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Calling All Lawyers
In re: "Damn Spam!" (by Scott Henry, July 16), the surest way to get rid of spam? Sic the trial lawyers on those who send spam. If they could shakedown the tobacco industry for all those billions of dollars, getting spam merchants to cease and desist or pay up should be a piece of cake.

-- Stephen V. Gilmore, Charlotte

I Thank You, My Elephant Thanks You

Thank you so much for your absolutely wonderful, eye-opening article about Universoul ("Circus's Animal Policies Faulted" by Sam Boykin, July 23). I grew up in India and loved an elephant called Rani. One day her mahout told me how elephants are broken, how she was broken, and my heart was broken that day. I can never look at the elephants in the circus now without knowing something of what they've been through. Thank you for waking people up a bit. You will be part of the evolution of human compassion.

-- Ingrid Newkirk, president, PETA Norfolk, VA

Change The Rat Race
While I agree with Mr. Slee's assertion that capitalism is a cold faceless system of profit above people and applaud his stand against it ("It's The Globalization, Stupid," July 16), I disagree that the solution is to "suck it up" and go back to school to make yourself more useful to society in the hopes it will pay off one day. It's a sort of go along with the system approach that has anxious people popping Prozac like candy. It devalues the very essence of human existence. It also assumes the haves got everything from hard work, which is hardly the case. Americans do not have to suffer under this inhumane form of government. We can change the rat race to something more palatable if enough people want to. It will take time but we must start now before our entire society collapses in front of our eyes. A society should be able to provide for those that cannot provide for themselves and should also provide employment for everyone that is able-bodied.

-- George Thompson, Charlotte

US Manufacturing's OK
Rob Slee gives a misleading picture of the US manufacturing sector. While it may be trendy to deride globalization and capitalization as evils that destroy the US economy, it would be far more productive to present relevant facts when analyzing these issues. Readers who want the truth about American manufacturing should read the July 3, 2003 Wall Street Journal article "Why US Manufacturing Won't Die."

It is true that America has experienced a recent decline in manufacturing jobs; however, the number of manufacturing jobs in the US has remained relatively constant from 1950 through the present (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Slee is correct in pointing out that components of low-value, low profit margin, mass production are headed for countries where labor is cheap. However, for millions of US consumers who now get these items from China or Mexico at comparable quality and a much lower price, the result is extra money in their pockets that will be spent on goods and services, raising the standard of living in the US. Additionally, as the demand for labor in low-cost countries increases, wages will also increase, making these countries less cost-competitive.

While low-value manufacturing jobs are flowing from the US to China, complex, technology-based manufacturing jobs are increasing in America. Cars and even clothes are becoming more elaborate, and this bodes well for US manufacturing that specializes in producing high-value, complex goods.

-- Dan Owen, Charlotte

Way-Northern Fan
I recently read the article titled "Weapons Of Mass Stupidity" (by Hal Crowther, June 4) and I have to say it was absolutely wonderful. It's very hard to find a real source of news and political commentary and I am so happy I found your website. You hit all the points bang on and I'm glad to know I'm not alone with my views of America's foreign policy and the media coverage of the war.

-- Jamie Robertson, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Double Congratulations
I'm writing to congratulate you twice: first, for running a column -- "Weapons of Mass Stupidity," by Hal Crowther -- with sufficient seditious value to provoke the FBI to harass someone caught reading it. And second, for running Marc Schultz's great first-person account of why a person has to be careful about what he or she reads in a cafe these days. I ran across Shultz's piece on the Web this morning, at "The War In Context," and felt that he held up the reputation of the alternative press well, managing to be serious, funny, self-deprecating, and slightly arrogant all at once. I hope that when he goes to j-school, he's wise enough to fight off attempts to keep him from writing well.

So please, keep up the good work, because there's going to be a lot of work to do in the future.

This is where I'd add the part about telling the FBI to go fuck themselves, but in case the FBI happens to consider the Crowther-Schultz pieces bait of some sort, and for that reason might be screening email that relates to it, I guess I'll just keep my feelings to myself. Or something.

-- J.H. "Tommy" Tompkins, Arts Editor, S.F. Bay Guardian

Bush Sr. Lies, Too
Hal Crowther's "Weapons of Mass Stupidity," is a damning collection of examples of Bush lies and media manipulation, but even Hal has been taken in. In speaking of Bush, Jr.'s Top Gun media stunt, Hal states: "It's possible that even old George Bush, who served with distinction in World War II, had to stifle a groan over that one. "

In 1988, Chester Mierzejewski told the New York Post, "That guy [Bush] is not telling the truth." Mierzejewski was the rear-facing gunner in a Grumman TBF Avenger when Bush was shot down. Mierzejewski says Bush's plane was never on fire and that Bush, Sr. bailed out, leaving two men, William Little and John Delany, to die. Gunner Lawrence Mueller, who was on the same mission, corroborates Mierzejewski's account.

-- Cherie Kipple, W. Orange, NJ

Ignore The Polls
Hal Crowther did a bang up job characterizing the faux media and those who profit by it. His prose is high quality. I believe his friend Michael Malone is correct. Ignore the polls.

The samples are less than minuscule and there is no practical way to prove the results. Sample numbers are as small as 250 (New York Times) to 2000 for a quality poll. The person has to agree to speak with the pollster and questions can be worded to sway opinion.

In one poll taken around the time of the Iraq attack, people were asked if they believed one should support the President in a time of war. They did not say President Bush in particular and they did not differentiate between Pearl Harbor and Bush's "belief" that Iraq was an immediate threat to the US. The results of that poll were given as support for Bush and his war.

Since the policies of the administration are generally unpopular, citing poll results is an excellent way to undermine the opposition and create the appearance of popular support. If there is one thing the Bushies are good at, it's creating the appearance of something being true. I would be more surprised that they hadn't misused polls than to learn they had.

-- Carol Davidek-Waller, Kirkland, WA

Right-Wing Idiots
Thank you, Hal Crowther! You have expressed everything that I (and my progressive friends) have been lamenting since this despicable administration took office. Fox "News" is a disgrace -- and its high ratings are simply confirmation of your central point: the majority of Americans are right-wing idiots. Thanks for giving voice to those of us who are not.

-- Abby Margolis Newman, New Albany, OH

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