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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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Report From Abroad

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I have recently spent a couple of weeks overseas. I would like to tell you about what I have heard from people abroad. First, let me say that they like Americans. Everyone I met was friendly and helpful. Obviously, they could tell I was American from my language and accent. However, they certainly didn't understand America.
    On a prime-time TV show in England, I saw comedians making fun of the American presidential election. A performer said something to the effect of, "So somewhere near a half of the Americans are not voting for Obama because they think he is Muslim or because he is black. This is comforting in some ways, because it proves that they are as stupid as we always thought they were."
    Then there was a cab driver in Dublin that was very interested in our politics. He asked me how anyone could vote for McCain because, since he is so old, how could Palin be considered ready to lead the country?
    In the town of Crieff, Scotland, our waitress confessed to following the election closely. She said she became interested in American politics due to The West Wing. She said there is extensive coverage of politics on their news stations. Her question was: How can McCain be this close in the polls when he belongs to the same party as George Bush? I had no answer.
    Lastly, I met a woman from Melbourne, Australia, who stated how tired she was of hearing about our election. She said that in Australia, they heard a debate, then they voted in an election. Also, they are required to vote. She couldn't believe that we have around 60% of our population vote for president. As she put it, "Don't the people care about who runs the country?" Again, I could offer her no answer.
    Please understand that I have not embellished these accounts. I simply met no one that struck up a conversation supporting McCain or Bush. They really don't understand how anyone could support them. I have to say, from the people as well as the news organizations, they have a better grasp on our politics than people in our own country.
Steven McCloud

Can No Longer Recommend Austin

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I moved here a year ago to teach. When I received my first utility bill, I realized that it was due two days before I was to get paid. I called the city requesting that my due date be moved so that it actually came after my payday. This is something that I'm sure many have done, all for the same reason. Most creditors are happy to do this. Most. The city of Austin replied that they could not change the due date because it was based on when the meter is read. I, of course, questioned why this was such an unreasonable request considering that I have lived in other cities that had the ability to change due dates, not to mention, of course, credit-card companies, banks when they issue loans for cars, etc. The response was: "We cannot change the system. The only way you can change the due date is to move." Given that I had just signed a one-year lease, that wouldn't be happening any time soon. A year goes by, and I move to the other side of town to be closer to work. After I transfer my utilities, I receive a bill with a $200 deposit. I call the city of Austin and am told that the deposit was based on sending in late payments within a 12-month period. Policy. It seems to me that a policy that is completely inflexible and punishes customers who are trying to be responsible and do the right thing is bad policy. As a teacher, I only get paid once a month, on the very last day. I wonder how many other people in this city fall into that category and are having to pay these fees. The bottom line is this: I can no longer recommend Austin as a place to desire moving to when it penalizes its citizens based on its own inflexible, bad system. A system that is leaning toward corrupt.
Terri Rushfeldt

Republicans Refuse to Take Responsibility

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Today on C-SPAN, I watched the entire bailout plan debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. After the bill was defeated, I heard an interview on CNN with some Republican House members who tried to blame the defeat of the bill on Nancy Pelosi’s speech, which came late in the process. For the Republicans to say that Nancy Pelosi's speech had anything to do with how the Republicans voted is ludicrous! Before Pelosi spoke, I listened and watched as Republican after Republican stood up and voiced their vehement opposition to the bill. It is outrageous that the Republicans refuse to take responsibility for their own party’s opposition to the bailout plan. They would rather blame someone else than take responsibility for anything or admit they are wrong about anything. It’s appalling how many people are apparently like that in this country!
Paying too much attention,
Brenda Freed
Dripping Springs

Harping on the Electoral College

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Every four years I harp on the electoral college. It is the major part of the Constitution that needs amending, because it is blatantly undemocratic, makes my vote meaningless, and contributes to fraud.
    If we had a direct election of president and vice president, my vote would count the same as someone from Florida or Ohio. As it is, since Texas will for the foreseeable future be a one-party state, my vote does not add one to the count of my candidates. This is true of the vast majority of states, and it means that the president and vice president are ultimately elected by voters in a handful of states.
    That being the case, the candidates only have to woo voters in those "battleground" states. Has McCain or Obama bothered to campaign even once in Texas? Why should they? Well, I think Texas voters should count as much as Colorado voters.
    With so few voters actually deciding the presidency, it is much simpler to rig the election since you only have to move a few votes around, deny a few folks the right to vote, or "lose" a few ballot boxes.
    How blatant will the corruption of our electoral process have to get before something is done? From the looks of the corruption on Wall Street and in Washington, it will have to go all the way to the bottom.
Ben Hogue

Chronicle Complicit in Election Theft

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 1, 2008

Dear Austin Chronicle,
    I agree with letter-writer Jim Simons [Postmarks, Sept. 26] who disagreed with the Chronicle’s poor review of Stealing America: Vote by Vote [Film Listings, Sept. 19]. Democrats and progressive journals such as the Chronicle are complicit in election theft when they choose to ignore the mountain of evidence clearly documented in the film Stealing America about the myriad of schemes to thwart fair elections. Secret vote-counting electronic-voting machines are the newest and simplest method of wholesale fraud. It is easier to flip thousands of votes with clever computer programs than stuff a few ballot boxes with paper. This is why VoteRescue continues to advocate for paper ballots, hand counted in public view at the precinct level.
    If the movie reviewers did not like this film, there are plenty of other films about election fraud. Chronicle readers can see Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections by director David Earnhardt that features the heroes in the election integrity movement on DVD at www.uncountedthemovie.com. Readers can also see a 2007 HBO Emmy-nominated documentary for outstanding investigative journalism-long form, Hacking Democracy (www.hackingdemocracy.com).
    For those who prefer books to movies, don’t miss the booksigning Friday, Oct. 3, at Brave New Books, 1904 Guadalupe, at 7pm. Richard Hayes Phillips will be in town signing and speaking about his new book, Witness to a Crime: A Citizens’ Audit of an American Election. Robert F. Kennedy’s review calls it “irrefutable proof” about how the presidential election was stolen in Ohio in 2004. Mathematicians and statisticians would especially enjoy this thorough investigation into the numbers of a stolen election. Phillips uses simple math formulas of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to analyze thousands of ballots, poll books, and voter signature logs.
    The Chronicle should take the issue seriously.
Jenny Clark

Photo-Op, Cheesesteak, Question

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    So, if a political candidate is at a photo-op event in public (say a cheesesteak shop in Philly) and one of the guys in line to get his cheesesteak asks Sarah Palin, "What about the Pakistan situation? What's going on over there? Like Waziristan?" and Palin can only spit out, "We're all together to, uh, stop the bad guys from coming in. And Waziristan, yeah, things are, uh the economy is blowin' up over there." This is, according to both McCain and Palin, "gotcha journalism." Really? Now the general public who has no prior knowledge she would be there are "gotcha journalists" trying to trip her up. Palin knows less about world affairs than some random schmuck ordering a cheesesteak, and we are expected to believe she is a viable candidate? President Palin. America is lost. God save us.
David Porter

It Was Not an Acrimonious Split!

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 30, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I read your article "an acrimonious split from manager Tom Bunch” and don't see it as that [“Out of the Mouths of Children,” Music, Sept. 26]. From 1983-1990, I promoted the majority of the Butthole Surfers shows in Texas. They were one of the greatest live bands the planet earth has or will ever see. I was lucky enough to see them more than 100 times. In 1990, I started to manage them and stated before it was like herding cats. I managed them until 1999. Seventeen years of dealing with one of the wildest and strangest group of people I have ever met. I knew what I was getting into and accepted it wholeheartedly. I also managed Paul Leary’s producer career and Gibby Haynes' side project with Johnny Depp. After 17 years of dealing with Gibby on a daily basis, I had enough. The last four years I managed them, Gibby was not capable of showing up for anything. He usually just didn’t show up, and if he did, he wasn’t able to perform. This was sad for me to see and be involved with. Many of the projects I set up for Gibby were friends and business associates of mine, and he kept blowing off projects (movies, recording sessions, interviews) or would show up so high that he couldn’t do his part. I told Paul and Gibby in 1999 that I didn’t want to manage them anymore and that I would be happy to help them tie up their business and find a new manager. Paul asked me if I would continue to manage him as a producer, but I had decided to take some time off and get the ringing out of my ears. There was a matter of money that they owed me, as money was consistently coming in from past and present deals. We signed a management agreement, and I had lived up to everything in the contract, and most people will say I did a great job. Both Paul and Gibby agreed that they owed me the money and said they would pay me soon. Six months later, they hadn’t paid me and wouldn’t respond to calls or letters. I filed a lawsuit, and the outcome was they paid me what they owed me as per the contract, nothing more, nothing less. The only acrimonious part was going to the depositions and the mediation and watching Gibby yell and scream, run around the room, wave his arms and fists and call the mediator a little bitch (like a Butthole Surfers show circa 1987). I never raised my voice, called anyone names, said or did anything out of line, or asked for anything more than what they legally, morally, ethically owed me. I have no hard feelings and wish them all the success and happiness that anyone can have in this world.
Thank you,
Tom Bunch
Houston

Why Can't We Just Go Shopping?

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 30, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Regarding this Wall Street bailout mess – I don't understand why we can't just "go shopping" again. That's what fixed 9/11, right?
John Nordstrom

Leave the Dogs at Home

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 29, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Wasting Energy” ["Postmarks," Sept. 26]: The letter writer asks, “Who in their right mind would idle a car for hours with the air conditioning on to keep their dogs cool?” I have to ask: Who in their right mind would leave their dogs in the car for hours? At least they left the AC on for the dogs, if they left them in the car. How about this: Leave the dogs at home, in the air-conditioned house, and turn the car off!
Jane Adams

'Rural Lifestylers' Still Listen to the Radio

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 29, 2008

Hey guys,
    Compliments to Kevin Brass on his “Nix to Negativity” [News, Sept. 26] piece on the recent National Association of Broadcasters' radio show.
    Austin Airwaves also sent in a recon team to check on the radio show at the Austin Convention Center and were similarly appalled at the absence of on-air talent and the general lack of interest in local news and public affairs, community involvement and ownership, and even local music (www.nabradioshow.com).
    Most of the pinstriped corporate executives from Indianapolis and Seattle walked past the hundreds of Ike evacuees still living just on the other side of the Convention Center walls, without so much as a glance.
    Safe to say, those poor displaced folks were not being served by their local radio outlets, despite the NAB’s claim: “America’s broadcasters: Serving every local community” and “Radio stations unite to boost Hurricane Ike recovery efforts.”
    Among the tidbits I picked up at workshops I attended were: Lynn Anderson of Radio Advertising Dallas using the term “mediums,” the importance of providing good training before “sending out … sales girls,” and my favorite, referring to Texas farmers and ranchers who still listen to the radio as – wait for it – “rural lifestylers.”
    The distress of a floundering industry did surface on one panel, with a frustrated program director asking: “Does anybody on this panel actually listen to radio? Do you actually listen to your own station?” One response: “I admit I do and not just cuz I get paid to!”
    I was disappointed that Austin’s progressive/media community did not make its feelings known about the many urgent media issues of the day to these corporate pirates, including no less than FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. Not a single demonstrator, not a single “Take Back the Media” sign was seen.
    When the NAB met a few years back in San Francisco there was a, um, riotous sharing of opinion.
Cheers,
Jim Ellinger
Austin Airwaves

This Is What We Want

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 29, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Over the past five years (hard times) the “finance industry” has made $35,000 in profit on my need to live in a house. They got basically all the money I earned. Now they want me to bail them out with another few thousand dollars.
    Let me say what I want. I want my "representatives" to look at this financial oppression, this transfer of wealth from the working classes to the “fun money” class, this plunder of America by the black magicians in the finance industry, and I want them to bring the hammer down and say “no” to a taxpayer bailout. I want them to prosecute those in the industry who caused its collapse, and I want them to confiscate back the millions of dollars from executives who made off with the profits of yet another industry scandal.
    In case you want the math: Since buying a home five years ago, I have paid approximately $10,000 per year in interest on my loan plus taxes on my homestead, a total of $50,000.
    My income over those five years was less than that amount. I’ve paid for basic survival out of my savings (which should be for medical emergencies and/or retirement), for which a bank has paid me only 1% interest – compared to the 6.25% interest I pay for my home loan – which is double my savings.
    I don’t know how much actual work anyone did to “earn” my $35,000, but I’d like to have it back, because I busted my butt for it, and I need it.
Single working-class homeowner in Austin,
Beky Hayes

Doesn't Like Palin

RECEIVED Sun., Sept. 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The only thing that scares me about Mrs. Palin is the fact that she doesn't bat an eye at killing animals. She supports aerial shooting of wolves and has no concern whatsoever for endangered species. Palin wants to destroy God's creatures at whatever cost. Now, I ask you, does that sound like the workings of a God-loving mother? While it's fair to call Mrs. Palin a "mother," I prefer to add on another word that sounds a lot like "clucker."
Timothy Verret

Stop Stealing My Obama Signs

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 26, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Hi, it's me again, Sandy Chernikowski, complaining about the same thing I did four years ago, a letter which you published ["Postmarks," Oct. 22, 2004]. Some people kept stealing my Kerry signs, and I was furious that some reckless idiots were messing with my freedom of speech. Now the same thing is happening with my Obama signs. Like I said in my last letter, it is a sad state of affairs when the "others" feel it necessary to destroy or steal signs thinking that they can win with this type of behavior. I live in West Campus, and I must assume that this is not a crime being carried out by other Democrats. I would like to sabotage the sign with something that would cause the others to leave behind a trail of blood, but I am not like that. I do not want to stoop to the level of the ones who are doing this. Any suggestions?
Thank you,
Sandy Chernikowski

Loves 'Modern,' Not So Fond of 'Maakies'

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 26, 2008

Dear Editor,
    First of all thanks for accepting e-mails. It's so much more convenient. Second of all thank you so much for hosting the comic This Modern World. I love it so much. It's like a miniserving of The Daily Show in print. It's always very funny and very poignant and relevant. Awesome.
    In contrast I have to say: The other front-section comic you've had lately, Maakies, I find to be consistently not only not funny but also a disappointing waste of time. There is no moral, no message, nothing that adds anything to my life – I just wind up saying to myself week after week after reading it, "That's just disgusting, or ridiculous/stupid,” or, "Why are they running this?" I say thumbs down. We need and want more laughs and more intelligence in our comics. They are out there. Stop wasting our time with this one. It's idiocracy on paper.
Stephen Summers

Greed And Criminality

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In regards to the proposed $700 billion bailout with no oversight or actual limits for Wall Street banks and investment firms and such, I say oppose this proposal!
    The difficulties faced by these various organizations and individuals are the effect of their own cause, i.e. greed and criminality.
    Imagine what the proposed Wall Street giveaway/bailout funds would do if directed toward rebuilding America's infrastructure, such as dilapidated roads or bridges or disaster-stricken areas such as New Orleans, Galveston, and the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast. Or, improving the quality of education in American schools or strengthening our health-care system. What effect would $700 billion have on the solvency of Social Security, which many of us U.S. citizens have paid into and rely on in our senior years? What effect would that kind of expenditure have on investing in and incentivizing to bring online alternative/imperative forms of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, and more. At the very least, spending $700 billion on public works projects would create jobs plus income for many Americans who could then afford to pay their mortgages, start new businesses, send their kids to college, and so on.
    Giving the money to bailout superrich bankers and investment firms who have brought this dilemma on themselves will only help further fatten the pockets of theses same superrich bankers and investment firms at the expense of American citizens and the American way of life.
Joseph A. Villegan Jr.

Answer Is Simple: Leave!

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I do not think so! Steve Cobb’s nasty gram criticizing and belittling everyone and every place provided some self-disclosure that begs for feedback ["Postmarks," Sept. 19]. To start, I feel very sorry for his family, particularly his wife who supports him while he whines about where he has to live. No doubt there are other self-absorbed individuals unwilling to support themselves who have no tolerance for dissenting opinion also living in Austin. Go away.
    The answer is that simple. Go back to Portland, Ore. Get a job. Stop being dependent on your wife so you can live where you choose. My guess is that you will still be miserable and miserable to be around as well, but at least Austin will be rid of you and your foul attitude.
    I lived in the North Carolina you so happily escaped for five years, and I loved it and the people there. I also have lived in Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, California, Utah, and Oxford, England, for three years. I enjoyed the places and people. Last year I traveled the world for three months. Europe, Hong Kong, Bali, Palpua Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Central America. I enjoyed the places and the people. The people had different views than I in many areas. I learned from them. I appreciated the diversity and their right to an opinion. I chose to retire in Austin at age 50. I took a 30-year work break, then I retired.
    I do not think the problem is Austin, Mr. Cobb. I think you are predestined to be unhappy, dependent, and to have a strong sense of entitlement.
    Portland calls, Mr. Cobb … but then you would have to get a real job.
Nathan L. Gibson

McCain Has Proven He Can Read

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    John McCain has proven to skeptics that he can read. Whenever you see him on TV, his eyes are looking down at his teleprompter, reading whatever his handlers have written. So he can read, unlike Barack Obama who is able to look out at the audience and say what he thinks. What nerve!
John Callaghan

In Order for the Bailout to Work It Needs …

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I support the proposed bailout plan, but it must contain the following: 1) adequate oversight and accountability; 2) no excessive compensation for officers of bailed-out companies; 3) a taxpayer stake in bailed-out companies through something like stock warrants so that if/when the bailed-out company regains value, the taxpayers' bailout is recovered, perhaps with profit; and 4) opportunity for endangered mortgage holders to renegotiate affordable repayment terms.
    Without all four of these items, the bailout plan will not work. It would be no more than complicity in the largest theft in the history of civilization. A flawed plan will destabilize the very core of our nation: public trust.
Yours truly,
Bruce Joffe
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