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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Cars Let People Ignore Their Surroundings

RECEIVED Wed., May 4, 2011

Dear Editor,
    For at least 35 years, people have been saying that you can't appreciate Austin without a car. But people in cars don't really see Austin. They see fragments or highlights of Austin. Between highlights, they drive fast and notice very little.
    Traveling by car from point A to point B, you see A and B and ignore what lies between them. On foot or on a bicycle, you experience the space between A and B. Some parts of the journey are beautiful; some are ugly and stressful. The ugly and stressful parts are where the cars congregate.
    Traveling on foot or by bicycle is slower than car travel. But the experience is much richer and more connected. Unfortunately, most people in Austin travel by car and fail to notice the continuing degradation of the parts of Austin that lie between the highlights. This degradation is now reaching the highlights themselves. Every special event in the park makes the park ugly and stressful with cars. Our green areas are covered with parking lots full of cars. This is not necessary. It happens because people in cars don't notice the damage they're doing. Cars let people ignore their surroundings.
    People won't really experience Austin and feel like doing something about the awful parts until more people here walk and bicycle for transportation. For less than the proposed cost of the Red Line, we could have sidewalks on both sides of every city street and all the improvements recommended in the Austin Bicycle Plan. We could have a truly connected city. People need to explore and experience all of Austin – not just highlights.
Yours Truly,
Amy Babich

Code Name Unfortunate

RECEIVED Wed., May 4, 2011

Dear Editor,
    I just read the following in a news report regarding the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound:
    "'We've ID'd Geronimo,' said a disembodied voice, using the agreed-upon code name for America's most wanted enemy, Osama bin Laden. Word then came that Geronimo had been killed."
    Afterward, I felt instant sadness and disgust at the choice of Geronimo as the code name for bin Laden. Chief Geronimo and his legacy certainly have nothing in common with that of 9/11's dark designer.
    Why not a designation so off-the-wall that it did not matter, like "Blight" or "Bane"? But the choice of this specific code name cannot be deemed random. If this isn't an obvious ethnic slur, conscious or unconscious, I could not easily conjure a riper example.
    While I'm not a politically correct person by a long stretch, I believe the White House and the national security establishment owe a huge apology to the Americans already homesteaded here when the mercantile Europeans tripped over them. 
    Further, our 21st century leaders ironically seem thus far in lockstep about equating America's contemporary role in international affairs as akin to playing "cowboys and Indians." As this tragic code name choice surely cements itself into American lore, it will symbolize to future generations the confused hypocritical delirium into which American thought had lapsed at the point that American civilization accelerated toward a calamitous finale.
Richard Summers

Money Won't Help Schools

RECEIVED Tue., May 3, 2011

To the Editor:
    Republican governors nationwide are making harsh but necessary cuts in school funding. In unison, Democrats and their union supporters are howling, using television time for commercials that make no sense. It really isn't about education at all; there simply will be less money to steal, i.e., administrative lunches, class trips to Europe instead of America. It never ends. If you gave these educators mountains of money, they would still produce an inferior product.
Ephraim Levin

Lege Could Cut More Health Care

RECEIVED Tue., May 3, 2011

Dear Editor,
    I enjoyed Jordan Smith's article "The War on Women's Health" [News, April 22]. However, I do not think that the Legislature has gone far enough. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that society has any responsibility for women's health. There is thus no Christian or constitutional justification for providing health care of any kind to poor women: All forms of medical care should be denied to those women who cannot pay for it, and this should be enforced by fines levied against providers who treat any woman without a guarantee of payment. This guarantee could, in the case of sufficiently young and healthy women, take the form of an organ donation, with the organ or organs to be selected by the hospital.
    This modest proposal would, I am certain, go far toward solving many of the problems of our society: Federal and state budgets would immediately be balanced, and poor women would die off, drastically reducing the cost of all other entitlement programs, while immigration would become much less attractive. Our sensibilities would thus cease to be offended by the presence of black and brown faces on the streets and in our schools and by the presence of trailer trash in our countryside. In addition to these benefits, the shortage of organs for transplanting to those of us who can pay would be alleviated.
    The temporary increase in motherless children is best taken care of by raising these children in military boarding institutions, from where they will go straight into active duty in the armed services, obviating the need for our children to put their lives on the line and ensuring that these children of women who made poor decisions will not be able to contaminate our families with their poor genes by marrying our sons and daughters.
John Berry
aka J. Swift

Thankful for bin Laden's Fall

RECEIVED Mon., May 2, 2011

Dear Editor,
    I am sure I speak for Muslim-Americans when I say my heart does not cry at the loss of Osama bin Laden. Muslim-Americans are citizens of this great country, and we despise people who make, plan, and carry out attacks on our home. Loyalty to one's country is part of a Muslim's faith. These cowardly, terrorist attacks are not Islamic as President Obama noted: "Osama was never a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer." As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA – whose members are your neighbors, doctors, lawyers, professors, and fellow Americans – we are thankful for the fall of this enemy.
Joseph Mark Seager

Kitten Dumpers: Grow Up

RECEIVED Mon., May 2, 2011

Dear Editor,
    This is a callout to the person or people who dumped the litter of small kittens in or around the parking lot of Dan's Hamburgers on North Lamar on Friday, April 29. Do you have any idea what you have just done?
    Several residents of the apartment complex behind Dan's and I tried unsuccessfully to capture these tiny, terrified little kittens for about an hour, tracking their howls under various cars and running from one vehicle to the next. There were at least three of them, and assuming that most will not survive to adulthood – given the busy North Lamar traffic and disease – the one (or two – who knows?) remaining will become producers of tens of thousands more feral cats. Thanks for nothing. Next time you find yourself strapped with unwanted animals, be an adult, do the right thing, and contact Austin Pets Alive! or the Humane Society. Trust me, these kittens are not in a better place where they are now.
Anita Rice

Convert Holly to Theme Park

RECEIVED Mon., May 2, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Rather than spending millions of dollars to demolish the Holly Street Power Plant ["Will Holly Pass Muster at Council?," News, April 29], the city should convert it into a theme park.
    In Monterrey, Mexico, the old steel mill downtown was converted into a steel theme park. One can learn about steelmaking and get a magnificent view of the city atop an old blast furnace. Holly could teach about electrical generation and provide a great view of East Austin. Before spending millions to destroy an asset, a city staffer (or council member) should check out the Monterrey theme park. I volunteer to accompany any such inspection.
Philip Russell
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