Going Postal October 16 2003

In sheep’s clothing

As governor, Zell Miller sold lots of swampland to the people of Georgia.

He funneled billions in road dollars to his developer cronies, turning much of metro Atlanta into a smog-infested parking lot. He foisted mandatory sentencing laws on taxpayers, who now must pony up for the nation’s sixth-largest prison system. And he milked the myth that he was a modest country boy — until he retired to become a fat-cat lobbyist for Philip Morris.

But the Mother of All Miller Mendacities came after his turn in the governor’s mansion. In his 2000 Senate race, he claimed to be a Democrat.

He still claims that. But a recent analysis shows that Miller very consistently undermines his own party. Congressional Quarterly found that, in partisan Senate votes, he sides nine out of 10 times with Republicans.

Miller’s weird antics — and his even weirder decision not to switch parties — perplexes Washington insiders. They don’t know Zell like we know Zell. Early on, he was nicknamed “Zig Zag” for changing his positions on issues, so his GOP leanings amount to another zag by a cynical politician. And it’s not surprising that rich guys who get their campaign money from corporate interests pretty much back those interests.

But there’s a darker root to Miller’s betrayal of the people who elected him: He’s a fundamentally small-minded man with a huge chip on his shoulder. Raised a poor hillbilly, he’s always resented — and reacted with uncommon meanness — to people who challenged him intellectually.

Now, up in Washington, he gets to really stick it to folks who might note, for example, that tax cuts for the idle rich increase the tax burden on the rest of us, or that more heavily polluting vehicles actually, well, increase pollution. A year before he leaves the Senate to finally retire for good from politics, the more he pisses off the very people who are driven crazy by his demagoguery, the more he loves it.

What a pity. Miller had the smarts and political instincts to be remembered as one of Georgia’s great leaders. He’ll instead be known as the guy who allowed the huge chip on his shoulder to do his thinking for him.


Leash him
I am an animal lover and therefore “Armed For Bear” caught my attention (News & Views, Oct. 9). I was very glad to read that Bear is OK and recov- ering nicely.

I feel the policeman who shot Bear probably overreacted and should have an evaluation by supervisors, although I can see how such an incident could have occurred. I live in the same neighbor- hood and have occasionally been rushed at by unleashed dogs. It’s a very scary event.

What really bothers me is irresponsible pet owners who don’t understand that they need to control and protect their pets. Bear would not have had this happen if his owner was concerned about his safety. He could have easily been hit by a car, as happens occasionally here in town.

There is a leash law here. Why wasn’t Bear on a leash? Bear was a victim of careless pet ownership, not police violence. Maybe Bear needs a better home with a more mature, responsible owner.

-- Tim Hunter, Atlanta

br>?Quick draw
(In response to News & Views, “Armed for Bear,” Oct. 9): As a neighbor to the shooting, I am upset over the quick firing of the gun. The cop had at least Mace and a Billy club on him. Why not try those less-deadly weapons first? Unchecked bad habits, and quick rushes to judgment, make for dangerous public officials.

-- L. Margolis, Atlanta

br>?Every right
After reading the story about the dog Bear (News & Views, “Armed for Bear,” Oct. 9), I feel the officer had every right to shoot the dog. The dog began showing his teeth and the officer did not know if the dog was going to bite him. The story stated that the dog came after the officer and anyone in their right mind would have taken some action to stop the dog. The officer did not shoot to kill the dog, only to stop him from causing bodily harm to him.

The law is that all dogs should be leashed and this dog was not. I’m glad the officer was the only one that encountered this situation because he handled it properly. Had it been a child or elderly person, heaven only knows what situation it would have been. My hat goes off to the officer for a job well done.

-- Margaret McArthur, Massillon, Ohio

br>?Blame the French
Andisheh Nouraee’s article (Don’t Panic, Oct. 9) was fun and right on, except: Fifty percent of all screwed-up border areas in the world are not the result of British colonialism.

All the places mentioned had problems long before the Brits were there, and Ireland is an island, not a border area. British colonialism also helped create major democracies where more than 50 percent of the world’s voters live today, including Pakistan, India and the USA.

For better examples of screwed-up borders and colonialism, look at the French. They were directly involved in Vietnam, Lebanon and West Africa, and indirectly in most of the Middle East.

-- Ed Wooller, Atlanta

Andisheh responds: Ireland is an island, duh. But Brits rule Northern Ireland and that rule is disputed by groups violent and peaceful who wish to erase the British border that divides the island. Pakistan is not a democracy; it’s a dictatorship. Gen. Pervez Musharraf gained power in a military coup.

br>?People need rules
There is only one reason why the display of a moral and ethical code is being allowed to dominate so much of the media attention these days (Headcase, “A chat with God,” Oct. 9). The separation of church and state has always meant that no governing body can determine or dictate religious practices for any American citizen. No American can be forced to worship at or participate in a state-mandated religion. That still stands, so the separation of church and state rule has never been violated and it’s not the real issue.

Wake up, people! All this discussion is really a way to force you to stop expressing what you believe. That way the truly lawless people can have even more advantage over us all. Pretty soon, they will have eliminated every rule we’ve lived by so no one will have the right to make rules. Any kind of behavior will be acceptable because the legal system will protect the rights of the lawless. There are already scores of offenses that cannot be punished simply because there is no written law to cover them. Whatever happened to common sense?

-- Carolyn Stroud, Atlanta


Secrets of success
I read the review on my buddy Brett Schieber (Earshot, “Sharp notes,” Oct. 2) and I just want you to know that there was NO ballot stuffing involved! People voted for him because he has really good publicity and because in my personal opinion, he is an awesome artist. So ... eat your sock.

-- Kristina Matthews, Cartersville