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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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Hopper One of a Kind

RECEIVED Wed., June 9, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Many thanks to (my old UT film school T.A.) Louis Black for his acknowledgment of Dennis Hopper's passing [“In Memory of Dennis Hopper,” Screens, June 4]. I was lucky enough to have shared Mr. Linklater's experience – firsthand – of what an entertaining crazyass the late celebrity was. Although I haven't thought about that explosive performance event in God knows how long, I can confirm that it was definitely not apocryphal. Once again, my Chronicle has jogged a forgotten memory to appreciate and share.
    Actually, Dennis had several dozen of us bused from the Rice University Media Center (it might've been early '84) to some outlying country racetrack for his "blow myself up for you" trick. I recall more folks than just my friend and I joining into the vibe to imbibe all the way there – in more ways than one – according to the tone Hopper had set verbally.
    So here was the kicker, for me: He made certain that everyone knew how risky the placement and lighting of the dynamite sticks was, and through it all, the guy was so drunk that his speech was slurred! It was cheap, risky fun – if not strangely anti-climactic afterward – and he laughingly thanked us for coming. Nah, they don't make 'em like Dennis.
Ken McKenzie-Grant

Ventura Mostly on Mark

RECEIVED Wed., June 9, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Re: Michael Ventura's “Letters at 3AM”: I have been meaning to write to say how much we have appreciated Ventura's "Oligarchy" series. It's mostly right on the mark. The only major point I have a problem with is, oddly enough, the title. We really have a plutocracy (rule by the rich!). We will probably go down in history as the modern-day equivalent of the old Republic of Venice.
    By the way, I really think he should gather together all of the articles (when he's done) and publish them in a book.
Best & thanks for publishing,
Brad Strahan

'Tail Wagging the Dog'

RECEIVED Tue., June 8, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Has anyone read about the Warsaw ghetto in World War II? It was the Nazi blockade of a section of Warsaw, Poland, in which European Jews were trapped, starved, and eventually murdered. Has the Israeli blockade of Gaza borrowed from history? Not to say that Israel is a Nazi state. It is, after all, a theocracy where citizenship requires being Jewish. Do other countries have such religious/ethnic requirements for citizenship? Recently, an 89-year-old reporter was condemned by our White House for criticizing the illegal occupation of Palestine, while not a word was said about the murder of nine activists attempting to bring food, medical supplies, and the like to the Gaza ghetto. Is such a public position in the international interests of the U.S.?
    Does the old cliché of the “tail wagging the (big) dog” apply?
John Callaghan

Injustice Against One Is Injustice Against All

RECEIVED Tue., June 8, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Daniel Lea is absolutely correct about NAFTA [“Postmarks,” June 4]. This agreement has caused the economic and social problems of Mexico to become much worse. Local companies are wiped out and small farmers are priced out of the market by food imported tariff-free. Consequently, these desperate people are forced to leave their families and head north in search of jobs. Free trade and unregulated foreign investments mostly benefit large corporations and the wealthy, thus further widening the economic gap between the poor and rich. Narrow-minded and self-righteous individuals cannot see beyond their hate and prejudices. They are incapable of feeling sympathy or empathy for these economic refugees. Nor can they fully grasp how unethical and unconstitutional Arizona’s immigration bill really is. No human being is illegal, especially these migrants returning to their sacred ancestral motherland where they rightfully belong. In a conscientious and humane society, injustice against one is injustice against all.
Anita Quintanilla

No Sustainability Input

RECEIVED Tue., June 8, 2010

Dear Editor,
    On Thursday, June 3, Austinites were invited to meet the four finalists being considered for Austin’s new chief sustainability officer. More than 100 citizens took time out from their week to meet these candidates, one of whom will be chosen to lead and coordinate sustainability at the rank of an assistant city manager.
    However, as the meeting began, I began to wonder why the city invited us.
    Environmentalists wanted this position and were a main reason it was created. Yet the only way our opinion was solicited was through a small comment form that rated each of the finalists. The form did not even have a place for the people filling it out to identify themselves. The forms were not strictly monitored, so it was quite possible for one person to hand in several (or in theory dozens) of forms, which would exaggerate their influence.
    When I asked what would become of these comment forms, I was told by city staff that they would all be read by the city manager. I wondered aloud if the staff was insulting my intelligence, that a busy city manager that oversaw 24 or so departments would have time to read dozens of anonymous forms.
    And assuming for the sake of argument that he did, does this substitute for direct input from the constituency that asked for this position in the first place? In several past situations, environmentalists have actually been appointed to interview committees to give direct input into the hiring process.
    This time, we have been brushed out of the way, without being allowed real input in the hiring. The form is a poor (some would say ridiculous) substitute for direct involvement.
Paul Robbins

For 9/11, There Is Visual and Scientific Evidence

RECEIVED Mon., June 7, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Your latest “Page Two” column [June 4] challenges 9/11 truth-seekers to prove you wrong that their efforts will not bring about any results. I urge you and anyone else that is interested to give yourselves 30 minutes to check out ae911truth.org. This organization is composed of architects and engineers demanding a new 9/11 investigation based upon scientific evidence that the three World Trade Center towers could only have been destroyed by controlled demolition. Firefighters have also formed a similar group, seeking justice for their fallen brothers and sisters.
    The visual evidence paired with scientific understanding sets 9/11 apart from the Kennedy assassination.
    Thank you for the six encouraging words at the end of your column. Media coverage is uncommon, and you have taken your readers a few steps in the difficult but right direction.
Ben Kleiman

New Arizona Law and Racial Profiling

RECEIVED Sun., June 6, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Given that that new Arizona immigration law (Senate Bill 1070), effective July 1, prohibits racial profiling, should we assume that anyone in Arizona (residing or visiting) who attracts the attention of law enforcement officials could be asked to show ID proving U.S. citizenship? A driver's license is not proof of U.S. citizenship. Therefore, can we assume that we have to carry either a U.S. passport or birth certificate when in Arizona – just in case? If so, must we assume then that Arizona will be the first and only state in the U.S. in which we must carry a U.S.-issued passport or birth certificate to cross the state line, just as we must do when traveling to Canada, Mexico, or any other foreign country?
Mary Patrick

'Just Say, "Gay"'

RECEIVED Fri., June 4, 2010

Dear Editor,
    The June 4 cover of The Austin Chronicle is my favorite this year! The photograph of LZ Love is beautiful – beautiful. The Maakies strip was actually funny, beautifully drawn as usual, but not nauseating!
    Speaking of wanting to barf, how 'bout that oil spill disaster, courtesy of the Rothschilds' company BP? (I wrote a “hilariously” violent version of the Aristocrats gag (after the movie), with a similar family name, Bathschilds, for the punch line.)
    I feel guilty celebrating Gay Pride Month while marine life and people’s livelihoods in the Gulf are being destroyed, brought to us by that death cult via our insatiable addiction to the black ooze.
    My resolution for Pride 2010 is to drop the letters “L,” “B,” and “T” from the alphabet moniker, and just say, “gay.” To include all us freaky bees and ho's!
    A shout-out and my eternal appreciation goes to God and the intrepid ladies of Stonewall! And to the Founding Fathers, who, although they did not envision equal rights for same-sex (gay) partnerships, laid the foundation for that possibility in the First Amendment.
    My gratitude goes also to my incredibly homophobic hometown, Shreveport, La., in the Fifties and Sixties, where shunning and psychological and physical abuse of “the different” was a fine art. It made me a strong adult (together with decades of psychotherapy).
    As ever, kudos to the staff of the Chronicle. Remember, “Just say, 'gay.'”
Cordially,
Kenney C. Kennedy

Ventura's Oligarchy Sentiments Motivating but Filled With Resentment

RECEIVED Fri., June 4, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Michael Ventura’s Oligarchy segments are motivating, although filled with blame and resentment. His final piece has substance [“Letters at 3AM: In the Margins of Oligarchy,” June 4]. In the second segment [“Letters at 3AM: A Paradox of Oligarchy,” May 21], Michael properly touts the success of the GI Bill but forgets that for every positive government program, there are far too many failures. Michael pinpoints the root cause of California’s failure as Proposition 13, which reduced California property tax revenues. The good news for California is that thanks to Proposition 13, the per capita property tax burden ranks California 28th. That brought about a boom in California's economy over the next several decades. During that time, the state government embarked on a spending binge and eventually found itself unable to fulfill its spending commitments. Michael identified this condition as “riches going to Top Tier and the Professional Tier,” but I call it bad governance. As to the question: “If I am not my brother’s keeper, what am I?” We are all our brothers’ keepers, but the devil’s in the details. As one anonymous American once said, “Welfare should be a safety net, not a hammock.” We all want a better world, but in Michael’s last article, he discounts that goodness exists in the Top and Professional Tiers, even marginal goodness. Let me define another Tier. Those who seek only to take from those who have and will never contribute themselves, those who are filled with envy and hatred, those who blame others for their wrongdoings, those who live only to destroy, those who strive to impose their will upon others and have no respect for freedom, the Extremist Tier. There is no doubt that the Extremist Tier can be readily sourced from every Tier, and that is the Tier that should bear your resentment for making this country “no longer what it was.”
Ronald P. Landry

Valby Got Only What She Was Looking For

RECEIVED Thu., June 3, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Re: “The State of Utopia” [Books, May 28]: I think Karen Valby picked an extremely small group of uneducated individuals and coerced the story she wanted to write. She saw in Utopia exactly what she wanted to see. I have lived there 20 years and raised two children there. The comment about everyone drinking together is inaccurate. My 16- and 19-year-old children have never had a drop of alcohol, as well as a lot of their friends.
    As for being racist, Utopians are no more racist than others. I was raised in a much, much larger small town, and the people in Utopia are not much different than my hometown or several other Texas towns I have lived in. Some use racist terms to express their dislike for a person because of the person's actions or policies, not just because they are black or white. People everywhere use that term because they are uneducated and lack the vocabulary to adequately express exactly what they dislike about a person, not literally their color. It is not as though they dislike any particular race as a whole. People in Utopia are unhappy with the policies of the current president, so some of them use the "N" word because they can't communicate verbally their disdain for Obama. I think the opinion in Utopia of a black president would be very different if Colin Powell had been elected. Valby is so concerned with racial bias but didn't mind publishing a biased summation of a whole community based on the information she collected from a select few.
    Karen Valby, use a more scientific method next time you research a story, not just pick a small group of same-sex carbon copies. Don't avoid most of the women. Utopians aren't any different than most other Texans.
Sydney Killough

Vic Villarreal Is Clear Choice

RECEIVED Thu., June 3, 2010

Dear Editor,
    I don’t think the decision on Austin Community College board Place 5 is as difficult as your Editorial Board does [“'Chronicle' Endorsements,” News, May 28]. There are two things about board candidate David Reiter that concern me. First, Mr. Reiter is closely connected to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. I believe that the Chamber of Commerce already has sufficient influence over the ACC board, if not too much. Some think we need to elect someone from the chamber to ensure chamber support for a tax election, if, as expected, the Legislature slashes ACC’s state funding. But if the chamber doesn’t support adequate funding for ACC, the chamber has no sense of self-interest, since ACC is the chief trainer of this area’s work force. I think the chamber is smart enough to understand what’s in the interest of this area’s employers, even if it doesn’t have one of its own on the ACC board. Second, it troubles me that Mr. Reiter missed most of the Democratic club forums, as well as the ACC Faculty Senate forum and the ACC Adjunct Faculty forum. If Mr. Reiter doesn’t have time to campaign for the ACC board, what should make anyone think that he has time to serve? The last thing we need is another absentee ACC trustee who is constantly missing board meetings and important ACC events. Considering all this and the reasons given in your endorsement editorial, I think Vic Villarreal is the clear choice for the ACC board.
Sincerely,
John Worley
ACC trustee, 1994-2006

Suggests Israel Is Lying

RECEIVED Thu., June 3, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Regarding the recent attack of Israeli commandos on humanitarian aid ships: Israel claims the people on the boat were terrorists who attacked the commandos. But note the internal inconsistency in Israel's story. If the people on the flotilla were really covert terrorists, Israel would not have let them go. Israel would not let a bunch of "terrorists" go, unless they've suddenly turned suicidal. This suggests Israel is lying.
Perry Logan
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