Letters to the editor

Council needs to get on board

I am a resident of Hendersonville, a homeowner, and I can tell you that I support and have looked forward to a rail system in Western North Carolina.

My parents live in the eastern part of the state and, as they age, driving is not as easy as it once was. The bus is too slow and complex. Airfare is cost prohibitive. I would also love to leave my car parked in the garage and take the train in Asheville, to go down east and beyond.

I thought the project was a done deal. I was shocked to read in the Mountain Xpress [“All aboard,” May 19] that Asheville City Council is not pushing for this project in every way possible. What is the problem?

My family has used the train in Greenville [S.C.] to go to Atlanta, and used public transportation in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. In fact, we are planning an entire trip in June to Boston, [in which] we will use only mass transportation.

I do not understand how Jan Davis formed the opinion that there is no local support for a train system. There is. As Brownie Newman pointed out, Asheville is the most requested passenger-rail destination currently not served by Amtrak.

With rising gas prices, the need for mass transportation will only increase. Hopefully, Asheville won’t be left behind because of poor transportation planning.

Act now. Support a rail system while help is being offered.

— Kathy Kyle
Hendersonville

Moorhead’s Republican diatribe was pure boilerplate

I respect the fact that the Mountain Xpress provides space for Bush backers to hang themselves on the Letters page, but surely you must receive enough original compositions that Republican Party cut-and-paste jobs such as Brooks Moorhead’s [June 2] need not waste our time (see word-for-word “Write News Editors” at http://www.georgewbush.com/Economy/WriteNewspapers.aspx?AgendaID=2). Mr. Moorhead may believe that forcing astronomical costs on future generations — in return for (at best) a questionable contribution to no-better-than-fair job growth now — is a sign of good presidential leadership, but at least he can figure out his own wording, I’m sure.

As far as I can tell, at least Jason Hart composed his own letter [June 2], though not to any more convincing result. He argues that because Bush has presided over military victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has demonstrated his worthiness to continue to lead the “war on terror.” I have yet to read a defense of Bush’s foreign policy that does not rely entirely on a presumed direct linkage between the war on terror and Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Events have proven true what thinking people believed before — Saddam Hussein was a tin-pot dictator leading a pathetic army with no links to Al Quaeda, who threatened exactly no other countries thanks to a successful and continuing inspection and containment program. If you can see clearly enough to realize that the Iraq war has done nothing but hamper the war on terrorism, there is no reason at all left for supporting Bush.

— Matt Evans
Asheville

[Editor’s note: It is our standard request that letter writers avoid submitting letters that are part of a duplicate mailing.]

Cuba policy undermines U.S. credibility

New measures against Cuba announced by the Bush administration are a continuation of a 45-year foreign policy that is outdated and unjust. The president now intends to restrict educational travel and make economic restrictions even harsher. This makes a mockery of the administration’s claims about democracy and only subjects the United States to the ridicule of the free world. Is the president afraid of having U.S. citizens travel to Cuba?

I have been to Cuba within the year, and have studied the impacts of the economic embargo firsthand. This new policy is nothing more [than] election-year pandering to the Miami hard-liners.

Isn’t the Cold War over? We have economic and political relations with China, Russia and other former Cold War enemies. Cuba has a million people living in the United States and is the only country off-limits for U.S. travelers. Both houses of Congress have passed legislation to relax policies toward Cuba. But the Bush administration seems determined to stick wooden-headedly to a failed policy and, thus continue to undermine its own credibility both at home and in the world.

— Andrew Summers
Swannanoa

Why no outcry over worse censorship than Sinclair’s?

A few weeks ago, Sinclair [Broadcast Group] decided not to air ABC’s Nightline program that named soldiers killed in Iraq. Sinclair’s decision affected only eight stations out of hundreds of ABC affiliates in the United States. But for days, all I heard from the liberal left was howls of protest over the “censorship,” even though over 90 percent of America was able to watch the show.

But [on May 24], ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX all decided not to air the president’s speech. And the decision affected the entire nation. Only people with cable TV were able to watch. The 35 percent of Americans who don’t have cable were censored from watching the speech.

ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX’s decision[s] not to air the president’s speech affected way more people than Sinclair’s decision not to air ABC’s Nightline. Where were all the howls of protests from the liberal left on this censorship that was greater than Sinclair’s? Where was the candlelight vigil?

(Insert sounds of crickets chirping here.)

— David Council
Alexander

Clarification regarding UNCA, Botanical Gardens

My letter published in the May 26 edition of the Mountain Xpress states, “Fifteen years ago, the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) proposed building a parking lot on 10 acres of woods at the edge of campus. Because of public opposition, UNCA withdrew its plans and, instead, permanently established a native-plant garden. This garden, known as the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, is now a vital educational and ecological resource.”

It is necessary that I clarify this statement. The Botanical Gardens at Asheville were established in 1960. UNCA proposed using the space for a parking lot 15 years ago, as is evidenced by UNCA Faculty Senate documents from 1989. In my letter, I did not mean to imply that the Gardens have been here for only 15 years; instead, I meant to emphasize that the Gardens were permanently established (i.e., on the UNCA Master Plan) after Gardens members, students and faculty spoke out against the proposed parking lot.

I apologize for any confusion or misinformation that my previous letter may have caused. You can learn more about the history of the Botanical Gardens on their Web site, www.ashevillebotanicalgardens.org, or by talking with members and volunteers during your next visit.

— Beth Keefauver
Asheville

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