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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'We're Shaming You Broads'

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 11, 2012

Dear Editor,
    This is not about medically relevant information and informed consent. Gov. Perry should have the cojones to come out and say it: "We're shaming you broads." I suppose the hope is that women will be shamed out of exercising their constitutional right to choose. But this is a slippery slope. Shame doesn't stop anything; it just drives it underground. Women who don't want a baby and who are desperate enough will terminate their pregnancies by whatever means necessary. In some cases, maybe they'll have it terminated for them via domestic violence. Already the access to safe procedures is so limited that women and girls take matters into their own hands. And it's not all coat hangers and stairwells, either. Thank the Internet for a host of DIY methods. Women won't simply find Jesus, keep their babies, and trot off to a happy ending. I don't know if the shamers have thought all this through, or if they are just missing the empathy gene. Either way, shame on them.
Kristen Williams

Delwin's Index

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 9, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Texas' standings against all 50 states on a variety of issues (1st means highest ranking, 50th means lowest ranking):
    • State aid per pupil in average daily attendance – 47th
   • SAT scores – 45th
   • Percentage of population 25 and older with high school diploma – 50th
   • High school graduation rate – 43rd
   • Per capita state spending on state arts agencies – 43rd
   • Birth rate – 2nd
   • Percentage of uninsured children – 1st
   • Percentage of children living in poverty – 4th
   • Percentage of population uninsured – 1st
   • Percentage of nonelderly uninsured – 1st
   • Percentage of low income population covered by Medicaid – 49th
   • Percentage of population with employer-based health insurance – 48th
   • Total health expenditures as percentage of the gross state product – 43rd
   • Per capita state spending on mental health – 50th
   • Per capita state spending on Medicaid – 49th
   • Health care expenditures per capita – 44th
   • Physicians per capita – 42nd
   • Registered nurses per capita – 44th
   • Average monthly WIC benefits per person – 47th
   • Percentage of population who visit the dentist – 46th
   • Overall birth rate – 2nd
   • Teenage birth rate – 7th
   • Births to unmarried mothers – 17th
   • Percentage of women with preterm birth – 9th
   • Percentage of nonelderly women with health insurance – 50th
   • Rate of women 40 or older who receive mammograms – 40th
   • Cervical cancer rate – 11th
   • Percentage of women with high blood pressure – 16th
   • Percentage of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in first trimester – 50th
   • Women’s voter registration – 45th
   • Women’s voter turnout – 49th
   • Percentage of women living in poverty – 6th
   • Mortgage debt as percent of home value – 47th
   • Foreclosure rates – 10th
   • Median net worth of households – 47th
   • Average credit score – 49th
   • Retirement plan participation – 47th
   • Amount of carbon-dioxide emissions – 1st
   • Amount of volatile organic compounds released into air – 1st
   • Amount of toxic chemicals released into water – 1st
   • Amount of recognized cancer-causing carcinogens released into air – 1st
   • Amount of hazardous waste generated – 1st
   • Amount of toxic chemicals released into air – 5th
   • Amount of recognized cancer-causing carcinogens released into water – 7th
   • Number of hazardous waste sites on national priority list – 7th
   • Consumption of energy per capita – 5th
   • Workers' compensation coverage – 50th
   • Income inequality between the rich and the poor – 9th
   • Income inequality between the rich and the middle class – 5th
   • Homeowners' insurance affordability – 46th
   • Number of executions – 1st
    Texas Gov. Rick Perry is running for president on this record?
Delwin Goss

GOP Candidates All Lacking

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 9, 2012

Dear Editor,
    So, where are the good GOP presidential candidates to run against Obama? The GOP resembles the Democratic Party in 2000, which also had no real leaders. That year George W. Bush won the presidency.
    Mitt Romney is a slick guy who still gets income and a retirement package from Bain Capital, a company where he was a top dog.
    Newt Gingrich shows a history of conflict in politics. Even former President George H.W. Bush wouldn't support the former House speaker, and that says a lot.
    Rick Santorum tries too hard to present a blue-collar image, using a "Hey, I'm just one of the guys ..." type of political ploy.
    Ron Paul has many issues as a GOP candidate. First of all, he is not a Republican but a true Libertarian, which has always hindered him from getting the GOP support he needs to make a difference.
    Jon Huntsman represents an enigma from Utah, who professes to be a conservative, but many of his views appear moderate to liberal.
    As for Rick Perry ... he may be the worst governor the state of Texas ever had. Perry has single-handedly hurt Texans and their families while ensuring that his wealthy special interest contributors continue to get whatever they need instead of working for the community good.
    Apparently, there are no significant, honest, and capable leaders in the GOP from which American voters may elect a winner.
    American voters are sick of all the GOP hype and game-playing and may be willing to provide Obama with another term to see if Congress will decide to work with him on the urgent issues. So far Obama remains the best candidate.
Peter Stern

Kudos to 'Chronicle' Film Critics

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 9, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Kudos to The Austin Chronicle film critics who, unlike the vast majority of their brethren, recognized Melancholia as the best film of the year ("Kind of Blue," Jan. 6).
     The critical reactions of the critics – which varied between ambivalence and reluctant praise – are a testament to writer/director Lars von Trier as an artist-provocateur. Take NPR critic David Edelstein's comments about how he could characterize Melancholia as a "masterpiece," and yet not include it on his Top 10: "I just couldn't do it. … It is such a hateful film. It is the work of a nihilistic annihilist. For Lars von Trier, the world, when it ends, is, well, lost. ... When one chooses the things that one loves and one wants to recommend, it's a very difficult question: Can you love a film – can you recommend a film that highly – that peddles a worldview that you find utterly hateful, even poisonous? I don't know the answer to that. That's why it's my little asterisk." But Edelstein and the other critics' reactions completely disregarded the arc of the main character, which to me could not be more life-affirming. Moreover, it is not so much that von Trier has something negative to say about the afterlife, so much as he has nothing to say about it, which is what really bothers people in the context of an apocalyptic metaphor. 
    By comparison, Melancholia was no less visually stunning, no less well-acted, and no less personal for von Trier than Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life – the critics' darling. Yet I found nothing daring about the latter – a mess of a film and an exercise in pretentious pandering complete with a trailer that spoon-fed the themes. (And we got it Malick, your mother was perfect.)
    Thanks again, Austin Chronicle, for another year of film reviews that rival any other publication.
Steven Baker

What About Retired Rural Teachers?

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 9, 2012

Dear Editor,
    I would like to respond to Richard Whittaker's article about the 10 mistakes of Perry ["Top 10 Rick Perry Campaign Misfires," News, Jan. 6]. With all due respect when mentioning education, teachers, etc., no one mentions the elderly retired rural teachers. Why? All teachers will be retired one day, and this is an issue that should be addressed.
    An 80-year-old retired rural teacher has received a paycheck for less than $1,500 a month since 1999, when George Bush was governor. Rick Perry has never given retired teachers a raise. After 30 years in the school system and mandatory Teacher Retirement System of Texas payments taken out of his check, the teacher now has multiple illnesses and is trying to pay increased doctor deductibles for Medicare and TRS. The 16th largest pension plan in the world is the TRS with $113 billion in the pension fund that belongs to the members, not to Perry so he can invest in the stock of his high-dollar donors' companies. He is doing similar things to the pensions of retired state employees, police officers, and firefighters. A newly retired teacher today with the same years of service receives $36,000 a year. It seems the powers that be should raise those retirees that are 70 or 75 years old and older to a livable monthly pension. How can people forget Grandma and Grandpa's welfare status? Instead they raise the deductibles and co-pays for doctor visits and prescription deductibles. Thanks so much … there's not enough money now to afford those things, no raise, and they only take more money from us. You cannot double dip from mandatory Social Security paid in for 20 years in the private sector. Six years ago, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said she was going to fix that. Well it is not fixed, with the exception that Rick Perry fixed it for him. Why doesn't the Justice Department, FBI, IRS, or another honest outside auditor find out what is happening to our money? And Medicare is not an entitlement. We have paid since 1964 and continue to pay $200 a month for insurance and $300 a month in premiums for TRS health coverage. Please remind people Medicare is not an entitlement, but Medicaid is. I don't know what Rick Perry would do to Social Security and Medicare.
    Do they all want the elderly dead?
Sincerely,
Billie Veach
Burnet, Texas

Hey, Staples!

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 9, 2012

Dear Chron,
    Congratulations and thanks for the recent big improvement to your already great paper! Of course I’m talking about the staples. Now I can absent-mindedly pick up an issue without half the pages spilling all over the place. What next? World peace? Feeding all the hungry children? Keep up the good work!
Best regards,
Jack Bishop

GOP Race in a Nutshell

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 9, 2012

To the Editor:
    After watching several debates by the the Republican presidential hopefuls, I have come to the following conclusions:
    1) Mitt Romney, the perennial candidate, has a ton of money, which will probably secure the nomination. He accepted $7 million from the head of the Mormon Church. Will that influence him in any way?
    2) Newt Gingrich, without a doubt the most knowledgeable and experienced in high-level political events, has some baggage. It didn't hurt Clinton did it?
    3) Rick Perry's got a great smile but changes course every three or four days.
    4) Rick Santorum answered every one of my letters during his 12 years in office but was defeated for a third term in Congress when he let his faith influence a decision.
    5) Ron Paul is an engaging personality but too old for the pressure of the presidency.
    6) Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is a dedicated officeholder but in over her head.
    There you have it, six candidates, none of whom have the appeal to defeat President Obama.
Ephraim Levin
Philadelphia, Pa.

Paul's Beliefs No Delusion

RECEIVED Sat., Jan. 7, 2012

Dear Editor,
    There are so many mischaracterizations, so much misinformation in Jef Cook’s letter about the “delusion” of Ron Paul [“Postmarks” online, Jan. 6].
    Did you know, Mr. Cook, that the Strategic Defense Initiative, aka Star Wars, touted as a defense shield, was intended to be used as a preemptive strike on the former USSR? The head physicist who designed the program learned this when he was called to a meeting with President Reagan and staff. He said that was the last meeting he ever attended with "those insane people" and that the project luckily just petered out.
    Did you know that the pilot of a B-52 accidentally dropped two loaded nuclear bombs on South Carolina? Both much more powerful than the atomic bombs used on Japan. One was recovered; the other remains inaccessible, 400 feet underground in a swamp, where it is monitored annually for contamination.
    Did you know that both the U.S. and the USSR considered nuking the moon, just to see what would happen? These last two facts are well documented in the book 100 Things You’re Not Supposed To Know by Russ Kick.
    Do you know that thousands of our servicemen and women have been poisoned by depleted uranium in Iraq, and that they cannot get adequate medical care? (Same plight for the first responders in the 9/11 attack, but with different ailments from different toxins.) Do you know how many knowledgeable people warned at the outset of Iraq and Afghanistan that neither posed any threat whatsoever to the United States of America?
    Do you realize America has been so terrorized by imagined threats that it has surrendered every protection guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, a document which evolved over hundreds of years and by the sacrifice of countless martyrs? And that history shows that once surrendered, civil rights are never voluntarily restored?
Sincerely,
Kenney C. Kennedy

Drug Demonization Hurts Pain Patients

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 6, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Prescription drugs are in the news a lot these days. We hear of overdoses becoming a top cause of death and easy-to-get narcotics. I wish it were so. Intractable pain patients who benefit from medical treatment using powerful opioids have no rights that need be respected by anyone. I have a friend who has Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. If she gets adequate medication, she can live some sort of life with reduced activity. Since her pain specialist died, she has been unable to find a long-term solution to continue the successful treatment regime. The disease is incurable, but the symptoms can be managed by a variety of methods, all of which my friend has tried. OxyContin works well for her. Since OxyContin is now demonized, as are those who need it, she has found pain specialists refuse to take her as a patient. I cannot think of another situation where a well-tolerated, effective treatment has to pass other tests, unrelated to providing pain relief for the patient. Even though my friend is middle-aged, well-dressed, and polite, she is treated as if she's a dope fiend. The condition includes pain as intense as cancer or, as one chart showed, equivalent to amputation without anesthesia. This is not your aches and pains. This disease gets worse with its dystrophy aspects if untreated, causing permanent damage to limbs, in particular. Why is it OK for my friend to be collateral damage in the war on drugs? This person is at extremely high risk for heart attack and stroke if untreated. Why is this OK? Because other people have problems with it? Who else has to live to that standard?
Tom Cuddy

Paul's Foreign Policy Ignores Reality

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 6, 2012

Dear Editor,
    If my neighbor's house is broken into, who cares, as long as the criminals don't break into mine? If the woman down the street is attacked in broad daylight and I can prevent it, why budge? It's not my affair.
    If I'm a doctor and witness a child choking, why provide CPR when it might cost me bazillions of dollars if it gets messy? I am only one entity among many and have no leadership role or moral obligation to help.
    Some determine to see the world à la John Lennon – as it could be – and thus win admiration through rhetorical device. Ron Paul refuses to look at the world at all. Who cares? Why concern ourselves with tyrants seeking nuclear weapons? If a nuclear bomb goes off, we'll know it! Only then can we respond, only afterward have we recourse to moral defense.
    Great leaders, however, see the world as it is – but only so they might wrench the present a little closer to its highest future potential. Ignoring reality leads neither to peace nor greater understanding, while succumbing to nihilism abdicates humankind's responsibility to strive for its highest potential.
   On Chamberlain's historic decision to appease Germany, Churchill prophetically remarked, "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war."
    Ron Paul's foreign policy is morally bankrupt. A little less bravado would be welcomed, but flatly denying all relational obligations is selfish, dangerous and dishonorable. Isolationism’s total self-centeredness is disgraceful, and no matter Paul's other admirable qualities, the moral ambivalence of his foreign policy disqualifies him to lead the greatest force for good the world has ever known.
   Sticking one's head in the sand will definitely prevent sunburn, but how pretty will fair skin look on a suffocated corpse?
Jef Cook

A Life-Changing Loss

RECEIVED Thu., Jan. 5, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Barrera Death a Great Loss” [News, Jan. 6]: I knew Esme Barrera when she worked at Waterloo Records and I worked at BookPeople. Any time her smiling face came in the door, it was like Christmas. Her murder (the hardest words I have ever typed) leaves everyone that knew her with an enormous hole that won't ever be filled. No one laughed louder, smiled brighter, or rocked harder. No one.
Thanks,
Dan Nugent

Happy To See Ventura Still Writing On Silliphant

RECEIVED Thu., Jan. 5, 2012

Hi Mike,
    Re: “Letters at 3AM: Stirling at Road's End” [April 22, 2011]: Glad to see you are still remembering and writing about Stirling Silliphant and Route 66. Your newest piece last April (which I just discovered on the Internet), was pretty hard on him, but it was honest. Quite a good piece of writing. Amazing the influence he had on a generation of people, which no one ever writes about. Your notion about his characters having ideas and that the ideas shaped them I find intriguing. A good analysis. I don't know why but I find it hard to analyze or be critical of his work. It seems too close, too emotionally stirring for rational analysis, but I'm glad others can. His work influenced me enough to write a novel which is dedicated to both him and David Morrell, another writer who became what he is today because of Route 66. My novel is science fiction, a space Western, to be precise, but a careful reading will review many hidden and some not-so-hidden references, riffs, and outright rip-offs of some of Stirling's ideas, characters, and themes. Meantime, good luck with your road-trip book and whatever other ventures you undertake on the endless road.
Best wishes,
John M. Whalen
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