Letters to the editor

The real class warfare

The present Washington administration feeds on greed and fear. Most rich people in this country no longer have a social conscience, and their sacred mantra is “tax cuts and more tax cuts.” Constant terror-alerts keeps our fear meter elevated, so the Bushies can claim that they are protecting us, and this actually fools the fearful. But why do so many low-income people support Dubya when his policies actually hurt them?

Alas, ignorance is the answer. Much of the electorate lacks the sophistication to be able to properly analyze policies that are detrimental to them, because they do not have the facts and are not interested in them. In fact their hero, the president-select, is himself an inarticulate man of narrow interests and little curiosity — and, as has been suggested, these traits are strong fortifications for dishonesty. That’s why Dubya is such a successful liar.

[The] result is that the ignorant, dimwitted, moronic poor and not-so-poor sector of the electorate easily identifies itself with this president-select. This is really a breakdown in democracy, because for the system to work properly, the electorate must be educated.

Four more years of this dishonest, selfish, reckless administration will completely ruin this country. I fear that as this administration’s agenda progresses, the rich will become richer and the poor sector will increase vastly in number, creating two social classes reminiscent of the feudal ages. His rich barons — who have successfully kept him in power through their filthy financial contributions — will surround King George, and the rest of us will become like serfs begging at the table of the barons for minimum health care, education and other amenities of a decent society.

One of the most important functions of a government is to protect the weak from the rich. This government is doing exactly the opposite. That is the real class warfare going on in this country.

Wake up, citizens of America, and defeat this administration at the next election.

— Leon O. Gouin
Asheville

DA’s office paints innocent children as a threat

I can’t sleep. It’s 12:40 a.m. and terrorists are keeping me awake. I spent a fair amount of … two [recent] days in Buncombe County Court listening to testimony regarding a [teenage] boy who is alleged to have committed a felony, and who is accused by our district attorney of intending to build and use a weapon of mass death and destruction. First, let me say beyond the shadow of any doubt that [the young man, Paul] is innocent of this charge. I know [Paul] and I know the 12 teachers and houseparents at the [WNC] boarding school he started attending in September 2002. They all are confident that [Paul’s] curiosity is not dangerous, but only badly timed, due to our society’s new fears. His trial is in recess until Jan. 26, 2004, due to “previous court commitments.” All that’s left is closing arguments by the attorneys on both sides, and then the ruling by the judge.

[Paul is] accused of … intending to make a bomb out of the following: 54 matches, two pieces of something the DA erroneously describes as part of a hobby-rocket engine (and which are smaller than the last knuckle of your little finger), the end of a laser pointer, a mini Mag flashlight, a bottle of rubber cement and one black-cat-type firecracker. According to an Asheville Police Department officer on the bomb squad, this could easily be made into a bomb that would at least take off your fingers and might even cause shrapnel to puncture your body and enter a vital organ and kill you, except [that] “it might not work.” This officer said he has no experience making a matchstick bomb. According to Bert Holmes, Carson Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at UNCA, this concoction could do no more than be a crude, small Roman candle … if [Paul] was lucky.

[Paul] is guilty of being curious about how things work, and how to make firecrackers and sparklers. He’s mostly guilty of not knowing that the rules have changed. Since Columbine and 9/11, it may not be OK to be curious about these things. (Wait to see the verdict to this case on Jan. 26.) The DA’s office doesn’t know [Paul], but they are painting him as a kid full of hatred and anger who wanted to do damage and harm to others. People who know [Paul] know how friendly and good-natured he is, and how little he would want to hurt anyone.

The FBI investigated this case last May and decided they were not interested in pursuing charges. The office of [local District Attorney] Ron Moore did decide to press charges, since the case had become public. Ron is an elected official; he’s running for re-election already. He doesn’t want anyone to ever be able to say he was soft on crime. So he’s going to paint innocent children as a threat to keep this from happening.

I still can’t sleep, because I’m still afraid of terrorists. These terrorists are employed by you and me — and they are terrorizing innocent people in Asheville today.

— Dudley Wilson
Asheville

[Ed. Note: Xpress has changed the name of the defendant, as he is a minor. The teen was headed home to New York state with his mother on May 25 when he was arrested at Asheville Regional Airport following a search of his bags, which turned up materials that Capt. Jeff Augram of the airport’s Department of Public Safety said in cross-examination that those items could be found in the average high-school lab. The young man’s initial court appearance was Dec. 2-4.]

“War Is Hot”

Attention all loyal, patriotic Americans! Coming soon to a propaganda palace near you!

Naked Emperor Productions presents a Texas Oil Mafia film: Saving Private Lynch, starring Britney Spears! Thrill to the action-adventure in which Jessie bravely battles the entire Iraqi army armed only with a Swiss Army knife and a Bible, and personally beheads “Sodom” while “singing” her as-yet-unwritten next smash-hit single, “War Is Hot” (“Do you wanna, wanna, wanna do me in the desert, baby?”). See her suffer broken arms, broken legs, even a broken heart — all without smudging her makeup. (“Oh, Capt. Hasoud, what a large camel you have! One hump, or two?”).

Was she shot? Was she stabbed? We ain’t sayin’ — you’ll have to go see the movie!

So pile into the nearest Stupid Useless Vehicle and drive to the big-screen TV furthest from you for this television blockbuster that’s actually based on a real person’s name ([as] officially approved by the Office of Homeland Skullduggery)!

Now, let’s hear it from the “experts”:

• Donald “Rummy” Rumsfeld: “A gripping, hard-core portrayal of American glory … needs more blood!”

• Colin Powell: “A truly awful travesty … er, that is, I mean, whatever the Emperor says … .”

• Emperor Bush: “That Tony fella never said Britain had any spears … shoot! What Would Daddy Do?”

• Former President Bill Clinton: “I never had sex with that camel.”

So come on, America: Give brave little Jessie her 15 minutes of fame. Lord knows, she’ll have little enough else, what with the Emperor cutting veterans’ benefits and all.

Now, let’s all sit back and enjoy the show. Oh, and hand me that jumbo tub of popcorn, please! No, I’m not hungry; I just need the tub because … I think I’m gonna puke!

— David Timmerman
Etowah

Dr. Dean: The right prescription for America

Having followed the campaign of Dr. Howard Dean for president of the United States for several months now, I’m shocked to see the media of all stripes describing Dean as “angry,” “too liberal” and “unelectable.” In fact, Dean is a centrist with a populist streak a mile wide.

I refer you to DeanforAmerica.com, where you can find policy stances, archived speeches, video and the infamous Blog for America [the official Howard Dean Web log]. Dean is not only electable, he is the only viable candidate in the field, [and] the only candidate with enough passion and integrity to stir hundreds of thousands of people into acting on behalf of their endangered democracy.

Give ’em health care, Howard!

— Gordon Smith
Asheville

Complaining only goes so far

We have been accused of being a nation of complainers, but for people to quit complaining and to take a firm stand is maybe just too much work. Besides, like opposition to the current war, public objection doesn’t seem to have much effect.

Part of the public is sufficiently informed to register legitimate complaints, ask sensible questions, form intelligent opinions, and take part in the political process. But our interest in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — or, in the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, “liberty and justice for all” — doesn’t seem to mean anything anymore. Decent food [and] water, and clean air ought to be so basic in everyone’s book that they could be taken for granted. Not so at all. These and all our other basic needs are either up for sale or have been bought long ago.

The mad-cow problem is a good example of how our food has been gradually converted into something called “markets,” and how the government agencies that were originally charged with protecting us and our health have been bought by industries with no motive except profit. The disease finds its way into the herd via contaminated feed, yet Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was able to discover, in 2000 and again in 2002, that beef growers continued to introduce possible contamination despite legal prohibition.

Together with many of our other agencies, the USDA was bought long ago. For example, in the mid-’60s, [North Carolinian] Ike Andrews (Wake County) authored a bill [that] Congress passed to do away with the safe, well-defined meat grades that had protected us for many, many years. Seen any USDA Choice grade beef lately?

Naturally, the meat-packing industry paid to have this law enacted, just as the dairy industry has consistently worked to provide the “market” with milk from cows injected with hormones, or [with] other interesting “additives.” We now consume chickens that receive, in their short lives, more antibiotics than most of us can afford at the pharmacy. Meanwhile, industry informs us that whatever it may be, it’s either good for us or certainly not harmful. To make the joke even funnier, recall that the milk industry remains a model of free markets — subsidized seemingly forever.

These agencies — the FAA, the FDA, the FCC and all the others — didn’t get purchased by industry overnight, nor during the tenure of one political party or the other. It will take patient, persistent work on the part of people who want their country back to transform us into the democracy we once were.

Or would you rather just complain?

— Allen Thomas
Asheville

[Ike Andrews, a six-term Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, also served two nonconsecutive terms in the North Carolina House in the 1960s, representing the 4th Congressional District (then Chatham, Franklin, Randolph and Wake counties).]

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