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Letters to the Editor (2) - October 04 2006

Military spending, Best of Atlanta 2006

SUBTLE CAMPAIGNING??
John Sugg cites Ben & Jerry’s founder Ben Cohen as saying that the Pentagon consumes 53 percent of the federal budget, while health care receives only 6 percent (Metropolis, “More ice cream, fewer guns,” Sept. 28). It is inexplicable how he arrived at either number, especially as neither passes even a basic sniff test for accuracy.

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The 2006 federal budget is $2.57 trillion. The Department of Defense received $419 billion, or 16.3 percent. Even if all other non-DoD military spending is included, such as defense-related spending from Homeland Security, that still doesn’t begin to approach the $1.36 trillion implied by Sugg’s 53 percent claim.

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Meanwhile, combined spending on Medicare and Medicaid for 2006 is approximately $539 billion. More than the Department of Defense, and roughly 21 percent of the federal budget, not 6 percent. Total HHS outlays for 2006 are projected to total $642 billion, or 25 percent of the federal budget.

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I’m at a loss to explain how Sugg’s and Cohen’s numbers could be so incredibly and obviously wrong, unless they decided to exclude “mandatory” federal spending (which includes Medicare and Medicaid) from their calculations, and instead focused entirely on “discretionary” spending (which includes the Pentagon). Without telling the reader, of course. That way, they could make it appear that the federal government spends a lot more on defense and a lot less on health care, simply by choosing not to count the half-trillion dollars the federal government spends on health care.

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I’m not sure if that distinction would produce the exact numbers Sugg cites, but it’s better than assuming that the numbers were simply made up. Either Sugg doesn’t fact-check his figures, or he’s willing to use grossly misleading numbers to make a point.

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Loren Collins, Atlanta?
write-in candidate for U.S. Congress, District 4

?BATTLE OVER “BATTLESTAR”??
Mr. Holman,

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In your intense and slightly misguided effort to politicize “Battlestar Galactica” (Flicks, “Cylon majority,” Sept. 28) and to warp that politicization to your own very misguided political views, you demonstrate a serious lack of understanding of the basic premise of “Battlestar Galactica.”

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This is the classic science-fiction battle of man against machine, in this case against a computer-driven machine “revolution.” The machines, i.e. computers, achieved a level of artificial intelligence that allowed them to rebel against and attack their former masters. Their former masters, i.e. humans, rebel against machine/computer-controlled everything, and computers are eliminated almost entirely from everything. Go back and watch the earliest episodes and pay very close attention. Hence the absence of view screens and the presence of telephones with cords. While the writers sometimes stray from their premise, they do a fairly good job of adhering to it.

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You should do a little more homework and spend less time trying to integrate the New York Times’ editorial page and CNN into your criticisms.

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— Ike Yancy, Alpharetta

?SELF CALL??
Congratulations, {Creative Loafing}, on completely blowing it yet again (“Best of Atlanta 2006,” Sept. 28). Let me give you some background. I moved to Atlanta from Trinidad in 1985 and was immediately dismayed by the dearth of Caribbean restaurants here. A small band of holes-in-the-wall in the Decatur area are all that constituted the Caribbean experience.

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One day a few local friends took me to the highest-rated Caribbean restaurant they knew, Bridgetown Grill. My experience there was akin to a Georgia local walking into an “American” restaurant in the islands only to find unrecognizable dishes dressed with grits, hash browns and apple pie, and a decor filled with cowboy chic. A dry, sorry filet — its soul and flavor having already high-tailed it to warmer climes — hastily rubbed with Jerk seasoning was the sole menu item that could reasonably be called Caribbean. This is the shock and dismay Caribbean immigrants to the United States face when visiting the above-mentioned eatery and its cousin, Bahama Breeze. At least BB focuses on entertainment and doesn’t pretend to be actually Caribbean.

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I vowed 21 years ago to bring my Caribbean to Atlanta. With persistence and some luck I managed to do just that in the summer of 2004, and today Soca Caribbean Café is clearly the finest Caribbean restaurant in the state. I say this without modesty, embarrassment or reservation. My restaurant attempts to put food first. My mother prepares the finest ingredients to her exacting standards, creating authentic taste sensations, while the music, ambiance and decor offer a step up from the typical hole-in-the-wall, if not as chic as the well-heeled fakers.

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Authentic Caribbean food must feature roti, pelau, pastelles, brown-stewed chicken, a host of delectable vegetables and yes, Jerk chicken, too. And first-timers must try the Pirate’s Revenge. My immodesty notwithstanding, you owe it to yourselves to at least visit and prove me wrong. Ask anyone actually born and raised in the Caribbean (the islands on the Caribbean Sea) where to find the best Caribbean restaurant in Atlanta and not a single person would mention Bridgetown Grill. Enough already.

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— Dale C. Lawrence, Duluth

?The Comeback??
Last year you named me one of the 11 least influential people in Atlanta (“Atlanta’s 11 Least Influential People,” Aug. 17, 2005) and one of them was actually a dog. This year you named my new band, Ghost Tour, the Best Local New Music Act in your Best of Atlanta 2006 issue. Either you guys have some wires crossed or I just scored the most amazing influential comeback in Atlanta history.

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— John Naismith, Atlanta

?CRITICIZING CLINTON??
The key to understanding former President Bill Clinton’s bluster, when asked by Fox News about his failure to pursue Osama bin Laden, lies in the fact that November elections are near and there’s lingering public unease over the condition of his own political party.

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For the Democratic Party of FDR and JFK has been rendered by the decades into that of Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Kucinich, turning what was once a proclivity for defending our country into one of perpetually chastising it — while all the while preserving, protecting and defending little but political correctness, bloated government and the interests of politicized union bosses and trial lawyers.

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Yet, never in our lifetimes have our country’s enemies been so menacing — or this once-great party so manifestly not up to the challenge of protecting us. Will acting rude to one TV journalist counter all that? Not too likely.

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Ron Goodden, Atlanta

?Department of Corrections??
In last week’s Best of Atlanta issue, we incorrectly named the author of Lawrenceburg, the readers’ choice for Best Theater Premiere. Travis Sharp wrote the play. Also, the name of Lucinda Bunnen, critics’ pick for Best Friend of the Arts, was misspelled.