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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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Better Obama

RECEIVED Thu., Feb. 14, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: "Better a Bush Than Obama, Who Is Too Much Like Martin Luther King" [“Postmarks,” Feb. 15]: Apparently, Judy Harper from Stockton, Calif., has not experienced her loved ones going to Iraq and Afghanistan for multiple tours of duty. Anyone who has experienced the pain, anguish, and anxiety that comes with your loved ones being in a war could not say they would rather have a Bush in office.
    Sen. Barack Obama was against the war from the beginning. He knew it was wrong and that it would take billions of dollars away from America, drive gas prices up, and sacrifice thousands of lives.
    Obama has good judgment and is experienced as a state and federal senator. He is a man of the people, as a civil rights lawyer and a professor in constitutional law, and will tell the people the truth, even when it is hard.
    Apparently, Judy is not ready for a change of direction, where government and democracy is returned to the power of people and we have a president who inspires us to be better, as well as move us into the future.
Robyn Donaldson
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Strident Claims Are Just a Desperate Ploy

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 13, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Karyl Anderson Krug’s frivolous claim [“Postmarks” online, Feb. 8] that the Travis County District Court criminal magistrate is not a judge says a lot more about Ms. Krug than it does about Judge Jim Coronado.
    Ms. Krug is unrelenting in her attacks on Judge Coronado simply because it would be difficult for her to gain much traction for her campaign otherwise. In addition to his 19 years as a judge, Jim has been a leader in local, state, and national bar organizations and president of the Austin Bar Association. He’s advocated successfully for increased jury pay, standards for courtroom interpreters, funding for legal services to the poor, and opportunities for minorities in the legal profession. Jim is publicly supported by dozens of Democratic-elected officials, hundreds of attorneys, and every major Democratic club or community organization that’s endorsed in this race.
    Ms. Krug’s strident claims are the desperate ploys of a losing candidate and are beneath the dignity of the office she seeks.
Alfred Stanley
Jim Coronado's finance director

'Chronicle' Ignored Great Artists Honored by the Grammys

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 12, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The day after the Grammy Awards, it is worth noting that Joni Mitchell won one for Best Pop Instrumental Performance with the song "One Week Last Summer," from her brilliant Shine CD. Additionally, Herbie Hancock won Album of the Year for his jazz rendition of Joni Mitchell songs, River: The Joni Letters. This is particularly interesting in that one of the most incredible counterculture geniuses of our time was completely ignored by The Austin Chronicle upon the release of her Shine CD. Nor was Hancock's River reviewed or mentioned in this "esteemed" publication. I can only assume the reason why, and that would characterize critic and editor as mainstream, shallow, and spiteful. Not that this relates, but I'll be boycotting South by Southwest again this year, said event being attended by those who wanna be cool.
Sincerely,
Kenney C. Kennedy
   [Raoul Hernandez replies: You know what they say about assumptions. Otherwise, guess we'll have to cancel SXSW now that you're not coming.]

Idea Silicon Is Becoming Scarce Is Absurd

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 12, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In Daniel Mottola's story about HelioVolt coming to Austin [“Solar Celebrity HelioVolt Lands in Austin,” News, Feb. 8], he said that one of HelioVolt's big advantages is that their new thin-film solar-power technology "doesn't rely on increasingly scarce silicon," as most current solar panels do. Silicon is far from being scarce; it is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (after oxygen) and constitutes about 25% of everything around us. Rocks, sand, you name it, they're mostly made of silicon. I'm delighted that HelioVolt is coming to Austin, but the idea that anyone is shifting to copper-indium-gallium-selenide solar panels because silicon is becoming scarce is just absurd.
Thanks,
Bruce Hunt
   [Daniel Mottola responds: Mr. Hunt is correct to point out that raw silicon, often sourced from sand, is abundant on Earth. However, silicon must be intensively refined in order to be utilized in things like photovoltaic crystalline solar panels and computer semiconductors. David Brearley, vice president of design for Austin-based solar design and installation firm Meridian Energy Systems Inc., explained that silicon refineries cost billions of dollars and take years to build. In the years since the dot-com bust, he said, a global surplus of refined silicon supply has turned into an acute global shortage, thanks mainly to the explosive growth of the solar industry (approximately 40% annually). Brearley said the refined silicon shortage has heavily hindered the PV industry's growth for the last four years especially. In 2008, experts finally expect supplies to grow. He added that PV manufacturers have to compete with computer semiconductor producers for refined silicon supply, though solar-grade silicon requires less refining. PV companies had historically bought refined silicon on the spot market with no guarantee of supply, while many semiconductor firms had long-term contracts, he said. So in essence, it's not silicon that's been in short supply but rather refined silicon.]

Cacao's Energy-Boosting, Health-Enhancing Abilities

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 12, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Chocolate Renaissance” [Food, Feb. 8]: Aside from the simple oomph that a perfect bite of chocolate provides, raw cacao is being increasingly consumed as a nutrient. Cacao's energy-boosting, health-enhancing abilities have been embraced by the raw foods community and considered a superfood. The folks working at the Daily Juice get goose-bumpy all day long administering doses to Austinite's who value cacao's benefits. Though the menu is adorned with raw, vegan cacao milks and fruit smoothies with hefty scoops of cacao nibs, we are truly proud of our raw cacao truffle maker Tamara Hoover, whose lovely, intricate morsels are mentioned around town in the same sentence with Cocoa Puro's Kakáwa cocoa beans. By using only raw nibs instead of roasting or cooking them, the Theobroma kick contained in her truffles will have you looking in mirrors for God.
Had to toot our own horns, thanks for the forum,
Matt Shook
www.dailyjuice.org

Innocent Chocolate Should Not Be Overlooked

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 11, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The recent feature on chocolate [“Chocolate Renaissance,” Food, Feb. 8] did not include what is, in my opinion, the best chocolate Austin has to offer – Innocent Chocolate – which is made by a local company run by two single moms. The chocolate is organic and dairy-free and unlike any chocolate I have ever tasted before. Additional information and the list of stores that sell it are listed on the company's website, www.innocentchocolate.com. I hope you all will look into this product so that more locations will begin carrying it and more people can savor it.
Sincerely,
Maggie Baker

Loved Romney's Speech: 'Deluded by Fashionable Philosophical Ignorance'

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 11, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The difference between conservative philosophy and so-called progressive, liberal ideology was dramatically highlighted by Mitt Romney’s speech announcing the end of his presidential run. In the manner of George Washington and Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, he sacrificed himself for liberty and America.
    Conservatives champion the greater principle of a free humanity. In conservative thought, individual liberty of opportunity and moral clarity are the only means by which mankind will progress. Indeed, this mature concept of freedom is a preordained natural right of humanity. Moreover, these rights do not originate in any social structure, e.g., political dogma or single ego per se.
    These sublime realities are lost on the left. That ideology does not accept personal liberty where destructive appetites are prohibited by rational moral responsibility. Instead, it desperately reaches for the superficial easiness of moral relativism, mass collectivist consensus, and the amoral dead hand of governmental fiat to move forward. It takes no account of how dependence monstrously destroys human dignity and achievement. And it enshrines class envy, simplistically dictating that in the name of fairness it will take from producers and award the spoils to undeserving users.
    Conservatism represents how most people raise their children – independent, just, grateful, courageous, striving for excellence, and rejecting envy, resentment, and licentiousness. Ironically, most leftists practice this at home but not in public. They can’t, because they have been deluded by fashionable philosophical ignorance. They have been driven into an ideological trap of false sophistication where the vain, lower pleasures of humanity, e.g., dependence, nihilism, narcissism, and moral mendacity are perniciously indulged.
    Republicans are conservatives. They have grasped the realities of evolutionary freedom. Unfortunately, Democrats have succumbed to leftism. In this time of world war against genocidal and humanity-enslaving Jihadi tyranny, the responsible choice is clear.
Vance McDonald

Better a Bush Than Obama, Who Is Too Much Like Martin Luther King

RECEIVED Sat., Feb. 9, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Maybe voters haven't looked further into the Barack Obama candidacy/qualifications/history. If the U.S. has another 9/11 attack, are you willing to let an inexperienced, unseasoned, jargon-motivated, Antoin Rezko crony make decisions? Obama has not explained his connections with Rezko; he has tried to bury them. I don't trust Obama. I don't think he is smart enough to be the president of the United States. I have heard his many speeches and studied his deliveries and have found that he repeats his message; he skirts issues when asked directly to explain a subject; he lies. I have heard him say the same things over and over, and he absolutely knows how to touch that "change" political button of voters. He uses the JFK/MLK/change message each time he speaks. His speeches are tone-charged to get the exact emotional high from people. MLK did the same thing by his intonations. The only thing this type of speaking promotes is emotion. We absolutely don't want a president who makes decisions on his emotions. Just because he can write/deliver a good speech doesn't mean he has the experience to make hard decisions, decisions he will have to make if he is elected. A U.S. president needs intelligence. He will get us in World War III. He's dangerous, and I fear his type of presidency. Obama has never been in the position of making critical decisions; he is not consistent; he carries with his candidacy too much historical baggage. If he were elected, how many outstretched hands will he have to fill? Some say, "We need a leader." For the country's sake, you don't want Obama. What has he led? What has he done to inspire leadership? Given a rousing, emotionally laden rah-rah speech? Electing a president on that criterion is criminal. I'm surprised that some voters think these few emotions qualify Barack Obama to be president. He isn't even a "slick" politician. He isn't smart enough to be. I wish I could just say that he was corrupt and that is why I won't vote for him. But the honest reason I won't vote for him is because he isn't smart enough and is inexperienced. I fear this man and what he would do if elected.
Judy Harper,
Stockton, Calif.

I Don't Care; Does Any Texan?

RECEIVED Fri., Feb. 8, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Texas Gets 'F' in Gun Control” [News, Feb. 8]: Does anyone care? I mean, really, does any Texan care what the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says/reports? Someone once said that statistics are a lot like a woman in a bikini; they show a lot, but they damn sure don't show everything. Forget all the trivial, stupid criteria the Brady Campaign uses. Did crime go up? Are gun-related crimes up? Are more kids handling firearms? When concealed-handgun permits were first allowed, Brady people screamed that it would lead to more crimes. It didn't, and, in fact, crime went down. When the latest Texas "make my day" law passed, the same howls of increased violence/murder/gun crime echoed, and, you guessed it, no increased gun crimes. Want to really make an impact? Start harshly prosecuting and sentencing gun-crime offenders. First offense, 10 years at hard labor. Second offense? Life! But stop asking regular, law-abiding citizens to give up their rights or change their behaviors. We're not the problem.
Tom Strubbe

Opponent Claims Coronado Shouldn't Call Himself a Judge

RECEIVED Fri., Feb. 8, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Jim Coronado's campaign misrepresents my reasons for challenging his use of the title "judge" in his campaign materials [“Postmarks,” Feb. 8] – I am doing this because I want this race to be fair. Our courts have repeatedly said an appointed criminal magistrate is not a judge. It is a class A misdemeanor under the Election Code to use a title in an election campaign that more fairly describes the elected office one is seeking as opposed to the appointed position one currently holds. My campaign is asking the Supreme Court to help us get a definitive answer to this question before the primary, which Jim opposes. As to his "exceptional qualifications," in Texas Lawyer his boss described his job in the last 16 years as primarily taking negotiated guilty pleas, with the occasional pretrial hearing, in third-degree and state jail felony drug cases. Coronado's "rocket docket," aka the "Challenger docket," is anything but expeditious. Jim blames this on the four judges who "unanimously" hired him 16 years ago for forcing him to read from a prepared script. Most of our current judges don't refer any cases to him at all. I, on the other hand, am board-certified in criminal law; I am only the second woman ever to write and grade that board-certification exam; I have handled the capital, first-degree, and second-degree felony cases my opponent has not touched in the last 16 years, if ever; I was deputy chief of the Habeas Corpus Division at the Texas Office of the Attorney General, litigating hundreds of serious felony cases in federal court. I was co-counsel on the second-ever DNA exoneration in Texas and have represented people on death row. I've practiced in state and federal court, from the U.S. Supreme Court on down, for more than 14 years. I read the new criminal cases from the appellate courts every week. I am running because I believe the law is important … much more important than the shallow political interests driving my opponent's campaign, which seem completely divorced from any real concern about who has the legal knowledge and depth of experience to handle very serious criminal cases, not to mention what would be best for the litigants whose lives and liberty will be at stake in that court. I think the important thing to ask yourself before voting in this race is which candidate has the experience you would want a judge to have if you were to stand trial yourself.
Karyl Anderson Krug, M.A., J.D.
Candidate, 427th District Court, Travis County

'Chronicle' Biased Against Public-Access Television

RECEIVED Thu., Feb. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The article "Tempest in the PACT Teapot" [News, Feb. 8], by Wells Dunbar, is biased.
    First, the public-access television producers are branded "wild, woolly," "restless," and "rambunctious." Their words are nothing more than "vitriol" and "gripes." Alex Jones is labeled a "mascot … invariably blowing hot air."
    On the other hand, Public Access Community Television General Manager Garry Wilkison and Executive Director Linda Litowsky are described in neutral terms, except Litowsky's actions are described with the euphemism "unorthodox."
    Second, Wells Dunbar confuses the concepts of "request" and "demand."
    The article says, "Papatonis, via e-mail, demanded to know why his show never aired." And it says, "Citing the possibility of litigation, Litowsky declined to discuss her request for an apology."
    Actually, Papatonis did not "demand" to know why his show never aired. He asked, "Why [i]s the city of Austin even paying you and PACT to run things?" This is not a "demand"; this is a "request" for information.
    However, Litowsky did not "request" an apology from Papatonis; she "demanded" one. She threatened him with punishment if he did not obey her "demand." And, when he defied her "demand," she punished him.
    The difference between a "request" and a "demand" is this:
    When Papatonis asked his question, there were no consequences for Litowsky if she refused. Papatonis made a "request."
    But when Litowsky ordered Papatonis to apologize, he faced the threat of punishment if he refused. Litowsky issued a "demand."
    Dunbar knows exactly what he is doing when he reverses the concepts of "request" and "demand." He wants the management to look good and the producers to look bad.
    Finally, The Austin Chronicle has never had anything good to say about public-access television – that is, until its critics (not its readers) gave Litowsky and Wilkison a phony "award" in 2007 for "Best Indefatigable Spirit to Keep Public Access TV Alive."
    The Chronicle has always attacked public-access television producers as cantankerous, etc. This article continues the bias.
Gary Johnson,
Smash the State

This Type of Notoriety Is Repugnant

RECEIVED Thu., Feb. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Many will find prestigious opportunity in Austin being on Money Magazine's "Best Places to Live" list for the second time. Many others will recognize this type of notoriety as repugnant attention that continues to adversely affect livability. The encroaching affluence is threatening Austin's character, displacing local residents, and permanently altering the city's nostalgic scenery. The enormity of what is happening to Austin right now is nauseating. There is destruction/construction around every corner. Slews of surveyors can be seen daily photographing, mapping, and planning for the next big project. City leaders are directly contributing to the loss of affordable housing. They allow dense urban dwellings to invade modest communities. They conveniently ignore the abolishment of humble, historic neighborhoods in support of the new monstrous suburbia. And they continue to placate to the desires of the new cultured class at the total expense of local citizens. Clearly, our city leaders do not wish to jeopardize prestigious opportunity, choosing instead to remain idle, which ensures protection of elitists and promotes society's helplessness. Their continued exploitation of our city violates the essence of Austin and is viewed as a grievous injustice by many locals. In actuality, our governing members should be practicing their civic duty on behalf of, for the benefit of, and for the appeasement of the local (nonelitist) population that is true Austin. Keep all of Austin affordable, livable, and eclectic. We can surmise the situation has become desperate when the affluent newcomers begin to complain about the fate they've bestowed on our city. Natives can learn from this appalling glimpse into the future. Vote wisely, purchase wisely, expose hypocrisy, and make use of your camera.
Desperately hopeful,
Colette Michalec
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