Issue March 21, 2006

Erosia

LEO welcomes letters that are brief (250 words max) and thoughtful. Ad hominem attacks will be ignored, and we need your name and a daytime phone number. Send snail mail to EROSIA, 640 S. Fourth St., Louisville, Ky. 40202. Fax to 895-9779 or e-mail to leo@leoweekly.com. We may edit for length, grammar and clarity.

Arena Wide Open
Congratulations to LEO for Billy Reed’s commentary “Let the Sun Shine In” (March 8). This is easily the most insightful article regarding the Arena Authority I have read.
Any Louisvillian/taxpayer/voter/basketball fan owes it to himself to read Reed’s comments regarding the Arena Authority and its chairman, Jim Host. Without being vitriolic, judgmental or nasty, Reed has clearly enunciated all of the questions that so many of us have regarding the single-mindedness of the Authority’s insistence on the LG&E site.
If that site is really worth $100 million more to this community, we need to know exactly WHY it is. Now we have even further need to know, since U of L has announced still more escalations of tuition … It has all of the appearances of “Whoa, if we are going to spend $400 million for a sports arena, we better start soaking the parents and students right now.”
That, too, raises the question: If U of L is virtually the sole beneficiary of the arena and its proceeds, why then have we not seen a single mention of any financial contribution to the arena by U of L?
If something doesn’t stink in all of this, it certainly seems like it stinks.
Thank you LEO and Billy Reed for this excellent piece. It is doubly good in that it is most refreshing to see something … no, ANYTHING in LEO that doesn’t somehow blame George W. Bush for the problem.
-Jon A. Dean

Practice What We Preach
President Bush recently opined, “If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self-defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur — even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack.”
The problem with this thinking is that it’s unmanageable and not a little insane.
Sure, on the surface, it might seem a bit reasonable. If we knew Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked, why wouldn’t we want to do a pre-emptive strike to stop it?
The reason is, it’s wrong. It’s not a rule that we’d want everyone else to live by.
For instance, if Iran were to take it as a rule that one nation ought to drop bombs on another nation if they were about to be attacked, then Iran ought to drop bombs on us — by Bush’s reasoning! That is, if they were to live by Bush’s words and not “rule out the use of force before attacks occur — even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place …”
We need to set and live by rules that are just and that we expect everyone else to live by. Anything else is anarchy and chaos and will lead to all manner of evil.
“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” is more than just a universal platitude. It’s the only logic that makes sense.
-Dan Trabue

Socialism for All
Frequently, we hear that socialism is dead, has failed and is passé. That would be a surprise to China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, the Scandinavian countries, etc. Call it socialism, communism or whatever, economic justice is not dead, has not failed and is not passé. In much of the world, including the United States, its time has not yet come, but it is needed. In matters of education, health, housing, public transportation and other necessities, these are taken care of in “socialist” countries to the best of the government’s ability.
In the Soviet Union, for example, every citizen was provided these necessities. In the new Russia, things are different. There is homelessness, hunger, a tremendous drop in life expectancy and just a general downgrade in the quality of life.
John Le Carre wrote, “Just because communism failed, does not mean capitalism has succeeded.” But, to take it a step further than Le Carre, just because the Soviet version failed (if fail it did), does not mean that socialism has failed worldwide.
Nor does it mean that capitalism will stay in power. Look at Latin America. Different forms of socialism have arrived in Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and a good portion of Colombia.
Economic justice will come and will prevail.
-Eustace Durrett and Ike M. Thacker IV

Not So Fine
There is no coincidence in the continuing deaths in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia besides the failure of the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) and our elected officials to enforce the fines that are given unsafe coal operators. Why does the federal government give fines if it does not intend to enforce the fines? We are dealing with people’s lives. Another miner was lost in Perry County, Ky., three weeks ago.
Recently, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao spoke about raising the fines to a maximum of $220,000. This will not solve the problem. Raise it to $2 million and it won’t matter, if the federal government does not have the intention of enforcing the fine. One coal operator in Kentucky owes more than $800,000 to the federal government for 2,455 safety violations, and there are 28 mines in Kentucky that owe $2.8 million in fines. I dare say if anyone had 2,455 speeding tickets, they would not have a driver’s license, and if you did not pay your federal income taxes, the government would come a-knocking. What gives with coal operators? Why are they different? If Chao honestly was concerned, and if our senators and congressmen here in Kentucky honestly cared about the safety of our miners, they would demand enforcement of the fines or they would require the mines to be closed. That would get the attention of mine operators if the mines were closed for nonpayment.
I urge people to call senators McConnell and Bunning and Congressman Northup and demand they make MSHA enforce the fines that it levies. Tell them not to fine anyone if they don’t plan on enforcing the fine. I assure you that coal miners and their families in Eastern Kentucky will appreciate your concern. Our elected officials do not have that same concern.
-Gregg Wagner

Throw Down
As a Christian, I want no part of President Bush’s version of Christianity. His proposed budget is the latest example — it does not provide funds for caring for “the least among us.” Instead it gives huge tax cuts to his cronies, the very rich, and takes from the poor by cutting education, failing to provide for Katrina victims and cutting Medicare (among other things). The proposed budget is immoral and wrong. I urge you to contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to vote against this budget. If they do not, we should throw them out of office in November.
-Elizabeth Ullmer Mendel

Pay Attention!
I think it is time for all of us to ask, are we better off now than five years ago? The answer for most is no, unless of course you are a drug company, oil company or in the very top tax bracket or are in Congress. Most people are scraping by as huge heating bills and the cost of gasoline soar. Insurance premiums and the cost of healthcare in general have risen like a rocket. The deficit is ballooning to record heights, and our children and grandchildren will be left with the disaster of trying to clean that up. Being in Congress has become a license to accept bribes and kickbacks. I think it is about time to get back to the principle of government BY THE PEOPLE and FOR THE PEOPLE, not just the corporations and the rich.
We keep getting fooled into voting for those who want to perpetuate this system. They have learned to play us so they can continue to leach off of us. If you are concerned for our Commonwealth and our country, it is time to stand up and take it back from those who wish to enrich themselves and their friends. Don’t just let the political commercials make your decision, find out all you can about the candidates and choose the best one for the office. Watch the debates, not the 15-second synopsis. Ignore the ads and find the facts. We need a new set of players in all houses who wish to serve us, the people, and not corporate interests.
-Tony Busch

Tap to the Future
How can American citizens be certain that the secretive Bush administration will not spy domestically on whomever and for whatever reason they desire? This arrogant, “abuse of power” administration is not above using terror surveillance as a cover for wiretapping political opponents to get a political advantage in the midterm elections of 2006 and the 2008 presidential election. They would reason, for the sake of national security, it is essential Republicans keep control of both houses of Congress and the White House. In other words, the ends justify the means.
I do not trust President Bush. He, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took us to war in Iraq deceitfully. Now, we the people are supposed to believe everything they say. They have not earned our trust. Nobody in America is above the law, not even Commander in Chief Bush.
-Paul L. Whiteley Sr.

Tooned Out
Did I miss your competition for a cartoonist where the grand prize was a lifetime of paychecks from LEO, no matter what you turned in, even if it was the exact same stale “bad clip art” gag that has been running for the last 10 years? Or did Brian Orms actually die years ago, and you’ve just been running “classic” Doppelganger ever since?
I can’t believe that in this city there isn’t a single other person who could fill those few square inches with something more interesting than the same six panels of a recycled self-portrait that ran last month, saying nothing more than “I’m burned out, and I just don’t care anymore.”
-Andrew Zipp