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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Cyclists and Car Drivers Both Need to Exercise Better Judgment

RECEIVED Wed., May 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: Michael Bluejay's letter [“Postmarks” online, May 19]: I have nothing but sympathy for what you have gone through in your life regarding your cycle-to-car accidents; however, doesn't it only prove my initial point about cyclists needing to exercise better judgment as to where they wish to cycle and that they also need to adhere to the traffic laws? I'm not blind to motorists breaking the traffic laws, and I am not blind to the statistics. It is why I wrote in [“Postmarks,” May 16] what I did after I saw what I saw and what I have constantly seen around Austin. That cyclist did not "walk" through a stoplight; he rode right on through it when the other cyclists at that stoplight stayed put. So if you knowledgeable and aware cyclists know how dangerous it is for you out there, then maybe some of you need to think before you decide to take your, and I emphasize, recreational sport out into traffic. When you do get out there, you need to at least show the level of common sense that reflects your awareness and knowledge of the motorists and motorists who break traffic laws. I give cyclists the right-of-way; I slow down when I see them on the road; I give them every courtesy. Traffic laws are inconvenient for motorists and cyclists, I know. But they work, and yes people break them, and they always will; they will also reap the consequences of doing it.
Jason Bratcher

Govern With Hypocrisy

RECEIVED Tue., May 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The Bush administration is not the first to govern with hypocrisy but has achieved shameful new heights with the practice. Case in point: On his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, President Bush promised to supply enriched uranium to the Saudi kingdom in exchange for more oil here at home. Do you see where this is going? Iran = bad guy. No enriched uranium for you. Saudi Arabia = good guy. Here you go – take all you can handle!
    The fact of the matter is both Iran and Saudi Arabia are countries with miserable rulers who should be tossed out by their own people. However, in terms of being an aggravating force in U.S. Middle East policy, Saudi Arabia takes the cake. Just in case you forgot, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, and nearly 50% of all the foreign fighters the U.S. Army has caught in Iraq were Saudi. You know how many Iranian fighters have been captured in Iraq? Zero.
    Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer. The only thing they could want enriched uranium for is a bomb. Bush and company know this and are playing nuclear roulette in the Middle East with this exchange.
Justin Finney

Don't Thank the 'Chronicle'

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Do you screen your advertisers for the truthfulness of their ads? If so, I'm pleased to report that the policy is working, at least with regard to an ad I saw in the Chronicle for Dr. Rayner Dickey. It was titled "Holistic Family Medicine." It featured a funky, Austin-style logo with the words "Mind, Body, Spirit," followed by a promise of "Personal Primary and Preventative Care."
    After several months of disappointing results from four other doctors I've seen in Austin about a complex disorder I've been suffering, I called the number in Dr. Dickey's ad, and he answered the phone himself. Whoa, I thought, what's this? Did I punch a wrong digit? Then, at his office in a renovated house on Guadalupe, Dr. Dickey spent three hours with me on my first visit, while charging much less than he could have charged for so much time.
    He demonstrated almost at once that he is willing to think outside the box in his diagnosis and treatment, which is just the attitude I've needed in the face of my disorder. He has since proven to be creative and energetic in his pursuit of a remedy for me. He has also made himself available for consultation, at any hour of the day or night, via e-mail or phone. He seems to be committed indeed to the "Mind, Body, Spirit" conjunction he cited in his ad, not to mention his reference to "Personal Care."
    Herewith, therefore, my kudos to the Chronicle for its apparent policy of truth in advertising.
Ray Reece
   [Editor's response: The Chronicle does not screen advertisers, as there is no practical way to do so.]

Eastside Alley Flats Are Not a Good Thing

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Howdy,
    Your apparently irony-free little blurb about Eastside alley flats being a good thing is way off the mark [“Naked City,” News, May 16]. Having lived near Huston-Tillotson for nine years, I've seen this once quiet, relaxed neighborhood turn into a flipping frenzy, with all the real old-timers (some here since the 1940s) getting the worst of it.
    The original, wise plan of a house with a backyard and plenty of green space to enjoy (or "underutilized lots,” as they're called) has now become a lot with two houses and no yard and a landlord in California or wherever else money needs to be made as quickly as possible (not just UT, as you suggest). There are usually no driveways (and these alleys were not meant to be streets, hello!), so all the new cars are parked out front (usually two per new shack). Some streets now have a line of cars all the way down both sides with barely room for one car to get by, let alone two. Soon some kid will run out and be killed and then we'll see how our zoners feel as they go to sleep, dreaming of maximum density/taxes.
    This town is fast becoming unlivable thanks to profit-driven schemes like this that masquerade as "smart growth" – for developer Will Wynn and his buddies, sure, but not the rest of Austin. Hell, why not just build three houses on every lot and a high-rise on every corner? Where does it end? Only when this town is 100% South Dallas, looks like; we're well on our way.
    I guarantee alley flats would be less welcome if every lot on the west side suddenly sprouted ugly new two-story tin shacks in a neighborhood of one-story wooden houses.
    Alley flats are a typical New Austin scam that makes the real estate weasels rich at the expense of an increasingly less great place to live for everyone else. Do we really want Anytown, USA?
    By the way, nice article on guns in national parks [“Armed and Ready for Nature,” News, May 9]. You may have added many more sane voices to the fray with that little piece and the contact info. Thanks for that, and your recent in-depth focusing on who is really benefiting from all our dumb growth. Keep it up!
Sardinely,
Kyle Swanson

'Chronicle' Reviewer Wrong About Our Compilation

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to you in defense of the recently released ATX Underground Compilation: Concrete Volume One, which received a very lackluster review in the Friday, May 16 edition of The Austin Chronicle [“Texas Platters,” Music].
    Your writer Austin Powell complains that the compilation is "masochistic and monolithic" and says, "there is nothing [on] here that sounds … remotely new or exciting."
    Everyone is entitled to her/his opinion, of course, but it seems to me that if you are going to review a compilation of 18 bands, perhaps a half-sentence describing the different tracks specifically, both high and low points, might be more of a fair review than the sweeping generalizations mentioned by Mr. Powell in the above paragraph.
    And, since later on in the review Mr. Powell makes a light nod to three of the bands – Exit, Lust Murder Box, and Happy Panjoma – which are three of the first six bands on the compilation – well it does make me wonder if he got around to listening to the other 12 tracks! We definitely feel that there is quite a wide variety of music on the entire compilation and that each of the tracks deserves a critical review on its own.
    I am not a stranger to the review process, having written electronica reviews for URB Magazine in Los Angeles for 5 years. In my admittedly biased point of view, Austin Powell has missed the boat on this one.
Sincerely,
gfire
Singer-songwriter
Contributing artist to ATX Underground

'Jerry Springer Show' Is a Rosetta Stone for Our Times

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I work at home and while taking a lunch break watch the news. Surfing during commercials I ran across The Jerry Springer Show. I don't know who to blame for this atrocity: the viewing audience, the studio audience, the guests, Jerry Springer, and/or the network. The Jerry Springer Show is a clear symptom of how screwed up our society has become. This show also helps to explain how G.W. Bush got elected … for two terms! I had long wondered about that. Now I understand.
Charles O'Dell

More Enforcement of Bike-Friendly Laws

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The city of Austin imagines that spending money will increase the number of people traveling by bicycle, while apparently one of the main reasons people do not use bikes more is because of the perceived lack of safety. For those of you who do not travel around Austin by bike, I can tell you that it is frightening. Some of my fellow Austinites think nothing of endangering my life when I am on my bicycle. And then there are others who are simply too busy doing other things while driving to worry about running over a bicyclist or pedestrian. If the city wants more bicyclists as a way to relieve traffic and pollution, then what needs to be done is the enforcement of respect for our fellow travelers. The police should be actively ticketing those vehicles who endanger bicyclists and pedestrians. Awareness campaigns are not sufficient. Everybody is rushing somewhere, and friendliness and awareness go out the window. We need some significant negative reinforcement so drivers will think twice before cutting off or otherwise jeopardizing bicyclists and pedestrians. A few weeks of that kind of publicity, and we can change the dynamic on the streets. This option will actually earn money for the city, not spend it in boondoggles that do little to help people trying to travel without burning fossil fuels.
Stuart Reichler

McDonald Knows Exactly What the Founding Fathers Were Thinking

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Oh, how Louis tries to be objective. But his efforts often do not survive his own neo-leftist bias. His recent “Page Two” [May 16] is the latest example. While his explanation of constitutional authority protecting us with the rule of law from the rule of man (as long as personal ideology is kept out of the process) is correct, because he proceeds to then inject his dogma, he fatally contradicts himself. So while Louis is correct on intellectual definition he smacks himself destroying his entire point.
    The founders’ awareness of these types of moral flaws of humanity, historical failings of previous attempts to establish a free society, and profound commitment to the Declaration of Independence forged in the crucible of revolutionary bloodletting reinforced perceived wisdom: Liberty requires an unbiased decentralized governmental structure. Otherwise, political power will centralize corrupting and suffocating freedom.
    While there must be a core contractual political agreement governing the states for collective protection from factional domestic dissonance and international threats, the states must be responsible for their internal societal, cultural, and political decisions. This is the genius of constitutional federalism.
    Where this brilliance fails is when ideological agendas are despotically imposed by abusing constitutional power. Indeed, explosive issues such as slavery, free speech, civil rights, and national security have been used to compel unconstitutional ideological dogmas through unconstitutional legal processes; via unelected judicial partisans and unprincipled elected legislators. In spite of this, liberty miraculously still survives – barely. But not forever will this continue.
    The Constitution must be interpreted as written. All other social, cultural, and political issues not addressed in it are to be settled by the states, thereby decentralizing power. The founders knew this would perpetuate freedom, defeating anarchy and tyranny. The question is do we. Sadly, examples such as Louis’ are not hopeful.
Vance McDonald

Aren't Police Roadblocks Unconstitutional?

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I thought police roadblocks were unconstitutional? Coming home from San Antonio a few weeks ago we encountered a full-scale late-night police roadblock at I-35 at Stassney. I remember reading about all the DUI cases that had to be thrown out in Texas in the Eighties when they tried the same iron-curtain tactics under the guise of "insurance checkpoints.” What excuse, if any, does law enforcement now need to begin invading our homes and sweeping the neighborhoods with drug dogs? This heavy-handed culture of fear is so out of control. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has handed America a shock collar to wear and aided the burning of the Constitution and shredding of the Bill of Rights. Statistics are proving out that 30% of you will be arrested, incarcerated, on probation, and a captive revenue stream for the state. DWI is now a $12 billion a year profit center. One hundred percent compliance with blow to go on every vehicle is MADD's next benchmark. What country is this? And why aren't you monkeys voting for the right people and challenging your corporate-run government?
Will Person

Motorists Also Break the Law

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Jason Bratcher writes, "[Cyclists] do not adhere to the same traffic laws that motorists adhere to" [“Postmarks,” May 16]. Wow, Mr. Bratcher thinks that all motorists obey the law? Not. Law-breaking motorists are responsible for more than 30,000 collisions per year in the Austin area, and in nearly half of those a vehicle has to be towed away or someone has to be hospitalized. Nationwide, drivers who run red lights injure about a quarter million people and kill nearly a thousand people every year. I've personally been hit on my bicycle five times when motorists broke the law by running stop signs or failing to yield right-of-way. Guess who hit me by pulling into the bike lane without looking? One of the personal injury attorneys on the back of the phone book. In three other cases the motorists compounded their crime by fleeing the scene after they hit me. (Mr. Bratcher, were you unaware that hit-and-run is a form of breaking the law?) In fact, for several years when I tracked the stats I found that half the serious bike-car collisions in Austin were hit-and-runs. So you'll pardon me if I don't get all teary-eyed about motorists seeing cyclists walking stop signs when I know that half those motorists, if they hit me, are quite willing to leave me for dead.
    What is it that compels drivers to fire off so many letters about law-breaking bicyclists when the real carnage is caused by motorists? And what blinds them to the reality that (news flash) motorists break the law too? The reality is that both bicyclists and motorists break the law. The difference is that when motorists do it, someone other than the law-breaker frequently gets hurt or killed.
Michael Bluejay
BicycleSafe.com

Ease Back on Gum Smacking

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I can't take it anymore! For some unknown reason, our society has this huge problem. People are smacking their gum. I seem to encounter it everywhere. In the line at the supermarket, on the bus, even in restaurants. Let me give you poorly raised heathens a bit of advice: All Chewing is meant to be nearly silent. If you feel the need to chew on an artificially flavored lump of rubber, please realize that no one else wants to know about it. I have sat by quietly about this for long enough. So, be warned! If I see you, or if I actually hear you doing this in public, I will let you know about it. And trust me, it will be embarrassing.
Steven McCloud

'Rampant Voter Fraud' Not Rampant

RECEIVED Sun., May 18, 2008

Dear Editor,
    So state Attorney General Greg Abbott, after two years and with a $1.4 million federal “crime fighting” budget to waste, has found exactly 26 cases of “rampant voter fraud” and only eight which actually involved fraud. At least The Dallas Morning News gave the story prominent Sunday coverage – not a word in the Statesman. Instead of prosecuting the people who carry sealed mail-in ballots to the mailbox for the elderly or disabled for not signing the envelope (as 18 of his 26 “cases” were, purely technical rule violations), he might consider pursuing a problem that actually exists.
    I suppose it’s purely a coincidence that all 26 “cases” involved Democratic voters, and nearly all were Hispanic or African-Americans. There is no Republican Caucasian voter fraud apparently. We can’t really tell how many complaints his office has received, because he won’t release those figures. I wonder why. With $1.4 million to squander on this disenfranchising witch hunt, that’s more than $53,000 per case if you count them all as cases. If you count the real fraud prosecutions, all eight of them (!), you come up with the bargain price of $175,000 per fraudulent vote.
    I have an idea. I’ll drum up some funds, and maybe Abbott can spearhead a snipe hunt. Or help stomp out the rampant unicorn infestation plaguing the state.
    After this debacle, Abbott is still pushing unnecessary photo ID legislation. Apparently, anything that can be done to shave off even the smallest percentage of Democratic votes is worth spending my money on. Maybe his title should be attorney generous.
Disgusted,
Steve Basile

Great Pizza at Salvation Pizza

RECEIVED Sun., May 18, 2008

Dear Editor,
    After reading the recent Restaurant Poll results [May 16], I feel compelled to write pointing readers to the pizza at Salvation Pizza. I can think of no better dinner out in Austin than sitting on the picnic tables with friends, enjoying a Live Oak Hefe Weizen, hearing Paris 1919 in the background, and having a pie with mushrooms and red onions. It's a little bit of all right.
Thanks,
Randy Thompson

A Public Confession

RECEIVED Fri., May 16, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I have a confession to make. I am one of those people who The Austin Chronicle despises right now. I had the audacity to vote for Mike Reid and am now "responsible" for the run-off for the ACC board seat ["ACC: Mahoney Comes Out on Top, for Now," News, May 16].
    Like probably most people voting, I knew nothing about this election. I based what little I knew about it on what I had read and had not read in newspapers such as The Austin Chronicle.
    I did attend a candidates' forum for the council races. Not all the candidates attended the forum. But at the forum, I decided to vote for Ken Weiss and Sam Osemene.
    Later, I noticed that the Chronicle had decided that neither Weiss nor Osemene were worthy of any coverage. The Chronicle even gave "no endorsement" in the council race Weiss was running in.
    Naturally, I wonder what criteria was used to determine who the anointed candidates were. My guess is that it was simply personal bias. No polls are taken in local elections. And honest journalists certainly would never use criteria like a candidates' money to determine how much free news coverage he gets. Journalists hate how money determines elections.
    Realizing that the journalists at the Chronicle were anointing certain candidates, I ended up voting for all the candidates that the Chronicle had not anointed. The sole reason I voted for Mike Reid was the fact that local journalists were ignoring him.
Chris Baker
   [Editor's response: The Austin Chronicle is not an ideological entity with everyone working for it in lockstep. We frequently disagree with one another. When it comes to endorsements, every effort is made to be informative, considerate, and fair. The Editorial Board does the endorsing. Neither they or the rest of the Chronicle in any way have hostility toward those who disagree with us politically. We are offering our opinion; you are acting on yours.]

Port Arthur, Texas! Not Houston.

RECEIVED Fri., May 16, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The rap group UGK is/was from Port Arthur, Texas, not Houston as was stated in your latest issue [Music Listings, Music, May 16]. PAT needs all the pub it can get. Thanks.
Beau Bunce

All the Administration's Successes

RECEIVED Fri., May 16, 2008

Dear Editor,
    "Given the complete devastating failure of the Bush administration in almost every possible area" [“Page Two,” May 16].
    Excuse me, Mr. Black, but your perception of the Bush/Cheney administration as a devastating failure fails to address their major successes.
    1) Cut the taxes of the very wealthy, a significant win in the "class" war.
    2) Made executive power the Viagra-crazed gorilla in the bedroom of political America that "responsible" journalists seem to not want to talk about.
    3) Managed to put upward of 200,000 American (private and public) boots on the ground in the Middle East. A rather grand achievement, for whatever reason.
    The only issue they failed on was privatizing Social Security, and that was more than likely because the tech bust scared the living bejesus out of the general population.
Michael Cosper

Come On, No Witty Dialogue Was Promised

RECEIVED Thu., May 15, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I'm sad to read Mark Savlov's review of Speed Racer, because it feels unfair [Film Listings, May 9]. I want the movie to be judged based on what it is and what it is trying to be: the motion-picture version of a shallow, fun cartoon. And yay, bonus (if you care or go to this kind of movie for "messages"), it has a few messages about doing what is "right.” Did the previews or the Wachowski brothers promise witty dialogue or deep, soulful connections between the characters? No! They promised us wild, fast, colorful action. In my opinion, they delivered!
    This is the kind of movie meant to evoke a more visceral kind of emotion. It's a thrill ride! And the fact that the movie had any more (emotional) depth – it did – than the cartoon is just a bonus. We all know art is subjective, right? Is it fair to judge a cartoon-derivative action film based on character/plot/dialogue-driven standards?
Scott Swain

Just Stop Having Children

RECEIVED Thu., May 15, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In your May 9 issue on p.31, the photo depicts a boy writing, “Vote yes for the environment.” Don't you get it? It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that the reason the environment is depleted is because you women out there keep punching out kids, which is overpopulating the planet. This causes habitat to be destroyed to make room for the surplus population.
    Having been raised near the Sam Houston National Forest, I'm familiar with the natural world.
    So you cows stop having so many kids. Hear that tree huggers?
    Instead of throwing money at environmental projects, quit having kids. It's expensive, dangerous, and selfish. Moo cows.
Sincerely,
Glen Ilkka
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