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 Thanks for your patience.
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Death Row Inmate Severely Mentally Ill

RECEIVED Tue., Jan. 20, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: Texas death row inmate pulls out eye, eats it: I have corresponded with Andre Thomas, the young man on Texas' death row who recently tore out his remaining eye, for more than a year. The trial record and my own personal experience with Mr. Thomas both attest to his severe mental illness. Mr. Thomas has struggled with debilitating paranoid schizophrenia since his late adolescence (as is normal with the disease). His illness was the direct cause of the terrible crime he committed.
    Texas ranks near the bottom of the nation in per capita mental-health-care spending. The indigent, like Mr. Thomas and his victims, bear the burdens of our neglect of this critical social service. Mentally ill citizens who pose a threat to themselves and others, like Mr. Thomas did, go to health-care facilities begging for help every day and are turned away because of lack of funding and capacity. Sadly, some, such as Mr. Thomas, in the grips of illness, go on to commit violent crimes.
    It's simple. We can provide the necessary health care for our citizens and prevent tragedies such as the murders of the innocent victims of Mr. Thomas and save money. If we choose not to do so, we can wait until after the crimes take place and multiple lives have been destroyed and spend extra money to keep sick people wasting away in cages until the time comes to execute them. If we choose the latter, what kind of explanation should we offer to the families of the victims of these preventable crimes?
Stefanie Collins

How About a Real Response?

RECEIVED Tue., Jan. 20, 2009

Dear Editor,
    My original letter ["Postmarks," Jan. 16] about Casey Porter's claims about Iraq ["Stop the Loss," News, Dec. 19, 2008] has stirred up some serious controversy. Unfortunately, not much has to do with Casey Porter or the article about him. Your readers have intense opinions about this war as a whole. Their opinions are so strong that they lack the ability to focus directly on the article; instead they continually stray back into the same anti-war pitch they have learned to deliver.
    Therefore I must be more direct and go straight to the source. Can Richard Whittaker please respond to the comments I made about his article? I would love to hear his opinion about the veracity of Casey Porter's claims that I disputed. I would be most interested in hearing which of his fellow journalists he has exposed as frauds for falsely claiming to be reporting from the safety of the Green Zone.
    However, Richard, unlike your readers, I ask that you address specifically the point I make. Do not make this an additional, open-ended, nonspecific protest against the war.
Pat Rice
   [Richard Whittaker responds: Capt. Rice's allegations break down into two halves. Firstly, that Casey Porter accuses the media of "misrepresenting their reporting of the war." Seasoned journalists of the Iraq war and occupation, such as Jonathan Finer of The Washington Post, Michael Ware of CNN, and Rageh Omaar (formerly of the BBC, now of Al Jazeera English), have made the same allegations as Porter that the reporting is incomplete at best and jingoistic at worst. Secondly, Rice argues that reconstruction has been successful. In the 2008 report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction entitled "Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience,” Inspector General Stuart Bowen wrote: "Did the [U.S. reconstruction program] meet the goals it set for itself? The answer is generally no on the infrastructure front, but generally yes regarding the development of Iraq's security forces." Porter's allegations fit into a larger context of official and independent reports on the progress of the Iraq occupation.]

Why Should the Good Guys Work With the Bad Guys?

RECEIVED Tue., Jan. 20, 2009

Dear Editor,
    The "Peace Requires All Sides to Work Together" letter by Ron Landry presents a laudable premise ["Postmarks," Jan. 16] but flawed "history" as to why that's not happening. In 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were arbitrarily and illegally dispossessed of their land and lives. Since then the Jewish state, Israel, has systematically stolen more Palestinian land, militarily occupied remaining Palestinian land, economically blockaded Palestine to near starvation, built an illegal wall to further punish Palestinians, and invaded Lebanon, and now Gaza, killing and destroying with abandon – all these reprehensible activities sanctioned and armed by the U.S. government with U.S. taxpayers ignorant of the facts due to a virtual media blackout. What people do with power speaks loudly as to those people's character. So, how should we judge the character of the Jewish state and its people?
John Callaghan

Leveling Judgment Against Israel

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 19, 2009

Dear Editor,
    The Israeli government and Gaza have both signed off on a cease-fire after Israel killed more than 400 Palestinian children and more than a thousand citizens. They are still prisoners in one of the world's largest prisons (Gaza)! It reminds me of what the Nazis did to the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Our Congress passed a resolution supporting this genocide with the exception of five of its brave members.
    Every time Israel commits genocide, America vetoes any United Nations bills condemning it. America refuses to recognize the International Court of Justice in the Hague. This is because the U.S. and Israel and their allies would be brought to justice for their war crimes if they did. Why should any Americans follow the law when our government doesn't?
    The Israeli government arrested more than 700 of its own citizens for protesting the war. They destroyed Gaza the same way they destroyed Lebanon with American aid. Our protest against this war at the state Capitol last Saturday was poorly covered by the press!
    On a different matter, Jennifer Gale passed away a few weeks ago. I met her at several protests and voted for her for mayor. I'm sorry to see her go, and she will be missed at our protests.
Julian E. Ward

With Pizza, Toppings Are Crucial

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 19, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Very much enjoyed your reviews of some of the smaller, stand-alone pizza joints [“Indie Pizzas,” Food, Nov. 14, 2008]. I would have added one more index, however. Did each mouthful, each bite, garner roughly an equal amount of toppings? I have found at some places that there is some topping here but not over there. I want each bite to have roughly the same taste. I grew up on the East Coast – guilty as charged. I also like to know what sort of oven – gas, electric, or wood – is used. Pizza has improved greatly in the last 20 years here in town. I discovered Niki's Pizza in '83 when I moved here. Still my favorite. Take care, and happy 2009.
Charles Egger

It's the 'Texas' Music Hall of Fame

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 19, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Regarding Todd Potter's letter about his band Bubble Puppy not being in the Texas Music Hall of Fame [Postmarks, Jan. 16]: No argument that Bubble Puppy should be in the Hall of Fame, but I do take issue with his complaints that many Hall of Fame members aren't from Austin (it is the Texas Music Hall of Fame) and that the ones with charting hit records – Christopher Cross and Stevie Ray Vaughan – aren't from Austin either.
    I'd like to point out two members of The Austin Chronicle's Texas Music Hall of Fame who are from Austin, still live here, make their livings in music, and had charting hit records: Charlie Sexton ("Beat's So Lonely" from the 1985 Pictures for Pleasure) and Eric Johnson ("Cliffs of Dover" from 1990's Ah Via Musicom). Having worked with these two fine artists, I have both of their certified gold records hanging proudly on my wall.
    If it is a consolation to Todd, the one and only time I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in the spring of 1996, Bubble Puppy was represented in the exhibit "One Hit Wonders.”
Thank you,
Wayne Nagel

Outdoor Music Ban Part of National Collapse

RECEIVED Sun., Jan. 18, 2009

Dear Editor,
    A "temporary" ban on outdoor music (permits) is ridiculous to be occurring in the "live music capital of the world." Although that slogan seems legendary as now Austin seems to be the "high-rise capital of the world." It's all coming together, folks. The government-promoted digital TV revolution, the new "elect" global leader, the collapse of the dollar, the corporatized-government media monster, the division of elitist and everyone else – essentially the new world order. A condescending congratulations to everyone who voted our country right out of existence. You've chosen a completely unknown celebrified person who plans to bolster and enslave minorities and poor people to exist for the government. The wise know that real "change" will occur when the people demand abolishment of the Federal Reserve. Then everything else will fall into place. Instead, people (the majority has yet to be determined) continue to award this Oprahman who chose the president of the New York Federal Reserve as the nation's treasury secretary. He announces his plans on TV, weekday mornings, when housewives and poor people are the only ones watching. He eloquently talks of putting us in the deepest debt our country has known. He will increase taxes on citizens and allow complete corporate control of the United States government. The rich survive, and everyone else gets "paid" by the government. Wake up Americans! Austin is a great example of out-of-control corporatized government. A very corrupt government that clearly supports the dollar, right down to parking enforcement and music permits, with hugs and kisses for developers and conglomerates. We need permission (by giving money) to play live music in the live music capital of the world. It's never too late to bulldoze a condo or demand not to see one more Home Depot, IHOP, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, or any other corporation in Austin. Austin is tapped-out and inundated with big-box drive-through malls, high-rises, and McMansions. A soulless landscape soon to be without trees, green grass, dark skies, fresh air, or any stitch of nature to enjoy. It's not just Austin – it's everywhere. And it's out of control.
Still hoping,
Colette Michalec

Have Some Heart!

RECEIVED Sun., Jan. 18, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I find it incredible that Jenny Mika writes as she did ["Postmarks," Jan. 16]. The slaves were here illegally, the Irish were here illegally, and yet they form part of the backbone of our culture. The children are being penalized due to the irresponsible actions of the U.S. government, not those of the parents who are seeking a better future for their children. Seeing the poverty in Mexico, I would be swimming the river 10 times a day if it improved the future chances of my children at success. Illegal? Yes! The Hutto/Williamson County environment of "jail the children"? Completely irresponsible! Children should not be held responsible for the so-called "sins" of the father. Or would Ms. Mika rather just leave the children on the streets to survive? Have some heart, Ms. Mika!
Jim Nelson

Keep Austin Clean: Stop Graffiti

RECEIVED Sat., Jan. 17, 2009

Dear Editor,
    There are lots of good groups working hard to help keep Austin clean. I'd like to praise two agencies in particular here.
    Graffiti has been a big problem for Austin as well as other major cities. Well, we have a wonderful city government service that provides us a convenient way to take care of graffiti.
    Austin's 311 service takes reports from citizens about many different kinds of problems around town, but I have found a great deal of satisfaction in its speedy and friendly response to my reports about graffiti. I call them and report it, they pass on the report to the city of Austin's Graffiti Abatement Program, and usually in just a few days the graffiti is removed.
    If you see graffiti in Austin, whether it's on public or private property, call 311 or their other number, 974-1028, and let them know about it. Kudos to those two city agencies for a job very well done!
Marla Repka

'Complexities' of Modernity Just Shades of Same Geopolitical Games

RECEIVED Sat., Jan. 17, 2009

Dear Editor,
    From "Letters at 3AM" [Jan. 16]: "and the social acceptance, throughout the West, of homosexuality and endless varieties of gender-bending."
    I missed this, when did this happen exactly? I feel that this line in the story is the weakest point. It undermines the paragraph in which it resides, because just as the author is convincing me of his lengthy point about the complexity of the modern world, he throws in the kitchen sink. Not necessary, a bit sensationalist, and I have no idea to what he is referring, unless he is pointing out that some dudes are shopping at Old Navy nowadays. Really, I need to be filled in, because I think that I missed a vital point somewhere along the way. Besides, a casual student of history would note that the so-called "complexities" of modernity are just shades of the same geopolitical games that have been going on for centuries plus the Internet (which isn't nearly as exciting or world-shattering as some troglodytes make it out to be, not to be too much of a party pooper). I haven't been paying much attention to this inauguration hoo-ha, so I suppose the historicity of it all has passed me by, although I did vote for the man. Also, I live in Chicago, so it's tough to avoid some of this business, but I'm doing the best that I can. I guess the line above just didn't connect with me at all. I'm not gay, so maybe I missed the party, but I'm wondering how I can be a fan of this column if the author is sort of off-base on this point.
Steve Talbot

Circuit City Brought Closing on Itself

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 16, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Circuit City announced today the closing of all of its stores. Thirty thousand employees will lose their jobs. This is obviously not a good thing.
    Recently, I was in Circuit City … couldn't help but notice that I didn't see a single American-made product. Circuit City, Japan and China thank you for your years of service. The company has been around for a long time. It sold electronics way back when the United States still made TVs and radios. However, like every other store, it gradually switched to Japanese-made products. It could buy them cheaper and sell them for a greater profit. The side effect of this was fewer good-paying jobs for Americans. Thus less money for Americans to buy Circuit City products. Luckily for them, they had the magic of credit cards. However, that has run its course as well. Now people can't get a good job because all of our factories have closed and have been moved overseas. People can no longer buy on credit because the banks are going under and cutting off credit-card lines.
    Circuit City, I feel sorry for your employees. However, as a company, you have pretty much brought this on yourself.
Steven McCloud

'An Eye for an Eye'

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 16, 2009

Dear Editor,
    As a mother of four daughters, I believe in "an eye for an eye,” and if Robert Springsteen and Michael Scott are guilty of the yogurt shop murders, they should be bound, gagged, and set on fire [“Yogurt Shop,” News, Jan. 16]. But on the other hand, if they are not the true killers, I would not want an innocent person convicted of a crime he/she did not commit just so the police and prosecutors could save face.
    Find the real killers, and get them behind bars.
Penny Prosser
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