabeth Long

Swinging Hard Left Is as Bad as Swinging Hard Right

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 10, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I'm a moderate Republican who, like Michael King, is very happy to see the Bush crowd get slapped [“Point Austin,” News, Nov. 10]. But King, along with many other Dems, I suspect, seem to be oblivious to the fact (yes, fact) that it wasn't the Dems who got themselves elected, it was the middle-of-the-road voters who turned on Bush. They make up by far the largest group in the electorate and are the same voters who sided with the right wing in the Nineties as an alternative to the left-wing Dems. If the Dems veer hard left, as it seems King is suggesting, then at some point in the future the middle will again drive them out, just like they did the current administration. And that may get us an even more virulent right-wing group. Are we incapable of having reasonable people of all parties work together to fix problems? Is it all a matter of scoring points for one's own party? And please don't call this sour grapes. I was as appalled at the Bush group's antics as any Dem and was for a long time. Just don't swing so far left, or we're liable to be going through this crap again, only worse.
Scott Sexton

Other Voters Are Just Naive

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I'm just plain sick of people getting uppity about my voting choices. If you think I wasted my vote by voting for the candidate that I felt best represented my interests instead of voting for the lesser of two evils, then you are in the wrong. I will never vote for evil – lesser or not. If you think voting for a Democrat over a Republican will make a positive change (or a change at all, for that matter), then you are just naive.
Yours,
Oliver Caesar

My Vote for Kinky Was Easy

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

To all Texas Democrats,
    Call me a psychic but somehow I knew that this was going to happen. I knew that you would all start to complain about how 553,327 Texans voted for Kinky Friedman and not their poster boy Bell. What I do not understand though is why it is the independents' fault? Should the Democratic Party not be able to fend off independents because they have the better platform? Maybe that is what the Democratic Party should be looking at for the next election, and maybe some more candidates to run. The Libertarian Party was able to field 16 candidates, yet the Democrats could only put up nine. This says something about your statewide support.
    While I myself voted for Friedman, if he was not running I sure as hell would not have voted for Bell. This is because I feel that both parties have lost their way, and the only people who have the right ideas now are independents and Libertarians. My vote was easy, Friedman for governor and the Libertarian candidate for every other office that was up for election. Maybe I would come back to the Democratic Party if they stopped complaining about losing and did something about it, like run some known candidates or just candidates at all.
    So until you have decided what is wrong with your party, a party that will allow independents to come and steal your thunder, you should wipe your tears on a soy pillow and have mommy rock you to sleep.
Peter Telck

Having the Cover in Arabic Was Enriching

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Bravo. Doing the cover [Nov. 10] in Arabic was brilliant, timely, and courageously anti-xenophobic. You enrich us all.
Carlos Rumbaut

Doesn't Like New Forums

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: “New Forums Too Complicated” [“Postmarks,” Nov. 10]: I agree with Sam Wells on this. Before when you posted to the forum, it was there immediately. Now, it apparently has to be released by someone at your office. Please, please, please make the forum more user friendly.
Cheri Hartman
   [Editor's note: Reader comments and new forum topics appear online immediately. Comments submitted as a letter to the editor go through the standard verification process and will not appear online immediately. All our online efforts are works in progress and are being fine-tuned and adjusted as we go.]

When Pot Becomes Legal ...

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I really enjoyed your article regarding the THC studies [“Reefer Madness,” News, Nov. 3]. As a father of the age of 37, I can say the only reason I do not encourage my children to enjoy Mary Jane is because it is illegal.
    My father was and still is a drinker. When I was a teenager, my father let us have a beer or other drinks around the house. The rules were simply. 1) If you are under the influence like me, you will not leave the house. You will not put others in jeopardy because you wish to enjoy a drink. This was to avoid drinking and driving. 2) If in any way your behavior got out of hand, and you did not know how to control yourself, you would not have another drink the rest of the evening, and you must prove to him you were responsible enough to enjoy another drink at another time by keeping yourself under control. Because of this example, I enjoy alcohol, and Mary Jane, with moderation, and I also take responsibility for my actions by not putting myself in situations where I will harm others. My 4-year-old son and my 11-year-old daughter have seen and been in settings with my wife and myself where alcohol flowed, we keep the MJ behind doors so that we do not do anything illegal in front of the children.
    When MJ becomes legal, this will change, and they will see a responsible man using a substance in moderation and enjoying it responsibly. My children will not use MJ or any other drug without my knowledge until they are 18. Why you ask? Because I'm their father, and I say so. Unlike some parents in this world, I will not have the schools or any other entity raise my children. If more parents would set a good example for their kids and take responsibility for them, not only will we have no abuse by the children, they will grow up with a healthy respect for any vice type behavior and enjoy these things in a responsible light. I don't need a rat survey to tell me how to raise my kid. If the government really wants to stop any underage drug use, stop talking to the kids, and start telling parents to be parents. I support your efforts, and thanks for a great article.
Terry Newton

Variances From Recommendations Aren't in Anyone's Best Interest

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    The Austin Town Lake Waterfront Overlay Advisory Board, on which we served, studied dozens of options for the redevelopment of the south shore of Town Lake from Congress Avenue to I-35. Our recommendations, guided by the Planning, Environmental and Conservation Services Department, represented a carefully crafted compromise among lake users, trail users, local businesses, residential neighbors, current landowners, and prospective developers. Although these design standards drafted by Roma Design Group in 2000 were not brought to a vote at the City Council, we believe that variances from our compromise recommendations, or the earlier 1985 Town Lake Corridor Study, would not be in anyone's best interest.
Carolyn Kelley
Liz Lambert
Wendy Price Todd
Max Woodfin

McCarthyism Against Kinky's Supporters?

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Louis Black is right. There does seem to be a New McCarthyism forming [“Page Two,” Nov. 3]. Only it's not just against the Dixie Chicks. It's also against people, like myself, who didn't endorse Chris Bell and supported Kinky Friedman. I think I'll take Zola's advice and eat a toad so I can learn to stomach the hypocrisy.
Brendan Rogers

The Hypocritical Conclusion

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Saddam Hussein’s death sentence for the 1982 killing of 148 Shiite men and boys is the hypocritical conclusion of the United States' relationship with a murderous dictator and an act of desperate political maneuvering by the Bush administration one day before U.S. elections to affect the outcome.
    The evidence against Saddam Hussein is overwhelming and would have been equally powerful in an internationally recognized court. But the court for all intents and purposes was, as Saddam Hussein accurately accused: a puppet court. No serious observer could have ever doubted that the outcome was a forgone conclusion.
    Besides aggravating sectarian violence in Iraq, Saddam’s death will clarify doubts any of the more unsavory U.S. allies might have about U.S. assurances. Namely, once the usefulness of an ally has expired, all bets are off. Saddam Hussein is paying for his crimes since he failed to realize this when he shook hands with Donald Rumsfeld a year after the murder of 148 Shiites.
Justin Finney

Distribute Condoms in Prisons

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    In correctional facilities in the state of Texas, there are more than 2,500 known cases of HIV, and Texas has the third highest number of inmates known to be infected with the disease. One report indicated that HIV infection in Texas prisoners is 1.7%, which is 10 times the rate of the general population. I know that many people like to think that inmates do not engage in sexual activity, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at least 12% of inmates received their diagnosis of HIV while incarcerated. Furthermore, a CDC study of HIV transmission in the Georgia prison system showed that 44% of inmates had sexual contact while in prison.
    Also of concern is the $14.7 million the prison system used for HIV antiretroviral medication in 2002. It’s a well-known fact that the consistent use of condoms can reduce the risk of STD transmission, and the CDC and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care both recommend the implementation of harm-reduction techniques, such as condom distribution in the prison system. I’m writing this letter to encourage members of the public to attend the Nov. 14 and 15 public hearings regarding the Sunset Commission’s report on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and to voice your support for the distribution of condoms in the Texas prison system.
Chris Mobley

High Schooler Technique

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I don't know if the Lord Henry slept with Austin Powell's mom, or if he applies a post-hipster litmus test to everything he hears, but I suspect he wouldn't have been happy unless he'd liked them first [“Texas Platters,” Music, Nov. 3]. Failing that, it only follows that he's going to preserve his cred by being over them first. It's a technique well known to high schoolers across the land, and good job for bringing it to the literate masses! I do hope he washed his feet before stomping on his sour grapes, though – otherwise he may have contaminated some perfectly good whine.
Brian Coleman

Independents Helped Assure Perry's Win

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    As delighted as I am about the way the midterms turned out nationally, statewide I'm ready to strangle the 31.17% of voters who blithely threw their votes away on the likes of über-opportunistic Grandmaw* Strayhorn and half-assed comic and predictably sore loser Kinky Friedman. Thanks largely to them, the people of Texas got what the vast majority of us specifically voted against: “Governor Goodhair,” Rick Perry. Again.
    Bell, Strayhorn, and Friedman together spent about $20 million trying to unseat Perry, who had more than $15 million to spend on his campaign alone. You do the math. (Strayhorn and Friedman voters, bless your pointed little heads, you'd better go find a grownup to do the math for you.) I'm assuming that many of Strayhorn's and Friedman's clueless supporters didn't understand before they cast their votes (or just didn't care) that as voters in a plurality state, Texans don't get to have a run-off in a general election, no matter how crowded or silly the field; whoever gets one vote more than the pack wins.
    I don't understand why anyone would knowingly throw away his or her vote on a pointless gesture that virtually guarantees the re-election of an increasingly unpopular governor who’s a typical member of a very unpopular party. Don't these people value their votes at all?
    Regardless of the pathology involved, I hope you're pleased with yourselves, all you rugged individualist, independent voters. Despite the fact that most of the rest of the nation finally woke up and smelled the BS and expressed it at the polls, you guys made Texas look stupid again by blowing our only chance in years to take the state back for the people.
    (I'll bet a lot of you airheads voted for Ralph Nader, too, didn't you? Or Bush. Morons!)
    * By the way, before Strayhorn's candidacy, who would have thought that a warm, cuddly, innocuous term like "Grandmaw" would sound more like fingernails raking a blackboard?
Cathey Thomas
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