Letters to the editor

Lament for the loss of “Oooh”

Going to see the fireworks every Fourth of July has become a family tradition. I look forward to the streetlights going out and the expectant hush of the crowd, and then feeling that wonderful sense of community as, together, we say and hear, “Oooh,” and “Aaah,” as the fireworks explode overhead.

But this year, that was missing. The colors were not so vibrant because the streetlights were in my eyes, and for some reason, KISS radio was in the background, competing for my attention. The crowd did not go “Oooh,” and that sense of community and the glory of the bursting colors were diminished.

Just two small differences, the streetlights and the addition of a radio show. But if that is going to happen next year, I’ll opt out.

— Renee Robb-Cohen
Asheville

Politics as war: the Mumpower campaign

It is General George S. Mumpower’s ambition to drive drug pushers out of Asheville’s public housing projects, back across the Rhine, and all the way to Berlin. Mayor Dwight D. Worley and three members of the Joint Chiefs vetoed his grand offensive, but the general is far from defeated.

Understanding that politics is merely war by other means, he is laying plans to take on the mayor in mortal political combat. His winning slogan is ready-made: If you like illegal drugs, vote for him; if you want to get rid of them, vote for me.

The general would have voters believe that ending the sale of illegal drugs in Asheville is doable, if only city government would devote sufficient resources to the effort. As a professional psychologist with four degrees, he should know a great deal about America’s earlier “wars” against human vice, especially alcohol and gambling. Criminalizing those activities produced great profits for criminal gangs and widespread official corruption, while folks just continued drinking and gambling.

By now, government itself has taken over the legalized alcohol trade, while many states sponsor legal lotteries. This history suggests that decriminalization, accompanied by government regulation and appropriation of the profits, will eventually transform the drug trade.

But that’s the long run. In the meantime, there are elections to be won. And the general still dreams of that triumphal ride into Berlin atop his Sherman tank.

— John D. Johnston, Jr.
Asheville

The reverend has lost his way

To respond to the reverend [Dean Turbeville’s] finger-pointing [Letters, June 23], I don’t think anybody in these parts is anti-American. The sentiment you’re misinterpreting is a continual disappointment as the country personified (through our leaders), time and again, proves itself to be underhanded, driven by greed, and quite myopic.

Pursuant to our history and self-proclaimed moral fiber, the United States should be above the petty politics that plague much of the world. That it is not, is cause for disappointment and disillusionment in the reflective portion of the population.

George W. Bush heads a clan that, from the beginning, has divided the U.S. population more strongly than I’ve ever known. Regardless of [whether] you choose to believe the truth as Bush tells it, or as reality has it, [the divisiveness] is not a good thing. And regardless of his … cowboy attitude, or whatever it is that draws you to him, this kind of division is indicative of a poor leader.

Try seeing it this way: A sense of community — something for which we have historically been renowned — is rapidly deteriorating in the United States. Community is derived from a fond sense of sharing a place — a nation, in this instance — where a reciprocated understanding propagates a love and longing to contribute to the betterment of that place. The word “America” has in the past denoted that type of society.

Today, the national and international understanding of the word is quite different. Maybe if opposing groups tried to understand each other, instead of throwing stones from the shelters of their respective camps, we could stem the tide of the loss of community. We might even realize that the other side has a valid point somewhere. I, for one, would be very interested to hear verbalized what it is about Bush, particularly in his record as president, that people are dying to reap four more years of.

We cannot control to a substantial degree what the fabric of the United States looks like. But we can control what Asheville feels like. It can be a place where community is fostered through everybody feeling comfortable in their right to express their voice. Or, we can have a town where a reverend preaches a message far from love, berating the townspeople for half-truths at best.

For one, your stating that people outside of the Bush camp despise the men who fought in wars such as World War II, and those who honor them, is downright ignorant, hateful and totally representative of the kind of tactics people blindly supportive of Bush have employed since 9/11. Next time, think about your words instead of making a mockery of your position and yourself.

As you asked in your piece, I now ask of you: “Where is your heart? Where is your mind? Where is your faith?”

— Brett Sheppard
Asheville

Right-wing views underscore the need to vote

Thank you for printing letters expressing the views of ultra-conservative, right-wing extremists. They are a sobering reminder of the reality that these people walk among us: people who openly embrace the politics of continuous war, environmental destruction, crippling budget deficits, the neglect and decline of social services, the economic plight of all but the rich (who enjoy generous tax relief), corporate benefits, media consolidation, control and censorship, the negation of our constitutional rights … and the list goes on.

It is quite obvious that right-wing extremists have neither the reasoning ability nor the intellectual capacity to see beyond the flawed rhetoric of those they support, and therefore cannot be swayed to change their vote. Thus, the only antidote to their votes is our votes. We cannot forget that they are at least partly responsible for putting Bush into office. (Hey, without their votes, he could not have come in second!)

While seeing these “ideals” in print may be horrifying, it also serves as motivation for the rest of us to vote, and to get out the vote!

— Tom Alba
Asheville

The drug war generates black-market revenue for government

I was quite interested in Michael Harney’s comments [Commentary, “Let’s get real,” June 30] on the drug “problems” in Asheville, and possible remedies to the insane “drug war” which costs taxpayers [by some estimates] over $60 billion a year, and incarcerates more citizens than in any other nation, including those we routinely criticize, bomb, etc.

The facts are straightforward: The purity of drugs is at an all-time high, and the availability is epidemic in every city and town. Why? Because the government has a vested interest in making sure that narcotics [excluding the non-narcotic marijuana] are always there as a source of funding “black” budget projects that Congress has not allocated money for (see the Contra coke-for-guns story on any search engine).

Afghanistan is enjoying its largest opium poppy harvest in decades, while the United States and other coalition forces occupy the country. The Taliban, which had almost eliminated poppy cultivation due to strict religious prohibition, was undoing a system that the intelligence services of the developed world have spent many years setting up to ensure an uninterrupted flow of cash that could not be traced through the banking systems of the world.

The flow of cocaine from South and Central America has increased while we spend millions more every month on crooked politicians and a plan to spray herbicides on the crops of coca, despite hard evidence that it is killing legitimate crops of desperately poor farmers, and poisoning the water and air where they live.

The government proudly trumpets its success in the drug war when the seizure rates — around 10 percent of what is smuggled in — has remained basically constant for decades. If any other industry or venture had such abysmal results with unlimited funding, the laws stacked in their favor, and the military aiding their efforts, they would be shut down pronto.

— Richard F. Moore
Franklin

Kerry & Edwards are two mental midgets

In this era of oppression, depression, war and faltering times, we cannot afford to have a “wishy-washy” president and a “babe in diapers” running our great nation. We have had four great years of President Bush, and in order to let this great man continue his quest, we must re-elect him.

We, the people of these United States of America, need to research, listen and learn just what this Kerry/Edwards union is all about. Once that is done, you will find out just what these two mental midgets are all about.

I cannot stand on formality, but I will stand on the principles of our great nation, and I do not believe that we can stand by and let the Kerrys/Edwardses of our country invade our government system. Whether we want to agree or not, this great nation was founded on the principles of a just and mighty God. I particularly want you to check out where they stand on marriage and the family unit.

We must stand up for what we believe in, and the time is right now — not the day of voting! If John Kerry will tear down a man in public, but then turn around and ask him to be his vice-presidential running mate, may God help us all. We need to have a man that will continue this fight on terrorism and on making our economy better, not only for us, but for our children and grandchildren. Wake up, fellow Americans! The time is at hand! Our future depends solely solely on your vote, and that one vote does count!

— Laraine L. Moore
Candler

An informed electorate wouldn’t reelect Bush

The symbol is in the eye of the beholder. For instance, the Confederate flag symbolizes slavery, lynching and a rigid caste system designed to prevent upward mobility. George W. Bush is equally as symbolic. His image symbolizes nepotism, cronyism, bigotry, xenophobia, incompetence, arrogance, corporate welfare, unequal income distribution, poseur, failure, etc.

Yet to many people, he has a positive image. Therefore, he may come to symbolize the greatest failure in our society: unequal and inadequate public education. For people to support this incompetent and dangerous fool is a direct reflection of the failures of public education. This form of social control is no accident. Teaching students to think critically would eliminate empty suits, such as George Bush.

Democracy is based upon an informed electorate, and an informed electorate could be generated from a more equitable public education system. Wake up, demand greater per-pupil expenditures, higher teacher salaries and equal education for all.

— Scott Mckenzie
Asheville

Create your own paper trail

I will be voting absentee ballot to leave a paper trail.

I expect to vote for Clyde Michael Morgan, Britt Cobb, Elaine F. Marshall, June S. Atkinson, Krishna Murphy, Harry L. Maroni, Pamela Paddock, Alan Thornburg and nobody else.

Ed Hay voted for the Asheville UDO in ’97, and moved to amend it to increase single-family zones and reduce unit density, over the opposition of the Affordable Housing Coalition and Scott Dedman. This was contrary to smart-growth principles and gay equality.

— Alan Ditmore
Leicester

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