Letters to the editor

Keever’s integrity trumps single-issue concerns

I read with great interest the letter to the editor [“Placating the Masses…,” Oct. 6] written by James Dennis of Asheville on the subject of gay marriage and the congressional race here in the 11th District. While I was moved by his situation and am in full agreement with Mr. Dennis on the equal value of his relationship, I do not understand how the concerns that he cited could have led him to his conclusions.

I, too, am a gay man who has been in a committed relationship for the past eight years. During this time, my partner and I have known both the joys and tragedies that befall people in any committed partnership. Together we have weathered the death of a beloved child, helped another child through college, cared for ailing elderly relatives, volunteered in our community and nursed each other back to health after unexpected surgeries. In other words, we have, I believe, displayed both family and community values. We, too, have concerns about our rights of inheritance, and more importantly our right to take care of each other should one of us become sick.

Another politician recently referred to Dick Cheney’s daughter as a “selfish hedonist” simply because she is gay. I reject that characterization. As a citizen, I am concerned about the issues that affect all of us who make these mountains our home. The outsourcing of our jobs, the education of our children, the protection of our environment and, yes, the dignity and worth of every member of our society are just a few of the issues that have led me to wholeheartedly support the candidacy of Patsy Keever.

Charles Taylor, who has an abysmal voting record on all of these issues and has shown himself to be devoid of integrity in his business dealings, has chosen a couple of wedge issues in an attempt to deflect attention away from his own failures. Let’s not let him get away with that. We are desperately in need of a change in leadership. The choice is clear; Patsy Keever has the drive, the determination and the integrity to do what needs to be done to make this a better place for all of us.

— Jim Jenkins

No hoop jumps for Keever, please

In response to the couple who won’t be voting for Patsy Keever because they think she is “placating the masses in order to get their votes” [Letters, “Placating the Masses…,” Oct. 6] on the issue of gay marriage, I have a question: Do you want a candidate who says what you want on your single issue, or do you vote for the candidate who exhibits an openness to discussion and who listens? I ask because you stand a better chance of having your issue addressed with Patsy Keever in Congress than with Charles Taylor, who is in lockstep with an administration out to getcha.

If Patsy Keever agreed with you on this issue but was in opposition to everything else you believed in, i.e., maybe civil rights, the environment, fair trade vs. free trade, etc., would you still vote for her simply because of that issue? If you did, wouldn’t you be compromising your other beliefs?

While I agree that you should have the same civil rights as married couples (I don’t know Keever’s stand on this), I think elections are about more than one issue. I also have issues that I would like candidates to address and that I have been working on for years, but the election isn’t about you or me, and our candidates shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get our vote.

We’re cynical about candidates telling different things to different groups, yet it’s the very thing we encourage when we insist that they stand where we want them to [or lose our] vote. The issues of gay rights or abortion or gun control are being used by some radical groups to divide us, but we really need to find the candidate who best represents our values … and [offers] the best chance of getting most of what we think is important. Once that candidate is elected, we can work on getting our issues addressed. Your decision to not vote for Keever is what I think we can call “cutting off your nose to spite your face”….

— Barbara Coulson

Local alt-fuel coop defies outdated energy economy

The price of gasoline is up again, but domestic industry behavior — not terrorism or environmental regulation — is the pertinent culprit.

Oil company mergers in recent years have made it easier for energy companies to engage in a pattern of uncompetitive practices. Polishing this equation, a lack of legitimate government oversight has made it worthwhile for a handful of U.S.-based corporations to manipulate the perceived retail supply of gas for the unmistakable sake of more profit.

The Federal Trade Commission actually concluded in 2001 that oil companies had intentionally withheld gas supplies in order to get higher prices for their product. While regulators have yet to meaningfully challenge this and other such deceptive behavior, acknowledgement of an akin pressing issue is in order.

As oil production declines due to exhaustion of the world’s oil reserves, there will be less energy of this kind available for us — whether it’s for our cars or for the food-production facilities that rely on fossil fuels. When this happens, gas pump prices will be the least of our worries.

A TV-news ticker claimed last week that current oil prices are “threatening global prosperity.” But it seems that the real threat is not the price (no matter the reasons) of oil (no matter the source). The threat is our reliance on this substance and the shortsighted economic system that enables it.

Fortunately, we do have hands-on hope, and it’s at the local level. With a successful two-year initialization under its belt, the Asheville BioDiesel Co-Op has established itself as a proficient organization committed to advancing renewable fuel access, usage and education for the people of Western North Carolina. Routine public access to affordable, more environmentally (and geopolitically) responsible alternative energy is now a blooming reality in Asheville.

Local citizens and working families may now help build and benefit from a locally operated alternative fuel economy. I look forward to the coming months and years of this organization’s growth, and the indispensable public awareness it inspires.

— Bud Howell

[Editor’s Note: More information on local alt-fuel activity can be found in “Clean Machines” [Xpress, Aug. 11].]

Sinclair’s “Stolen Honor” unpatriotic

As a native Ashevillean, I have “bought local” for all my life, including watching WLOS TV-13 throughout my youth. But no longer: Since the station’s purchase by Sinclair Broadcasting, WLOS has become a propaganda machine for right-wing causes and the Bush administration. With its plan to broadcast a libelous “documentary” designed to influence the presidential election, Sinclair would use the public airwaves to further the corporation’s private political agenda, refusing to fulfill its obligations under its broadcast license and making illegal in-kind contributions to a political party. Sinclair’s unpatriotic, anti-American behavior must be stopped.

I call on all area WLOS advertisers to join your fellow citizens in demanding that Sinclair not broadcast “Stolen Honor,” and to withdraw advertising dollars from Sinclair and WLOS as a protest against their un-American activities. I call on Asheville citizens to ensure that the marketplace impact that is due to Sinclair will hit its advertisers’ pocketbooks instead, by refusing to do business with WLOS advertisers until they publicly announce and demonstrate that they will not advertise on WLOS TV-13 unless Sinclair drops plans to broadcast “Stolen Honor.”

Please take this to heart: Our American democracy is at stake!

— Andrew Reed

Support democracy, not Sinclair Broadcasting

Oh, it’s “news.” A 45-minute attack ad against John Kerry mere days before the election. (Imagine the reaction if CNN decided to run Farenheit 9/11.) “News.” That’s the excuse provided by Sinclair Broadcasting’s Mark Hyman as to why this isn’t a violation of election laws. So says the corporate VP with ties to the CIA.

Sinclair (the owner of Asheville’s WLOS, and the largest private owner of television stations in America) has a long history of partisan activities that make a mockery of its duty to serve the public. Both Sinclair and the producer of this “attackumentary” have strong financial interests in seeing John Kerry defeated on Nov. 2. The producer, Carlton Sherwood, has worked closely with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. He is now a VP at a private mercenary company largely dependent on government contracts, both here and in Iraq.

If someone had asked me four years ago if I thought America was in danger of sliding into fascism, I probably would’ve said no. Today, I’m not so sure.

“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power,” said Benito Mussolini in 1938. The current Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, recently claimed that he was above the law: “One citizen is equal to another, but perhaps this one is slightly more equal than the rest,” (no credit given to Orwell.) Berlusconi got to where he is today, and stays there, because he owns or controls most of the media in Italy.

True democracy can only function if the flow of information is free from the spin of corporate owners. What’s one to do? Contact WLOS, Sinclair and their advertisers. Tell them you won’t support them if they won’t support democracy. Visit www.sinclairwatch.net to find out more.

— Barry Summers

No news is bad news

The propaganda spewed by Mark Hyman on what are supposed to be news programs is inappropriate. Many of the listeners have complained to the network to no avail.

As of today, I will boycott the advertisers that choose to support the news, and I hope like-minded viewers will do the same. Perhaps this move will inform WLOS that we mean business.

— Eleanor S. Zitin

Gantt understands art’s role in the community

As a longtime resident of Buncombe County, I’ve had a chance to watch County Commissioner David Gantt in action for several years, and as a former Mountain Xpress staffer, I’ve had the opportunity to observe him up close. But as a local filmmaker, I’ve gotten to know him even better, and I can assure you, David Gantt is passionate about the arts, and passionate about supporting the artists in Asheville.

I’ve had the pleasure to work with Mr. Gantt on one of my films (yes, he was an actor, and yes, he was quite good; still, I wouldn’t advise him to quit his day job). [In] between the work we did together, he continually offered his assistance as a member of the WNC political community. Again and again, he spoke of his enthusiasm for the upcoming URTV cable-access channel, the film industry’s need to come to Asheville and Buncombe County, and the challenges the local media scene here faces. He knows and believes in the benefits that a talented, motivated and politically-supported arts scene can achieve for a community. He also understands other facets of the same issue, such as how a trained and technology-ready workforce can transform a sluggish local economy.

But perhaps most importantly, David Gantt understands the larger issues of having everyone’s voice be heard, of giving equal time to all opinions, whether or not they disagree with his own. He knows that a well-connected arts community is good for Asheville and good for communities in general, and has consistently put his votes where his inclinations lie, even when they’re unpopular in this largely conservative region.

If you’re an artist in Buncombe County, please support David Gantt for county commissioner. He’s on our side.

— Paul Schattel

Fisher making high marks in education

We have a chance this fall to reelect a real representative to our legislature. Susan Fisher has been in office less than a year, but she’s already making a mark. She served on a commission studying education alternatives for students on long-term suspension, and cosponsored important bills to help families find ways to educate students who have had problems in traditional school settings. Alternative programs like the ones Susan supports can help turn these students into productive members of society, and make traditional schools safer by removing severe disciplinary problems.

We need to keep Susan in the General Assembly. Our community needs her fresh ideas for helping families and students. She’s a leader who really does listen.

— Susan E. Wilson

Ready to lose $3,700?

Congressman Charles Taylor voted to cut veterans’ health-care benefits and job-retraining funds for unemployed workers. He voted for huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and now he wants to increase working families’ taxes.

H.R. 25, cosponsored by Congressman Taylor, calls for a 23 percent national sales tax on everything, including food, prescription drugs and medical services. It would replace federal income taxes. Estimates of the national sales-tax rate required to actually meet federal-revenue needs vary from 30 percent (according to some supporters of the bill) to 60.7 percent (The Brookings Institution).

Under Taylor’s plan, the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers would pay 51 percent more in federal taxes, about $3,700 on average for WNC residents, [according to Congressional candidate Patsy Keever]. People near the top would get another huge cut.

Keever condemns Taylor’s sales tax as totally unfair to low and middle income families. Under Keever’s plan, working families would receive further tax cuts while current cuts for the very wealthy would be rolled back. Companies that send American jobs overseas would also lose tax breaks.

Vote for a real friend of working families. Vote for Patsy Keever.

— Judy Major
Mars Hill

Drama on the high (election) seas

When his crew harpooned a whale off Middle Eastern waters, Captain George W. Ahab was triumphant. He’d been told that the capture would secure his reputation as the greatest whale hunter, surpassing even his daddy. In addition, Ahab had been assured that the animal could easily be domesticated and would yield a vast deposit of whale oil for the enrichment of his friends.

Two subsequent developments placed the magnitude of Ahab’s achievement in question:

1. Studies of the animal demonstrated that, while it was an ornery sort, it had never been in the same league with the dreaded Osama Great White, which remained at large and dangerous.

2. The captured whale’s post-harpoon behavior was anything but docile. It furiously resisted domestication, causing much pain and suffering to Ahab’s crew. It was viewed every day on television rocking Ahab’s boat.

Eventually, the people paying for the voyage became restive. Some of them began questioning the wisdom of Ahab’s undertaking and even expressing doubts about his fitness for command. But the captain had many supporters, and eventually everyone became caught up in the drama: Would the whale sink Ahab, or would Ahab prevail and claim the glory that Herman Melville so cruelly denied him? The 2004 election could provide a clue, but history usually takes much longer before declaring a winner.

— John D. Johnston, Jr.

Choose recovery, not Nader

With a clear majority of Americans expressing dissatisfaction with the direction of our country, the unspoken truth is that neither John Kerry, nor George Bush, nor Ralph Nader represents the visionary leadership that America ultimately needs.

While it is true that Nader can be far more frank with the American people on many issues than either of the two major candidates, he is also being extremely self-deceptive with regard to his immediate impact on America’s direction. We absolutely need a crusader telling the unvarnished truths, but we cannot afford to let the ideal become the enemy of the possible.

Ralph Nader needs to continue exposing both parties and the system that protects them, and he needs to do it on the largest possible stage, but when the bullhorn for truth threatens to become the barricade to recovery, it is time to reexamine priorities. Before we can take the first step in the right direction, we must end our sprint in the wrong direction.

We have seen where George Bush has led us, and if you have been paying attention, you can imagine where he and Cheney and Ashcroft and Rumsfeld would lead us in the future, given four more years without having to worry about getting reelected.

John Kerry is an imperfect candidate in an imperfect party in an imperfect political system. But the existent alternatives to each must be considered before deciding to cast or withhold your vote. In order to assure better options are available in the future, we must choose the best available option now.

The choice is not between Kerry and Nader. It is between Kerry and Bush. Vote on Nov. 2, and make sure your vote counts towards steering America in a new and sensible direction. Then, after the election, help Nader or McCain or Dean or whomever you want, to shape and advocate for the real changes that are necessary for a secure, peaceful and sustainable future.

— Mark McKinney

Bush and Putin use war as political tool

I heard a commentator on the radio say that George Orwell wrote the novel 1984 as a warning against totalitarianism, and George Bush is using it as a how-to manual, especially the aspect of maintaining a perpetual war in order to rally political support. George Bush took the United States into war in Iraq for one basic reason — not democracy or even primarily oil, but because he needed a war to rally political support. His need for a war was why he had to believe, and tried to make us believe, that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction,” ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

It seems that every president needs a war to bolster his support. Bush Senior had the Gulf [War] in 1991, but it was over too soon, and by the time of the elections in 1992, his ratings were back down and he lost to Clinton. Bush Junior was determined to not make that mistake, which is why he declared soon after 9/11 that this war against terrorism was going to last forever. What a perfect war for an Orwellian ruler!

Richard Clarke said that the war in Iraq has undermined the “war on terrorism.” This is fine with the Bush administration, since it doesn’t want to win this war, but rather to perpetuate it. Russia’s President Putin seems to take the same approach with Russia’s war with Chechnya. Bombing Chechnya to rubble and killing thousands of innocent civilians creates armies of terrorists — but why should Putin care, since public anger over terrorist attacks in Russia, like the recent school massacre, can always be directed outward at the foreign enemy, thus rallying support for Putin. Likewise, our killing 10,000 innocent Iraqi women, children and men only strengthens terrorism in Iraq, especially against Americans, but that just rallies political support in the United States and strengthens Bush’s hand.

— Rusty Sivils

Bush is the only Christian option

On behalf of the Christians in this community, it is clear that George W. Bush is the only option for president. He is moral and stands behind the Christian beliefs that our Lord put in place in the beginning. For instance, marriage is a sacred union between a woman and a man. God intended for marriage to be this way, and as Christians, we should let our voice be heard by reelecting our Christian president.

— Wendy Potter

Cheney’s memory and credibility failing

With his many denials of statements he has made, and accusations that are untrue, is it possible that our vice president is suffering from memory loss at an early age?

— Elaine Bronstein

Oh, Cheney, how quickly you forget

Cheney, you got some ‘splainin’ to do. What makes you think you can get away with the “misleading” statements you put out there at the debate with Senator Edwards? Several legitimate news sources have let us know that you “misled” the American people on the subjects, for example, of jobs, taxes, your connection to Haliburton while in office, and the Iraq war.

What I do not get is how you could have mentally blocked out or forgotten having met Sen. John Edwards. Didn’t take him seriously enough to pay him much mind? Another example of bad judgment, I guess.

— Jane Carroll
Black Mountain

Bush offers no truth, no consequences

I’m shocked and dismayed that the Bush administration continues to lie and mislead America and the world about Iraq. It’s time for the entire Bush administration to start telling the truth to the American people.

Bush continues to deny the solid fact that the situation in Iraq is a complete disaster. Despite the CIA’s own report confirming the dire situation there, President Bush continues to proclaim that things in Iraq are just dandy fine. Then the Bush administration lies about (and then later admits) telling the interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to say that there is “no problem” in Iraq.

Now National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice continues to insist that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons, while the White House’s own handpicked weapons inspector concluded, “We have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material,” and top government scientists said that the aluminum tubes Iraq had acquired were “too heavy, too narrow and too long” for use in creating nuclear weapons.

Instead of “ushering in a new era of accountability,” Bush has shown that you can consistently lie, deceive and mislead without any apparent consequence.

— Timothy Burgin

Where there’s smoke, there’s Karl Rove

Is George W. Bush really comparing decorated war veteran John Kerry to Osama bin Laden? You’re damn right he is. Time and again, Bush has used tough talk about bin Laden to mask his administration’s failure to capture or kill him. Besides the now infamous “We’re gonna smoke ’em out of their holes” line, he has also repeatedly said of bin Laden and other Al Qaeda figures, “They can run, but they cannot hide,” and it is no coincidence that he is now going across the country using those exact same words to distort John Kerry’s Senate voting record. This has Karl Rove written all over it.

This is the same un-American sleaze that helped to defeat Georgia senator Max Cleland, who left two legs and an arm in Vietnam. Don’t let them get away with it again. Go to the polls next month and vote these frauds out of office.

— Jeff Callahan
Flat Rock

Fear clouds nation’s moral compass

The Bush administration is voicing concern over movement away from democracy in Russia. At this critical time, a country with a strong moral compass should be setting the standard for democracy. We, however, find ourselves sliding into the murky politics of deception under the leadership of a president who uses fear as a veil to shroud his questionable policies, which include bombing “suspects,” attacking our constitutional rights, and torture.

Even as we admonish President Putin, who rose from the ranks of the KGB to become the Russian intelligence czar, we are moving ahead to create an American KGB through passage of the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act. Congress is once again being pressured to pass a bill quickly because terrorists could “strike at any time!” and we need to be ready. The truth is that fear led to the rapid passage of the ill-conceived USA PATRIOT Act that has done little to address genuine terrorist threats, but has eroded many of the constitutional rights of the American public.

In addition to creating an American intelligence czar, the House of Representatives’ version of the 9/11 Recommendations Act attempts to legalize what is referred to in the bill as “extraordinary rendition.” This sterile legalese is code for a provision that permits secretly transferring American suspects to foreign countries known to use torture in interrogating prisoners. How many legal loopholes is the Bush administration going to use against the people to get its way? Instead of condemning countries that torture people, those countries are becoming handy tools in the growing arsenal of the world’s leading “democracy”!

So, in the end, we have Russia, a failing democracy, and the United States, an ailing democracy, headed toward possible confrontation. If we can’t depend on the strength of our constitutional principals and laws that recognize the most fundamental of human rights, we are left to exercise our authority through our weaponry, including our much touted nuclear arsenal. Unfortunately, the Russians also have nuclear weapons of mass destruction that they will again aim in our direction at the start of a new cold war. Since the Bush administration has already signaled to the world its intention to act preemptively in defense of the “homeland,” it may well be a short cold war at that.

— John R. Lara

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