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Letters to the Editor - Blame game October 02 2003

I wanted you to know that I've just read you article (Fishwrapper, "Who didn't 'get' bin Laden?" Sept. 25) and I couldn't agree with you more! I'm so tired of this current administration placing the blame on the Clinton administration. I can't wait to read more!

-- Neal E. Wilson, Lithonia

Just the facts, ma'am?
Who failed to "get" bin Laden (Fishwrapper, "Who didn't get bin Laden?" Sept. 25)? Well, contrary to John Sugg's recent fairy tale claiming that former President Clinton did everything that he could to catch the elusive king of evil, the facts are as follows:

- Clinton had eight years to capture the al-Qaeda leader.

- The Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings occurred on Clinton's watch. What did he do to prevent these acts of terror?

- While Clinton claimed to have fired missiles at a "bomb factory" in Sudan, in reality he only fired at a pharmaceutical factory.

- While Clinton claimed to have fired at bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan and to have "barely missed" the guy, it was George W. Bush who had the balls to actually send troops to Afghanistan and virtually wipe out the Taliban and their al-Qaeda friends.

- The Bush team could have done more to try and stop the terrorism before 9-11 if Democrats on the Hill had moved to confirm appointments made to the administration vital to national security. Instead, the Dems dragged their feet as angry children are wont to do.

After the embassy bombings in Africa, the White House knew how deadly al-Qaeda could be, especially after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. However, rather than go into Afghanistan with the military might to crush them, the Clinton administration did a half-assed job, which resulted in the death of over 3,000 innocent Americans. That is a fact.

-- Jack Franco Handmacher, Norcross

2 + 2 = $223,000??
(In response to News & Views, "Vendetta against Vernon?" Sept. 18): CEO Jones feels picked on. He justifies his actions and accuses those who accuse him of wrongdoing in conducting a political witch-hunt.

This "scandal" isn't about due process or misconduct — or about Jones' need to travel with an entourage. It is about a government official spending our tax money lavishly and trying to justify it.

His justification? "You can go right across the county line to a smaller government and find twice the detail," he says.

That doesn't appear to be true based on your report. His security detail costs DeKalb taxpayers $223,000 per year. Mayor Shirley Franklin's costs Atlanta taxpayers $308,000. Does the CEO need a lesson in mathematics? I doubt it. I think he needs a lesson in restraint. I suggest he look to Lillian Webb as a case in point. She was the Gwinnett County official who was relieved of her elected duties by the taxpayers after an extravagant trip to New York that she justified billing to the voters.

-- Robert Wittenstein, Atlanta

See ya in the big house!?
Time for my quarterly "BRAVO" for an article well done (Fishwrapper, "Why the (Un)PATRIOT Act?" Sept. 18). I'm going to miss your stuff when they haul you away — but maybe we can get adjoining cells. Thanks again for something to forward to all my right- (and other) thinking friends.

-- Tom Creasing, Hermiston, Ore.

Quit apologizing?
I hope many more awake people around the world quit having to apologize for the Bush gang and their criminal antics (Fishwrapper, "Why the (Un)PATRIOT Act?" Sept. 18). On 9-11, some of us students of theories (because facts are being suppressed) take the view that the U.S. government was not just passive in the events that led to the downing. The Skull and Bones Krypt in the catacombs of Yale seems to have moved to the very center of the Pentagon.

-- Laurent Jubinville, Penticton, British Colombia, Canada

Keep the light on?
John Sugg: I hold the same views that you expressed in your column about the PATRIOT Act, Ashcroft, Bush and company (Fishwrapper, "Why the (Un)PATRIOT Act?" Sept. 18). What a scary group! I fear that conservative media bias (where is the liberal media, if it ever existed?) will not allow the truth about 9-11, Iraq, Bush and such to come out into the mainstream. We need more alternative media voices to keep the light on the shady Bushite government now in power.

Please stay the course. We (meaning freedom-loving Americans) need you guys.

-- Becki Jayne Harrelson, Decatur

The conceit of control?
As usual, Cliff Bostock's column was well-written and interesting (Headcase, "Those crazy conservatives," Sept. 11). But I think Cliff subtly gives the game away in the fourth paragraph.

There, he quotes the study's authors as explaining that they had to (critically) analyze the psyches of conservatives rather than liberals because "most of the damaging movements of the last 50 years have been right-wing." Cliff quotes this assertion without comment or criticism.

Nazism was a hideous, murderous tyranny. It lasted from, what, 1932 until 1945? Italian fascism hung around for about 20 years, and although it was rotten too, the damage it could do was mitigated a bit by the humanistic traditions and healthy political skepticism of the Italians.

On the other hand, Russian Communism lasted 70-plus years (or around 40 during the period the authors said they were considering). It murdered millions, threatened the peace and security of the rest of the world almost all through its existence, and, oh yeah, spawned, aided and/or inspired lots of other ugly, gray, life-crushing regimes.

Of course, that's only the minor-league argument. The real fact of the matter is that politics won't get healthier and more sensible until people like Cliff and the authors of this study realize that the split isn't between "Mussolini and Reagan, the rightists" and "Hillary and Stalin, the leftists." It's between people on the left or right whose views are dominated by the need to control others' lives (usually just for a limited time, we promise — and for some really good, noble purpose of theirs that can't be achieved in any other way). And people like me.

-- Michael McGill, Atlanta

Moving story?
Kevin Griffis: You, sir, have written a beautiful article ("Have you seen Jeff Mangum?" Sept. 4). I got goosebumps twice and had to hold back tears on more than one occasion. With your prose, insight, inquisitiveness, investigations and sensitivity you did what the Magnet 10th anniversary review fell miles short of doing.

The music of Neutral Milk Hotel has changed my spiritual outlook for the better, but the rumors of Jeff Mangum's own bleak outlook have also shaken my beliefs. It's the same wonder of how Sly Stone could sing a message as optimistic as "You can make it if you try" only to drop off the face of the earth in a pessimistic coke-addled paranoia a few years later.

Anyway, I really liked your ending about it being partially your story, and that there is hope that more great music will come from Jeff Mangum. It's true that he is just a guy and not a deity. But as an artist, there does come a responsibility for the work you have done and understanding how it can affect people.

I want the world to know how your article spoke to me. Similar to the way I want the world to know how In the Aeroplane Over the Sea spoke to me. And it must be that there are a lot of other people here who want to let the rest of the world know that, too. Because, as you pointed out, people still keep buying it to hear the message within.

-- Pat Healy, Somerville, Mass.

Shame, shame, shame?
(In response to News & Views, "Smoke screens," Sept. 4): Recently, I listened in awe as a Georgia elections official listed the many inconveniences of "paper-trailed" voting. Incredibly, the life-and-death matter of transparent voting practices does not register in this town.

How can we be so senseless? Oceans of blood have been spilt through history for the rudiments of democracy. For over 200 years, the world has marveled at the peaceful transfer of power that occurs with each election cycle in the U.S. Computerized voting brings all this to an end, inaugurating a new era of radicalized dissent over election outcomes. Even if the Carter Center were to send observers to Georgia, what would there be to observe? Black boxes.

For the rest of the world, it takes nothing less than death squads and gulags to destroy the hope of democracy. For us, it takes only the lure of technology and the spin control of a few immaculately coiffed elections officials. Shame on Atlanta. Shame on Georgia. Shame on America.

-- Mark Sawyer, Decatur

[]Department of Corrections?
?In the Sept. 25 Best Of 2003 issue, we incorrectly listed the days when Dick and Harry’s in Roswell offers ?a $25 prix-fixe menu. It is available Monday-Thursday.

[]Department of Clarifications?
?The Sept. 11 Fishwrapper column focused on two TV reporters, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, who lost a lawsuit they brought against a Tampa TV station. The article, by Senior Editor John Sugg, described a $1.4 million house Wilson and Akre bought as a “townhouse.” Although a database of public records describes the dwelling as a “townhouse,” Wilson says ?it’s actually a “house” and has requested ?a correction.

Sugg also wrote that Wilson and Akre had launched their promotional and fundraising campaign “immediately” after filing the lawsuit. The fundraising actually began about a year later.

And Sugg wrote that the two had been fired by the station for repeated acts of insubordination. That was the station’s position. The reporters claimed they were fired for being whistleblowers. The station prevailed when an appeals court ruled the state’s whistleblower statute didn’t apply.