Letters to the editor

Which Asheville am I in?

Hello, fellow residents of Asheville.

As a longtime member of our community, one comes to appreciate the friendly, engaging and socially conscious dynamic of our fine Southern city. These were things I was considering on the afternoon of Feb. 21 as I was immersed in the glow of a beautiful sunny day, leaving my new job and walking the streets to my car in the Wall Street parking garage.

As I was reviewing my notes from the day, the bumper and grill of a too-fast-moving vehicle appeared from just above the margin of my vision. First instinct: Jump quickly out of the way, lest I receive two broken legs. Fortunately, the car missed me, but I managed to knock myself cold on one of the support pillars of the garage. The driver did not stop.

Waxing and waning in and out of a state of lucidity, no vision to speak of, lying in a pool of blood, I noted the passing of five or six vehicles, and none of them stopped to offer assistance. Mind you, these cars had to pass within a yard of my head, as I was in one of the crossovers inside of the garage. I was dressed in a woolen suit at the time, which should have suggested that I was not feigning an injury with intent of “highway robbery.”

Is this where we are going, Asheville? Has the lure of the dollar in the midst of our growth-based economy, spearheaded by “trash” culture, begun to cause us to lose our sense of humanity?

Many thanks to the one who finally stopped. Yes, you — the young lady in the convertible BMW (my memory is blurry: Susan? Suzanne?). You deserve the respect and consideration of us all for your help. You took 15 minutes of your day to help me clean myself up and make sure that I was lucid enough to make a rational decision regarding my care. Because of you, I may decide to stay here in Asheville, regardless of my instincts telling me to go — this city is too big all of a sudden, cold and uncaring.

— Raymond Gainey

A kinder, gentler Council

I was appalled to read about newly appointed Council member Bryan Freeborn’s arrogant, tart remark to Irby Brinson at a recent City Council meeting [“Just the Facts,” Feb. 1]. Irby is a 31-year, outstanding employee of the city of Asheville and director of the award-winning Asheville Parks and Recreation Department. Irby directs the first accredited parks-and-recreation department in the country, has a wonderful staff and an incredibly full plate.

I was honored and lucky to work with him for six years as an elected official, and on many other occasions as a citizen of Asheville. It is my hope that as Council member Freeborn matures, he learns that whether one agrees or disagrees with staff, one can make one’s point by being professional and courteous rather than caustic and biting.

— Leni Sitnick

Meat-consumption theorist ignores environmental fact

In response to Albert Bowers’ recent letter [“Fat Can Be Bad — or Good,” Feb. 22], in which he continues the falsehoods predictably found in a vocal anti-meat activist’s writing, I’d like to point out some issues regarding fat and meat in our diets, as well as touch on his earlier work.

Animal products (including meat, dairy and eggs), when raised in an environment close to their natural one, have a markedly different suite of essential fatty acids than that resulting from confinement-based livestock production. This has been proven time and again in peer-reviewed literature in the past 10 years. Perhaps the most commonly known example is the increase in Omega-3 fatty acids [and] the decrease in Omega-6 fatty acids in grass-finished beef and dairy products. The data is there, yet national studies showing one thing or another about saturated versus unsaturated fats in human diet tend to fail us by giving no distinction as to how the animal was raised.

Inaccuracies and derogatory statements abound in earlier attempts by Mr. Bowers to enforce his dietary choices on the rest of us. He has said that “production of animal-based foods accounts for 8 percent of the national consumption of fossil fuels” [Letters, “Shopping for Kyoto,” March 2, 2005], yet then in a subsequent letter, he bumps it to 15 percent of national fossil-fuel use [“Our Diets Affect Fuel Costs,” Nov. 9, 2005]. Both times he cites David Pimentel’s work — much criticized for false assumptions in a field with not much agreement, unfortunately, and wide open to exploitation by opinionated people.

In a January 2006 letter [“Control Your Own Health-Care Costs,” Jan. 25], Mr. Bowers continues with a re-write of National Health Care Statistics information by stating that 56 percent of all deaths are caused “conclusively” by consumption of meat and dairy products. This dovetails well with the letter [“USDA Protects Profit, Not People,” Feb. 2, 2005] in which Mr. Bowers wrote: “Folks in the beef industry should seek a more secure and socially redeeming career.” Right.

The idea of foisting his personal food choice upon others doesn’t seem to faze Mr. Bowers, who, by using the standard critique of industrial livestock production to further his arguments, falls into the predictable dogma of the vegetarian activist. Meat is bad because there are feedlots. Right.

A growing number of people in Western North Carolina are supporting local farms by purchasing sustainably raised beef, pork, chicken, eggs and dairy. The food is good for you, the farms create part of our beautiful working landscape and enhance wildlife diversity, and consumption of locally produced protein reduces our region’s need to truck food in from across the country. Grass-fed animals don’t need to have grain trucked in to eat. They eat what they should eat, and their meat is better for it. If one chooses to not eat meat, that’s fine, but higher moral ground is difficult to stake out.

— John Pilson, Farm Manager
Warren Wilson CollegeSwannanoa

How fares Asheville and how fair taxes?

Kudos to Jerry Sternberg for his entertaining, while cynical, commentary about the “good old days” in Asheville [“The ‘Good Old Days’ That Never Were,” Feb. 22]. The comments were thought provoking and certainly right on factually. It will, indeed, be interesting to watch the “progressives” manage the city. Given the current “pay to play” conditions that pervade N.C. Democratic “leadership” and the vast rewards of the statewide Democratic “key” system, we must watch this local gang of ruling Democrats with eagle eyes. I just hope that locals understand that.

Now, the FairTax! How many of you are aware of the amazing benefits that will be realized by passing the FairTax, the proposed income tax replacement system that would allow us to abolish the IRS? Workers will keep 100 percent of their paychecks, businesses will no longer be forced to collect taxes for the government, illegals and foreign visitors will pay their “fair share” while in our midst, the economy will explode like never before, and the poor will be protected through rebates for essentials. Imagine keeping all of your paycheck to invest as you see fit — not the government!

The Web site for FairTax volunteers is www.Fairtaxgroups.com, with more information at www.FairTax.org. The movement is growing rapidly. Meetings are happening here in Asheville. I strongly urge each of you to learn more about the FairTax and the reasons why it’s great for America. I highly recommend reading the recent bestseller, The FairTax Book by Boortz and Linder, for everyone who wants a better way and fairness for all.

— Fisher Caudle
West Asheville

Some “real” advice

In response to the recent letter [“Thanks, Democrats,” Feb. 15]: Thanks, Donna Dobbins McCall!

You wake up, lady! It would seem to any sane person that [given] the views expressed in your letter, you are completely oblivious to the fact that it is now 2006, and you are still ranting about Sept. 11, 2001. What happened was a horrible tragedy that can never be forgotten or made up for, but the rampant disregard for truth and compassion that our current governmental leaders have shown thus far is not the way to go about it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a Democrat. No matter what party you side with, I personally look at it as the same s**t, different piles. But I do have a heart, and I bleed, if you get me.

I’d like to leave you with a quote from one of the greatest men that ever lived, and a quote from one of the most horrible men that ever lived:

“They that can give up essential liberty to attain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin.

“What good fortune for governments that the people don’t think.” — Adolf Hitler

You say, “Get real!” I think you need to take your own advice.

— Laine Lewis

Tackling the talking points

A recent letter [“Thanks, Democrats,” Feb. 15]) attempted to support the Bush cabal by utilizing what has now become a standard, sycophant strategy: divert, deny, obfuscate, insult and lie.

First, the writer expressed outrage that the Democrats are “grasping at straws … to undermine the president.” In reality, Democrats (and some Republicans such as Arlen Specter and Lindsay Graham) are taking a stand in favor of our constitutional freedoms by criticizing Bush’s blatant violations of the law — including his illegal wiretapping of American citizens in direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This is obfuscation: Pitch the Bushco line … that standing up for the rule of law and the Bill of Rights is somehow undermining the president, [and] that if one expresses fealty to our values, it is tantamount to supporting terrorists.

Next, make the case that someone else (Gore, Clinton, Kennedy, Carter or whomever) did worse things. This diversion includes the lie part of the strategy — namely, that “Al Gore led the effort to tap every telephone, e-mail, fax and so on.” Of course, no source or independent validation is offered — for the simple reason that this is not true.

Then, it’s the “president should have the right … to do what is necessary to protect our shores.” Again, denial and obfuscation. The suggestion is … that Democrats are thwarting Bush’s abilities to protect us, which is easily refuted nonsense. FISA has been modified five times since Bush took office, making the ability to wiretap easier and easier. Attorney General Gonzales has been unable or unwilling to demonstrate that thousands of illegal wiretaps have snared one terrorist.

Covering all talking-point bases, the writer then refers to those who criticize such outrageous, un-American behavior as “morons” (the insult), ignoring the fact that it’s not just a bunch of liberal Democrats who are increasingly critical, but most independents and a growing number of Republicans.

Finally, in a gushing expression of delusion and wishful thinking, the writer proclaims that there will be a “flood of former Democrats voting Republican” — [without] the slightest effort to factually validate such nonsense. Numerous polls show the opposite to be the case.

A rhetorical question increasingly asked about these apologists is: Are you lying, or are you just stupid? Most of the Bushoviks are not stupid; however, it is clear that many of them are willfully ignorant, choosing to place blind loyalty to Bush over their loyalty to the rule of law and the Constitution. And do they lie? You bet!

— Dennis Hawley

Where is honor in this war?

There is no honor in sending young men and women to die. Honor comes from what they are asked to die for. Those who have fallen have honored us with their lives, regardless of what we may believe, say or do.

During this administration, both political parties speak of honor, but who is doing the sacrificing? “We won’t cut and run” speaks of cowardice and dishonor. Like the words on a playground in grade school, this challenges our very being on a personal level. Good psychology, as those childhood scars are buried deep and still touch a cord.

Grow up. The reality is, men and women are dying and continue to honor us with their sacrifice. Catch phrases don’t change that. It is time to honor them with our sacrifice, first by accepting the reality of who, what, when, where and why.

Who: There is no “us” and “them,” there is only us — men, women, children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters — living, loving, hurting, dying human beings.

What: War and the death of civilian and combatants alike; hate, violence and suffering. No torture, though — that’s illegal.

Where: Everywhere there is hatred, fear and righteous indignation. From the halls of Montezuma to shores of the USA.

When: Right here and now — the only place to be.

Why: Money, power and fear.

War cannot be waged out of self-sacrifice, love and compassion without turning a blind eye to those we wish to smite off the face of the Earth. If we were to honor all people and their beliefs and grant them the same freedoms we claim to honor, there would be no them or us, no haven for hate and righteous indignation.

Before we stuff our values onto somebody else, I suggest we question how we honor our values right here at home. Do we honor the children with a national debt that will be their burden to bear? Our elderly with a prescription-drug benefit plan that only benefits pharmaceutical-company profits? Our working citizens with a one-time election-year tax cut while the wealthy still reap theirs?

Many believe the rich are just rich and the poor just poor — it’s how the system works. But the system makes the rules. So who runs the system? We do, like it or not. We elected those men and women in government. They do listen when we raise our voices. It’s us who have to make a choice for change.

Never mind — the movie is just starting: “War of the Worlds.” Don’t want to miss it.

— Michael Birkle

Fear and submission are the real terrors

America is aiming blindly to kick at the obscure threat of “terrorism,” and stumbling over its own feet. I see our country is turning upon itself, both socially and politically. Why? Because that’s how fascist nations establish control — through fear and submission. People don’t seem to always question the government, because they’re afraid. But maybe they want to believe, too.

Well, I don’t want to believe in evil for eternity, and I don’t think God’s will is best represented through President Bush. Maybe if I thought so, I wouldn’t have a problem with the government spying. However, I have everything to hide, because I don’t trust a nation full of arrogant, murderous liars — so, I obviously dissent [from] this abuse of power.

Furthermore, I would question whether governmental power itself could ever not be considered abuse. I believe that government creates slaves from men, and the general apathy and ignorance of the masses does nothing to help me reconsider.

Unfortunately, mindlessness seems to be a prerequisite for success in this country. And cheap terror-talk or security rhetoric doesn’t do a lot to stimulate my synaptic impulses. I’d probably fall asleep at these sentiments if the actions of our government weren’t such a cattle prod in the soul of humanity.

Maybe we can still change things, but I no longer want to claim to represent the voice of “the people.” I think I should just settle for trying to speak for whatever’s left of the soul of humankind, if I can.

— Peter Salvucci

Our trigger-happy role models

Being trigger happy is a behavioral challenge for the Bush administration. Whether invading foreign countries such as Iraq or hunting on a large Texas ranch, they don’t seem to realize their behavior brings injury and death to innocent people.

Being secretive is a hallmark of the Bush administration. Remember Cheney’s secret meetings with oil executives to develop a national energy policy? Now, as vice president, he thinks shooting a friend is a “private matter.” The inability to admit a mistake is perhaps the most telling of their character flaws.

At the risk of belittling the serious injuries of Mr. Worthington, Dick Cheney’s hunting accident could be a metaphor for the past six years. And don’t expect any of this to change in the next two years. Oh, and lest I forget, these compassionate conservatives need to be better hunter-safety role models for the junior members of their biggest fan club, the NRA.

— Steve Harrison
Flat Rock

Dear reader:

A priest, a Wiccan and a New Ager were debating how best to edit a newspaper…

But seriously, this is the sort of thing we debate internally at Xpress. Should we publish the official Bele Chere guide this year, or give you the more independent point of view afforded by an unofficial guide? Should we add more regional coverage of Western North Carolina or focus more on Asheville? Would it be good to have more satire in our pages?

The debates rage on … except for the question of satire. When we started discussions with the folks at the Asheville Disclaimer about having their deliciously skewed viewpoint appear in our pages, there was no debate: For the first time in memory, our staff was virtually unanimous in its support. As a result, the Disclaimer is already risen from its shallow grave, having closed up shop in January after a three-year run as the funniest local monthly since … well, maybe ever. You’ll now see their resurrected, cutting-edge satire here each week, as they continue to pull no (well, few) punches — whether left, right or in between.

In other news, last week’s Xpress also marked the debut of Gallery Gossip — an assortment of updates and didja-knows from insider artist Connie Bostic.

You may also have spotted some other new features we’ve added to keep you better entertained and informed: Top Drawer (a weekly local fashion report), plus a guide to bars that do and don’t permit smoking (in Clubland) and a new cartoon, Earth Camp, brought to you biweekly by UNCA student Maggie West.

And just in case you missed it, our previous issue featured the second installment of Life’s Work, a series of profiles we’ll be publishing monthly throughout 2006. Each piece will offer an insightful look at someone whose work involves extraordinary labor.

Lastly, keep your eyes peeled in the future for this Letter from the Editors, which will appear periodically, bringing the latest word on developments at Xpress — new features, formats, questions, answers, etc.

Oh, if you’re wondering how the priest, the Wiccan and the New Ager resolved their differences — the priest took over the syntax, the Wiccan took charge of the spelling, and the New Ager handled fung-shuation.

Of course, everyone has to do it their own way. So we hope there’s a little something for everyone in Xpress. Tell us what you think at xpress@mountainx.com — and happy reading.

— The editors

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One thought on “Letters to the editor

  1. Peter Dobber

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