Letters to the editor

Demand that City Council pass resolution against eight I-26 lanes

Eight lanes are still the only option being studied by the Department of Transportation for our superhighway through Asheville, but nothing could be less super. The fact is, the DOT [now] has a much-more-evolved traffic-predicting computer model, which was incomplete when eight lanes were selected for exclusive study. The number of cars predicted by the new model falls within the range of necessitating six lanes, not eight.

Many of us saw this coming, including several Asheville City Council members serving on the local Transportation Advisory Committee. The TAC voted to study eight lanes, returning to six if the new data warranted this, which it clearly does.

Why does DOT persist in promoting eight lanes? A resistance to admitting they were wrong? (Even bureaucracies have egos!) An unhealthy bond between construction companies and their allies in Raleigh? Likely.

Regardless of why, we can do something about it here by demanding that City Council pass a resolution against eight lanes in Asheville. This would be hard for DOT to ignore. All of our Council members expressed varying degrees of distaste about eight lanes during their recent campaigns. Why not pick up the phone and call the city offices to find out how to contact your Council members with a friendly reminder about their obligation to serve Asheville something better than eight lanes?!

— Kathleen Riddle
Asheville

Many issues, many opinions

I agree with Jeff Long’s letter [“Words From the Front Lines of Mental Illness,” Xpress Jan. 28]. The Blue Ridge Center needs to correct problems that are going on. They need to hire more therapists.

I also think that the war in Iraq is wrong. Bush is finishing what his dad couldn’t do. He wanted revenge. The money being spent on Iraq should be used to help with the problems in the U.S.

Too, many people are homeless, out of work and going hungry. The money should be used for programs to address these issues.

I think that the decision in Massachusetts about gay marriage is a good one. I hope that, one day, all fifty states will agree with the court of Massachusetts.

— Mike Coffey
Asheville

Real life, not filmmakers, provided Monster’s irony

I always look forward to reading Cranky Hanke’s movie reviews, but found one of his comments [in the Jan. 28 Xpress] on the movie Monster to be disappointing. It is obvious that Hanke is uninformed regarding the actual events of the Aileen Wuornos case due to the condescending remark, “there’s a simple-minded obviousness to such symbolism as having Wuornos’ favorite hangout bear the name ‘The Last Resort.'”

In actuality, Wuornos was arrested at The Last Resort, a biker bar in Harbor Oaks, Fla., on Jan. 9, 1991. In this case, it was the writers of the film [who] did their homework, and not our favorite movie reviewer, Ken Hanke.

— Jennifer Pace
Saluda

A very special homecoming

One of the honors of public service is the occasional opportunity to duck out of the rain and officially represent the city at a constructive community function. So it was on Friday the 13th, when the 211th Military Police Company officially returned home from a long term of service in Iraq. It was a heart-tugging experience.

Prior to their arrival, I was able to spend the better part of 30 minutes walking through the waiting crowd, talking with families, friends and loved ones about their special someone. The air of excitement, hope and relief was almost visible. Their attendance wasn’t about the war, politics or social statements; it was about validation and welcome to some 100 men and women who matter.

There was a wealth of tears, including my own, when those three C-130s cleared the horizon. It was a powerful moment, one of those that are somehow etched into your memory for the long haul. I had landed on this same field from Vietnam in 1972, and the faces are still clear. On this day, the greetings were bigger, louder and happier — a better dose of medicine for those who have been in harm’s way and now face adjustment to a new old world.

The sobering moment came when the troops disembarked. Smiles of gladness and anticipation were visible, but there was something else: It was evident that these men and women had been affected by a heavy power. There was a line of stark separation between those who were coming home and those wishing to greet them. I noted a fatigue on those arriving faces that came from more than an early morning. It was a profound tiredness that comes from living in tension, participating in something bigger than yourself, and struggling to reach for a higher level of personal functioning upon which survival can depend. These men and women of the 211th demonstrated, from the moment of their arrival, that they had been deeply touched by their experiences in Iraq — a touch that will linger for a lifetime.

There was a competency in the faces I met that day that stirred a note of pride. These were our sons and daughter, wives and husbands, sisters and brothers, friends and loved ones — they were a part of us, and now they are back. But they are not the same, and neither are we. The men and women of the 211th have gone to places, seen things and done things that most of us have not. I doubt they will allow those hard-won lessons to melt into faded memories.

We can look to some of these men and women to in turn touch the communities to which they return. Having seen the darker side of life and firsthand exposures to the absent blessings that we so often take for granted, many of these men and women will become voices of caution, reason and encouragement. They know we do much more right than wrong in these United States, and that the future will not welcome us unless we earn our way to a good place. I look forward to watching the 211th come all the way home, and [to helping] us get there.

It was an honor to be there on Friday the 13th.

— Carl Mumpower
Vice-Mayor, Asheville

[Ed. Note: More than 100 soldiers from the 211th Military Police Company arrived in Asheville Regional Airport on Friday, Feb. 13. This North Carolina Army National Guard unit, headquartered in Clyde and with a detachment in East Flat Rock, returned home from their second deployment in as many years to an official welcoming ceremony in the Haywood Community College Student Center in Clyde.]

Bushies need to be tried as criminals

There is seemingly endless corruption in the Bush administration and [among] the conservative Supreme Court justices they control. The recent fiasco surrounding the hunting trip shared by Antonin Scalia and Dick Cheney while Cheney’s company is being investigated by the court boarders on surreal. Yet the gall for Scalia to say at Amherst [College in Massachusetts on Feb. 10], “It’s acceptable practice to socialize with executive-branch officials when there are not personal claims against them. That’s all I’m going to say for now. Quack, quack,” shows an arrogance, above the law, that is ghastly for a justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The Bush administration not only needs to be removed from power, [but] they [also] they need to be tried as criminals.

— James L. Horwitz
Hendersonville

Kucinich not a puppet with corporate strings

Kerry has proclaimed himself to be more conservative than Bush, and his policies are as cold-hearted as [are] Bush’s. So why is he sweeping the primaries? I don’t get it. We need a president who will work for the people, not just the upper class. Kerry, Dean and Edwards have all accepted campaign funding from big communications, transportation, pharmaceutical and oil corporations, among others, thus starting a new cycle of debt (or “creed of greed,” as Kerry hypocritically named it) to those businesses, as Bush has done. This means that those candidates will all be puppets to their funders.

Dennis Kucinich is the only presidential contender who has refused this funding and the [corresponding] strings attached. I think voters should go for Dennis Kucinich, because his views are more in the favor of not only the people of this country, but of others as well. He is anti-war, [and] wants to create a Department of Peace, cut the wasteful Pentagon budget, bring our troops home, and withdraw from NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. In addition, he would end the privatization of health care and has a plan to provide tuition-free higher education to millions of students in state universities. He is also an environmental advocate with a “Global Green Deal” that would strengthen environmental laws and promote renewable energy.

As a conscientious objector to war and its emotional, political and economic impact on the world, I support Dennis Kucinich. I hope people will read this and go to his Web site (www.kucinich.org) for more info on him and his views.

— Elliot Long
Asheville

Bush: Liar, obfuscator, draft dodger, deserter

Arbusto, which means “bush” or “shrub” in Spanish, was the original name of Dubya Bush’s oil company financed by daddy’s rich friends; it’s called crony capitalism.

Arbusto failed and morphed into Bush Exploration, failed and became Spectrum 7 Energy Corp., [then] failed and morphed [again], into Harken Energy, a company with high-powered connections. Bush exited Harken through Enron-style illegal insider trading. He then invested his ill-gotten gains in a Texan baseball team, had the taxpayers foot the bill to build the Texas Rangers an expensive stadium, and had the Texas Legislature pass a bill so the Rangers had legal authority to condemn private property and buy [the stadium site] at low prices.

All this from a man who ran as governor touting the sanctity of private property. He and his cronies later sold the Rangers at an enormous profit, from which Bush walked away with over $15 million … all made using sucker investors, or on the back of the taxpayer. This is not entrepreneurship; it is welfare for the rich. No wonder we now have an obscene, half-a-trillion-dollars deficit. The Shrub as president is akin to a boarding house for schoolgirls guarded by a rapist.

All the shenanigans above were preceded by Dubya’s disgraceful stint in the Air National Guard. He scored the minimum on a qualifying test and was assigned a coveted space in the Texas National Guard ahead of 150 other pilot applications. How did he do it? Well, a friend of the Bushes called Ben Barnes, [who was] then speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, who [likewise] called the appropriate general and, presto, Bush was in. In fact, Barnes ran some sort of underground during Vietnam that placed privileged sons out of harm’s way.

After being moved around quite a bit, [and] getting leaves to run political campaigns, Bush was assigned to an Alabama unit that had no airplanes. Unfortunately, none of his nominal superiors at this particular location, including Gen. Turnipseed (Bush should be able to remember that name), can recall him. In any case, Bush had been suspended from flying on Sept. 29, 1972, by Maj. Gen. Greenleaf, because he either failed — or [else] did not show up for — a mandatory annual flight physical. This Bush is a master at making damaging records disappear. In the [U.S.] armed forces, if you are AWOL for more than 30 days, you are considered a deserter.

That, my dear voters, is the sad record of our commander in chief: lies, distortions [and] obfuscation [from], basically, a draft dodger and a deserter. Remember this at the polls next November.

— Leon O. Gouin
Asheville

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